SEVEN weeks after Jesus had been crucified the apostles’ labours began. For a week they had waited in Jerusalem for the fulfilment of “the promise of the Father”, of which Jesus had spoken to them. They then received power when the Holy Spirit came upon them, and the witness to the Lord Jesus began.

For three and a half years they had been the companions of Jesus and had seen his works and had heard his words. They had grown in their understanding of him, even to the point of recognizing in some way his divine sonship. After the discourse on the Bread from heaven, when the multitude, resentful at the claims of Jesus had gone away, Jesus asked the twelve, “Will ye also go away?” Peter answered, “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life, and we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God” (John 6:67–70).

The declaration was repeated, shortly afterwards, when Jesus went into the borders of Caesarea Philippi. Jesus led them to a further confession. Step by step he brought them to the statement of their faith in him. “Whom do men say that I am?” he first asked. And after receiving the various answers that some thought he was John the Baptist, and others Elijah, Jeremiah or some other prophet, he put a direct question: “But whom say ye that I am?” Peter answered, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God”. And Jesus commended Peter as “Blessed”, adding “flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 16:13–17). How the Father had revealed it is not stated; it may be that it was by the testimony of Jesus himself: for earlier in his ministry Jesus had said: “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight. All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him” (Matt. 11:25–27). Here the revelation of the Father “unto babes” must have been through the Son: “for no man knoweth the Father save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him”. Be that as it may, we can see that Jesus must have given the apostles some instruction concerning himself. He at once matched Peter’s “Thou art the Son of the living God” with the words “My Father which is in heaven”, and the ready way in which he uses the words “My Father” would indicate that it was not the first time they had passed his lips in the hearing of the twelve.

How much did the words, so clear to us as definitions of his Sonship to God, convey to the twelve? And when Peter addressed Jesus as “Lord” before he declared that they could go to no other than Jesus, was he simply using a courtesy title, or was there some fuller significance in keeping with the words: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God”? However far their comprehension had reached, that knowledge must only have added to their bewilderment when the ministry came to its close. If Jesus was Son of God, why the shame of the trials and horrors of the crucifixion? Their minds must have been in a turmoil as, puzzled and perplexed, they remained scattered and hidden while Jesus was in the grave.

We do know that some things Jesus had taught them they had not clearly understood. The words of Jesus recorded by Luke (24:44) are sufficient to show this. He recalled the words he had told them during his ministry that he must suffer, which they evidently had failed to understand, and he gently chided them for “slowness of heart”. It may be then that the full import of their acknowledgment that Jesus was Son of God had not been recognized.

Whatever lack of understanding there may have been during the ministry did not remain after Pentecost. It was part of the work of the Spirit to call all things to their remembrance that Jesus had said unto them, and also to lead them into all truth (John 14:26; 16:13). By its guidance they were able to interpret the Old Testament authoritatively, to apply its testimonies unerringly, and to reason out of them convincingly in demonstration of their message. We have an illustration of all this in the first address given by Peter at Pentecost. The record by Luke is, of course, only a summary, but it is so excellently done that we can expand the reasoning of the address easily.

Peter meets the derisive attitude of the people in saying the apostles were drunk, first by reminding them of the early hour of the day at which no Jew would have partaken of wine; then secondly he quotes the prophecy of Joel concerning an outpouring of God’s Spirit when God would expand His revelation. Whether Peter cites Joel as a prophecy then partially fulfilled, or as an illustration of what results from an outpouring of God’s Spirit and so presenting a parallel to what they witnessed, does not now matter. It is, however, important to recognize that Peter finds a starting point for his address in Joel’s words: “Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved”.

