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Naming Rights
by Philip Owen

            I did not name any of your children, nor did you name mine.  I did not name the Ford Motor Company, nor the street on which I live.  Naming rights attend the ownership, possession, creation of (that is, authority over) a person or thing.  The theme of names and naming is a significant one that permeates the Bible.

            God, of course, created Adam and for that reason named him.  And the first recorded act of Adam was to name the animals that God had created.  “Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name.  The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field” (Gen. 2:19, 20a).

Adam’s act of naming all animal life symbolized the authority over creation that God had conferred upon man.  “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’  God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.  God blessed them; and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth’” (Gen. 1:26-28).

Subsequently, parents exercised the right of naming their children.  At significant times, however, God intervened, exercising His ultimate authority either to name a child (e.g., Samson, John the Baptist, Jesus) or to change the name initially given a child by his parents  (e.g., Abram/Abraham, Simon/Peter, Saul/Paul).  God’s authority as manifested in naming rights finds its human apex in the Lord’s declaration that to every believer He gives “a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it” (Rev. 2:17).  This unique, personal name is one of the clearest evidences of God’s authority over us, yet also expresses His great love for us and His intimate knowledge about every redeemed child.

When Christ returns in glory at the end of the seven-year tribulation period, the name theme is prominent.  We read that when Christ returns, “His name is called The Word of God” (Rev. 19:13).  Later in the same chapter, “He has a name written, ‘KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS’” (v. 16).  And, perhaps, most significantly of all, John writes that “He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself” (v. 12).  The significance of that name (Why would it even be mentioned if no one knows it but the Lord Himself?) has puzzled many Christians.  But perhaps it is simply another means of declaring the absolute authority of Christ as the sovereign God when He comes to judge the earth.  As we know, in the case of humans, at least two people know every name:  the one who gives it (typically a parent or parents) and the one who receives it.  But in the case of the Lord Jesus Christ, no one has come before Him, no one has sired or given Him birth.  And no one has named Him.  He holds sole authority, and so has deemed to call Himself by whatever name pleases Him, and unless He should choose to reveal it, not one person would or could know that name.  To be self-named may be the ultimate expression of sovereign authority.

The Bible reveals some three hundred names, titles, or appellations given to the Lord.  For a mere human being to arrogate to himself so many names would be the height of arrogance.  But when those names have been used to describe the eternal, omnipotent God, our Savior and Lord, they will still fall short of doing Him justice, and He will still have an unknown name.  For although He is not ashamed to call us brethren, He will be forever infinitely above us.  Praise His name!                                    

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