Holy Fathers on the Name of God

"Listen," he said: "the Name of the Son of God is great, and cannot be contained, and supports the whole world. If, then, the whole creation is supported by the Son of God, what think ye of those who are called by Him, and bear the Name of the Son of God, and walk in His commandments? do you see what kind of persons He supports? Those who bear His Name with their whole heart. He Himself, accordingly, became a foundation to them, and supports them with joy, because they are not ashamed to bear His Name."

Pastor of Hermas, Book Three, Similitude Nine, Ch. 14.


Moreover, in the book of Exodus we have also perceived that the Name of God Himself which, He says, was not revealed to Abraham or to Jacob, was Jesus, and was declared mysteriously through Moses. Thus it is written: "And the Lord spake to Moses, Say to this people, Behold, I send My angel before thy face, to keep thee in the way, to bring thee into the land which I have prepared for thee. Give heed to Him, and obey Him; do not disobey Him. For He will not draw back from you; for My Name is in Him." Now understand that He who led your fathers into the land is called by this name Jesus, and first called Ause. For if you shall understand this, you shall likewise perceive that the Name of Him who said to Moses, "for My Name is in Him," was Jesus.

St. Justin the Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, Ch. XXV


"You are aware, then," I continued, "that when the ark of the testimony was seized by the enemies of Ashdod, and a terrible and incurable malady had broken out among them, they resolved to place it on a cart to which they yoked cows that had recently calved, for the purpose of ascertaining by trial whether or not they had been plagued by God's power on account of the ark, and if God wished it to be taken back to the place from which it had been carried away. And when they had done this, the cows, led by no man, went not to the place whence the ark had been taken, but to the fields of a certain man whose name was Ause, the same as his whose name was altered to Jesus (Joshua), as has been previously mentioned, who also led the people into the land and meted it out to them: and when the cows had come into these fields they remained there, showing to you thereby that they were guided by the power of the Name just as formerly the people who survived of those that came out of Egypt, were guided into the land by him who had received the name Jesus (Joshua), who before was called Ause.

St. Justin the Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, Ch. CXXXII


If the Holy Spirit can produce in the Apostles that which the Name of the Father and of the Son produces in the converted pagans, and the Name of Jesus Christ  - in the repentant Jews... than why is it that the Spirit, which has the same Energy as the Father and the Son, does not share their Essence?

St. Basil the Great, Against Eunomius, Book 5: On the Holy Spirit


Yea, even now, when Christ is invoked, the devils tremble, and not even by our ill-doing has the power of this Name been extinguished, while we are not ashamed to insult a cause and Name so venerable; shouting it, and having it shouted in return, almost in public, and every day; for "My Name is blasphemed among the Gentiles
because of you".

St. Gregory the Theologian, Oration II. 86


But now what does the Lord's Prayer set down? "Hallowed be Thy Name." If I did not utter these words at all, let us say, would it be possible that God's Name be not holy? "Thy Kingdom come." But what could be beyond God's power? As Isaiah says, God marks all heaven with His span. He holds the earth in His palm and governs the nature of the waters by His hand (Is 40:12). God embraces all creation, both material and spiritual. God's Name is forever holy and nothing escapes the power of God's rule. Rather, He has dominion over all and admits no addition to His holiness. God absolutely lacks nothing and is perfect

St. Gregory of Nyssa, On the Lord"s Prayer


A witness to the resurrection of Jesus is Tabitha also, who was in His Name raised from the dead; for how shall we disbelieve that Christ is risen, when even His Name raised the dead?

St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Lecture XIV. 23


Hallowed be Thy Name. The Name of God is in its nature holy, whether we say so or not; but since it is sometimes profaned among sinners, according to the words, Through you My Name is continually blasphemed among the Gentiles, we pray that in us God's Name may be hallowed; not that it comes to be holy from not being holy, but because it becomes holy in us, when we are made holy, and do things worthy of holiness.

St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Lecture XXIII. 12



Christ so spares us, that He will not let us swear even by our own head; and yet we so little spare the honor of God, that on all occasions we must drag Him in! Ye know not what God is, and with what sort of lips he behooves to be invoked. Why, when we speak of any man of eminent worth, we say, "First wash your mouth, and then make mention of him:" and yet, that precious Name which is above every name, the Name which is marvellous in all the earth, the Name which devils hear and tremble, we haul about as we list! Oh! the force of habit! thereby has that Name become cheap... For ought not a shudder of awe to be felt when God is but named? But now, whereas among the Jews His Name was held to be so reverend, that it was written upon plates, and none was allowed to wear the characters except the high-priest alone: we bandy about His Name like any ordinary word. If simply to name God was not allowed to all; to call Him to witness, what audacity is it! nay, what madness!

