An error that I frequently encounter in discussions regarding the Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ is one related to the “name of the Father.”Jehovah’s Witnesses and other cults would like to attribute to God the Father, alone, the divine name YHWH. By so doing, they seek to affirm their presupposed unitarian monotheism on a biblical basis.
Now, seeing as they aren’t professing to be in line with traditional orthodoxy (or, just orthodoxy, to avoid any misconceptions arising from the use of the word “traditional”), their mishandling of the Word of God is not very shocking. What I do find problematic, however, is when professing believers state the same thing.
The Divine Name, YHWH, is not the name of the Father alone – it is the Name of the Triune God of the Bible – each member of the Trinity is addressed as YHWH.
Contrary to other erroneous teachings on the matter, Jesus held the name YHWH prior to His redemptive work, as Paul the apostle makes clear in Ephesians 4:7-10. He writes:
7But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8This is why it says:
“When he ascended on high,
he led captives in his train
and gave gifts to men.”
9(What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? 10He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.)
Paul’s quotation is from Psalm 68, a Psalm about YHWH God’s victory procession. Christ is identified in His descending (i.e. kenosis/voluntary incarnating and living in full submission to the Father for the purposes of redemption) and ascending (i.e. returning to the glory which He shared with the Father) as YHWH God.
Psalm 68, then, for Paul is a Messianic Psalm. And if a Messianic Psalm, then an explicit reference to the Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ, and an indirect attribution of the Divine Name to Him. Christ, in Paul’s theology, was, is, and always will be – even as the distinct Second Person of the Trinity – YHWH God.
Another instance of this can be seen in the Gospel of Mark in its opening lines:
1The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
2It is written in Isaiah the prophet:
“I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way” —
3“a voice of one calling in the desert,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.’ “
4And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
– Mark 1:1-4
How scholars miss this one is baffling to me. But it’s clear as day that Mark is identifying Jesus as “the Lord”, or as the Hebrew has it “YHWH.” John the Baptist is the messenger, and Jesus is the LORD, or Jesus is YHWH God. Seeing as Mark only quotes part of Isaiah 40:3, let’s look at the entire verse.
3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
“ Prepare the way of the LORD;
Make straight in the desert
A highway for our God.
John the Baptist himself, therefore, is identifying Jesus as YHWH Elohim (LORD God), when John reports on his interaction with the Pharisees just prior to Jesus’ appearance. We read:
22 Then they [the Pharisees] said to him, “Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?”
23 He said: “I am
‘ The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
“ Make straight the way of the LORD,”’
as the prophet Isaiah said.”
– John 1:22-23
Jesus didn’t take the name of the Father, for the name was not simply the name of the Father. YHWH is the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (cf. Hebrews 3:7-11 & Psalm 95).
This doesn’t diminish the personal distinctions within the Godhead, but emphasizes their Tri-unity.
Let me know your thoughts…