THE names of jesus in scripture
There are several passages in Scripture where specific appellations are used of the Messiah, where we are actually told “he shall be called,” or similar. In this short study, we intend to briefly consider these references, to further enhance our appreciation of the various names bestowed upon our Saviour – and what we shall find is that each term expresses a different aspect of his character and work.
The marginal rendering of Psalm 72:17 indicates that the Name of our Master, Jesus the Christ, is “as a son to continue his Father’s Name for ever”. Indeed, this accords with the testimony of the writer to the Hebrews that Messiah “hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name” than the Angels (Heb. 1:4). Just as in our experience, children inherit the surname of their Father, even so it was with Messiah, and Yahweh, his Father. But doubly so in his case, for his own name itself contains the contracted version of the name of the Father, being in the Hebrew: “Yah-shua”.
Matthew chapter 1 records the naming of Christ, in the words of the Angel Gabriel to Joseph:
“ … thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Mat. 1:21).
This verse is particularly helpful, as it contains in itself a definition of what the name “Jesus” literally means. It means: “he shall save,” his name being: “Yah = He Shall” and “shua” = save. And the context also tells us from what are we to be saved – our own sins. So it is of a Truth that Christ Jesus came into the world “to save sinners” (1 Tim. 1:15).
THE WORD OF GOD
Revelation Chapter 19 reveals another facet of Christ’s Character:
“he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God” (Rev. 19:13).
Our Master, as the Gospel through John reveals, is the Father’s Word “made flesh” (Jno. 1:14). All of the precepts and principles involved with the expression of the Father’s mind within the Holy Writ focalise in Christ. The Word of the glorious Gospel shines to us through his Face (2 Cor. 4:4-6) as a light entering into, and enlightening our hearts. It is through the work of Messiah that the Word itself shall find a fulfilment.
Isaiah 55 teaches us an important aspect of the Word:
“as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater: so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Isa. 55:10-11).
Sometimes folk ask the question: “Has Christianity failed?” But failed to do what? The mission of Christ, as expressed in the Gospel is not to convert all the world as some would suppose, but is rather to take out from the Gentiles a people for his name (Acts 15:14). Christianity as it is popularly understood may well have failed: it is very different from the system of Worship and Truth revealed in the Bible. Popular Christianity and offers nothing but an empty hope of life in the elysian fields of paradise beyond the skies. The Bible however, preaches that when the “meek shall inherit the earth,” the Kingdom of Yahweh shall be established in the earth by the exercise of Divine Power, when “the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever” (Rev. 11:15). The purpose of the Gospel is to call out from the Gentiles a people made ready for their Master’s appearing. Then God will be manifest in them (Rom. 8:19), as in a innumerable multitude transformed in the twinkling of an eye to become immortal, glorious, and holy, after the likeness of their Elder Brother.
The Word has been sent out by Divine Breath. Through inspiration of God, the Word of Scripture has been entrusted to us, that we might heed it’s ways, and obey the voice of God. Whether we individually seek those things which are above makes no difference as to whether or not the ultimate purpose of Yahweh be accomplished – He has Spoken, and it will be so. He has sent out His Son as the “Word Made Flesh,” and as such he will accomplish his purpose also. “Christianity,” when Biblically understood, can and will never fail the purpose for which it is designed.
ISAIAH CHAPTER 9
The prophecy of Yahweh through Isaiah speaks of other names given to Christ:
“… his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6).
We shall therefore consider these in turn:
There are many ways in which Messiah could be said to be “wonderful”. His works in healing the sick are described as being “wonderful things” (Mat. 21:15). His birth, miraculously through Mary who had “known” no man, was wonderful. A related word was used by the Angel that appeared to Manoah’s husband, when she asked what his name was: “the angel of Yahweh said unto him, Why askest thou thus after my name, seeing it is wonderful (marg.)” (Jud. 13:18). This being the position of an angel, how much more wonderful is the Name of Jesus Christ, who is made “so much better” than they (Heb. 1:4).
Isaiah chapter 11 describes this aspect of Christ’s Work:
“the Spirit of Yahweh shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of Yahweh” (Isa. 11:2).
Notice here that “counsel” is paired with “might” – i.e. might is obtainable by seeking counsel. The Master with His Father are said to have taken counsel together:
“Even he shall build the temple of Yahweh; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both” (Zech. 6:13).
The Hebrew here is: “El Gibbor,” a title of one of the Angels—Gabriel—and meaning: Mighty Warrior. The word gibbor is used many times in Scripture, to indicate a man of Strength, especially in war:
“Your wives, your little ones, and your cattle shall remain in the land which Moses gave you on this side Jordan: but ye shall pass before your brethren armed, all the mighty men of valour, and help them” (Josh. 1:14)
“So Joshua ascended from Gilgal, he and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valour” (Josh. 10:7)
“Yahweh shall go forth as a mighty man, He shall stir up jealousy like a man of war: he shall cry, yea, roar; he shall prevail against his enemies” (Isa. 42:13)
How appropriate it is therefore, for the captain of our salvation & the leader in our warfare against the flesh to be styled a “Mighty Warrior”.
This name is something that Trinitarians stumble over. Even they do not affirm that the Father and the Son are the same entity. Indeed, in this place, the promised “Child” is said to be a father – which makes Christ his own Parent!
The matter, however, can be resolved by comparing Scripture with Scripture: the are several passages where the disciples of Christ are likened to children, with He being the father:
“behold I and the children which God hath given me” (Heb. 2:13)
If the prince give a gift unto any of his sons, the inheritance thereof shall be his sons’; it shall be their possession by inheritance (Eze 46:16)
In Scripture, the role of “Father” surpasses the literal sense of being a parent to his child. The word is also used of those who are given positions of responsibility towards those under them. See for instance the role of Christ as expressed by the prophet Isaiah:
“I will clothe him with thy robe, and strengthen him with thy girdle, and I will commit thy government into his hand: and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah” (Isa. 22:22).
And again, Joseph (typifying Messiah), spoke of his position to his brethren:
“So now, it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh …” (Gen. 45:8).
Prince of Peace
We have already seen a link between Messiah’s titles and the promise of a peace, when we considered the role of “counsellor”. Again, the word for “prince” occurs in Ezekiel to describe Christ in the Age to Come (see Isa. 46:16 cited above). There those who cannot accept that it is Messiah who is a “prince” in Ezekiel’s prophecy, the reasoning being that Christ will not be a Prince, but a King. The problem is resolved however, when we recognise the aspect of “prince” as applible to Christ in other passages:
“Ye denied the Holy One and the Just … and killed the Prince of life” (Acts 3:14-15)
“at that time shall Michael stand up, the Great Prince which standeth for the children of thy people …” (Dan. 12:1)
There is a sense in which Christ is both prince and king. He will be King ruling over all the earth, but in the ultimate sense he will be but reigning on behalf of his Father, who is the ultimate King. That being so, he is but a prince in relation to his Father, but a king in relation to the people. A recognition of this fact helps us to understand the opening verse of Psalm 72, a Psalm which speaks of many glorious blessings to be realised in the day of coming glory:
“Give the King thy judgments O God, and thy righteousness unto the King’s Son” (Psalm 72:1).
The difficulty here is that one personage is both “the king” and at the same time “the king’s son.” The problem fades however, when we recognize that Christ will reign as a king over earth – but he is himself the son of Yahweh, the only True king. He is therefore the king, but also the king’s son.
In each of the names and titles of Messiah that we have considered, we find that they reflect different facets of his work and ministry. We, as disciples and brethren of Christ must therefore identify ourselves with his work and mission, so that it might be granted to us to be part of the innumerable body of believers at the appointed time.