His Son's Name

Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what is his name, and what is his son’s name, if thou canst tell? (Proverbs 30:4)

The naming of an only begotten son is always an important event in the life of a family. In this intriguing set of questions, however, the prophet Agur (Proverbs 30:1) was particularly concerned to know the name of the Son of the very Creator of the universe, the one who had made the waters and the winds and all the ends of the earth.

In fact, he probably had been quite amazed when he first learned that God had a Son. As a prophet in Israel, he often must have repeated the great affirmation of Deuteronomy 6:4: "The LORD our God is one LORD," as well as the first commandment of the Decalogue: "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" (Exodus 20:3). How could it be that the God of creation would have a Son?

Nothing whatever is known about Agur except that God used him to write the fascinating and unique thirtieth chapter of King Solomon’s collection of proverbs. He was evidently a man of wisdom who loved the Lord, probably also a man well known and trusted by Solomon. He very likely knew David as well, or at least must have been acquainted with David’s psalms.

In David’s second psalm, there had been a profound reference to this divine Son. "The LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; . . . and I shall give thee the heathen [i.e., 'the nations'] for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession" (Psalm 2:7-8).

Agur likely also had heard, from either David or Solomon, about God’s promise concerning David’s future seed: "He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son" (2 Samuel 7:13-14; also 1 Chronicles 17:13). This enigmatic prophecy seemed in part to apply to Solomon, but its eternal dimensions clearly marked it as going far beyond Solomon to an even greater Son of David who would somehow also be the Son of God. In fact, from the vantage point of the New Testament (Hebrews 1:5), we now know that the statement "he shall be to me a son" applied specifically not to David’s son, Solomon, but to this very Son of God.

It is not surprising, therefore, that Agur would raise the question: "What is His Son’s name?" He also asked the name of the Creator, although he surely was very familiar with the several names applied to God in the writings of Moses—especially "God" (Elohim), "LORD" (Jehovah), and "Lord" (Adonai). But as Father to a Son, God must have another name as well. "What is His name?" he asked.

The Name of the Father

Although this question of Agur’s is never specifically answered in the Old Testament, this new name of the Lord is surely nothing less than "Father." It seems significant that although the word "father" (Hebrew, ab) occurs more than 500 times in the Old Testament, none of the writers ever addressed God as ab (or as abba, the Aramaic equivalent).

However, God did occasionally speak of Himself as Israel’s Father (e.g., Jeremiah 3:19, speaking prophetically of the future kingdom). On one occasion, Moses did remind Israel that Jehovah was also their ab because He had both made them and redeemed them from slavery (Deuteronomy 32:6). But this was probably the only biblical reference to God as Father which Agur could have heard in his time, except the above-mentioned references to God’s Son (2 Samuel 7:141 Chronicles 17:13).

But then the Son of God finally did come into the world and the situation was altogether changed and clarified. On the night before His trial and crucifixion, He prayed for His disciples, saying: "Father, . . . I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world . . . Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou has given me, that they may be one, as we are. . . . O righteous Father, . . . I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it" (John 17:1, 6, 11, 25-26). That name clearly was "our Father." When the Lord Jesus taught His disciples how to pray, He told them specifically to begin their prayer by addressing God as "our Father" (Matthew 6:9).

The New Testament word for "father" (Greek, pater) occurs about 500 times and was frequently used, both by Christ and the apostles, to refer to God as well as to human fathers. On one urgent occasion, the Lord Jesus prayed to His Father, saying: "Abba, Father" (Mark 14:36). This was in the Garden of Gethsemane just before His arrest. Although no one in the Old Testament would ever address God as "Abba," Christ did. This must have been the most intimate name for His Father in the innermost councils of the tri-une Godhead.

And now, by virtue of our own adoption through Christ, into God’s family, even we can—when the circumstances warrant it—use the same wonderful name when praying to our heavenly Father. "For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father" (Romans 8:15). "And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father" (Galatians 4:6).

Perhaps this answers Agur’s question concerning the new name of God the Creator of the ends of the earth. But now we want to seek the answer to his second question. By what name is God’s Son to be called?

His Name Shall Be Called Wonderful

It would be almost 300 years after Solomon and Agur, however, before God would send another prophet with the answer. Then, through the wonderful prophet Isaiah, God delivered those two great prophecies that Christians rehearse over and over, at every Christmas season:

Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)

"Immanuel," of course, means "God with us," so this coming Son of the virgin would also be God incarnate in human flesh. Then, a short time later, God sent an amazing prophecy concerning the name of this Son.

For unto us [remember "God with us"] a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

What a name! Yet how appropriate for one whose name already had been stated as "God with us"—"Immanuel." This One who was promised would be a man, born of a Jewish maiden, yet also would be God, God in human flesh, God like us, God with us! How marvelous.

No wonder He is to be called "Wonderful." The connotation of the Hebrew word is "miraculous." God could never become man apart from a miraculous conception and virgin birth; otherwise, He would inherit a human sinful nature and thus could not be the uniquely holy God. His very name, indeed, must be "Wonderful."

Yet that alone is not enough. He was also to be mankind’s great Counselor, the One who could alone perfectly convey the grand nature of God’s holy standards couched in redeeming love to lost humanity. When He finally came, this God-man, speaking words of infinite wisdom phrased in childlike simplicity for all to understand, even God’s enemies found themselves acknowledging that "Never man spake like this man" (John 7:46).

Many scholars think that the sense of the prophecy really places the two words together—that is, "Wonderful Counsellor." This also is surely true; He was the "Miraculous Advisor" for every need of life, never having to retract or modify His counsel on any subject. He truly was the most wonderful counselor ever sent from heaven, speaking perfect words on every subject.

