God has many names mentioned in the Bible. Each one has a particular meaning. What are some of the most powerful names of God and their associated meaning?
ELOHIM – God’s First Name Revealed
The first name that God revealed to us comes in the Book of Genesis. It is ELOHIM and in Genesis 1:1 it refers to the Trinity for ELHOIM is plural and says “In the beginning God [ELOHIM] created the heavens and the earth.” We know this is plural because when God created mankind, He said “Let Us make man in Our own image, according to Our likeness” (Gen 1:26a). Notice that God said let “Us” make man in “Our” image. If there were only One God then He would surely have said, “Let Me make man in My image” but He did not. In fact in the account of creation all Three Persons of the Trinity were involved. God’s name, ELOHIM could be thought of as a family name to give you the idea that there is more than one. My family name is Wellman. We are one family but three persons. Bad analogy I know but it is hoped that you might understand this concept better. ELOHIM is God in Three Persons and is God’s name that is associated with Creation because the Psalmist wrote that “The heavens declare the glory of God[ELOHIM]” (19:1).
YHWH- I AM
This is the name revealed to Moses when Moses asked what name he should give to the Israelites if they asked what His name was. This is the same title that Jesus used many times in the great “I AM’s” during His earthly ministry. It is the “Self-Existent One.” We are human beings but God is simply “Being” meaning He had no beginning and will He have no ending. YHWH is a Tetragrammaton and contains no vowels. In fact, God’s name was so holy that the Jews would not even dare to say it and even today, many Orthodox Jews will not even spell it out but prefer to spell it “G_d” because of their reverence for it. God told Moses to tell them, “I AM that I AM” or I am the Self-Existent, Uncreated One meaning that “I have always been and will always be.” Some Hebrew scholars believe it was spelled EHYEH but no one can say for certain and the pronunciation of this sacred name has been lost in time. It could also be stated as “I AM HE WHO IS” (EX 3:14). The Hebrew verb form of Hayah is “to be” so this is closely related to YHWH.
ADONAI – The Lord is Master
The Hebrew name ADONAI in English means Lord or Master. It describes the Lordship of God over us as individuals. Adon in the Hebrew means master, steward, overseer, or Lord. In the context of the Old Testament ADONAI could be said to mean that God is our Master, our Overseer and our Lord. Jesus said that whoever you obey is your lord. I could put it this way…if He is not Lord of all He is not Lord at all. What I mean by this is that if you obey Him then He is your personal Lord but if you don’t obey Him, then He is not really your Lord and you are actually a child of the Devil and a vessel of wrath (Rom 2:8; Eph 2:3; John 3:35-36). You cannot claim God as your Lord if you do not obey Him. He is ADONAI – your Master – or He is not. If He is not, then you presently have the wrath of God still abiding on you.
JEHOVAH JIREH – The Lord Will Provide
JEHOVAH JIREH is specifically speaking about salvation for in Genesis 22, God provided a ram to be sacrificed after the Angel of the Lord stopped the knife in Abraham’s hand from killing Isaac. This was prophetic too because the Lord God would provide the Perfect and Supreme Sacrifice of the Lamb of God in Jesus Christ. At the same spot where Abraham was willing to sacrifice his own son is the same place that God did sacrifice His One and Only Unique Son, Jesus Christ. That place was where Calvary was! It is not ironic but intentional. The Lord provided for us Jesus Christ so that we could be restored to a right relationship with God that our sin had caused us to be separated. Genesis 22:14 is literally translated in the Hebrew to read “And Abraham called the place ‘The-Lord-Will-Provide’[JEHOVAH JIREH] as it is said to this day, In the Mount of the Lord it shall be provided.” The “shall be” is prophetic and points to Christ Jesus thousands of years later and in that same spot where the Father would provide for us Jesus Christ Who gave His own life willingly just as Abraham was willing to give the life of Isaac. This is why this is one of the most powerful names of God that He gives us.
EL SHADDIA – The Almighty God
EL is part of God’s name and when you add SHADDIA you are literally saying God Almighty or the God of the Mountains. Mountains almost always refer to the nations in the Bible. God is not only the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob but of the entire world…of all the nations. This expresses the Omnipotence of God. When Abraham and Sarah were past natural child-bearing age, God told Him that “I AM Almighty God [EL SHADDIA]” and that “those who dwell in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty [EL SHADDIA]” (Psalm 91:1). This is where EL SHADDIA is used and why the translators of the Hebrew used the word Almighty. EL SHADDIA is sovereign over all the earth, over all the nations, over all things in fact. The Almighty is mighty over all there is in the universe and in heaven which includes the angels, including Satan and the fallen angels (demons).
JEHOVAH SHALOM – The Lord is Peace
I like this one because it makes me think about Romans 5:1 which says “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we now have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Peace is good. Wrath is not. We had the wrath of God abiding on us until we repented, confessed our sins, and placed our trust in Christ. The wrath of God was placed on Jesus for us if we have trusted in Him. If we have not, God’s wrath still abides on us for “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him” (John 3:36). That is why “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:1). JEHOVAH SHALOM is used in Judges 6:24 where “Gideon built an altar there to the Lord and called it, The Lord Is Peace [JEHOVAH SHALOM]. To this day it still stands at Ophrah, which belongs to the Abiezrites.” The Lord is Peace for those who are His own; otherwise He is opposed to you (James 4:6).
JEHOVAH ROHI – The Lord is my Shepherd
If you are not saved, then the Lord is not your Shepherd. Jesus knows whose sheep are His own and He knows them by name and they know His voice (John 10:3-4). If you are not of His flock, then He is not your Shepherd. This is the name given by David when he wrote the 23rd Psalm. If the Lord is your Shepherd [JEHOVAH ROHI], then He will make you to lie down in green pastures and not brown patches. His rod (for protection) and His staff (for keeping the sheep in the flock) will comfort you. If JEHOVAH ROHI is your Shepherd, then He will lead you to still (calm) waters and you can drink from the living water and you will never thirst again (John 7:37-39). If He is your Shepherd then He will take you through the valleys of the shadow of darkness. If there are shadows that means at least there is light somewhere near. Your Shepherd won’t take you out of the valleys, He won’t keep you from the valleys or He won’t make you pass around the valleys but He will take you through the valleys and not leave you there. That is what the 23rd Psalm says. He won’t keep us out of the valleys but He will take us through them and go with us through them in the path of His righteousness (2 Cor 5:21) and goodness and mercy will follow us as we walk in this path and this path will eventually bring us into the house of the Lord and there shall we dwell with Him forever and ever. That is if he is your JEHOVAH ROHI or your Shepherd.
Maybe you have names of God which you prefer above those I have given. If you do, you likely have personal reasons for them. Tell us what they are and why. Whichever name you prefer for God, you can pray to a God that is always willing to forgive you and to cleanse you from all your sins (1 John 1:9) however this forgiveness is conditional. God gives mercy to those who repent of their sins and lifestyle, turn to Him and confess their sins, see their desperate need for the Savior, and place their trust in Christ Who alone can save (Acts 4:12). There is no other way to be saved. He is the only way to the Father (John 6:44). In your prayer life, why not pray to Him in the many names given which are all descriptive attributes of His Holiness, Omnipotence (all powerful), Omnipresence (present everywhere) and Omniscience (all knowing). Whatever your name is, Jesus will save you. He is waiting. Will you come to Him today and be saved while it is still called “today” (2 Cor 6:2)?
Another Reading on Patheos to Check Out: What Did Jesus Really Look Like: A Look at the Bible Facts
Jack Wellman is Senior Writer at What Christians Want to Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Blind Chance or Intelligent Design