St. John Chrysostom, Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles, Homily XI


We have despised God, we have hated that good Name, we have trodden Christ under foot, we have lost all reverence, none names the Name of God with honor. Yet if you love any one, even at his name you start to your feet; but God you thus continually invoke, and make nothing of it. Call upon Him for the benefit of your enemy; call upon Him for the salvation of your own soul; then he will be present, then you will delight Him; whereas now you provoke Him to anger.

And why, I would ask, were such miracles wrought in the Apostles' times, and not in ours? And yet it is the same God, the same Name. But no, the case is not the same. For then they called upon Him only for those objects which I have mentioned; whereas we call upon Him not for these, but quite other purposes.

St. John Chrysostom, Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles, Homily X


For we have, we surely have, spiritual charms, even the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ and the might of the Cross. This charm will not only bring the serpent out of his lurking places, and cast him into the fire (Acts xxviii. 5), but even wounds it healeth. But if some that have said this Name have not been healed, it came of their own little faith, and was not owing to any weakness in what they said. For some did throng Jesus and press Him (Luke viii. 44, 45), and got no good therefrom. But the woman with an issue, without even touching His Body, but merely the hem of His garment, stanched a flux of blood of so long standing. This Name is fearful alike to devils, and to passions, and to diseases. In this then let us find a pleasure, herewith let us fortify ourselves. It was thus Paul waxed great, and yet he was of the like nature with ourselves, so the whole choir of the Disciples.

St. John Chrysostom, Commentary on the Romans, Homily VIII


"And whatsoever ye do," he saith, "in word or in deed, do all in the Name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him."

For if we thus do, there will be nothing polluted, nothing unclean, wherever Christ is called on. If thou eat, if thou drink, if thou marry, if thou travel, do all in the Name of God, that is, calling Him to aid thee: in everything first praying to Him, so take hold of thy business. Wouldest thou speak somewhat? Set this in front. For this cause we also place in front of our epistles the Name of the Lord. Wheresoever the Name of God is, all is auspicious. For if the names of Consuls make writings sure, much more doth the Name of Christ. Or he means this; after God say ye and do everything, do not introduce the Angels besides. Dost thou eat? Give thanks to God both before and afterwards. Dost thou sleep? Give thanks to God both before and afterwards. Launchest thou into the forum? Do the same--nothing worldly, nothing of this life. Do all in the Name of the Lord, and all shall be prospered to thee. Whereonsoever the Name is placed, there all things are auspicious. If it casts out devils, if it drives away diseases, much more does it render business easy.

And what is to "do in word or in deed"? Either requesting or performing anything whatever. Hear how in the Name of God Abraham sent his servant; David in the Name of God slew Goliath. Marvelous is His Name and great. Again, Jacob sending his sons saith, "My God give you favor in the sight of the man." (Gen. xliii. 14.) For he that doeth this hath for his ally, God, without whom he durst do nothing. As honored then by being called upon, He will in turn honor by making their business easy. Invoke the Son, give thanks to the Father. For when the Son is invoked, the Father is invoked, and when He is thanked, the Son has been thanked.

These things let us learn, not as far as words only, but to fulfill them also by works. Nothing is equal to this Name, marvelous is it everywhere. "Thy Name," he saith, "is ointment poured forth." (Cant. i. 3.) He that hath uttered it is straightway filled with fragrance. "No man," it is said, "can call Jesus Lord, but by the Holy Ghost." (1 Cor. xii. 3.) So great things doth this Name Work. If thou have said, In the Name of Father, and Son, and Holy Ghost, with faith, thou hast accomplished everything. See, how great things thou hast done! Thou hast created a man, and wrought all the rest (that cometh) of Baptism! So, when used in commanding diseases, terrible is The Name. Therefore the devil introduced those of the Angels, envying us the honor. Such incantations are for the demons. Even if it be Angel, even if it be Archangel, even if it be Cherubim, allow it not; for neither will these Powers accept such addresses, but will even toss them away from them, when they have beheld their Master dishonored. "I have honored thee," He saith, "and have said, Call upon Me"; and dost thou dishonor Him? If thou chant this incantation with faith, thou wilt drive away both diseases and demons, and even if thou have failed to drive away the disease, this is not from lack of power, but because it is expedient it should be so. "According to Thy greatness," he saith, "so also is Thy praise." (Ps. xlviii. 10.) By this Name hath the world been converted, the tyranny dissolved, the devil trampled on, the heavens opened. We have been regenerated by this Name. This if we have, we beam forth; This maketh both martyrs and confessors; This let us hold fast as a great gift, that we may live in glory, and be well-pleasing to God, and be counted worthy of the good things promised to them that love Him.

