The Value of a Divine Name
By Michael Trapasso
Throughout the entire Bible, a name has had special importance and meaning, especially God’s name. From the first ten verses of the first chapter of Genesis, we find that God has issued forth five names. In the last chapter of Revelation, we find where the Lord said His name would be in the foreheads of His people. In the next to the last chapter of Revelation, we find that the names of the Apostles are in the foundations of New Jerusalem, and on the twelve gates, the names of the tribes of Israel.
Israel had many commandments from God; but of all the commandments given to Israel, the ones that God considered most sacred were the Ten Commandments He wrote with His very own hand on stone. From these sacred ten, one of the first was, ‘Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.’ This was given even before the commandments, ‘Thou shalt not kill’ and `Thou shalt not commit adultery.’ Notice, ‘Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in Vain…’ What is the Lord’s name that He declared is so sacred? The Israelites knew God by the name of Yahweh. This is the name, the name Yahweh that thou shalt not take in vain.
So sacred was this name that the scribes and priests washed before writing the name Yahweh; they changed their priestly garments and used a special pen to write this holy Name. They trembled as they wrote each letter. Realizing how holy and sacred that this Name was, they added the word `Adonai’ in front of it to weaken its sacredness. As to its significance, McKenzie, in his Dictionary of the Bible, p. 604, states ‘Yahweh is present and active where his Name is invoked, where he is known and recognized.’ Realizing how sacred the name Yahweh was, let us look at the Name, the Name Jesus. Philippians 2:9-10 states, ‘Wherefore God also hath which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth.’ These scriptures clearly bring out that the name of Jesus is above all names, even the Name of Yahweh. Jacobus comments on this in his book, A New Standard Bible Dictionary, p. 606. ‘In early Christian circles something of the reverence and aw attaching to Yahweh among the News was transferred to the name Christ or the compound Jesus Christ…” There is no wonder then why Peter, when asked by what name he healed the lame man, forcefully declared that by the ‘name’ of Jesus Christ this man stands before you whole and ‘neither is there salvation in any other, for there is none other ‘name’ under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.’ (Acts 4:10-12). Peter knew that healing and redemption were only in the name of Jesus Christ. As we have seen, a Name, and much more so a divine Name, is of utmost importance in God’s plan.
Nowhere in the scriptures can it be found where Paul ever baptized anyone using the words, ‘I baptize you in Jesus Christ, ‘no, but rather in the name Jesus Christ; yet explaining the importance of baptism to the church in Romans 6:3-8, Ga. 3:27, Paul says that by baptism one is baptized into Jesus Christ,’ not into the ‘Name of Jesus Christ.’ Thus, as we can clearly see, the `name’ of Jesus Christ is the direct means and only means through baptism where by we enter in the blood of the covenant which is in Jesus Christ. We can perceive from Paul’s teachings, the lord is his name. Young remarks on this in his Analytical Concordance to the Bible under Hints and Helps to Bible Interpretation, statement forty-four, ‘The NAME of a person is Himself or His character.’ Douglas, in his New Bible Dictionary, p. 864 also states, `…the practical religious truth that the name is the person, actively present in the fullness of his revealed character.’ Ellicott too, in his Commentary on the Whole Bible states, `…the NAME of God is a revelation of what He is.’
In Ephesians 2:20, however, we find the Bible teaches that the church is built not only on the teachings of the Apostles such as Paul, but also of the `prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone.’ From this scripture we see that the prophets of the Old Testament would speak emphatically on this important subject of God and His Name being one. Amos in his book 5:8: The Lord is His Name.’ The prophet Jeremiah repeatedly proclaimed this in Jer. 31:35; 32:18; 33:2; 50:34; 51:19, Thus saith the Lord the maker thereof, the Lord that formed it, to establish it; the Lord is His name.’ The noble prophet Isaiah in his book, 54:5 and 48:2 also exclaims, “The Lord of host is His name.”
