INTRODUCTION: In the Eastern area of the world in ancient days, and
to some extent today the name of a person had meaning.
In Holland in years past, the person was called by a first name and
the addition of "from" and then the town of residence was added. A missionary
we met once was ..... Van Dussen. His forefathers were from Dussen.
What good is there in a name? It identifies you as different from all
It may mold your personality. If your name is Nerdly, how are you going
to grow up.
It may mold your future. Who would hire a man named Herkimer Snodgrass
to be a car salesman or movie star.
It may help in many ways. If your name is Rockefeller, you may find
many doors open to you.
What is the meaning of your name? My name is English in background.
My first name means stone valley. How that relates to me I am not sure.
If I stated that your name was a dumb name and that anyone that has
that name is a complete waste of time, how would you feel? Our names are
important to us. Our GOOD name is important to us!
God is very much like this. His names can give us much information about
Him and His ministries to us. God's name is very important to Him as well.
Indeed, He goes to great lengths to protect His good name. Read Ezek. 20
sometime and notice that God acts, so that the people will not pollute
I would like to just give an overview of some of the names of God, and
some of what we can learn about Him from His names.
I trust that you will spend some time on His names in the years to come.
I believe that it will be profitable for you to do so.
I would refer you to Strauss's THE FIRST PERSON for more information
than we will cover here. (Strauss, Lehman; "THE FIRST PERSON"; Neptune,
NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, 1967, p 129-244)
Buswell mentions, " The name of God is more than merely His name; it
is the epitome of His character and of His activity." (Buswell, James Oliver;
"A SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION"; Grand Rapids: Zondervan,
1962, p 35)
Pardington breaks nine names into the following categories: "The principal
names of God are nine, falling into three classes of three names each and
suggesting, many think, the trinity." (Pardington, Rev. George P. Ph.D.;
"OUTLINE STUDIES IN CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE"; Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications,
1926, p 87)
The three primary names for God are "God," "LORD" and Lord.
1. God - Elohim: "el" means "strength or the Strong One" and "ohim"
comes from verb "Alah" which means "to bind oneself by an oath." Pardington.
Walvoord mentions, "The derivation of this name is somewhat obscure.
Some trace it to a root which means 'the strong One,' and others to a root
which denotes 'fear.'" He feels the overall meaning would relate to "reverence."
(Walvoord, John F. editor; "LEWIS SPERRY CHAFER SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY"; Wheaton:
Victor Books, Vol. I & II, 1988)
Ryrie opts for the idea of Strong one. (Ryrie, Charles C.; "BASIC THEOLOGY";
Wheaton: Victor Books, 1986, p 45)
Pardington mentions that "el" and "eloah" are used as abbreviations
for Elohim. He also mentions that Elohim is a plural noun, but it is used
to indicate a single God. The trinity seems to
be indicated in this usage
of the word. (Pardington, Rev. George P. Ph.D.; "OUTLINE STUDIES IN CHRISTIAN
DOCTRINE"; Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, 1926, p 88)
The idea of the trinity is not ascribed to by liberals and Jews. The
Jews naturally do not want a trinity. They attribute this to a plural of
majesty and not indicative of numbers.
Walvoord indicates that the trinity is not always indicated. The context
would or would not indicate it. Gen. 1:26 would be an example of this,
"Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness;...."
The term is used in Deut. 6:4, "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is
one LORD:" This uses the plural term in a passage that states that He is
one thus showing very clearly the trinity.
This term is used of God and other gods as well. Ryrie mentions the
term appears in relation to deity 2,570 times and 2,310 of those times
it refers to God the true God.
2. LORD - YHWH:
Spelling varies with the author. Walvoord & Chafer use Yahweh; Pardington
uses Yahwe; and Ryrie uses YHWH. Ryrie mentions that it occurs about 5,321
times in the Old Testament. (p 47)
The Jews felt that God's name was too sacred to pronounce so they eliminated
the vowels and pronounced just the consonants. We do not know how to pronounce
this name due to the loss of the vowels.
Ryrie mentions that the Jews substituted the term "adoni" for YHWH until
the postexilic days when they combined the term adoni and the term YHWH
to form a word that would remind the reader to use the term adoni. This
became our term Jehovah. The English equivalent is Jehovah. The term Jehovah
and Elohim occur together in Gen. 2:4. The name comes from the verb "havah"
which means "to be and to become" (Pardington) It relates to the "'self-existent
One who reveals Himself," or, "the Coming One.'" (Pardington, p 88)
Yahwe is translated as "LORD" - with all capital letters in the King
James. This is the term used for the true God. Chafer mentions that this
name is defined in Ex. 3:13,14 where it is stated, "I am the I am."
Walvoord lists some things we can know of God through this name. "He
does not change. . .He is the King who will reign forever. . .He is the
Author and creator. . . ." (Walvoord, p 172)
This is the name Eve used of God in Gen. 4:1. It was used by people
in Seth's day, Gen. 4:26. It was used by Noah, Gen. 9:26. It was used by
Abraham, Gen. 12:8; 15:2,8.
