What’s In a Name? The Names of God

This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series What's in a Name? The Names of God

Part One: Introduction

John F. Kennedy. Albert Einstein. Adolph Hitler.

Instant recognition. Immediate recall. Images and emotions come to your mind when you read those names.

Frodo Baggins. Luke Skywalker. Hannibal Lecter.

Same thing, right? When you see or hear those names, even though they are imaginary characters, you feel something. You react. You smile. You recoil.

Names mean something to us. They tell a story with the fewest words possible. They inform and reveal. Inspire and warn. Centuries ago, and even today in certain parts of the world, parents carefully selected names that said something about the kind of person they wanted their child to become. In fact, your name has a meaning. Maybe more than one meaning. (Personally, I have never liked the meaning behind my name: “Lover of horses.” Yeah… That is what the name Phillip means. Do you want to know how many times I got made fun of for that? I’m not telling because it hurts too much and you should be ashamed for asking me to relive that pain.)

Names mean something to us because they are important to God. In some ways, the Bible is a book of names. Depending on which source you consult, there are around 2,600 names in the Bible. 2,600. That is a lot of names. There are common, familiar names like David, John, and Mark. There are strange, unique names like Nebuchadnezzar, Jehoshaphat, and Dorcas. (News flash: Do not name your daughter Dorcas. Great lady. Terrible name.)

There are even people in the Bible with more than one name. The Apostle Paul was first known as Saul. Abram became Abraham. Peter was Simon to his friends and family before Jesus rebranded him. (Jesus understood the importance of a name, so much so, that he changed the name of one of his closest followers.)

In addition to all these name changes, God even felt it was important enough to include various sections in His inspired, revealed Word that were simply a list of names. There are genealogies all over the Bible. We even have a great article on Rambling Ever On about one of them found in the Gospel of Matthew.

Clearly, names matter to God. They matter so much to God that He chose to use names as one way to help humanity gain a better understanding of just how awesome and glorious He truly is. Instead of giving us one name, or even two names that would shed light on who God is and what He is about, God chose to give us dozens of names. All of which, give us a small glimpse into His character.

God has a name that shows us His glory. He has a name that reveals a fragment of His sanctifying power. Jesus uses a name which loosely would translate as “Daddy” to help us better understand God the Father’s role as a kind and loving father.

We could spend hundreds of pages and many hours detailing each of God’s names found in Scripture; there is so much about Him we can glean from this one topic. For this series, I have chosen to focus on only three. Come back next week as we take a look at Jehovah-Raah.

Series NavigationWhat’s in a name? The Names of God (Part 2) >>

Phill Lytle

I love Jesus, my wife, my kids, my family, my friends, my church, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, 80s rock, the Tennessee Titans, Brandon Sanderson books, Band of Brothers, Thai food, music, books, movies, TV, writing, pizza, vacation, etc...

7 thoughts on “What’s In a Name? The Names of God

  • February 15, 2016 at 12:16 pm

    I’m looking forward to the series. Would it have helped if we had spelled your name with only one L?

    • August 28, 2020 at 1:38 am

      Hi When I opened this story I thought it would be about God’s name. I have a 1595 Geneva bible among other later medieval translations and it says in Psalms 83:18 that his name is Iehovah. I have been to over 50 countries and territories and learned that God’s name is Iegova/ Ieoaba/ Jehovah ect. I saw in Jerusalem the Dead Sea scrolls with the Hebrew name over 7000 times. Even Karaite Jews use the name of God not just the title God. I asked 29 different priests why they don’t use the name of God and I always remember 3 Catholic priests in Bethlehem said : ” Yes we should be using God’s name but unfortunately we don’t. ” And yet Jesus himself said ” Hallowed be thy name” or make your name known in modern English. After all ” Hallelujah ” means ” Praise Jah “, a short form of Jehovah

      • August 28, 2020 at 8:19 am

        Thank you for the comment, Tim. This article was an introduction to the series. You can navigate the entire series at the top of the article. Thanks for reading!

  • February 15, 2016 at 6:19 pm

    Well said. Nice intro. Looking forward to your series. Always appreciate your point of view.

  • March 23, 2016 at 10:30 am

    Where is part 2???

  • March 6, 2021 at 3:25 pm

    Hard to believe these articles go back five years. Such a deep subject, and well addressed. Thanks again.


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