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Question and Answer

As we read the Bible we see Lord and God used hundreds of times. How do we know what specific name was used in the original Scriptures?

The names God and Lord found in the English version of the Bible are translations neither of which were in the original language of the Bible. Scholars suggest that both Yahweh and Jehovah are two different transcriptions of the Hebrew written name for God. It is usually written as LORD in the English versions of the Bible. The four consonants YHWH represent the ancient Hebrew name for God, and Jews have always considered it too sacred to pronounce. “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is My name forever, and this is My memorial-name to all generations” (Ex. 3:15, NASB). The name Adonai means “Lord,” a title used for someone who is a master and worthy of respect and obedience.

One of the most comforting studies we can experience in our devotional time is studying the names of God in the Old Testament and seeing how He reaches out to us in so many ways. He is Elohim, “God”; Jehovah/Yahweh, “the Self-existent One”; Jehovah-jireh, “the Lord will provide.” This last was the name Abraham gave to the place where he sacrificed the ram (caught in the thicket on Mount Moriah) in Isaac’s place. Abraham needed a substitute for the sacrifice, and God Himself provided it. And through the sacrifice of the Incarnate Son, Jesus Christ, we can have a relationship and fellowship with a Holy God.

God is also Jehovah-rapha, “the Lord who heals all of our hurts”; He is called Jehovah-nissi, “the Lord our banner.” He is the one we can run to, our shelter and our exaltation, and He is Jehovah-Shalom, “the Lord our Peace.” He is Jehovah-ra-ah, “our Shepherd,” guarding, guiding, feeding, and correcting. These are only a few of the names of God in Scripture, and further study will reveal even more of His character and how He loves us.

BY Bryan Stewart

Bryan A. Stewart is associate professor of religion at McMurry University in Abilene, Texas. His particular interests are the history of Christian thought and the way that early Christians interpreted the biblical canon. He is the editor of a volume on the Gospel of John in The Church’s Bible series (Eerdmans), and he has done extensive research on the ways that the early Church preached on this Gospel. He is an ordained minister. 

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