Do You Respect the Name of Christ?
“God exalted [Jesus] to a superior position and kindly gave him the name that is above every other name, so that in the name of Jesus every knee should bend of those in heaven and those on earth and those under the ground, and every tongue should openly acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”—PHILIPPIANS 2:9-11.
IN THE verses above, the apostle Paul described the respect and honor that is due the name of Jesus. Do you ‘bend the knee’ in his name? Do you know “the name that is above every other name” that Jehovah gave to him? Today, hundreds of millions claim to be Christian. Can it be said that they ‘bend the knee’ in the name of Jesus? Let us examine that name and see what is involved in ‘bending the knee’ in its honor.
What Kind of Name?
First, what is the “name” that was given to Jesus? It is not merely his personal name. Other humans have been named Jesus, so that is hardly a “name that is above every other name.” Neither is it Jesus’ name in the sense of his reputation. True, Jesus became known as Jehovah’s foremost witness in all creation. (Revelation 3:14) However, he earned that name for himself. This “name that is above every other name” was ‘kindly given’ to Jesus by Jehovah.
What, then, is the name? Some words of the prophet Isaiah help us to answer that. Hundreds of years before Jesus’ birth, Isaiah wrote about him: “For there has been a child born to us, there has been a son given to us; and 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.
What does “name” mean here? It refers to the high position and authority that Jesus would be given so that he could fulfill his Father’s will. It is in recognition of and submission to this high authority that every knee has to bend. Since that is the case, let us examine more closely these four titles mentioned by Isaiah.
In what ways is Jesus a “Wonderful Counselor”?
First, Isaiah said that Jesus’ name would be “Wonderful Counselor.” He would be authorized to give wonderful counsel to mankind. Before coming to earth Jesus already served as the Word, or Jehovah’s chief spokesman. (John 1:1) While on earth he spoke words that led men to everlasting life—wonderful counsel indeed! Thus, Peter said to him: “You have sayings of everlasting life.” (John 6:68) Jesus is the key figure in Jehovah’s channel of communication to mankind. (Revelation 1:1) It is vital for everyone today to listen to his words. He is “the way and the truth and the life.” (John 14:6) No salvation is possible for those who refuse to listen to this “Wonderful Counselor.”
In what sense is Jesus a “Mighty God”?
Isaiah also foretold that Jesus would be a “Mighty God.” Before coming to earth he was “a god” in the sense that he was “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” (John 1:1; Colossians 1:15) After dying as a human and being raised as an immortal spirit, he is a god in the sense that he partakes bodily of “the divine quality.”—Colossians 2:9; 1 Timothy 6:15, 16.
However, there is an authority associated with the title “Mighty God.” In the Bible certain men were called gods. Why? Because they served as judges in the nation of Israel. (Psalm 82:1-6) Jesus, the “Mighty God,” is Jehovah’s great appointed Judge. He himself explained what this meant: “The Father judges no one at all, but he has committed all the judging to the Son, in order that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father.”—John 5:22, 23.
Among the judgment acts entrusted to Jesus is the judging of his own congregation—both those who had died prior to his return in Kingdom power and those still alive—at the period of his presence during “the conclusion of the system of things.” (Matthew 24:3) He also does the judging of the nations today, separating “the sheep” from “the goats.” In addition, he will preside over the thousand-year judgment day of all mankind after Armageddon. A “Mighty God” indeed!—Matthew 25:31-46; Revelation 11:18; 1 Peter 4:17; Revelation 20:4, 5, 13.
Why is Jesus properly called “Eternal Father”?
Jesus was also to be an “Eternal Father.” How would that be? Well, Adam was the first father of the human race. However, he lost the opportunity to be an “eternal father” when he sinned. He could no longer give his children everlasting life as an inheritance. Jesus, on the other hand, did not sin. And by sacrificing his sinless life for mankind, he opened the way to everlasting life for those who exercised faith. (John 3:16; 1 John 2:2) He thus will give them the everlasting life that Adam failed to give them. Hence, the Bible calls him “the last Adam,” “a life-giving spirit.” (1 Corinthians 15:45) He is properly called the “Eternal Father” of the future perfect human race.
How does Jesus fill the role of “Prince of Peace”?
Finally, Isaiah said that Jesus’ name would be “Prince of Peace.” He would be a King, bringing peace to his subjects. (Psalm 72:6, 7) After his resurrection Jesus showed the extent of his authority when he said: “All authority has been given me in heaven and on the earth.” (Matthew 28:18) This great authority included ruling as King over his own congregation since 33 C.E. and over God’s Kingdom since 1914. (Colossians 1:13; Revelation 11:15) Jesus will bring peace to this earth by destroying God’s enemies and by ruling in justice over righteous humans.—Psalm 37:10, 11; 72:7, 8; Daniel 2:44.
Acknowledging Jesus’ Name
Thus it is seen that “the name that is above every other name” involves the position, power or authority that God gave to Jesus. It truly is above every other name since no other creature was given such a high authority. Only of Jesus was it said: “There is no salvation in anyone else, for there is not another name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must get saved.” (Acts 4:12) And only Jesus could say: “If you ask anything in my name, I will do it.”—John 14:14.
Hence, the apostle Paul went on to say: “In the name of Jesus every knee should bend of those in heaven and those on earth and those under the ground.” (Philippians 2:10) Yes, even “those in heaven,” the faithful angels, acknowledge his high position and authority. (Hebrews 1:4-6) “Those under the ground” will learn about Jesus’ “name” when they have part in the earthly resurrection. Only for those who then ‘bend the knee’ in respect for his God-given authority will that resurrection prove to be “a resurrection of life.”—John 5:29; Revelation 20:12.
“Those on earth” too—that is, those of us now alive—are obliged to ‘bend the knee’ in the name of Jesus if we wish to gain eternal life. This means listening to Jesus, the Wonderful Counselor, and applying his counsel. (Matthew 7:24, 25) It means exercising faith in him so that our sins will be forgiven. Thus he will eventually become our Eternal Father.
Especially, it means honoring and being subject now to God’s appointed Judge and King, Jesus. We must prove ourselves “sheep”—not “goats”—by our deeds toward the King’s brothers. We must preach the good news about the Kingdom of this “Prince of Peace” to others. (Matthew 24:14; 25:34-40) And we must abide by the laws of his Kingdom while remaining neutral in the affairs of the nations of this world.—James 2:8; 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10; John 15:19.
Jehovah has invited the world’s rulers to subject themselves to Jesus. (Psalm 2:10-12) They refuse, however, and in many cases oppose Christians who do subject themselves to him. Thus, ‘bending the knee’ in the name of Jesus is not always easy. Jesus himself warned: “You will be objects of hatred by all the nations on account of my name.”—Matthew 24:9.
Faithful Christians experience that hatred when they insist on honoring Jesus and showing proper respect for the high power and authority of Christ. Nevertheless, it is a happy privilege and promises great rewards to be found among those referred to in Philippians 2:11: “Every tongue should openly acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”