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The Name of Jesus

By John H. Paton, November 1879

"What's in a name?" is often asked, implying insignificance, and it may make but little difference to a man whether he be called Peter, James, John, Moses, Aaron, or even Joshua (Jesus) in times when these and other names are used without any reference to their signification. But in Bible study we are impressed with the idea that names are full of meaning. They were given with reference to time, place, or circumstance, past, present, or future. Some names were as monuments to remind of some special dealings of the Lord, and others were prophetic. The qualities, work or destiny of an individual was often expressed by his name. When the direction of a life was changed it was sometimes indicated by a change of name. Adam, indicates man's origin -- "of the earth, earthy." Cain, is "acquired," and the woman was mistaken in the value of the man she had gotten of the Lord. Abel, is "feeder," a shepherd, and fitly represents the great Shepherd of the sheep, who gave his life for them. Abraham means "father of a great multitude," or "of many nations." His name was changed from Abram to Abraham when God made him the promise. (Gen. 17:5) And in reference to the same great plan Sarai was changed to Sarah, i.e., Princess. (Gen. 17:15) These are prophetic in their character and point to the grand success of the gospel in bringing the nations to God, the Father of all, through the agency of the "seed" of promise -- Christ and the church -- the antitypes of Isaac and Rebekah. David, means beloved, a type of Christ, the true King of Israel. David as a prophet personifies Christ, and God makes promises to him as if he were Christ.

The excellent language of David -- "Thou wilt not leave MY soul in the grave, neither wilt thou suffer thine holy one to see corruption", -- was fulfilled in the triumphant resurrection of Christ from the dead. The name given is made to refer to position or official relationship, so that the position is meant when the word "name" is used. Even in this sense "a good name is rather to be chosen than great riches." The success of the Lord's work is to Him "for a name" -- an honor. (Isa. 55:13) To the obedient the Lord promises "an everlasting name." (Isa. 56:5) "but the name of the wicked shall rot." (Prov. 10:7) To receive a prophet in the name of a prophet certainly refers to his official character. "Thou shalt call his name Jesus because He shall save His people from their sins." Jesus means Savior, and we are carried forward from the mere word to the exalted official position, on account of which he can "save to the utmost all who come unto God by him." His position is contrasted with that of men and angels, as he is Lord of both, having "all power in heaven and earth." Hence, it is said, "Let ALL the angels of GOd worship him"; [that must include Michael, the chief angel, hence Michael is not the Son of God] and the reason is, because he has " by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they." Michael or Gabriel are perhaps grander names than Jesus, though Jesus is grand in its very simplicity, but the official character of the Son of God as Savior and King is the inheritance from his Father, which is far superior to theirs, for it pleased the Father that in him all fullness should dwell. He has given him a name which is above every name, that at the NAME of Jesus every knee should bow both in heaven and earth. And there is "none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved."

With this view before our minds that the name refers to his official position, the importance of taking from among the Gentiles a "people for his name" will be appreciated. As the wife takes the name of her husband, so the church takes the name of her Head. The two made one is the fact of importance. Not one in name merely, but in fact, as represented by the name -- one in spirit, position, aim and work. The difference between the terms Jesu-it and Christian may illustrate a point. The first relates to the letter, as Jesus, is a proper name; the second relates more nearly to the spirit, as Christ means Anointed and refers to his official position.

We are not here pleading for a name, but what appears to be an important idea. There is doubtless as much danger in using the name Christian as the name of a sect, as in using other names. The one body knows no divisions. All who have the spirit of Christ are one whether they fully realize it or not; one in spirit now and when glorified -- married -- one in every possible sense, even as the Father and Son are one. (John 17:22, 23).

To be baptized into the name of Jesus (or Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), as in him all fullness of the Godhead dwells, means far more than a baptismal formula. It is by the apostle expressed as being baptized by one spirit into one body (1 Cor. 12:13). There are letter and spirit in the subject of baptism as in almost every other part of God's plan. We should not ignore or belittle either. The letter represents the spirit, as a symbol or "likeness of his death", and "resurrection" (Rom. 6:5). Those who can appreciate the spirit need not and are not most likely to ignore the letter, but it seems important that we should guard against mere formalism. In spirit, to be baptised involves a death to sin, a rising into a new life of obedience, and a consequent formation of a character; -- having "your fruit unto holiness and the end everlasting life" (Rom. 6:22) "As many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ" (Gal. 3:27). "Into one body!" "Ye are members of Christ," as in the figure used, bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh (Eph. 5:30). Do not confound the figure with the reality, do not imagine we will lose our individuality. The body of Christ is a body corporate, each individual acting in harmony with each other and under the direction of Christ for the manifestation of God's love in the salvation of men.

The human body is used to represent the church, but in this as in all other figures the reality is but dimly fore-shadowed. As Jesus is the Anointed, so are we, and for the same purpose. He is both king and priest, so we are to be kings and priests -- kings to rule and priests to bless.

To be baptized into his name is to become sharers in his spirit, his character, his official positon and his work. The power given to him will be manifested through his saints. He is our Savior, but the body corporate will save the world. He will continue to be our Head, but the church will be the head of the world. Adam was the head of his wife, but they were the united head of the race. The natural is the shadow of the spiritual. Our position will be higher than the highest angel. We, like them, will die no more; but as we for a little while have been lower than the angels, and in an important sense under their influence, they in this world being ministering spirits to the heirs of salvation, so in the world to come, the church being then exalted to the throne of him who is Lord of both angels and men, the "saints will judge (rule) angels", and "judge (rule) the world" too. In that day when every knee shall bow to the highest manifested authority -- before the Messiah's throne -- the Queen as well as the King will be there. Is it a false ambition, to look for such royal honor? The voice of our coming husband sounds sweetly upon our ears as we struggle on amid the trials of this life. The overcomer will sit with me in my throne. Will he allure us on by such a hope to deceive us? Are the crown, throne and kingdom promised but unmeaning words? Are our hopes in vain? Will they vanish in fulfillment? Away with the doubt, it is Satan's snare; our Lover is true and faithful, and He has "all power". Call it an unworthy ambition and selfish withal, do you? Then God never would have given the inducement. If this hope of ours is selfish, then our Savior is selfish. For the joy set before him he endureth; but it is a benevolent selfishness. His power is exercised to bless. The greater serves the less.

How else could we enter into the JOY of our Lord than by reaching a postion from which we can pour blessing on the needy? He hath given him a NAME above every name. O that we may realize our privilege of sharing it!

Baptized into the Saviors death,
With him we rise again;
His spirit moves our every breath,
With him we'll live and reign.

[J. H. P., November 1879]