Clarence E. Mason's
"Introduction to The Names Of God"
BY THE AUTHOR
Dr. Clarence E. Mason, Jr.
Philadelphia College of Bible
NAMES OF GOD
- This study is a component
part of Theology.
- Theology: "Theos"
= God + "-ology" = discourse or knowledge Theology
then is the knowledge or science of God.
- This material on the Names
of God is included in the subject of Theology Proper, which is the study
of God the Father, God the Son (termed Christology), and God the Holy
Spirit (termed Pneumatology) in their Persons and attributes, but apart
from their works.
- Specifically, the Names
of God are included in the study of God the Father, the first Person
of the Trinity.
- Bible names are usually
- Bible names have meanings
which convey some impression of the character of the ones who bear them.
- This is accentuated
by changed names under new situations, e.g., Abram to Abraham, Sarai
to Sarah, Jacob to Israel, etc.
- In many instances God
specifically directed parents in naming children in order to reveal
some truth, e.g., Isaiah 8:3 and Hosea 1:6, 9.
- God also has revealed Himself
to Man through His many significant names as follows:
(sometimes El or Elah)
(sometimes combined with Jehovah as "LORD God" Jehovah Elohim)
or GOD (as in 'Lord GOD' = Adonai Jehovah)
LORD my Banner
LORD our Peace
LORD of Hosts
LORD our Righteousness
- Not all of these are specific
names, as several are rather descriptive designations of God in relationship
to man. We include them in this study, however, because of the peculiar
way in which God so revealed Himself to man on these various occasions.
- There are several significant
portions of Scripture that draw our attention to a study of these names
of God. For example:
- Exodus 3:13-15; 6:3
- John 17:6, 26
- Isaiah 42:8; 52:5-6
- Ezekiel 36:23
- It is unfortunate that our
English names "God" or "Lord" convey no more than a
title of deity.
- There is no connotation
of character description.
- However, this is revealed
through the names as given in the original Scriptures, the study of
which we believe will enrich the student's knowledge of the Person of
our great God.
- The critics of Scripture
falsely state that Moses was a compiler of ancient religious beliefs and
that the many names of God are really the gods of many tribes. Some worshiped
their god Elohim; others, Jehovah: others, Adonai; etc.
We affirm that Moses wrote by inspiration of God and that the Old Testament
reveals the one true God in His multiple character as revealed through His
- THE PRIMARY NAMES
The derivations of the names of God--Elohim and Jehovah—are uncertain. Therefore,
the significance of these names must be based primarily upon their use in
- EL, ELAH, ELOHIM
- translated God, literally "The Strong One"
El (250 times)
Elah (60 times)
Elohim (over 2500 times)
The main emphasis in this name of God is the strength of God. Observe
that it is used 32 times in Genesis, for instance, where His power is
being emphasized in the creation. Also, note Psalm 19:1.
Some suggest that Elohim may have been derived from the verb alah (meaning
to swear), which would cause the name to be translated the strong one
who swears. If this be true, the attribute of faithfulness as well as
omnipotence is indicated. Consider the following verses speaking of
the faithfulness of Elohim: Gen. 1; 28:13-15; 46:1-5; 50:25; Ex. 3:1-6;
Num. 23:19; 2 Sam. 23:1-5; Isa. 45:22-23.
The student is to be reminded that Elohim is a plural form. When not
translated God, it is translated gods. In such places, Elohim is used
in connection with plural verbs and adjectives, as in Ex. 20:3; Dt.
13:2, contra Dt. 6:4. We believe that we see in this plural form the
implied doctrine of the Trinity. Note Gen. 1:26; 3:22; 11:7; Isa. 6:8.
This emphasizes the uniplural nature of our triune God.
Some have claimed that no doctrine of the Trinity is implied here but
that this usage is what is called a "plural of Majesty." The
claim appears to be unfounded, since it was never so used of kings.
- JEHOVAH - translated
GOD or LORD
Occurs 6823 times. It appears to be explained best as coming from hovah
= "to be." A possible explanation:
yehi - he will be
hovi – being
hah yah - he was
In this regard, see Revelation 1:8.
In summary, the root meaning of the word Jehovah may be the self-existing
one; One who is what He is; the expression of God's Being. It is a title
of reverential awe, expressing absolute and abiding existence. It was
a name so filled with respect and honor that it was not audibly pronounced
by the children of Israel. Cp. Ex. 3:14. This led to the insertion of
the vowels of Adonai amid the consonants of this word considered too
holy to utter.