St. John Chrysostom, Commentary on the Epistle to Colossians, Homily XI


"Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be unreprovable."

But do thou consider how he always fasteneth them as with nails to the Name of Christ. And not any man nor teacher, but continually the Desired One Himself is remembered by him: setting himself, as it were to arouse those who were heavy-headed after some debauch. For no where in any other Epistle doth the Name of Christ occur so continually. But here it is, many times in a few verses; and by means of it he weaves together, one may say, the whole of the proem. Look at it from the beginning. "Paul called [to be] an Apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have been sanctified in Jesus Christ, who call upon the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, grace [be] unto you and peace from God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God for the grace which hath been given you by hath been confirmed in you, waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall confirm you unreprovable in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom ye have been called into the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord. And I beseech you by the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ." Seest thou the constant repetition of the Name of Christ? From whence it is plain even to the most unobservant, that not by chance nor unwittingly he doeth this, but in order that by incessant application of that glorious Name he may foment their inflammation, and purge out the corruption of the disease.

St. John Chrysostom, Commentary on Second Epistle to Corinthians, Homily II


For this cause too the angel came bringing His Name from Heaven, hereby again intimating that this is a wondrous birth: it being God Himself who sends the name from above by the angel to Joseph. For neither was this without an object, but a treasure of ten thousand blessings. Wherefore the angel also interprets it, and suggests good hopes, in this way again leading him to belief. For to these things we are wont to be more inclined, and therefore are also fonder of believing them.

St.  John Chrysostom, Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, Homily IV


"Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name; Thy Kingdom come" (Matt. 6:9-10) It is appropriate that at the outset the Lord should teach those who pray to start with theology, and should initiate them into the mode of existence of Him who is by essence the created Cause of all things. For these opening words of the prayer contain a revelation of the Father, of the Name of the Father, and of the Kingdom of the Father, so that from this beginning we may be taught to revere, invoke and worship the Trinity in unity. For the Name of God the Father exists in substantial form as the Only-Begotten Son. Again the Kingdom of God the Father exists in substantial form as the Holy Spirit: what Matthew calls "Kingdom" in this context one of the other Evangelists has elsewhere called "Holy Spirit", saying, "May Thy Holy Spirit come and purify us." For the Father"s Name is not something which He has acquired, nor is the Kingdom a dignity ascribed to Him: He does not have a beginning, so that at a certain moment He begins to be Father or King, but He is eternal and so is eternally Father and King.

St. Maximus the Confessor, On the Lord"s Prayer.


And this also it behoves us to know, that the Names Fatherhood, Sonship and Procession, were not applied to the Holy Godhead by us: on the contrary, they were communicated to us by the Godhead, as the divine apostle says, Wherefore I bow the knee to the Father, from Whom is every family in heaven and on earth.

 St. John of Damascus,
Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith,
Book I, Chapter VIII


Either do away with the veneration and worship due to all these things [i.e Holy Places, Holy Gospel, etc.], or submit to the tradition of the Church and allow the worship of icons, which are sanctified by the Name of God and of His friends, and for this reason are overshadowed by the grace of the Holy Spirit.

St. John of Damascus,
Against those who decry the veneration

of the Holy Icons, Book I, XVI.


Divine grace is given to material things through the name borne by what is depicted.

St. John of Damascus,
Against those who decry the veneration of the Holy Icons,
Book I, Comment on St. Basil"s On the Holy Spirit


"Is the inscription to be venerated," the heretics ask, "or the icon, of which the title is inscribed? Is it exclusively one or the other, and not both? How?"

That is rather like asking, "is it right to venerate the Gospel book or the title on it? The representation of the Cross or the inscription on it?" I might add also in the case of our kind, "the man, or his name?" perhaps Peter and Paul and each or the individuals of the same species. Would not that be stupid, not to say ridiculous? What is there, of all things before our eyes that is nameless? How can the thing which is named be separated in honour from its own appellation, so that we may offer veneration to the one and deprive the other of it? These are relationships, for the name is by nature the name of something which is named, and a kind of natural icon of that to which it is applied. Therefore the unity in veneration is not divided.

