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Who Is God?

The question for Christians today is not, “Does God exist?” but: “Who is our God?” God is not an abstract, unknowable being, or a nameless power, He has a personality. One of the ways His personality is understood is through the particular names He assigns to Himself. A good understanding of the names of God leads to a better understanding of God Himself.

The term for name in the Hebrew (Old Testament) language most likely meant, mark, or individual mark. A name communicated something of the essence, character, and reputation of the individual. In the ancient world, a person’s self was expressed and contained in his name as seen in 1 Samuel 25:25: “He is just like his name-- his name is Fool, and folly goes with him” (NIV).

In the Greek (New Testament) language, the word for name comes from a verb that means to know. Thus a name correctly described the person and indicated his character. God’s names disclose His nature. “Knowing the name of God,” meant knowing his identity and personal character. For those who know and acknowledge His name comes trust and hope in Him (Psalm 9:10; 91:14). This hope and trust is in stark contrast to those who don’t “know His name.” In Psalm 79:6 and Jeremiah 10:25 it is written that God will pour out His wrath on the nations that do not acknowledge Him and peoples who do not call on His name.

Since God is both transcendent (absent and removed from the world) and immanent (present and active in our world), no, one name can fully describe God. To make it easier we’ve broken down God’s names into 6 categories:

      1) Proper names: El, Yahweh, Adonai, Theos, Kurios
      2) Personal names: Father, Abba, Son, Jesus, Holy Spirit,
      3) Titles: Creator, Messiah, Christ, Paraclete, Comforter, Maker, King, Judge, Ancient of days, True Prophet, Only High Priest, Eternal King.
      4) Essential names: Light, Love, Spirit, Living bread, Living water,
      5) Descriptive names: Rock, Master, Rabboni, Shepherd, Door, Vine
      6) Attributes: names of virtues or characteristics of God


Anchoring Deeper:
Knowing God by name


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