Every man, woman and child on earth has a name. Whether Tom, Dick or Harry, whether William, Wilhelm and Willy, whether Robert, Roberta or Bobby, or one of many millions of other names, all people are individually and distinctly identified with an appellation, a name unique to himself or herself. His or her own personal designation is spoken and usually written. Does God have a name? If He has a name, what is His name? How is God's name spelled and pronounced in English?
by Jerry Gentry
"Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what is his name, and what is his son's name, if thou canst tell?" (Prov. 30:4).
Lots of individuals and various churches propose that God has a name. The Bible speaks many places of the name of God. Ancient Israel was commanded not to "swear by my name falsely" (Lev. 19:12). Solomon said, "it was in the heart of David my father to build an house for the name of the LORD God of Israel" (1Kgs. 8:17). Isaiah wrote, "Thou, O LORD, art our father, our redeemer; thy name is from everlasting" (Isa. 63:16).
Jesus said "Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name" (Matt. 6:9). The disciples were sent to "Teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost (Matt. 28:19). It is only logical that God have a name, since every individual of intelligence is known to others by a unique name. God&emdash;Father, Son and Holy Ghost&emdash;consists of a triunity. Does this God of the Bible have a name? Yes, God is distinctly named many places in the Bible. How can we today speak, pray and worship in that name.
If we believe the King James Bible, the name of God the Son, the second person of the Godhead, is no mystery: "His name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb" (Luke 2:21). To Joseph, the angel spoke: "And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins" (Matt. 1:21). "Sacred name" groups and churches challenge the validity of the name of Jesus. They reject God's pure revelation in the King James Bible in their preference usually for a Hebrew name, such as "Yashua," or "Yeshua," which they have found in a Hebrew Lexicon. They search outside the English language and revelation of the King James Bible for a name fit for the Savior. But the Word of God reproves these "sacred name" groups who depend on Lexicons and extra Biblical information to spell and pronounce the name of God the Son. Clearly, His name is Jesus.
Moses' successor Joshua, meaning "savior," is referred to in the New Testament as "Jesus" (Hebr. 4:8). By the use of inductive reasoning then, Jesus of the New Testament should really be "Joshua" or "Yeshua" or some derivative of this Hebrew appellation, if we follow "sacred name" logic. Must the English speaking Bible believer then prefer a different language to his native tongue, when speaking in Jesus' name? Must he return to the ancient Hebrew tongue, a language studied, known and debated today only among scholars? "He hath remembered his covenant for ever, the word which he commanded to a thousand generations" (Ps. 105:8). Must English speaking believers today become Hebrew scholars to receive "the word which he commanded to a thousand generations?"
Strictly speaking, people who insist upon writing and speaking some Hebrew "sacred name" for Jesus, not found in the King James Bible, have a problem. These folks, well meaning as they are, look to "secret" knowledge found outside of God's Word. God the Son is most commonly known throughout the New Testament by His pure name Jesus, or Jesus Christ, meaning Jesus the "anointed one," or more fully "the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ" (Phil. 3:20). In addition to His name Jesus, "they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us" (Matt. 1:23).
"What is his name, and what is his son's name, if thou canst tell?"
There is only one way to tell, for sure. We must make our stand on the pure Word of God, the King James Bible, alone. All who do, "put their trust in him" (Prov. 30:5). It is in the Bible alone that we will find the genuine "sacred name," pure and simple. Groups and individuals who insist on a Hebrew name rely on linguistic research and analysis, which seems quite reasonable. If the English is good, the Hebrew must be better, they reason. Worse still, they reason, the English words are corrupt; therefore we must go to the original language. There is one problem: If any of the words in the English King James Bible are truly corrupt, then we have no certain "Word of the LORD" for our generation, to rely upon. The Bible reproves such prideful and false conclusions: "Every word of God is pure" (Prov. 30:5). No one will dispute that the name of the Son "Jesus" is found in the Bible, declared pure by internal evidence within its own pages.
Yes, every believer who relies solely on the King James Bible as final authority, "canst tell" for sure that "His son's name" is Emanuel, Jesus the Christ, Saviour of His people Israel. The Bible believer does not need Greek or Hebrew lexicons to know for sure what to call and how to pronounce the name of the Son of God, the second person of the Godhead. Most simply, "his name was called JESUS" (Luke 2:21). If we will believe the Bible, if we will stand on the inerrant Word of God, we too will "call his name JESUS" (Luke 1:31), just as the angel did, and just as His mother Mary and father Joseph called Him Jesus. The Holy Bible closes the door on extraBiblical "sacred names," which derive at best from misguided zeal, and at worst from a spirit of pride and arrogance against the King James Bible, the very Word of God itself.
