Theology: God (GOD’S NAMES)

Introduction: In the Eastern area of the world in ancient days, and to some extent today the name of a person had meaning.

In Holland in years past, the person was called by a first name and the addition of “from” and then the town of residence was added. A missionary we met once was ….. Van Dussen. His forefathers were from Dussen.

What good is there in a name? It identifies you as different from all other people.

It may mold your personality. If your name is Nerdly, how are you going to grow up.

It may mold your future. Who would hire a man named Herkimer Snodgrass to be a car salesman or movie star.

It may help in many ways. If your name is Rockefeller, you may find many doors open to you.

What is the meaning of your name? My name is English in background. My first name means stone valley. How that relates to me I am not sure.

If I stated that your name was a dumb name and that anyone that has that name is a complete waste of time, how would you feel? Our names are important to us. Our GOOD name is important to us.

God is very much like this. His names can give us much information about Him and His ministries to us. God’s name is very important to Him as well. Indeed, He goes to great lengths to protect His good name. Read Ezekiel 20 sometime and notice that God acts, so that the people will not pollute His name.

I would like to just give an overview of some of the names of God, and some of what we can learn about Him from His names.

I trust that you will spend some time on His names in the years to come. I believe that it will be profitable for you to do so.

I would refer you to Strauss’s The First Person for more information than we will cover here. (Strauss, Lehman; “The First Person”; Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, 1967, p 129-244)

Buswell mentions, “ The name of God is more than merely His name; it is the epitome of His character and of His activity.” (Buswell, James Oliver; “A Systematic Theology Of The Christian Religion”; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1962, p 35)

Pardington breaks nine names into the following categories: “The principal names of God are nine, falling into three classes of three names each and suggesting, many think, the trinity.” (Pardington, Revelation George P. Ph.D.; “Outline Studies In Christian Doctrine”; Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, 1926, p 87)

The three primary names for God are “God,” “Lord” and Lord.


1. God — Elohim: “el” means “strength or the Strong One” and “ohim” comes from verb “Alah” which means “to bind oneself by an oath.” Pardington.

Walvoord mentions, “The derivation of this name is somewhat obscure. Some trace it to a root which means ‘the strong One,’ and others to a root which denotes ‘fear.’“ He feels the overall meaning would relate to “reverence.” (Walvoord, John F. editor; “Lewis Sperry Chafer Systematic Theology”; Wheaton: Victor Books, Vol. I & II, 1988)

Ryrie opts for the idea of Strong one. (Ryrie, Charles C.; “Basic Theology”; Wheaton: Victor Books, 1986, p 45)

Pardington mentions that “el” and “eloah” are used as abbreviations for Elohim. He also mentions that Elohim is a plural noun, but it is used to indicate a single God. The trinity seems to be indicated in this usage of the word. (Pardington, Revelation George P. Ph.D.; “Outline Studies In Christian Doctrine”; Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, 1926, p 88)

The idea of the trinity is not ascribed to by liberals and Jews. The Jews naturally do not want a trinity. They attribute this to a plural of majesty and not indicative of numbers.

Walvoord indicates that the trinity is not always indicated. The context would or would not indicate it. Genesis 1:26 would be an example of this, “Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness;….”

The term is used in Deuteronomy 6:4, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:” This uses the plural term in a passage that states that He is one thus showing very clearly the trinity.

This term is used of God and other gods as well. Ryrie mentions the term appears in relation to deity 2,570 times and 2,310 of those times it refers to God the true God.

2. Lord — Yhwh: Spelling varies with the author. Walvoord & Chafer use Yahweh; Pardington uses Yahwe; and Ryrie uses YHWH. Ryrie mentions that it occurs about 5,321 times in the Old Testament. (p 47)

The Jews felt that God’s name was too sacred to pronounce so they eliminated the vowels and pronounced just the consonants. We do not know how to pronounce this name due to the loss of the vowels.

Ryrie mentions that the Jews substituted the term “adoni” for YHWH until the postexilic days when they combined the term adoni and the term

YHWH to form a word that would remind the reader to use the term adoni. This became our term Jehovah. The English equivalent is Jehovah. The term Jehovah and Elohim occur together in Genesis 2:4. The name comes from the verb “havah” which means “to be and to become” (Pardington) It relates to the “‘self-existent One who reveals Himself,” or, “the Coming One.’“ (Pardington, p 88)

Yahwe is translated as “LORD” — with all capital letters in the King James. This is the term used for the true God. Chafer mentions that this name is defined in Exodus 3:13,14 where it is stated, “I am the I am.”

Walvoord lists some things we can know of God through this name. “He does not change. . .He is the King who will reign forever. . .He is the Author and creator. . . .” (Walvoord, p 172)

This is the name Eve used of God in Genesis 4:1. It was used by people in Seth’s day, Genesis 4:26. It was used by Noah, Genesis 9:26. It was used by Abraham, Genesis 12:8; 15:2,8.

