The Expository Files

"The Name Which Is Above Every Name"

Philippians 2:9
 

Consider with reverent attention: "the name which is above every name." This is part of a familiar text:

"Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Phil. 2:1-11)

Paul is teaching the Christians at Philippi and he is teaching us about an attitude; a frame of mind. How do you do that? For instance - there is the phrase in verse 3, "lowliness of mind." How do you communicate to someone what that means?

One way, and perhaps the best way is to give an example. So that in addition to just telling someone that they ought to have this quality of character you show them what it means.

Well, there is an attitude of unselfish humility that is taught in the opening verses of Philippians chapter two. And the example - in fact we should say, the supreme example of this is: the incarnation, the life, the suffering and death of Jesus Christ. Jesus illustrated the frame of mind, the attitude described in the opening verses of the chapter. If I want to know what it means to be humble and unselfish I can look to Him, who is the supreme example of that disposition. Paul uses words to teach us about this attitude, in verses 1-5 ... Then, he uses Jesus to show us this attitude, in verses 5-11. His incarnation, but also His whole life was a life of poverty and suffering, though He was and is Deity. We must resemble him in this attitude of unselfish humility.

Jesus came down here to live on the earth. Though equal with God. Though He was spotless. He came "in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and give Him the name which is above every name."

There was a rule or principle Jesus laid down. It is found in several places but I'll bring up two passages where this rule or principle is set forth: Matt. 23:12 and Luke 14:11.

Matt. 23:12 - "And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

Lk. 14:11 - "For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

That rule which Jesus said down - in Phil. 2 - is applied to Him. Jesus humbled Himself - therefore GOD HIGHLY EXALTED HIM. Now we expect to be exalted. If our behavior is driven by faith, and we maintain this attitude Paul is teaching of unselfish humility, we expect to be exalted. James 4:10 says - "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up." We have this hope; we expect to be exalted.

But Jesus - according to Phil. 2:9 - was HIGHLY EXALTED; one trans-lation says, "God raised Him to the loftiest heights," and another says, "God raised Him to the very highest place!" Perhaps one way to say this is - we expect or hope to go to heaven someday. Jesus, according to Heb. 4:14, "passed through the heavens ... was lifted high above the heavens," and Eph. 4:10 says, He "ascended far above all the heavens." Peter, on the day of Pentecost, said: He was exalted to the right hand of God.

Now as Paul writes about this truth - of God raising Jesus "to the very highest place," there is this observation, that God "bestowed upon Him the name that is above every name."

What does that mean? What does it mean to you? Let's study more about this --- THE NAME THAT IS ABOVE EVERY NAME.

LET'S THINK ABOUT "Names" In The Bible.
In our culture we have names and they function primarily to identify and distinguish one person from another. Certain names may have some emotion or sentiment attached to them. When we hear the name of a person it may remind us of something about that person. But essentially names are used to identify and distinguish one person from another.

In Biblical vocabulary and culture names take on a greater significance. I offer a few example: Eve named her son "Cain," which means - "gotten one," and she said "I have gotten a manchild with the help of the Lord," (Gen. 4:1).

There's an interesting name in 1 Sam. 4:21: "Ichabod," which means "Where is the glory?" This recalls a gripping personal tragedy for a family at a time of national trouble for all God's people.

In both of these cases names were applied, not only to identify but to com-municate something about the person or circumstance. "Names" in the Bible do much more than identify; names have meanings and convey images about the one named and this is especially significant in regard to the names of Deity.

Consider these passages - where reference is made to Deity - the greatness of God; His majesty, glory and power:

In Psalms 8 - "O Lord, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth."

That's in verse 1 and verse 9 of Psalms eight.

Psalms 119:132 - "Look upon me and be merciful to me, as Your custom is toward those who love Your name."

And I know all of you are familiar with this, the words of Jesus in Matt. 6:9, where He said, "In this manner, therefore, pray: 'Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name'."

Now back to our text in Phil. 2:9 -- Jesus humbled Himself; God exalted Him and gave Him "the name which is above every name." This is more than just personal identification. This is about God exalting Jesus; this has reference to who Jesus is; His perfection, His position and His praise. God "bestowed upon Him the name that is above every name."

Consider Matthew 1:21-25.

An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph and said to him, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit... ."

Beginning with verse 21...

21 "And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins."
22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying:
23 "Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," which is translated, "God with us."
24 Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife,
25 and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name JESUS.

Jesus was given various names and those names informed and communica-ted the truth about who He is and what He did.

Jesus - "for He will save His people from their sins."

Immanual - which means "God with us."

In John chapter one: The Word ... The Only Begotten Son of God ... The Lamb of God.

In Hebrews 1:4: "...having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they."

So in Philippians 2:9 Jesus humbled Himself; God exalted Him and gave Him "the name which is above every name that at the name of Jesus, every knew should bow, of those in heaven and of those on earth, and of those under the earth and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." This is the super-exalted position of Jesus.

This is more than just personal identification. This is about God exalting Jesus; this has reference to who Jesus is; His perfection, His position and His praise. The name "Jesus" represents more than the name of any man.

You cannot say the name of anyone on earth who lived as Jesus lived, or who did what Jesus did. You cannot say the name of anyone who was raised from the dead - and highly exalted; to the right hand of God. God did not declare about anyone else: "You are My Son, Today I have begotten You," or "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of your kingdom." Nobody has "by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than" angels. Jesus was highly exalted by God and God bestowed upon Him "the name that is above every name."

