If you learn a foreign language, one of the first things you are taught is how to say “My name is.” What is interesting is that in some languages, the phrase “My name is …” is literally worded this way: “I am called ….” As in, this is what people call me.
That may be a more apt description of what a name actually is: It’s what others call you. In some cases, it’s your first name or your surname (your family name); sometimes people are called by their middle name. Sometimes people have nicknames or other descriptive names that describe who they are. A list of Irish kings from centuries ago reveal that many of them are recorded as, for example, “the brave,” “the melancholy,” “the long-bearded” or even “the black-toothed.”
When it comes to the Creator God, He has many names—many ways by which He is called. All of them describe the multiple facets of His nature and character.
One verse that is packed with a list of God’s names is found in Exodus 34. Verses 5-7 read: “And the Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.” That’s quite the name! And that verse doesn’t even record every expression by which God is called in Scripture.
Our Ten Commandments booklet states: “Describing the Hebrew tradition of name-giving, Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament states under the word for name (onoma), ‘[T]he name is used for everything which the name covers … [:] one’s rank, authority, interests, pleasure, commands, excellences, deeds, etc.’ This Hebrew tradition certainly applies to God’s name. Why? God is the originator of the tradition! God’s name reveals His high rank, authority, interests, deeds and—most important of all—His righteous character. In fact, the Bible shows that God has many names. Why? No one name can adequately express God’s fullness. Each name carries important meaning. We must hold great honor and respect for all of God’s names.”
Properly valuing God’s name is not just the essence of the Third Commandment; it is even commanded as part of the prayer outline that Jesus Christ gave us in Matthew 6. We are told to say something to the effect of “Hallowed be thy name” (Matthew 6:9). Of course, that’s not all we say. That describes a whole portion of our prayers. Every day, we have to hallow—or put holy value—on God’s name. We cannot simply gloss over this part to get to the part we want to get to. In fact, even the parts that lead up to the phrase “Hallowed be thy name” contain phrases that show how we should be honoring God’s names. Let’s go through those here. Names for God will be bolded, so you can easily add these to your prayer list. After the bolded name will be a more detailed description with scriptural references, so you can see where and how these names are referenced in the Bible.
Our Father …
At the opening of your prayer, when you address the Father first, you could venerate Him for all His names—names specific to His office and His position in the Family.
ABBA Father. Abba is a Hebrew word similar to our word Daddy. This name shows us not only that God literally fathers human beings with His Holy Spirit (Roman 8:16), He cares for them as a human “daddy” should care for his offspring. Jesus Christ called His Father Abba in Mark 14:36, but it’s a name we also may use of our spiritual Father in Heaven (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6).
Father of lights. James 1:17 refers to God the Father with this phrase—showing that God “fathered” (through creation) all the magnificent lights in the firmament. However, even more splendid is the fact recorded in verse 18 that says “Of his own will begat he us;” there is no comparison between Him creating heavenly spheres and literally begetting more Gods!
Father of mercies. In 2 Corinthians 1:3, the Father is specifically called, “the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort.” This beautiful name is explained in the next verse: “Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God” (verse 4).
The Most High. The God who later became Jesus Christ was the God who directly interacted with Old Testament Israel. The Old Testament usually refers to the Being who became the Father as the “Most High” (see Genesis 14:18-20, 22; Psalm 82:6; Isaiah 14:14). Similar to the phrase above, “the Highest” is also an expression used for the Father. It is used in Psalm 18:13 about the God who would become the Father, but it is used explicitly in the New Testament to describe the Father of the God Family (Luke 1:32, 76; 6:35).
Which Art …
Even the phrase “which art” (“our Father which art in heaven”—or, our Father WHO IS in heaven), is packed with a particular aspect of God’s nature—that of His eternal existence. Several of His names reflect this element of His persona—the fact that he inhabits eternity (Isaiah 57:15) and the fact that He never slumbers or sleeps (Psalm 121:3-4).
Everlasting. God is called “the everlasting God” (Genesis 21:33) and “the everlasting Father” (Isaiah 9:6). Isaiah 40:28 uses the phrase “everlasting God” and explains that He “fainteth not, neither is weary.” The word can simply mean “forever.” God has been God “even from everlasting to everlasting” (Psalm 90:2). Paul referred to Him as ”The King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God” (1 Timothy 1:17).