3. God Adonai: Gen 15:2 "Lord" is adonai. "means master, or husband."
(Pardington p 88) An application of this is the fact that Christ is Master
and Husband, as was God in the Old Testament.
There are three names linked with "El."
4. Almighty God: El Shaddai comes from two terms. El meaning the strong
one, and Shaddai which comes from the term "shad" used in Scripture of
a woman's breast, thus most view the name to mean God the one that supplies
There are some that relate this to another word which gives the idea
Still others as Ryrie relate the term to the Akkadian word "shaddai"
which means mountain, thus it means of God, "the Almighty One standing
on a mountain."
5. Most High, or Most High God: El Elyon comes from "Elyon" meaning
"highest." Gen. 14:19 mentions, "the most high God, possessor of heaven
and earth." The terms first usage was by Melchizedek when he blessed Abraham.
Gen. 14:19. This is a name that is used in relation to the gentile nations.
6. Everlasting God: El Olam comes from "Olam" which seems to show God's
eternal aspect. The Greek equivalent is "aion" or "age." Ps. 90:2; Ps.
7. LORD God: Yahwe Elohim is used in Gen. 2:17-15 which shows the term
in relation to man, and God as our creator. Gen. 2:16,17 shows the term
used in relation to man, and God as our master. Gen. 2:18-24 shows the
term used in relation to man, and God as our ruler. Gen. 3:8-15, 21 shows
the term used in relation to man, and God as our redeemer. Gen. 24:7; Ex.
3:15,18 shows the term used in relation to Israel, and God as their God.
The name has some very deep implication for the believer. We are to
allow the Lord to be all these things for us.
8. Lord LORD: Adonai Yahwe emphasizes the Adonai part of master. Gen.
15:2; Gen. 15:1,8; Deut. 12:1
9. LORD of hosts: Yahwe Sabaoth comes from "Sabaoth" meaning "host or
hosts." I Sam. 1:3; Ps. 24:10. This name is used in relation to battle
or hard times for the Jew individually or nationally.
Pardington also lists seven names that are compounded with "Yahwe".
Jehovah-jireh: "the LORD will provide" Gen. 22:13,14
Jehovah-rapha: "the LORD that healeth" Ex. 15:26
Jehovah-nissi: "the LORD our banner" Ex. 17:8:15
Jehovah-shalom: "the LORD our peace" Jud. 6:24
Jehovah-ro'i: "the LORD my shepherd" Gen. 16:13; Ps. 23
Jehovah-tsidkenu: "the LORD our righteousness" Jer. 23:6
Jehovah-shammah: "the LORD is present" Ezek 48:35
The New Testament gives us further terms:
The Son: The Son is properly named, "Lord Jesus Christ." Walvoord mentions,
"He is Lord because He is God, Jesus because of His humanity, and Christ
because of His office as Prophet, Priest, and King and the Messiah of the
Old Testament period." (Walvoord, p 175) He also mentions there are about
300 other terms that are used to refer to Christ.
The Holy Spirit: Walvoord mentions there are about 20 names for the
Walvoord mentions some metaphoric names for God as well: King, Law-giver,
Judge, Rock, Fortress, Tower, Refuge, Deliverer, Shepherd, Husband, Husbandman,
Ryrie develops for us the terms "theos," "kurios," "despotes" and "FATHER"
(pp 49,50). I have adapted this material for your reference:
1. theos: The Septuigent usually translates elohim with theos. It is
used of the following: Primarily of the True God; false gods, Acts 12:22;
the devil, II Cor. 4:4; of sensuality, Phil. 3:19; of Christ, Rom. 9:5.
The use of the term shows God to be: The True God, Mat. 23:9, Rom. 3:30;
a unique God, I Tim. 1:17, Jo. 17:3, Rev. 15:4; a trancendent God, Acts
17:24, Heb. 3:4; A Savior, I Tim. 1:1, Titus 1:3.
2. kurios: The name occurs 717 times in the New Testament. Luke uses
it 210 times and Paul 275 times. It can mean the following: sir Jo. 4:11;
owner Lu. 19:33; master Col. 3:22; idols I Cor. 8:5; husbands I Pet. 3:6
3. despotes: This name gives the idea of ownership as opposed to kurios
which shows authority and supremacy. It is used by the following: Simeon
Lu. 2:29; Peter Acts 4:24; martyrs Rev. 6:10. The term is used of Christ
in II Pet. 2:1; Jude 4.
4. FATHER: The term is used of God in the Old Testament 15 times and
in the New Testament 245 times.
This will give you a basis for a study concerning the names of God.
I could easily envision a sermon or lesson series spending one session
for each name. I believe this would be very beneficial to help believers
understand their God.
By way of conclusion let me quote from the Psalms.
Ps. 8:1, "O LORD, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth...."