3. God Adonai: Genesis 15:2 “Lord” is adonai. “means master, or husband.” (Pardington p 88) An application of this is the fact that Christ is Master and Husband, as was God in the Old Testament.


There are three names linked with “El.”

4. Almighty God: El Shaddai comes from two terms. El meaning the strong one, and Shaddai which comes from the term “shad” used in Scripture of a woman’s breast, thus most view the name to mean God the one that supplies or nourishes.

There are some that relate this to another word which gives the idea of powerful.

Still others as Ryrie relate the term to the Akkadian word “shaddai” which means mountain, thus it means of God, “the Almighty One standing on a mountain.”

5. Most High, Or Most High God: El Elyon comes from “Elyon” meaning “highest.” Genesis 14:19 mentions, “the most high God,

possessor of heaven and earth.” The terms first usage was by Melchizedek when he blessed Abraham. Genesis 14:19. This is a name that is used in relation to the gentile nations.

6. Everlasting God: El Olam comes from “Olam” which seems to show God’s eternal aspect. The Greek equivalent is “aion” or “age.” Psalm 90:2; Psalm 100:5


7. Lord God: Yahwe Elohim is used in Genesis 2:17-15 which shows the term in relation to man, and God as our creator. Genesis 2:16,17 shows the term used in relation to man, and God as our master. Genesis 2:18-24 shows the term used in relation to man, and God as our ruler. Genesis 3:8- 15, 21 shows the term used in relation to man, and God as our redeemer. Genesis 24:7; Exodus 3:15,18 shows the term used in relation to Israel, and God as their God.

The name has some very deep implication for the believer. We are to allow the Lord to be all these things for us.

8. Lord LORD: Adonai Yahwe emphasizes the Adonai part of master. Genesis 15:2; Genesis 15:1,8; Deuteronomy 12:1

9. LORD Of Hosts: Yahwe Sabaoth comes from “Sabaoth” meaning “host or hosts.” 1 Samuel 1:3; Psalm 24:10. This name is used in relation to battle or hard times for the Jew individually or nationally.

Pardington also lists seven names that are compounded with “Yahwe”. (p 91,92)

Jehovah-Jireh: “the LORD will provide” Genesis 22:13,14 Jehovah-Rapha: “the LORD that healeth” Exodus 15:26 Jehovah-Nissi: “the LORD our banner” Exodus 17:8:15 Jehovah-Shalom: “the LORD our peace” Judges 6:24

Jehovah-Ro’i: “the LORD my shepherd” Genesis 16:13; Psalm 23 Jehovah-Tsidkenu: “the LORD our righteousness” Jeremiah 23:6 Jehovah-Shammah: “the LORD is present”Ezekiel 48:35


The Son: The Son is properly named, “Lord Jesus Christ.” Walvoord mentions, “He is Lord because He is God, Jesus because of His humanity, and Christ because of His office as Prophet, Priest, and King and the Messiah of the Old Testament period.” (Walvoord, p 175) He also mentions there are about 300 other terms that are used to refer to Christ.

The Holy Spirit: Walvoord mentions there are about 20 names for the Holy Spirit.

Walvoord mentions some metaphoric names for God as well: King, Law- giver, Judge, Rock, Fortress, Tower, Refuge, Deliverer, Shepherd, Husband, Husbandman, and Father.

Ryrie develops for us the terms “theos,” “kurios,” “despotes” and “FATHER” (pp 49,50). I have adapted this material for your reference:

1. Theos: The Septuigent usually translates elohim with theos. It is used of the following: Primarily of the True God; false gods, Acts 12:22; the

devil, 2 Corinthians 4:4; of sensuality, Philippians 3:19; of Christ, Romans 9:5.

The use of the term shows God to be: The True God, Matthew 23:9, Romans 3:30; a unique God, 1 Timothy 1:17, John 17:3, Revelation 15:4; a

trancendent God, Acts 17:24, Hebrews 3:4; A Savior, 1 Timothy 1:1,

Titus 1:3.

2. Kurios: The name occurs 717 times in the New Testament. Luke uses it 210 times and Paul 275 times. It can mean the following: sir John 4:11; owner Luke 19:33; master Colossians 3:22; idols 1 Corinthians 8:5;

husbands 1 Peter 3:6

3. Despotes: This name gives the idea of ownership as opposed to kurios which shows authority and supremacy. It is used by the following: Simeon Luke 2:29; Peter Acts 4:24; martyrs Revelation 6:10. The term is used of Christ in 2 Peter 2:1; Jude 4.

4. Father: The term is used of God in the Old Testament 15 times and in the New Testament 245 times.

This will give you a basis for a study concerning the names of God. I could easily envision a sermon or lesson series spending one session for each name. I believe this would be very beneficial to help believers understand their God.

