Three primary names of God

Did you know there are three primary names of God?3 Primary Names of God - Hebrew

  1. Elohim (God),
  2. Jehovah or Yahweh (usually printed as Lord in the KJV), and  
  3. Adonai (Lord).

Each of these names emphasizes a different aspect of the nature of God.

  • The name Elohim occurs 31 times in Genesis 1, where it emphasizes His strength and creative power.
  • The name Yahweh is most often used to express God’s self-existence, particularly in relation to humanity.
    • Yahweh. The most important name for God in the old Testament is the tetragrammaton YHWH (occurs about 6,800 times), usually pronounced ‘Yahweh,’
      • “Tetragrammaton” means the four Hebrew letters usually transliterated YHWH or JHVH that form a biblical proper name of God.
    • When Moses objected to returning to Egypt, one of his excuses was that he did not know God’s name. By that he meant that he did not understand enough about God’s authority. God solved this problem by revealing Himself as the “I AM,” that is, Yahweh (YHWH).
    • God reveals Himself in His names and Christians should understand them to better serve Him. (First Reference, Gen. 1:1; Primary Reference, Ex. 3:13.)
    • Yahweh Sabaoth. This compound name, ‘Lord of Hosts’
  •  Adonai means “master” and underscores the authority of God.
    • Adonai (Heb., ‘My Great Lord’) is used in place of YHWH as a name of the God of the Hebrews during prayer recitation.
    • In written texts the vowels of Adonai were combined with the consonants YHWH to remind readers to pronounce Adonai instead of Yahweh.
    • The incorrect hybrid, ‘Jehovah,’ stemming from YHWH & Adonai arose from Christian misunderstanding in the late Middle Ages.
    • The respect for the sanctity of the personal name of God is reflected in modern Judaism.

The name “el” and “olam” presents God as One who existed before the remotest time and who will exist in eternity. This descriptive name of God reminds us that the Lord was, is, and ever more will be.

  • El (singular), Eloah, Elohim (plural) = God; Elohim speaks of the fullness of God’s divine power (often referring to His plurality – Father, Son, Holy Spirit as seen 1 John 5:7-8.)
  • EL Shaddai = Almighty God
  • El Elyon = God Most High (Maker of Heaven and Earth)
  • El Olam = Everlasting God; God of eternity
  • El Berith = God of the Covenant
  • El Roi = God of the divine vision
  • El Elohe Yisrael = El the God of Israel

The name, “el”, first occurs in Genesis 21:33.

  • Abimelech (an early title of Caananite kings who lived in what later became the land of the Philistines) came to Abraham with Phichol, the commander of Abimelech’s army. The two asked Abraham to make a treaty with them, for they said, “God is with you in all that you do” (v. 22). Abraham agreed, and made a covenant oath in which he swore friendship with them (vv. 23, 24). Verse 33 tells us that afterward Abraham planted a tree at the site of the treaty of friendship.
  • It was there that the patriarch “called on the name of the Lord, the Everlasting God.” In doing so, Abraham affirmed his awareness that treaties between people are vulnerable to human failings. But once established, a relationship with God is secure, for the Lord is the everlasting God. He remains the same for all eternity.

Examples of God’s name used within other names:

  • Israel = He strives with God; God strives (name given to Jacob)
  • Daniel = God is my Judge
  • Ezekiel = God strengthens
  • Michael = Who is like God? (Daniel 12:1 we see that Michael watches over and protects Israel as a nation!)
  • Gabriel = God is great; Man of God; Strength of God
  • Angel(s) = Messenger(s) of God

One of the Old Testament names of God is Yahweh-Rapha, meaning “The Lord That Heals You” (Ex. 15:26).

  • The healing power of God is evidenced in a number of instances in Scripture. God heals by preserving health (Deut. 8:4), and advising good nutritional habits (Ex. 15:26; Lev. 11) and a healthful life-style (Lev. 12–14); and through the application of medical treatment (James 5:14), forgiveness of disease-causing sin (Num. 12:13), and the prayer of faith (James 5:15).
  •  Although God does not always choose to heal, He sometimes does. When a Christian is sick, he should confess his known sins, and God may heal him if the sickness is caused by sin. He may also be led to ask his elders to anoint him with oil and pray for his healing. Some diseases experienced by Christians today could be prevented by trusting God as Yahweh-Rapha, and allowing Him to deal with those things in their lives causing stress, anger, and worry. (First Reference, Ex. 15:26; Primary Reference, James 5:14–16; cf. Matt. 19:14.)

Names of God

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