The Name Above Every Name – It May Not Be What You Think

yhwh-graphicThe Name above every name, the name at which every knee shall bow and every tongue confess is Jesus, right? After all that’s what we sing about in many Christian songs and hymns.

I heard a well known reformed theologian teach on Philippians 2:10-11 many years ago. He informed us in his teaching that the name was not Jesus. Say What!? He informed us that Paul was not even referring to a name, but to a title. He said it was at the “name” Lord that every knee shall bow and tongue confess. This may come as a shock for some people…After all Christians love to sing, “Jesus, name above all names.”

But, what if the Name Above Every Name is neither the title Lord nor the name Jesus?

Though in a precursory read of Philippians 2:10-11 one may think, “this scripture seals the deal.” If we take a closer look, we discover that Paul is actually quoting YHWH’s own words about Himself from Isaiah 45 and applying it to Jesus…

“Turn to me and be saved,
all the ends of the earth!
For I am God, and there is no other.
23 By myself I have sworn;
from my mouth has gone out in righteousness
a word that shall not return:
‘To me every knee shall bow,
every tongue shall swear allegiance.’

YHWH says He is God and Savior and there is no other and to Him/His name “every knee shall bow and tongue swear allegiance.” Well who is it…YHWH or Jesus?

That makes me wonder, what it is that Jesus taught us about “the Name” above every name? Does he give us any clues as to what that name is?

I think the answer is “yes”. When Jesus taught His disciples how to pray, the first line of the prayer reveals that name that is above every name…

Jesus said…

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name...” Matthew 6:9 (NIV) (Emphasis added)

According to Nehemia Gordan and Keith Johnson, in their book, “A Prayer to Our Father” they translate the same verse from Hebrew Matthew manuscripts into English as…

“Our Father in heaven, may Your Name be sanctified”

Gordan and Johnson examined many different Hebrew manuscripts which led them to the above translation.

Now let us dig a little deeper to get a wider perspective on the subject by looking at some of the scriptures from the Hebrew Scriptures (i.e. Old Testament)…(Emphasis added)

God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘YHWH, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’ “This is my name forever, the name you shall call me from generation to generation.
Exodus 3:15

YHWH, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! Psalm 8:9

Save us, YHWH, our God, and gather us from the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise. Psalm 106:47

Not to us, YHWH, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness. Psalm 115:1

Then I called on the name of YHWH: “YHWH, save me!”
Psalm 116:4

Let them praise the name of YHWH, for his name alone is exalted; his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.
Psalm 148:13

“I am YHWH; that is my name! I will not yield my glory to another or my praise to idols. Isaiah 42:8

For your Maker is your husband— YHWH Almighty is his name— the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth. Isaiah 54:5

And foreigners who bind themselves to YHWH to minister to him, to love the name of YHWH, and to be his servants, all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenant— Isaiah 56:6

For this is what the high and exalted One says— he who lives forever, whose name is holy: ” I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.”
Isaiah 57:15

And everyone who calls on the name of YHWH will be saved... Joel 2:32

He will stand and shepherd his flock
in the strength of YHWH,
in the majesty of the name of YHWH his God.
And they will live securely, for then his greatness
will reach to the ends of the earth. Micah 5:4

In the above verses, I have rendered the actual name of God/The LORD as it is written in the Hebrew manuscripts, so there is no confusion about WHAT that name is. In most cases the English bible translations have replaced the actual name of God with the title “Lord” which some translators render in all CAPS, i.e. LORD.

The verses above are but a mere few verses that clearly indicate that the name that is to be revered above every name is the name of God…that name is YHWH. Some people pronounce it Yehovah, others say Yaweh, still others Jehovah and there are several other pronunciations as well…but the pronunciation is not the important thing. What is important is that the “holy scriptures” Paul refers to in 2 Timothy 3:14-17 leave no doubt as to what that name is.

To further illustrate the hypothesis, that the name that is above every name is not Jesus, but the holy, exalted, unique and superior name of YHWH…let’s take a quick look at Jesus’ name and what He taught.

First, the name Jesus would be better and more consistently translated into English as Joshua. (Hebrew Yehoshua = Greek Iesus = English Joshua). For further study look into the name Joshua in the Hebrew scriptures. In other words there is nothing unique, superior or exalted about the name “Jesus,” it would be just as accurate and more consistent to call him Joshua. We could just as well sing, “Joshua, the name above all names, beautiful Savior…”

Secondly, Jesus taught in his prayer to the Father (Matthew 6)…

a. We are to pray to “our Father” whose name incidentally is “YHWH”.
b. Jesus taught that the name of the Father, YHWH, is to be sanctified, i.e. set apart, exalted, treated as holy.

