The meaning of the word "name" or in Hebrew שֵׁם ("shem"):

  • name (to identify), for example Genesis 4:17 (name of person), Genesis 2:11 (name of river), Genesis 2:19-20 (name of beasts), Genesis 26:33 (name of city), Ezekiel 24:2 (name of day)
  • character, for example Proverbs 21:24
  • ownership, for example 2 Samuel 12:28
  • reputation, for example Genesis 12:2, 2 Samuel 7:9, Jeremiah 32:20, Nehemiah 9:10
  • designation, for example Genesis 4:26

The same word "shem" is also translated as

  • "fame" in Zephaniah 3:19
  • "renown" in Ezekiel 39:13
  • "byword" or "infamous" or "subject of gossip" or "notorious" in Ezekiel 22:5, Ezekiel 23:10

The meaning of the word "name" in Greek ὄνομα ("onoma"):

Original Word     : ὄνομα, ατος, τό
Part of Speech    : Noun, Neuter
Transliteration   : onoma
Phonetic Spelling : (on'-om-ah)
Definition        : a name, authority, cause
  • name (to identify), for example Mark 3:16 (name of a person)
  • authority
    • "as a rank", for example Matthew 10:41
    • "on behalf of", for example Acts 10:48, Mark 9:38, Acts 1:15
    • "in obedience of", for John 5:43, Matthew 28:19, Acts 8:16
  • reputation, for example Luke 1:49, Matthew 6:9

"Name" as an authority

The term "in the name of ..." means authority. This is evident in the following scriptures:

And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired,

“By what power or by what name did you do this?”

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them,

"Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead — by him this man is standing before you well..."

-- Acts 4:7–10 (ESV)

Peter said, "...In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene – walk!" -- Acts 3:6

But Paul was greatly annoyed, and turned and said to the spirit, "I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!" -- Acts 16:18

“Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep aloof from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us.” -- 2 Thessalonians 3:6 (ESV)


You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. -- Exodus 20:7 (ESV)

According to the Interlinear Bible, the direct translation is:

Yahweh will hold [him] guiltless not for in (vain / nothing / worthless / falsehood) your God of Yahweh the (identity / reputation / authority). You shall take not in (vain / nothing / worthless / falsehood) His (identity / reputation / authority) who

In other words:

You will be guilty before Yahweh if you reduce your God, Yahweh's authority to nothing. You shall not make His identity false.

or perhaps in other words:

You will be guilty before your God, Yahweh, if you do not submit to His authority, because that will create a false identity of who He is.

Jesus submission

Jesus prayed opened his prayer with...

"Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name..." -- Matthew 6:9 (ESV)

According to the Interlinear Bible, the Greek for that verse:

Ἁγιασθήτω τὸ ὄνομά σου

which directly translates to

hallowed the name You

Which could be understood as

"Set apart for a special purpose the identity, reputation and authority of You"


"I acknowledge that You have an identity and authority which is not like any other"

Opening a prayer this way, means that whatever comes next must be submitted to God's authority to acknowledge his identity. You are not telling God what He should do, you are submitting to God's authority and pray "His will be done" (Matthew 6:10).