nam (shem; onoma; Latin nomen (2 Esdras 4:1); verbs onomazo; Latin nomino (2 Esdras 5:26)): A "name" is that by which a person, place or thing is marked and known. In Scripture, names were generally descriptive of the person, of his position, of some circumstance affecting him, hope entertained concerning him, etc., so that "the name" often came to stand for the person. In Ac 1:15; Re 3:4, onoma stands for "persons"; compare Nu 26:53,55.
I. Old Testament Word and Use.
The word for "name" in the Old Testament is shem (also the name of one of the sons of Noah). The etymology is uncertain, although it may be from shamah (obs.), "to set a mark"; shum is the Aramaic form. For the name as descriptive of the person see NAMES. Besides designating persons, the name also stands for fame, renown, reputation, character gained or expressed, etc. (Ge 6:4; 2Sa 7:9,23, etc.); it might be an "evil name" (De 22:14,19); the "name" is also equivalent to a "people" or "nation" (which might be "blotted out," i.e. destroyed (De 7:24, etc.)); to speak or write "in the name" signified authority (Ex 5:23; 1Ki 21:8, etc.); to "call one's name" over a place or people indicated possession or ownership (2Sa 12:28; Am 9:12, etc.); to act "in the name" was to represent (De 25:6); to be called or known "by name" indicated special individual notice (Ex 31:2; Isa 43:1; 45:3-4). Ge 2:19-20 even displays a conception of identity between the name and the thing.
"To name" is sometimes 'amar, "to say" (1Sa 16:3); dabhar, "to speak" (Ge 23:16); naqabh, "to mark out" (Nu 1:17); qara', "to call" (Ge 48:16; Isa 61:6).
2. The Divine Name:
Of special interest is the usage with respect to the name of God. (For the various Divine names and their significance see GOD, NAMES OF.) He revealed Himself to Israel through Moses by a new name (which was at the same time that of the God of their fathers)--JEHOVAH (which see) (Yahweh)--the nature of which should be shown by His manifestations on their behalf (Ex 3:13-16; 15:2-3). The "name of God was therefore not a mere word, but the whole of" the Divine manifestation, the character of God as revealed in His relations to His people and in His dealings with them (Ex 9:16; Jos 7:9; 9:9, etc.). The "name of Yahweh" was proclaimed to Moses on Mt. Sinai, "Yah, Yahweh, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in lovingkindness and truth," etc. (Ex 34:6); the name Yahweh (so revealed) was (Ex 3:15) His "memorial Name" (so, often, in the American Standard Revised Version; see MEMORIAL). His sole Deity was such an important element in His name that De 6:4 f was termed the "Shema" (from shema`, "hear," the first word in De 6:4), the first article of Israelite faith, taught to all the children, written on the phylacteries, and still recited as the first act in public and private worship "twice a day by every adult male Jew." Where Yahweh is said to record His name, or to put His name in a place (or person), some special Divine manifestation is implied, making the place or person sacred to Him (Ex 20:24; 1Ki 8:16). His "name" was in the angel of His Presence (Ex 23:21); what He does is "for his great name's sake," in fidelity to and vindication of His revealed character and covenant relationship (2Ch 6:32; Ps 25:11); the great things He should do would be "for a name" (Isa 55:13); He would give His people a new name, "an everlasting name" (Isa 56:5); to be "called by" the name of Yahweh is "to be his people" (2Ch 7:14; Isa 43:7); it implies "protection," etc. (Isa 63:19; Jer 14:8-9); to "call upon" the name of Yahweh was "to worship him" as God (Ge 21:33; 26:25, etc.); "to confess" His name, to "acknowledge him" (1Ki 8:33,35); to love, trust, act in, etc., "the name," was to love, trust, etc., Yahweh Himself (Ps 5:11; 7:17). Very frequently, especially in the Psalms and prophecies of Isaiah and Jeremiah, "the name" of God stands for "God himself"; to "forget his name" was "to depart from him" (Jer 23:27); "to minister, prophesy, or speak" in His name signified Divine appointment, inspiration, authority (Jer 11:21; 14:14-15, etc.); we have "swearing by" or "in" the name of Yahweh (De 6:13); to take His name "in vain" was to swear falsely (Ex 20:7; Le 19:12); we have "blessing" in His name (De 10:8); "cursing" (2Ki 2:24). In Le 24:11, we have the case of one who "blasphemed the Name, and cursed," the penalty for which was death by stoning (24:13-16). In later Jewish usage (compare The Wisdom of Solomon 14:21) the sacred name Yahweh was not pronounced in reading the Scriptures, 'Adhonay ("my Lord") being substituted for it (the vowels belonging to 'Adhonay were written with the consonants of the Divine name), hence, the frequent term "the Lord" in the King James Version, for which the American Standard Revised Version substitutes "Yahweh."
