The UK Bible Students Website
The Name of Names
Unless stated otherwise, all biblical references are to the NIV-UK.
Q Phil. 2: 9 says of Jesus that, ‘God exalted him to the highest place, and gave him the name that is above every name’. What is meant by ‘name above every name’?
A We will give a relatively brief overview of this subject, staying within the bounds of the NIV-UK where possible, though this translation has some defects, which we touch on.
To understand the meaning and significance of v. 9 we need to put it into context, to ‘get the flow’, beginning with vs. 1-11, supplemented with comments along the way:
‘1. Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2. then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4. not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. 5. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:’
In the foregoing verses (1-5a), the Apostle Paul exhorts the brethren to love one another and to put others first; in short, to pattern their thoughts and behaviour on Jesus. However, from here on, the NIV-UK, in common with most English translations, taints the meaning of the text, injecting into it the notion of the Trinity (hypostasis: Jesus as both God and man):
6. who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
Jesus did not claim to be God, was not of God’s immortal nature, and therefore cannot have been equal to God, not least because Jehovah is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, without beginning and without end.
See the following texts:
John 8: 28 “So Jesus said, ‘When you have lifted up [crucified] the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.”
John 14: 28: “‘You heard me say, “I am going away and I am coming back to you.” If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.”
Psalm 110: 1: “The Lord says to my lord: ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.’” In this passage LORD is the sacred appellation of Jehovah – YHVH, the Tetragrammaton; ‘Lord’ is adon, and refers to Jesus, the lesser ‘lord’. There are two distinct personalities in this exchange.
Back to Phil. 2; comments in italics:
7. rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness [that is, a perfect mortal man]. 8. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!
Jesus was made equivalent, not to His Father, but to (a perfect) Adam, with whom the writer of Hebrews does, indeed, equate Him. For instance:
Heb. 2: 9 . . . we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honour because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
Compare this text with
Psalm 8: 4, 5: “what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? 5. You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honour.”
It was necessary that Jesus, a perfect, mortal man be equivalent to a perfect, mortal Adam in order to pay the ransom for him (1 Tim. 2: 5, 6).
Returning now to Phil. 2, and the subject of this Q&A:
9. Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10. that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven [the angelic orders] and on earth and under the earth [those to be resurrected to life on earth], 11. and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Properly, v. 10 applies to ‘the name’. This name denotes not especially the appellation ‘Jesus’, but His (earned) reputation, authority and glorification, consequent on His resurrection, at which He received from the Father immortality, Divine life, or life in oneself – self-sustaining existence, deathlessness. See John 5: 26: ‘For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted [promised] the Son also to have life in himself.’
Because of Jesus’ faithfulness – ‘that’ – the resurrected world will, in the coming Millennial Kingdom on earth, ‘bow the knee’ – submit to His Lordship. Most will do this willingly; some will not. Jesus will be appointed by God as sovereign in that day, only until He ‘has put everything under his feet’ (1 Cor. 15: 24-28; emphasis supplied):
24. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27. For he ‘has put everything under his feet’. Now when it says that ‘everything’ has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28. When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.’
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