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Names of God

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a paper I did for a theology class. 
on The Nature and Purposes of God Implicit in the Divine Names
 

The Nature and Purposes of God Implicit in the Divine Names

 

Donald Voelz

 

CHLE 2133-13   Theology 1

 

“I have manifested Your Name [I have revealed Your very Self, Your real Self] to the people whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, and You gave them to Me, and they have obeyed and kept Your word; … For the [uttered] words that You gave Me I have given them; and they have received and accepted [them] and have come to know positively and in reality [to believe with absolute assurance] that I came forth from Your presence, and they have believed and are convinced that You did send Me … I have made Your Name known to them and revealed Your character and Your very Self, and I will continue to make [You] known, that the love which You have bestowed upon Me may be in them [felt in their hearts] and that I [Myself] may be in them.” (John 17:6, 8, 26; Amplified Bible)

                All down through the ages there has been a disposition to recognize conditions of a  peculiar blessing set as forth in divine names ,seeing that they manifest the glorious  virtues of Deity, and also the ever-expanding purposes of the divine persons themselves.  In Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare asks-(“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”) There is a great deal, however, in a name,  especially if it is the Name above every other name. (Lockyer, All the Divine Names and Titles in the Bible, pg.1)

  

In this paper I will be examining the many divine names of God. Studies will be derived from both Old Testament and New Testament names. I have for some time been intrigued by the many names of God, just for the fact that there were many names of God. In this paper I will attempt to examine not only God’s names by definition, but in meaning and purpose to my walk with God and the meaning and purpose to His Church.

This study on the Divine Names will start out in the Old Testament with the many names the Hebrews assigned to God A good introduction to this will be from the Jewish Encyclopedia .com. From studying Theology I feel this is apropos, seeing it brings out the significance of God’s attributes which are so prevalent in the names given Him. 

                Like other Hebrew proper names, the name of God is more than a mere distinguishing title. It represents the Hebrew conception of the divine nature or character and of the relation of God to His people. It represents the Deity as He is known to His worshipers,  and stands for all those attributes which He bears in relation to them and which are revealed to them through His activity on their behalf. A new manifestation of His interest or care may give rise to a new name. So, also, an old name may acquire new content and significance through new and varied experience of these sacred relations.( Eisenstein, McLaughlin, The Names of God,  www.jewishencyclopedia.com)

 

The first name that God was revealed by was “Elohim”. This name is repeated in almost every verse in the first in first chapter of Genesis. It is a plural noun and its singular form is El. (Jukes,  The Names of God in Holy Scripture, pg. 16) In Hebrew the name is written ( ). It is the most common name given to God by the Hebrews and is used in signifying majesty, excellence, dignity and greatness and who God is. (Eisenstein, McLaughlin)  The singular for El is made into a compound and uses descriptive terms many times which I will list here: El Shaddai means all sufficient one it is also translated as “all powerful or “the almighty”. God first revealed Himself as ‘El Shaddai in Gen 17:1 when He renewed His covenant with Abram. El Shaddai has the power to bless or devastate. (Horton, Systematic Theology, pg. 133) In Hebrew El Shaddai is written      .(Dolphin, The Names of God  www.ldolphin.org)  Another compound form of El is El Elyon with its meaning being “God most High” or God’s exalted nature. (Horton, pg. 133) In Hebrew El Elyon is written or Elyon as  . (Eisenstein, McLaughlin) Another name with El is ‘El ‘Olam, “everlasting or perpetual. It signifies the Eternal God, which is one of God’s constitutional attributes. Another term using the plural form Elohim  is ‘Elohim yish’enu, or “God our Savior”) (Horton, pg 133) From the preceding names associated with El or Elohim one can see many attributes and qualities given to the one true God. There is also El-Roi, that occurs only once in scripture. Its meaning is, The Lord that Seeth. This occurs during Hagar’s flight when she thought there was no one to help her. She said, “Thou art El Roi” which means, “The well of Him that liveth and seeth me.” (Lockyer, pg. 10) Again we can see this pointing to the omnipresence of God, one of His attributes  

The personal name of God is Yahweh this name appears 6,828 times in 5,790 verses in the Old Testament. The name is probably derived from the Hebrew verb that means “becoming”, “happening” being present.” This takes on significance in Exodus when Moses is asking God, “What shall I call you, which is really not correct, but was asking, “What is your character, or what are you like?” God answered, “I AM WHO I AM” or “I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE”. After this God identifies himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who will now be know as YHWH. This four consonant Hebrew expression is known as a tetragrammaton and is usually translated in English Bibles as LORD ( in small capital letters). It really does not signify lordship. In reality it states that God is a self existent being (the I AM or I WILL BE). The Third Commandment in Exodus says not to misuse the name of YHWH your God. At one time in history the Hebrew scribes and rabbis had a strategy to insure that the holy name YHWH was not misused. In the scrolls of scripture wherever YHWH would appear they would write the Hebrew word ‘adonai, meaning “master” or “lord” in the margin. Whenever scripture was read in the synagogue and the divine word YHWH would appear in the scrolls the reader would know to say ‘adonai instead of YHWH. Reverence for the text of scripture prevented the removal of YHWH in place of the lesser term ‘adonai. Eventually the rabbis agreed to insert vowels in the Hebrew text, (since the inspired text was only consonants). They took vowels from ‘adonai and modified them to suit the grammatical requirements of YHWH, which brought about the word Yahweh.(Horton, pg. 134, 135) This name is also known as Jehovah which will be discussed later in this paper.