Jehovah is the name in which the Creator deals with the intelligent
and responsible part of His work. As Elohim is the creatorial title,
so Jehovah is a relationship name. In this regard, note that Jehovah
does not occur until Gen. 2:4, after the creation of man. The covenants
are made in the name of Jehovah, e.g., Ex. 19:1-3; 20:1; Jer. 31:31.
In the so-called "universal books," such as Ecclesiastes,
Daniel, and Jonah, Elohim is used almost exclusively. In the strongly
theocratic books, Jehovah predominates.
Three characteristics of Jehovah are:
(1) His holiness: Lev. 11:44-45; 19:1-2; 20:26.
(2) His hatred and judgment of sin: Gen. 6:3-7; Ex. 34:6-7; Ps. 1.1:5-6.
(3) His love and salvation for sinners. The work of redemption in the
OT is almost: always associated with Jehovah: Gen. 3:8, 21; Ex. 3:1-10;
- ADONAI - translated
This name emphasizes; His authority. It applies to the relationship
between master and slave. It is applied to man as well as to God. Cp.
Gen. 23:6; 32:4.
It is used to indicate the relationship between husband and wife, Gen.
Two principles apply to the relationship between master and slave or
(1) The master has the right to expect absolute obedience, Ex. 4:10-12;
Josh. 5:14; 7:8-11; Isa. 6:8-11.
(2) The servant has the right to expect explicit direction for his service
and provision for his needs, Rom. 12:1-2; Phil. 4:19.
- COMPOUND NAMES WITH EL
- EL ELYON - translated
The Most High
The name actually means the strongest strong one.
El Elyon exercises His authority both in heaven and in earth. Its first
occurence is in Genesis 14:18.
(1) In heaven - Isa. 14:13-14.
(2) In earth - Ps. 91:9-12; 47:2-4; 56:2-3; 2 Sam. 22:14-15.
Note its special use in Daniel: 3:26; 4:17-37; 5:18-21; 7:18-27. It
is used in this book for two purposes:
(1) To comfort the people of God.
God is shown still to be in control.
(2) To rebuke proud kings of Babylon.
Cp. Christ, Mt. .28:18.
- EL ROI - The Strong
One Who Sees
It is found only once in Scripture, Gen. 16:13.
(1) Comfort - He sees the afflictions of His own.
(2) Warning - He sees the hypocrisies of the human heart.
- EL SHADDAI
- translated Almighty God, i.e., The God Who Is Enough!
From El - Strong One
Shad - breast
El Shaddai carries the significance of the Ail-Sufficient One.
Cp. Gen. 49:25; Job 3:12; Ps. 22:9; Isa. 28:9. Its first occurrence
is in Gen. 17:1-20. There is a two-fold work:
(1) He comforts and makes fruitful: Gen. 28:3-4; 35:10-12; 49:25;
(2) Since His work is to make fruitful, He chastens: Ruth 1:20;
Job (31 times in book), cp. John 15; Heb. 12:10-11.
- EL OLAM - translated
El - Strong One
Olam - hidden, secret, concealed
Olam was used by Hebrews to indicate indefinite time: Lev. 25:32; Josh.
24:2. It came to mean eternity, as in Ps. 90:2. The first use of the
name is in Gen. 21:33. It is used in a two-fold connection:
(1) El Olam is inexhaustible. Cp. Isa. 40:28; Gen. 9:16; 17:7.
(2) El Olam is the God of mystery. He cannot be understood except by
revelation, Isa. 40:28.
- MAJOR COMPOUND NAMES WITH
- JEHOVAH JIREH -
The LORD will provide
Jireh = "to see; to see to it; to provide." It is only used
in Genesis 22:13-14. Jehovah Jireh provides the necessary sacrifice.
The idea of provider occurs often. Cp. Ps. 34:8-10; John 1:29; Rom.
8:32; Heb. 4:16; Phil. 4:19; Rev. 3:17. Abraham named the place Jehovah
Jireh to remind the people that Jehovah provides.
- JEHOVAH NISSI -
The LORD my banner
Nissi == "conspicuous, to glisten, to gleam"; hence, the word
is used to indicate a banner, ensign, or war flag. It is used in Exodus
17:15; the occasion is that of a battle with the Amalekites. Victory
was gained when the leadership of Jehovah was recognized. Note the fact
that Amalek was a descendant of Esau -- a type of fleshly man, Gen.
36:9-12. As Christians we are constantly opposed by the flesh. Cp. Gal.
