Understanding The Phrase “In the Name of..”
“In the Name of..”
By reviewing other passages that use the same phrase (or similar phrasing techniques) can often shed light on how phrases were used and understood by the people of that era and gives us a way to ensure that we are not trying to “force fit” a meaning into a translation, forcing it to say what we want it to indicate.
One common phrase that can be found (11 times) in the Bible is “called by my name“. Yet we understand that this phrase does not mean someone or something was literally being called the name of God (Jehovah, Yahweh, etc.). It more accurately conveys the meaning “those that are mine” “those that belong to me“.
Here are a few passages:
2Ch 7:14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
Isa 43:7 Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.
Isa 65:1 I am sought of them that asked not for me; I am found of them that sought me not: I said, Behold me, behold me, unto a nation that was not called by my name.
Jer 7:10 And come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations?
Jer 7:11 Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, even I have seen it, saith the LORD.
A correct understanding of any scripture depends on the context from which it is spoken. Both Matthew 28:19 and Acts 2:38 have one thing in common that is often ignored, they both contain the phrase “IN THE NAME OF….”. Understanding this particular phrase is vital to correctly understanding the instructions given in both Matthew 28:19 and Acts 2:38.
The Old Testament (Hebrew)
The phrase “In the name of” as used throughout the Bible is most commonly reflective of someone who is acting under the authority of someone, or acting as their disciple (or follower).
It is also essential that the reader (or student) understand how the bible is written and able to validate the following facts for himself:
The word “LORD”- (usually denoted by all CAPITAL letters- KJV) represents the Hebrew word yehôvâh, yeh-ho-vaw’;
יהוה (Strong’s Concordance: H3068; “Jehovah”, Jewish national name of God; From H1961; (the) self Existent or eternal; )
It is reflected 6510 times in the KJV of the Bible (as LORD).
David did not go to the Philistine claiming that his name was the LORD [ “Jehovah” ] but he came [under the authority of] the LORD [ “Jehovah” ] of hosts, the God of…”
(1 Samuel 17:45) “Then said David to the Philistine,…. but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied”
For the LORD [ “Jehovah” ] their God had chosen him to minister [under the authority of] the LORD [ “Jehovah” ].
(Deuteronomy 18:5) “ For the LORD thy God hath chosen him out of all thy tribes, to stand to minister in the name of the LORD, him and his sons for ever”
Jeremiah was not saying that he was “known as” (or being called) the LORD [ “Jehovah” ], using God’s name for HIMSELF literally, but he was acknowledging that he was called [by the authority of] God himself.
(Jeremiah 15:16) “…… for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts”
This is also the same context used by Jesus when he said “I come in my Father’s name” and “the works that I do in my Father’s name” (John 5:43, 10:25). Jesus was not claiming that he had the SAME NAME as God [his Father] but that he came [with the authority of] his Father [God] which was GIVEN him (Matthew 28:18)
Urijah didn’t go around pretending that his name was LORD [ “Jehovah” ] when he prophesied, rather Urijah was prophesying [under the authority of] the Lord and predicted the same terrible disaster against the city and nation as Jeremiah did.
(Jeremiah 26:20) “ And there was also a man that prophesied in the name of the Lord,…”
The New Testament (Greek)
The following are New Testament examples of how this phrase, “in the name of”, was used. There is rarely a misunderstanding of the context. In almost every situation where this phrase is used the usage pattern remains constant or with negligible variation.
Here Saul was preaching bravely [by the authority of] Jesus, he was not professing that his name was Jesus.
(Acts 9:27) “….and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus”
(Acts 9:29) “And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians”
I beg of you brothers, [by the authority of] our Lord Jesus Christ, to get along with each other.
(1 Corinthians 1:10) “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment”
Here the question made was asking if anyone there was baptized [by the authority of] Paul or [as his disciple]
(1 Corinthians 1:13) “Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?
Do all [as a follower of] [under the authority of] [as a disciple of] the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father by him. No one is being instructed to go by the name Lord Jesus (or tell others that is their name).
(Colossians 3:17) “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him”
Let them pray over him, anointing him with oil [under the authority of] the Lord
(James 5:14) “Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord”
Repent and be baptized each of you [as a disciple of] [under the authority of] Jesus Christ.
(Acts 2:38) “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost”
This verse was not telling man what to SAY but by whose authority the baptism would be conducted.
(In the Name of.. / In my Father’s Name)
“Then Peter said,.… In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk”
This verse is clearly telling us by “whose authority” (Jesus) this act or demonstration of power was being conducted (the command to rise and walk). It demonstrated the power given to Peter [as a follower of] Jesus Christ to work miracles through the indwelling power of the Holy Ghost/the Spirit of God (Acts 1:8; Romans 15:19). Then Peter said,.… In the name of [by the authority] of Jesus Christ Nazareth rise up and walk.
This is also the same context used by Jesus (below) when he said “I come in my Father’s name” and “the works that I do in my Father’s name“.
Jesus was not claiming that he had the SAME NAME as God [his Father] but that he came [with the authority] of his Father [God] which was GIVEN him (Matthew 28:18)
(John 5:43) “I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive”
(John 10:25) “Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me”
(Mat 18:5) “And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.”
(See also: 2 Chronicles 7:14 – Called by my name)
In the next section we will address the specific Phrase “In The Name Of Jesus”