Is Jehovah the Father’s name? In whose name are we to pray? Must we use only Hebrew names, instead of English names of God? This article will give you the truth on this misunderstood subject.
There is only one name “under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). What is this name? Without it you cannot be saved!
The apostle John was inspired to write, “Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father” (John 2:23). You are denying the Son if you reject His name! It is vital that you know the name of the Son; your eternal salvation depends on it!
The Son came in His Father’s name. What is His Father’s name? Unless you bear your heavenly Father’s name, you cannot be His son! And you will never be born again!
Some claim that “Jehovah” is the Father’s name. They claim that we ought to use the word “Jehovah” instead of “Lord.”
Is Jehovah the Father’s name? Others claim that when we speak of or pray to the heavenly Father and the Son, we should only use the Hebrew names of deity. The claim that it is a sin to use the words “God,” “Lord,” “Jesus,” “Christ,” “Word,” and “Christian.” They insist that we should always use the Hebrew words for Deity. They claim that it is a sin to pray “in the name of Jesus.” A sin to be called a “Christian”!
Though they claim that “Jehovah” is not the name, they cannot agree among themselves as to what the Hebrew name should be! Some claim the name should be pronounced “Yahvah,” others that it should be “Yahweh.” They vehemently insist that it is a sin to translate the names of God into English! They contend that it is the sound of the name, not its meaning that is important! Yet Paul was inspired to write: “except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken?” In verse 19 Paul continued, “yet in the church I had rather speak five words of my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue” – to the Greeks, Hebrews was an unknown tongue ( I Cor. 14:9, 19).
In the Bible, names have meaning. Names are given for a purpose. The first man was called in the Hebrew tongue Adam because he was made of “red earth.” Adam in Hebrew means “red earth.” Abram’s name in Hebrew was changed to Abraham because the promise was made to Abraham that he should become “a father of many nations” (Gen. 17:5). Abraham means “a father of many nations.”
Jacob’s name in Hebrew was changed to Israel, The word Jacob in Hebrew means “supplanter,” but the word Israel means “prevailer with God.” Jacob prevailed with God and obtained His blessing.
All these Biblical names convey meaning. Notice that these names are usually not greatly changed in any foreign tongue because their meanings are already given in the Bible. They do not have to be translated!
But other important Hebrew Biblical names mentioned in the New Testament are translated from Hebrew into Greek! Notice Acts 9:36, “Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas” - in Greek. Her name means “Doe” in English. Again in Acts 13:8, the Aramaic name “Elymas” is translated as “Sorcerer” in English, or as “Magos” in the inspired Greek New Testament. From these examples we see that personal names are often translated in the Bible!
The names of the Creator also have great meaning. Now let’s notice how He wants the English-speaking world to understand the meaning of His names. Here they are!
In the Old Testament the English word “God” comes from the Hebrew word Elohim, meaning “mighty ones.” It is a uniplural word showing that there are numerous members in the One Divine Family. Sometimes the English word “God” comes from another word “El.” It signifies in Hebrew “a mighty one.”
Often the word “El” is combined with other Hebrew words to give new names to the Creator. Thus “El-Shaddai” means the “Almighty God,” as in Genesis 17:1.
Now turn to Exodus 3:13-14 for another surprising name of the Almighty. “And Moses said to 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 unto me, What is His name? What shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I AM that I AM: and He said, thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel I AM hath sent me unto you.”
Notice! Here is one of the many names of the Creator – “I AM That I AM.” There is real meaning to this name! It may also be translated from the Hebrew as “I will be what I will be.” This name – I AM means that there is no one under heaven superior to, no one who exercises lordship over the One who appeared to Moses. The One who appeared to Moses is above all creation, Lord of all! That is what His name means. He is the One who is the Self-Existent One.
Now turn to Exodus 6:1-3. Here the Creator reveals yet another name. “And God spoke unto Moses, and said unto him I am the Lord” (v. 2). The Hebrew word which is translated “Lord” is YHWH. This Hebrew name YHWH – translated “Lord” in verse 2 and mistranslated “Jehovah” in verse 3 comes from the Hebrew root word meaning “to be”, or “to exist.” The name YHWH means “the Eternal,” “the Everliving,” and as the Creator of all and superior to all, this name signifies that He is eternally Ruler and Lord!