God of our fathers. God introduced Himself to Moses as “God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” and is referred to elsewhere in Scripture this way (Exodus 3:15-16; Acts 3:13; 7:32) or something similar. God is being addressed as the being who was not only alive back then, but also intimately involved in the history of those people!
The Living God. God is called by this phrase 16 times in the Old Testament, and 14 times in the New Testament. How wonderful that we can go to a God who is alive. Peter called Jesus Christ, “The Prince of life” (Acts 3:15); John called Him “the Word of life” (1 John 1:1).
I Am That I Am. The God who later became Jesus Christ used this phrase to identify Himself to Moses and later to Israel. The Hebrew word for “am” can literally mean “was,” as in past tense, but also present and future tense. With that in mind, His name could be rendered: “I was, I am and I will be.” In John 11:25, Christ said: “I am the resurrection.”
Alpha-Omega. Jesus Christ called Himself this in Revelation 1:8, 11; 21:6; 22:13. Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet—Christ is the the beginning and the end. In fact, elsewhere He is called one “having neither beginning of days, nor end of life” (Hebrews 7:3). John refers to Him as “That which was from the beginning” (1 John 1:1). To the Laodicean era, He identifies Himself as both the “beginning of the creation of God” and “the Amen” (Revelation 3:14). He also calls Himself the “root and the offspring of David” (Revelation 22:16): He both formed David in the womb and gave David His own throne, but He also descended from the lineage of David when He came in in the flesh (see Luke 3:23-31). Several of the names specific to Jesus Christ reference His immortality. Here is one more:
Ancient of Days. The Prophet Daniel referred to God as the “Ancient of days” (Daniel 7:9, 13, 22), which brings to mind how “old” God is, and how much history He has seen. Those verses in Daniel give an inspiring description of God’s appearance and power.
In Heaven …
When you acknowledge God the Father’s eternal existence (as well as the eternal existence of His Son), you acknowledge where they dwell. When addressing God the Father (the being to whom we pray), you are acknowledging where He is—in the third heaven, the holy city, the mercy seat (Hebrews 12:22-23). You should also acknowledge and praise Him that His Son Jesus Christ is sitting at His right hand. That might be a good place to go over some of the names specific to Jesus Christ—praise Him to His Father!
Jesus Christ. God in human form was to be named Jesus (Matthew 1:21)—from a Hebrew word meaning The Eternal is salvation. Matthew 1:23 says: “they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” This was the fulfillment of a prophecy in Isaiah 7:14. John 20:31 shows we are to “believe that Jesus is the Christ.” Christ means anointed—as in the anointed one, or the Messiah—and we refer to Jesus the Christ simply as “Jesus Christ”—as many scriptures also do. This is the name through which we can pray to the Father (John 14:13-14; 16:23-26).
Son of Man. The New Testament uses this appellation for Jesus Christ—the God who manifested Himself in human form, by being born of a physical woman (Matthew 1:18). This “Son of man” lives in glorified spirit form and is stationed at God’s right hand (Luke 21:27; 22:69; John 13:31; Acts 7:56). This name of Jesus Christ connects Him to humankind and shows our transcendent spiritual potential!
Advocate. In 1 John 2:1, Jesus Christ is described as our “advocate with the Father”—interceding on our behalf when we sin. The meaning there is of one pleading a case before a judge. Christ—who came in human form and understands the pulls of the flesh—is doing that before His Father. You can study more about that in our booklet The Last Hour, which states: “The fact that we have an advocate shows God’s great love and passion for justice.”
Husband. Christ is also called the “husband” to the Church (2 Corinthians 11:2), or more commonly the “bridegroom”—pointing to the coming marriage between Christ and the Church. John the Baptist referred to Christ this way (John 3:29) and Christ even referred to Himself this way (Matthew 9:14-15; Mark 2:19-20; Luke 5:34-35).
