Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.
Understanding the Name
To see just how breathtaking this statement really is, we must understand what Paul has in mind here. He is quoting the LORD speaking through the Prophet Isaiah:
Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. By myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return: "To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance."1 Only in the LORD, it shall be said of me, are righteousness and strength; to him shall come and be ashamed all who were incensed against him. In the LORD all the offspring of Israel shall be justified and shall glory.2
Whenever the name LORD is printed in small caps in this English translation,3 it means the NAME: YAHWEH. For ancient Jews (and conservative modern ones), YAHWEH was the Name of names; so sacred that they would not speak it nor would they write it in full (they left out the vowels: YHWH). YAHWEH was the Holy One of Israel.4
As a Pharisee,5 Paul knew this text very well. He knew exactly what he was saying: Jesus of Nazareth is YAHWEH. Pause and feel the weight of that statement. Paul once approved of the execution of those who claimed such things.6 He would one day die for proclaiming it.
Courage to Believe
Today, as in Paul's day, it takes courage to believe that Jesus is LORD of all,7 for real believing leads to real confessing.8 Our call is to confess the LORD Jesus in a world that hates him, knowing that we too will be hated.9 This is hard. But we are not to be surprised.10 Rather we are to take heart, for Jesus has overcome the world,11 and in him so shall we.12
So let's pray for boldness and in awe and wonder, with bowed knees and joy-filled hearts, confess that Jesus Christ is the LORD of hosts, the only God, the true Bread from Heaven, the Light of the world, the Way and the Truth, the Resurrection and the Life, the Savior of the world, the King of kings and Lord of lords!
The day is coming when every knee will bow and every tongue confess with us that Jesus Christ is YAHWEH to the glory of God the Father!
1 In the Septuagint (the Greek Old Testament Paul knew) this is translated “…every tongue confess to God.”
2 Isaiah 45:22-25
3 English Standard Version (ESV)
4 Isaiah 45:11
5 Acts 23:6
6 Acts 8:1
7 Romans 10:12
8 Romans 10:9
9 John 15:19
10 1 John 3:13
11 John 16:33
12 1 John 5:5