Now notice especially verse 3. “And I appeared unto Abraham, and Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by the name of ‘Jehovah’ was I not known unto them.” The name “Jehovah” in the King James Version is admittedly a woeful mistranslation. It comes from the Hebrew word YHWH. Notice that the One who was worshipped by Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob appeared under the name “God Almighty” – in Hebrew El Shaddai. He was not known by the name YHWH. Not until the days of Moses was this name revealed. For 2,500 years of human history this name YHWH was not revealed! When Moses compiled the book of Genesis, he introduced the name, beginning with chapter 2 of the book of Genesis, but the name itself was not known until the days of Moses.
If one cannot be saved unless he pronounces YHWH in Hebrew, then Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were lost forever, for this name was not revealed to them! How plain that the Creator thought it more important to reveal His Word than even this name YHWH to Abraham. Notice Psalm 138: 2 “for thou hast magnified thy word above all thine name.”
But what about the word “Jehovah” in Exodus 6:3? Tens of thousands are being led today to believe that the Creator’s name is “Jehovah.” Where did the name “Jehovah” come from? Notice what the Jewish Encyclopedia has to say:
“’Jehovah’ is generally held to have been the invention of Pope Leo X’s Confessor, Peter Galatin who was followed in the use of this hybrid form by Fagius. But it seems that even before Galatin, the name ‘Jehovah’ had been in common use. It is found in Raymond Martin’s ‘Pagis Fidei,’ written in 1270” (from Jewish Encyclopedia article, “Jehovah”, vol. VII, p. 88).
The word “Jehovah” has come down to the modern world through the Catholic Church! Even the “Jehovah Witnesses,” in the preface to their translation of the Bible, state” “While inclining to view the pronunciation ‘Yahweh’ as the more correct way, we have retained the form ‘Jehovah’ because of people’s familiarity with it since the 14th century” (page 25).
“Jehovah” is not the name! It is a corrupt mispronunciation. Since “Jehovah” is not the proper pronunciation of the Hebrew word YHWH, what then is its proper pronunciation? Some “Hebrew Name” sects say “Yahvah,” others say “Yahweh,” still others believe it should be Yehweh, etc. Why this confusion?
The answer is the true pronunciation of the Hebrew word YHWH has been lost! Here is how it happened.
The Hebrew language uses consonants and semi-consonants, not vowels. Moses was inspired to write this name for the Creator with the four Hebrew letters YHWY. This Hebrew word, which the Israelites originally knew how to pronounce, comes from another Hebrew word HWH, an old form of the root HYH, which means “to be,” or “to become.”
In the centuries since Jeremiah’s day, the Jews became superstitious and made an idol out of this name! They treated it with such superstitious reverence that they decided never to pronounce it! Instead, whenever they found this word in the Old Testament, they read Adonai in its place. Adonai is a Hebrew word meaning “Lord” or “Master.” Hence the proper pronunciation of YHWH became lost!
The Bible even prophesied that the pronunciation of this name should be lost to us today! Notice Jeremiah 23:25-27:
“I have heard what the prophets said, that prophesy lies in my name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed which think to cause my people to forget my name by their dreams which they tell every man to his neighbor, as their fathers have forgotten my name for Baal.”
The Jews in Jeremiah’s day knew how to pronounce the word YHWH. But through the dreams of their false teachers they were mislead into believing that the word YHWH should not be pronounced that it is too holy a word to be uttered! And so the true pronunciation of the word became lost!
No one knows absolutely today how it should be pronounced. This is exactly what Jeremiah prophesied in these verses over 2,500 years ago!
Here is what Rotcrham says about this name in his Emphasized Bible page 25: “The true pronunciation seems to have been Yahwe. The accent should be on the final syllable.” The Jewish Encyclopedia says of this name: “The original pronunciation must have been Yahweh, Yahaweh” (Article “Names of God,” Vol. IX, p. 16).
So the pronunciation YHWH is definitely not Jehovah. Nor do any means today exist of knowing exactly how it is to be pronounced, yet the meaning of this name is preserved for us today. It means the “Eternal,” the “Everliving,” the Eternal Lord. The meaning of the Almighty’s name is far more important than its mere sound.
Now let us notice definite scriptural proof that it is proper to translate the names of God so that we may understand what they mean in the language we speak today!
In the Old Testament the English word “God” is often translated from the Hebrew words “El,” “Eloah, and “Elohim.” When Babylon conquered the Kingdom of Judah, Hebrew gradually ceased to be the language of common speech of the Jews. Hebrew was replaced by Aramaic, spoken throughout the Babylonian Empire. Daniel wrote five whole chapters of his prophetic book in Aramaic, chapter 2 – 6. And Ezra wrote four whole chapters of his work in Aramaic, chapters 4-7.
When Daniel and Ezra referred to the Creator in these chapters, did they use the Hebrew words, or Aramaic translation?