Melchizedek. The Being with whom Abraham had contact (and to whom he tithed), Melchizedek, was the God who later became Jesus Christ, but was manifesting Himself in physical form in Abraham’s day to build the city of Jerusalem (Genesis 14:18-20). The New Testament confirms that this was Jesus Christ (Hebrews 7:1-3). Melchizedek literally means “King of righteousness.” Though King of Salem, He also “abideth a priest continually” (Hebrews 7:3)—the Priest of God Most High. Elsewhere in Hebrews, Jesus Christ is referred to as our High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-15; 6:20; 9:11).
Messenger of the Covenant. The Messiah is referred to this way in Malachi 3:1. His earthly ministry involved proclaiming a message about the coming Kingdom of God His Father (Matthew 4:23; Mark 1:14; Luke 8:1; John 1:18). The covenant is referring to the marriage covenant God is making with His people.
Lamb. Jesus Christ is described as a lamb who is both “slain” (Revelation 13:8) and “worthy” (Revelation 5:12). Think of all that entails: John the Baptist called Jesus “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Jesus went “as a lamb to the slaughter” (Isaiah 53:7) to be “an offering for sin” (verse 10)—to pay the penalty for our sins!
Lion of the tribe of Judah. In Revelation 5:5, Christ is called this—referring to how He prevailed, or conquered. The lion is known for its power, dominance and boldness (Proverbs 28:1), and we are assured victories if He is on our side and we tap into that power.
Bright and Morning Star. Jesus Christ calls Himself this in Revelation 22:16. This luminous appearance is an attribute of both the Father and Son. You can read a description particularly about Christ’s brightness in Revelation 1:13-16; we also know that the Father and Christ look similar to one another (John 14:7-9). Their brightness will illuminate the world when the Father of lights descends to Earth in full glory with New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:23).
Captain. In Joshua 5:14-15, the being who became Jesus Christ is called “the captain of the Lord’s host.” Hebrews 2:10 calls Jesus Christ the “captain of [our] salvation.”
Wonderful. Isaiah 9:6 lists a few of the names of the coming Messiah. One is “Wonderful,” which can mean a miracle of God. His birth as a human being certainly was miraculous and from God (Matthew 1:18).
Counselor. The coming Messiah would also be named as one who guides, counsels, decrees, or resolves, as the Hebrew word indicates. Isaiah 28:29 says He is “wonderful in counsel.” Both God and Jesus Christ are great educators full of boundless wisdom (Romans 11:33)!
Prince of Peace. This Messiah—who is given many names in Isaiah 9:6—came to preach peace (Luke 2:14; Acts 10:36), and at His Second Coming, He will enforce peace (Isaiah 2:1-4; 9:7). His Father who raised Him from the dead is, Himself, called “the God of peace” in Hebrews 13:20.
The Branch. The coming Messiah is named “The Branch” in several verses (Jeremiah 23:5; 33:15; Zechariah 3:8; 6:12). His human existence came as a result of being born from the family of David. God uses a branch of a tree to indicate this relationship (Isaiah 11:1). Christ is not only the branch of that family tree, but also the “Root of David” (Revelation 5:5). The Bible even uses “Two Olive Trees” to describe God the Father and Jesus Christ in Zechariah 4 (see our booklet on Zechariah for more details).
Shepherd. Jesus referred to Himself as a shepherd (John 10:11, 14). Later in the New Testament He is called the “chief Shepherd” (1 Peter 5:4) as well as “Shepherd and Bishop of your souls” (1 Peter 2:25). The famous Psalm 23:1 says “The Lord is my shepherd,” but also Psalm 80:1 names God “Shepherd of Israel.” This name for Christ shows His ultimate care for, knowledge of and sacrifice toward those in His charge.
Hallowed Be Thy Name …
By this point in the prayer (and on your prayer list), you have already mentioned or praised many of God’s names—some specific to the Father, some specific to the Son (not that you’re praying TO the Son—but praising both names are part of honoring God). Of course, at this point, there are many more names that refer to God—and they would describe and apply to either being or both. You could go over those at this point in your prayer:
God. Of course this is the family name—and using it acknowledges this inspiring fact that God is a literal Family. The Hebrew for God in the Old Testament is the word Elohim, which is a singular noun made up of more than one component—like the word family is singular (one family), but for something to be a family, there must be more than one. John 1:1 shows that both God and the Word are “God”—just as if John Smith named his son James, both would still be called “Smith.”
