Names of God in Christianity

Names of God in Christianity

There are various names of God in Christianity. Some names refer to one person of the Trinity, while others refer to the entire Trinity. There are a number of names that can refer either to God the Father or to the entire Trinity, and often "God" is used directly. Many other terms, such as "The Creator", is usually thought of as God's attributes rather than names. "The Lord" is also a common Christian name for God.


Names derived from Hebrew

The word Jehovah displayed at the Protestant Church named St. Martinskirche, Olten, Switzerland, 1521.

Some Christians use the Hebrew names Elohim, El-Shaddai, and Adonai.

Names based on the tetragrammaton are also in use. Jehovah appears in Tyndale's Bible, the King James Version, and other translations from that time period and later. Jehovah's Witnesses make consistent use of Jehovah.[1] Yahweh is used in the modern Sacred Name Movement, such as the Assemblies of Yahweh.

Many English translations of the Bible translate the tetragrammaton as Lord, following the Jewish practice of substituting the spoken Hebrew word 'Adonai' (translated as 'Lord') for YHWH when read aloud.[2] The Septuagint mainly used the Greek word Kyrios (Greek: Κύριος, meaning 'lord') to translate YHWH. As this was the Old Testament of the Early Church, the Christian practice of translating the divine name as 'Lord' derives directly from it.

In Messianic Judaism, sometimes considered a form of Christianity, God is often referred to as HaShem, meaning "the Name". The Trinity is called ha'Elohiym, and the three persons of the Trinity are called Father, Yeshua, and Ruach haQodesh.

I Am that I Am is a common English translation (King James Bible and others) of the response God used in the Bible when Moses asked for His name (Exodus 3:14).

The New World Translation of the Bible, by the Jehovah's Witnesses also uses the term "Jehovah" in the New Testament.

Names of God the Father

The name "Father" is the most common term used for the creator within Christianity.[citation needed] Some Christians use the Aramaic word "Abba" (אבא), meaning "Father", because it was the name Jesus Christ himself used to refer to God[citation needed] (Mark 14:36). Notably, the Lord's Prayer begins: "Our Father ...". Abba is also used in St. Paul's letters to the churches as in the New Testament (Romans 8:15 and Galatians 4:6).

In the Nicene Creed, God the Father is referred to as "God", "the Father", and "the Almighty".

The Apostles' Creed refers to God the Father as "God", "the Father almighty" and "the Father".

God the Father is often referred to as "Heavenly Father", especially in prayers and other devotional contexts.

Names of Jesus

IHS (for Hebrew) or JHS (for English) monogram of the name of Jesus

Jesus (Iesus, Yeshua, Joshua, or Yehoshûa) is a Hebraic personal name meaning "Yahweh saves/helps/is salvation".[3]

Christ means "the anointed" in Greek. Khristos is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word Messiah.

While in English the old Anglo-Saxon Messiah-rendering hæland 'healer' was practically annihilated by the Latin Christ, some cognates such as heiland in Dutch survive.

The Nicene Creed refers to Jesus as "Lord", "Jesus Christ", "the only Son of God", "God from God", "Light from Light", and "true God from true God".

The Apostles' Creed refers to Jesus as "Jesus Christ" and "our Lord".

Other common names for Jesus are "the Lamb", "the Lamb of God", "the Son of God", the "Son of Man", and the Nazarene.

The Catholic Litany of the Holy Name lists many epithets of Jesus.

Names of the Holy Spirit

The Nicene Creed refers to the Holy Spirit as "the Holy Spirit", "the Lord", and "the giver of Life".

The Apostles' Creed refers to the Holy Spirit as "the Holy Spirit".

Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as "Paraclete" (Greek: παράκλητος) and "the Spirit of Truth".[4] Elsewhere in the Gospels, the Holy Spirit is termed "a Comforter" and "the Counsellor".

The Holy Spirit is sometimes referred to as the "Holy Ghost". Usage of this name is now diminished in most Christian denominations, but survives in hymnals. It is still commonly used by Latter-day Saints.

"Pneuma" is the Greek word for spirit and is found 385 times in the New Testament. It is used in the general sense of spirit as well as the Holy Spirit, and can also mean wind or breath.

Names not specific to one person of the Trinity

Names used to refer to God include Lord, Ancient of Days, 'Most High', 'King of Kings' or 'Lord of Lords' and Lord of the Hosts.

Some Quakers refer to God as the Light.

Beliefs and practices surrounding the name of God

One the Ten Commandments is "You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God". This is sometimes interpreted to mean that it is wrong to curse while making reference to God (ex. "Oh my God!" as an expression of frustration or anger).[citation needed] Another interpretation of this passage is in relation to oath taking, where the command is to hold true to those commands made 'in God's name'. God's name being used in vain can also be interpreted as trying to invoke the power of God, as a means to impress, intimidate, punish, condemn, and/or control others. This can also be used to refer to the idea of saying that one acts "in God's behalf" when doing things that are clearly personal actions.

The Lord's Prayer contains the line "Hallowed be thy name", in reference to God the Father.[5]

The Catholic Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus commemorates the naming of Jesus.

In the movement Imiaslavie ("Name glorification") opposed by the Russian Orthodox Church, the name of God is God Himself and can be used to evoke miracles.

Some Christians capitalize all references to God in writing, including pronouns. (ex. "The Lord, He is God, Holy is His Name.")

Different Christian cultures have different views on the appropriateness of naming people after God. English speaking Christians generally would not name a son "Jesus", but "Jesús" is a common Spanish first name. This taboo does not apply to more indirect names and titles like Emmanuel or Salvador.[citation needed] The word "Christian" is sometimes used as a first name, and is currently the name of about 1 out of every 1500 males in the United States.[6]

Perhaps because of taboos on the use of the name of God and religious figures like Mary, mother of Jesus, these names are used in profanity (a clear case is Quebec French profanity, based mostly on Catholic concepts). More pious swearers try to substitute the blasphemy against holy names with minced oaths like Jeez! instead of Jesus! or Judas Priest! instead of Jesus Christ![who?]

See also


  1. ^ ' Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania (1984). ""The Divine Name That Will Endure Forever"". The Divine Name That Will Endure Forever. Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania. Archived from the original on 2008-04-11. "Jehovah's name is "majestic, great, fear-inspiring and unreachably high." All of God's purposes are linked to his name." '
  2. ^ NASB (1995). ""Preface to the New American Standard Bible"". New American Standard Bible (Updated Edition). Anaheim, California: Foundation Publications (for the Lockman Foundation). Archived from the original on 2006-12-07. "There is yet another name which is particularly assigned to God as His special or proper name, that is, the four letters YHWH (Exodus 3:14 and Isaiah 42:8). This name has not been pronounced by the Jews because of reverence for the great sacredness of the divine name. Therefore, it has been consistently translated Lord. The only exception to this translation of YHWH is when it occurs in immediate proximity to the word Lord, that is, Adonai. In that case it is regularly translated {{subst:GOD}} in order to avoid confusion." 
  3. ^ Bible Dictionary by William Smith LLD 1948 p.307; An Expository Dictionary of NT Words by W.E. Vine 1965 edition p.275, Websters English Dictionary; etc.
  4. ^ Excerpt from the Catechism of the Catholic Church
  5. ^ Hallowed be thy name
  6. ^

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