Names of God
God reveals Himself and His true nature by making known and proclaiming His name. Knowing God intimately, including the names of God, is a crucial part of salvation. John 17:3 says, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”
Psalms 91:14-16 – “Because he has loved me, therefore I will deliver him. I will set him securely on high, because he has known my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him. I will be with him in trouble. I will rescue him and honor him. With a long life I will satisfy him and let him see my salvation.”
For those of us who know His name, God promises to deliver us, set us securely on high, answer when we call on Him, be with us in times of trouble, protect, rescue, honor, satisfy, and most importantly, save us.
Names of God Revealed in Scripture
El is singular and is used 238 times in the Bible. Elohim is translated “God” 2,600 times in scripture. This is not His personal name as Lord found in Exodus 6:3, but His title. The President is not our president’s name, but his title. Even so, Elohim is God’s official title. Elohim is the plural for God and foreshadows the trinity or godhead in Romans 1:20 and Colossians 2:9. Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning God.” Genesis 1:26-27 says, “Let Us make man in our image, according to our likeness” and “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him.” Deuteronomy 6:4 says, “The Lord our God is one Lord.”
Elohim means “the putter forth of power.” Being plural it signifies fullness of power. It also suggests creative power as in Genesis 1:1. Jeremiah said, “Ah Lord God! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee” (Jeremiah 32:17). Speaking of his creative power, Jeremiah was telling us if God created the heavens and earth He can handle anything. God is powerful and there is nothing that you might be facing that is to hard for Him. In the midst of all his trouble Job said, “I know that You can do everything and that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You” (Job 42:2).
None of us has any power but what God has given us. Jesus said, “Apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Psalms 127:1 says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it.” We must depend on the power God has given us and not our own strength. 2 Peter 1:3-4 says, “According as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness.” Thank God we “receive power, after the Holy Ghost is come upon us” (Acts 1:8). Philippians 4:13 tells us that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.
YHWH is without vowels and is pronounced Yahweh. It is usually translated as “Lord” and sometimes “Jehovah.” In Exodus 3:15 God told Moses that He was the “Lord (YHWH or Yahweh) God of your fathers.” Exodus 6:3 says, “I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by My name Jehovah was I not known to them.” Exodus 20:2 says, “I am the Lord (YHWH or Yahweh) thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.” He is Yahweh, the everlasting God! Yahweh means redeemer or deliverer (2 Chronicles 18:31). This name is always related to His own people in a redemptive way, but to His creatures (the unregenerate) He is Elohim.
YHWH is God’s personal name. There are many gods but only one Yahweh. He said, “I am the Lord your God. You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:2-3). Israel had been engulfed in idolatry under the reign of Ahab. God spoke to Elijah to confront him. Elijah told him that because of Israel’s Idolatry it would not rain in Israel until he said. When he returned three and a half years later he told the king to gather the 450 prophets of Baal and meet him on Mount Carmel. Upon their arrival he said, “How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him” (1 Kings 18:21). He then commanded wood and two oxen to be brought, one for the false prophets and one for him, but no fire was allowed. He then said to them, “You call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord (Yahweh), and the God who answers by fire, He is God” (1 Kings 18:24).
The contest was to see which God (Elohim) Baal or Jehovah (Yahweh) was the real God. “They took the ox which was given them and they prepared it and called on the name of Baal from morning until noon saying, O Baal, answer us. But there was no voice and no one answered” (1 Kings 18:26). Elijah mocked them and they cried out to Baal more and more, even cutting themselves trying to get their god’s attention, to no avail. Finally, Elijah called all the people to himself, rebuilt the alter of the Lord, twice had four pitchers of water pour on the wood and sacrifice. He then called on the Lord and the “fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, ‘The Lord, He is God, the Lord, He is God'” (1 Kings 18:38-39). Thus, Jehovah (Yahweh) proved Himself to be the the true and living God.
Then Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal, do not let one of them escape. So they seized them and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there” (1 Kings 18:40). God hates idolatry above all. John commanded, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21). God said, “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). Paul commended the Thessalonians, “How you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God” (1 Thessalonians 1:9). Paul rebuked Athens saying, “The times of this ignorance God winked at but now commandeth all men every where to repent” (Acts 17:30). We must put God first in all things.
This is most probably an abbreviation of Jehovah. It is used 48 times in scripture. The meaning is the same, redeemer or deliverer, and is always used in connection with praise. After being delivered through the Red Sea they worshiped saying, “The Lord is my strength and song and he has become my salvation. This is my God, and I will praise Him. My father’s God, and I will extol Him” (Exodus 15:2). The Psalmist said, “Sing to God, sing praises to his name. Lift up a song for him who rides through the deserts, whose name is the Lord, and exult before Him” (Psalms 68:4).
