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The "Name" of the Lord?

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By Nick P.

Mother Teresa. Adolf Hitler. Billy Graham. Alexander the Great. St. Francis of Assisi. Bill Clinton. Jack the Ripper. Thomas Edison. Archie Bunker. Bob The Builder. Julius Caesar. Abraham Lincoln. David. Aristotle. Jesus Christ.

Each of those names brings to mind images. Some are good images and some are bad. Hopefully, must of us enjoyed thinking about Jesus Christ and not about Adolf Hitler. Some produce other feelings aside from good and evil like Thomas Edison. Others bring to mind comedy like Archie Bunker. Some bring to mind cute things like Bob The Builder. However, all of these names make us think of certain recognizable people.

What of God in his essence though? We know when he came to Earth he was known as Jesus Christ but was also called Immanuel. He would be the literal rendering of "God with us." The name of God is a central point of groups like the Jehovah's Witnesses who treat the name "Jehovah" very seriously.

So what does this name mean and how did it come about? One must understand that in the Hebrew language there is no J. There is no letter with that sound even. The Y sound has often been translated to be a J when brought into English. This is true even for names like Jacob and Jerusalem.

Jehovah then, is a more anglicized version of the name YHWH, show in Exodus 3. Jehovah can be translated to mean "I AM WHAT I AM." Some JWs like to take the name to mean "I will be what I will be." Not only is this a wrong interpretation as no Jew held this interpretation in Jesus's time that I know of but it also leaves a question. God never changes so what will God be? That will mean he must be something other than what he is now but how can this be?

The correct meaning is "I AM." It was Jesus taking this name upon himself that got him nearly stoned by the Jews and even in the Jehovah's Witnesses own Kingdom Interlinear, the verse in question in John, which is 8:58, shows the Greek as reading "Ego eimi." That is the Greek translation of "I AM."

I AM is not so much a name as it is a description of character. Today when we name kids we don't often go deep into the origin of their names and what they mean. The ancients were very different. Each name had specific meaning and referred to something clear about the person. This is why God often named people in the OT or changed their names. An example is the naming of Hosea's children or Jacob having his name changed to Israel. Only God had the authority to change a name which shows us something when Jesus changes a name of an apostle in the NT.

The name did not refer to a title so much as a description of character. To send someone in the name of God meant to send someone in God's authority. To pray in the name of Jesus means to pray in the authority of Jesus. A clear example of this is shown in Exodus. In Exodus 6:3 God says he was known to Abraham as El Shaddai but not as YHWH. Does this mean Abraham didn't know the name YHWH? No. It's used frequently in Genesis. What it means is that Abraham did not see the power and character of God that would be shown in the Exodus. Another example is as follows:

But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth. (Exodus 9:16)

Now God did all of this just so Pharaoh would know that Israel's God was named YHWH? No. He probably already knew that. He did it so the power of YHWH might be known. The name in Hebrew thought is equal to the person. That YHWH's name might be known would mean that the power of YHWH would be known.

It's for this reason that the early church fathers actually wrote that God has no name. Why? A name is that which is given by another above him. God has no other above him to give him a name. When talking to a witness about this I asked who gave God his name. She said "God did." And I replied, "So God lacked something then?"

Friends. I don't say this to cast down God but to lift him up and I know this is a shock to many. My fear might be that many might be like the Egyptians. They might know the name "YHWH" or "Jehovah" but they won't know him. This is an essential. We have to know him. As has been said, you can be right about everything else biblically and theologically, but if you're wrong about one of these core doctrines, it costs everything.

What really matters is knowing who YHWH is. Has he explicitly revealed himself in the person of Jesus? Is Jesus right when he says that to see him is to see the Father. Was Paul right when he said the Son is the image of the inviisble God? (Meaning, what God is inviisbly, Christ is visibly.) Eternity hangs in the balance. Coming to the gates of Heaven and saying YHWH or Jehovah, won't cut it. Christ has made it clear. It's by his name (Which means authority and person again) that all are saved.

In Christ,

Email the author at ApologiaNick at wmconnect.com