Hebrews 1:3-4 reads:

the Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His nature, upholding all things by His powerful word. After He had provided purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. So He became as far superior to the angels as the name He has inherited is excellent beyond theirs.

The last phrase is particularly interesting, it says that the Son (Jesus) inherited a name. Notably this can't simply mean that Jesus was given a name, but that Jesus was given a name that belonged to someone else. This clearly can't be a name of one of the angels - because it specifies that "the name He has inherited is excellent beyond theirs" - and it makes little sense for it to be a human name.

My understanding is that Jehovah's witnesses consider Jehovah, to be the greatest name, and the name of God. In this context the only explanation I can see for Jesus being a given a name more excellent than that belonging to the angels is that he is given this name the name of God. This makes sense because if he is inheriting it, he also has to be receiving the name that belonged to the one that gave it.

This makes sense of several passages. For example in Phillipians 2:9 it is written:

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,

If from a Jehovah's wittiness perspective, Jehovah is the greatest name, these passages make sense together. Jesus is given the name Jehovah.

Further this explains why the new testament writers put such a significance on the phrase "Jesus is Lord" (1 Corinthians 12:3; Romans 10:9; Acts 8:16; 19:5 and 1 Cor 6:11) (notably when the bible was translated into greek the divine name, translated by JWs as Jehovah, is rendered kyrios, the word translated as Lord in these passages). When the apostles and bible writers use this phrase they are affirming that this inheritance of the divine name has taken place.

If this isn't the conclusion that JWs reach, how do they understand these passages?

EDIT: In the early church there was clearly debate about the relationship between the Christ and his Father - clearly within the lifetimes of the apostles some thought that Christ wasn't divine, and people close to the apostles did (Polycarp, Justin the Martyr, and Ignatious). From a JW perspective, why do people think the apostles used this kind of ambiguous language?

  1. Talking about Jesus "inheriting"/being "given" what appears to be the divine name.
  2. Identifying Jesus frequently as kyrios (i.e. the Greek word that YHWH was replaced with when the Septuagint was translated into Greek, commonly translated as Lord in english bibles).

Was it for example, to avoid refuting the early Christians who believed in the divinity of Christ and thus maintain unity in the church?

[the mainstream christian reading of the bible is that YHWH (and its Greek and English circumlocutions kyrios and Lord) is a name/title shared by the Father, Son and Spirit. It's beyond the scope of this question to discuss what this means in the context of Heb 1 but in the is post I am proposing that the most natural reading of the text is that the writer of the book is discussing that sharing via the metaphor of inheritance, much as the author of Philippians discusses that sharing by metaphor of a gift.]

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    Citing phillipians 2:9 as support for Jesus being Jehovah is a weak argument since the next verses phillipians 2:10-11 go on to say that name given is Jesus.
    – 007
    Commented Aug 18, 2018 at 14:48
  • 2
    Abijah, I’m struggling to understand the Q. Inheritance has to do with a father passing on something to sons/daughters. Father God passes on to the risen Son a name that is above every name. Only after his resurrection is Jesus declared to be the Son of God (Romans 1:4). Then in Rev. 3:12 Jesus says he will write his new name on faithful Christians. Do you or JWs consider ‘Son of God’ to be a name or a title, or is it the Divine Name you ask about? Do you mean ‘name’ as YHWH or as ‘in the authority of’ the named person? Please clarify.
    – Anne
    Commented Aug 18, 2018 at 17:18
  • 1
    Abijah, mainstream Christianity sees YHWH as the Hebraic name of the OT Covenant God of Israel but Yes’hua as the Hebraic name of the Son of God in the NT, which has YHWH in it in abbreviated form. Only Oneness Pentecostals and Mormons claim that Jesus is Yahweh. But I get your point and thank you for it, and hope a JW will give an answer.
    – Anne
    Commented Aug 18, 2018 at 17:32
  • 1
    eliyah.com/lxx.html. Interesting that the earliest Septuagint manuscripts contain the Tetragrammaton
    – 007
    Commented Aug 24, 2018 at 15:45
  • 1
    The Septuagint was the first translation of the OT into Greek.
    – 007
    Commented Aug 24, 2018 at 15:50

2 Answers 2


Jehovah’s Witnesses are non trinitarian. As such we believe that Jehovah alone is Almighty God. He does not share his name with any other being. ( Is 42:8)

Jesus is the very first thing that the infinitely existing Jehovah God created. (Col 1:15). As the master worker (Prov 8:30) Jesus is the one through whom Jehovah accomplished all other creative works (Col 1:16)

As non trinitarians Jehovah’s Witnesses understand various scriptures differently than those who are trinity believers.