He showed them how the “name of the Lord” had been established in the work of Jesus. He was “a man approved of God” among them, by miracles, wonders and signs. His death had been “according to the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God”, but this did not exonerate them from blame in rejecting him and delivering him into Roman “wicked hands” to crucify him. But thirdly, God had raised up Jesus from the dead. This had happened within a short distance from where Peter was speaking, and only seven weeks before. We must put Peter’s affirmation that Jesus was risen in this framework of space and time to see the force of his argument. He quotes David’s words in Psalm 16, and shows that David could not have been speaking of himself, for by the common knowledge of all Peter’s listeners, David’s sepulchre was practically within hailing distance. David’s soul had been left in hell, and his flesh had seen corruption, and all knew where his dust reposed. It was axiomatic to Peter and the rest of them that the Old Testament was God’s word, and Psalm 16 was therefore prophetic. It was a psalm of David and God had promised that Messiah should be a descendant of David. It was as the voice of Messiah, then, that David spoke when he said his flesh should not see corruption. Messiah, whoever he might be, must be a resurrected man, and one raised within a short period of his death and burial. That was one hall-mark of the Messiah.

It was a direct challenge that the tomb where Jesus had lain was empty. Joseph’s tomb was not his sepulchre: for the Psalm did not apply to David, since they had David’s tomb in their midst. Why did no one explode Peter’s contention by saying that they knew the tomb of Jesus, and that his body was there, and therefore by Peter’s reasoning the Psalm could not refer to Jesus any more than to David? Their behaviour, when they were pricked in their heart, showed that they acknowledged the force and truth of the application Peter had made of the psalm to Jesus. “What must we do?” they cried. Peter answered, “Repent, and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins”. The prophecy of Joel spoke of salvation in the name of the Lord; and by this phrase the prophet meant the name of Yahweh. But now Peter boldly translates the phrase into “the name of Jesus Christ”.

This is further illustrated in the next incident recorded by Luke. Peter heals the lame man, calling upon him, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk”. To the people who gathered at the miracle Peter said: “The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers hath glorified his Son Jesus . . . and his name, through faith in his name hath made this man whole”. In the sequel, when Peter and John were arraigned before the Jewish authorities, they were asked, “By what power, or by what name have ye done this?” Peter answered, “By the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole . . . Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved”. In this summary Luke shows that Peter referred to God’s revelation at the Bush when He described Himself as the God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob; and when He revealed Himself as Yahweh, “He who will be”. He has become, said Peter, in His Son Jesus: and therefore in the name of Jesus Christ alone is salvation. It is evident then that Peter applies “the name of the Lord” to Jesus, the Son of God, because that name was embodied in him, because he was God manifested in a Son.

We must go back to the Pentecost speech to gather up another line of thought introduced by Peter. He quoted not only Psalm 16 but Psalm 110, where David is again the speaker. David had said: “The Lord (Yahweh) said unto my Lord (Adon), Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thy foes thy footstool”. This most evidently Messianic Psalm shows that the Messiah has to spend a time at God’s right hand. Again David cannot be the one addressed, for he “is not ascended into heaven”. But Jesus had “ascended” and is thus by another scripture shown to be the Messiah. The marks of the Messiah as delineated by David are then two: he must have been raised from death, and he must have ascended into heaven.

If Psalm 110 is thus prophetic of Jesus, then Jesus is in scripture addressed as Lord (Adon). While this is not the covenant name, it is a name of God. Primarily indicating ownership, applied to Jesus it reveals his claim to possession. The ground for this is given by Peter in his second epistle, when he uses the phrase “the Lord that bought them”.

By his examination of the two Psalms, Peter has established two things in connection with Jesus. He is the Messiah, and he is Lord: or, in Peter’s words: “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ”.

To this we must add that in the LXX in the passages cited both Yahweh and Adon are translated by one word kurios—which in turn facilitates the transfer of words spoken of God to Jesus. But it is evident that Peter does apply to Jesus Joel’s words that “those who call on the name of the Lord shall be saved”. It is in the name of Jesus Christ that there is salvation. Three key words are fulfilled in Jesus: name, Lord, salvation.