St. Theodore  the Studite, Against the Heretics, Book I, 14.


Likewise, our conscience makes no accusation against us when we show reverence for the sacred vessels, since we know that they have been sanctified by the invocation of the Name of Christ.

Life of St. Stephen the New, Confessor for the Holy Icons,

Great Collection of the Lives of Saints, Vol. 3, p. 648

(Chrysostom Press, 1997)



Again, when Christ says, "To Me every knee shall bow, in Heaven and on earth and under the earth,"[1] His image may also say it by means of its inscription.

 St. Theodore  the Studite, Against the Heretics, Book II, 17.



Since admittedly every knee bows in Heaven and on earth and under the earth, surely you must admit that to His icon also, as it is in Christ, every knee bows in Heaven and on earth and under the earth. So what is said applies to name only and to the identity of veneration.

St. Theodore  the Studite, Against the Heretics, Book II, 18.


The incessant invocation of God's Name, is a medicine which mortifies not just the passions, but even their influence. Just as the physician puts medications or dressings on a wound that it might be healed, without the patient even knowing the manner of their operation, so also the Name of God, when we invoke it, mortifies all passions, though we do not know how that happens

St. Barsanuphius the Great, Answer 421.


Flog the foes with the Name of Jesus; for there is no stronger weapon against them either in heaven or on earth.

St. John Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent, Step 21


When by remembrance of God we close all the exits of our mind it has need of some obligatory work to satisfy its restlessness. The only thing it should be given is the sacred Name of our Lord Jesus; let this wholly satisfy the aim that its has set itself... Those who mentally keep this holy and glorious Name unceasingly in the depth of their heart can see too the light of their mind.

When this wonderful Name is kept in the thought with intense care it very effectively scorches every filth that appears in the soul. "For our God is a consuming fire" scorching all evil says the Apostle (Hebrews 12:29). Out of the fire the Lord finally brings soul into the great love for His glory. For the glorious and most coveted Name, becoming established in the warmth of the heart through the mind"s remembrance of it, gives birth to the habit of unhampered love for His goodness, since nothing then remains to hinder this. This is the precious pearl, which a man acquires having sold his possessions and rejoices greatly in acquiring Him.

St. Diadochus of Photiki, On Spiritual Knowledge and Discrimination, 59


We will travel the road of repentance correctly if, as we begin to give attention to the intellect, we combine humility with watchfulness, and prayer with the power to rebut evil thoughts. In this way we will adorn the chamber of our heart with holy and venerable Name of Jesus Christ as with a lighted lamp, and will sweep our heart clean of all wickedness, purifying and embellishing it. But if we trust only in our watchfulness and attentiveness, we shall quickly be pushed aside by our enemies. We shall be overturned and cast down by their extreme craftiness. We will become even more fully entangled in their nets of evil thought, and will readily be slaughtered by them, lacking as we do the powerful sword of the Name of Jesus Christ. For only this sword, swiftly turning in the undivided heart, is able to cut them down, to burn and obliterate them as fire the reed.

St. Hesychius  the Presbyter, On Watchfulness and Holiness, 152


We write of what we know; and for those who want to understand what we say, we bear witness to all that we have seen as we journeyed on our path. He Himself has declared: "If a man not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch; and men gather it, and cast it into the fire, and it is burned. If he abides in Me, I abide in him" (cf. John 15:5-6). The sun cannot shine without light; nor can the heart be cleansed of the stain of destructive thoughts without invoking in prayer the Name of Jesus. This being the case, we should use that Name as we do our own breath. For that Name is light, while the evil thoughts are darkness, it is God and Master, while evil thoughts are slaves and demons.

St. Hesychius  the Presbyter, On Watchfulness and Holiness, 170.


Truly blessed is the man whose mind and heart are as closely attached to the Jesus Prayer and to the ceaseless invocation of His Name as air to the body or flame to the wax. The sun rising over the earth creates daylight; and the venerable and holy Name of the Lord Jesus, shining continually  in the mind, gives birth to countless intellections radiant  as the sun.

St. Hesychius  the Presbyter, On Watchfulness and Holiness, 196.


