Names of God in the Bible

Overview

An exploration of the names of God in the Bible and what those names can tell us about God's nature.

The names of God in the Bible

The name of God is important in the Bible. The Bible writers often used a name to describe something about God. The name of God is so important in fact that in the 10 Commandments people are told that they must not abuse the name of God. This lead the Jewish people to not use the name of God when they read passage from the Bible out loud, they substitute the word Adonai instead which means "Lord". You will find that this is done for you in most Bible translations with the word Lord being insterted where it normally says YHWH (the main name of God).

El

The first name for God we encounter is the simple name El - which is very much the equivalent of our English word, God. It is a generic word used by many different peoples.

Often the name El is joined to other words that reveal God's character.

El-Shaddai “God of the Mountains” or “The Almighty God.”

El-Elyon “The Most High God” or “The Exalted One”.

El-Olam “God of Eternity” or “God the Everlasting One”

El-Berith “God of the Covenant”

El-Roi “God who Sees me” or “God of Vision”

El-ohim Is a plural form for deity. It is a frequently used term and the most comprehensive of the El combinations. The plurality of this word is not a hint of polytheism. It is a plural of majesty. It is a revelation of the infinite nature of God. In the creation narrative, we read: “Then Elohim said, “Let us make man in our image.” (Genesis 1:26) This name suggests that there is a mystery to the Creator-God which humankind cannot fully fathom. God is absolute, infinite Lord over creation and history. The Christian sees in this term a pointer to the trinitarian reality of creation.

The name El is frequently combined with other nouns or adjectives. Some examples are: Israe-el (One who is ruled by God), Beth-el (House of God), Peni-el (Face of God). In the crucifixion narrative (Mark 15:34), Jesus employed a form of El when he cried from the cross, “Eloi, Eloi,” “my God, my God,” quoting Psalms 22:1.

Then there is the Covenant name for God.

The covenant name for God was “Yahweh.” Israel's faith was a new response to God based on His disclosure. This name was so unique and powerful that God formed a covenant with His people based upon his self-revelation. There are some variations on this basic name.

Yahweh-Jireh “The Lord will Provide”

Yahweh-Nissi “The Lord is my Banner”

Yahweh-Mekaddesh “The Lord Sanctifies”

Yahweh-Shalom “The Lord is Peace”

Yahweh-Sabaoth “The Lord of Hosts”

Yahweh-Rohi “The Lord is my Shepherd”

Yahweh-Tsidkenu “The Lord is Our Righteousness”

Yahweh-Shammah “The Lord is There”

The last word we are going to mention is Adon (or Adonairo).

This is a title of authority and honor. It can be translated “Lord.” It is not exclusively a title for deity because it is used in addressing a superior, such as a king or master. In this sense, it is used to ascribe the highest honor and worship to God. Adon or Adonai was often used in conjunction with Yahweh. In time, Adonai became a substitute for Yahweh. In the postexilic period, it took on the connotation of God's absolute lordship.

Symbolic Titles.

A prominent characteristic of Scripture is its use of figurative language. Many of the names for God are symbolic, illustrative, or figurative.

Ancient of Days

Rock

Refuge

Fortress

Shield

Sun

Refiner

Political Names

Many descriptions of God came from political life.

King

Judge

Shepherd

Father

Abba

Father takes on a richer meaning when it is joined with other designations.

Our Father.

Father of mercies

Father of lights

Father of glory

When the Father title is juxtaposed with the word Son, the significance of God's name in relation to Jesus Christ is understood. Christ's claim to have come in his Father's name reveals that He was God's unique representative (John 5:43). He shares the Father's essential authority and works done in his Father's name bear witness to this special relationship (John 10:25). Christ has provided a full revelation of God because He has clearly declared His name (John 12:28; John 17:6).

You can find out more at http://ldolphin.org/Names.html