THE NAMES OF GOD
In Ancient times the whole concept of names was a key to the character and personality of someone. To know someone’s name therefore implied knowledge of the individual. For example when we think of Jacob, we think of a cheat but when we think of Israel we think of one who strives with God (Gen 27:18-29)
The meanings of names also applied to places, thus Bethel means ‘The House of God’ (Gen 28:16-22)
Later, Jews attempted to avoid using any direct names of God and used terms such as ‘The Almighty One or The Holy One’. However, the use of names for God is for our purpose because they help us to come to an understanding of who God is and what He can be to us. Thus, we find many of the names of God are descriptive of His qualities and attributes.
God is the Incomprehensive One, infinitely exalted above all that is temporal, but in His names He descends to all that is finite and becomes like unto a man. (Louis Berkhof – Theologian and writer)
THE OLD TESTAMENT NAMES OF GOD
El: The oldest name and the English form for God, and means, ‘to be strong, powerful, mighty’. Expressing the general idea of God, El is linked on to other descriptive titles of God, as the following names prove.
El Elohim: A plural, and probably a plural of that sort called the plural of majesty or eminence, more accurately the plural of fullness or greatness. It is a term suggesting the Trinity, a plurality of powers, such as were responsible for creation (Genesis 1:1 where ‘God’ is Elohim). This term, used about 2,500 times in the Old Testament, implies, ‘the might par excellence, or the plenitude of might’.
El Elohim’el: This possibly comes from the Aramaic language meaning ‘first’ or ‘Lord@. Elohim is likely to come from ‘Allah@ meaning ‘to be smitten with fear’. This singular to Elohim is ‘Eloah’.
This name is most commonly used of God in the Old Testament but is not strictly regarded as a proper name for God as it is also used for idols (Genesis 33:10; Exodus 7:1; Psalm 95:3; 96:6)
El Elijon: The most High God (Gen. 14:18), points to God’s exalted nature and as the sole Object of our reverence and worship. This relates to His prerogative as Professor of heaven and earth to distribute the earth among the nations as He sees fit (Deuteronomy 32:8)
El Hai: The Living God
El Alah: The faithful God – Alah meaning ‘to swear’ bind oneself by an oath’. Thus He is the God of covenant.
El Shaddai: The Almighty God (Gen 17:1), portrays Him as the Strength-Giver, the Satisfier, the All-Sufficient One who enriches and makes fruitful; He is the many breasted One (Gen 28:3, 4; John 15:2; Heb12:10). As the ‘God of overpowering might’, He controls all the powers of nature and makes them serve His purpose. He is ‘God the Omnipotent’.
El Olam: The Everlasting God (Genesis 21:33). Here we have the thought of the eternal duration of the Being of God. ‘From everlasting thou art God’ (Psalm 90:2). He is also God over everlasting things.
Adonai: This name means ‘ruler’. Thus El Donai indicates God as The Mighty Ruler
Yahweh: This is the most sacred and incommunicable name of God – Exodus 3:14 ‘I am that I am.
This name of God is often used in relation to His covenant relationship with Israel and is used only of God (Exodus 15:3; Psalm 83:18; Isaiah 42:8
There are also several compound names of God revealing Him as One well able to meet man’s every need, and what magnificent names they are!
Jehovah-Elohim: Lord God (Genesis 2:4, 7, 15, 16). The first of the compound names of Deity emphasises God’s Creator relationship, His relationship to Israel, as well as mortal authority over man and His redemptive power (Genesis 2:16, 17-24; 3:8-29, 21; 24:7; 28:13)
Jehovah-Jireh: The Lord will provide (Gen 22:14). While He is able to provide all that man and beast requires, the narrative implies the provision of sacrifice.
Jehovah-Rapha: The Lord that Healeth thee (Exodus 15:26). While the context speaks of physical healing, the deeper healing of the soul is implied.
Jehovah-Nissi: The Lord our Banner (Exodus 17:8-15). He is the Mighty Victor of the Amalekites of the flesh. In Him, we are more than conquerors (Romans 8:37)
Jehovah-Shalom: The Lord our Peace, or sends Peace (judges 6:24). The Lord, who became our Peace, provides peace for the guilty sinner (Ephesians 2:4; Colossians 1:20).
Jehovah-Raah: The Lord is my Shepherd (Psalm 23:1). Psalm 22 speaks of peace through the blood of the Cross, and in this Shepherds-Psalm, the Saviour shepherds His own blood washed ones in a hostile world (John10:11)
Jehovah-Tsidkenu: The Lord our Righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6). Man has no righteousness of his own to plead. Naked he must come for dress to Him who is righteousness.
Jehovah-Saboath: The Lord of Hosts (1 Sam 1:3; Psalm 24:10). This frequently employed and expressive designation implies God’s power and supremacy in every realm
Jehovah-Shammah: The Lord is present - The Ever Present One (Ezekiel 48:35). What a precious name this is! It promises God’s abiding presence with His people. The Lord of Hosts is ever with His own (Psalm 16:11; 46:7, 11; Matt 28:20; Heb 13:5)
Adonai-Jehovah: Lord God (Gen 13:2). Several meanings are associated with this compound name. Adonai means Master and God as our Devine Master demands our obedience and service. He is the Possessor and Ruler of men (Joshua 7:8-11; John 13:13)
NEW TESTAMENT NAMES OF GOD
Theos This is equivalent to Elohim and is used in reference to other gods (2 Corinthians 6:18; Revelation 1:8)
Kurios This is equivalent to Yahweh (Revelation 1:4, 17). In the New Testament this name emphasises the Lordship aspect of God and is also applied frequently to Christ
Pater It is often said that the New Testament introduced a new name for God, namely , Pater (Father), but this is hardly correct. It is used in the Old Testament repeatedly to designate the relation between God and Israel (Deuteronomy 32:6; Psalm 103:3) and in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 8:6; Ephesians 3:14)
All of the foregoing Devine names and others, prove the existence of God, and that He can be known by man, although only partially.