By way of conclusion let me quote from the Psalms.

Psalm 8:1, “O LORD, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth….”


An ancient diagram of the Trinity shows the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit at the three corners of a triangle. In the center of the triangle is the term God.


IS NOT                IS                IS NOT


IS                                              IS

                                                            SON                                       IS NOT                                     SPIRIT

This is one of the best diagrams and illustrations of the trinity that I have run across.

We know that there are three persons in the trinity. We know that there is the Father.

We know that there is the Son.

We know that there is the Holy Spirit.

We know that these do not operate in succession. We know that these operate simultaneously.

We know that these are all a unity within God.

We know that there are subordinations among the three.

What we don’t know is that they are all God. At times we tend to begin to think of them as individuals. They are all God, and as such they all deserve worship, adoration and all those things that we tend to think of as, for God the Father.

They are distinct in person and purpose yet the three are recognized in the Scriptures:

The Father: Romans 1:7,

“To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints Grace to you and peace from God our Father….”

The Son: Hebrews 1:8, “Unto the Son he saith, Thy Throne, O God, is for ever and ever….”

The Holy Spirit: Acts 5:3-4,

“Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost……thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God”

There are some reasons why there are distinctions:

1. Identification: There is the obvious, in that there needs to be a way of distinguishing the three members of the Trinity from one another.

2. Ministry: There is a specific area of ministry for all three persons of the Trinity. The Father is the Prime mover and planner. The Son is the prime activator. The Holy Spirit is the prime messenger between God and man.

3. Subordination: The three have definite ministries and places in the overall scheme of the decrees. The Father seems to be the one that set the plan into motion, while the Son is the one that provided the possibility of the plan’s completion, through His shed blood. The Spirit is the person that moves in the universe and in man to do the work of the Father. (It is to be remembered that the Son also was about the work of the Father.)

4. Man’s Limited Understanding: Some might suggest that this is to help us grasp the concept of God. Man cannot comprehend God and so God

put his Being into the terms that we could understand with our mentality. This would be similar to anthropomorphisms. To me the terminology used and the frequency of use would indicate that the three are very real and not to be viewed as anthropomorphisms.

We want to look at a few instances where all three are involved, but in different ways.




















There are five areas in which He is the Father.

a. He is the Father of all creation. He planned and instigated the creation of the heavens and the earth. Malachi 2:10, Acts 17:29, Hebrews 12:9, James 1:17.

b. He is the Father of Israel. Exodus 4:22

c. He is the Father of Christ.

d. He is the Father of all believers. John 1:12

e. He is the Father of all mankind. This is accepted and taught by many religions, both past and present. Acts 17:22-31 Verse 29 mentions, “Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God….”

What is the Father to you? a. He should be your comfort. b. He should be your strength. c. He should be your hope. d. He should be your concentration in prayer. e. He should be your guide in holy living. If He is not these things to you, then you are not enjoying the God that saved you for His joy, His purpose, and His glory.


1. He is the Son of man. This is a title that the Lord used of Himself. Luke 6:22

2. He is the Son of God. He is completely and totally God. Mark 1:1

3. He is the Son of Mary. He is completely and totally man. Matthew 1:20-21

4. He is the Son of David. He is descended from the royal line of David, so that He can sit upon David’s throne in the Millennial kingdom. Isaiah 9:6-7, Luke 1:30-33

What is the Son to you?

a. He should be your savior.

b. He should be your brother.

c. He should be your example.

d. He should be your message.

e. He should be your reason for serving.

Again, if God the Son is not these things to you, you are then missing out on the true joy and power of Almighty God.


1. He is the Spirit of God. He is in close relation to the Father. Matthew 12:28

2. He is Spirit of the Lord. He is in close relation to the Son. Luke 4:18

3. He is the Holy Spirit. He is Himself. Luke 11:13

4. He is the Spirit of truth. John 14:17, John 15:26 What is the Spirit to you?

a. He should be your guide.

b. He should be your teacher.

c. He should be your comfort.

d. He should be your illuminator.

If God the Holy Spirit is not these things to you then you will not be in close communication with the God that extended His mercy to you through salvation.

Guthrie, Shirley C. Jr.; “Christian Doctrines”; Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1968, has some good quotes from history if you have the book available to you.

Do we not see God the Father as the one over us with power to judge, God the Son as the one in front of us with power to cleanse, and God the Holy Spirit as the one in us with power to minister?


The thought that was mentioned earlier is worth reconsidering. This is the God that we serve. He is not just the Father, He is not just the Son, and He is not just the Holy Spirit. This demands that we never concentrate on one or two to the exclusion of the other.

We tend to separate, divide and isolate the members of the trinity for our purpose of study, and I fear we leave them that way at times. He is all three As Well As One.[1]


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