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The Significance of Jesus’ Name in Acts – More Proof for the Deity of Christ

Sam Shamoun

According to the Hebrew Scriptures there is only one who is Yahweh:

You are the LORD (Yahweh), you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you.” Nehemiah 9:6 ESV

You alone are the LORD You have made the heavens, The heaven of heavens with all their host, The earth and all that is on it, The seas and all that is in them You give life to all of them And the heavenly host bows down before You.” NASB

The prophetic writings further testify that Yahweh’s name is also one:

“And the LORD will become king over all the earth; on that day the LORD will be one and his name one.” Zechariah 14:9

In fact, the following passage seems to suggest that there is somewhat of a connection between Yahweh’s name and his glory:

“I am the LORD, that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to graven images.” Isaiah 42:8

The above reference may be equating Yahweh’s glory which he refuses to share with his name, e.g. Yahweh will not confer upon anyone the status, glory, rank, authority etc. that belongs to the One bearing the Divine name.(1)  

However, the NT writings affirm that Jesus shares and embodies the very name of God which is far above every other name!

“I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name—the name you gave me—so that they may be one as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.” John 17:11-12

“Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which 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 [i.e., Yahweh], to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11

It is therefore clear that the NT writers must have believed that Jesus is fully Divine, otherwise they would have never proclaimed that Christ bears the unique Divine name of God.

Amazingly, not only does Christ embody the Divine name according to the inspired Christian Greek Scriptures the name of Jesus actually dominates and permeates the entire NT writings much in the same way that Yahweh’s name permeates the Hebrew Bible!  

For instance, according to Acts the Apostles were willing to suffer and die for Jesus’ name:

“So we all agreed to choose some men and send them to you with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul— men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Acts 15:25-26

“While we were staying for some days, a prophet named Ag'abus came down from Judea. And coming to us he took Paul's girdle and bound his own feet and hands, and said, ‘Thus says the Holy Spirit, “So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this girdle and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.”’ When we heard this, we and the people there begged him not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, ‘What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.’” Acts 21:10-13

They baptized in Jesus’ name:

“Philip went down to a city of Sama'ria, and proclaimed to them the Christ. And the multitudes with one accord gave heed to what was said by Philip, when they heard him and saw the signs which he did. For unclean spirits came out of many who were possessed, crying with a loud voice; and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was much joy in that city. But there was a man named Simon who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the nation of Sama'ria, saying that he himself was somebody great. They all gave heed to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, ‘This man is that power of God which is called Great.’ And they gave heed to him, because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the Name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles performed, he was amazed. Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Sama'ria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit; for it had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the Name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.” Acts 8:5-17

“While Peter was still saying this, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. And the believers from among the circumcised who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, ‘Can any one forbid water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?’ And he commanded them to be baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days.” Acts 10:44-48

Christ’s followers would even call on Jesus’ name in the context of worship!

“Now as he journeyed he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed about him. And he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ And he said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting; but rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.’ The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one… Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Anani'as. The Lord said to him in a vision, ‘Anani'as.’ And he said, ‘Here I am, Lord.’ And the Lord said to him, ‘Rise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for a man of Tarsus named Saul; for behold, he is praying, and he has seen a man named Anani'as come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.’ But Anani'as answered, ‘Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call upon your Name.’ But the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my Name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my Name.’ So Anani'as departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came, has sent me that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’ And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized, and took food and was strengthened. For several days he was with the disciples at Damascus. And in the synagogues immediately he proclaimed Jesus, saying, ‘He is the Son of God.’ And all who heard him were amazed, and said, ‘Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called on this Name? And he has come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests.’” Acts 9:3-7, 10-21

They also performed miracles and healed in Jesus’ name:

“Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at that gate of the temple which is called Beautiful to ask alms of those who entered the temple. Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked for alms. And Peter directed his gaze at him, with John, and said, ‘Look at us.’ And he fixed his attention upon them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, ‘I have no silver and gold, but I give you what I have; in the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.’ And he took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up he stood and walked and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God, and recognized him as the one who sat for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. While he clung to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the portico called Solomon's, astounded. And when Peter saw it he addressed the people, ‘Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk? The God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. And his Name, by faith in his Name, has made this man strong whom you see and know; and the faith which is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.’” Acts 3:1-16 – cf. 9:32-35

They pronounced forgiveness and salvation in Jesus’ name:

“And Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the Name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’” Acts 2:38

“To him all the prophets bear witness that every one who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his Name.” Acts 10:43

In fact, the Apostles proclaimed that Jesus is the only name that saves!

“On the morrow their rulers and elders and scribes were gathered together in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest and Ca'iaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, ‘By what power or by what Name did you do this?’ Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, ‘Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a cripple, by what means this man has been healed, be it known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by him this man is standing before you well. This is the stone which was rejected by you builders, but which has become the head of the corner. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other Name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.’ Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they wondered; and they recognized that they had been with Jesus. But seeing the man that had been healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred with one another, saying, ‘What shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is manifest to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to any one in this Name.’ So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the Name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, ‘Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge; for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.’ And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people; for all men praised God for what had happened. For the man on whom this sign of healing was performed was more than forty years old.” Acts 4:5-22

What makes this so astonishing is that the Hebrew Scriptures testify that the OT saints would call on the name of Yahweh both in their worship and for salvation! 

“Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beer-sheba, and called there on the name of the LORD, the Everlasting God.” Genesis 21:33 – cf. 12:8

“Extol the LORD our God; worship at his footstool! Holy is he! Moses and Aaron were among his priests, Samuel also was among those who called on his name. They cried to the LORD, and he answered them.” Psalm 99:5-6

“I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD… I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the LORD.” Psalm 116:13, 17

“And it shall come to pass that all who call upon the name of the LORD shall be delivered; 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.” Joel 2:32

The OT believers would also glorify the name of Yahweh:

“Some glory in chariots, and some in horses: but we will glory in the name of the Lord our God.” Psalm 19:8 LXX [Heb. 20:7]

And yet the people during the Apostles’ time glorified the name of Jesus when they saw the unsurpassable power it possessed!

“And God did extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that handkerchiefs or aprons were carried away from his body to the sick, and diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to pronounce the Name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, ‘I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.’ Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. But the evil spirit answered them, ‘Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?’ And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, mastered all of them, and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. And this became known to all residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks; and fear fell upon them all; and the Name of the Lord Jesus was glorified. Many also of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices.” Acts 19:13-18

Moreover, much like a person could blaspheme Yahweh’s name:

“Now an Israelite woman's son, whose father was an Egyptian, went out among the people of Israel; and the Israelite woman's son and a man of Israel quarreled in the camp, and the Israelite woman's son blasphemed the Name, and cursed. And they brought him to Moses. His mother's name was Shelo'mith, the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan. And they put him in custody, till the will of the LORD should be declared to them. And the LORD said to Moses, ‘Bring out of the camp him who cursed; and let all who heard him lay their hands upon his head, and let all the congregation stone him. And say to the people of Israel, Whoever curses his God shall bear his sin. He who blasphemes the Name of the LORD shall be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him; the sojourner as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death.’” Leviticus 24:10-16

 The name of Jesus could also be blasphemed:

“I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things in opposing the Name of Jesus of Nazareth. And I did so in Jerusalem; I not only shut up many of the saints in prison, by authority from the chief priests, but when they were put to death I cast my vote against them. And I punished them often in all the synagogues and tried to make them blaspheme; and in raging fury against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities.” Acts 26:9-11

It is clear from all of these examples that the Apostles treated and viewed Jesus’ name in the same way that the OT treats the name of Yahweh. In fact, the inspired book of Acts even refers to Jesus’ name as “the Name,”

“And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, saying, ‘We strictly charged you not to teach in this Name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you intend to bring this man's blood upon us.’ But Peter and the apostles answered, "We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.’ When they heard this they were enraged and wanted to kill them… So they took his advice, and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the Name of Jesus, and let them go. Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the Name.” Acts 5:27-33, 40-41

Acts is not the only book to speak of Jesus’ name in this manner:

“Is it not they who blaspheme that honorable Name which was invoked over you?” James 2:7

“For they went out for the sake of the Name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles.” 3 John 1:7

The significance of referring to Jesus’ name as “the Name” can be more clearly seen when we keep in mind that the Jews often used this very expression whenever they wanted to avoid mentioning the word God!

Beza's ancient copy, and others; the Vulgate Latin, and Arabic versions read, "for the name of Jesus"; in which name they were forbid to speak, and for speaking in it they were beaten; the Alexandrian copy, and the Syriac version read, "for the name": that is, for God, for the glory of God, and in the cause of God; (Mvh) , "the name", is often used in Jewish writings for God: the shame they suffered for him was by being scourged with forty stripes save one; which was reckoned an infamous and ignominious punishment, and which was inflicted on persons guilty of very scandalous crimes: but this gave the innocent minds of the apostles no uneasiness; they accounted it an honour conferred on them to be called to suffering for the sake of God and Christ, and in so good a cause; they did what Christ exhorted them to, (Matthew 5:11) which shows they had much of the presence of God, and large measures of grace communicated to them, by which they were supported; and thus cheerfully bore all indignity and reproach, for the name of Christ, which was exceeding dear and precious to them. (The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible; source; underline emphasis ours)

Hence, it is abundantly evident from the way the earliest Jewish disciples of Jesus viewed and treated his holy and majestic name that they thought of and worshiped Christ as God! As one expositor explained:

“… The Jews used … [shem] to avoid saying God; the Christians took this up for Jesus; therefore they thought of Jesus as God.” (International Critical Commentary – Acts 1-14: A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles, by Charles Kingsley Barrett [T. & T. Clark Publishers, Reprinted 2006], Volume 1, II. The Church in Jerusalem (2.1-5.42), 15. Rejoicing And Witnessing Community: ‘Final’ Summary 5.41, 42, pp. 300-301; underline emphasis ours)

And as another renowned Greek NT scholar put:

… Note the same use of "the Name" as in James 2:7; 3 John 1:7. With the Jews this absolute use of "the Name" meant Jehovah. The Christians now apply it to Jesus. (A. T. Robertson’s Word Pictures of the New Testament; underline emphasis ours)

Amen! Come, Lord Jesus come! We exalt and magnify your all-holy and all-powerful Name, which is above all names! By God’s grace we will always love and worship you, O eternally beloveds Son of God and risen Lord of immortal glory! Amen. 

Unless stated otherwise, quotations from the Holy Bible were taken and slightly adapted from the Revised Standard Version (RSV).


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(1) However, there seems to be another legitimate way of interpreting this particular text. The immediate context of Isaiah 42:8 refers to Yahweh’s Servant, the One whom Isaiah says will be exalted to share in Yahweh’s glory by sitting on the Divine throne (cf. 42:1-7; 52:13-15). In light of this one can legitimately interpret the verse to mean that Yahweh will not share his glory with anyone other than his Servant, i.e., Yahweh will give his own glory to his Servant only and to no other.

Yet this interpretation implies that the Servant is more than a human agent whom Yahweh acts through, and is therefore a fully Divine Being, since the Scriptures are clear that there is only one Yahweh as we saw earlier. For a more thorough discussion of the Servant’s Divine nature and exaltation we recommend the following articles: