On Christianity Stack Exchange, I asked the question Do all instances of the phrase “call on the name” prove that Jesus is God?, in which I explain, in detail and with far more references, that the phrase points to Jesus being God because, while all instances of the phrase in the Old Testament refer to the LORD and sometimes Baal, all the instances are intended for the true God, leading to the idea that if "call on/upon the name" bears such meaning throughout the Old Testament, then it should maintain that meaning whenever used in the New Testament, especially when the phrase refers to Jesus at times either explicitly or by context.

I ask the question here in order to find an answer derived from a hermeneutical approach because the explanation I've given is limited by the finding and examining of all instances in an English translation of the Bible (in this case, ESV),

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    I suppose that a more accurate wording would be "show that the authors considered Jesus as God": (1) interpreting the Bible is a human undertaking and as such imperfect, which means it strictly proves exactly nothing -- it may provide insights though. (2) Whatever insights we gain are insights about the intended meaning, which is related to but distinct from any (worldly or transcendental) "reality". Commented May 14 at 10:32
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    Also, you may want to be careful with proofs, also more generally ;-). Commented May 14 at 10:36
  • "limited by the finding and examining of all instances in an English translation of the Bible" — that isn't such a harsh limit. For instance "Blue Letter Bible finds 6 instances of "*call upon the name" in the ESV. a similar search finds 6 in the KJV (though not the same verses). Similarly searching for "on" instead of "upon" finds 3 and 5 instances, though again, not the same ones. Commented May 14 at 14:32
  • @Peter-ReinstateMonica I'm confused by your second comment, but I do like your wording in the first Commented May 14 at 14:57
  • @another-prodigal Did you follow the links in the comment? When I read the question title I immediately thought of Arthur C. Clarke's canonical SF story; and the more modern idea that transcendental entities (of whatever flavor) may react unfavorably to us detecting transcendental truths -- the second link -- seemed to apply in a wider sense as well. (I don't really believe that finding the "truth" about Jesus would have dramatic consequences, but other people might.) Commented May 15 at 7:35

2 Answers 2


It is true that to "call on the name of [XXX]" in the OT Hebrew idiom is to:

  • recognize that entity as a god
  • seek help from that entity, eg for salvation
  • effectively to pray to the entity as a god.

This occurs numerous times in the OT such as Joel 2:32, 1 Kings 18:24 (&25 for Baal), 2 Kings 5:11, Gen 4:26, 12:8, 13:4, 21:33, 26:25, Ps 116:4, 13, 13, 17, Zeph 3:9, etc.

In the case of the Israelites, they were instructed to only call on the name of the LORD (ie, YHWH, "Jehovah") and were forbidden from calling on the names of other gods, Josh 23:7.

Indeed, we have the very significant instruction in Joel:

Joel 2:32 - And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the LORD has promised, among the remnant called by the LORD.

This, with other instructions and probations above means that YHWH ("Jehovah") was the only Savior to whom the Israelites were to pray and seek salvation. Isaiah says this explicitly several times in Isa 43:3, 11, 14, 44:24, 45:17, 21, 49:7.

This makes Paul's instruction especially significant:

Rom 10:8-13 - But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: that if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with your heart you believe and are justified, and with your mouth you confess and are saved.

It is just as the Scripture says: “Anyone who believes in Him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Greek: The same Lord is Lord of all, and gives richly to all who call on Him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Thus, Paul is teaching that

  • the confession "Jesus is Lord" is the source of personal salvation
  • Jesus is the only Savior, see also Acts 4:12
  • There is only "One Lord", namely Jesus
  • Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved

Thus, Paul identifies the "LORD" of Joel 2:32 as Jesus. This is also confirmed by an almost identical comparison with Acts 2:28 in Peter's sermon. See also Acts 22;16, 1 Cor 1:2, etc.

APPENDIX - LORD of the OT is Jesus in the NT

There are many times where YHWH in the OT is identified as Jesus in the NT, here is a sample:

  • Deut 32:43 (LXX) vs Heb 1:6
  • Ps 31:5 (Eccl 12:7) vs Acts 7:59
  • Ps 34:8 vs 1 Peter 2:3
  • Ps 45:6, 7 vs Heb 1:8, 9
  • Ps 68:18 vs Eph 4:8
  • Ps 102:25–27 vs Heb 1:10–12
  • Isa 8:13 vs 2 Peter 3:15
  • Isa 40:3 vs Matt 3:3 (cf v11), Mark 1:3, Luke 3:4, John 1:23
  • Isa 45:23 vs Phil 2:10, 11, Rom 14:11
  • Isa 52:6 vs John 4:26
  • etc

We also have numerous places where people prayed to Jesus such as John 14:13, 14, Acts 1:24; Acts 7:59, 60, 9:5, 10-14; 1 Cor 1:1, 2, 16:22, 2 Cor 12:8, 9, 1 Tim 1:12, Rev 5:8-13, 22:20; 1 Thess 3:11-14, 2 Thess 2:16, 17.

  • +1. I like that you noted Paul quoting Joel from the OT.
    – Jason_
    Commented May 13 at 22:43
  • Interesting. Was the idiom customarily/culturally understood by the people at the time to mean it as the bullet points you listed? Especially the first point in the sense that it always had to be used to one recognized as a god? I'd like to look more into it if you can provide a resource Commented May 14 at 3:46
  • @another-prodigal - look at the list of texts provided for the evidence including calling on the name of Baal, etc. The phrase is only ever used of calling on a god as in prayer for help
    – Dottard
    Commented May 14 at 4:19
  • Sorry, by resource I meant an extrabiblical resource Commented May 14 at 4:23
  • @another-prodigal - try these commentaries >> biblehub.com/commentaries/genesis/4-26.htm
    – Dottard
    Commented May 14 at 7:05

Confining this to the Greek text of the New Testament, and using Young's Analytical Concordance of the A.V., I would just make a few points. The first is so elementary, I hesitate to mention it, but perhaps someone might benefit.

(1) There is a profound difference between "calling for" (a person) and "calling upon the name of" (a person). For example, "...a prudent man, who called for Barnabas and Saul." This was to hear the word of God. (Acts 13:7) He wasn't calling on those men to save him.

(2) There is this example of (1) being tied in with calling on the name of Christ, as Lord. It has to do with Christians falling sick. The instruction is "...let him call for the elders of the church" for them to pray for him, and to anoint him with oil "in the name of the Lord: and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up..." (James 5:14-15).

Calling for the elders is not looking to them as having divine, godlike powers; but when those elders pray over the sick person, using anointing oil, they pray in the name of the Lord. At that point, the Lord is being called upon as the Lord who heals ('Jehovah-Rophi' Exodus 15:26). The risen Lord had, himself, raised the dead, and the prayer of faith in Christ's name was calling upon him to now heal this sick person. This was not calling upon the name of the Lord for salvation, however; the person needing healing was already saved by grace, as a Christian.

(3) There is an instance where God is being addressed, and not Christ. It is God who is being called upon. "Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; who hath also sealed us and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts. Moreover I call God for a record upon my soul, that to spare you I came not as yet unto Corinth." (2 Corinthians 1:21-23) Once more, however, this is not a case of calling upon God for salvation, as everyone in the text had already received the anointing of the Holy Spirit. It is also of note that God is not addressed as 'Lord' in this case.

(4) Again, Christians are addressed here: "Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojouring here in fear." (1 Peter 1:16-17) The Father is being called on here, but once more, it is by believers who are called "Elect" (vs. 2), and who have already been redeemed with the precious blood of Christ (vs. 18). They are calling upon the Father with respect to maintaining holy conduct, for they know the fear of the Lord (e.g. as in Acts 10:34-35, which goes on to say that through the name of the risen Christ, whoever believes in him shall receive remission of sins - salvation, in other words. vs. 43).

This leaves intact the OPs view, that the N.T. speaking of "calling on the name of the Lord" is to view Christ as the one who saves; therefore Jesus Christ must be God.

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