As we can see, the apostles and prophets both taught that the Lord and His Name are one and the same. Thus, when we plunge into the Name, the Name Jesus through baptism, we are buried with the Consummated Christ. This connection is also expressed in the Words of Jesus when He was in the Garden of Gethsemane praying; He said, ‘Holy Father, keep them in thy name which though hast given me to bear.’ Jesus did not say, ‘I’ve kept them in thee,’ no, but rather ‘in thy name which thou hast given me.’ He knew the distinct relationship between the Almighty and His Name and that the Name was the heavenly means that God chose to grant entrance into His Kingdom and thereafter as the protecting power to keep His own in His divine love. When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, He prayed this prayer for them as an example, ‘Our Father, who are in heaven, hallowed be thy name.” He taught them to praise and glorify the Name of the Father first, even before asking forgiveness of sins and daily needs. Why would Jesus do this? Jesus did this because He knew that it was through the Father’s name, the name JESUS which was given to Him (see John 17:12 as written above) as an inheritance (Heb 1:4), that all sins would be remitted and daily needs supplied.
I Corinthians 6: 11, �. . . but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified, in the name, of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.’
Some honest hearted individual�s reply, ‘Doesn’t the Bible say that we are justified by faith too? Certainly this is true (Rom. 5:1); however, it also says we are justified by works, (James 2:21, 24). Does this mean the Bible contradicts? No, but rather these three agree in perfect harmony. It is by faith in the name of Jesus Christ, through baptism (God’s heavenly work, Col. 2:12, Mat. 21:25) that we are justified. The Scriptures repeatedly proclaim the remission of sins through this manner. Acts 10:43 declares, ‘To him give all the prophets witness, that through His ‘name’ whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.’ John 20:31, But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing, ye might have life through His name.’ I John 2:12, `. . . your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake.’ I John 3:23, ‘And this is His commandment, that we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ. . . .’ John 1:12, But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.’ Many other scriptures testify to this such as I John 5:13; Luke 24:47; Matt. 12:21; John 3:18; Acts 3:16, 18:8. This is why in Acts 19:4-5 when Paul told John’s disciples that John had told them to believe on the Christ to come, these disciples, ‘when they heard this , they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus.’
This too is why in Acts 16:27-34, when the jailer alone fell before Paul and asked what must I do? Paul tells him to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved and thy household. The next two verses tell us that Paul then spake unto him the Word of the Lord. There is no doubt then that when Paul was speaking the Word of the Lord to this jailer, he explained to him how to believe in the Lord Jesus; for when he finished speaking to him, he baptized him.
Verse 34 also verifies that faith in the name of Jesus at baptism was the way in which Paul told him to believe on the Lord. After he was baptized’…he rejoiced with all his household that he had believed (past tense) in God.’ (v. 34 of R.S.V.). These scriptures make it easy to see that Paul did not mean that this jailer was simply saved by just believing for if he did, this would contradict the whole Bible for the Bible teaches explicitly that salvation is an individual affair This jailer was alone when he asked, ‘what must I do, and Paul was only speaking to him when he told him to believe and he and his household would be saved. It was utterly impossible for his household to be saved simply by just his believing. Paul revealed to us that the jailer and his household would be saved at the same time, and they were for we find that they were all baptized at the same time. (see verse 33).
Joel, prophesying of the Church Age, proclaims, ‘And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered…’ (Joel 2:32). By looking at Acts 22:16, one can see this prophecy literally fulfilled. `…and be baptized and wash away thy sins Calling on the name of the Lord.’ In Acts 2:21, Peter tells the multitude at the beginning of his sermon, ‘…whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ As he finishes his sermon, the multitude wanting to know how to call on the Name of the Lord, cry out, ‘Men and brethren what shall we do?’ (Verse 37). He immediately reveals to them how to call on the Name of the Lord when he answers them by telling hem to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ of the remission of sins. (Verse 38).
Paul, writing to the Romans who had already obeyed the gospel as found in Romans 10:9, reminds them of their faith and confession that they made just preceding their baptism. (Concerning their baptism, see Rom. 6:3-6). This requirement of faith at baptism is also seen in Acts 8:37 when the eunuch cried out for baptism and Philip answered him, “If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest.’ This faith and confession is also seen in Matt. 3:6, ‘And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.’ (See also Mark 1:5). Paul explains better his statement in Romans 10:9 with verse 13 as his concluding thought, ‘For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved.’ And as we have seen, Peer revealed that baptism in the name of Jesus Christ is the way in which one calls upon the name of the Lord. Hasting’s Dictionary of the Bible p.89 also states, ‘Rom. 10:9 contains I baptismal confession….’ This connection of faith at baptism can be seen in our Lord’s words, ‘He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved…’ (Mark 16:16).
This article The Value of a Divine Name by Michael Trapasso was submitted personally by the author. Used by permission. June 2009. It may be used for study & research purposes only.