Written by Vladimir Moss



I.               A person is referred to or is indicated by his name, but is not identical with his name. Peter is not the name “Peter”. And God is not the name “God” or “Jesus” or “Wisdom” or anything similar. This is a linguistic fact independent of all theological speculation.

II.             In traditional societies, addresses or petitions were often made “in the name of” or “to the name of” kings or highly-placed individuals as a mark of respect. We find the same convention in Holy Scripture in relation to God, as in “Blessed be the name of the Lord”, where it is the Lord Himself Who is being blessed.

III.           A special use of the word “name” is to be found in the Lord’s Prayer, in the petition “Hallowed be Thy Name”. In this case, as St. Maximus the Confessor explains, the Name of the Father is His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ; we petition the Father that His Son should be glorified and sanctified among men. Here the word “Name” does not simply indicate, but is to be identified with God – the Second Person of the Holy Trinity.

IV.          Another special use of the word “name” is to be found in On the Divine Names by St. Dionysius the Areopagite, where Divine Properties or Energies of God, such as Wisdom, Goodness, Justice, etc. are called “Names” of God. Here the word “Name” does not simply indicate, but is to be identified with God – not the Essence of God, nor with any of His Persons, but with His Divine, Uncreated Energies.

V.            The word “Jesus” is a created name like “Peter” and “Paul”. It indicates or refers to Jesus Christ, the Word of God and Second Person of the Holy Trinity, but can also indicate or refer to simple human beings, such as Jesus (Joshua), the son of Nun, in the Old Testament, and to several people in more recent times. Therefore it cannot be said to be Jesus, the Son of God. It is neither a Divine Person, nor a Divine Energy, still less the Divine Essence (which cannot be named). It is simply a name used, in the context of the Christian faith, to refer to the Lord Jesus Christ.

VI.          The word “Jesus” has become holy through its association with the source of all holiness, God. Therefore the name of Jesus used with reverence and faith can work miracles and drive out demons; its holiness is the foundation of the Jesus Prayer, which sanctifies the souls and bodies of believers. The Grace of God rests on it and in it, but is not to be identified with it.

VII.        The name of Jesus is a verbal icon of Jesus, just as the icon of Christ is a painted icon of Jesus. Therefore we venerate it just as we venerate painted icons – but without the worship that is due to God alone. Therefore the worship (latreia) that the name-worshippers offer to the name of Jesus is heretical and idolatrous.


November 25 / December 8, 2016.

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