Lord. The all-caps word Lord in the King James Version Old Testament consist of the Hebrew letters YHWH—often pronounced Yehovah. It means the Self-Existent or Eternal. Because “Lord” in English often is used to mean “master,” it is more meaningful to refer to this name of God in English as “the Eternal.” This name usually refers to the God of the Old Testament, who became Jesus Christ. On a couple of occasions, however, the context is clearly using the all-caps “Lord” to refer to the being who is the Father—Isaiah 53:10 says that “it pleased the Lord [the one who became the Father] to bruise him [the one who became Jesus], and Psalm 110:1 refers to the Lord telling David’s Lord to sit at His right hand—which the New Testament shows is the Father promising the Son a place at His right hand (Acts 2:34-36).
Lord God of Hosts. In about 270 verses in the Old Testament, the phrase “Lord of hosts” is found, and “God of hosts” is found in over 30 verses. 1 Samuel 17:45, one of those verses, relates David telling Goliath, “I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel.” God is a God of armies (which is what the Hebrew for “hosts” means—though it can also mean the heavenly bodies). That is part of His name!
Merciful and gracious. We have already discussed how God the Father is the Father of mercies. Mercy is also connected to the name of the Being who later became Jesus Christ—Exodus 34:6-7 mentions this attribute twice. One of those names is “merciful and gracious.” Another name listed in that passage is ”keeping mercy for thousands.” Related to that, and after those two previous names, He is also called ”forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.” These are traits that obviously apply to both God the Father and Jesus Christ.
Longsuffering. Exodus 34:6 also uses this compound word which means what its components would suggest: God suffers long. In other words, He is entirely patient with us. Other scriptures define this attribute as slow, as in “slow to anger” (Nehemiah 9:17; Psalm 103:8; 145:8; Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:2; Nahum 1:3).
Abundant in goodness and truth. This phrase shows how kind and reliable God is. He is “abundant” in these characteristics, which (in the original Hebrew) indicates mighty, chief or possessing much of. Goodness is the word usually translated “mercy” (we have already seen names associated with God’s mercy), and truth shows God’s faithfulness or, again, His reliability. He possesses those things in great abundance!
Holy. In His prayer recorded in John 17, Jesus Christ refers to His Father as “Holy Father” (verse 11). Holy—which can mean pure—is a name for both the Father and Jesus Christ. Luke 1:49 says “holy is his name”; Psalm 111:9 states, “holy and reverend is his name”; Isaiah 57:15 refers to God “whose name is Holy.” Isaiah 43:15 and Habakkuk 1:12 call God the “Holy One.”
Righteous. In His same prayer (John 17:25), Jesus referred to God as “righteous Father.” The ruling Jesus Christ is also referred to as the “the Lord our righteousness” (Jeremiah 23:6).
Creator. God is referred to in Scripture only five times by this occupation of His (Ecclesiastes 12:1; Isaiah 40:28; 43:15; Romans 1:25; 1 Peter 4:19), yet how packed with meaning this word is when you consider all that He has ingeniously created!
Lord of the harvest. Twice in the New Testament, God is called this (Matthew 9:38; Luke 10:2)—to whom Jesus told us to pray about more laborers being sent to this cause. The Bible often uses the two major harvest seasons to depict God’s plan to bring salvation to the world. In John 15:1, Christ referred to Himself as the true vine and called His Father the husbandman, though Christ Himself is also like a husbandman in the spiritual harvest (James 5:7).
Friend. Though the Bible calls a couple of people a “friend” of God, and Jesus called His disciples “friends” (John 15:14), God Himself is also described as “friend” in Song of Songs 5:16.
Judge. Isaiah 33:22 says God is “our judge … our lawgiver … our king.” Specifically as judge, He is called “Judge of all the earth” (Genesis 18:25), “God … the Judge of quick and dead” (Acts 10:42), “God the Judge of all” (Hebrews 12:23), and “the God of judgment” (Malachi 2:17). No other being than the perfect, all-knowing God is capable of properly punishing, righteously rewarding or justly judging. God’s name shows that He is the only one who can administer true justice!