When a Jehovah’s Witnesses reads that the resurrected Jesus has been exalted to the highest position above all other creation and given a name above all other names, it never means that he has become equal to or greater than Jehovah God. Instead we understand that Jehovah has exalted Jesus to the highest office and given him a name or title above all other created beings in the universe.

An illustration that might fit here is of a highly talented company worker being given the name or title of CEO by the founder and owner of the company. This worker now has authority over all other workers and authority to conduct the company’s business signing contracts making purchases etc.. He has become the head of the company and bears responsibility for the success or failure of the business. The boss. That is Jesus . Still there is the one who has authority over him the founder and owner. That is Jehovah.

It is in this exalted position that Jesus serves also as the only pathway of approach to Jehovah through prayer. Commenting on this exalted position is an article in the Watchtower below are some salient portions:

Jesus spent most of his final night giving encouragement to his faithful apostles. It was the appropriate time to reveal something new. “I am the way and the truth and the life,” Jesus said. “No one comes to the Father except through me.” Later he gave them the reassuring promise: “Whatever it is that you ask in my name, I will do this, in order that the Father may be glorified in connection with the Son. If you ask anything in my name, I will do it.” Toward the end of his discussion, he said: “Until this present time you have not asked a single thing in my name. Ask and you will receive, that your joy may be made full.” —John 14:6, 13, 14; 16:24. These words were striking. One reference work describes this as “the turning-point in the history of prayer.” Jesus did not intend that prayer should be diverted from God to him. Instead, he was opening up a new way of access to Jehovah God.

Praying in Jesus’ name honors Jesus. Such honor is appropriate, for Jehovah’s will is that “in the name of Jesus every knee should bend . . . , and every tongue should openly acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:10, 11) More important, though, praying in Jesus’ name glorifies Jehovah, the one who gave his Son for our benefit. —John 3:16.

According to Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, the Greek word translated “name” can refer to “all that a name implies, of authority, character, rank, majesty, power, [and] excellence.”

JESUS’ VITAL ROLE To grasp fully Jesus’ role, consider some of the titles, descriptions, and names applied to him.

• Amen. —2 Corinthians 1:19, 20; Revelation 3:14.

• Apostle. —Hebrews 3:1.

• Chief Agent of Life. —Acts 3:15.

• Christ/ Messiah. —Matthew 16:16; John 1:41.

• Eternal Father. —Isaiah 9:6.

• Faithful Witness. —Revelation 1:5.

• Fine Shepherd. —John 10:11.

• Head of the Congregation. —Ephesians 5:23.

• High Priest. —Hebrews 4: 14, 15.

• Immanuel. —Matthew 1:23.

• Judge. —Acts 10:42.

• King. —Revelation 11:15.

• Lamb of God. —John 1:29.

• Last Adam. —1 Corinthians 15:45.

• Leader. —Matthew 23:10.

• Lord. —John 13:13.

• Mediator. —1 Timothy 2:5.

• Michael the Archangel. —1 Thessalonians 4:16; Jude 9.

• Mighty God. —Isaiah 9:6.

• Prince of Peace. —Isaiah 9:6.

• Savior. —Luke 2:11.

• Son of God. —John 1:34.

• Son of Man. —Matthew 8:20.

• Teacher. —John 13:13.

• The Word. —John 1:1.

• Wonderful Counselor. —Isaiah 9:6.

So a brief answer to how Jehovah’s Witnesses view Jesus inheriting the highest name is to say this name is highest name of all created beings in heaven or on earth,and the only name that gives us access to Jehovah. The only name the creator Jehovah recognizes as having the authority to redeem sinful mankind. But the name Jehovah is not shared with Jesus.

Elaborating on what is in a name as relates to Jesus Christ the volume Insight on the Scriptures says

Because of remaining faithful to the very death, Jesus Christ was rewarded by his Father, receiving a superior position and “the name that is above every other name.” (Php 2:5-11) All those desiring life must recognize what that name stands for (Ac 4:12), including Jesus’ position as Judge (Joh 5:22), King (Re 19:16), High Priest (Heb 6:20), Ransomer (Mt 20:28), and Chief Agent of salvation. (Heb 2:10)

Christ Jesus as “King of kings and Lord of lords” also is to lead the heavenly armies to wage war in righteousness. As executioner of God’s vengeance, he would be displaying powers and qualities completely unknown to those fighting against him. Appropriately, therefore, “he has a name written that no one knows but he himself.” —Re 19:11-16.

