“While he clung to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the portico called Solomon’s astounded. And when Peter saw it he addressed the people, “Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk? The God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and killed the Author of Life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. And his name, by faith in his name, has made this man strong whom you see and know; and the faith which is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.” (Acts 3:11-16). A second look at the first occurrence of ‘Faith’ in The Acts of The Apostles where faith is now ‘in the name’.
The questions has been raised many times— what’s in a name? ‘Onomatos’ used here for ‘name’ has a long history in the Greek language. It signifies a world-wide belief that the name is more than a label, but an indispensable part of personality. At best, power and will is given in the naming of a new being; and it grows in acquisition of the personality, the history and even the myth of the name.
It was prophesied of the child that his name shall be called ‘Emanuel’, giving this child the history, the myth, the power, the will to pass on to the world this promise— ‘God is with us’.
One of my favorite scenes in the “Roots” story is the African Tradition first brought to America as it survived in the Slave Culture. As ritual, when a child was born, it would be taken out into the night and held in extended arms, upward towards the Sky, “Behold, The Only Thing Greater!”
Bietenhard reminds us that the name is a power which closely associates the bearer and discloses his nature. “Pronouncement or invocation of the name sets in operation the energy potentially contained in him.” Believers sought to know the nature and essence of gods from their names. As religious belief systems moved from polytheisms where names identified ‘single entity’, ‘single power’ gods; to gods who had ‘all power’, Zeus was called ‘Dia’ because all things are by him, he was called ‘Zena’ because he was known as the ‘author of life’.
It is no small thing that Peter and John are standing deep within the Old Testament faith as they begin to carry out the appointed tasks of ‘healing ministry’ as faith. A tradition in which the names for God have peculiar effect and cannot be translated— they must be spoken exactly as they are received. ‘Names’ then, have significance in this Acts of The Apostles faith event— Israel (not just the Pharisees or the Sadducees or the scribes), but, standing in the Temple he speaks to all ‘the men of Israel’; in Solomon’s portico; Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are called by name so as to make no mistake that it is THIS GOD in whose name we come— The ‘God of Our Fathers’ glorified Jesus.
It is clear to Peter as he indicates to all within the sound of his voice that the ‘pronouncement’ the ‘invocation’ of the name set in operation the energy contained in him. ‘The faith which is through Jesus’— ‘Holy One’; ‘Righteous One’; ‘Author of Life’; raised from the dead— in his name, by faith in his name is the healing. As if
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