The power of God's Name
This statement by Jesus, continuing his open prayer to the Supreme Being regarding Jesus' students ("they" and "them") reveals a critical thing about Jesus' teachings that has been altogether ignored by ecclesiastical sectarian institutions over the centuries. And what is that?
The fact that Jesus emphasized in his teachings the praising of God's Holy Name as a method of worship and re-establishing our lost relationship with the Supreme Being.
The phrase, "by the power of Your Name," indicates clearly that Jesus recognized that God's Holy Name does have power.
The Greek phrase τήρησον αὐτοὺς here is being translated to "protect them". While this is not necessarily wrong, the primary translation of the word τηρέω (tēreō) is, according to the lexicon, "to attend to carefully, take care of," and "to keep" according to the lexicon.
For this reason, we would suggest that "keep" is a better translation:
"keep them by the power of Your Name"To "keep" someone includes protecting that person. But it also lends to keeping that person close in a personal sense. Someone might be protected remotely by someone or something: For example, an insurance policy might "protect" someone against damage to their house or car. But to "keep" someone is an action word that also includes remaining close - from a personal prospective.
Jesus is clearly stating here that God's Holy Name has the power to "keep them" and more as we'll discuss further below. How is that?
The power of calling out the Supreme Being's Holy Name has been discussed throughout the Biblical scriptures, yet most Christian, Jewish and Moslem ecclesiastical institutions seem to ignore them. Let's first consider one of the clearest instructions from Jesus regarding the praising of God's Holy Names, within the famous "Lord's Prayer" (using the King James Version):
"Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name." (Matt. 6:9 KJV)What does is mean to "hallow" something? The word "hallow" is being translated from the Greek ἁγιάζω (hagiazō), which means "to render or acknowledge, or to be venerable." To hold something venerable means to honor, worship or praise it.
So Jesus is honoring or venerating God's Holy Name in one of his most important instructions, as he stated, just before he began the prayer:
“This, then, is how you should pray:" (Matt. 6:9 NIV)and
"After this manner therefore pray ye:" (Matt. 6:9 KJV)So Jesus was clearly instructing his students to praise God's Holy Names within their prayers.
Yet when many sectarian institutions consider praising God, they praise Jesus' name. While there is nothing wrong with this, we know from Jesus statements above that Jesus is especially pleased when we praise the Name of His Lord - the Supreme Being.
Jesus' followers praised God
In fact, we find that Jesus' life and teachings caused many around him to praise God's Holy Names not just within prayers, but outwardly:
When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen (Luke 19:37)
The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. (Luke 2:20)
Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. (Luke 5:25)
One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. (Luke 17:15)
Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God. (Luke 18:43)And after the final miracle - of Jesus' final appearance to his disciples, his disciples praised God:
And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God. (Luke 24:53)What does "praising God" mean? It means to venerate, honor and glorify His Holy Names.
And this is confirmed by the teachings of Jesus' disciples - as indicated by this statement by Peter:
"And everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved.'" (Acts 2:21)And by James:
"Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the Name of the Lord." (James 5:10)Now we can see that Jesus' teachings and Jesus' disciples' teachings regarding the power of singing, chanting, calling out, and worshiping God's Holy Names was not a new one. It was part of the tradition of the prophets' teachings. Their teachings professed the importance of worshiping God by the praising of God's Holy Names. They built temples specifically for the purpose of praising God's Holy Names. And their teachers were founded upon the power of God's Holy Names.
So what is it about praising, singing, chanting, calling out and otherwise worshiping God's Holy Names that is so special?
Why praise God's Name?
Consider first the importance of our own name to us. What happens if we suddenly hear our name being called out - even if someone is calling to someone else who also has our name? Our ears perk up and we look around to see who might be calling us. Right?
Why is that? Because we feel that our name is important to us. Our name is dear to us, and is thus a tool that others can reach out to us with, and connect to us with.
Just consider the first phrase of any email or letter: "Dear so-and-so [insert name]." The person's name is being put in the email or letter first to indicate who it is going to, but also to draw attention to that person that it is an email or letter specifically being sent to them. Who would bother reading a letter or email that does not address them? Such an email from someone the reader does not know would be considered spam.
Now the importance of our name to us is only a tiny reflection of the power of God's Names, because our names are temporary, and many others also share our name with us (just google your name). A person's name is given to us by our parents. Anyone can change their name today. When a woman marries, she often changes her last name. And when a person dies (leaves their physical body) we become separated from the name of our physical body.
All of this means that there is a duality between us and our name. Our names might refer to us temporarily - but they are not attached to our permanent identity - our spiritual identity.
