Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that 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, to the glory of God the Father. (verses 9-11)
I love the name of Jesus. It stirs my heart. His name is so deeply ingrained, having been with me for years and years, indeed for a lifetime. It draws me near. I lift my sights to the heights in praise.
I love the songs and hymns that exalt his name. “Jesus, Name Above All Names,” “What a Beautiful Name,” “His Name is Wonderful,” “Holy and Anointed One,” “At the Name of Jesus,” and many more, over many years.
So, the name of Jesus is exalted.
But in this passage, there is another name which is equally highlighted – “Lord.” The word that Paul writes in Greek is “Kyrios,” which was consistently used throughout the Greek translation of the Old Testament (the “Septuagint”) to translate the Hebrew covenant name for God – “YAHWEH.” As a result, the name “Kyrios” is loaded, filled full of divine significance.
In fact, this portion of the hymn in Philippians 2 draws heavily on the divine name as used in Isaiah 45. Listen to what the Sovereign Lord says: “I am the Lord, and there is no other … I, the Lord, speak the truth … I, the Lord … there is no God apart from me, a righteous God and a Saviour; there is none but me … I am God, and there is no other … Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear” (Is 45:18-19, 21-23).
Paul directly quotes that last line, applying it to Jesus. Wow. The Sovereign Lord has made clear his incomparable position in all creation, an absolutely exclusive rank. His name, encapsulating the whole of his being, is above all things in heaven and on earth and under the earth. Before him, “there is no other.”
But now, stunningly, Paul tells us this name has been bestowed upon Jesus. “Jesus Christ is Lord.” Oh, how highly exalted! There could be nothing higher.
So then, what is the “name that is above every name”? After citing the phrase, Paul immediately references “the name of Jesus” at whose sounding every knee will bow and every tongue confess – clearly, “Jesus” is the name that evokes this response. But, having heard his name, the confession from every tongue will be that Jesus Christ is “Lord,” claiming for him the highly exalted name of Sovereign God – there is no name higher, “there is no other.”
So, is it “Jesus” or “Lord”? Clearly Paul himself reverenced both. I will, too. With the songs of the years, I sing, “My Jesus, I Love Thee,” and affirm, “He is Lord.”
In that coming great day I will bow my knee and confess with all creation, “Jesus Christ is Lord.” But I won’t wait. I do it now.
Lord Jesus, I honour you, declaring your name. I worship you, submitting myself with bended knee, speaking your praise. I look forward to that great day when all creation joins together in acknowledging you as Lord. Strengthen me by your Spirit to live that truth now, with all my being. To your glory. Amen.
Reflect: Read Isaiah 45:18-25. Consider the words of Almighty God: “I am the Lord, and there is no other … there is none but me.” Consider what it means that Jesus is one with the Father. This is your Lord. Reflect, and give praise.
Photo by Marcos Paulo Prado on Unsplash