What's in a Name
Elder Keith Ellis
As you continue to study, doubtless you will discover the scripture uses many different names to refer to God. Most of them describe an attribute which He possesses. Some refer to a particular office work of one of the members of the trinity of God. For instance, the name of the Son of God is Jesus, which means "Savior" and directly refers to the office work of redemption. One of the names for the Spirit of God is "the comforter," which simply tells us of one of the many jobs of the Holy Spirit.
All together there are over one hundred names of God found throughout the Bible, each describing an office work or character attribute of God. You will find that this is a beautiful subject to study. It unfolds the majesty of God Himself. You will begin to understand more of the workings of God as you endeavor to study His names mentioned in the Bible.
When Moses asked God who he should tell the people had sent him, God replied:
"And God said unto Moses, I AM that I AM, thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you." Exodus 3:14
In this same strain, Jesus, who is God manifest in the flesh, beautifully describes Himself in the New Testament.
"Jesus saith unto her, I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me though he were dead, yet shall he live." John 11:25
"I am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh to the Father, but by me." John 14:6
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman." John 15:1
"I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep." John 10:11
" Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am." John 8:58
Of course you noticed all of these examples were from John's writings. It is said of all the Apostles that John was the closest to the Lord. You will see this as you read John's writings. He saw things from a close-up perspective. In his writings he refers to himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved.
These are just a few examples of the names of God you will encounter. There are many to be found in the Old Testament as well. I do not intend to write extensively on the names of God, for that in itself would take another book.
As you continue to read, many other names will present themselves to you, names we probably would take for granted as ordinary and not worthy of investigation. I hope if you think this that you will soon overcome it. Nothing could be further from the truth.
There are places in the Bible where lineage is mentioned. The ancestry of Christ is recorded for us, as well as all the kings of Israel, and so on. You know the places I refer to, where so and so begat so and so and so and so begat so and so. Now I do not mean any disrespect by referring to the scripture in this way. In all honesty I used to dread coming to these places in my reading-through study. It was so dry to me. I even for a time thought it was useless. I will say at this point, that nothing in the Bible is given for filler material. It all has a purpose and significance. As you will find out, many of the names hold a special place in helping to understand what the Bible is saying. They will ultimately complement other facets of your Biblical knowledge.
When God's word records for us the history of mankind it is not wasted space. For example, Noah had sixteen grandsons, and of course, they each had a name. They appeared on the earth at a time immediately after God had destroyed the world by flood. They would eventually spread over the face of the earth to re-populate it. If you will study these names you will find that each one had a region or country named after him. All but one are still in existence today. This is wonderful to still see evidence in today's society of the grandsons of Noah. Better than that, it provides physical proof that the flood actually took place. So I advise you not to think the names are useless. When prompted to, take the time to study them out and to see their meanings. Some name meaning may hold the key to help you unlock the understanding to some other Bible passage.
The same holds true for different places referred to in your Bible. For example the word "Bethel" means "house of God" and would probably have been overlooked by the casual reader. You will find name meanings like these will present themselves as rare jewels and will enrich your study time and cause a deep respect and regard for God and His word.