Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
No one has ever been humbled as Jesus was. Neither has any been exalted as Jesus was.
Jesus, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God. Yet He humbled Himself. He took upon Him the form of a servant and was made in the likeness of men. And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
What humility and shame!
He died the accursed death of the cross!
He did this in obedience to the Father, that He might accomplish the salvation God has eternally ordained for His elect church.
Wherefore, God has highly exalted Him and given Him a name that is above every name. God did this with a purpose. His purpose was that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
This became a reality for Jesus through His resurrection, ascension, and session at God’s right hand.
A glorious exaltation!
God has highly exalted Jesus.
To be highly exalted is a relative term. It suggests high exaltation but leaves room for others to be exalted even higher. The term used in the original is not relative but superlative. God has exalted Jesus to the highest possible position. First Jesus humbled Himself to the lowest degree. Then God exalted Him to a position no one else could ever occupy.
In keeping with that, God gave Jesus a name that is above every name.
We are not talking about a personal name that God gave to Jesus, such as the name that He gave to Jesus at His birth by divine revelation to Mary and Joseph.
Rather “name” refers here to a title given to one reflecting the rank or position he occupies. Matthew 10:41 speaks of receiving a prophet in the name of a prophet. The idea is that one receives a prophet because he holds the position and title of a prophet.
God gave to Jesus a name that is above every name. Many occupy great positions and have titles to reflect that fact. To Jesus was given the highest position possible in the universe and a title that matched it.
The name God gave Him is “Lord.” This is indicated in that God highly exalted Jesus, so that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
The exalted Lordship of Jesus is recognized in many different passages of Scripture. According to I Timothy 6:15 Jesus “is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords.” According to Romans 10:12 Jesus is lord over all and is rich to all them that call on Him.
Ephesians 1:21-22 gives content to His great name. There we learn that God the Father set Jesus “far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things.”
That God exalted Jesus to be Lord over all means therefore that God gave to Jesus the entire universe as His own to possess. In addition, God gave Jesus both the power and the authority to rule over the universe on His behalf.
God elevated Jesus to such a high and lofty position, first, through His resurrection. On the third day after His crucifixion God raised Jesus from the dead. This was a most glorious resurrection. It was not a return to this life, as was the resurrection of Lazarus and others. It was an advancement forward. Through His resurrection, Jesus’ body was made heavenly and spiritual, adapted to live forever in heaven.
In keeping with the nature of Jesus’ resurrection, God exalted Him to heaven forty days later. Jesus ascended to heaven in His glorified human body in the sight of His disciples from the Mount of Olives. This was a change of place for Jesus. According to His human nature He is no more on the earth but in heaven.
At His ascension God seated Jesus at His own right hand. To be seated at the right hand of the king was to have a position second only to the king himself, and thus to be clothed with power and authority to rule the entire kingdom on behalf of the king. This was the position that Joseph occupied in Egypt. It was to this position that God the Father elevated Jesus upon His ascension, so that He became the King of all kings to rule the universe on behalf of the living God.
He who humbled Himself as no one else ever can or will has been exalted to a position higher than anyone else ever can or will attain.
A divine purpose!
God’s purpose in exalting Jesus Christ is “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Every knee and every tongue! Of those in heaven, on earth, and under the earth! This refers to all men and angels.
Those in heaven are the holy angels as well as all the saints that have departed from this life to enter into the glory of heaven.
Those on earth are all men that are living on the earth, both the righteous and the wicked.
Those under the earth are those whose abode is in hell. This includes the fallen angels, with their evil prince, Satan. It also includes all the wicked that have departed this life to make their abode in hell.
God’s purpose in exalting Jesus and giving Him a name above every name is that at the name of Jesus all should bow the knee and every mouth confess that Jesus is Lord.
“At the name of Jesus” means in acknowledgment of the name or position of Lord that God has given to Jesus.
God’s purpose therefore is that, in acknowledgment of Jesus’ position as Lord, every knee should bow. To bow the knee to someone is to assume a position of worship and reverence. It is God’s purpose that all men and angels will so bow the knee to Jesus in worship, giving Him honor and reverence.
It is also God’s purpose that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. This means that God will have all men and angels, both good and evil, verbally to acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord and that as Lord He not only owns them but also properly rules them.
This is all to the glory of God the Father. Certainly Jesus is honored and glorified when every knee bows to him and every tongue confesses that He is Lord. But ultimately this serves the glory of God the Father, who exalted Jesus and clothed Him with His power and authority.
This will not be realized in this present age.
The elect of God who are brought to salvation by the power of Jesus Christ will bow the knee to Him and confess Him as their Lord. This is the fruit of the salvation Jesus works in them as the Lord of heaven and earth. They bow the knee to Jesus and confess Him as Lord in their worship at the house of God and in their daily lives. And for those whose confession is genuine, their acknowledgment of Jesus’ lordship will show itself in a life of humble service to Jesus.
The elect angels who remain in their original state of righteousness do the same in heaven.
But the reprobate world of angels and men do not bow the knee to Jesus to confess and acknowledge Him as Lord. They refuse to acknowledge Jesus as Lord. And it shows in their continual life of rebellion. In fact, Satan is still working to establish himself as lord over all. And he so controls the world of reprobate angels and mankind that they serve his purpose.
But at the great day of judgment this purpose of God will be realized. In that day Jesus will appear in all His glory to judge all men and angels. He will judge the angel world, both righteous and wicked. He will judge all men, both the living and the dead.
As the righteous Judge He will proclaim the sentence of God that will determine the eternal destiny of all men and angels. Upon the wicked He will proclaim the damnation of hell. Upon the righteous He will proclaim the glory of heaven.
At that point all shall bow the knee to Jesus and confess that He is Lord. The righteous will do so in love and deep gratitude, looking to serve Him throughout all eternity in the new creation. The wicked will do so with hearts unchanged. But bow the knee to Jesus they will and acknowledge Him as Lord of all.
All this will be to the glory of God the Father.
A sure basis.
The basis of Jesus’ exaltation into glory by the hand of God the Father is Jesus’ obedience.
God had sent His Son into the world to serve as the Mediator of His elect church, and as Mediator to bring them the salvation He had eternally ordained for them. This required that Jesus endure all the punishment of their sin, culminating on the accursed cross. To this calling Jesus was obedient.
No one will ever know the horror that Jesus endured at the cross or the struggles that He had as He anticipated the cross. The Bible gives us a small peek into this by relating the agony of Gethsemane. But we will never know the depths of His suffering.
Jesus was obedient to the Father, even unto the death of the cross.
Wherefore God exalted Him and gave Him a name above every name. This was the Father’s promise to Jesus, revealed even in the Old Testament.
This glory was the Mediator’s reward for His perfect obedience and suffering. It was not a reward of grace but of merit. Jesus earned the right to this honor and glory by His perfect obedience and suffering.
And this brings us to the gospel of salvation for us. Jesus died the accursed death of the cross for us. He bore the punishment of our sin and took it all away. In the process He earned our salvation and glory.
And Jesus, who is Lord of lords, not only brings us the salvation of the cross, but also will one day bring us to heaven to share in His glory.
Let us bow the knee to Him and confess Him as our Lord, looking to the day when we will do so perfectly to the glory of God the Father.