What's the Meaning of God's New Name in Revelation?
By Han Lei
Over the last two millennia, Christians have been praying, preaching, curing sicknesses, and driving out demons all in the name of the Lord Jesus with the firm belief that He is our sole Savior, we can only be saved through Jesus’ name, and that the name of the Lord Jesus will remain forever unchanged. Just as it is written: “Neither is therein any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12), and “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever” (Hebrews 13:8). That’s what I always thought, too. But a few days ago, while doing my devotionals I saw this in the Book of Revelation: “Him that overcomes will I make a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, which is new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God: and I will write on him My new name. He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 3:12–13). I was suddenly drawn in by the two words “new name” and I turned it over and over in my mind. “Could it be that the Lord Jesus really will take on a new name when He returns in the last days? That can’t be, can it? But it’s very clearly stated in the Scripture that God will have a new name and that anyone who has an ear will know, will be able to hear what the Spirit says to the churches. What does this really mean?” Feeling both perplexed and amazed, I read that passage again and thought it over carefully. That’s exactly it! I saw that’s exactly what is written in the Scripture; this came from God’s own mouth. I thought to myself, “According to this, when the Lord in the last days He really will adopt a new name! But in the Book of Hebrews it is written that the name of the Lord Jesus is immutable, so how could this prophecy in the Book of Revelation say that it is going to change? What’s going on with this?” I simply couldn’t make heads or tails of it. I sought out the pastors and elders to consult with them and looked into a number of relevant books, but I still couldn’t find an answer. In the midst of my confusion, I learned that my old friend, Wang Zhong, had just come back from a missionary trip. I felt so excited, because Brother Wang has always had a very pure understanding, and he’s a thoughtful, insightful person. We had discussed the Bible on many occasions and I always gained clarity on the Scripture we sought and fellowshiped on together. I figured he might have some insight on this topic, so I paid him a visit as soon as I could.
When we met, Brother Wang joyfully shared with me what he had gained from this most recent preaching excursion of his. After some time in fellowship, I spoke out on the confusion within my heart. Hearing me say this, Brother Wang said with a smile, “Thanks be to the Lord! Brother Han, you being able to see from Revelation that the Lord will have a new name when He returns really is the enlightenment and guidance of the Holy Spirit! The question of why He is to take on a new name is directly linked to whether or not we’ll be able to welcome His return. This used to be something I couldn’t understand, either, but on this last trip I was fortunate to encounter an old preacher, and through the fellowship he shared with me I gained some understanding of the truth surrounding God’s name. Now’s the perfect time for us to talk about it, too.” I was so happy to hear him say this—I nodded over and over. Brother Wang asked me, “Brother Han, what was God’s name in the Old Testament?” I replied without hesitation, “Jehovah!” He then asked, “And what was God’s name in the New Testament?” I said, “Jesus!” Brother Wang went on to ask me, “Then do you think that God’s name has changed?” For a moment, I didn’t know what to say. I furrowed my brows and thought, “God’s name really has changed. I’ve really never thought about it.” He then said, “The entire religious community has persisted in believing that God’s name is Jesus, only those who believe in that name can be saved, and that God’s name can never change. But in fact, we only think that because we don’t understand the aspect of the truth regarding God’s name. Brother Han, you just mentioned Revelation 3:12: ‘Him that overcomes will I make a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, which is new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God: and I will write on him My new name.’ There’s also Isaiah 62:2: ‘And the Gentiles shall see your righteousness, and all kings your glory: and You shall be called by a new name, which the mouth of Jehovah shall name.’ We can be sure from these prophecies that when the Lord Jesus returns He will certainly take on a new name; He’ll no longer be called Jesus. The reality is that God’s name in each age isn’t randomly selected; they all have profound significance. That elderly preacher gave me a book, and there’s a really clear explanation of the truth regarding God’s names in it. Let’s take a look at it.” Curious, I nodded in agreement and said, “Great!”