5:13-17; Rom. 7:13-25; Heb. 12:1-2. Victory is gained through dependence
upon the Holy Spirit and "looking unto Christ."
- JEHOVAH SHALOM -
The LORD is peace
Shalom = "the harmony of relationship or a reconciliation based
upon the completion of a transaction, the payment of a debt, the giving,
of satisfaction. " Names of God, Nathan Stone, p. 15. Cp. the use
of shalom: Dt. 27:6 (whole); Dan. 5:26 (finished); Gen. 15:16 (full);
Ex. 21:34 (make it good). The majority of times it is translated peace
Jehovah Shalom is found in Judges 6:24. God is revealed as the peace-giver.
Ps. 29:11; Isa. 26:2-4; 57:20-21. Christ is revealed to us as Jehovah
Shalom. Isa. 9:6; John 14:27; 16:33; Col. 1:20; Rom. 5:1; Phil. 4:7-9.
The student should distinguish between:
(1) peace of God
(2) peace with God
- JEHOVAH SABAOTH
- The LORD of hosts (armies)
Sabaoth = "to assemble." This title occurs only in the times
of Israel's great need, i.e., times of crisis. Cp. 1 Sam. 1:3, 11; 4:4.
(1) In the times of the Judges, 1 Sam. 1:3.
(2) In the days of the establishment of the Kingdom, 1 Sam. 15:2; 17:45;
2 Sam. 5:10; 7:8.
(3) In the time of national decay. It occurs 62 times in Isaiah and
72 times in Jeremiah.
(4) During the restoration. Hag. 2:2-9; Zech. 4:6; Mal. 3:16-17.
(5) In connection with promises of future national blessing, 2 Sam.
7:26-27; Isa. 9:7; Jer. 31:35.
- The LORD thy Sanctifier
Qadesh = "to pronounce clean; to set aside; to consecrate; to
This title occurs in Exodus 31:13. Cp. Ex. 19:4-6, 10, 14; 25:1-8;
29:43; Lev. 21:23. It is still true that God is Jehovah M'qaddesh.
He sets his people apart in this age. Cp. Heb. 10:10; 13:12; 1 Pet.
2:9; Acts 26:18; Eph. 2:20-21; 1 Cor. 3:16-17. God expects us to live
as a people set apart. Cp. John 17:17-19; 1 Pet, 1:14-16; Rom. 6:4;
Gal. 1:4; Rom. 12:2; Eph. 4:1; 5:26; etc.
- JEHOVAH TSIDQENU
- The LORD our righteousness
Tsedeq = "righteous." The name occurs only once, in Jeremiah
23:6. The Branch of David will be a righteous Branch. The Lord Jesus
Christ is Jehovah Tsidqenu. Cp. Isa. 11:5; 61:10; Rom. 11:26; 1 Cor.
1:30; 2 Cor. 5:21; Rom. 10:3-4.
- OTHER COMPOUND NAMES WITH
(Reread B, 3, on p. 2, with regard to the following compounds.
- JEHOVAH RAAH - The
LORD is my Shepherd
Raah = "to tend; to pasture."
The title is used in Psalm 23:1. Cp. the NT picture of Christ:
(1) Psalm 22 - Christ is the Good Shepherd who has given Himself for
the sheep, John 10:11.
(2) Psalm 23 - Christ is the Great Shepherd who has risen again from
the dead to lead and care for His sheep, Heb. 13:20.
(3) Psalm 24 - Christ is the Chief Shepherd who is coming in glory to
reign and reward His under-shepherds, 1 Pet. 5:4.
- JEHOVAH EL GMOLAH
- LORD God of recompense
Gmolah = "to give one his just deserts; to requite." The name
is used in Jeremiah 51:56. Note the fact that the right of judgment
belongs to God. Cp. Dt. 32:35; Prov. 20:22; Rom. 12:17-21.
- JEHOVAH NAKEH -
The LORD that smiteth
Nakeh - "to strike." The name occurs in Ezekiel 7:9.
- JEHOVAH SHAMMAH
- The LORD who is present
Shawm = "there." The name occurs once in Ezekiel 48:35.
The significance of this name is given to us all the way through Scripture,
as we see the character of God. God has always desired the fellowship
of men. He constantly seeks men. Cp. Creation; the days prior to the
Flood; call of Abraham; the nation Israel; the present gracious invitation
to the lost. Cp. Mt. 28:20; Christ is Jehovah Shammah to us today.
- JEHOVAH ROPHE -
The LORD who heals
Rophe - "to heal."
This is used in Exodus 15:26.
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