When we’ve been redeemed praise should be as natural as breathing. You can usually look out in a worship service and tell who’s been redeemed and delivered by the way you see them worshipping. We see this demonstrated in the heavenly scene in Revelation 5:11-14 and it should be demonstrated by all God’s people. Have you been delivered from the hand of the enemy? Psalms 107:2 says, “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy.” Praise also initiates God’s deliverance (2 Chronicles 20:20-23).
In most translations Adonai is translated Lord, where Yahweh is rendered LORD. It is used 439 times in the Bible. Adonai (Lord) means master or owner and is a title expressing dependence and submission as a servant to his master. It is used in Abraham’s prayer to the Lord in Genesis 18:27, “Then Abraham answered and said, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord (Adonai), which am but dust and ashes.” In Exodus 15:17, “In the Sanctuary, O Lord (Adonai),” and in Exodus 23:17, “Three times in the year all thy males shall appear before the Lord (Adonai) God.”
God wants to be our master. We are to be His bond servant or slave (Exodus 21:1-6). Jesus said, “You call me Master and Lord and you say well, for so I am” (John 13:13). On the day of Pentecost Peter said, “God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). This is the full gospel when we make Jesus both Lord and Christ (Savior). He doesn’t want to be just Savior, He demands to be Lord as well. “God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).
El Elyon – Most High God
Genesis 14:18 says, “And Melchizedek, King of Salem, brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High.” It means “one with all power” or “all powerful one.” He is the all powerful one. Abraham went to battle against the kings and rescued his nephew Lot in the power and authority of God. We too are to go forth and see people rescued from the god of this world in the power and authority of God (Colossians 1:13). Jesus said, “All power (authority) is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 2:18-19).
El Olam – Everlasting God
Genesis 21:33 says, “Abraham called on the name of the Lord, the Everlasting God.” He is the eternal one. “Before the mountains were born, you gave birth to the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, you are God” (Psalms 90:2). “Your throne is established from of old; You are from everlasting” (Psalms 93:2). Paul said, “But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God” (Romans 16:26). It was said of Jesus, “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2). His origin was from everlasting. Jesus had no beginning. He is The everlasting God!
El Shaddai – Almighty God
Genesis 17:1 says, “When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, I am Almighty God.” This is one of the most cherished of God’s names by Bible students everywhere. El Shaddai means “strong one.” El means strong and Shaddai comes from shad meaning “breast.” Isaiah 28:9 says, “To whom would He teach knowledge, and to whom would He interpret the message? Those just weaned from milk? Those just taken from the breast?” It means the “breasts of God” – nourisher, strength giver, satisfier, the God who is enough and is able. Hebrews 7:25 says, “He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.” Ephesians 3:20 says, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think.” Also read Jeremiah 32:17 and Job 42:2.
Jehovah Jireh – The Lord will Provide
When Abraham was about to sacrifice his son in Genesis 22:14 the Lord provided a ram instead and he named the place “Jehovah Jireh.” God wants to be Jehovah Jireh on your behalf. As in Abraham’s case, it may get down to the wire, but at the last minute He will become your Jehovah Jireh. This is promised throughout scripture. Romans 8:32 says, “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). “God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8). It’s significant that these promises were in the context of sacrificial giving.
Jehovah Rapha – The Lord Who Heals
Exodus 15:26 says, “I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the Lord who heals you.” This is promised to all His people. We see this prophesied in Isaiah 53:4-5, “Surely he has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows, yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.” Verse five is also quoted in 1 Peter 2:24. This includes spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical healing. Complete healing is the right of all who have trusted Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Psalms 103:1-5 declares healing as a benefit which ignites praise in us. We are in a fallen state and there is still a law of sin and death working in our members. We are yet awaiting the full redemption of the bodies (Romans 8:23). When we encounter illness we must follow the prescription in scripture. “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven” (James 5:13-15). “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also quicken (give life to) your mortal bodies by His Spirit who dwells in you” (Romans 8:11).
Jehovah Nissi – The Lord our Banner
Exodus 17:15 says, “And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovah-Nissi.” In the battle against Amalek, as long as Moses held up his hand Joshua was victorious. When he lowered it, Amalek prevailed. Aaron and Hur held Moses’ hand up when he became too tired to hold it up on his own. As a result, Joshua and Israel defeated Amalek. In honor of the victory, Moses built an alter to the Lord and called it Jehovah-Nissi (The Lord our Banner).
