In His Name

Acts 4: 7 – 18

Statements made about God in the OT are now made about Christ in the NT (cf. He. 1:7–12). The most frequent name for God in the OT, Yahweh (LXX Kyrios, “Lord”), now becomes the Church’s favorite name for Christ. The Church’s earliest confession of faith in Christ was in all likelihood “Jesus is Lord” (cf. Rom. 10:9; Phil. 2:9–11). Hence, all that can be said about the name of Yahweh—that prophets prophesy in that name (Jer. 20:9), the righteous trust in that name (Isa. 50:10), people call upon that name (Ps. 105:1), etc.—can be and is said about the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 4:17f.; Jn. 14:1; 1 Cor. 1:2).

Jesus’ disciples prophesied “in his name” (Mt. 7:22), cast out demons “in his name” (Lk. 10:17), performed miracles “in his name” (Mk. 9:39), etc. With the use of this expression it becomes evident that the disciples spoke and acted like Jesus, in His place and with His authority, as did the prophets of Yahweh in the OT (see Acts 4:7–10). Similarly, the gospel is to be preached in all the world “in his name,” i.e., by His authority, and thus be made effectual to save people (Lk. 24:47), justify sinners (Acts 10:43), and forgive people their sins (1 Jn. 2:12).

The expression “to believe in the name of Jesus” is found only in the Johannine writings (Jn. 1:12; 2:23; 3:18; 1 Jn. 3:23; 5:13). Since it alternates with the phrase “to believe in him/me,” i.e., Jesus (Jn. 2:11; 5:38; 6:35; etc.), it is clear that belief in the name of Jesus is not different from belief in Jesus. The former expression, however, “brings out clearly that to believe in Jesus one must believe that he bears the divine name given him by God” (Jn. 17:11f, 26; R. E. Brown, Gospel According to John, I [AB, 1966], 11; cf. Phil. 2:9–11). Thus it is that John’s Gospel presents the christological interpretation of the OT statements about the name of Yahweh. That is to say, “the Fourth Gospel … picks up and follows through the lines of the ancient biblical tradition, that God’s revelation is bound to a personal name”—here to the name of Jesus (H. Bietenhard, DNTT, II, 653; cf. Mt. 11:27; 28:18 with Jn. 3:35; 5:21; 13:3; 7:29; 10:15; 17:25).


Hawthorne, G. F. (1979–1988). Name. In G. W. Bromiley (Ed.), The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised (Vol. 3, pp. 482–483). Wm. B. Eerdmans.