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The "Name" of Jesus

by David Smitherman
via Plain Talk, July 1983

Jesus has a "name" that is above every other name (Ephesians 1:21; Philippians 2:9) but that "name" is not just an arrangement of letters to spell that word: J-E-S-U-S is not this name. It is much more than a title or designation.

In Scripture, "name" is often equivalent to "revelation" what is revealed by or known about some one or some thing. The "good name" in Proverbs 22:1 is not that "Mary" is better than "Sue" but that each Mary and Sue have good character. Their reputation is their "name."

Thus the "name" of Jesus is what is known about, revealed by Him. The texts above are affirming that what is known about Jesus -- what He reveals Himself to be -- is far above anything known about or revealed by any other individual.

An action "in" this name is one that is done in harmony with it. We do things "in the name of" Christ when those actions are based upon and in harmony with what Christ has made known or revealed.

All men are called upon to believe in the name of Christ (I John 5:13, John 1:12). This is done when men accept all that Jesus claims to be (John 8:24) and all that He has revealed (John 8:31; Luke 6:46). Simply believing that Jesus was a good man is not believing on His name for He has revealed many other things about Himself (John 5:18; 8:46,58) that must be accepted also. And, while Jesus said we must love one another (Matthew 5:44; John 15:12), there are other things of equal importance that we must do. Such as...

Calling upon his name (Acts 2:21; 22:16; Romans 10:12-14). This is not an audible pronouncing of a word but an appeal to Him because of what He reveals Himself to be. Paul "appealed" (same Greek word as "call upon") unto Caesar (Acts 25:11) because he recognized that it was before him that justice would be served. So our appeal is made to Christ: only Jesus reveals Himself to be the one who can effectively deal with our sins. This "appeal" is to His word, which will judge us in the last day (John 12:44-50). In His word He speaks of...

Baptism "in the name" (Matthew 28:19; Acts 2:38. The thought is not that the "right words" (whatever they are) need to be said. But that the action be done out of a regard for what our Lord had said. One might have "the right words" said over him as someone sprinkled water on his head but this would not make the action "in the name of" Christ for Christ has said nothing about such an action. Likewise, the "right words" spoken as one is immersed for reasons other than the remission of sins is not an "in the name of" action for Christ said nothing about other purposes.

After baptism, all that we do in word or deed (Colossians 3:16) is to be done "in the name" of Christ: every action and each uttered thought is done out of a regard for and based upon who Christ is and what He has said.

"Take the name of Jesus with you ... take it then, where'er you go."