The Name that is Above Every Name
Phil. 2:9-11
“For this reason also, God highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name.”

The mystery of Jesus’ incarnation concludes with an anthem of praise.  Having described the wonder of the ultimate display of self-denunciation, Paul now describes the wonder of Christ’s exaltation. In response to his redemptive work the Father highly exalted Christ.  The term “highly exalted” has the idea of hyper-exalted, that Father exalted him to the highest possible place.  This does not mean that the Father exalted Christ to a higher position than he was before the incarnation. Instead, it affirms that after his humiliation, he was again exalted to the highest position of being equal to the Father. He sat down at the right hand of the Father, where He now rules for all eternity (Hebrews 1:3). This super-exaltation is further seen by the fact that he is given the name above every name.  But what is this name?  

The thread of “the Name " is repeated throughout the Old Testament.” In the Old Testament, names had significance, for an individual's name was more than just a title; it served to capture and represent the total person and his character.  Hence, when the intrinsic nature of a person changed, there was a change in his name (for example, Abram to Abraham and Jacob to Israel).  The name that served the capture the essence of the God of Israel was Yahweh, which is the great “I am” (Exodus 3:13-15 where YAHWEH is the Hebrew for “He is”). This name occurs over 6000 times in the Old Testament and became “THE NAME” of God. Consequently, at times, the writers in the Old Testament would just refer to “the Name.” When they did so, they were referring to the name of Yahweh, or LORD (as it is translated in our English Bible).  For example, in Psalm 5:11, we read, “That those who love Your name may exult in You” (see also Mal. 4:2).  This reference to the “name” refers back to the LORD, which served then to represent all of who God is in his divine nature.

When Paul mentions that in the exaltation of Christ, he is given the Name above all names, it refers to the fact that in his exaltation, he is affirmed to be Yahweh, the God of the Old Testament, the covenant God of Israel.  This is further affirmed in verse 11, where we find that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, that is, that Jesus Christ is, in fact, Yahweh. This brings us to the heart of the mystery of the triune God.  God is three distinct persons, but because they are spirit and unconfined by physical limitations, they can share the same divine nature. Jesus is not just a powerful angel.  He is not just a sub-god in the pantheon of gods.  He is God himself.  The writer of Hebrews captures the essence of Christ's divine nature when he states that Jesus “is the radiance of his glory and the exact representation of His nature.” Jesus shares the divine name of the Father, a name that trumps all other titles and is above every other name.  

In Christ's birth, life, and ministry, we often see him in his humanity, for it is in his humanity that he identifies with us.  However, we quickly forget that he is also fully God, and he is Yahweh himself, come in the flesh.  This was affirmed in the resurrection of Christ.  Death, which holds mastery over all humanity, cannot maintain mastery over God. In His resurrection and hyper-exaltation, we are reminded that He is fully God and from eternity past shared in the divine nature.  So when Christ died for us, he was not just a human dying for his fellow people; he was fully God come in the flesh to bring salvation to us.  The greatest mystery of the incarnation was not the birth of Jesus in which he took on humanity; it was the fact that he did so to suffer the wrath of the Father on the cross that we might obtain salvation.  The only appropriate response is for us to worship and surrender to Christ.  It is to bow before him in complete submission and confess that he alone is God. Anything less is to devalue Christ and fail to recognize who he is. It is to acknowledge that he is Yahweh and obey him completely.

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