The Names of God – Introduction

In American culture, names rarely describe a person’s character. “In the Bible a person’s name is a description of his or her character.” [1] This is clearly seen in Genesis 25:19-28, where Esau and Jacob are born and named. Esau means “rough,”[2] and he was red and hairy. Jacob means, “heel-catcher”[3], and Jacob was born holding onto Esau’s heel. Jesus named James and John the sons of thunder, due to their character (Mark 3:17). “This truth is accentuated by the fact that, when a person acquired some new significance, the name was changed accordingly…”[4]

 God has revealed His names and titles describing His character perfectly. While individuals may not act according to their names, God always acts in accordance with His description of Himself. “The many names of God in the Scripture provide additional revelation of His character. These are not mere titles assigned by people but, for the most part, His own descriptions of Himself.”[5]

A.W. Tozer has wisely said, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”[6] Studying the names of God will be helpful for forming a right conviction about who God is, since they provide us with a glimpse into God’s self-revelation of His character.

In the weeks ahead I will be posting a study of God’s character as revealed in seven of His names. Attention will be given to the names Elohim, El Olam, El Roi, El Shaddai, Yahweh, Yahweh Tsidkenu, and Yahweh Jireh. Attention will also be given to the practical comfort each Christian can have through a knowledge of God’s characteristics given in these names.

After the final post in this series, I will also publish the complete study as one post.

[1] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), 157.

[2] James Strong, “6215. Esau,” The New Strong’s Complete Dictionary of Bible Words (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1996).

[3] Ibid, “3290. Jacob”.

[4] Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, vol. 1 (Dallas: Dallas Seminary Press, 1973).

[5] Charles Ryrie, Basic Theology: A Popular Systematic Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999), 51.

[6] A.W. Tozer. The Knowledge of the Holy: The Attributes of God (New York: Harper One, 1961), 1.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.