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    Isaiah 42:8 is commonly cited for the idea in your first paragraph. Great answer! I like your illustration.
    – user32540
    Commented Aug 19, 2018 at 22:31
  • @4castle thanks I’ll edit that in too.
    – 007
    Commented Aug 19, 2018 at 22:34
  • Interesting Watchtower article, but I am still wondering what is the name that Jesus has inherited? I don't believe you actually told us what it is. Also, I read Philippians 2:9-10 which relates to what you said about Jehovah having given Jesus a name or title above all other created beings in the universe. However, my Bible says he was "given the name that is above EVERY name" not, every OTHER name. Can you please explain why the NWT says over every OTHER name? Thank you.
    – Lesley
    Commented Aug 20, 2018 at 8:00
  • @Lesley The word "other" doesn't change the meaning of the scripture because it's implied. Naturally, a name cannot be above itself.
    – user32540
    Commented Aug 20, 2018 at 9:19
  • @Lesley you seem to be intimating that Jesus was given a different name than we have ever known him by in php2:9 but php 2:10 states “in the name of Jesus” the exalting and giving a name above every name was an declaration of his position as the chief executive officer of God’s Kingdom. If Lesley was named CEO of the Kris company the name Lesley would from that moment on be the highest name in the company. With the understood caveat that Kris is still the founder and owner. Lesley is not now called Kris.
    – 007
    Commented Aug 20, 2018 at 13:29

There's a 1984 Watchtower article which comments on this pair of scriptures. The conclusion drawn is that the "name" which Jesus inherited is his position, or reputation, as King. This is the definition of "name" that people refer to when they talk about "making a name for yourself."

True, the apostle Paul wrote to the Hebrews: “He [Jesus] has become better than the angels, to the extent that he has inherited a name more excellent than theirs.” (Hebrews 1:4; Philippians 2:9, 10) However, this describes his situation after his having been here on earth. He was still the archangel and “the beginning of the creation by God.” (Revelation 3:14) But he became better than the angels. The ‘more excellent name’ or position is something he did not possess before coming to earth. (These scriptures contradict the Trinitarian concept that the Son is and always has been equal in every way to the Father.)

Hence, the fact that Michael is the archangel, chief of the angels, the fact that he stands up to rule as King, and the fact that he takes the lead in casting Satan out of heaven at the time of the birth of God’s Kingdom all lead us to just one conclusion: ‘Michael the great prince’ is none other than Jesus Christ himself. —Daniel 12:1.

w84 12/15 p. 29

  • Found some interesting quotes from JW literature on the relationship between Jesus and Michael the Archangel: Bible Teach book (p 218): "Michael is another name for Jesus Christ, BEFORE and AFTER his life on earth." And 1 Thessalonians 4:16 "suggests that Jesus himself is the archangel Michael" and "Michael is none other than Jesus Christ in his heavenly role." Insight on the Scriptures: "So Michael the archangel is Jesus in his prehuman existence. After his resurrection and return to heaven, Jesus resumed his service as Michael, the chief angel, “to the glory of God the Father.”
    – Lesley
    Commented Aug 20, 2018 at 6:50
  • Here is another quote from God's Eternal Purpose now Triumphing, 1974, pp 137-138: "Who, though, was the son whom God chose to be born as a perfect human creature? ...He has rightly been called Michael the Archangel. His life-force having been transferred to Mary's egg cell by Almighty God's power that overshadowed Mary meant that he, Michael, disappeared from heaven. By human birth from Mary, the Jewish virgin, he was to become a human soul."
    – Lesley
    Commented Aug 20, 2018 at 7:36
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    @Lesley what do your comments have to do with this post?
    – Peter Turner
    Commented Aug 20, 2018 at 20:37
  • ^ thanks so much for your response, I've upvoted. My mum has become a JW so I am interested in having conversations like this. I've added a little addendum to the end of the question- essentially if the writer of Hebrews was aware about the controversy between 1st century groups that disagreed over the divinity of Christ- why did he use the term "name" to mean position, knowing that this would encourage those who believed that Christ was YHWH, rather than simply using the word position. I'm sure you'll have a great response.
    – Abijah
    Commented Aug 20, 2018 at 22:20
  • @Abijah I don't know why that particular wording was inspired. It may be so that the correct understanding could be hidden until the appropriate time for it to become known. (Daniel 12:4)
    – user32540
    Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 3:10

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