March 17, 2004
The Names of God
You asked me why there are so many different names of God in
the Bible. There are many names of God
in the Bible because each name tells us something else about who God is and His
character and attributes.
The first name of God given to us in the Bible is in Genesis
1:1. It states "In-the-beginning
Elohim created the heavens and the-earth." The
term "Elohim" (!yhla) is actually not a
name but the Hebrew term for God, the Hebrew term referring to the Supreme
Being. Elohim is a compound term: "El"
and "him". "El" is the word "God" and "him" is the masculine plural suffix
meaning "they." Together they mean "These-are-God", God singular because Elohim
is followed by a singular verb "Bara"
(arB) which is 3rd masculine singular
meaning "He-created". This makes Elohim a singular plural which means it does
not mean "These-are-gods" but rather "These-are-God", thus indicating the
Nature of God in the very first verse of the Bible. God is not three
individiual persons who make up a Godhead like a counsel, but rather God is
Father and Son and Holy Spirit of one essence in eternal relations. God is of
one essence manifested in three individual persons.
When God appeared to Moses on Mount Sinai and told him he
wanted to use him to deliver the Israelites out of slavery, Moses asked God what
his name was so he could tell Israel who had sent him to them? Exodus 3:14-15
"Then Moses said to Elohim, ‘Behold, I am going to the sons
of Israel, and I shall say to them, "The Elohim of your fathers has sent me to
you." Now they may say to me, "What is His name?" What shall I say to them?’ And
Elohim said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM;’ and He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the
sons of Israel, "Yehovah has sent me to you."’"
The name God gave to Moses was "Yehovah".
God not only tells him this is His name but is His name to all generations
forever (Exodus 3:15). Yehovah is a form of the Hebrew verb "to be" meaning "I
Am that I Am". God told Moses to tell the Israelites that "I Am" has sent you.
As a result you will find the form "Yehovah-Elohim" appearing often in the Old
Testament. It first appears in Genesis 2:4 right after Moses has shared how
Elohim Created the earth, heavens and man:
"These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when
they were created, in-the-day that
Yehovah-Elohim made the earth and the heavens."
Here Moses tells us which God He is referring to in Creation:
Later Yehovah-Elohim talking to Israel tells us about Himself
in Isaiah 43:10-11,
"‘You are My witnesses,’ declares Yehovah, ‘And My servant
whom I have chosen, in order that you may know and believe Me, and understand
that I am He. Before Me there was no El formed, and there will be none after Me.
I, even I, am Yehovah; and there is no Savior besides Me.’"
In this passage God tells us several things about Himself:
first, that He and He alone is God. Second, that there was never a God before
Him nor will there be one after Him, that He and He alone is God. Finally, that
He and He alone is Savior and that there is no Savior besides Him. There is only
one God: Yehovah-Elohim.
God also prophesied through the Prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 7:14
"Therefore Yehovah Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with
child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel;" and in Isaiah 9:6
"For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government
will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called
Prince-of-Peace." God in His Word in these
passages tell us that in time He Himself would take on a human nature by Holy
Spirit conception of a virgin. Isaiah 9:6 tells us something about what His
character and role will be, that He will be called Wonderful, Counselor, God
Almighty, the Father of Eternity and a Prince of Peace.
Matthew, in the Gospel of Matthew tells us that these
prophecies were fulfilled in Jesus Christ of Nazareth. When Joseph considered
putting Mary, his fiancé, away because she was pregnant with child not by him,
an Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and told him that Mary was not
pregnant by a man but by the Holy Spirit of God. Then he said to Joseph,
"‘And she will bear a Son; and you shall call His name
Jesus, for it is
He who will save His people from their sins.’ Now all this took place that what
was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, "Behold,
the virgin shall be with child, and shall bear a son, and they shall call his
which translated means, "God with us."’" (Matthew 1:21-23)
He tells Joseph that the baby is to be named "Jesus." Why?
The name Jesus (Ihsou") in Hebrew is "Yeshua"
([Wvwhy) which is a compound word: "Yah" (Hy)
which is short for "Yehovah" (h/hy) and "yesha"
([vy) meaning "to save". Together they
mean "Yehovah-is-Savior". The angel told Joseph to name the baby Jesus, because
He the baby would save us from our sins. Since Yehovah already stated in Isaiah
43:10-11 that He and he alone is Savior, the angel is letting us know that Jesus
is not just any ordinary baby, but that He is Yehovah-Elohim, our Creator who is
in time taking on a human nature also to save us from our sins.
Matthew then goes on to tell us us that God taking on a human
nature through the virgin Mary is the fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah 7:14
that a virgin would be with child and bear a son who would be God in the flesh,
and that because He is that He will be called "Immanuel".
"Immanuel" (laWnM[) is a compound
adjective: "Immanu" (WnM[) meaning "with
us" and "El" (la) meaning "God". Together
they mean "God-with-us". No where in the New Testament is Jesus referred to as
Immanuel. That is because it is a predicate adjective telling us who Jesus is:
God in the flesh. God through Isaiah and the angel and Matthew tell us that
Jesus Christ of Nazareth is Yehovah-Elohim our Creator in the flesh who came to
save us from our sins.
Now you understand why there are so many different names for
God in the Bible. Each name of God in the Bible describes a different aspect of
God's character and attributes and tells us who God is. They are not so much
different names as they are adjectives revealing to us something more about
God’s attributes and character and also His literally taking on a human nature
and walking among us to then save us from our sins.
Colossians 2:9 "For in Him all the fullness of Deity
dwells in bodily form."
1 Peter 2:24 "And He Himself bore our sins in His body
on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His
wounds you were healed."
2 Corinthians 5:21 "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin
on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."
Sincerely in Jesus,
Dale P. Kruse