“Why don’t the names of Buddha, Mohammed, Confucious offend people? The reason is that these others didn’t claim to be God, but Jesus did.” ~ Josh McDowell, author
As I have matured (hopefully) in my faith as a Christian, I have become ever more fascinated by the influence and meaning of names within the Holy Bible. Previously, I have shared my thoughts about the relationship between naming someone or something and possessing authority over that person, place, or thing. Names within scripture, however, appear to often have layers upon layers of meaning. This should not be surprising as we grow in our faith and continue to delve into the depths of scripture. Pursuing God through His Word is like peeling off layers of an infinitely large onion–causing tears of joy.
The Inerrancy of the Word of God and the Word Made Flesh
Before progressing any further, it is important to establish the function of the Bible—as its function provides the context for application of its content. For instance, if the Bible is not the inerrant Word of God, then is it necessary for me as a Christian to adhere to its teaching in totality? Could I not justify selectively practicing its teaching?
For those who profess to follow Christ, yet question the inerrancy of the Bible, there is belief incongruence. If claiming to follow Christ, would you not have to know Christ? What do you use as a means to know Him? Prayer? Okay, but then who is it to whom you pray? And why would you ever start praying to someone whom you do not know? What would it be about Him that would suggest that He is a person to whom one should pray? If you follow Christ, should it not suggest that you would listen to Him—allowing you the means to obediently follow?
The Gospel of John opens with a testimonial of both Jesus’ divinity and the inerrancy of scripture:
“1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. 5 The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it” (John 1:1-5, NASB)
The Greek word for “Word” in this excerpt is logos. Logos in this context means divine rationality or universal truth. John is claiming that Jesus is logos incarnate. This is why many people say that Jesus is the “Word” made flesh. The Gospel of John introduces Jesus as divine Truth, and the basis for all life.
Later in John’s Gospel, Jesus is quoted as claiming to be “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6, NASB). He continues by saying that no one has access to the Father except through Him (John 14:6). Jesus does not reject scripture, but rather fulfills it (Matthew 5:17-18). He fulfills scripture, because it is written about Him:
“46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me” (John 5:46, NASB)
Thus, the bible is the inspired written Word of God, while Jesus is the Word manifest. You cannot believe and follow in Jesus if you are unable to believe in the inerrancy and accept the teaching of scripture.
“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16, NASB)
“He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him” (John 14:21, NASB)
It is for this reason that I am inclined to challenge those who claim to follow Christ but consider scripture errant. To what can one refer to as a foundational reference of belief and practice if not the Bible? To what can one develop a depth of understanding as to the character and heart of their Lord without Holy text? While it is true that we all possess some level of subjective interpretation—even with inerrant scripture—I have to believe that the Holy Spirit can reveal to believers what God desires of us. Further, if following the actual Jesus Christ referenced in the bible—and not a personal, self-constructed Jesus of our own preferences—then we should more and more possess a mind and heart like Christ, with our actions reflecting our progress through the sanctification process. To reject the authority of scripture is to reject the authority of Christ.
Communicating Christ Within Through the Legacy of Names
Working under the premise that the Word of God (Holy Bible) inerrantly points to Christ and the cross, it should be no surprise that the Old Testament communicates the coming of Christ through prophecies, foreshadowing, and layers of allusion.
Recently, I became aware of such allusion to Christ within the genealogy found in chapter 5 of the book of Genesis. Those familiar with the Bible are assuredly aware of the importance scripture conveys upon a person’s name and their legacy through their family. There are genealogies within scripture that hereditarily connect many of its prominent figures. This particular genealogy shows the lineage of Adam to Noah.
Descendants of Adam
51 This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day when God created man, He made him in the likeness of God. 2 He created them male and female, and He blessed them and named them Man in the day when they were created.
3 When Adam had lived one hundred and thirty years, he became the father of a son in his own likeness, according to his image, and named him Seth. 4 Then the days of Adam after he became the father of Seth were eight hundred years, and he had other sons and daughters. 5 So all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years, and he died.
6 Seth lived one hundred and five years, and became the father of Enosh. 7 Then Seth lived eight hundred and seven years after he became the father of Enosh, and he had other sons and daughters. 8 So all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years, and he died.
9 Enosh lived ninety years, and became the father of Kenan. 10 Then Enosh lived eight hundred and fifteen years after he became the father of Kenan, and he had other sons and daughters. 11 So all the days of Enosh were nine hundred and five years, and he died.
12 Kenan lived seventy years, and became the father of Mahalalel. 13 Then Kenan lived eight hundred and forty years after he became the father of Mahalalel, and he had other sons and daughters. 14 So all the days of Kenan were nine hundred and ten years, and he died.
15 Mahalalel lived sixty-five years, and became the father of Jared. 16 Then Mahalalel lived eight hundred and thirty years after he became the father of Jared, and he had other sons and daughters. 17 So all the days of Mahalalel were eight hundred and ninety-five years, and he died.
18 Jared lived one hundred and sixty-two years, and became the father of Enoch. 19 Then Jared lived eight hundred years after he became the father of Enoch, and he had other sons and daughters. 20 So all the days of Jared were nine hundred and sixty-two years, and he died.
21 Enoch lived sixty-five years, and became the father of Methuselah. 22 Then Enoch walked with God three hundred years after he became the father of Methuselah, and he had other sons and daughters. 23 So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. 24 Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.
25 Methuselah lived one hundred and eighty-seven years, and became the father of Lamech. 26 Then Methuselah lived seven hundred and eighty-two years after he became the father of Lamech, and he had other sons and daughters. 27 So all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred and sixty-nine years, and he died.
28 Lamech lived one hundred and eighty-two years, and became the father of a son. 29 Now he called his name Noah, saying, “This one will give us rest from our work and from the toil of our hands arising from the ground which the Lord has cursed.” 30 Then Lamech lived five hundred and ninety-five years after he became the father of Noah, and he had other sons and daughters. 31 So all the days of Lamech were seven hundred and seventy-seven years, and he died.
32 Noah was five hundred years old, and Noah became the father of Shem, Ham, and Japheth” (Genesis 5:1-32, NASB).
Biblical names always possess meanings that have relevance to the individual bearing it. For instance, Adam is the first man, Methuselah dies in the year of the Great Flood, and Noah brings rest and comfort (salvation) from the Flood (God’s Wrath). These names share a legacy representing more than their own–they allude to Christ’s legacy. If we include articles (i.e. words below in brackets) between the meanings in order of lineage, the following Gospel proclamation is embedded within this genealogy:
“Man [is] appointed [to] mortal sorrow; [but] the Blessed God shall come
down teaching; His death shall bring the despairing rest, or comfort.”
When typically coming across a genealogy when reading the bible, I have often passed through it quickly–mostly paying attention to the first and last names provided. In some ways I probably attributed less importance to understanding the genealogies in depth. However, as the entire bible points to Christ and the cross–nothing written within these Holy texts lacks importance. Scripture possesses a depth of wisdom and knowledge that we will never be able to exhaust in our lifetime. Regardless of our level of maturity in our faith, we must always remember to continually visit scripture. We never know what new depth of understanding may come with each additional reading–what our Lord will reveal about Himself. Thus, may we study His word, and meditate on it day and night:
“This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success” (Joshua 1:8, NASB)