Of Jesus, the Bible says: "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace" (Isa. 9:6).
To insist that Jesus should be called by another name outside the Bible is to blaspheme the only "name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). Yes, those who teach the necessity of pronouncing and writing a "sacred name" outside of God's pure revealed Word found in the King James Bible, however well meaning they may be, are reproved by the very Word of God which they attempt to supercede and correct. What arrogance! What deception!
It is easy enough that by this very name of Jesus, every little child can begin to know the One, who said, "Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 19:14). He is the one called Jesus, who says: "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28). It is Jesus, who invites: "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Mat 11:29-30). By His name Jesus, the Savior is known throughout the Christian world. Many Christians know His name, but fail to follow his teachings. That is, they have rendered His law/word null and void, nailed to the cross.
These Christians believe in grace only. These who will not live by the standards of the law/word of God "shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 5:19). Their works of iniquity will be burned up in the coming judgment of God. Of these "grace only" Christians, the Bible says, "If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire" (1Cor. 3:15). Good works are defined by the teachings of Jesus, who came that he might "magnify the law, and make it honourable" (Isa. 42:21), certainly not nail it to the cross. Those who teach "grace only" have no absolute standard to govern their lives. They are filled with the antinomian spirit of the age.
It is ironic that many "sacred name" groups try with zeal to follow certain aspects of His law/word, while they reject the English name of Jesus! Would these folks be rightly identified as modern remnants of the ancient Pharisees, who clung to certain aspects of the law, but rejected the name and person of Jesus? These folks have a great zeal. They even retranslate and publish new Bibles, in their zeal to return to the "sacred name." Are their efforts right? What does the Bible say about such works?
"And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book" (Rev. 22:19). It is a serious matter to change even one word of the Bible. The God of the Bible condemns in no uncertain terms anyone who attempts to change the Word of God.
Notwithstanding those who argue against it, the Son of God, the second person of the Godhead, is clearly named in Scripture, which is identified most commonly simply as Jesus. Then is the third person of the Godhead named? If so, what is the name of the third person of the Godhead?
The third person of the triune Godhead, the Holy Spirit, is clearly identified. "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you" (John 14:26). Difficult as it may be to understand the person of the Holy Spirit, who is everywhere at all times, He is our "Comforter," identified throughout Holy Scripture as "the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption" (Eph. 4:30). Just as Jesus Christ came to "seek not. . . [his] own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me" (John 5:30), the Holy Spirit is the One "whom the Father will send in my name" (John 14:26), Jesus said. The Holy Spirit glorifies not His own name, but the name of Jesus, just as Jesus glorifies not Himself but the name of the Father. It is the Holy Spirit Who comes "confirming the word with signs following" (Mark 16:20). Truly, the triune God is one in purpose, spirit and truth.
Even under the Old Covenant, this third person of the Godhead was always present. As the children of Israel proceeded out of Egypt toward the promised land, the LORD "gavest also thy good spirit to instruct them, and withheldest not thy manna from their mouth, and gavest them water for their thirst" (Neh. 9:20). The personage and identity of the Holy Spirit, or Comforter, is clarified throughout Holy Scripture. He is the One who convicts of sin&emdash;"My heart is smitten, and withered like grass" (Ps. 102:4). He comes "confirming the word with signs following" (Mark 16:20). He converts the hearts of men: "he [Jesus] shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost" (Mark 1:8).
Christians are exhorted to give "thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Eph. 5:20). The Holy Spirit magnifies the role of the Son of God, the very Word made flesh, in salvation history. Both second and third persons of the Godhead, the Son and the Holy Spirit, are named in Holy Scripture. There is only one person left: the Father.
"What is his name. . . if thou canst tell?"
Throughout Holy Scripture, the Father is referenced variously. The prophet Daniel said: "I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him" (Dan. 7:13). If that "one like the Son of man" who had access to approach the very throne of heaven is the preincarnate Jesus, then the one being approached is "the Ancient of days," the very Father Himself. Yes, believers of the King James Bible may rightly pray to the Father and call Him "the Ancient of days."
In a riddle, the Psalmist challenges: "The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool" (Ps. 110:1). "My Lord" in this verse is clearly the very preincarnate Son, Jesus Christ, who later "was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God" (Mark 16:19), the Father, who is "The LORD" quoted by the Psalmist. Yes, the Father is "The LORD." And that word "LORD," when it appears in all capital letters in the King James Bible, derives from the Hebrew Tetragrammaton, "YHVH." Who then is this "YHVH," which appears over 6000 times in the Old Testament, as "the LORD," occasionally "GOD," four times "Jehovah" (Exod. 6:3; Ps. 83:18; Isa. 12:2; Isa. 26:4), and once "Jah" (Ps. 68:4)?
