What’s the first thing you learn about someone when you’re introduced to them? Their name! Why? Because names help us remember people, to identify them, to know to whom we’re communicating.
Back in the day, names used to mean something. Nowadays, many people seem to name their kids based on what name they think is pretty or cool or popular, rarely looking deeper at the origins and etymology of the name or its cultural significance and heritage.
In ancient times, names were given for special reasons. Isaac (“he laughs”) was named because of the laughter of Abraham and Sarah when God told them they’d have a son in their old age.
Genesis 18:11-12 NLT Abraham and Sarah were both very old by this time, and Sarah was long past the age of having children. So she laughed silently to herself and said, “How could a worn-out woman like me enjoy such pleasure, especially when my master—my husband—is also so old?”
Genesis 21:1-3, 6-7 NLT The Lord kept his word and did for Sarah exactly what he had promised. She became pregnant, and she gave birth to a son for Abraham in his old age. This happened at just the time God had said it would. And Abraham named their son Isaac. And Sarah declared, “God has brought me laughter. All who hear about this will laugh with me. Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse a baby? Yet I have given Abraham a son in his old age!”
Jacob (“he grasps the heel”) was given his name because he was born “with his hand grasping Esau’s heel”
Genesis 25:24-25 NLT And when the time came to give birth, Rebekah discovered that she did indeed have twins! The first one was very red at birth and covered with thick hair like a fur coat. So they named him Esau.
Names in the Bible were truly significant because they often told us something about the person. This is particularly true of God whose many names are of the utmost significance. From El Shaddai to Jehovah-Raah, every name of God in the Bible reveals something about Him (see my blog category "Who Is God").
Of all the names given to God in the Bible, the most interesting and unique has to be the one ascribed to Him by John.
John 1:1-4 NLT In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone.
The Greek word John uses here for Word is logos. The concept of logos is a powerful, complex, and beautiful idea. The simplest way to explain the Greek philosophy behind it is that logos is the reason or unspoken rationale behind something. The term essentially describes a collection of things put together in thought and expressed in words. It is considered the universal reason inherent in all things; the binding laws that sustain all in existence.
In Hebrew culture, this idea refers to the dynamic force of God’s will. They often use the term memra—a word derived from the Aramaic word for “speak”—to describe God’s creative activity and will.
This understanding of the concept, as well as the terminology used in John, takes us back to the creation account found in Genesis 1. There we see God speak and then everything in the universe comes into existence.
Genesis 1:3, 6, 9, 14, 20, 24, 26 NLT Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. Then God said, “Let there be a space between the waters, to separate the waters of the heavens from the waters of the earth.” Then God said, “Let the waters beneath the sky flow together into one place, so dry ground may appear.” And that is what happened. Then God said, “Let lights appear in the sky to separate the day from the night. Let them be signs to mark the seasons, days, and years. Then God said, “Let the waters swarm with fish and other life. Let the skies be filled with birds of every kind.” Then God said, “Let the earth produce every sort of animal, each producing offspring of the same kind—livestock, small animals that scurry along the ground, and wild animals.” And that is what happened. Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.”
The writer of Hebrews said it this way;
Hebrews 11:3 ESV By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible (emphasis mine).
So in John 1:1 (NLT) when it says, “In the beginning the Word already existed" and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,” the apostle is telling us that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the living embodiment of the Word of God. He is God in the flesh, the image (eikón: supreme expression, reflection, and representation; mirror image) of the invisible God
Colossians 1:15 NLT Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,
Psalms 33:9 NLT The One who spoke the will of the Lord into being in the beginning
For when he spoke, the world began! It appeared at his command.
Jesus is the character, heart, will, and mind of God the Father revealed to the world. He is the universal reason inherent in all things; the one that sustain everything existence.
Colossians 1:15-17 NLT Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see— such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.
And guess what? The Word, the One who holds the universe together and through whom all of creation came into being, “became human and made his home among us.”
John 1:14 NLT So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.
We just celebrated Christmas and Christmas is all about the fact that God became man!
Matthew 1:23 NLT “Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’”
Immanuel, our precious Jesus, the eternal Word, our King and Savior, came to Earth so we could know God deeply and experience His presence intimately, and so we would be saved.
John 1:12 NLT But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.