The Name of God
The designation “god” is not a “name.” It is only a term signifying “office” or “position” of the entity (being) that is signified or addressed. It is a term that portrays a number of factors or aspects pertaining to the addressee, depending upon the individual making the address. To most, this designation describes a divine being who is responsible for and has authority over all that exists. Nevertheless, it is somewhat impersonal; and, unfortunately, a word that is used throughout society in a variety of degrading ways (e.g., utilized in and associated with profanity and exclamatory expressions).
Today, as it has been throughout the years, the word “god” capitalized (“God”) has always been a popular designation when one wishes to refer to a “supreme being” who is over the affairs of mankind.
What has been continually bewildering, at least to this author, is that Christians, individuals who subscribe to a belief that centers on a very distinctive Person, Jesus the Christ (lit. “Messiah”), who factually is God manifested in human form, appear to be increasingly unable or fearful to mention Jesus Christ or use His name, preferring rather to utilize the somewhat ambiguous designation “God” so as not to offend anyone. This is not to say that the use of the word “God” means any less to a Christian who is referring to his Creator, but at times it can simply be a lame attempt at an opportunity where one could magnify Christ, the One who is indeed increasingly magnified throughout Scripture.
In Holy Scripture, names are important. The primary purpose for names in the Word of God was/is to reveal the nature and character of the one named; and in some cases to correspondingly describe one’s position, function, and circumstance(s) affecting the person. Names in ancient Semitic times had more religious, personal, family, historical, and geographical significance than in today’s Western culture. An inclusive study of the various names within Scripture will easily reveal this, but this study will focus only on the two specific names the Living God ascribed to Himself. And any name chosen by God is to be held in complete reverence, as evident by the instruction Christ gave in Matthew chapter six.
In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed [Gk. hagiazo – to venerate; to ascribe holiness] be Your name. (Matthew 6:9)
The initial place in all of Scripture in which the Living God, the Creator of all that exists, revealed His personal selection for a name is found in a conversation between Moses and God in Exodus 3:13, 14.
Then Moses said to God, “Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?”
And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”
In one brief and descriptive statement God revealed to Moses that He alone was/is absolutely the Self-Existent (i.e., Living) One, which is to say that any deity conjured up by man (Romans 1:20-23) is in fact not alive, does not, nor ever did, exist. Above all other attributes applicable to God, this one is most foundational, for if God does not exist (i.e., is alive), no other quality can apply. Furthermore, unlike any other creature throughout all of creation or non-creation, “I AM” (the “Living God”) has always and will always exist – which is to say that He had no beginning and will have no end. This one most important, overriding attribute (“living”) is repeated throughout Scripture, as follows:
For who is there of all flesh who has heard the voice of the living God speaking from the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived?
And Joshua said, “By this you shall know that the living God is among you, and that He will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Hivites and the Perizzites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Jebusites.
1 Samuel 17:26, 36
Then David spoke to the men who stood by him, saying, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?”. . . (36) Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God.
2 Kings 19:4, 16
It may be that the LORD your God will hear all the words of the Rabshakeh, whom his master the king of Assyria has sent to reproach the living God, and will rebuke the words which the LORD your God has heard. Therefore lift up your prayer for the remnant that is left. . . . (16) Incline Your ear, O LORD, and hear; open Your eyes, O LORD, and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to reproach the living God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?
My soul longs, yes, even faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.
Isaiah 37:4, 17
It may be that the LORD your God will hear the words of the Rabshakeh, whom his master the king of Assyria has sent to reproach the living God, and will rebuke the words which the LORD your God has heard. Therefore lift up your prayer for the remnant that is left.
And the oracle of the LORD you shall mention no more. For every man’s word will be his oracle, for you have perverted the words of the living God, the LORD of hosts, our God.
Daniel 6:20: 26
And when he came to the den, he cried out with a lamenting voice to Daniel. The king spoke, saying to Daniel, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?” (26) I make a decree that in every dominion of my kingdom men must tremble and fear before the God of Daniel. For He is the living God, and steadfast forever; His kingdom is the one which shall not be destroyed, and His dominion shall endure to the end.
Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered. And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them, “You are not My people,” there it shall be said to them, “You are sons of the living God.”
Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest answered and said to Him, “I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!”
John 6:57, 69
As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. (69) Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.
. . . We also are men with the same nature as you, and preach to you that you should turn from these useless things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all things that are in them.
And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them, “You are not My people,” There they shall be called sons of the living God.
2 Corinthians 3:3
Clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.
2 Corinthians 6:16
And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”
1 Thessalonians 1:9
For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.
1 Timothy 3:15
But if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
1 Timothy 4:10
For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.
1 Timothy 6:17
Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.
Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God.
How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels.
Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God.
Just as the Living God took on a specific name during His discourse with Moses in the Old Testament, He took on a specific name for His manifestation in flesh in the New Testament, a name He gave through angelic means to Joseph (“of the house of David” [Luke 1:27]) found in Matthew 1:20, 21.
But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.”
And the name “Jesus” was equivalent to the name “Immanuel” (lit. “God with us”) as seen in Matthew 1:23.
Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which is translated, “God with us.”
(The reader is invited to access the study at http://bibleone.net/deity0fJC.htm entitled “Deity of Jesus Christ” in order to fully understand that Jesus Christ was/is in fact the Living God. A more comprehensive study of Jesus Christ as a member of “The Trinity” may be found at http://bibleone.net/print_tbs10.html.)
The importance and meaning of the name “Jesus” the “Christ” is indisputable in Christianity. Jesus Christ, His Person and His purpose, is the very epicenter – the only reason – of and for the Christian faith, for He is “far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come (Ephesians 1:21).
The reader should be aware that any effort by any “religious” faction or movement that endeavors to shift the primary focus of Christianity from Jesus Christ to any other person or power (even the other two Persons of the Trinity, i.e., the Father, the Holy Spirit) is most certainly not scriptural (John 16:7-14).
Jesus the Christ is preeminently the center of the Christian faith!
Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)
Therefore God also has highly exalted Him [Jesus Christ] and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11)