“I WILL BE WHO I WILL BE”
Through the writings of Justin Martyr, we find that Justin had one unanswered question.
This question not only plagued him, but also many Christians and Jewish people alike.
The question is: Does the invisible God really have a name of His own?
In Chapter 7, we discussed YHVH, “This is My Name Forever,” and the true meaning behind this name. It was the name the one true God used to differentiate Himself from He WILL BE, Jesus Christ, who became “I AM.”
So does the invisible God Himself, really have a name of His own?
Justin Martyr exhibited a contradictory mind on this question.
First, he entitled Chapter 75, of his Dialogue with Trypho, “IT IS PROVED THAT JESUS WAS THE NAME OF GOD IN THE BOOK OF EXODUS.”
But then, in Chapter 61 of his First Apology, he wrote, “For no one can utter the name of the ineffable God; and if any one dare to say that there is a name, he raves with a hopeless madness.” (It seems that Justin himself is now raving with a madness.)
Finally, in Chapter 6 of his Second Apology, he wrote, “But to the Father of all, who is unbegotten there is no name given. For by whatever name He be called, He has as His elder the person who gives Him the name.”
(Some say he wrote the Dialogue after the First and Second Apology, referencing 120.5 in the Dialogue, as referring to his First Apology. There is actually no reference there, to his First Apology. At the beginning of the Dialogue, 1.3, Trypho mentions that he has just come from the war in Roman Palestine, of 132 AD. 1 And of course, it seems highly unlikely that after telling the Roman Emperor and Senate that no one knows the name of God, that he would change his mind.)
Justin gave three different answers to this question.
The question of whether God really has a name of His own might be closely related to the question: Does the invisible God really have an image of His own?
Or is not Jesus Christ “the only image” and “name” of the invisible God?
The Jews could not understand why the forever God would call Himself “I WILL BE.” And so Justin Martyr in Chapter 63, of his First Apology, told us the Jews regarded God as nameless:
And all the Jews even now teach that the nameless God spoke to Moses; whence the Spirit of prophecy, accusing them by Isaiah the prophet mentioned above, said, “The ox knows his owner, and the ass his master’s crib; but Israel does not know Me, and My people do not understand.” Isaiah 1:3. And Jesus the Christ, because the Jews knew not what the Father was, and what the Son, in like manner accused them; and Himself said, ‘No one knows the Father, but the Son; nor the Son, but the Father, and they to whom the Son reveals Him.’ Matthew 11:27.
The Jews called God I WILL BE, AIA, in Justin’s Day, as Theoderet told us.
Justin Martyr was correct in saying there was no older than God to name Him.
But surely, “I WILL BE WHO I WILL BE” suggests that God had yet to reveal Himself. How do we know that He took on the name of Jesus for Himself?
- As we mentioned in Chapter 21, the word “name,” ónoma in Greek, has the figurative meaning of “the manifestation or revelation of someone’s character, i.e., as distinguishing them from all others.” Jesus Christ is “the identity” of who God is, and it makes sense that a “person’s name” should tell us one’s “identity.” When we declare the name of Jesus, we are actually saying “God saves!” “God Saves!” We are praising Him as the God of salvation. He is not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9). It makes a lot of sense that we baptize in the name of Jesus.
- In the Old Testament, God always shared the name of Christ, YHVH “He WILL BE” and even the name YHVH of the Armies (of the Angels)!
- God, through sharing the name of His image in the Old Testament, showed His intention to be known by the name of His image, who was Jesus Christ.
- In speaking of the Angel, who was a comparison to Joshua (Jesus), God said, “My Name is in Him.”
- Moses named Joshua “God Saves.”
- The prophet Isaiah told us the name of God was “Redeemer from Everlasting” – “God saves.”
- Isaiah said the Child would have the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
- Jesus told us that He came in His Father’s name.
- God did not use any name for Himself until His name and character was fully glorified by Jesus Christ, His image, first on the cross, and then when He made Jesus our Lord.
- Therefore, before going to the cross, Jesus prayed that the Father’s name would be glorified, to which God replied, “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again” (again, when He made Christ Lord, that every knee should bow to the name of Jesus, to the glory of God the Father).
- Before going to the cross, Jesus told His disciples He had been given the name of the Father.
- After His resurrection, Jesus told His disciples to baptize in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They only baptized in the name of Jesus.
- Zechariah said that in the LORD’s Day, it shall be the LORD one and His name One.
- God called Himself Jesus in Revelation 22:16
In order to save us, God revealed Himself through one image, and identified Himself by one name. But if God was limited by His revelation through Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1:2-3), then He would not be God. But rather, God’s invisible attributes have already been made known to all men, so that all men are without excuse (Romans 1:20).
Q: What is the name of the invisible God?
A: “I WILL BE WHO I WILL BE.”
- Timothy J. Horner, Listening to Trypho, Oxford University, 2000, pg. 76 ↩