“I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world.” John 17:6 (NRSV)
What is the name of God that Jesus made known to his disciples? Was it Yahweh? Or Jehovah? Or El-Shaddai? None of these terms are found in the Gospels. Maybe God’s name is Father? That’s the only name Jesus calls the One to whom he prays in this Gospel.
Jesus did more than tell us how God should be addressed (which, when you think about it, would be in violation of the Jewish law to speak God’s name).
What is the name of God that Jesus is referring to? I spent a little more time explaining it in the second chapter of my book, The Lord’s Prayer: Finding New Meanings Within the Language Jesus Spoke. Briefly, in the Old Testament, a person’s name revealed something about their character or their nature. It wasn’t merely what you called him or her when dinner was ready.
One Greek concordance in explaining “name” says
“By a usage chiefly Hebraistic the name is used for everything which the name covers, everything the thought or feeling of which is roused in the mind by mentioning, hearing, remembering, the name, i. e. for one’s rank, authority, interests, pleasure, command, excellences, deeds, etc.).
A name is a reflection of your character, more like your reputation or the way people feel about you when your name is mentioned. Jesus revealed God’s true character.
The NKJV of verse 6 gives a clearer interpretation of the Greek verb translated above as “made known.” It reads: “I have manifested your name to the men you have given me out of the world.”
To manifest is to demonstrate or reveal. “I have demonstrated your name…”
“I have demonstrated your character, your nature, to the men…”
So what is God’s nature? What is God’s character?
God’s name is not “just” or “righteous.” The justice/righteousness (they come from the same Greek word) Jesus showed was in treating everyone with compassion rather than punishing them for their errors like the earlier notions of God.
God’s name, as demonstrated by Jesus, was not vengeful. Avenging was a Jewish view of God before they met the image of God face to face.
God’s name is healing…guiding…caring…self-denying…self-sacrificing…willing to lay down his own life for sinners.
God’s name is Love. And Jesus demonstrated it to us.