God is jealous for His name. His names both reveal His Person, nature, and work, and set Him apart and above His creatures. Throughout the Book of Genesis, especially, as God revealed Himself to men in general and then to His chosen nation in particular, He introduced Himself afresh under a new name or title with the institution of a new covenant or the occurrence of an epochal event. It is particularly striking, then, to observe the manner in which the Apostle John begins the fourth gospel, being the linguistic equivalent to a trumpet fanfare, a twenty-one gun salute, and a tickertape parade announcing and honoring the Lord Jesus Christ. There is nothing equivalent elsewhere in the Word. John attaches a minimum of fourteen different names or titles to the Lord.
Word (v. 1). As the Word, John would have us to understand that Christ is the clear and complete expression of who God is and what He has done. He is God’s “last word” to men.
God (v. 1). John cuts to the chase in the first verse: Jesus Christ is the Word, and the Word is God. The literal Greek order is even more emphatic: “God was the Word”!
Light (v. 7). Christ is the antidote to the darkness of sin, unbelief, and spiritual ignorance. Without Him, man would wander from sin’s darkness to death and damnation.
Jesus Christ (v.17). This name affirms the two natures of Christ as very God and yet very man, the One anointed of God to come and to die in order to save sinners.
Only begotten Son (v. 18). This appellation does not refer to Christ’s generation as though He were brought into being by the Father; rather, it expresses the uniqueness of His Person and relationship with the Father. There is none other like Him.
Lord (v. 23). This name denotes that Christ is “supreme in authority,” the “controller of all things” and therefore expresses His deity.
Lamb of God (v. 29). This name signifies that Christ qualified as the perfectly righteous One to shed His blood for the remission of sin.
Son of God (v. 29). By this name Christ is set forth as having the same nature as God, hence, as being co-eternal and co-equal with the Father.
Rabbi/Master (v. 38). “Rabbi” is Aramaic. John explains its meaning for his readers who were unfamiliar with that language. Truly, Christ was a Master, a “teacher.” For “Never man spake like this man” (7:46). He spoke with the authority of God Himself.
Messias (v. 41). Messias is a transliteration of the Hebrew word for Christ, meaning “anointed.” Christ alone had the Spirit without measure (3:34) as chosen of God to be our Great High Priest.
Jesus of Nazareth (v. 45). Not an anticlimactic name, it in part confirms the identity of the Lord as the fulfiller of the prophecy that God would “raise up” a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren” (Deut. 18:15).
Son of Joseph (v. 45). Whether Philip meant by this name “the adopted son of Joseph” or whether he spoke out of ignorance believing Him to be the literal son of Joseph, the designation links Christ to a legal claim to the throne of Israel. He is truly her King in both the temporal and eternal sense.
King of Israel (v. 49). Nathaniel specifically asserts his recognition that Jesus is the One foretold to sit on the throne of David.
Son of Man (v. 51). Though counterintuitive, this name is a title of deity. Every human being is a “son/daughter of man.” To call a human being by such a name would be to designate nothing of distinction. Its use respecting Christ designates Him as the incarnate God, the God who became flesh in order that He might suffer and die to redeem lost men.
In addition to the above, John mentions other terms that evoke designations of Christ from elsewhere, e.g., life (v. 4), that prophet (v. 21) a greater than John the Baptist (vv. 26, 27), and He of whom Moses and the prophets wrote (v. 45). Furthermore, He uses the names Christ (v. 25) and Jesus (v. 36) separately. With such a tour de force we are pressed to amen the words of the Lord Himself as recorded by Isaiah: “I am the Lord, and there is none else” (45:5, 6, 18).
Hallowed be His name.
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