The surprising answer is that God inspired Daniel and Ezra to translate the Hebrew words for God into the Aramaic word ELAH! In 78 different places in these 9 chapters, the Aramaic word ELAH is used to translate the Hebrew word for “God!”
If the Almighty God intended that His Name should be pronounced only in Hebrew, then Daniel and Ezra were false prophets! But Daniel and Ezra were not false prophets! They were inspired men! God inspired them to translate the Hebrew word for God into the Aramaic word ELAH which means God! Every word, every letter which Ezra and Daniel were inspired to write has been preserved for us today! Jesus said that not one jot or tittle, the least letters or marks of the alphabet, in the Old Testament would be lost (Matt. 5:18; Luke 16:17).
Since God inspired His prophets to translate the Hebrew word for God into Aramaic ELAH, which means “God” in Aramaic, then it is fitting and proper that the Hebrew word ELOHIM should be translated “God” into the English translation of the Old Testament!
Some “Hebrew Name” sects contend that it is a sin to use the word “God!” They reason that because the word God was used by our ancestors to refer to their idols, it is improper to use it to refer to the Creator. But notice what the Bible reveals about this very question in Romans 1:21: “When they (the Gentile nations) knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and to four-footed beasts, and to creeping things.” Notice verse 28,”they did not like to retain God in their knowledge.”
The nations once knew God, but they changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into images, idols! They attached the name of their Creator to their idols.
Notice the astounding proof of this in the Old Testament!
In the inspired Hebrew of the Old Testament the Hebrew word ELOHIM which means “the God Kingdom,” or “the God Family” – is used 240 times to refer to pagan, heathen “Gods!” In two places this word is also translated “goddess” in the Old Testament. Again, the Hebrew word EL is once translated “Idol” and 15 times translated “god” and refers to the heathen gods. The Hebrew word Eloah is five times used in the Old Testament to refer to heathen “gods.” In 16 different places Ezra and Nehemiah were inspired to use the Aramaic word ELAH to refer to the heathen “gods” of the Aramaic-speaking people!
Thus if it is a sin to use the English word “God” to refer to the Creator, merely because our pagan ancestors used it to refer to their idols, then it is also a sin to use the Hebrew words Elohim, Eloah, El, or the Aramaic Elah to refer to the Creator because these words were also used by our pagan ancestors to refer to their pagan idols in Old Testament times!
Since God did inspire His prophets in the Old Testament to use the very words also describing pagan idols for His Name, then it is right and proper for us to use the English word “God” today when referring to the Creator!
Now let us notice how God inspired the apostles to write His name in the inspired Greek New Testament.
The words for your Savior are given to us in the New Testament. Before He ascended to heaven, He promised His disciples, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my word shall not pass away” (Matt. 24:35).
Heaven and earth have not passed away; neither have the words of the Savior! They are found inspired in the New Testament today! How were the names of Deity rendered in the New Testament for the Greek-speaking converts? Notice!
Paul was sent to the Gentiles, particularly the Greek-speaking Gentiles. His ministry covered the whole Greek-speaking world. The Greeks did not know Hebrew or Aramaic. They knew Greek. In I Corth. 9:20, Paul said, “To the Greek I became as a Greek,” How did Paul explain to these Greek converts who the Father and who the Son were? What names did he use for the Greeks when referring to the Creator?
The answer is – he used the Greek words for “God,” “Lord,” “Christ,” the “Word,” and “Jesus.” God inspired him to translate the Hebrew word El, meaning “God,” into the Greek word Theos. God inspired Paul in the New Testament to translate the Hebrew word YHWH into the Greek word Kyrios, meaning “Lord.”
In 665 different places in the New Testament the apostles were inspired to translate the Hebrew word YHWH into the Greek word Kyrios, meaning the eternal “Lord.” And 1,345 times the apostles were inspired to translate the Hebrew word for God into the Greek word Theos, which means “God” in the Greek language! These two Greek words Kyrios and Theos meaning “Lord” or “God” in Greek are found hundreds of times in the gospels in the very words of Jesus Himself! Either these are the inspired words of Jesus, or He lied, and if He lied, you have no Savior! He did not lie. These are His words. He inspired His apostles to translate the names of God from the Hebrew into the Greek when writing to the Greek converts; and He has seen to it that not one word has perished or been lost!
There is not one New Testament manuscript with the names of God written in Hebrew! There is not one New Testament manuscript which supports the idea that the apostles used Hebrew names for God when speaking to the Greek people.
