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The Name above Every Name

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9–11)

There’s something interesting about that verse. Go back and look and you’ll notice that Paul uses the definite article. Jesus isn’t given “a” name above all others, but “the” name. The author of Hebrews also says “the name” is higher than the angels’ (Heb. 1:4). So, what is “the name?”

I think Paul tells us in v. 11: “Jesus Christ is Lord.” Jesus is his name on earth. Christ is his title (the Greek equivalent of Messiah). Lord is his name of exaltation. When Thomas met the resurrected Jesus, he made the most powerful confession of any of the disciples: “Thomas responded to him, `My Lord and my God!’” (John 20:28)

The Greek word is kurios. “Lord” primarily refers to the right to rule – so this is not a description of Jesus’ deity, but his rule of the universe. It’s used sometimes in the NT to describe a master or owner. It was also used to describe Roman emperors. “Lord” describes the person in charge – the boss.

That’s what Paul means here in Phil. 2:9. It’s what he means when he says: “For we are not proclaiming ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’s sake.” (2 Corinthians 4:5). It’s what we read in Rom. 10:9: “If you confess with your mouth, `Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)

What’s a proper response to Jesus’ Lordship? Worship – bowing the knee and swearing allegiance…but I’m getting ahead of myself. Join us Sunday and we’ll discuss it.

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