Thursday, October 18, 2012

What Does It Mean to Believe in Jesus’ Name?

The expression to believe in [Jesus’] name occurs five times in the New Testament, all in the Johannine literature. The expression πιστεύω εἰς τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ to believe in his name occurs in John 1:12; 2:23; πιστεύω τῷ ὀνόματι τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ ’Iησοῦ Xριστοῦ to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ in 1 John 3:23; πιστεύω εἰς τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ to believe in the name of the Son of God in 1 John 5:13; and πιστεύω εἰς τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ μονογενοῦς υἱοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ to believe in the name of the unique Son of God in John 3:18. But what does it mean to believe in Jesus’ name?

When John advocates believing in the name of Jesus, it is handy to substitute the word title for name. To believe in Jesus’ name is to acknowledge Jesus’ title, to acknowledge who Jesus really is, and in particular, to acknowledge who Jesus claimed to be, i.e., to accept the truth that Jesus is the Christ, the anointed one, the Son of God, the divinely-chosen divine King of salvation.

For John, Jesus’ name or title is twofold. Firstly, Jesus is the Christ; and secondly, Jesus is the Son of God (see John 20:31). These terms are virtual synonyms in John’s usage, although the term the Son of God also implies (for John) that Jesus is divine. This twofold understanding of Jesus’ name can be seen from the terms used by John in connection with the idea of Jesus’ name. In John 1:12, believing in Jesus’ name is paralleled with receiving him. In John 2:23, many people believe in Jesus’ name after seeing the many signs that Jesus performed. The signs presumably convinced them that Jesus was the Christ. In 1 John 3:23, the terms Christ and [God’s] Son are used. In John 3:18 and 1 John 5:13, the term the Son of God is used.

Thus, to believe in Jesus’ name is to confess that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, the Son of God.

8 comments:

Sephardigirl said...

i have continued to be intrigued by the wording of 'believing in his name'. how does it translate from the Aramaic?
I have considered the import of the 'name' construct from the era of Yah'shua. Perhaps the meaning of ones name/title meant more or had a greater significance from the Hebraic standpoint than it does for a Western thinker?
I have often wondered if the gospel is much simpler than the religious body of man has made it? is 'believing in His Name' enough or sufficient if we understand the significance of His name/title?
The statement implies that this is enough to become a son/dtr of YHVH.....your thoughts?

Steven Coxhead said...

Hello Sephardigirl!

Not sure what the Aramaic might say. It partly depends on what Aramaic/Syriac you have in mind. It’s interesting though that the Modern Hebrew has המאמינים בשמו those who believe in his name in John 1:12. The noun שם here obviously links back into the use of the word in the Hebrew Bible, which can mean name, title, reputation, fame. שם יהוה is a key concept in the Hebrew Bible.

Regarding the final questions you asked, believing in the name of the Messiah basically means acknowledging the lordship of the Messiah. If he is the king, then acknowledging that verbally is one thing, but we must also acknowledge the reality of that truth ethically. Understood in a more Hebrew way, believing in the name of the Messiah also implies submission (obedience) to his torah in the context of divine grace. So that makes it a simple idea with massive implications.

Marlene said...

Well said!! It is the obedience aspect that most leave out. It is not Greek thinking, where "believing" is simply mental assent. In Hebrew understanding, if you know Who He is, and acknowledge that, and entrust yourself to Him as such, you are making covenant to obey Him as such.

Anonymous said...

First Jesus is the english name of latin of greek of the Hebrew yhwshua, which means YHWH saves.
So to believe in the Name of Jesus is really to believe in his HEBREW name YHWshua (spelled here without the vowels as was the Hebrew custom) which reveals the precise depth and essence of YHWH.
Jesus is LORD or in other words to believe in His Name is to believe that Jesus is YHWH.

Unknown said...

Believing is only one step... One must repent and assllccept the atonement of his blood and confess with one's mouth to be cleansed from one's sins... Then one must lay down one's life....deni one's freshly desires...pick up his cross.... And come and follow Jesus....consecrating our selves back to him.... ...receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost....water baptism. Where the old man is buried with Christ and He is resurected in us. Be birthed by the Spirit becoming a new creature....saw we such a life

Johnnie Frank said...

Believing is only one step... One must repent and assllccept the atonement of his blood and confess with one's mouth to be cleansed from one's sins... Then one must lay down one's life....deni one's freshly desires...pick up his cross.... And come and follow Jesus....consecrating our selves back to him.... ...receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost....water baptism. Where the old man is buried with Christ and He is resurected in us. Be birthed by the Spirit becoming a new creature....saw we such a life

Anonymous said...

This is all very confusing to me. We use metaphors here that do not mean much to us modern people. such as lord, master king etc. they probably were descriptive once , but no longer create the imagery that would be necessary to make their point convincingly and decisively. Secondly we seek refuge to terms as divine grace without being able to define Divine or Grace so it can be used by us humans in the context of reason. Jesus spoke to humans that is beings endowed with reason It must be assumed that he took this into account in his teaching otherwise why teach. I like best what Leo Tolstoy had to say to the subject presented here in his book " What I Believe" . It is accessible in audio form from LibriVox:
https://archive.org/details/whatibelieve_1101_librivox
he seemed to have been able to penetrate to jesus' message without resorting to additional and descriptive concepts

Jesusloves me said...
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