But note that His name is also "The mighty God." That He is God’s Son in no wise marks Him as of secondary importance in the Godhead. Before His incarnation, He was "equal with God" (Philippians 2:6). Even after He allowed Himself to be slain, He conquered death itself, and then could proclaim that "all power is given unto me in heaven and in earth" (Matthew 28:18).

His name is also to be called "The everlasting Father"—or, as many authorities would translate it, "Father of eternity." He is the Creator of time, as well as space and matter. "By him were all things created," and "without him was not any thing made that was made" (Colossians 1:16; John 1:3). He also could say, even though He was the Son of the Father, that "I and my Father are one" (John 10:30).

Yet another component of the name by which He is to be called is "The Prince of Peace." Though He is God, He is also man, and thus can be the one and only true and successful "mediator between God and men" (1 Timothy 2:5). He alone can bring true peace to the world, for "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself" (2 Corinthians 5:19). He is the great Peacemaker (Matthew 5:9), who " . . . made peace through the blood of his cross" (Colossians 1:20).

What a glorious, multi-dimensional name He has! —and yet even this is not all. Speaking of this same God/man, the prophet Jeremiah said: "This is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTOUSNESS" (Jeremiah 23:6). The Lord Jesus "is made unto us wisdom and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption" (1 Corinthians 1:30). The heavenly Father "hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him" (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Thou Shalt Call His Name Jesus

When the time finally approached for the ancient prophecies to be fulfilled, God sent the angel Gabriel to a humble carpenter, who was engaged to marry a godly Jewish maiden named Mary, both of them descendants of King David, who had lived a thousand years earlier. The angel told Joseph that Mary, though pregnant, was still a chaste virgin, and was about to become the instrument to fulfill Isaiah’s great prophecy. "And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21).

Even before this, Gabriel had been sent to Mary with a similar announcement. "And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS" (Luke 1:31). Then he also made the amazing statement: " . . . that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God" (Luke 1:35).

The name "Jesus" seems a much simpler name than the exalted names predicted by Isaiah and Jeremiah. Other Jews had already been known by that name—Joshua, Isaiah, Hosea, Jeshua, are all variants of the same name. But it is wonderfully appropriate—in effect embracing all the other names, for it means, simply, "Jehovah saves," or "Jehovah our Savior."

Jesus is, therefore, His human name, given to Him by His heavenly Father and embracing His entire ministry of bringing salvation to a lost world and to men and women lost in sin but longing for forgiveness, peace and everlasting life.

Still there is more. The first reference to His name in the New Testament is in its very first chapter. "And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ" (Matthew 1:16). Not only is His name to be called Jesus: He is also called Christ.

That is, He is "the Christ," the long-awaited "Messiah" of Israel. These names are actually titles, of course, both meaning "the anointed One," in Greek and Hebrew respectively. In His human incarnation, He has been anointed by the Father as His eternal Prophet, Priest, and King. As our eternal Prophet, He is the incarnate Word of God (John 1:1, 14), forever declaring to us the Father and His will (John 1:18). As our great High Priest, "he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them" (Hebrews 7:25). Finally, there will be "on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS" (Revelation 19:16), when He returns as our eternal King, "and he shall reign for ever and ever" (Revelation 11:15).

His human name is thus Jesus Christ, but there is still another name—a first name, as it were—that should be added by those who "believe on his name," and thus "become the sons of God" (John 1:12). "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Romans 10:13). He is, to us, Lord, as well as Jesus the Christ. Following His resurrection, the apostle Peter said to the Jews: "God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ" (Acts 2:36).

To the believer, therefore, His full name, so to speak, is "Lord Jesus Christ." But He may well be called by these other wonderful names as well, even now as we try to serve and honor Him in this present world.

His Name Is Called the Word of God

Yet there are still more names with which we shall honor Him when He comes again. One day our Lord Jesus Christ will return in power and great glory to this world He created and for which He has paid the redemption price in His own shed blood. The apostle John was granted the prophetic vision of His triumphant coming, and he saw and heard yet three more wonderful names by which He is to be called in the ages to come. "And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True" (Revelation 19:11). He is, even now, our "faithful high priest" (Hebrews 2:17), "a faithful Creator" (1 Peter 4:19), and "the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God" (Revelation 3:14). One of His great names in eternity will be Faithful and True, and the final chapter in the Bible includes these words: "These sayings are faithful and true" (Revelation 22:6), because it is the One who is ever Faithful and True who speaks them.

And then we read that "his name is called The Word of God" (Revelation 19:13). He was the creating Word in the beginning (John 1:1-3), the living Word in His incarnation (John 1:14), and now the victorious Word in the grand consummation when He rides victoriously over His enemies in triumph back to the earth.

Then there is the final name that He is to be called, "KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS" (Revelation 19:16). In that great day, all the universe will know that God has "given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus [that is, 'the name belonging to Jesus'] every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Philippians 2:9-11).

There is your answer, Agur. "His Son’s name" is so indescribably great that it almost exhausts the language to tell it all. His name is called "Wonderful" and all the other beautiful names we see in His Word, and no doubt we shall learn many more in eternity.

But for now we especially love His human name given to us as those He has redeemed. He is our Lord Jesus Christ and, whether anyone can understand the significance of all His other names or not, it is enough simply to "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:31).

It is fitting that the Book of God closes in speaking this beautiful name of the Son of the heavenly Father: "He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen" (Revelation 22:20-21).

* Dr. Henry M. Morris (1918-2006) was Founder and President Emeritus of ICR.