Questions From Readers
■ At Philippians 2:9 Paul says about Jesus: “God . . . kindly gave him the name that is above every other name.” In what sense was Jesus given a “name that is above every other name”?
In the sense that he was entrusted by Jehovah with a position or authority higher than that granted to any other creature. Some may feel that only Almighty God himself can have a “name that is above every other name.” So they may reason that this scripture proves that Jesus is equal to, or even the same person as, Jehovah God. However, a close examination of the text does not support this reasoning.
The context of Philippians 2:9 shows that Jesus received this “name” after his death and resurrection. Hence, before that time he did not have “the name that is above every other name.” His being given it indicated a change in his status. Is there any way that Jehovah’s status could ever be changed? No. He has always been supreme. Jesus’ being given a higher name thus proves that he is not the same as, or equal to, Jehovah.
Notice, too, that the name was ‘kindly given’ to Jesus by Jehovah. Clearly, if God can choose to give such a name to his Son, Jesus, then the Father must be greater, and Jesus must be subordinate. (1 Corinthians 11:3) Thus it is that any honor going to Jesus because of this high privilege is “to the glory of God the Father.”—Philippians 2:11.
Hence, Jesus was given a name that was higher than that given to any other of God’s creatures. But clearly his receiving this name did not make him equal to God. Compare 1 Corinthians 15:27, which says that God subjected all things under Jesus’ feet but was not himself subject to Jesus.
What was the high name that was given to him? The prophet Isaiah helps us to answer. Speaking of Jesus, he says: “The princely rule will come to be upon his shoulder. And his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6, 7) This scripture shows that the “name” represents the high power, position or authority—in all the aspects mentioned by Isaiah—given to Jesus so that he can fulfill Jehovah’s will.
Jesus showed the extent of his executive authority when he told his disciples: “All authority has been given me in heaven and on the earth.” (Matthew 28:18) Mankind’s only hope for the future lies in the high position entrusted to Jesus, which is why the prophecy of Isaiah is applied to him. “In his name nations will hope.”—Matthew 12:21.
The apostle Paul said that “in the name of Jesus every knee should bend.” (Philippians 2:10) This is not just a token thing. Jesus warned that many would claim to do mighty works in his “name,” but he would not recognize them. (Matthew 7:21-23) Truly to ‘bend the knee’ in Jesus’ name means recognizing his position and fully submitting oneself to his authority. Today, it means being subject to him as King, sharing in the work of declaring the good news of the Kingdom and staying neutral in the affairs of earthly kingdoms.—Matthew 24:14.
This provokes opposition from worldly kings. Jesus warned: “You will be objects of hatred by all the nations on account of my name.” (Matthew 24:9) But for those who do thus ‘bend the knee,’ Jesus’ name has real power.
The apostle Peter declared: “There is not another name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must get saved.” (Acts 4:12) Previously, Peter had said to a lame man: “In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, walk!” And the man walked. (Acts 3:6) Jesus told his followers that they should pray ‘in his name.’ (John 14:14) When we use Jesus’ name in our prayers, we are not reciting a mere formula. Rather, we are petitioning that the high power and authority of Jesus Christ be used on our behalf.
By showing appropriate honor and respect for Jesus’ “name”—his high position or authority—we come to be among those of whom it is said: “Every tongue should openly acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”—Philippians 2:11.