“The 9 billion names of God” was a science fiction story which this writer considered quite profound before being called by Christ out of agnosticism to faith in Himself. The premise of the story was that, with the discovery of the 9 billionth name, the universe expired. The story ends with a line something like, “overhead, the stars were beginning to wink out.”
There are indeed many names which mankind has impudently “assigned” to the One True God. Humans also have given names to “many gods and many lords” which are really but idols of their own making. In Scripture, God’s verbal names are multiple also. The crucial difference is that the Biblical names are those which the true God has REVEALED, as opposed to those which man has DEVISED! This vast difference cannot be overstated.
God’s Name is the fullness of Who He is and what He has done, not any mantra of ancient syllables. God revealed Himself by various names under the Old Covenant: El Shaddai, Adon (usually in the form Adonai, “my lord”), Holy One of Israel, etc. Jehovah/Yahweh/YHWH – i.e. the Tetragrammaton – was the name God used when He spoke to Moses from the burning bush. This name discloses Him as the God of the Covenant of Redemption, about to deliver His people. God said He would be known forever by that name; that is, in terms of that covenant.
He Who spoke to Moses from the bush will fulfill His promises to Abraham – promises of world wide redemptive blessings. The exodus from Egypt is a type of that ultimate deliverance from the universal death and misery which sin imposed on all Adam’s descendants. God’s great Sacrifice for this redemption is prefigured in another passage, Genesis 22, where Abraham is tested regarding Isaac. To Isaac’s plaintive question, “where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”, Abraham answers, “YHWH will provide”.
The salvation of the world is ultimately accomplished in and by our Lord Jesus Christ. He Himself is our peace. He has become for us righteousness, wisdom, sanctification, and redemption. This is the Name by which He is called, “YHWH our righteousness!”
In other words, Jesus Christ bears the covenant name of God! The rich content of meaning found by assembling all the Scriptural nomenclature for Deity is summed up in Him. Jesus is Lord, Redeemer, Judge, Shepherd and Bishop of Souls, Almighty, Creator, the Way, the Truth, the Life, Holy One, etc. This is what is meant by, “there is no other name given under heaven by which we must be saved”. This wonderful truth does not mean that Yahweh, Jehovah, Iesous (Greek transliteration), or Jesus are magic words! The precept applies to “praying in Jesus’ name”. Tacking on a cliched phrase makes prayer no more effective than does the common practice of clenching one’s eyelids very tightly and furrowing one’s brow! Nor is a dubious modern pronounciation of the Tetragrammaton somehow a superior designation for the God of the Bible.
Consider Christ’s exhortation against meaningless praying in Matthew 6:7. Praying in Jesus’ name, like calling on His name for salvation, means praying on the basis of all that He has done in our behalf! It means recognizing that if we are His, all we ask for should be unto God’s glory and in harmony with His will. Such prayers will indeed see the blessed promise fulfilled, “Truly, truly, I say to you, if shall ask the Father for anything, He will give it to you in my name. Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.”
In the gospels, Jesus never uses the Tetragram in prayer, nor in public or private speaking. (Please refer to The Divine Name in the New Testament) Yet, shortly after making the promise above to the twelve, Jesus said –
“…and now, glorify Thou Me together with Thyself, Father, with the glory which I EVER had with Thee before the world was. I MANIFESTED THY NAME to the men whom Thou gavest me out of the world…”
“…Holy Father, keep them in Thy name, THE NAME WHICH THOU HAST GIVEN ME, that they may be one, even as We are.”
Matthew 28:19 B in the NASB reads: “…baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit”. In closing this study, a transliteration of the Koine Greek of that phrase is presented:
[baptizontes autous eis TO ONOMA tou patros kai tou uiou kai tou agiou pneumatos]
TO ONOMA = the NAME, singular – not NAMES, plural. It is clear from this text that the Person Who bears the title Father, the Person Who bears the title Son, and the Person Who bears the title Holy Spirit share ONE NAME. What could be clearer? What is that one Divine Name? God’s name is not merely an Old Covenant verbal symbol of uncertain pronounciation. God’s name is Elohim. It is YHWH. It is Adon. It is El Shaddai. It is Immanuel. It is the fullness of all God is to His saints! That is the Divine Name. That name has been given by the Father (Philippians 2:9) to the One Who possessed it with His Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9) before the universe existed (John 17:5), before He became a man to save His people from their sins…
the Lord Jesus Christ.