Lawgiver. The Hebrew word for “lawgiver” can mean to engrave. God is the Being who engraved His law into tablets of stone from Mount Sinai. The law describes the way of life that God and the Word have lived for all eternity. James 4:12 says, “There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy.” In Deuteronomy 33:2, the Eternal is described as coming from Sinai “with ten thousands of saints,” and “from his right hand went a fiery law for them.” This name for God is yet another testament to His awe-inspiring power.
King. So many verses refer to God as “our king,” “my king,” “your king,” King “of Israel.” God rules His creation—though He has allowed Satan to be god of this world until deposed (2 Corinthians 4:4). When He returns to take the reins of the Earth, He is described as “King of kings” (Revelation 17:14;19:16)—an inspiring name showing how He will share His rule with human beings born into His family. In 1 Timothy 6:15, another verse where the phrase “King of kings” is used, Paul refers to God as the “only Potentate”—which is another word for ruler, officer, or one with great authority.
Healer. In Exodus 15:26, God identifies Himself to the Israelites as “the Lord that healeth thee,” which comes from the Hebrew phrase Yahweh-Rapha, which could be rendered The Eternal Our Healer or Our God Healer. God is Healer (Psalm 103:3; 107:17-20). A God being was born as human flesh, grew up and was brutally beaten so that “with his stripes” we could be healed (Isaiah 53:5). God has committed and literally sacrificed Himself to be our Healer.
Redeemer. Isaiah 63:16 says, “thou, O Lord, art our father, our redeemer; thy name is from everlasting.” The English word “redeemer” is used 18 times in the Bible, and it usually refers to one of God’s names. It means someone who buys back, pays off, restores, recovers or offsets. God rescues us from the bondage of Satan, and Jesus explicitly paid that price with His own blood (Acts 20:28).
JAH. Psalm 68:4 says to extol God by His name “Jah” (pronounced “yah” in the Hebrew). This is a word used commonly in the Psalms and other musical portions of the Bible. It is a shortened version of yhwh (yah-weh) and is most commonly found in the word/phrase Hallelujah (literally: “praise the Lord”). How remarkable that so many people have sung this Hebrew lyric (“Hallelujah”) throughout the ages, regardless of what language they speak or even what religious denomination they belong to.
Almighty. God introduced Himself to Abraham and Jacob this way (Genesis 17:1; 35:11). Moses, Naomi, and a few psalmists and prophets use this name for God, though Job uses it the most in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, Paul uses it once, but all other uses of this name for God are found in the book of Revelation, penned by John (who usually uses the word in the phrase “Lord God Almighty”). Jeremiah 32:18 says, “the Great, the Mighty God … is his name.” In Isaiah 9:6, the coming Messiah is also called “The mighty God.” He is not just strong, however. The word “Almighty” can mean omnipotent, or all-powerful! The name can either refer to the Father or the Son (see 2 Corinthians 6:18; Revelation 1:8; 21:22).
Adonai. One of the words for “Lord” in the Old Testament—usually referring to the God who became Jesus Christ, but can refer to both—is the Hebrew Adonai, which literally means “headship.” God is our Head; He must rule us. Jesus Christ is called “the Head”—His position in the Church (Colossians 2:19). A connotation of the word Adonai includes the sense of God blessing. As our booklet on Amos shows, we can define that name for God as “Our Head who blesses.”
Rock. God is called “the Rock of Israel” (2 Samuel 23:3). David commonly referred to God as “my rock.” In Deuteronomy 32, Moses tells Israel that God is “the Rock,” “the Rock of his salvation” and “the Rock that begat thee.” In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul explains that the Rock from which Israel drank symbolized Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 10:4). Jesus Christ is also represented as the chief corner stone in a building (see Psalm 118:22; Matthew 21:42; Ephesians 2:20). A rock or stone indicates the strong, enduring character and nature of God.
The Name no one knows. Revelation 19:12 shows that at Jesus Christ’s return, He would have “a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.” That indicates we might learn more names for God in the future!