The "Name" here is used to convey, to represent the majesty, the glory, dignity and power of the person, Jesus Christ. What should this mean to me? Here are six passages that send us in a practical and personal direction with this truth.

Salvation is in no other name, Acts 4:12. Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit - and he said,

"Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."

Now remember, the name "Jesus" does more than just identify the person; IT STANDS FOR THE PERSON; in this case, it comprehends who Jesus is and what He did and where He is, at the right hand of God. Well, here's how simple this is: There is no one like Jesus... and there is no one who can save you but Jesus!

There are people who may help you learn the truth you need. There are men and women who confer upon us the good influence of their example. There are people who can show mercy and help us in time of physical illness, financial distress or grief. BUT THERE IS NOBODY LIKE Jesus ... and there is no one who can save me but Jesus! No world religion; no denomination; no creed; no leader; no movement -- there is no one who can save me from sin but Jesus.

And so I should listen to Him and believe in Him. I should take seriously what He said - "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved," AND, I should...

Do all in His name, Col. 3:17. "And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him."

I do not know how to complicate this. If I have decided that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God; If I believe that salvation is in no other name; if I'm convinced that God has highly exalted Him, I will want everything I do in my life to be done in His name. That is, for Him; in obedience to Him, and unto His glory.

Whatever I say, whatever I do, I will want to be sure I'm acting as one of His servants; following His instructions, and giving Him the praise. How can I ignore the teachings of Christ and His apostles and think that I'm doing all in the name of the Lord? How can I embrace what He opposed; how can I participate in things contrary to His instructions; how can I devalue His will and claim to be doing all in His name?

"Hold Fast To My Name," Rev. 2:13. To thosein the church at Symrna - the Lord said, "I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan's throne is. And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells."

These Christians lived in a culture so opposed to God and so hostile to the name of Christ - it was expressed this way, "you live where Satan's throne is." And yet, though the environment was not favorable to godliness - THEY HELD FAST TO HIS NAME and DID NOT DENY THE FAITH. If we believe the name of Jesus is above every name - what happens around us will never change what's in us!

"He who overcomes ... I will write on him my new name," Rev. 3:12.

This expresses approval. If we hold fast; if we do all that we do in His name - by faith we overcome; we conquer... and the reward is, HIS APPROVAL. "I will write on him my name."

"If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you," 1 Pet. 4:14.

To be reproached: What does that mean? Have you ever had insults heaped upon you? We have all experienced some criticism or perhaps a statement of disagreement. This is being reproached; having insults heaped upon you; reviled and upbraided; ridiculed or scorned. Now - to be reproached for the name of Christ.

This means because of your relation to Him; your love and loyalty to Him; because you believe His name is exalted; because you are doing everything in His name; you serve Him; you advance His cause; you preach His Word and defend His name; and you are insulted. Peter wants us to know that that is a blessing! It is not a blessing for the persecutor; it is his curse (2 Thess. 1:6). But Jesus said, in Matt. 5:11 - "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake." Can you imagine any other circumstance where A VICTIM OF REPROACH CAN BE HAPPY? "If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you,"

"These things I have written ... that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God," 1 Jno. 5:13.

This is why John wrote. The epistle was written that those who read it might CONTINUE ... continue to believe ... continue to believe in the name of the Son of God! This may sound simple, but it needs to be said - some people start believing in the name of the Son of God, but they do not continue! They have faith for a while, but it doesn't continue. John wanted his readers to know these things he wrote and his purpose was, THE ENDURANCE OF FAITH. And back of John's purpose - there is God's purpose. God wants us to hear the gospel of Christ. God wants us to believe in Christ. He wants us to obey Him ... and then, continue to believe and obey! "These things I have written ... that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God."

Conclusion: Let me close our study with two simple observations.
(1) The Father set His seal of approval upon the Son's self-sacrifice by highly exalting Him and conferring upon Him - the superlative Name that is above every name. Men did not approve of Him, when they murdered Him on the cross. Men and women today ignore Him, despise Him or perhaps call His name - yet reject His authority. But He who was despised by earthly creatures was raised and exalted by the Creator. The One men regarded as unfit for life on earth - the heavenly Father exalted far above the heavens, as the conquering "Lord of lords, and King of kings." Knowing that, (2) I should have an eager, solemn interest in trusting and obeying Christ in all things! He is worthy of my trust. He has the wisdom to tell me how to live. As a local church - He is to be regarded as our Head, and the instructions given through His apostles - OUR ONLY GUIDE. For God also has highly exalted Him and give Him the name which is above every name.

Every knee should bend. Everyone should listen to Him and confess His glorious name now, while there is time... to the glory of God the Father.

He frequently made claims which would have sounded outrageous and blasphemous to Jewish ears even from the lips of the greatest of prophets. He said that he was in existence before Abraham and that he was "lord" of the sabbath; he claimed to forgive sins; he continually identified himself, in his work, his person and his glory, with the one he termed his heavenly Father; he accepted men's worship; and he said that he was to be the judge of men at the last day, and that their eternal destiny would depend on their attitude to him. Then he died. It seems inescapable, therefore, that his resurrection must be interpreted as God's decisive vindication of these claims, while the alternative -- the finality of the cross -- would necessarily have implied the repudiation of his presumptuous and even blasphemous assertions.

.... J. N. D. Anderson,
Christianity: the Witness of History [1969]


By Warren E. Berkley
From Expository Files 6.7; July 1999






 

 

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