Trinitarians find in this evidence that Jesus is one “person” of a trinity. The Biblical view is that since Jesus is the Son of God, the Word made flesh, the manifestation of God in flesh, the language used of God has appropriate reference to Jesus. Jesus is Lord.

How extensively the application of passages spoken originally of God as Lord was made to Jesus is seen from the epistles. Isaiah is several times quoted. In a day of excited pursuit after alliances with their neighbours against the rising menace of Assyria, Isaiah had foretold the failure of all confederacies, but added, “God is with us”. His counsel was, “Sanctify the Lord of Hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread”. Then follows the prophecy that God would be for a sanctuary, but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both houses of Israel. The prophecy of the stone of stumbling is quoted in Rom. 9:33 and in 1 Peter 2:3–8, in both cases with a reference to Isa. 28:16 included. Isaiah’s words in the context: “Behold I and the children the Lord hath given me” are quoted of Jesus in Heb. 2:13. Clearly Isa. 8 was a quarry from which the early believers dug out messianic prophecy. In the light of this we can see the force of the change in the R.V. in 1 Peter 3:15, when the words “sanctify the Lord God in your hearts” are substituted by “Sanctify in your hearts Christ as Lord”. We can see how a scribe could change the latter back to the familiar words of Isaiah, but it is difficult to imagine any copyist making a change the other way. To “sanctify Christ as Lord” is not only to give him the honour that the Jews were called upon by Isaiah to give to God, it is to recognize that God has become a sanctuary— the true tabernacle which the Lord pitched and not man; the word made flesh tabernacling among us—and that because Jesus as God’s Son is that, the divine name can be given him.

When the Psalmist exhorts: “O taste and see that the Lord is good” the Lord is the God of Abraham (Psa. 43:8). But Peter boldly applies the language to Jesus, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: if so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious” (1 Peter 3:2–4) The gracious Lord is the living stone which men refused. From this we may move back to 1 Peter 3:12 where the apostle quotes Psa. 34:12 that the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous; and this is in close context with verse 15, where Jesus has to be sanctified as Lord: and it may be that here also Peter is thinking of Jesus as Lord.

Another passage in Isaiah declares God’s word: “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. Surely shall one say, In the Lord have I righteousness and strength” (Isa. 45:22–24). In Rom. 14:10 Paul says, “We shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ” and he adds in proof “For it is written, As I live saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God” (verse 11). The language of Isaiah is even more specifically applied to Jesus in Phil. 2:10. Because Jesus had been obedient unto the death of the cross, “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 . . . and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father”.

“Jesus Christ is Lord”: that confession from men’s hearts is the acme of the exaltation that God has prepared for His obedient Son. It involves a recognition of the relationship of Jesus to God as Son to Father, so that it can be said that “he has by inheritance” a more excellent name than the angels (Heb. 1:4). It concerns a fellowship of Father and Son where men are called upon to honour the Son as they honour the Father. It defines such a creative act of God in human life that the Son begotten stands by his descent and divine appointment in such a relationship to men that what is said of God is also affirmable of Jesus. If God could say of the “Angel of his presence” in the wilderness, “My name is in him”, “provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions”, how much more are the same things affirmable of the Son with the inherited name?

A consideration of the New Testament usage of the Old Testament language and the application of divine names to Jesus in the way we have examined, should prevent us from speaking easily and lightly of Jesus. It is true he was one with us, sharing our nature, but how much more was he! He could say, “I and my Father are one” and these words, while having no connection with the doctrine of the Trinity, have a meaning: one which we should seek to know if we would have a full estimate of the Lord Jesus.

It is one of the evidences of the thoroughness of Dr. Thomas as a student of God’s word that he so clearly discerned the Scripture teaching of God-manifestation. His book Phanerosis and some sections in Eureka Vol. I are luminous helps, and this article might be regarded as a slight study subsidiary to Dr. Thomas’s larger exposition.