Do You Know the Meaning of the Name of God?
By Wang Xiao, China
When it comes to God’s name, some brothers and sisters say that God’s name is Jehovah, for it is written in the Bible: “Jehovah … is My name for ever, and this is My memorial to all generations” (Exodus 3:15), and some say that God is called Jesus, because the Bible records: “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Some, however, have recently seen a verse from the Book of Revelation, chapter 1, verse 8: “I am Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the Ending, said the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty,” from which it can be seen that God will name Himself the Almighty. This confounds many people: Why does God’s name change? Why does God take these names? What’s the significance of God taking them?
Actually, if we want to understand this aspect of the truth, we first have to know how God’s names are derived. In this way, the questions will be easily resolved.
A passage in one book says: “You should know that God originally had no name. He only took on one, or two, or many names because He had work to do and had to manage mankind. Whatever name He is called by — did He not freely choose it Himself?” (“The Vision of God’s Work (3)”). These words made me think of what was recorded in Genesis: When God created the heavens and earth and all things, He had no name, but was simply God. For example, when the Israelites prayed to God in the earliest times, they called God “The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” The name Jehovah was the name God used when He led the Israelites out of Egypt and began the work of the Age of Law. Just as it is written in the Bible: “And Moses said to God, Behold, when I come to the children of Israel, and shall say to them, The God of your fathers has sent me to you; and they shall say to me, What is His name? what shall I say to them? And God said to Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and He said, Thus shall you say to the children of Israel, I AM has sent me to you. And God said moreover to Moses, Thus shall you say to the children of Israel, Jehovah, 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 for ever, and this is My memorial to all generations” (Exodus 3:13–15).
This is the source of the name Jehovah, the first name that God took. From that time on, God used the name Jehovah to begin the work of the Age of Law, to lead the Israelites out of Egypt and across the Red Sea, and to guide their lives in the wildness. He issued forth laws and commandments to the Israelites through which He made them aware of their sins, and let them learn to build altars, give offerings, confess their sins and repent. At that time, as long as people prayed to the name of Jehovah, they could gain God’s care, protection and guidance. The Israelites lived under the guidance of Jehovah God for generation after generation, until the Age of Law ended. Late in the Age of Law, people were becoming more and more corrupted by Satan, ever more laws and commandments failed to be kept, even the temple had become a place to trade livestock and doves, and people were in constant danger of being put to death by the laws. However, God took mercy on man and loved man, and couldn’t bear to see man be destroyed in such a way. Therefore, He brought an end to the Age of Law in which He led man with the name of Jehovah, and He changed His name to Jesus to launch the work of redeeming mankind. God incarnated in the form of the Lord Jesus and healed the sick, cast out demons and performed miracles. He preached the way of repentance, taught people to love their enemies, forgive seventy times seven times, not to judge others, to be the salt and the light, to love God with all their heart and soul, and so on. In the end, He was crucified on the cross to become a sin offering, thereby completing His work of redeeming all mankind. Thereafter, as long as we accept the Lord Jesus’ work, pray in His name, we can be forgiven and God will not see us as sinners.
With this fellowship, I trust that many brothers and sisters have understood that God originally had no name. It was only because God wanted to save mankind after being corrupted by Satan that He gave Himself names based on His work and man’s requirements then. God’s name in the Age of Law was Jehovah, and in the Age of Grace it was Jesus.
So, what’s the significance of God’s names? The book says: “In each age and each stage of work, My name is not baseless, but holds representative significance: Each name represents one age. ‘Jehovah’ represents the Age of Law, and is the honorific for the God worshiped by the people of Israel. ‘Jesus’ represents the Age of Grace, and is the name of the God of all those who were redeemed during the Age of Grace.” “‘Jehovah’ is the name that I took during My work in Israel, and it means the God of the Israelites (God’s chosen people) who can take pity on man, curse man, and guide the life of man; the God who possesses great power and is full of wisdom. ‘Jesus’ is Emmanuel, which means the sin offering that is full of love, full of compassion, and which redeems man. He did the work of the Age of Grace, and He represents the Age of Grace, and can only represent one part of the work of the management plan” (“The Savior Has Already Returned Upon a ‘White Cloud’”).
From these two passages, we can see that every name God adopts represents a different age and has a different meaning, and that they represent the work God does and the disposition He expresses in that age. Jehovah was God’s fixed name in the Age of Law when He led the Israelites and represented His disposition of burning and curse. At that time, God did the work of guiding people in their lives and teaching them to worship God. The name Jesus existed for the sake of the redemption of the whole of mankind, and the disposition represented was love and mercy. In that age, the Lord Jesus healed the sick and cast out demons, He made man confess and repent, and He performed the work of redemption. It is clear from this that, each time God carries out a stage of His work, He takes on a new name, which has its own particular significance and reveals to us humans the disposition He wants to express in that age, so that we can better know Him. But we should be clear that though God’s name has changed, His essence, His authority, His power, His love for mankind and His desire to save man will never change.
Based on the steps of God’s work, God will carry out new work in the last days, and so He will change His name. Just as the Bible predicted: “Him that overcomes will I make a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, which is new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God: and I will write on him My new name” (Revelation 3:12). “I am Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the Ending, said the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8). We can see from the prophecies that when God returns in the last days, He will take a new name, which could well be the Almighty. Under this name, God will express truth and perform new work. These mysteries will be personally revealed by God Himself.
Through the passages and verses above, we ought to understand that God’s names exist because of His work of saving man and have their own particular significance.
Jehovah, Jesus, and Messiah are God’s names. Why does God have different names? What is the mystery of the name of God? Read to learn more.”