As earlier discussed with El, and its compound uses there were and are compound uses of Yahweh. Different names using Yahweh are as follows: Yahweh tseva’oth (Lord of Host) which appears 248 times in the Bible and is usually translated “LORD Almighty” This is usually used to point to God’s royalty. The term Yahweh yireh is first seen when God provided the substitute ram for Isaac. Abraham called the place Yahweh yireh, meaning the Lord will provide. Another name Yahweh Shammah, meaning the Lord is there, used in Ezekiel 48:35. Again this points to the omnipresence of God.

Continuing with other names there is Yahweh ‘osenu or the Lord our maker. This points to God being the maker of all things and fashionng them for His usefulness. Yet another name is Yahweh Roph’ekha or the Lord your physician. God heals us! We go now to Yahweh Shalom or the Lord is peace. The Biblical meaning of shalom is completeness, wholeness, harmony, fulfillment, by taking something which is incomplete and making it whole. I can personally testify to that in my own life many times over. As it says in Psalm 23:1 “the Lord is my shepherd” He is our protector and provider. This can be seen in the name Yahweh ro’i. There is also the name Yahweh nissi or the Lord is my banner as seen in Exodus 17:15. The last name of Yahweh to be discussed is Yahweh tsidkenu or the Lord our Righteousness. Again we see this as being one of God’s attributes. Whatever God does is right and he acts with justice and uses proper judgment on us and for us. (Horton, pg.138, 139)

As stated earlier the name Jehovah goes along with the name Yahweh and many of the same titles given to Yahweh are used with Jehovah being the name more commonly used in English,  for example Jehovah-Jireh or Jehovah-Shalom.  In Lockyer’s book I found it interesting his discussion on Jehovah-Elohim or the Majestic Omnipotent God.

 Having previously discussed the significance of Jehovah and Elohim, which are  combined for the first time in the Creation narrative, and express man’s relationship to  God as his Creator, we are not devoting much further space to the consideration of these divine names, both of which present remarkable manifestations of Deity, far beyond our feeble grasp. Jehovah is the spiritual I AM, and is rich in the idea of majesty, power, and glory; while Elohim as the Creator expresses the fiat of Almighty God. Combined then, “the two names provide the truth of the majestic, omnipotent God, the Three in One, deigning the call into existence one creature called man, who, while in the likeness of  Elohim, should also posses moral and spiritual power to apprehend Jehovah.” How blessed we are if we can speak to Him as the Lord God-Jehovah Elohim, Creator and  Ruler. (Lockyer, pg. 20)

 

There are numerous other Divine Names throughout the Old Testament, which I’ll list here with thier significance and a scripture reference. God is called Judge, Psalm 7:8, Abhir or Mighty One, Genesis 49:24, Tsemach or Branch Zechariah 3:8, Kadosh-Holy One, Psalm 71:22, Shaphat-Judge, Genesis 18:25, Kanna-Jealous or Zealous, Exodus 20:5. Other names include: Palet-Deliverer, Psalm 18, Yesha, Y’shua- Savior, Isaiah 43:3, Gaol-Redeemer, Job 19:25, Magen- Shield, Psalm3:2, Stone, Genesis 49:24, and Eyaluth-Strength, Psalm 22:19. Other names of God include El Berith- God of the Covenant, Judges 9:46, Zur-God our Rock, Isaiah 30:29, El Gibhor-Mighty God, Isaiah 9:6, Melekh-King, Psalm 5:2 and many others. Finally to bring us into New Testament names are Father, 2 Samuel 7:14-15, First and Last, Isaiah 44:6. (Dolphin)

In the New Testament one can see much clearer the revelation of the Trinity, than in the Old Testament, and the names in the New Testament reflect this in many instances. God is Father (John 8:54), Son (Philippians 2: 5-7), and Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3). At this time we will look at those names in the New Testament that are directly associated with the One True God or Jehovah as was covered in the Old Testament names. Languages are also now changed from Hebrew to Greek.

First of all we have Theos which is equivalent to Elohim. Theos is used around a thousand times in the New Testament. In the New Testament Theos or God is used at one time or another to speak of all three persons of the Trinity. Theos is also used as a generic word for any divine being.

