The Names of God

For, “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Romans 10:13

In the Bible, God is referred to by a great many names. These include the title ‘Lord’, as in Romans 10:13. But also ‘God’, ‘Jehovah’, ‘Jah’; and many compound names such as ‘God Almighty’, ‘God Most High’, or ‘Jehovah of Hosts’. He is also referred to by numerous titles, such as ‘The Almighty’, ‘The Most High’, or ‘The God of Israel’. And even Jesus himself was referred to by names and titles such as ‘Son of David’, ‘Son of God’, and ‘The Lamb of God’; along with many more. What is the importance of these names? And why so many names?

In biblical times, a person’s name represented them, and reflected their prestige, and authority:

1Sa 18:[30] Then the princes of the Philistines went out: and as often as they went out, David behaved himself more wisely than all the servants of Saul; so that his name was highly esteemed.

2Ch 26:[8] The Ammonites gave tribute to Uzziah: and his name spread abroad even to the entrance of Egypt; for he grew exceeding strong. … [15] He made in Jerusalem engines, invented by skillful men, to be on the towers and on the battlements, with which to shoot arrows and great stones. His name spread far abroad; for he was marvelously helped, until he was strong.

Psa 106:[8] Nevertheless he saved them for his name’s sake, that he might make his mighty power known.

The prestige and authority of God are bound up in his name. For this reason, the priestly descendants of Aaron were called to bless the people in the name of God:

1Ch 23:[13] The sons of Amram: Aaron and Moses; and Aaron was separated, that he should sanctify the most holy things, he and his sons, forever, to burn incense before Yahweh, to minister to him, and to bless in his name, forever.

The place where the Tabernacle was erected would be associated with the name of God:

Deu 12:[5] But to the place which Yahweh your God shall choose out of all your tribes, to put his name there, you shall seek his habitation, and there you shall come. … [11] then it shall happen that to the place which Yahweh your God shall choose, to cause his name to dwell there, there you shall bring all that I command you: your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the wave offering of your hand, and all your choice vows which you vow to Yahweh.

Those who believe in his name are cleansed, protected, guided, and adopted:

Psa 23:[3] He restores my soul. He guides me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Psa 79:[9] Help us, God of our salvation, for the glory of your name. Deliver us, and forgive our sins, for your name’s sake.

Zec 10:[12] I will strengthen them in Yahweh; and they will walk up and down in his name,” says Yahweh.

Luk 24:[47] and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

Joh 1:[12] But as many as received him, to them he gave the right to become God’s children, to those who believe in his name:

Joh 21:[31] but these are written, that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.

Rev 3:[12] He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God, and he will go out from there no more. I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God, and my own new name.

Rev 22:[4] They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.

Conversely, when a person brings dishonor on God’s name, he takes that very seriously:

Exo 20:[7] “You shall not take the name of Yahweh your God in vain, for Yahweh will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

Eze 36:[22] Therefore tell the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord Yahweh: I don’t do this for your sake, house of Israel, but for my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations, where you went.

Rom 2:[23] You who glory in the law, through your disobedience of the law do you dishonor God? [24] For “the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,” just as it is written.

The names of God, then, reveal to us the prestige and authority of God himself. And since the prestige and authority of God are not only limitless, but also multi-faceted, it stands to reason that he is addressed and referred to by a wide variety of names as well.

The various names of God revealed in Scripture tell us two broad categories of things about him: First, they reveal to us something about his essence, or nature. When God is referred to as ‘Almighty’ (Gen 17:1), or ‘Everlasting’ (Gen 21:33), that shows us that he is both infinitely powerful, and that he lives forever, respectively. Thus we learn something about his essential nature from some of the names and titles that are applied to him.

Secondly, many of the biblical names of God reveal to us some aspect of his relationship to his people. Names such as ‘The Rock’ (Psa 62:2), ‘Immanuel’ (Isa 7:14), and ‘The Lamb of God’ (Joh 1:29) show us that God preserves his people, that he is with us, and that he is himself the propitiating sacrifice for his own people. Thus the wondrous and mighty works of God are revealed to us by certain of his names and titles.

And it is these two principles — who God is, and what works he has done for his people — that together form the heart of the Gospel. Specifically, the Gospel is about who Jesus Christ is, and what he has accomplished to redeem his people:

The gospel is God’s promise to save His people, giving them all the blessings of salvation from regeneration to final glory, conditioned exclusively on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ, totally apart from the sinner’s works and efforts. It reveals the righteousness of God – how God is just to justify the ungodly based on the work of Jesus Christ alone. The gospel is not merely the fact that Jesus lived, died, and rose again, considered apart from the purpose of these truths, which were accomplished to establish a righteousness for all whom Jesus represented. [Gen 15:5-6; Psa 103:2-12; Psa 130:3-4; Isa 1:18; Isa 45:21-25; Jer 33:14-16; Mat 1:21; Joh 3:16; Act 13:32-39; Rom 1:16-17; Rom 3:21-26; Rom 4:5-8,13-25; Rom 10:4,15; 1Co 15:1-8; 2Co 1:20; 2Co 5:21; Eph 1:3-2:22; Eph 3:6; Col 1:5; 2Ti 1:1,9-10; Heb 10:4-17]

Christian Confession of Faith, V.B.1

The names and titles of God revealed in Scripture tell us much about God himself. They illustrate the nature and character of God, and the intimacy of his relationship with his people. And they show to us the great truths of the Gospel, and the works that God himself has accomplished on behalf of his people.

Php 2:[9] Therefore God also highly exalted him, and gave to him the name which is above every name; [10] that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, those on earth, and those under the earth, [11] and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

See Also:

What Must I Do to be Saved?

II. Theology Proper – The Doctrine of God

The Knowledge of God