God’s Only Begotten Son
I have been given the opportunity of addressing the article in the Apostle’s Creed: “Jesus Christ, His Only Begotten Son”, in which I aim to focus on the beginning — the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
As children in Sunday School we are taught the song, “Jesus, Name Above All Names,” but why is the name of our Savior greater than all other names? We find the answer to this question in the meaning of the names Jesus and Christ. Our Savior’s names tell us, firstly, the reason that He came to this earth and, secondly, the offices that He fulfills.
The Reason for Our Savior
The reason for our Lord, the second person of the Godhead’s incarnation is found in the name given to Him even before His birth. We read that the angel Gabriel told Joseph to name the child who was found in the womb of Mary, “Jesus,” because He would save His people from their sins. The name “Jesus,” meaning “the Lord saves,” is the New Testament form of the name “Joshua,” which signifies “helper” or “savior”. The name as a whole indicates that “Jehovah is our Helper.”
Jesus’ personal name points to the reason of His coming — to save. We note that this name presupposes that man is sinful, even though we know that,
God created man good and after His own image… that he might rightly know God his Creator, heartily love Him and live with Him in eternal blessedness to praise and glorify Him. But man, through the instigation of the devil, by willful disobedience deprived himself and all his descendants of this power.
The name Jesus reminds us that although man lost the privilege of eternal life, God demonstrated His own love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, His only begotten Son was sent into the world to solve the problem of sin. God the Father therefore gave His Son a name which openly shows the purpose of the coming of His Son — to save sinners.
We see that Jesus, the personal name of our Savior, the Name above all names was not given to Him by his earthly parents, Mary and Joseph, but was ultimately given to Him by His Heavenly Father, the first person of the Godhead. Through this revelation by the angel Gabriel, we are reminded that salvation was planned and purposed by God and not man. The psalmist writes in Psalm 130:7-8,
O Israel, hope in the Lord, for with the Lord there is mercy, and with Him is abundant redemption, and He shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.
John the apostle reiterates the exclusive work of God in salvation when he writes, “and we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world” (1 John 4:14).
We may also see that our Savior’s personal name demonstrates that He is the only Savior of men, as Scripture states, “there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all” (1 Timothy 2:5-6), and that “there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
The Offices of Our Savior
A second reason that our Lord’s name is above all names can be found in the name “Christ.” The New Testament name “Christ” is the Greek translation of the Old Testament “Messiah.” Both names mean “The Anointed One.” As Nathaniel confessed in John 1, “we have found the Messiah, which is translated ‘the Christ.’” Jesus professed this Himself before Caiaphas the high priest in Matthew 26.
As the Anointed One, Jesus was appointed by God to carry out the duties of prophet, priest, and king. These offices were given to the first Adam in the Garden of Eden, as he was to know the Lord (prophet), serve Him alone (priest) and live in righteousness with dominion over the creation (king). We see that following the fall of man, these three offices were continued in prophets, who were called to know the Lord and reveal His will to the people; priests, who were called to offer sacrifices, represent the people before God and continually intercede for them; and kings, who were appointed by God to rule the people and subdue their enemies. As the Messiah, Jesus perfectly fulfills these offices.
As the Old Testament office-bearers were anointed with oil to their official positions, representing the blessing of God’s Spirit upon His servants to be established in wisdom and strength, Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit by God the Father to enter His earthly ministry when He was baptized by John in the Jordan River. Jesus acknowledges this special anointing of the Holy Spirit when he reads Isaiah 61:1-2: “the Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” and states, “this passage has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:18-21).
Office of Prophet
Jesus fulfills the office of prophet by fully revealing the will of God to us. Moses foretold the coming of Christ as the Great Prophet in Deuteronomy 18:15, “the Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear.” In Acts 3, the apostles reveal that Moses was referring to the Lord Jesus Christ. God the Father commends Jesus as Prophet when He declares, “this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” Jesus has made known to us all things that He has heard from His Father (John 15:15), and as our Great Prophet, He has spoken with authority as no one else ever has or ever will, for He is “the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father” (John 1:18).
Office of Priest
Jesus fulfills the office of priest through the sacrifice of Himself on the cross and His continual intercession before the Father on our behalf. With his sacrifice, Christ satisfied God’s wrath against our sins and secured our salvation. The author of Hebrews rejoices in the propitiatory work of our Great High Priest in chapter 10:10, “we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” This priestly work of Christ is far better than that of any priest under the old covenant since,
He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.Hebrews 7:24-27
As our intercessor, Christ our priest has passed through the heavens and is even at the right hand of God (Romans 8:34) and pleads His perfect work on behalf of His people. He is our Advocate (1 John 2:1), who assures us that “there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). Even as our Savior prayed for His church in John 17, so He continues to pray for us today.
Office of King
Jesus fulfills the office of king by having all power over all things, even as He declared at the time of His ascension. He rules by destroying the works of the devil in the lives of sinners. By means of His Word, made effectual by the working of His Spirit, He causes them to be His very own. He also defends these, His own, by promising that the gates of hell will not prevail against His Church (Matthew 16). Lastly, He preserves His own to the very end and promises that when he comes again He will take His church to be with Him for all eternity. Therefore, we confess that Jesus Christ is “the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and the Lord of lords” (1 Timothy 6:15b).
The Name above all Names
As we contemplate the name given to our Savior, Jesus Christ, we rejoice that He is our complete Savior “able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him” (Hebrews 7:25), our authoritative prophet who saves “as many as had been appointed to eternal life” (Acts 13:48), our sacrificial High Priest, “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners and has become higher than the heavens” (Hebrews 7:26) and our all powerful King (Matthew 28:18), who governs, defends, and preserves His people. Therefore, take comfort in knowing that “neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). Truly, the only Savior of sinful man, Jesus Christ, has been given a “Name above all names.”