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 GenesisElohim 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
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
H. E. Govan in his work, Discoveries
of God, says -
"That the Hebrews' name for God
has a plural form, Elohim, offers two
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
Parkhurst in his Hebrew Lexicon underElohim 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"
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
The Father in the power of His love, The Son in the provision of His
grace, The Spirit in the potentiality of His
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 asGod, 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:
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.