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Names for God
Throughout the Old and New Testaments, those who love God have used their language to describe him as best as they were able, considering their situation and experience. Today, we have the benefit of many years of writings devoted to recording the human experience with our creator. As we look at the writings of the Old Testament and the New Testament and the words use in reference and description of God, we can build a picture of him based on the names that have been used in reference to him.
God in the Old Testament
There are many names for our Heavenly Father in the OT. They include:
Elohim: “God the Creator” (used 2570 times in OT) – Used in scripture to reference God the creator, absolute ruler and source of all things. Interestingly, Elohim is a plural Noun, indicating the greatest, highest and only God exists as a plurality.
El Elyon: “The most high God”, used in Melchizedek’s blessing (Genesis 14:19-20) of Abraham after he defeated the five kings. (and he blessed Abram, saying, "Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.”)
El Shaddhai: “God Almighty”. In Exodus (Exodus 6:2-3) God said to Moses I am Yahweh. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as EL Shaddai. Some scholars trace the origin of the term “Shaddai” to the root word which refers to a mother’s breast. If this be correct the Name is one which suggests God’s grace and His making himself available at the level of humanity (his creation) to make Himself known and to give sustenance to them. It is a name which may be associated with God’s relationship with His children.
El Olam: “The Everlasting God” – God eternal – Our situation changes as time passes and various things impact our lives, but God is unchanging. From generation to generation, his love for us is consistent. He is inexhaustible. There is no searching his understanding.
El Roi: “The God who sees” – This term for God is only used once in the OT (Genesis 16:3)
Adonai: Refers to the Lord of an intimate (master / servant) relationship. Signifies a loving, caring God, who has a relationship with his servants in Love authority and faithfulness both on his part and our part. When Isaiah had his heavenly vision in Isaiah 6 he said “Here am I Adonai, send me”
- refers to God as the one who watches after and cares for his flock. Psalms
23 (The Lord is my shepherd), 79:13, 95:7, 80:1, 100:3; Genesis 49:24; Isaiah
JEHOVAH: “LORD” in our English Bible
Lord will Provide." Genesis 22:14. From "jireh"
("to see" or "to provide," or to "foresee" as a
prophet.) God always provides, adequate when the times come.
YHWH: (The most common expression, occurring over 6800 times). It signifies:
· “I am the one who is”
· “I am who I am”
· “I will be what I will be”
· Self existence, a state of eternal (unchanging) existence
· The God of covenant existence with us
Yahweh Jireh (Yireh): “The Lord will provide.” Stresses God’s provision for His people (Genesis 22:14).
Yahweh Nissi: “The Lord is my Banner.” Stresses that God is our rallying point and our means of victory; the one who fights for His people (Exodus 17:15).
Yahweh Shalom: “The Lord is Peace.” Points to the Lord as the means of our peace and rest (Judges 6:24).
Yahweh Sabbaoth: “The Lord of Hosts.” A military figure portraying the Lord as the commander of the armies of heaven (1 Samuel 1:3, 17:45).
Yahweh Maccaddeshcem: “The Lord your Sanctifier.” Portrays the Lord as our means of sanctification or as the one who sets believers apart for His purposes (Exodus 31:13).
Yahweh Ro’i: “The Lord my Shepherd.” Portrays the Lord as the Shepherd who cares for His people as a shepherd cares for the sheep of his pasture (Psalms 23:1).
Yahweh Tsidkenu: “The Lord our Righteousness.” Portrays the Lord as the means of our righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6).
Yahweh Shammah: “The Lord is there.” Portrays the Lord’s personal presence in the millennial kingdom (Ezekiel 48:35).
Elyon: “Most High" from "to go
up" (Deuteronomy 26:19, 32:8; Psalms 18:13; Genesis 14:18; Numbers
24:16; Psalms 78:35, 7:17, 18:13, 97:9, 56:2, 78:56, 18:13; Daniel 7:25, 27;
One" (Psalms 71:22; Isaiah 40:25, 43:3, 48:17). Isaiah uses the
expression "the Holy One of Israel" 29 times.
our Rock" (Deuteronomy 32:18; Isaiah 30:29).
God in the New Testament (Greek)
Theos – The only true God – unique – transcendent – savior.
Kurios – Usually translated as Lord, stressing authority and supremacy.
Despotes – usually translated as master. Expresses ownership where Kurios expresses authority.
Col. 2:9; Rom. 1:20.
Logos: (logos) Word John 1:1ff
Pantokrator : (pantokrator) Almighty 2 Cor. 6:18, Revelation, 9t, e.g. 19:6.
Pater - Father (pater) – (used 182 times in the New Testament) - Through faith in Christ, God becomes our personal Father. This relationship is stressed by John in his gospel and Paul in His ministry.
After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father
which art in heaven,
Abba – this is a Syriac or Chaldee word found three times in the New Testament (Mark 14:36, Romans 8:15 and Galatians 4:6. In each case, it is followed by the Greek (Pater) indicating Father. It is a term of warm affection and filial confidence. There is no perfect equivalent word in English for “Abba”. Some modern day scholars translate it as “Daddy”.
And He was saying, "Abba! Father! All
things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me;
For ye have not received the spirit of bondage
again to fear; but ye have received
And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the
Spirit of his Son into your hearts,
Jesus: Derived from the Hebrew "Joshua" (Y'shua) or "Je-Hoshua" meaning JEHOVAH IS SALVATION.
equivalent to the Hebrew 'Messiah' (Meshiach),
"The Anointed One."
AND OMEGA: The
First and the Last, The Beginning and The End (Revelations 1).
Son, Holy Spirit: Christian orthodoxy has
always understood God to be One God in Three Persons (Elohim).
In The NT each person of the godhead is called "God" and
"Lord" at least once.
Symbols for Holy Spirit in NT: (l) breath or wind; (2) fire; (3) water; (4) oil; (5) light; (6) a dove.
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