In Philippians 2:9–11 we read that Jesus has the name above all names: “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” What did Paul mean when he said that God gave Jesus the name that is above every name?
In this passage, the apostle appeals to believers to cultivate an attitude of humility. He gives them an example to emulate, namely, Jesus Christ, who is the ultimate model of humility. He says in verses 6–9 that Jesus, who is God and who has always been God, did not hold tightly to His position of equality with God. Instead, Jesus emptied Himself or made Himself nothing. He left His high rank in heaven to become a humble, human servant. He set aside His rights and privileges as God to live a life of humble service and obedience, even to the point of dying a horrible death on the cross for sinners.
As a result of Jesus Christ’s self-emptying and self-humiliation, God exalted Him to the highest place of honor. Jesus, who stooped down low, was raised by the Father to His glorious position in heaven. The name that is above all names is the supreme name—the divine name Lord. This name acknowledges Jesus Christ’s absolute lordship as divine King of the universe, and it brings with it the right to be worshiped.
It was humbling for the Son of God to become a man. Taking on the character of a servant was even more humbling. But Jesus went a step beyond. He was willing to die one of the most disgraceful forms of execution as a condemned criminal on a cross. Following His humiliation and obedience, God elevated Jesus to His rightful place of glory. After Christ’s victorious resurrection from the dead, God bestowed honor upon His humble, obedient Son: “Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne” (Hebrews 12:2, NLT).
When Paul said, “At the name of Jesus every knee will bow—in heaven and on earth and under the earth” (Philippians 2:10, CSB), the emphasis was on every creature in the universe acknowledging Jesus as Lord over all creation. When he stated, “Every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (verse 11, CSB), he meant that every living thing, both in heaven and on earth, will honor Christ. Heavenly forces and demonic powers, people who reject Christ and His faithful in the church—all will bow before Him (Isaiah 45:23–24). Every tongue will acknowledge Jesus for who He is—the Sovereign Lord of the universe.
The verses stating that all creation will honor Jesus Christ do not mean that everyone will be saved. Instead, they point to the time when every being acknowledges His authority. The exalted Christ, who sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand (Colossians 3:1) is Lord over all (Acts 10:36; Romans 10:12). He has the supreme Name; He is Lord of lords and King of kings (Revelation 17:14; 19:16). He is the one Lord, “Jesus Christ, through whom all things were created, and through whom we live” (1 Corinthians 8:6, NLT). Jesus is Lord of both the dead and the living (Romans 14:9). He is the Lord upon whom the church calls (1 Corinthians 1:2). Jesus is our Mediator (Hebrews 3:1–6; 8:6; 9:15; 12:24), Intercessor (Hebrews 7:24–25; Romans. 8:34), Reconciler (Ephesians 2:12–17; Romans 5:1), and the One who gives us entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven (Hebrews 4:1, 11; 6:19–20).
Jesus has the name above all names because Jesus Christ is Lord! This name, given to Him by the Father, affirms His divinity and supreme authority.