II. New Testament Word and Use.
1. Character and Work of the Person:
In the New Testament onoma has frequently also the significance of denoting the "character," or "work" of the person, e.g. Mt 1:21, "Thou shalt call his name Jesus; for it is he that shall save," etc. (Lu 1:31; 2:21; 1:63, "His name is John"; compare the new names given to Simon, James and John; Saul's new name of "Paul"). The "name" of God has the same relation to the character of God as in the Old Testament (Mt 6:9; "Father, glorify thy name," Joh 12:28); it is manifested by Christ (Joh 17:26; compare Joh 17:3); the name of Jesus, as manifesting God, takes the place of the name of Yahweh in the Old Testament (compare Jas 2:7 with Jer 14:9, and see below); to Him is given "the name which is above every name; that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow .... and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father," Php 2:9-10 (compare Isa 45:23); "It is not the name Jesus, but the name of Jesus" (Lightfoot), i.e. the name ("Lord,") received by Jesus; we have with reference to Jesus simply "the Name" (Ac 5:41, "worthy to suffer dishonor for the Name"; Jas 5:14 (probable text, Westcott and Hort, The New Testament in Greek), "in the Name"; 3Jo 1:7, "for the sake of the Name"); the "name of Christ" is equivalent to "Christ himself" (Mt 10:22; 19:29); it is the same thing as "his manifestation" (Joh 20:31); therefore "to believe on his name" is to believe in Him as manifested in His life and work (Joh 1:12; 2:23); "in the name of God" means sent by God, as representing Him, with Divine authority (Mt 21:9; 23:39); in like manner, we have "prophesying" or "preaching" in the name of Jesus (Ac 4:18; 5:28). The "name of Jesus" represented His "authority" and "power," e.g. working miracles in His name (Mt 7:22; Mr 9:39; Ac 4:7, `by what name (or "power") have ye done this?'), and it is contrasted with casting out evil spirits by some other name or power (Ac 16:18; 19:17). The gospel, of salvation was to be preached "in his name," by His authority and as making it effectual (Lu 24:47); sinners were justified "through his name" (Ac 10:43; 1Co 6:11); sins were forgiven "for his name's sake" (1Jo 2:12); men "called upon the name" of Jesus, as they had done on that of Yahweh (Ac 9:14,21 (compare Ac 7:59); Ro 10:13-14).
"To name the name" of Christ was to belong to Him (2Ti 2:19); the calling of His name on the Gentiles signified their acceptance as God's people (Ac 15:17 (quoted from Am 9:12); compare Ro 1:5); to "hold fast his name" is to be true to Him as made known (Re 2:13; 3:8); to be "gathered together in his name," to "do all'' things in his name," is as "acknowledging him" (Mt 18:20; Col 3:17); "to baptize in" or "into the name" of Jesus Christ (Ac 2:38; 22:16, "calling on his name," contrasted with baptizing into one's own name in 1Co 13:1-13, eis) is "to call over them his name" (in the rite), as claiming them for Christ and as their acknowledgment of Him or of faith in Him--becoming His disciples; similarly, to baptize "into (eis) the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit," represents "dedication to" God as He has been revealed in Christ.
"In the name of" means "as representing" (or as being), e.g. "in the name of a prophet," of "a righteous man," or of "a disciple" (Mt 10:41-42); to receive a little child "in Christ's name," i.e. as belonging to Him, is to receive Himself (Mt 18:5; Mr 9:37,41 to disciples, the Revised Version (British and American) "because ye are Christ's," margin "Greek: in name that ye are (Christ's)"; Lu 9:48; compare Mt 18:20; Mr 13:6, "Many shall come in my name"; Lu 21:8).
2. In Relation to Prayer:
The significance of the name of Jesus in relation to prayer deserves special notice. To pray in the name of Jesus, to ask anything in His name, according to His promises, "Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do" (Joh 14:13; compare Joh 14:14; 15:16; 16:23); "Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask .... that your joy may be made full" (Joh 16:24), is not merely to add to our prayers (as is so often unthinkingly done): "we ask all in the name of Jesus," or "through Jesus Christ our Lord," etc., but to pray or ask as His representatives on earth, in His mission and stead, in His spirit and with His aim; it implies union with Christ and abiding in Him, He in us and we in Him. The meaning of the phrase is, "as being one with me even as I am revealed to you." Its two correlatives are "in me" (Joh 6:56; 14:20; 15:4 ff; Joh 16:33; compare 1Jo 5:20), and the Pauline "in Christ" (Westcott, The Gospel according to John).
W. L. Walker