God revealed Himself to the world through His Son. Everyone who has seen Him has seen the Father (John 14:7-11), “for in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 2:9). It is important to know that during His incarnation Jesus only temporarily left His heavenly glory and humbled Himself to take the form of a servant who died on the cross for our sins (Phil. 2:6-9). As a man He parted with His glory but not with His status and power as God, which accounts for the fact that He was Emmanuel – God with us (Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:23). From a study of the different names, titles and offices of the Lord Jesus we will clearly understand who He is, for what reasons He came to the earth, what He does on our behalf in the heaven at present, and what will happen when He returns to earth during His Second Coming.
The names of the Lord Jesus can be placed in the following four categories:
1. His personal name
The Name Jesus (The Lord is salvation; Heb. Yeshua) was given by God the Father to His Son. For Him to be, according to God’s standards, the Saviour of Israel and the whole world, Jesus had to be the perfect God-man. He had to be born as a human being (from the royal lineage of David in Israel’s tribe of Judah) to be the Son of man. Nevertheless, He could not be procreated by a man as He could have no part in the original sin of the human race. By God’s intervention He had to be born of a virgin to also be the Son of God (Luke 1:27,35).
2. His name as God
In His capacity as God Jesus is equal to and one with the Father (John 10:30; 14:9), and can, therefore, also be referred to as Lord. It is important to address Him in this capacity when we pray or talk about Him. During the outpouring of the Holy Spirit the apostles received the full revelation of the deity of Jesus, and in the light of this knowledge refer to Him as “the Lord Jesus” (Eph. 1:15), “our God and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 1:1), and “the true God and eternal life” (1 John 5:20). Every tongue will confess that He is Lord (Phil. 2:9-11).
3. His official name
The Lord Jesus is also the Anointed One (Heb. Mashiach [Messiah]; Gr. Christos [Christ]) who was anointed by the Spirit of the Lord for His mission to save lost humanity by proclaiming liberty to the captives of Satan (Isa. 61:1; John 1:41). Christ is an inclusive official title that combines eight titles that can only be fulfilled by Himself. The offices for which Christ was anointed, and the titles associated with them, are as follows:
3.1. Lamb of God
The most important reason why Jesus Christ was anointed and sent into the world was to redeem fallen humanity from their sins. To be able to do this, He had to come in the likeness of man so that He could offer Himself as a sacrifice for our sins by shedding His blood and physically dying on the cross. He had to become the sacrificial Lamb of God (Heb. 10:4-5,7,10). John the Baptist introduced Him as the Lamb of God (John 1:29). Long ago, Isaiah prepared the people of Israel for the great sacrifice of the Lamb of God (Isa. 53:5-7). No contemplation of Him is adequate without appreciating the profound significance of His shed blood (Rom. 3:25-27).
- Our salvation and rebirth is based on the blood (Rom. 5:9; Eph. 1:7; 1 Pet. 1:18-19; Rev. 1:5).
- Our continued cleansing is also based on the blood (1 John 1:7; Heb. 9:14; 10:12,19; 1 Cor. 5:6-7).
- The blood is a mighty weapon against the attacks of the enemy (Rev. 12:11).
- The light of the world. He is the true light who gives light to all people. Everyone who follows Him shall not walk in darkness (John 1:4,9; 8:12).
- The Word of God. He is the Word who became flesh that by His death on the cross He could be the Saviour of fallen humanity (John 1:1,14; Heb. 10:10; 1 John 5:7; Rev. 19:13).
- The bread and water of life. He is the true bread and water of life who alone can satisfy the deep spiritual needs of humanity (John 6:33-35).
- The rock and foundation. He is the solid Rock upon which the lives of all Christians are built. That is why we can stand firm even in the midst of the most severe storms in life (1 Cor. 3:11; Matt. 7:24-27; Ps. 40:2).
- The way, the truth and the life. He is the only way to heaven as He alone can give us eternal life. His promises are true (John 11:25-26; 14:6; 2 Cor. 1:20).
- The true vine. The life in Christ is like a branch in the vine, which bears much fruit. The life comes from Him for without Him we can do nothing (John 15:1-2,5).
- The Wisdom of God. He reveals the wisdom of God to us and gives us enlightened eyes of our understanding to have spiritual discernment (1 Cor. 1:23,24,30; Eph. 1:18; Col. 2:3).
- The Advocate. When Christians are sinning and confess and forsake their sins, Jesus acts as their Advocate at God’s throne (1 John 2:1) where Satan also accuses them (Rev. 12:10).
