Author: Ron Graham


The Name Above Every Name
—Philippians 2:9

What is "the name that is above every name?" (Philippians 2:9) The notes below try to answer that question.

1 Is it “Jesus”?

Verse 9 says that God gave Christ "the name which is above every name" and then verse 10 says, "that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow" (Philippians 2:9-10).

So a lot of folk say that's the answer: the name above all other names is “Jesus”. That's not correct. Let me explain...

It's perfectly clear from the two verses that the highest name was given to Jesus Christ, and rightly belongs to him. There's no argument about that. The question is whether Paul meant to say, and meant us to understand, that this is the name “Jesus”. I don't think that was Paul’s intention at all.

The phrase in question is "the name of Jesus". This does not mean "the name is Jesus". It means "the name belonging to Jesus". We could translate the phrase, "Jesus's name" rather than the somewhat ambiguous "name of Jesus".

The clause would then be clear: "At Jesus's name every knee should bow". We conclude therefore that Paul is using the name “Jesus” to identify the one who has been given the name above every name, not to name the very name itself.

This leaves the question open, what is Jesus’s name above all names? Before we answer that question, notice this distinction:

The name “Jesus” ( Ieesous ) was given to the Christ before his birth (Matthew 1:20-21). The name above every name, on the other hand, was given to Jesus after his death (Philippians 2:8-9).

2 Does “Name” Mean Authority?

Some will suggest that the “name” Paul refers to is not a name as such, but simply authority. For example when we do something “in the name of Jesus” we mean that we do it by his authority (eg Luke 24:47, Acts 2:38, Acts 3:5).

So when Paul said Jesus was given the name above all names, he was talking about the status and authority granted to him. This is a valid point, and I have no argument against it. But I think it stops short of the full implications of what Paul was saying. This is our next point.

3 Is the Name “Yahweh”?

God has a special name, Yahweh. "I am the Lord, that is my name, I will not give my glory to another (Isaiah 42:8).

The psalmist Asaph recognized that this special name belonged only to the Most High God: "You alone whose name is the Lord, are the Most High over all the earth" (Psalms 83:18).

The name translated "Lord above is said by some to be “Jehovah”. It is also sometimes rendered YHWH or Yahweh. This proper name is greater than all other names.

If Jesus was given the name above every name, then he was given this name Yahweh, not a lesser name. When God refuses to give that name to another, he makes an exception of his unique Son, and if he did not make that exception he would deny his Son equality with him