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All the Divine Names and Titles in the Bible
By Herbert Lockyer
ZondervanCopyright © 1988 Zondervan
All right reserved.
Chapter OneTHE NAMES AND TITLES OF GOD THE FATHER
I. PERSONAL NAMES
Moses asked God, "... Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?" (Exodus 3:13), and Jesus asked the maniac of Gadara, "What is thy name?" And he answered, saying, "My name is Legion: for we are many" (Mark 5:9). When, reverently, we ask God, "What is Thy name?" we can hear Him say, "My names are legion"! In King Henry IV, Shakespeare inquires, "I would thou and I knew where a commodity of good names were to be bought!" The Bible provides us with a wonderful commodity of good names, belonging to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, and ours is the privilege of appropriating all that such names represent. Theirs are
"The immortal Names, That were not born to die."
In any phase of Bible study we may undertake, it is important to bear in mind what Dr. A. T. Pierson calls, The Law of First Mention. It will be found that so often, the first mention of a person, or place, or a doctrine, or word, is an embryo of a feature or a fact for which there is fuller development. For instance, although Adam and Eve were earth's first sinners, the term sin is first found in connection with Cain's murder of his brother Abel, "... sin lieth at the door" (Genesis 4:7), and the rest of the Bible is the unfolding of the nature of sin, and of its dread consequences both here and hereafter. The same idea applies to almost all the divine names and titles in Scripture.
Elohim - Plurality in Unity
The fourth word in the opening of the Bible is the first mentioned name in the Bible - GOD! (Genesis 1:1). This first verse is His signature, as if to suggest that the book holy men would write under His inspiration would be His book. Just as my name is found on the cover of this book you are reading, indicating that all within it is from my pen, so God's name stamped at the beginning declares Him to be the author. The Hebbrew for this very first name is Elohim, and it fittingly describes God in the unity of His divine personality and power. It is found some 3,000 times, and in over 2,300 of these references the term is applied to God. In other places, Elohim is used in a secondary sense.
For instance, it is used of -
Idols (Exodus 34:17).
Men (Psalm 82:6; John 10:34, 35).
Angels (Psalm 8:5; 97:7).
Gods-men (Genesis 3:5).
Judges (Exodus 22:8).
(In these instances, the idea of might and authority are contemplated. Trench, in Study of Words, gives a full coverage of these references.)
In the first two chapters of Genesis Elohim occurs 35 times in connection with God's creative power. This striking name for "God" is found most frequently in the books of Deuteronomy and the Psalms. In one psalm (68), this Hebrew word is used 26 times and practically covers all aspects of Salvation. As to its first appearance, "In the beginning God," as well as in the other references, the name is in the plural, and is a foregleam of the Trinity acting in unity. "God (plural) said, Let us (plural) make man in our image ..." (Genesis 1:26) and man's creation was the concerted act of the three members of the Godhead -
The Father (Exodus 20:11).
The Son (Colossians 1:16).
The Holy Spirit (Job 26:13). Creative glory and power and Godhead fullness are associated with this initial name of the Bible. Elohim, perhaps the most comprehensive of all divine names speaks of the function of Deity in creation, judgment, deliverance, and punishment of evil-doers. Elohim, as the Creator, expresses the fiat of Almighty God which called the world into existence "by the Word," (John 1: 1-3), while the Spirit brooded over all till Creation was complete (Genesis 1: 2). Thus, in Elohim, God is the majestic Ruler, and under such a name we have the idea of omnipotence, or creative and governing power.
H. E. Govan in his work, Discoveries of God, says -
"That the Hebrews' name for God has a plural form, Elohim, offers two suggestions -
1. That He was conceived as combining in Himself all the powers and attributes, so far as they were worthy, which the heathen distributed over their numerous deities.
2. That the One God is variously and progressively apprehended under different aspects. The sacred records show us enlargement of vision from time to time, with increase of faith and consequent development of character."