God's Names are spiritual
The Supreme Being's Names are different. God is permanent. He is eternal. He never dies. Thus His Holy Names are also permanent. They never change or die. They eternally refer to Him.
And because the Supreme Being is spiritual in nature, there is no duality between God's Name and Himself. There is no separation between God and His Name.
Let's consider this more carefully. We each have two hands, and we might say those hands are part of us. But if we lose our hand in an accident, we are still the same person, but without one hand. Therefore, the hand was not really part of us. This is the duality of the physical world.
But the Supreme Being's Hands are part of Him. They are non-separable from Him. They are eternally one of His parts, and because of that, they have eternal power. When God does something with His Hands, He does that. This is why many will say "in God's Hands" when they mean something or someone is dependent upon God.
It is the same with God's Name. God's Holy Names are part of God. They are non-separable from Him.
This means that when we invoke God's Holy Names - praising, singing, chanting or otherwise calling out God's Name with sincerity and humility - we can connect with God. Because He is present within His Holy Name.
This is a spiritual concept that is difficult for the human mind to conceive. The human mind takes in so many sensory things, and processes them like a machine. So a sound or a vision that is spiritual cannot be distinguished by the mind by itself.
But if we trust Jesus' teachings and the teachings of the Prophets, and God's own statements, we can know that His Holy Names have spiritual power. By calling out God's Names in praise, prayer, chant, song or otherwise - with sincerity and respect - we bring God's personal presence.
This is precisely what Jesus is talking about when he says:
"protect them by the power of Your Name, the Name You gave me, so that they may be one as we are one."When he says "the Name You gave me" he is not saying how God named Jesus. He is saying that Jesus was given - δίδωμι (didōmi) - God's Name. It was given to Jesus - it was a gift. The Greek word δίδωμι (didōmi) means "to bestow a gift" to someone. Naming someone is not bestowing a gift. But giving someone something special ("a gift") refers clearly to God's Name being given to Jesus, and Jesus is thanking God for this gift.
Oneness: Being united
This is also reflected in the phrase:
"so that they may be one as we are one."What does "are one" mean? Many take this to mean that Jesus is God but we have clearly shown this throughout Jesus' statements and the fact that Jesus is praying to God here that Jesus is not God, and the fact that he is stating that he will be leaving the physical world and returning to God's side:
"I will remain in the world no longer... and I am coming to You."So what does it mean to be "one" with someone? Just consider two people who get married. They suddenly have the same house, the same bank account, and they can sign for each other. What has happened? They have become "one" in the sense that they have an intimate relationship. Their relationship has brought them a "oneness."
And this is based on the assumption that the couple shares the same purpose and objectives in life. They have a oneness within their goals and objectives. And for this reason, a wife can usually sign for the husband and likewise: Because of this oneness. They still retain their separate individuality, but they have a oneness of purpose and objective.
This is the oneness that Jesus is talking about. Because he loves the Supreme Being and wants to please the Supreme Being, there is a oneness between them.
This is a oneness of love. When one person wants to do what the other person wants out of love, they become one in that sense.
We must understand this is one of the elements that most of us completely miss: That the Supreme Being is a person and Jesus has a personal relationship with God. And we can too. We can see this clearly in this statement - and the method by which Jesus is teaching they can attain that oneness of relationship ("so that they may be one as we are one") by praising - calling out, chanting, singing or otherwise glorifying - God's Holy Names.
Any of us have this ability to glorify and praise God's Holy Names. God has many names - praised and documented by countless loving servants who have loved Him since time immemorial. God is not limited to one or two Names. He is the Supreme Being! He has an unlimited number of names (here are just a few). And we don't have to be a member of any particular sect or religion to praise God's Holy Names. We can glorify any of God's Names with sincerity, humility and reverence - quietly, loudly and any manner in between - and it will gradually cleanse our self-centered consciousness, and reunite us with our own personal relationship with God - bringing us our own oneness of love with Him.
This oneness of love is what Jesus wants his students to have. This is the mainstay of Jesus' teachings. He has this oneness with the Supreme Being because he loves God. He now wants his students - and each of us - to also love God and have that oneness of purpose - wanting to please God. This is the sum and substance of Jesus' most important instruction:
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38)
*Here is the translation of this verse of Jesus' prayer from the Gospels of Jesus:
"I will no longer remain in the material world; but they are in the material world and I am departing to You. Blessed LORD, by the power of Your Name, keep those You have entrusted to me, so they may be united, just as we are.” (John 17:2)