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Bible verses about Name as Bearer's Reputation
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Exodus 20:7  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

This commandment, like the second, includes a warning within it. What does He mean by "not hold him guiltless"? Sometimes God deliberately understates a warning as a subtle form of emphasis, which ultimately magnifies its meaning. The penalty for taking God's name in vain is death!

It is helpful to define four words used in this command:

» Take: Several Hebrew words are translated into the English word "take," but this one means "lift up," "bear," "carry," "use," "appropriate."

» Name: The Hebrew root denotes something high or elevated, a monument implying majesty or excellence. It is an outstanding mark, sign, or reputation. Thus "name" is a word by which a person, place, or thing is distinctively known. A name identifies, signifies, and specifies.

» Vain: The underlying Hebrew word suggests emptiness, futility, and/or falsehood. It implies lacking in reality, value, or truth. Its single-word synonyms—depending upon the context—are "futile," "worthless," "profane," "foolish," "reproachful," "curse," "blaspheme," "purposeless," "useless," "inconsequential," "unsubstantial," and "vaporous."

» Guiltless: This word indicates "free," "clear," "innocent," "clean," "blameless," "unpunished."

This commandment has nothing to do with the proper pronunciation of God's name, which no one knows for certain how to say anyway. It also has nothing to do with superstition or magic. This commandment's application is much broader, deeper, and more dignified than that.

This commandment is certainly against common swearing, including the use of euphemisms so common in this Protestant society, examples of which are "gee," "gosh," "golly," "cheese and rice," "got all muddy," "jiminy cricket," and "doggone." However, it also includes the light or disrespectful use of any of God's attributes or character traits. More directly than any other, the third commandment teaches how much God is to be a part of our every word, deed, and attitude.

It pays dividends in insight and understanding to take notice of biblical names. In biblical thought, a name is not merely a label of identification but also an expression of the bearer's essential nature. It includes its bearer's reputation, character, and distinctiveness from others. For example, in all probability Adam named the beasts based on his observations of the distinctiveness of their natures. Similarly, to know the name of God is to know God as He has revealed Himself, that is, to know some of His nature.

This same thought is true of many biblical characters, providing insight into understanding them within the events recorded about them. To illustrate, Jacob supplants his brother Esau twice. A supplanter is one who by skill, deceit, or force takes the place of another. When this happens the second time, Esau says, "Is he not rightly named Jacob?" (Genesis 27:36). Regarding the birthright and blessing, Jacob takes Esau's place using his supplanting nature.

Another clear example occurs when Abigail pleads with David for Nabal's life: "As his name is, so is he: Nabal is his name, and folly is with him!" (I Samuel 25:25). Nabal means "a dolt, a vile person." Thus, the Bible shows that a name tends to exercise constraint on a person to conform to its nature.

In Hebrew thought, then, a name is inextricably bound with the named thing's existence. Nothing exists unless it has a name, and its essence is concentrated in its name. Hence, creation is not complete until Adam names all the creatures. To cut off a person's name is to end the bearer's existence, or to change a person's name is to indicate a shift in his character and standing before God.

To speak or act in another's name is to act as that person's agent and to participate in his authority. To be called by another's name implies that person's ownership, and one bearing that name falls under the authority and protection of the one whose name is called upon.

The third commandment sets the standard of the spiritual cleanliness in a person using the name of God because it is so weighty. It must be used or borne in truth, without hypocrisy or vanity but in purity of conduct. A person is better off being sincerely wrong than being a professing Christian and denying God's name by the conduct of his life.

Consider that to help us to know David, the Bible shows him as shepherd, warrior, king, prophet, poet, husband, father, musician, sinner, and penitent—each part of a rich and varied nature. Yet, God is manifold times greater than David! The Bible reveals Him, His nature, in a similar way, by adding names to aid us in identifying His many glorious characteristics. God names Himself what He is, just as He names people what they are. Thus, Jacob is at first a supplanter, yet when he changes, God names him more appropriately for his new life. Israel is "one who prevails with God."

Herbert Lockyer's book, All the Divine Names and Titles, lists 364 names and titles for Jesus Christ alone. Through His names and titles, God has chosen to reveal a great deal about His attributes, offices, authority, prerogatives, and will. Each name designates some distinct virtue or characteristic of God's nature. Thus, God has made known the glory of His nature through His names. They are not to be abused.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Third Commandment


 

Exodus 20:7  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The third commandment emphasizes the holy quality of His character and offices as identified by His names. His names reveal what He is. It is the Christian's responsibility to adorn and uphold the reputation and glory of all that those names imply. When we were regenerated, His Family name—God—became our Family name! We were baptized by the Spirit of God into that name. The third commandment therefore covers the quality of our witness in bearing that name.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fifth Commandment


 

Isaiah 43:6-7  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

We who bear the name of God are witnesses that our God is God. What do our lives declare about God? If we who bear His name fail to live up to that name's reputation, we break the third commandment and profane the name of God. We hallow or profane God's name by our conduct, no matter what member of our body errs. This commandment tests the quality of our witness. It changes hypocrisy from merely "bearing false witness" to idolatry, for which God holds the offender guilty, for He sees what men may miss in judgment.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Third Commandment (1997)


 

Romans 2:17-24  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

By our conduct, we hallow or profane God's name. We keep or break the third commandment the same way. This commandment sets the standard for our witness and tests its quality. God's name is the standard. If we take the name of God and use it in any way that denies its true meaning and God's character, we are either breaking this commandment or are on the way to doing so.

People can judge and accuse, saying, "This is God's church, and they do such things? If this is the true church, why doesn't God do something about it?" He is patient and longsuffering, and He will do something about it. He will save His people for His name's sake, but it will hurt.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Third Commandment


 

1 John 3:23  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

When name is used in this way, it does not mean "the word by which a person is called," but rather "the whole nature or character of the person" as far as we know it or understand it. This is why the proverb says, "A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches" (Proverbs 22:1; see Ecclesiastes 7:1).

"Our help is in the name of the LORD" (Psalm 124:8). David, the psalmist here, does not mean that our help lies in the fact that God is called Yahweh. This name contains nothing magic in it at all. David means that our help is in His love, in His mercy, in His power, in His promises. It is in the things that have been revealed to us as parts of His nature, of His attributes, and of His character—and whether or not we have faith in them.

So then, to "believe in the name of Jesus Christ" means to believe in the nature and the character of Jesus Christ. It means to believe that He is the Son of God and that He stands in relation to the Father in a way that no other person in the universe ever has or ever will. It means that He can perfectly reveal the Father to us. It means that we believe He is the Savior, the High Priest, the Mediator and Intercessor, and our soon-coming King. It means that we believe that through Him we have entrance into God's presence—not just entrance to Him, but actually, fellowship with Him.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Love and Fellowship


 

 




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