Some sects are unwilling to admit what the inspired New Testament plainly says! They falsely claim that the New Testament was not written originally in Greek. They assume that the Jewish Christians could not understand Greek. They would have us believe that Paul wrote to the Greek converts in Greece, and Asia Minor, and Rome in Aramaic instead of Greek! This is not true!
Greek was the one universal language which united the common people in the Roman Empire in New Testament times. The Jewish historian Josephus himself testified to Greek as the languages which the Jews everywhere understood in New Testament days! Not only did the Jews who lived in the Greek world speak Greek, but even the Jews who lived in Palestine, he declares, were well acquainted with Greek!
Greek-speaking Jews were so prevalent in Palestine that synagogues for them had to be built (Acts 6:9). Jewish law for Palestine permitted that the Scripture “may be read in a foreign tongue” (Megillah 2-1). And it was further permitted “that the Books (of the Bible) may be written in any language,” but that at the time of Christ the Books were “only permitted to be written in Greek” (Megillah 1-8). (From The mishnab by Herbert Danby, Oxford University.)
Though the native-born Jews in Palestine in the days of the apostles generally used Aramaic as their common language, yet Greek was the next in importance even to them. Josephus tells us why the Greek language, after Aramaic, was so common with the Jews in Palestine:
“I have also taken a great deal of pains to obtain the learning of the Greeks, and understand the elements of the Greek language, although I have so long accustomed myself to speak our own tongue, that I cannot pronounce Greek with such an exactness” – Josephus spoke Greek with an Aramaic accent – “for our nation does not encourage those who learn the languages of other nations, and so adorn their discourses with the smoothness of their periods; because they look upon this sort of accomplishment (learning Greek) as common, not onto all sorts of freemen, but to as many of the servants as pleased to learn them, But they give him the testimony of being a wise man who is fully acquainted with our laws,(which was rare among the Jews) and is able to interpret their meaning” (Antiquities of the Jews, bk. XX, chapter XI, section 2).
Notice that it was the rare Jewish scholar who learned Hebrew. It was common for the people, freemen and even servants to learn Greek! It was more difficult to learn the Hebrew!
Now let us notice the testimony of history as to the language in which the books of the New Testament were inspired. From the Church History of Eusebius, book VI, chapter 14, we read: “the epistle to the Hebrews is the work of Paul, and it was written to the Hebrews in the Hebrew language; but Luke translated it carefully and published it for the Greeks, and hence the same style of expression is found in this epistle and in the Acts.”
Notice that to the Jews Paul became a Jew. In order to gain the audience of the Jews, after being made a prisoner in 56 A.D., Paul spoke in the Hebrew tongue (Acts 21:40). Continuing with Acts 22:2: “And when they heard that he spoke in the Hebrew tongue to them, they kept the more silence.” Hebrew, in the days of the apostles, had become a language difficult to understand because Aramaic was the common tongue of the people and Greek was next most often spoken, followed by Hebrew.
So history tells us that, in order to influence the religiously sensitive Jews, Paul wrote his epistle to the Hebrews in the Hebrew language. But notice, the letter to the Hebrews was inspired to be translated by Luke and published for the Greeks in the Greek language. It is Luke’s inspired translation which God intended to be preserved for us.
Open your Bibles to Mark 15:34. The English rendering of this verse reads: “And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’ which is, being interpreted, ‘My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?’”
Notice this! The last half of verse 34 proves that Mark was writing his gospel account, including these final words of Christ, in a language different from the one in which Jesus spoke! Jesus’ own words are quoted from the Aramaic, but translated into Greek.
Now consider the Aramaic Version. If Aramaic were the original language of the New Testament, there would be no reason to insert in the Aramaic Version the words “which is, being interpreted, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?’” because every Aramean would have understood Jesus’ words without translation. Yet the Aramaic New Testament repeats the exact Greek original word-for-word! This proves Aramaic not to have been the original language of the New Testament, but merely a translation from the Greek.
There are at least a dozen places in the New Testament where Aramaic words are quoted and are translated into the Greek for the Greek-speaking people, and in most cases the Aramaic New Testament retranslates the original Greek word-for-word.
Another example is John 1:41: “He (Andrew) first findeth his own brother Simon, and said unto him, we have found the Messiah, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.” The word Messias is a Greek spelling of the Hebrew word Messiah, which means “the Anointed.” But the Greek-speaking people were not generally acquainted with the meaning of the word Messias; hence John translates it for them into the Greek word Christos which means “the Anointed One.”