The word Logos is another New Testament name for God meaning Word. This really comes to light in the opening passage of the Gospel of John. IN THE beginning [before all time] was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God Himself. (Amplified Bible) The fourteenth verse in John 1 goes on to say. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (New International Version)

                The Old Testament introduces the image of God as father; the New Testament displays how that relationship is to be experienced. Jesus speaks often of God in intimate terms. No Old Testament prayer addresses God as “Father.” Yet, when Jesus trained His disciples in prayer He expected them to take the posture of children together  and say, “Our Father in heaven hallowed be your name’” (Matt. 6:9). Our God is the “Father” with all the power of heaven (Matt 26:53; John 10:29), and He utilizes that power to keep,  prune, sustain, call, love preserve and glorify. (Horton, pg. 140)

 

Jesus taught that God was personal. Jesus spoke of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and also as Lord. He spoke of the Lord of heaven and earth, the Lord of the harvest. He spoke of God as the only God, as the Most High and as King. Jesus’ favorite title for God was “Father” which in the Greek New Testament is translated patẽr. From this we get our English words patriarch and paternal. In Mark 14:36 the word for father is different, it reads Abba, Father," he said, "everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will. (New International Version) The word ‘abba is an Aramaic term. Paul also used the term Abba twice. Paul used it in Galatians 4:6, and also in Romans 8:15-16. I especially like the way it is used in the Message paraphrase of the Romans passage, it reads as follows: This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It's adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike "What's next, Papa?" God's Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children.(Peterson, The Message Remix) This term ‘abba is unique as it implies warmth and tenderness. It conveys the relationship Jesus had with His Father and God, and also the relationship He intended for His disciples. (Horton, pg. 140)

The different New Testament names for God are almost innumerable but I will go through some of them here and their contextual meanings.

1. KURIOS: (kurios) "Lord" Found some 600 times in the NT.

2. I AM: Jesus upset his generation especially when He said, "Before Abraham      was, I AM," John 8:58. Note also his claim to be Jehovah in such phrases as "I AM the Light of the world," "the bread of life," living water," "the Resurrection and the Life," "the Way, Truth and the Life" in John's Gospel, from the Hebrew OT verb "to be" signifying a Living, Intelligent, Personal Being.

3. THEOTES: "Godhead" Col. 2:9; Rom. 1:20.

4. HUPSISTOS: "Highest" Mt. 21:9

5. ALMIGHTY: (pantokrator) 2 Cor. 6:18.

6. JESUS: Derived from the Hebrew "Joshua" (Y'shua) or "Je-Hoshua" meaning    JEHOVAH IS SALVATION

7. CHRIST: is equivalent to the Hebrew 'Messiah' (Meshiach), "The Anointed One."

8.  SOPHIA: "The Wisdom of God," referring to Christ, refers back to Proverbs (I Cor. 1, 2)

9.  Other NT Titles for Jesus: Shepherd of the Sheep; Master; King of kings; Lord of lords; Bishop and Guardian of our Souls; Daystar, Deliverer, Advocate, Last (or Second) Adam, Ancient of Days, Branch, Chief Cornerstone, Immanuel, First Great High Priest; Pioneer and Perfecter of our Faith (or Author and Finisher); Lamb of God; Lamb Slain before the Foundation of the World; Lord God             Almighty, Rose of Sharon

            10. Names for the Holy Spirit: Counselor; Comforter; Baptizer; Advocate; Strengthener; Sanctifier; Spirit of Christ (not the same as the spirit of Christ); Seven-Fold Spirit (Rev.); Spirit of Truth; Spirit of Grace; Spirit of Mercy; Spirit of God; Spirit of Holiness; Spirit of Life. Symbolized in OT and NT by (l) breath or wind; (2) fire; (3) water; (4) oil; (5) light; (6) a dove. (Dolphin)

So I have attempted to go from the beginning to the end of the names of God, the Alpha and Omega. Through this study I know that I have a clearer picture than ever before of the meaning of the Divine Names of God.

The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the [consistently] righteous man [upright and in right standing with God] runs into it and is safe, high [above evil] and strong. (Amplified Bible, Proverbs 18:100

 

 

Works Cited

Amplified Bible, The Lockman Foundation, 1987, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan

 

Dolphin, Lambert, The Names of God, http://www.ldolphin.org/Names.html, 04/12/2006

Eisenstein David Judah, McLaughlin J.F. Names of God,                                                                http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=52&letter=N,   

 

Horton Stanley M. Systematic Theology, 2003, Gospel Publishing House, Springfield Missouri 65802

 

Jukes Andrew, The Names of God in Holy Scripture, 1967, Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49503

 

Lockyer Herbert, All the Divine Names and Titles in the Bible, 1975, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49506

 

New International Version Bible, 1973, International Bible Society, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530

 

Peterson Eugene, The Message Remix The Bible in Contemporary Language, 2003, Nav Press, Colorado Springs, Colorado   

 

 

 

 

  

  

 

        

           

 

                          

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