Can you imagine two persons really getting to know and love each other without knowing each other’s names? Somehow, our name becomes so intertwined with our personality that only those who know our name can truly love and understand us.
This is no less true in our relationship with God. Yet many of us have not taken the time to get to know and love God by becoming familiar with the many names by which He is known in Scripture. This book is therefore a guide for those who want to come to know Him more intimately.
There are three primary names of God in the Old Testament: “God” (Elohim), “LORD” (Jehovah, or Yahweh) and “Lord/Master” (Adonai). Beyond these, God is called by over 80 other compound names or descriptive titles. The names are studied here in the order in which they first appear in Scripture.
In chapter 1 these primary names are examined, and this becomes a foundation for the rest of the book. In the next chapter eight important names of God are surveyed through the structure of Psalm 23 under the general title “The LORD Is My Shepherd.” Then other names of God are surveyed, one name in each chapter (chapters 3-8), corresponding roughly to the time when the name was introduced to God’s people in the Old Testament.
The final chapters are climactic, studying the primary names of God in depth, building on what has gone before. Chapter 9 examines our slave relationship to Adonai, the Lord/Master. Chapter 10 looks at the name Elohim and answers the question “Who is God?” by defining His nature. Chapter 11 answers the question “What is God like?” by examining the name Jehovah and describing Jehovah’s attributes. The last chapter is the capstone. It looks at the name “Father,” the New Testament name for God. All the Old Testament meanings of the names of God are wrapped up in the New Testament name “Father.”
Although not every name of God is discussed in these 12 chapters, the names of God that have been chosen for study in this book are those most discussed in the history of the Church and those that give the most significant insights into the Person and nature of God.
This book was originally a series of Sunday School lessons that I taught in the Pastor’s Bible Class at Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia. Senior pastor Jerry Falwell said that this is the largest Sunday School in America because of the thousands who attend in person and the almost one million who view it on television. Class members were caught up in the content of this series because it contained so much material that was new to them. Theirs was not an infatuation with secret knowledge but a yearning to know and approach God in prayer. Their response encouraged me to put the lessons into print so that others could have this information and teach it in their classes. May this book help you understand God better and, as a result, may you become more dedicated to Him.
Elmer L. Towns
Elmer L. Towns, The Ultimate Guide to the Names of God: Three Bestsellers in One Volume (Grand Rapids, MI: Bethany House, 2014).