Isreal’s battle against Amalek in Exodus 17:10-13 and Jehoshaphat’s battle in 2 Chronicles 20 teaches us that praise initiates victory. We’ve diminished the value of praise through uplifted hands (Psalms 63:4, 1 Timothy 2:8). Everyone becomes weary during a battle, especially pastors and ministry leaders. We need people to hold up our hands when we become weary. Let’s hold the Lord’s banner high and unashamed for all to see when He has brought victory into our midst (Revelation 12:11).
Jehovah Qadash – The Lord who Sanctifies
Exodus 31:13 says, “That you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you.” God is our sanctifier and sanctification is the will of God (1 Thessalonians 4:3). We often think it’s up to us to help people get their act together in the Lord. We can’t do it! When we try, it usually causes more trouble than good. It’s God who does the sanctifying, not us. We can’t even sanctify ourselves. The only thing we can do to assist the process of sanctification is to get in the presence of the sanctifier and His Word.
The Word of God will take us further in the sanctification process than anything else ever will. Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them through Thy truth, Thy Word is truth” (John 17:17). “If you continue in My Word, then are you My disciples indeed, and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32). If we will diligently study, meditate on, memorize, and listen to the Word of God being preached and taught, we will be set free from all that holds us in its grip. All too often we trust other things to straighten our lives out. If we will spend as much time committed to God’s Word, as man-made things, we will see God work wonders.
Jehovah Shalom – The Lord our Peace
Judges 6:24 says, “Then Gideon built an altar there unto the Lord, and called it Jehovah-Shalom.” Gideon had only 300 men in the battle with Midian. The odds against them were insurmountable. This would have caused anxiety in the heart and soul of anyone. Gideon found that the Lord, Jehovah-Shalom, was his source of peace in midst of his greatest challenge. Ephesians 2:14 says, “He Himself (Jesus) is our peace.” Whatever you are facing, set your heart on Him. Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.”
Peace is His promise to us. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Paul said, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). There’s a tremendous prescription for peace is found in these verses.
- Prayer. We must take everything to God in prayer. Peter said, “Casting all your care upon Him, because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7 KJV). Jesus said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). However, we must not stop there. All too often we are fixed on prayer for the negatives in life, but this focuses on that which produces anxiety.
- Praise. Prayer focuses on the negative whereas praise focuses on the solution. Thanksgiving is essential to peace. “With thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds.” We read, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful” (Colossians 3:15).
- Positive. All praying must be followed by praising God for the outcome in advance, along with a positive outlook – dwelling on the positive. Paul went on in verse eight challenging us to focus on the positive, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8).
Jehovah Tsidkenu – The Lord our Righteousness
Jeremiah 23:6 says, “This is His name by which He will be called, the Lord our righteousness.” He is our righteousness. We have no righteousness in ourselves. Isaiah 64:6 says, “We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” Our righteousness is found in Him alone. Paul, after listing all his accomplishments in Judaism, said, “What things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith” (Philippians 3:7-9). “For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). We are to seek God and His righteousness alone (Matthew 6:33). Anything else inevitably comes up short. Also read Romans 10:3-5 and Matthew 5:20.
Jehovah Shammah – The Lord is Present
Ezekiel 48:35 says, “The name of the city from that day shall be, The Lord is there.” We know God is omnipresent, His presence is everywhere. Jesus promised, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). Hebrews 13:5 says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” God promises His presence will be especially with His people. There are situations where God’s presence manifests in special ways. Those who trust in Christ will experience God’s full essence of His presence when we meet Him face to face.
Jehovah Raah – The Lord my Shepherd
Psalms 23:1 says, “The Lord is my shepherd.” Shepherds care for their sheep. They protect, feed and go after them when they stray (a lesson pastors should learn). Jesus is the Good Shepherd (John 10:11). Shepherds have a heart of compassion for the sheep. Matthew 9:36 says Jesus seeing the people “felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd.” He cared about everything they were feeling and going through – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
At one time or another, we’ve all strayed from Him. Isaiah 53:6 says, “All we like sheep have gone astray. We have turned, every one, to his own way. And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Jesus went to the cross to pay for our sins, and He is even now waiting for all lost souls to return to Him. 1 Peter 2:25 says, “For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.” God did His part. Will you return to Him today?
Recommended resource: The Names of God: 52 Bible Studies for Individuals and Groups