Parkhurst in his Hebrew Lexicon under Elohim defines the name as one usually given in Scripture to the ever-blessed Trinity by which they represent themselves as under the obligation of an oath to perform certain conditions. "Elohim is a plurality in unity. Accordingly Jehovah is at the beginning of Creation named Elohim, which implies that the divine Persons had sworn when they created." Some scholars object to the idea of the Trinity being found in the word Elohim. It is only fair to point out that this term, with the usual ending for all masculine nouns in the plural, is sometimes used with a singular pronoun, "I am your Elohim." Yet the word in this singular form is not full enough to set forth all that is intended. Trench reminds us that when "Elohim is employed to designate the one true and only God, it has for the most part, the usual construction of a noun in the singular number; that is, it is joined with a verb or pronoun which is also singular. The last two letters of the title im represent a plural ending."
Always rendered as God in the KJV, "Elohim" often implies "Fullness of Might" - a name full of assurance for our faith. Without doubt a great "mystery of godliness" is latent in Elohim. It is a repository of truth concerning the Persons in the Godhead in essential unity, and a mode of expressing the abundance and diversity of transcendent attributes combined in Deity. Further, this first name of God in Scripture contained and shadowed forth the visions and words of sacred writers regarding the works of the blessed Trinity. If the root of Elohim, as a word, means "to swear," then the New Testament declaration, "Because he could swear by no greater, He sware by himself" (Hebrews 6:13), takes on added significance. "As Elohim, in virtue of His own nature and covenant - relationship to His creature, He can never leave it fallen as it is, till all again is very good."
Andrew Juke calls us to "mark especially that Elohim works, not only on, but with, the creative. This is indeed grace, most wondrous and abounding. For it is all of grace that Elohim should restore and save His fallen creature. It is still greater grace that in the restoration He makes that creature a fellow-worker with Himself.... The idea conveyed by Elohim is always that of 'One in covenant,' and implies One who stands in a covenant-relationship for the outworking of His purpose.... His words to Abram, Elohim's name pledges the same relationship: 'I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect; ... and I will establish my covenant between me and thee, and thy seed after thee in all generations ... to be a God to thee, and to thy seed, ... and I will be their Elohim,' that is, I will be with them in covenant relationship" (Genesis 17:1-8).
What comfort for our hearts can be found in this first great name of God of which Dr. G. Campbell-Morgan says, "It refers to absolute, unqualified, unlimited energy." God is ever ready to put forth His power on our behalf. Elohim signifies a covenant relationship which He is ever faithful to keep. "What a stimulus to faith and an inspiration to love, is found in this title of God," Dr. F. E. Marsh affirms, "for looking at it in the light of the New Testament, we find -
The Father in the power of His love, The Son in the provision of His grace, The Spirit in the potentiality of His strength."
When God lovingly reminds us, "I will be to you an Elohim," may ours be the quick reply - "My Elohim; in Him will I trust" (Psalm 91:2).
El - The Strong One
This short title (from which some scholars assert Elohim is derived) is the most primitive Semitic name; and its root meaning is probably "to be strong." In classical Hebrew, El is mainly poetical. A most common word for Deity, El is represented by the Arabic term for God, Aleah. While found throughout the Old Testament, it is discovered more often in job and the Psalms than other books. Translated some 250 times as God, El is frequently used in circumstances which especially indicate the great power of God. For instance it was as El that God brought Israel up out of Egypt (Numbers 23:22). Moses said, "Jehovah your Elohim is God of gods, the Lord of lords, the God (or El) who is great, mighty, and dreadful" (Deuteronomy 10:17). El is likewise used in connection with the great and mighty promises God gave to Abraham and to Jacob (Genesis 17:1; 35:11). El is also one of the names given to the promised Messiah, "El, the mighty" (Isaiah 9: 6, 7).
The first time El is used in Scripture is in connection with Melchizedek who is described as "priest of the most high El" (Genesis 14:18). Perhaps the most sacred and expressive use of El is in the Calvary Psalm where Christ appeals to El in His agony, "My God, My God" (Psalm 22:1). Thus in the New Testament crucifixion narrative we have Jesus crying with a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi" (Mark 15:34). In His extreme weakness He prayed "My Strength, My Strength," for El denotes God as "the Strong One and first and only Cause of things, and being in the singular emphasizes the essence of the Godhead. The attributes of God are generally associated with this title, or God in the expressiveness of His character and action."
El is frequently combined with nouns or adjectives to express the divine name with reference to particular attributes or phases of His being which, by usage have become names or titles of God.
Excerpted from All the Divine Names and Titles in the Bible by Herbert Lockyer Copyright © 1988 by Zondervan. Excerpted by permission.
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