The Names of God

In Hebrew culture, a person’s name meant far more than it does for us today. A name defined its owner. It told us a bit about the person’s character and the role they would play in God’s grand story. When God was going to change a person’s character, He would often start by changing their name. Abram became Abraham. Jacob became Israel. In the New Testament Simon became Peter.

What is true for people is even more true for God. God reveals Himself by proclaiming His name. (Exodus 6:3) To worship God is to call on His Name (Genesis 12:8), to reverence it (Deuteronomy 28:58), to praise it (2 Samuel 22:50), and to glorify it (Psalm 86:9). The command to not take the Lord’s name in vain is part of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:7). His Name defends His people (Psalm 20:1) and because of His name we will not be forsaken (1 Samuel 12:22).

Please note that the following list is not by any means exhaustive:

Elohim
The plural form of El. Literally means “the strong one”, it is often used with reference to His power, sovereignty, and His work. (Genesis 1:1)

El Shaddai
“God Almighty” (Genesis 17:1)

El Elyon
“The Most High God” (Genesis 14:19)

El Olam
“The Everlasting God” (Genesis 16:13)

YHWH (Yahweh, Jehovah)
Comes from the root verb “to be, to exist”. Often interpreted “I AM who I AM” or “I Will Be who I Will Be”. It stresses God’s self existence. It was the name God gave at the burning bush when Moses asked. (Exodus 3:14) In most translations this will always be translated “Lord” (some translations in all caps) as a result of the tradition of Jewish scribes to substitute the word “adonai” out of obedience to their understanding of the second commandment.

Yahweh Yireh (Jehovah Jireh)
“The Lord will provide” (Genesis 22:14)

Yahweh Nissi
“The Lord is my banner” (Exodus 17:15)

Yahweh Shalom
“The Lord is peace” (Judges 6:24)

Yahweh Sabbaoth
“The Lord of hosts”, “The Lord of Heaven’s Armies” (1 Samuel 1:3)

Yahweh Maccaddeshcem
“The Lord who sanctifies” (Exodus 31:13)

Yahweh Ro’i
“The Lord my shepherd” (Psalm 23:1)

Yahweh Tsidkenu
“The Lord our righteousness” (Jeremiah 23:6)

Yahweh Shammah
“The Lord is there” (Ezekiel 48:35)

Yahweh Elohim Israel
“The Lord God of Israel” (Judges 5:3)

Adonai
Plural of the word meaning “master or owner”, it stresses our relationship to God. (Genesis 18:2-3)

Theos
It is the Greek word translated “God”. It is used at least 8 times of Christ as God (John 1:1, 1:18, 20:28, Romans 9:5, Titus 2:13, Hebrews 1:8, 2 Peter 1:1, 1 John 5:20)

Kurios
Greek word translated “Lord”. Stresses authority. (Matthew 8:6)

Despotes
Greek word translated “Master”. Stresses ownership. (Luke 2:29)

The Father/The Son/The Holy Spirit
These will get more a more in depth look in the section on the Trinity. Included here since “Father” was the primary word the Son used when speaking of God. It is used 15 times in the Old Testament, however, so it is not exclusively a New Testament revelation. (Matthew 7:11)

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3 thoughts on “The Names of God

  1. I have studied the names of God and each time I read them I am in awe of this God who loves me. Thanks, for visiting poetryforyoursoul and liking my “laugh for the day”. Your synopses on who God is reflects a heart that seeks and finds.

  2. I’m grateful for such a heart as yours, striving for the heart of the Father. I pray God helps us to stay focused seeking His heart until the end in Jesus name,amen. Thank you. Regards, Lydia x

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