What is God’s Name?



Question:  “What is the correct name for God?  Is it Yahweh, Jehovah, Elohim, Lord, Father or God?”



Bible Answers

God was first mentioned in the first sentence of the Bible, Genesis 1:1, In the beginning Elohim created the heavens and the earth. The Hebrew word Elohim means God.  It is not a name but a title.  God represents the indescribable, corresponding to our words “Godhead” or “divinity,” and is in the plural form rather than the singular Eloh.  The God of the Bible is an eternal creator with neither beginning nor end, consisting of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.


God’s name

The first mention of God’s name is given in Exodus 3:14, God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you.’”


God told Moses that His name was “I AM.” This, the most important of God's Names is the four-letter Name represented by the Hebrew letters Yod-Heh-Vav-Heh (YHVH). These four letters are translated into English as Jehovah. However, as the Hebrew language does not have a ‘j’ sound, a better translation may be Yahweh.


Thus we learn that the proper name for God is I AM and translated by many into English as Yahweh or Jehovah.


The early Jews considered God’s name to be to Holy to pronounce, so as a reminder, the early Scribes added a pointer to the Hebrew word “adonai”, meaning Lord or my Lord as a substitute word that could be said as a person was reading scripture aloud.  According to scholars, no copies of the Septuagint before the mid-2nd century had substituted any other name for the name of God. Around the sixth century the correct name of God, YHWH, I AM, Yahweh and Jehovah were dropped and “Lord” was used. The trend continued with the NT and the Greek word “kurios” (Lord) being used in place of God’s correct name.


God said to Moses: I am the eternal God. So tell them that the Lord, whose name is “I Am,” has sent you. This is my name forever, and it is the name that people must use from now on (Exodus 3:14 CEV). Rather than I AM or Yahweh, most translations incorrectly use the word Lord.


Some with quote Isaiah 42:8, I am the Lord: that is my name, but if you check with an Interlinear, you will find the original was YHWH or Yahweh, not Lord.


The work “Lord” has many meanings, including any person we obey, respect, call sir, master or ruler, or it can refer to a Deity, God. For Christians, Lord as God refers to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.


God’s title and descriptions  

Many confuse God’s names for with titles, characters, and descriptions of God. Such as Jehovah-jireh, “God who provides” (genesis 22:14), Jehovah-shalom, “God of peace,” Jehovah-rophe,“Jehovah heals” (Exodus 15:26), and El Olam “Everlasting God” (Gen. 21:33).  These are not names but descriptive characteristics of God.


Bibles

The first significant Bible to be published in English is the 1611 King James Bible. It contains a number of references to God, using His name, Jehovah.


Today, most modern Bibles follow the trend and substitutes Lord or God for God’s name. Both Lord and God are not names but titles. I AM, Yahweh and Jehovah are names of the most Holy God. It is similar to you always being called Mister or Miss rather than Jim or Nancy.


While I do not believe calling God Lord or God is wrong, as we are not praying to just any old lord or god, but we are praying to our savior, the God and Lord of the Universe, it may show more respect by using His correct name - I AM or Yahweh. In John 8:58, Jesus calls Himself I AM. Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”  It is interesting that both the Father and the Son declare that their name is I AM.


Jesus and the Holy Spirit

Jesus is a name and Christ can be a name or a title.  Christ means “the anointed one of God”. Holy Spirit is not a name but a title.


So who should we pray to

But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you (Matthew 6:6).


Pray then like this: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name (Matthew 6:9).


The word father can be used both as a title and a name. In these examples we are told to pray to our Father, our heavenly Daddy, the great I AM.

 

Summary

While I AM, Yahweh, or Jehovah are considered the correct name for our God, we can also address Him as Father, Daddy, Lord, and God. Those who do not speak Hebrew or Greek may not always use God’s name correctly in the purest sense, but fortunately, God hears the reverent intent of our hearts.



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