"I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to You. Holy Father, protect them by the power of Your Name, the Name You gave me, so that they may be one as we are one." (John 17:11)
What is 'the power of Your Name'?This statement by Jesus, continuing his open prayer to the Supreme Being regarding Jesus' students ("they" and "them") asks God to "protect them by the power of Your Name." What does this mean? How can God's Name protect them?
The phrase, "by the power of Your Name," indicates clearly that Jesus recognized that God's Name has some sort of power.
The Greek phrase τήρησον αὐτοὺς here is being translated to "protect them". 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, "keep" is a more appropriate 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 Name has the power to "keep them" and "protect them." How is that?
The power of calling out the Supreme Being's Name has been discussed throughout the Biblical scriptures, yet some institutions seem to ignore them. Let's first consider one of the clearest instructions from Jesus regarding the praising of God's 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 it 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 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 Names within their prayers.
Yet when some sects 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.
Did Jesus' followers praise God's Name?We find that Jesus' followers praised God's 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 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' and his disciples' teachings regarding the power of singing or otherwise incanting God's Names was not a new one. It was also part of the tradition of the prophets' teachings. Their teachings professed the importance of worshiping God by praising His Names. They built temples specifically for the purpose of praising God. And their teachers were founded upon the power of God's Names.
So what is it about praising God's and His 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 someone else who also has our name? Our ears perk up and we look around to see who might be calling us. 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.
Are God's Names spiritual?There are many names that can be called out. Each of us in the physical world has multiple names. Are God's Names any different, and why?
Scriptural evidence indicates that the Supreme Being's Names are different. God is permanent. He is eternal. He never dies. Thus references to Him like His 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. His Names are part of Him. They are non-separable from Him.
This means that when we praise God and invoke His Name with sincerity and humility - we can connect with Him. Because He is present within His 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 Names have spiritual power. By calling out His Name with sincerity and respect we bring His 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 to God's Name being given to Jesus, and Jesus is thanking God for this gift.
Any of us have this ability to glorify and praise God's 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, and we can approach Him by praising His Name.
This is one of the mainstays of Jesus' teachings and a critical element in achieving 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 Lost 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)