"What is his name. . . if thou canst tell?" One purpose of this lesson is to correctly identify this one called "the LORD" in the King James Bible, the one of whom the prophet Isaiah four times writes and Jeremiah five times writes: "The LORD of hosts is his name."
If you can read Hebrew, then you know the Hebrew Masoritic texts refer to this God as "YHVH." Exactly how you pronounce this Hebrew word "YHVH," is any man's guess today. Ancient Hebrew, as a spoken language has long since passed out of usage by any Israelite nation of our modern age. It was even superceded mostly by Greek and Aramaic at the time of Jesus Christ, whose words were written down not in Hebrew but in Greek, by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Even the New Testament book to the "Hebrews" was originally written down in the Greek language, and is today part of the Greek "received text" of the New Testament, found in some 5000 copies in libraries around the world. The King James translators used this "received" Greek text as their foundation for making our English New Testament.
Do you believe the King James Bible is the inerrant Word of God? The Tetragrammaton "YHVH" nowhere appears even once in the English text of this Bible. Neither does it appear as a transliteration anywhere in the Greek New Testament of the originals. Who is "The LORD of hosts?" Did the King James translators make a royal mistake, when they wrote "The LORD," rather than some form of the Hebrew Tetragrammaton, "YHVH?" Further, the word "YHVH" refers not only to the Father, but to God&emdash;Father, Son and Holy Spirit&emdash;in the unity of His being. "YHVH," or "the LORD," then, refers not to the name of the Father alone, but to all three members of the Godhead in their unity, as a general statement. In addition, there are many references where from the context, "YHVH," or "the LORD," names the preincarnate Son alone. Example: "For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ" (1Cor. 10:4; Exod. 13:21; Num 20:12). It was the preincarnate Son of God, "the LORD," who made the worlds. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John 1:1; Hebr. 1:2). Indeed, there is much evidence that God "the Word" (preincarnate Son) was "the LORD" throughout the Old Testament, with rare exceptions.
"What is his name, and what is his son's name, if thou canst tell?" We can certainly tell the Son's name. The name Jesus appears in the New Testament over 950 times. But what is the name of the Father alone? "What is his name. . . if thou canst tell?"
The Bible is less than absolutely clear about the Father's singular name. Many people use the English word Yahweh when they pray to the Father. This may be technically correct, in that He, the Father, is included in that appellation, at least for those who claim to speak in the ancient Hebrew tongue. In contrast, and by example, Jesus the Son, prayed "Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name" (Matt. 6:9). Why did He not speak the name? Why did He by example merely say, "Our Father?" Not the least of the problems among those who insist on use of Yahweh in referencing the Father is that never once is it recorded that Jesus used that Hebrew name. Is that fact mere coincidence? Must we assume that in His private prayers he pronounced "YHVH?" Had He wanted us to speak to the Father and pronounce "YHVH," would He not have given us an example? Many proper names were transliterated into English from the Greek, which had been transliterated from the Hebrew.
For example, the English word "cherubims" (Hebr. 9:5) is spelled "cheroubim" in Greek, and "keruwb" in Hebrew. The English "Sodom" and "Gomorrah" (Gen 10:19) is spelled "Cedom" and "`Amorah" in Strong's Hebrew concordance. The English "Joash" (Judg. 6:11) is spelled "Yow'ash." "Jehoshaphat" (2Sa 8:16) is "Yehowshaphat." "Jerusalem" (Josh. 10:1) is "Yeruwshalaim," in Hebrew and "Jerusalem" (Matt. 2:1) is "Hierosoluma" in Greek. These names are transliterated from Hebrew into Greek into English. Why then do we fail to find even once the Hebrew "YHVH" transliterated into Greek, then into English? Why did the writers of the New Testament leave "YHVH," or some transliterated form of that Hebrew Tetragrammaton, entirely out of the Greek New Testament? What were their reasons?
It is a question that calls forth much speculation about this One "whose name is Holy" (Isa. 57:15). Did they fear that common use of such a holy Hebrew name would lead to violation of the third commandment: "Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain" (Exo 20:7)? Were they superstitious about using the name? Various scholars have put forth many reasons for the consistent use of "the LORD" in place of "YHVH" throughout the Old Testament, and absence of any use of any form of "YHVH" even one time in the Greek or English New Testaments. Could the real reason simply be that "man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God" (Luke 4:4), and that "The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times" (Ps. 12:6). And, yes, "The LORD" is one of those "pure words," and not a transliteration of "YHVH," which was rejected by every New Testament writer, as well as the later King James translators, though it was readily available to all.
"Thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name" (Isa. 57:15), the Bible says. "Sacred name" groups often place their version of the Hebrew/Anglicized name of God above His very Word. How ironic! The New Testament writers had ample opportunity for including some transliterated form of "YHVH" in their texts, just as they did for dozens of other Hebrew and Chaldee names (Elijah=Elias; Pharez=Phares; Jochanan=John; Eber=father of the Hebrews; Rehoboam=Roboam; Jehoshaphat=Josaphat; etc.). We may not understand why the original eight New Testament Greek writers (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, Peter, James and Jude) never once used a form of the Hebrew Tetragrammaton in their Greek writings. Understanding why is secondary to the fact of the matter. Our understanding is predicated upon our obedience, and not vice versa.
When we supercede the very Word of God, in favor of even our best, most scholarly, idea of the original name in Hebrew, then what have we done? We have corrected the very Word of God in English and conformed that Word to a different spelling and pronunciation. It then becomes quite evident that Christians who rely on the King James Bible, sola scriptura, will stand on "the Word of God" and "the LORD," found therein. We will read the King James Bible as it is written and not edit its words. Is it a sin, then, to occasionally refer to God as "YHVH," and pronounce Yahweh? Certainly not. It is no sin to speak with reverence the name of God in any language. But for the English speaking world, "the LORD" conforms with "the word of God" in its purest form. Folks who look upon a Hebrew form of the name of God as their "secret" key of knowledge, unknown to most of the Christian world, who see themselves as "special" above all others in the eyes of their Creator, may find themselves greatly disappointed.
Think Biblically. The God of heaven is soon to return. How will he be known to those he will return to? If He returns in our time, he will return as "Jehovah," "Jah," and "the LORD of hosts" to an English speaking world, and be known to Israelites of other nationalities in their own present prayerful tongues. Yet the King James Bible takes precedence today, just as the Greek manuscripts built upon and took precedence over Hebrew words, beginning with Jesus and his disciples.
There are at least three doctrinal issues at risk in a critical Bible study of the name of God: 1) Salvation, 2) Lordship, and 3)LORDship. How are you saved; who is your "Lord," and who is your "LORD?"
If you are saved by faith in Jesus Christ, then He must also become your "Lord," your Master in a general sense. He's the boss. But He is more than Master or Boss. He is also your "LORD," your "I AM," your eternal security. He is your everything. Moses wanted to know what to call this One. He was told, "I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you" (Exod. 3:14). "I AM THAT I AM" is your hope, your all, your eternal security, praise God. It is a strange sounding name, even in English. But there are stranger sounding names! "I AM THAT I AM" is to the English speaker what "YHVH" was to one who spoke Hebrew. "YHVH" is the "I AM THAT I AM" is "the LORD," in English.
The English word "Yahweh" is scholarly and intellectual; whereas, "Praise ye the LORD!" and "Alleluia," render His name into English through words of praise. In English, the name "Yahweh" equals "Alleluia!" absent the praise. "But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel" (Ps. 22:3). "Alleluia" incorporates a transliterated form of the Hebrew name "Jah." Is that why "Praise ye the LORD!" (Old Testament) and "Alleluia" (New Testament) are good King James Bible words? It is amidst such praise that He "hast magnified thy word above all thy name" (Ps. 138:2).
"If my people, which are called by my name, [Praise the LORD! Alleluia!] shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land" (2Chr. 7:14).
Christian, will you be called by the name of God? Then you will humble yourself and know Him personally who saved you. You will know and call upon his pure name Jesus. You will grow to make the One who saved you truly your Master, your Boss. You will acknowledge that He "suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps" (1Pet. 2:21). You will yield to the prompting of that One known in Scripture as the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, your personal guide in your daily walk. And you will "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven" (Matt. 5:16). Yes, you will know the Father also. You will glorify the Father, "the Ancient of Days," "the LORD," "the King of glory." You will also be cautious in the use of any Hebrew "sacred name," lest you be carried into a false sense of security drawn from "secret" extraBiblical knowledge. And you will never attempt to correct the King James Bible with a word of your own, lest evil be brought upon you for attempting to place His name above His very Word.
You will submit to God, who "hast magnified thy word above all thy name" (Ps. 138:2), who has given his children all things through the power of His name, that is, "by My name." Praise the LORD! Alleluia!