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BELIEVE IN THE NAME

by Jacques More

When John wrote,

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name:

John 1 : 12

It is easy to consider that "believe in His name" means believing in Jesus – by that name – just as Peter said before the elders of Israel,

let it be known to you all . . . that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth . . . this man stands here before you whole. . . Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

Acts 4 : 10-12

I do not believe this is John's meaning here.
John believed what Peter said that day as they stood next to each other (Acts 4:13), but here, in John 1 is not what he means by "believe in His name".
John uses this phrase unlike any other writer of the New Testament.
        And he does so often. At the end of his first letter he says,

These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.

1 John 5 : 13

He adds the words "of the Son of God" to "believe in the name", but again I believe the name of Jesus – as being in view – is not John's meaning.
       But already here an indication that the actual name of Jesus is not in his thinking is evident.
He says,

"to you who believe in the name of the Son of God" I have written all this so "that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God." This is something more than about "Jesus" as the Son of God's title. John wrote repeatedly in his letter about aspects of the character of God, what He is like. "God is light" (1 John 1:5), "God is love" (1 John 4:8) and all that these entail down to earth, in our practice.

He also said,

And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.

1 John 3 : 23

Here, we could, take it, that John means Jesus as God's Son's title, is what he means by "believe on the name" like Peter expressed it. But, that is, for John's other places where he uses the phrase "the name". John writes with this phrase in relaying to us the prayer Jesus makes to the Father,

I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. . .

John 17 : 6

. . . Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are.

John 17 : 11

And here: the "clincher",

O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.

John 17 : 25-26

Jesus says "And I have declared to them Your name" and immediately adds "and will declare it" and, for a clear purpose "that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them."
        If a particular title is meant, what we understand in the normal use of the word "name", then Jesus adding "and will declare it" becomes incongruous. It is out of place for that understanding.

Instead, in the context of this prayer and in the context of John's letter we read of the character of God. This seems to be the natural meaning in John mentioning "believe in the name". It is a belief in the righteousness of God, His goodness, what is right: His character: what He is like.

Paul uses other words for the same thing – this recognition of what is believed – Paul says regarding the wicked, the unbelievers:

. . . the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,

Romans 1 : 18-20

Allow me to highlight the relevant,
There is a suppression of "the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen". This revelation of what God is like is a truth which John calls "the name of the Son of God" if you suppress it, you condemn yourself; if you believe it, you allow God's life to flow in you. And that life allowed goes right on to eternal life. As Paul also said that God "'will render to each one according to his deeds': eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honour, and immortality;" (Romans 2:5–7) and this because in Paul's further words "for when Gentiles . . . show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them" (Romans 2:14–15). Paul now talking of folk who have responded positively to this truth of God, believing in His name as John put it, and yet not having heard the law of God – the written – and thus also not (yet) having heard about Jesus.
        John wrote of these also like this,

If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him.

1 John 2 : 29

This brings us nicely back to John 1:12

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name:

John 1 : 12

There is a clear cause and effect here, you receive Him, which means you believe in His name – this truth of God about what is right and you believe – will, after that, and because of that, cause a release of authority "to become children of God".
        And after the release of authority to "become" a child of God, the birthing, the birth element (not the formation prior to birthing which involves both belief in the name and God's formation of the spirit – (Zechariah 12:1), this birthing is 100% and only God's doing (John 1:13).

And this has been so from the time of the Creation.
What is new since Jesus' coming – Emmanuel, God with us – is that these now that are born from above (born again), are those who can now see and enter into the kingdom of God differently: It is these Paul writes of as then being predestined to a call (Romans 8:27–30): e.g. to follow Jesus consciously. Paul is explicit that the purpose seen that makes God works all things together is the love of God discovered by God after His searching the heart (Romans 8:27). It is of note the word "His" in front of "purpose" (in R 8:28) is not in any Greek text, and takes away from the flow of reading with verse 27. This belief in His name – this love of God – is the purpose in view and releases the authority to become a child of God and the Lord then moves to work things out so these folk get to know about Jesus consciously.
       Hallelujah!

_________________

For more about belief in the name: cf. The meaning of born again in the book Will there be Non-Christians in heaven? or John 1:12 et al in the book Serious mistranslations of the bible

For more about Paul's conditional predestination teaching: cf. Romans 8:28 in the book Serious mistranslations of the bible and also the YouTube video Paul's teaching of conditional predestination



Unless otherwise stated Bible quotes are from the New King James Version

© copyright Thomas Nelson Inc. 1979,1980,1982.

© copyright Jacques More 2017. All Rights Reserved.


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