- The Conqueror. He conquered the enemy and will crush him under our feet (Rom. 16:20). In Christ Jesus we can be more than conquerors (Rom. 8:37).
- The Sanctifier. He does not only save us but also sanctifies us so we can live victoriously and appear before Him one day without blemish (1 Cor. 1:30; 5:7-8; Eph. 5:25-27; 1 Thess. 4:3,7).
- The Bright and Morning Star. In Him we have the sure hope on a new day that will dawn over this dark world during His Second Coming (Rev. 2:28; 22:16; cf. 2 Pet. 1:19).
- The Bridegroom. What a blessed hope we have as the bride of the heavenly Bridegroom to look forward to our union with Him, and then to be with Him forever (Matt. 25:1-13; 2 Cor. 11:2-3; 1 Thess. 4:16-17).
The capacity of Christ as the Lamb of God who laid down His life for sinners, forms the basis of all His offices. Because He paid the ransom for our sins, He can act as Prophet, High Priest, Mediator, Servant, Shepherd, Head of His redeemed Church, and King over His inheritance. He is also qualified to be Judge of His own servants appointed by Him, and on judgement day will judge all who have rejected or neglected His atoning sacrifice on the cross.
A prophet is a person whom God inspires to declare His word, His will and His judgements through preaching the truth. Jesus Christ was a great prophet. Among His greatest sermons are the Sermon on the Mount, the parables and His prophetic discourse. He revealed great truths about God’s plan for humanity, which were kept secret from the foundation of the world (Matt. 13:35; Luke 8:1).
3.3 High Priest and Mediator
Jesus Christ is the High Priest and Mediator of the New Covenant, of which He is also the surety (Heb. 7:22; 8:1-6; 9:15). In that He Himself has suffered by being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted (Heb. 2:17-18; 4:15-16). As High Priest and Mediator He is our Advocate at the Father’s throne (1 John 2:1-2).
Jesus is the Servant of God who came to earth to do the great work of salvation for all nations (Isa. 49:5-6; 50:10). The characteristics of a servant are humility and submission in the service of his master, and for that reason Jesus strongly warned His disciples against self-exalting pride (Mark 10:42-45; cf. Phil. 2:5-9).
As the Shepherd of His flock, Jesus Christ is totally committed to their well-being since He has redeemed them at such a great cost (John 10:11). He gives them a firm assurance of salvation (John 10:7,9). He promised them abundant life (John 10:10), and also assured them that He will never leave nor forsake them (Heb. 13:5; Isa. 40:10-11).
3.6 Head of His church
Jesus Christ is the Head of His church (Eph. 1:22). The unity between Him and His church is likened to a marriage relationship (Eph. 5:23). From Eph. 5:25-27 it is evident that Christ not only cleansed the church but also sanctified her to present her to Himself holy and without blemish.
The Lord Jesus has all power in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18) and worthily holds the office of King. In this dispensation, the nations have rebelled against His authority as they were deceived by Satan (2 Cor. 4:4). This situation will radically change when the King returns to earth at the end of the great tribulation (Ps. 2:1-12; Rev. 11:15; 19:11-21; Acts 15:16-17; Isa. 9:6).
All Christians will appear before the judgement seat of Christ to give account of their lives after salvation (2 Cor. 5:10; Rom. 14:10,12). During the coming tribulation period, His wrath will be poured out upon the wicked people (Rev. 6:16-17). After the millennium He will be the Judge of all lost people of all ages (Acts 17:30-31; Rev. 20:11-15).
4. His descriptive names
There are many descriptive names of the Lord Jesus in the Bible. These names emphasise particular aspects of His Person and works, so that we may know and understand Him better and love Him more. The following are a few examples of these names:
My prayer is that I will be a dedicated follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, that I will be continually cleansed by His precious blood (1 John 1:7), that I will grow in His grace and knowledge (2 Pet. 3:18), that I will never fail Him by denying His virgin birth, His deity, the great significance of His death on the cross or the promises of His Second Coming – that I will put on the Lord Jesus daily and not make provision for the flesh to fulfil its lusts (Rom. 13:14). “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place” (2 Cor. 2:14).
1. What is the meaning of the name Jesus?
2. Explain the deity of Jesus.
3. Name and discuss three offices of Christ
4. What is the significance of the blood of Christ that was shed?
5. Name and discuss three descriptive names of Christ
Prof. Johan Malan