Brother Wang got the book out and found some passages for me to read. This is what I read out: “Some say that the name of God does not change. Why, then, did the name of Jehovah become Jesus? It was prophesied that the Messiah would come, so why then did a man by the name of Jesus come? Why did the name of God change? Was such work not carried out long ago? Is God unable to do newer work today? The work of yesterday can be altered, and the work of Jesus can follow on from that of Jehovah. Cannot, then, the work of Jesus be succeeded by other work? If the name of Jehovah can be changed to Jesus, then cannot the name of Jesus also be changed? None of this is odd; it is just that people are too simple-minded. God will always be God. No matter how His work changes, and regardless of how His name might change, His disposition and wisdom will never change. If you believe that God can only be called by the name of Jesus, then your knowledge is far too limited” (“How Can Man Who Has Delimited God in His Notions Receive the Revelations of God?”). “You should know that God originally had no name. He only took on one, or two, or many names because He had work to do and had to manage mankind. Whatever name He is called by—did He not freely choose it Himself?” (“The Vision of God’s Work (3)”). “In each age, God does new work and is called by a new name; how could He do the same work in different ages? How could He cling to the old? The name of Jesus was taken for the sake of the work of redemption, so would He still be called by the same name when He returns in the last days? Would He still be doing the work of redemption? Why is it that Jehovah and Jesus are one, yet They are called by different names in different ages? Is it not because the ages of Their work are different? Could a single name represent God in His entirety? This being so, God must be called by a different name in a different age, and must use the name to change the age and to represent the age. For no one name can fully represent, and each name is able only to represent the temporal aspect of God’s disposition in a given age; all it needs to do is to represent His work. Therefore, God can choose whatever name befits His disposition to represent the entire age. Regardless of whether it is the age of Jehovah, or the age of Jesus, each age is represented by a name” (“The Vision of God’s Work (3)”). I was amazed after reading all of this. It turned out that God’s name can change, but I still wasn’t very clear on the mysteries here, so I hurriedly asked Brother Wang to explain this to me.
Brother Wang fellowshiped: “This really clearly explains the meaning behind God adopting a name and Him taking on new names. Originally, God was nameless. It was only because He wanted to do the work of saving mankind that He gave Himself a name that could represent His work of that particular age, but God’s name changes along with the work that He’s doing. When He begins a new stage of work He uses a new name to change the age and represent the age. Plus, the name God takes on in each age only represents the work He is going to do and the disposition He is going to express in that age. Like in the Age of Law, God was called Jehovah, representing God’s disposition of majesty, wrath, damnation, and mercy. Jehovah God issued the laws and commandments through Moses, guiding newborn mankind through their lives on earth, requiring that people strictly adhere to those laws and commandments. All those who respected the law of Jehovah had His blessing and grace with them, while those who violated His law had to make sin offerings. Otherwise, they would be stoned to death or would be struck down by fire from heaven. Those who lived in the Age of Law saw the inviolable disposition of Jehovah God and developed hearts of fear for Him. Their behavior continued to become more regular, and their lives on earth were carried out in a proper and orderly way. But later in the Age of Law, people became more and more corrupt and their sins were increasing. There were no longer enough sin offerings to make up for their sins and everyone was facing the danger of being put to death for violating the law. This is why, to fulfill mankind’s needs, God Himself incarnated with the name of Jesus and carried out the work of redemption. The Lord Jesus began the Age of Grace and concluded the Age of Law. He expressed a disposition of love and compassion, providing people with a way of repentance and teaching them tolerance and patience, and to love their enemies. He also cured sicknesses and cast out demons, bestowing rich grace and blessings upon humans. Ultimately the Lord Jesus, free of sin, was nailed to the cross, crucified as mankind’s sin offering. From then on all who believe in the Lord Jesus need only pray in His name to enjoy the grace of His salvation and His rich blessings. After experiencing the Lord Jesus’ work of redemption, people are able to see that God’s disposition not only includes majesty and damnation, but it also contains mercy and love. He not only issues laws and commandments to guide people in their lives, but He can also become flesh to work and speak among mankind. This way people gain more and more knowledge of God and grow closer and closer to Him. It is evident that in each age, God does different work and expresses a different disposition, and that He uses His different names to switch to a new age, to delineate the different ages. God is ever-changing and always new. His work never stops advancing. Just the same, God’s name is to change in the last days. It is what His work requires and it is needed for His management plan. This is why we can’t delimit God based on our own notions and imaginings—that would be entirely unreasonable!”
