The Names of God

The Names of God are an important topic in the Bible. In the original languages of the scriptures the names of God are translated into English either from the Hebrew or the Greek language. 

“God,” as used in the Bible, can be a reference to either the Father (e.g., Acts 13:33; Galatians 4:6), Jesus Christ the Son (e.g., Isaiah 9:6; John 1:1, 14) or both (e.g., Romans 8:9, Genesis 1:26-27), depending on the context of the scriptures.

God wants us to come to know Him so we can have confidence in Him and love Him. He has disclosed much about Himself through the names, titles and descriptions He revealed to those with whom He worked in past ages. These reveal that God possesses supreme intelligence, power, glory and wisdom (Genesis 14:19, 22; Genesis 16:13; Psalms 29:3; Psalms 47:2; Isaiah 55:8-9; 1 Timothy 1:17; Jude 25); that He embodies all righteousness, perfection and truth (Deuteronomy 32:4; 2 Corinthians 13:11); that He possesses heaven and earth (Genesis 14:19, 22; Acts 17:24); that He is immortal (Genesis 21:33; 1 Timothy 1:17) and worthy of all praise (Psalm 18:3; Revelation 4:11).

Jesus Christ, besides being God the Son, is also the living, active head of the Church of God (Ephesians 5:23; Colossians 1:18), its Chief Apostle (Hebrews 3:1) and its Chief Shepherd or Pastor (1 Peter 5:4). He sits at the right hand of God the Father in heaven as our High Priest (Hebrews 3:1; 4:14-15; 6:20), Intercessor (Romans 8:34) and Advocate (1 John 2:1). And we await His return as King of Kings and Lord of Lords to rule over all nations and serve as supreme Judge under the Father (Revelation 11:15; Revelation 17:14; Revelation 19:15-16; John 5:22, 27; 2 Corinthians 5:10).

Scripture further reveals God as two distinct divine Beings—God the “Father” and Jesus Christ His “Son.” (The Hebraic form of Jesus Christ is Yeshua Ha Messiah. The title Messiah or Christ—literally meaning “Anointed”—is that of the ruler of the lineage of King David who is prophesied to serve as the chief divine representative in restoring Israel’s glory and reigning in righteousness over the whole world. We refer to the future kingdom of God as the world to come (Hebrews 2:5) or, more commonly the World Tomorrow. 

As Father and Son, the one God is thus the one God family. The distinction between these two Beings existing together as God is implicit from the very beginning of Scripture (Genesis 1:1), where the Hebrew word Elohim is used. (Elohim is the plural form of the Hebrew word for God, Eloah.) There has been communication between these two from the beginning, as seen in the example of Genesis 1:26, where the pronouns Us and Our refer to Elohim.

The Old Testament focuses on the God of Israel, who identifies Himself as “I AM” (Hebrew: Hayah) and “the Lord (Hebrew: YHVH, YHWH) God (Hebrew: Elohim). . . of Abraham, . . . of Isaac, and . . . of Jacob” (Exodus 3:14-15). (The word Lord here is used in place of the Hebrew word spelled YHWH (sometimes transliterated, which, like “I AM,” apparently denotes eternal and self-inherent existence.)

Jesus Christ is called the “Word” (Greek: Logos), who “was with God” in the beginning and is also identified as “God” (Greek: Theos; John 1:1-2). All things were created through Him (John 1:3, John 1:10; Ephesians 3:9; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:1-3), and He later became flesh and dwelled among human beings (John 1:14).

Sometimes the names are just names. I.e. “Jesus or Theos or Immanuel”.
Sometimes the names describe attributes, such as “Anointed or Eternal or Almighty”.
Sometimes the names describe offices or titles: “Shepherd, Apostle, King, Redeemer”.
Sometimes the names describe the destiny of the person: “Abraham, Sarah, Israel”.

We have the same usage today, a name: i.e. “Charles or Robert or Susan”.
Attributes: “Perky Susan, Skinny Robert, or Fat Albert.”
Offices or Titles: “Doctor, Deaconess, Senator, Pastor, Elder”

Webster’s Dictionary tells us that “a name” is “A Word Constituting the Distinctive Designation of a Person or Thing”. Our “names” identify us and distinguish us from other people. Most names are common to many different people, and so we today commonly employ a combination of two or three names, perhaps even with additional designations (e.g. “Sr.”, “Jr.”, “Dr.,” etc.), to distinguish one person from everybody else. 

In many cases that still does not guarantee a unique identity; thus there have been many people named “John Smith”, and even “John B. Smith” and even “John B. Smith Jr.”. But such combinations of names are generally still fairly effective in correctly identifying most people in their particular environments.

Now it is true that long ago all names had real meanings. Thus the name “John” is derived from the Hebrew name transliterated as “Yohanan” and which meant “God has graced”; the name “Smith” meant “a worker in metals”; etc.. 

But today most names are not chosen for a certain meaning they may have, though that is still a consideration with some parents when they must choose names for their children. Today many names are chosen because they are currently “fashionable”; or they are the names of people who are for one reason or another famous; or because they “sound good” to the parents. 

Biblically speaking, after God had been working with the man “Abram” for a number of years, God changed his name to “ABRAHAM” to indicate his destiny of becoming “a father of many nations” (see Genesis 17:5).

At the same occasion God changed the name of Abraham’s wife from “Sarai” to “SARAH”, which means “princess”, to indicate her destiny of becoming a mother of kings (see Genesis 17:15-16).

When the man Jacob had passed a crucial test before God, God changed his name to “ISRAEL”, to indicate his changed destiny of being “a prince with God” (see Genesis 32:27-28).

Everyone who will be in the first resurrection will be given “a new name” (Revelation 2:17) to indicate the new destiny all those in the first resurrection will be introduced to. Similarly, Jesus Christ Himself will at that very point in time receive “A NEW NAME” (Revelation 3:12) because Jesus Christ Himself will be embarking on a totally new phase of His existence. That particular “new name” will also be conferred on all those in the first resurrection.