The Many Names of God –

Names of Jesus – Part 1

Isaiah 9:6, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace
Daniel 7:13; Matthew 9:1-8, 25:31-34, Son of Man
Matthew 8:28-34; Mark 3:11-12, Son of God
Matthew 20:29-34, 21:9, 22:41-42; Son of David

More Names of God

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Isaiah 9:6, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (2/3/2009)

My eldest granddaughter, Hannah, was writing down tips that I was giving her for doing genealogy. Two tips were: "Check everything! Trust no one! (Except Aunt Terri.)"

Imagine my surprise when John Wesley's commentary on today's verse included the following: "Mighty God - ... it is a true observation, that this Hebrew word El is never used in the singular number, of any creature, but only of the almighty God." Now, John Wesley was a very great scholar and theologian – definitely the "Aunt Terri" of scripture for any United Methodist. Since I told you not long ago that El means God or god, depending on the context, I immediately started looking at every occurrence of El in the Hebrew text in order to overwrite my brain cells with the correct information. But amazingly, Wesley was wrong! This reinforces what I always tell you: Don't take my word for this stuff! Read the Bible for yourself! Trust no one! Not to mention that it shows the value of an electronic concordance, without which I could not have found verses such as the following: "The LORD alone guided him, no foreign El was with him" (Deuteronomy 32:12). To be fair to Wesley, there only seem to be a handful of "els" out of the 237 occurrences that do not refer to God.

However all that may be, it is certainly true that the name "Mighty God" pretty much rules out King Hezekiah as the person to whom this verse refers, which has been proposed by some scholars. Wesley says this name "cannot without blasphemy and nonsense be ascribed to Hezekiah, nor indeed to any mere mortal man. ... This title can agree to no man but Christ."

Daniel 7:13; Matthew 9:1-8, 25:31-34, Son of Man (2/4/2009)

For the next five days we are going to look at Jesus as the son of .... Biblical usage of the phrase "son of X" is not always the same as our ordinary usage. Usually when we say someone is the "son of X," X is either the mother or father of the son in question. Biblical usage includes the ordinary usage that X is the parent, and certainly this is the most common meaning. However, "son of X" is also used to mean Thus you see "son of Belial" (1 Samuel 25:17), which literally means "son of worthlessness" and is rendered as "worthless fellow" in some modern translations; son of wickedness (Psalms 89:22); son of the morning (Isaiah 14:12); and sons of the prophets (1 Kings 20:35), the singers (Nehemiah 12:28), the mighty (Psalms 89:6), the sorceress (Isaiah 57:3), or the stranger (Isaiah 62:8); and the daughters of music (Ecclesiastes 12:4) and the land/Jerusalem/Zion/Moab. In each of these cases, physical descent from X is not implied, but rather that the sons or daughters take on the characteristics of X.

"Son of Man" is used in the Bible to denote a mortal person, i.e., a person who has the ordinary characteristics of mankind. You could read any chapter of Ezekiel to see this usage clearly. It is also occasionally used as a Messianic title, i.e., a divine person who takes on the characteristics of mankind. Our verse from Daniel is clearly of that sort: an ordinary person is not going to come with clouds of heaven. So the name can be a little ambiguous. The person who most frequently refers to Jesus as the Son of Man is Jesus himself. Usually he just says "The Son of Man this or that..." and lets it go at that. I suspect he intended it to be a little ambiguous, because very often he was trying not to attract so much attention that he couldn't get any work done. But today we read two passages in which Jesus unambiguously lays claim to the Messianic title, "Son of Man."

Matthew 8:28-34; Mark 3:11-12, Son of God (2/5/2009)

So where do you stand on demons? In our society, belief in demons has fallen way off and belief in angels has (in my opinion) gotten out of hand to the point that some people substitute them for God. But since demons and angels are essentially the same species, I think you have to accept or reject both together. You have to discount a fair amount of scripture to reject both demons and angels, so I'm inclined to accept them, even though I've never knowingly met one.

The main thing that distinguishes angels from demons is their attitude about obedience to God. Admittedly, I myself have occasionally argued that angels are distinguished from humanity by their lack of free will, but I think I'm mistaken about that. If angels have no free will, where do demons come from? God created everything, and everything created by God was good at least initially (see Genesis 1). Therefore demons went bad after they were created, like humanity, which can only be explained by free will. Even though demons have free will, Jesus successfully forced many of them to leave the persons whom they had taken over.

Most of the human people who met Jesus either rejected him outright or took a while to recognize him as anything more than a teacher or prophet. Ultimately, quite a few disciples, not to mention all orthodox Christians, recognized him as the Son of God. In contrast, not only angels but also demons recognized Jesus as the Son of God immediately. Presumably they had met before.

Note that in this case, "Son of..." is describing a specific relationship, not implying that Jesus is taking on the characteristics of God.

Matthew 20:29-34, 21:9, 22:41-42; Son of David (2/6/2009)

One thing that everybody knew (and still knows) about the Messiah was that he would be a descendant of King David, because God had promised David that one of his descendants would be on the throne of the kingdom forever (e.g., 2 Samuel 7, Jeremiah 23:5). When 1st-century Jews – from beggar to Pharisee – referred to the Son of David, they were using the second meaning of "Son of..." that we learned the other day, namely, a more-distant descendant, and they are also specifically talking about The Messiah.

I rarely translate the Greek kurios as "Lord" until after the resurrection, because it can and usually does mean sir or master. (A lot of real translators make this same distinction.) But in today's first passage, I use "Lord" because the blind men not only called Jesus kurios but also "Son of David." Furthermore, they confidently requested a miracle. Obviously they didn't mean "sir." They addressed Jesus as The Messiah, and they meant "Lord."

More Names of God
Names of God - Introduction
Sacred Names - Part 1
Sacred Names - Part 2
Other Names - Part 1
Other Names - Part 2
Other Names - Part 3
Names of Jesus - Part 1
Names of Jesus - Part 2
Names of Jesus - Part 3
Names of Jesus - Part 4
Names of Jesus - Part 5
Names of Jesus - Part 6
Names of Jesus - Part 7
Names of Jesus - Part 8
Names of Jesus - Part 9
Names of the Spirit

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