Brother Wang’s fellowship helped me gain some understanding. I realized that God’s name changes as His work shifts, and it is not immutable. But I was still perplexed, so I asked him, “Brother Wang, I now know through your fellowship and these passages we’ve read that God takes on a new name for each stage of work. Each name represents a new age and a portion of God’s disposition. His name changed from Jehovah to Jesus because He was doing the work of redeeming mankind. But it says in the Bible, ‘Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever’ (Hebrews 13:8). This seems to say that God’s name will never change, so how can this be explained? Please share more fellowship with me.”
Smiling, Brother Wang said, “In fact, the ‘for ever’ that’s mentioned here is God referring to His work of the age at the time. That is, until the work of that age came to a close, God’s name could never change. It’s just as Jehovah God said in the Age of Law: ‘Before Me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after Me. I, even I, am Jehovah; and beside Me there is no savior’ (Isaiah 43:10–11), and ‘This is My name for ever, and this is My memorial to all generations’ (Exodus 3:15). We can see from these passages of Scripture that God told us that Jehovah alone is God, that Jehovah is the only name of God into eternity. So based on our understanding the name Jehovah shouldn’t be able to change, but when the Age of Grace arrived and God came to work, He was no longer called Jehovah but was called Jesus. From then on we no longer prayed to Jehovah God, but to the name of the Lord Jesus. It’s evident from this that the name Jehovah is the fixed name for God in the Age of Law, and just the same, Jesus is the fixed name for God in the Age of Grace. As long as God’s work of the Age of Grace hasn’t come to an end, His name will continue to be Jesus. It will not change. However, once the door is shut on God’s work of the Age of Grace, the door will also be shut on the name of Jesus. The name Jehovah can become the name Jesus, and when the Lord Jesus returns it will be like the end of the Age of Law—He will take on a new name. We can see that what was said about His names in these two ages—‘for ever’ and ‘to all generations’—referred to those particular ages, not to God having an eternally unchanging name. That is, it meant that as long as the age didn’t change, God’s name would never change, but as soon as the age changed God’s name would change as well. Besides, God Himself is eternally unchanging, and this means that no matter what changes there are in each age, God’s essence, His inherent disposition, and what He has and is can never change. It doesn’t mean that His name can never change.”
Hearing all that I had a sudden flash of insight. I said happily, “Thanks be to the Lord! Now I finally understand that in the Bible, ‘for ever’ and ‘to all generations’ mean that God’s name stayed the same within those ages, not that His name could never change. God’s name changes when His work changes; they are always shifting as the ages shift. That is, when God unfolds His new work in the last days He will certainly have a new name.”
Brother Wang said, “Thank the Lord! It’s wonderful that you’re able to have this kind of understanding. As for whether or not God’s name will change, we really can’t delimit God within our own notions and imaginings. The Bible says, ‘Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span…? Who has directed the Spirit of Jehovah, or being His counselor has taught Him?’ (Isaiah 40:12–13). God is the Lord of creation and His thinking surpasses all of mankind’s. Everything that God does is full of wisdom, and when He takes on a name there is wisdom contained within that. When He changes His name it particularly contains His wonderful will, and this is something that we as humans absolutely cannot fathom. Only by humbly seeking can we understand whatever mystery is within it. Now we understand that any one name of God cannot fully stand for all of God’s work and disposition. Plus, in any given age, God’s work is just a part of His work and what He reveals to us is just a part of His disposition. His work and disposition have not been fully revealed to us, so our understanding of God is still limited. If we just clung to one name of God it would be so easy to delimit God and resist Him! It’s just like the Pharisees who lived within their own notions and imaginings, stubbornly keeping to the letter of the Scripture, believing that when God came He would certainly be called Messiah. So, when He came with the name Jesus to do the work of redemption they refused to accept Him. Even when they saw that the Lord Jesus’ words and work possessed authority and power, they still didn’t seek or investigate it, but still madly opposed God’s new work. They teamed up with the Roman government to nail the Lord Jesus to the cross, committing a monstrous sin and earning God’s punishment. This is why, regarding God changing His name, the only right thing to do is maintain hearts of reverence for Him, let go of our own notions and imaginings, seek the truth more, and weigh things in accordance with God’s words. We cannot make the same disastrous mistake that the Pharisees did!”
