Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

What's in a Name?

A lot.

John 17:6–8

“I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You. For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me.”

What does Jesus mean when He says, “I have manifested Your name”? God’s name (“Yahweh” יהוה in Hebrew) is totally well known. What did He “manifest”?

The word translated as “manifested” is ephanerosa (εφανεροσα). It means revealed or made known. “Manifested” is a perfectly fine translation for that.

But then what did Jesus reveal or make known that wasn’t already widely known?

It’s the name “Father.” The concept of God the Father is new. That’s a sea change in how people view God.

A big part of the mission of incarnation is to introduce the Trinity to the world. This is trickier than it sounds because Christ isn’t a “new” God. Despite His being born in Bethlehem, He always existed. The Trinity always existed.

But incarnation, along with Jesus’s teaching, made the structure of the Trinity manifest.

That’s making His name manifest.

Notice that verse 8 only says that they believed that “You sent Me.” That’s far short of understanding the Trinity.

And that’s okay. Full understanding of something that complex isn’t going to come quickly—especially before the crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension. In fact, “full” understanding doesn’t come this side of eternity. Even the name “Trinity” won’t come along for quite a while.

This touches on a very deep and difficult point. We must never forget that our understanding of God is extremely limited, especially from heaven’s point of view. If we think that “Trinity” is some sort of perfect description, we fall into error. It’s a useful concept, especially if it humbles us, but it’s just our feeble attempt to understand the infinite.

Do not miss the significance of the fact that the Bible puts so much emphasis on God’s name. A name is a representation. His name is the representation the Ten Commandments encourages—as opposed to other representations that it specifically prohibits.

Worship Him by name.

These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Saturday DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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