In our Greek Word Devotional series, we discuss some of our favorite passages in the Bible, focusing on the specific use of certain Greek words. Today, we’ll look at the word onoma or name using Acts 3:6, 16:
“But Peter said, “I don’t have silver or gold, but what I do have, I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, get up and walk! … By faith in his name, his name has made this man strong, whom you see and know. So the faith that comes through Jesus has given him this perfect health in front of you all.”
The following is an excerpt from the CSB Study Bible:
Greek pronunciation: AH nah mah
CSB translation: name
Uses in Acts: 60
Uses in the NT: 231
Focus passage: Acts 3:6, 16
The Greek noun onoma means name and has several uses, such as the following. (1) It is used for proper names of persons and places. (2) In Rv 3:1 onoma is rendered “reputation,” as in the expression he has made a name for. (3) It also occurs in the sense of title, as in Mt 10:41 (the literal in the name of a prophet means “because he is a prophet” or “because he has the title prophet”). In Heb 1:4 onoma refers to “Son” as the name or title that is more excellent than the angels’ (see vv. 2,5,8), and in Php 2:9 the “name that is above every name” is the title “Lord” (kurios), as explained in v. 11. (4) Finally, the NT often demands that believers act for, or in the name of, Jesus Christ. The phrase “in Jesus’s name” is not a mystical formula attached to the end of a prayer. It’s an expression of faith that identifies the person whom believers serve (Mt 18:20; Ac 2:38).
“In Jesus’ name” is in our lexicon almost daily, closing our prayers. So Peter healing the lame man in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth comes as no surprise. But acknowledging this tradition got me thinking about all the times I do something in my name, with faith in my own abilities as if I’m the one with power. It’s a very human reaction to do things in our name in our lives, whether it be to fix a relationship, work harder, get healthier, or anything else.
We also put our trust, often, in another’s name — trusting in the power of a job, cause, authority, or even a loved one. Peter and John don’t send the lame man for healing in a doctor’s name, in their own name, or in Pilate’s name. Some forms of healing may come from those places, but Healing of the spirit only comes in Jesus’ name.
If we reflect, we may realize how much unfounded faith we have in ourselves. What would change in our lives if we began to live for His name, and not our own? Acts tells us that only then will we find Healing.