Thirdly, in Matthew 22:37-39 we see Jesus taught that the greatest commandments is (as it always had been)..the Shema (meaning to “hear and obey”) from Deuteronomy 6…

Hear, O Israel: YHWH our God, YHWH is one. Love YHWH your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. Deut 6:4

And he taught “the second is like it” (Matthew 22:39) again quoting the holy scriptures…

Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am YHWH. Leviticus 19:18

So when Paul writes something that seems to contradict the very inspired scriptures that He reminded Timothy (2 Timothy 3) to continue in…

 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

We must reconcile these seeming dichotomies…

As we wrap up let’s take a look at the Hebrew name of Jesus…chances are the name Iesus was not “Jesus’” given name, other wise what the angel said to Joseph in Matthew Chapter 1 would not make much sense.

She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.

The words of the Angel seem to be making a connection between “The name Jesus” and “save his people from their sins.” This connection is lost in the Greek and English.

In Hebrew this verse would read more like….

She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Yeshua, because he will Yehsha (deliver, save) his people from their sins.

See the word play in the Hebrew? His name is Yeshua because he will Yehsha. This is called a Hebraism…a play on words if you will…the Hebrew name of Jesus and the Hebrew word for salvation are very, very similar.

Further more, the formal Hebrew name of Jesus is Yehoshua, which means YHWH is Salvation. Remember Joshua who has a book named after him? Well check it out for yourself…Joshua and Jesus are the same name, simply different transliterations. Joshua’s name in Hebrew is Yehoshua meaning YHWH is Salvation.

Of course there is no way to parse every single scripture on this topic in this format…it really would take a book to do the topic justice. So for the sake of intellectual honesty, there are other scriptures that seem to point to Jesus as the way of salvation such as Acts 4:10-12 where Peter is preaching…

let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. 11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Imagine being a first century Jew, steeped in Torah and hearing this message from a fellow Jew!  Hearing a Jew preach that there is in fact NOW another name by which men must be saved. This despite the fact that YHVH said,  “This (YHWH) is my name and there is no other!”

Yet in Acts 2:21 Peter is recorded as preaching from the book of Joel …

And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the LORD (YHWH) shall be saved. (Joel 2:32)

The question here becomes, “Is Peter quoting Joel as originally written?” What did Peter actually say…here are a few options…

  • And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of YHVH shall be saved.
  • And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the LORD (meaning YHWH) shall be saved.
  • And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord (Adonai, meaning Jesus) shall be saved.

If Peter meant anything other than YHWH when he preached those messages he was changing scripture…If he did mean/say something other than YHVH, one must ask by what authority would Peter have to change the very eternal word of YHVH?

It appears from the few scriptures quoted above that Jesus taught and even in the meaning of his name, he pointed us back to YHWH. This appears to be entirely consistent with the Old Testament Scriptures and all that the prophets taught as well. This also brings greater harmony between the Hebrew Scriptures and New Testament, because YHWH is the God Who never changes. He is the Great I AM, Who I AM.

So, a disclaimer is in order here, I am no Biblical or Hebrew Scholar…as always, I encourage you to search out these things for yourself. Dig deeper into God’s holy word, deeper than you ever have. Cry to YHWH for more wisdom and knowledge to know, love and obey Him. Do not simply open your mouth to be spoon fed the pablum opinions of men with their various winds of doctrine…for every “expert” thinks the doctrine they teach is the correct interpretation. Christian, do you know how many “expert” men of God have varied in their understanding of these very crucial doctrines?

What are your thoughts about these things? Did YHWH change His name? Did He give His name to Jesus? In which case should we be calling on the name of YHWH as opposed to Jesus to be saved?

Read more on this topic here.

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3 Responses to The Name Above Every Name – It May Not Be What You Think

  1. Lucas Dawn says:

    You are right that in Phil. 2:9 “the name above every name” is not the name Jesus; and the man who said that name was really “lord” was also right. As you point out, Lord (or LORD) is the usual English translation for YHWH (the main Hebrew name for God). When Paul uses Isa. 45 in Phil. 2, he says God has highly exalted Jesus and given him the name that is above every name. While 2:10 goes on to say that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,” 2:11 describes what/who they confess, namely, that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Thus God is now sharing the name of Lord (which translates YHWH from Isa. 25) with Jesus.

    Similarly, when Peter in Acts 2:21 quotes Joel 2:32 about “calling on the name of the Lord” to be saved, he concludes his message in Acts 2:36 by saying “that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” In Acts 2:34-35 Peter quotes Psalm 110:1 (The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand), a verse Jesus also quoted in Mt. 22:44 in telling the Pharisees that the Christ is much more than the son of David. In Rom. 10:13 Paul also quotes Joel 2:32, after having said in 10:9 that “if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

    Paul’s greeting to his churches is often “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (e.g. Rom. 1:7b; 1 Cor. 1:3; Phil. 1:2). While God is seldom called Father in the Old Testament, Jesus reveals him as his “abba” Father. It is possible to interpret Mt. 6:9 as meaning the name that is to be “sanctified” or revered is in fact the name mentioned in that same verse, namely, “Our Father.” (The name of Father would be revered also if, as Jesus says in Mt. 23:9, the disciples not call any man their father, for they have one Father, who is in heaven.)

  2. Pingback: Every Knee Will Bow to Who? | Christian Discipleship

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