John 17 – The Name of God

Last week, Jesus spoke of the glory of God.
·  We discussed the intrinsic glory of God and the radiant glory of God.
·  We saw how to participate in the glory of God and how to glorify God.
·  In our text today, Jesus speaks of the name of God.


John 17:6 (ESV) — 6I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.
John 17:11–12 (ESV) — 11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.

Jesus’ work and petition concerning the Name of God:
(1) Jesus tells us that He has done the work given to Him by the Father – “manifested you name” to the given (vs. 6).
·  Manifested or revealed, the Greek word phaneroo, means exactly what one would think.
·  The BDAG sums it up as follows – “to cause to become known, disclose, show, make known”.

(2) In light of His coming departure, Jesus then prays for the given – “keep them in your name” (vs. 11).
·  Jesus is asking the Father to “guard” or “preserve” the given in the Father’s Name.
·  We see this in verse 12, “I have guarded them”.

(3) And finally, Jesus declares that part of His ministry to the given was the very same thing He is asking the Father to do after His departure – “I kept them in your name” (vs. 12).
·  Jesus kept all but one, of course.
·  Judas' betrayal was a fulfillment of prophecy.
·  Acts 1:16–20 (ESV) — 16 “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. 17 For he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.” 18 (Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness, and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. 19 And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their own language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) 20 “For it is written in the Book of Psalms, “ ‘May his camp become desolate, and let there be no one to dwell in it’; and “ ‘Let another take his office.’

So, with respect to God’s Name, Jesus speaks of how:
·  He manifested it to the given
·  He kept the given in it
·  He asked the Father to continue to keep the given in it

What are the names of God?
·  Yahweh; I Am; El; Theos
·  And the “attributive names” (DBI).
o   Lord (Adonai); King; Almighty; Mighty One; Redeemer; Rock; etc.
·  The Jews obviously already knew these names of God.
·  And would have certainly known what they meant.
·  So what was Jesus doing – what was He manifesting?


Name as Attributes:
Most commentators argue that Jesus is using “name” as a reference to God’s attributes.
·  “What Jesus reveals to them is God’s ‘name,’ which enshrines who God is in his character, his essential nature; because his name is glorious, God wants it to be made known” – Andreas Kostenberger.
·  “…Jesus revealed God’s ‘name,’ i.e., his nature, his character” – Beasley-Murray.
·  “The concept of God’s ‘name’ encompasses all that He is: His character, nature, and attributes” – John MacArthur.
·  “‘The name of God’ is a Semitic phrase for speaking about God’s attributes. To make the name known is to reveal the God who possesses those attributes” – James Boice.

What are some of the attributes of God?
·  Communicable – those that God shares with others
o   Love, knowledge, mercy, justice, wisdom, etc.
·  Incommunicable – those He doesn’t
o   Eternal (uncreated), unchangeableness, omnipresence, omniscience, omnipotence, etc.

And how did Jesus manifest these?
·  “In contemporary Jewish teaching, righteous deeds hallowed God’s name, and wicked ones dishonored it” – IVPBBCNT.
·  So Jesus extolled the Name of Yahweh via His words and actions – signs and wonders.
·  What are some specific examples of Jesus doing this?
o   Omnipotence – calmed the storm, water to wine, etc.
o   Eternity – “Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58).
o   Omniscience – knew Nathan’s thoughts in John

Summary Part 1:
And so it is in these ways that Jesus manifested, kept and asked God to keep the believers in the Name of Yahweh.
·  (1) He revealed the attributes of Yahweh.
·  (2) He did this with the expectation that believers would aspire to do the same in their lives – participate in the name.
·  “Indeed, to ‘know’ God’s name means to be in harmonious relationship with God’s character and purposes” – DBI.
·  So this is what he was doing – to answer our previous question.
·  But wait…there is more!


There is something else going on here that the OT can shed some light on.
·  When Jews spoke of “the Name” (ha-shem) of God, it was not just a reference to His attributes.
·  It was a reference to (Michael Heiser):
o   (1) Yahweh Himself

Ha-Shem as Yahweh:
Let’s take a look at some examples of this usage.
·  Chronicles 22:19 (ESV) — 19 Now set your mind and heart to seek the Lord your God. Arise and build the sanctuary of the Lord God, so that the ark of the covenant of the Lord and the holy vessels of God may be brought into a house built for the name of the Lord [Yahweh].”
o   The presence of Yahweh will fill the sanctuary “as the Name” – Michael Heiser.
·  Isaiah 60:9 (ESV) — 9 For the coastlands shall hope for me, the ships of Tarshish first, to bring your children from afar, their silver and gold with them, for the name of the Lord [Yahweh] your God, and for the Holy One of Israel, because he has made you beautiful.
o   The “Holy One of Israel” and the “he has made you beautiful” both refer “directly to ‘the Name of Yahweh’” – Michael Heiser.
·  Isaiah 30:27 (NIV) — 27 See, the Name of the Lord [Yahweh] comes from afar, with burning anger and dense clouds of smoke; his lips are full of wrath, and his tongue is a consuming fire.
·  Psalm 20:1 (ESV) — 1 May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble! May the name of the God of Jacob protect you!

So, yes, the Jews clearly knew all the descriptive names we spoke of at the beginning.
·  However, when the name of Yahweh is used, they also would have understood the speaker to be referring to more than these.
·  They would have understood a reference was being made to Yahweh Himself.
·  “The name of the Lord was virtually synonymous with His presence: “For your wondrous works declare that your name is near” (Ps. 75:1). To know the name of God is thus to know God Himself” – NIBD.