Hearing this, I said with a lingering sense of trepidation, “That’s right. The Pharisees were so arrogant, just vainly holding on to the name Messiah because of their notions and imaginings, refusing to acknowledge that the Lord Jesus was God. They didn’t have humble hearts of seeking, either, but crazily resisted and condemned the Lord. As a result, they brought catastrophe upon themselves—this really serves as a warning for us! Thanks be to God’s guidance! Through your fellowship today I am now certain that God will have a new name in the last days. Otherwise, I would also most likely believe that He could only be called Jesus. Isn’t that just delimiting God based on my own notions, and what I’ve imagined? Without understanding the truth, we as humans are very likely to take the same path as the Pharisees, and the consequences of that are unthinkable!” What popped into my head then was that since God will take on a new name when He returns in the last days, what name will it be? I asked Brother Wang about this question, as well.
He said, “We must approach our faith based on the words of God. We especially have to go by His words on anything having to do with God’s work or His name. In fact, there are biblical bases for the name God adopts in every stage of His work. These are some biblical prophecies regarding God’s name in the last days: ‘I am Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the Ending, said the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty’ (Revelation 1:8). ‘And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunder, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God Almighty reigns’ (Revelation 19:6). ‘And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, LORD God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come’ (Revelation 4:8). ‘We give You thanks, O LORD God Almighty, which are, and were, and are to come; because You have taken to You Your great power, and have reigned’ (Revelation 11:17). These Bible verses all mention the ‘Almighty.’ We can see from these prophecies that when the Lord returns, the name of God will become the Almighty.” Saying this, Brother Wang handed that book to me. He went on to say, “If you read this, you’ll understand why the Lord wants to take this name for His return in the last days.”
Taking the book, I read: “The work of God throughout all of His management is perfectly clear: The Age of Grace is the Age of Grace, and the last days are the last days. There are distinct differences between each age, for in each age God does work which is representative of that age. For the work of the last days to be done, there must be burning, judgment, chastisement, wrath, and destruction to bring the age to an end. The last days refer to the final age. During the final age, will God not bring the age to an end? To end the age, God must bring chastisement and judgment with Him. Only in this way can He end the age. … Therefore, during the Age of Law Jehovah was the name of God, and in the Age of Grace the name of Jesus represented God. During the last days, His name is—the Almighty, who uses His power to guide man, conquer man, and gain man, and in the end, bring the age to its close” (“The Vision of God’s Work (3)”). Brother Wang continued on in fellowship. “God is the wise, almighty God, and everything He does is filled with meaning. Being called the Almighty in the last days is because God is bringing an end to the age; He’s doing the work of sorting people according to their kind, and of rewarding good and punishing evil. So, when the Lord returns in the last days He must appear to mankind with a disposition that is righteous, majestic, wrathful, and inviolable to show to the world God’s inherent disposition and what He has and is. It is with this disposition that He judges and chastises all of mankind’s corruption and unrighteousness, fully saving us from sin so that we can recover original human holiness. God wants us to see that He can not only create all things, but He can also rule over all things; He can not only be mankind’s sin offering, but He can also express words to perfect, transform, and cleanse man; He is the Alpha and the Omega, His wondrousness and His deeds cannot be fathomed by any man. God is the powerful Almighty.”
The confusion within my heart was entirely cleared up then. Very moved, I said, “That’s so true! God is the Lord of all creation. He is all-powerful and full of authority. In the last days, He will appear to us revealing His full disposition and according to the prophecies, He will be called the Almighty when He returns. Thanks be to the Lord! I’ve finally understood the mysteries behind God’s names through our fellowship today. I have to share this truth with the other brothers and sisters as soon as possible so that everyone may leave their own notions and imaginings behind, being sure to listen for news of the Almighty and welcome the Lord’s return!”
Brother Wang said, “I give thanks to the Lord! That we can understand this now is all thanks to God’s guidance. As preachers, we absolutely must guide our brothers and sisters to understand the truth and follow the footsteps of the Lamb so that they may attend the Lamb’s wedding feast. This is the commission the Lord has entrusted us with.” I vigorously nodded my head and said, “Then let’s go share this fellowship with our brothers and sisters together.”
Smiling, he said, “Great, let’s go.”
Side by side, we set off for the church …
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