The blessed remembrance of God - which is the very presence of Jesus - with the heart full of wrath and saving animosity against the demons, dissolves all trickeries of the thought, plots, argumentation, fantasies, obscure conjectures and, in short, everything with which the destroyer arms himself and which he insolently deploys in his attempt to swallow our souls. When Jesus is invoked, He promptly burns up everything. For our salvation lies in Christ Jesus alone. The Saviour Himself made this clear when he said: "Without Me you can do nothing" (John 15:5)

St. Philotheos of Sinai, On Watchfulness, 22.


The gift and the advent of the Holy Spirit is given to the faithful from God the Father through Jesus Christ and His Holy Name.

Ss. Callistus and Ignatius, Directions to Hesychasts, 12


So it has reached us and so it is observed by us and will pass in the same form to those who come after us. As regards the words: "Have mercy upon me" added to the salvation-working words of the prayer "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God", it was added by the holy fathers chiefly for those who are still infants in the work of virtue, the beginners and the the imperfect. For the advanced and the perfect in Christ are content with any one of those forms: "Lord Jesus"; "Jesus Christ"; "Christ Son of God"; or even with one word "Jesus", which they kiss and embrace as the complete doing of the prayer, sufficient to fill them with ineffable bliss and joy exceeding all mind, all vision and all hearing.

Ss. Callistus and Ignatius, Directions to Hesychasts, 50.


The correct practice of the Jesus Prayer proceeds naturally from correct notions about God, about the most holy Name of the Lord Jesus, and about man's relationship to God.

The Name of our Lord Jesus Christ is a divine Name. The power and effect of that Name are divine, omnipotent and salvific, and transcend our ability to comprehend it. With faith therefore, with confidence and sincerity, and with great piety and fear ought we to proceed to the doing of the great work which God has entrusted to us: to train ourselves in prayer by using the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

St. Ignatius Bryanchaninov, On Practicing Jesus Prayer.


When you pronounce to yourself in your heart the Name of God, of the Lord, or that of the most Holy Trinity, or of the Lord of Sabaoth, or of the Lord Jesus Christ, then in that Name you have the Lord"s whole being; in it is His infinite mercy, His boundless wisdom, His inaccessible light, omnipotence, and immutability. Approach this all-creative, all-keeping and all-ruling Name in our thoughts and heart with the fear of God, and with faith and love. This is why God"s commandment strictly forbids us to use God"s Name in vain, because His Name is Himself, one God in Three Persons, an incomplex being, represented and contained in one single word, although at the same time He is not contained or limited either by it or by anything that exists.

St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ, p. 358 ( Jordanville edition, 1984)


When you forbid the devil in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, then this Name, the sweetest to us, and the most terrible and grievous to the demons, itself creates power, like a two-edged sword. Equally, if you ask anything of the Heavenly Father, or do anything in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, then the Heavenly Father, for the sake of the Name of His beloved Son, shall give you all things in the Holy Spirit, in the Mysteries, if you fulfil His commandments, and will in nowise consider your unworthiness; for wherever the Name of God is made use of with faith, there it creates power: for the very Name of God is power.

St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ, p. 436


The Name of God is God Himself. Therefore it is said: "Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain;"[2] or "the Name of the God of Jacob defend thee;"[3] or, again, "bring my soul out of prison that I may give thanks unto Thy Name."[4] As the Lord is the most incomplex Spirit, He is wholly contained in one word, in one thought, being at the same time wholly everywhere - in all creatures. This is why, if you only call upon the Name of the Lord, you call upon the Lord Himself, the Saviour of those who believe, and you shall be saved. "Whosoever shall call on the Name of the Lord shall be saved."[5] "Call upon me [My Name] in the time of trouble; so will I hear thee, and shalt praise me."[6]

St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ, p. 477


The whole man, consisting of the soul and body, is called a single name or word - for instance John - in token of the fact that man is brought into existence by the Word of God, which is incomplex. Besides this, the name signifies that our soul is likewise an incomplex being. Under one name in concealed such a wealth and depth of the human spirit, such a multitude of divisible parts of matter. This is truly the image and likeness of God, and at the same time a small world in itself.

St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ, p. 436-437


The soul of the man is in the man"s name; for instance, the soul of John is in the name "John." Thus, at the appellation my soul recognises itself in the name, and answers to it. Thus in the Name of Jesus Christ dwells Christ Himself, wholly, His Soul and Body, united to the Godhead.

St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ, p. 437

[1] Cf. Phil. 2:10. The Apostle Paul actually says: "That at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth"

[2] Ex. 20:7; Deut. 5:11

[3] Psalm 20:2

[4] Psalm 142:7

[5] Acts 2:21

[6] Psalm 1:15