Some sects today claim that we should use only the word Messiah and never the word Christ. Their assumption is that the word Christ comes from the name of the Hindu god Krishna! Christ does not come from the name of the Hindu god Krishna! Christos is a common Greek word which means “to anoint.”
The New Testament was inspired to read that Jesus is “the Christ.” Even the enemies of the early true Church called the disciples “Christians” (Acts 11:26). The disciples would not have been called Christians in the city of Antioch if they had not been followers of Christ! They would have been called the Messians! Now turn to I Peter 4:14: “If ye be reproached for the name of Christ (Christos in the Greek) happy are ye.” The Scripture does not use some unknown Hebrew name; it uses the “name of Christ.” And now verse 16, “Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God on this behalf.” The disciples in the New Testament Church could not have suffered as “Christians” unless they were the followers of Christ!
Notice Jesus’ startling prophecy in Matt. 24:4-5: “And Jesus answered and said unto them, take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name (using His name), saying I am Christ, and shall deceive many.” In whose name are the many coming? Are they coming in some Hebrew names? No! They are coming in the name of “Christ” in the name of “Jesus.” And Jesus said they would be using His name.
Now turn to Acts 4:10. What is the only name given among men whereby we may be saved? “Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by Him doeth this man stand here before you whole” – the man who had just been healed. Verse 12: “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” According to the inspired Greek New Testament, there is no other name given among men whereby we must be saved than the name of Jesus Christ.
The English word “Jesus” is an anglicized spelling of the Greek word Iesous. The Greek word for “Jesus” is but the common Greek name used to translate the Hebrew name Joshua. The meaning of the Hebrew word for “Joshua” is “the Eternal is the Savior.” Over 910 places in the New Testament God inspired the New Testament writers to use the Greek word Iesous as the personal name of Christ, the Messiah! Either you will have to accept the name of Jesus as your Savior, or you will have to throw away the entire New Testament!
But, reason these “Hebrew Name” sects, doesn’t the Greek word “Jesus” come from the pagan Greek god Zeus? This is not true! In fact, the Greek word Zeus and the Roman word Jove arc both ultimately derived from the Hebrew YHWH – or JHVH. But the Greeks and other heathen did not like to retain God in their knowledge. So they took the names of God and attached them to their idols! The ancient Hebrew-speaking people did the same thing by calling their idols El or Elohim, meaning “God” in Hebrew. So the name “Jesus” is actually derived from YHWH!
Jesus said if any who would deny Him, which means deny His Name before men, “Him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 10:33). If you deny the name of Jesus, He will deny your name before the Father in the Judgment!
Notice Psalm 83:18: “that men may know that thou whose name alone is YHWH, art the Most High over all the earth.” This verse does not say, as some assume, that the Creator has only one name, it plainly declares that the Creating Family alone of all whom men worship is YHWH or eternal.
But did you know that the Father in Heaven has also a Family Name?
In Eph. 3:14-15 we read: “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is NAMED.” Jesus Christ is the Father’s Son. Every son bears his father’s last name.
Jesus said in John 5:43, “I am come in my Father’s name, and ye received me not.” What was Jesus’ last name? Notice the surprising answer in John 10:36: “say (ye) of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, thou blasphemeth; because I said, I am the Son of God?” Jesus claimed to be “God’s Son.” We, too, may be called God’s Sons (I John 3:1). The Supreme Divine, All-Ruling Family is the God Family! It is the Family or Kingdom of God! Jesus’ Gospel, His entire Message was about the Kingdom or Family of God and how you may be born into it! His whole Message was about the Divine name “God”!
Just before Jesus was crucified He prayed that His Church would be kept “in the Father’s Name.” Notice John 17:11-12, “And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through Thine own Name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. While I was with them also bear that name God that we may be called the sons of God and be “born again.”
The true Church is even promised to have forever the name of God (Rev. 3:12) and Jesus’ “new name.” Jesus’ new name is again mentioned in Rev. 19:12. “His eyes are as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And He was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood; and His name was called the Word of God.” Jesus not only is going to receive a new name, but He even now, and from the beginning “The Word of God.” And, in verse 16, He has “on His thigh a name written, King of Kings and Lord of Lords.”
In Amos 4:13 and 5:27 another one of the names of the Divine Family is “the God of Hosts.” Jeremiah 46:18 and 48:15 calls Him “the Lord of Hosts.” Another of His names is “Zealous” in Exodus 34:14.
Yes, “God” is the Father’s Family Name! And “Jesus” is the name of His Son! But they both have many other names! It is time we called on God for His mercy in the name of Jesus Christ! It is time we believe the Bible, and come to recognize that God is God!