Summary Part 2:
So we asked earlier, what was Jesus doing?
·  From our discussion thus far we see that He was:
·  (1) Claiming that, to the extent humans could comprehend them, the attributes of God were made known through His work.
·  (2) This was done that believers might aspire to do the same – participate in the name.
·  (3) And profoundly, when Jesus spoke of the Name, He was suggesting that, more than just attributes, His ministry somehow manifested Yahweh Himself.


There is one more thing going on with the OT Name theology that can shed even more light on what Jesus was doing.
·  Jesus was declaring that “the Name” also refers to:
o   (1) A personal (Trinitarian) representation of Yahweh.
·  That is, Jesus is declaring Himself to be a person in ancient Israel’s “Godhead thinking” – Michael Heiser.
·  He is inserting Himself into the O.T. Name theology.
·  In other words, Jesus is claiming to be “The Name” – i.e., God.

Ha-Shem as a Personal Representation of Yahweh:
·  Isaiah 52:6 (ESV) — 6 Therefore my people shall know my name. Therefore in that day they shall know that it is I who speak; here I am.”
·  Exodus 23:20–22 (ESV) — 20 “Behold, I send an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared. 21 Pay careful attention to him and obey his voice; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgression, for my name is in him. 22 “But if you carefully obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries.
o   Heiser argues this is a reference to the Angel of Yahweh – a Theophany (an appearance of God).
o   Other examples of  Theophanies are Genesis 16:7, Genesis 17:1-4, Genesis 18:1-3, Genesis 32:24-30, Exodus 3:2-6, Joshua 5:13-15 and Daniel 3:22-25.
o   Most believe these are appearances of the Co-Regent of the Divine Council, a.k.a., the Name of the Lord, a.k.a., Jesus.
o   More on the Divine Council – READ HERE.
·  Joel 2:32 (ESV) — 32 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord [Yahweh] shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls.
o   Paul quotes this in Romans 10:13 as a reference to Jesus Christ.
·  John 12:28 (ESV) — 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”
o   God’s name is glorified in Jesus and at His crucifixion for many reasons.
o   One reason is that Jesus is “the Name of Yahweh”.

Jesus’ Insertion and Identification with the Father:
Jesus’ inserting Himself into the O.T. Name Theology and identifying Himself as God is one more reason He (or John) can claim the following:
·  John 1:18 (ESV) — 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
·  John 12:45 (ESV) — 45 And whoever sees me sees him who sent me.
·  John 14:9 (ESV) — 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

BTW – In Exodus 33:18-20, “The Name is all [the only part] of God that Moses can experience” – DBI.
·  And as we discussed last week, Jesus suppressed His glory so that He could be experienced.
o   The incarnation was a veil.
·  Jesus as the Name is all of God that Israel could experience.
·  Like Moses, they could handle Jesus and his veiled glory because He was the Name of Yahweh.

So as Jesus radically laid claim to “I Am”, He also claimed to be the Name of Yahweh.
·  “The supreme manifestation of the name of God was the Lord Jesus Christ, God in human flesh” – John MacArthur.
·  “Since the Name and Yahweh were interchangeable in Israelite theology, trusting in ‘the Name of Yahweh’ meant trusting in Yahweh. Likewise, trusting in the Name of Jesus is trusting in Yahweh’s Name” – Michael Heiser.

NT’s Insertion and Identity of Christ:
And the rest of “…the NT carries on the name theology of the OT, applying it in subtle ways to Jesus, thereby making it a strategy for NT writers to identify Jesus with Yahweh” – Michael Heiser.
·  Matthew 12:21 (ESV) — 21 and in his name the Gentiles will hope.”
·  Acts 19:17 (ESV) — 17 And this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled.
·  2 Thessalonians 1:12 (ESV) — 12 so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
·  1 Corinthians 6:11 (ESV) — 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
o   Paul even declares that we are “justified in the name”.

Summary Part 3:
We asked earlier, what is Jesus doing?
·  From our discussion thus far we see that He was:
·  (1) Claiming that, to the extent humans could comprehend them, the attributes of God were made known through His work.
·  (2) This was done that believers might aspire to do the same – participate in the name.
·  (3) And profoundly, when Jesus spoke of the Name, He was suggesting that, more than just attributes, His ministry somehow manifested Yahweh Himself.

And now we know the 4th thing Jesus was doing.
·  (4) Identifying Himself with the Name of Yahweh – Jesus is God.

I think we can see why, along with the “glory of God”, why the “name of God” was important for Jesus to pray for prior to His departure.
·  It directly impacts His identity and our responsibility.
·  We aren’t just to manifest the character of Yahweh, but more specifically, of Jesus.
o   We are to participate in the “Name of Yahweh” in love and obedience.
·  And Jesus left us with a great example to follow to do just this thing.

BTW - How is manifesting name different from displaying glory?
·  “It has sometimes been foolishly pressed that there is a distinction if not a rift between a ‘name-theology’ and a ‘glory-theology’ in the OT, but these are two ways of expressing the same thing: e.g. when Moses sought to see Yahweh’s glory, he found that the glory had to be verbalized by means of the name (Ex. 33:18–34:8). There is no sense in which the Deuteronomist is replacing a crude notion of indwelling glory by a refined notion of the indwelling name: it is rather that the ‘glory’ tends to express the ‘sense’ of God’s real presence, including much that is rightly unapproachable and ineffable; ‘name’ explains why this is so, verbalizes the numinous, for nowhere does the God of the Bible deal in dumb sacraments but always with intelligible declarations” – NBD.