What does Jehovah mean?

The name Jehovah is probably familiar to many who attend church on a regular basis. Even those who do not attend church may be aware of it because of a visit from a couple Jehovah’s Witnesses. Though the word may be familiar, it is not necessarily understood. What exactly is Jehovah? The simple answer is that Jehovah is the proper name of the God of the Bible. Ancient religions had gods such as Zeus, Odin or Ra. Modern religions have gods like Allah or Vishnu. The title “god” is a generic title that is applied to all deities in all religions. To distinguish one deity from another, many of them had specific names. The God of the Bible tells us His name to distinguish Himself from all other deities. The name of God has come down to us today as Jehovah.

The name Jehovah is found early in the Bible, it’s first use being in Genesis 2. Jehovah is found throughout the book of Genesis, but in Exodus 3 God explains the significance of His name. For generations the nation of Israel was enslaved in the land of Egypt. God spoke to Moses and told him to go to Pharaoh and request permission for the Israelites to leave the country. In response, Moses asked God what he should tell the Israelites when they asked who sent him. The Israelites were in a land that worshiped hundreds of gods. When Moses informed them God had sent him to deliver them, they would naturally want to know which particular god was doing the sending. “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.” (Exodus 3:14) God says His name is “I AM”. The name “I AM” is the word that has been translated into English as Jehovah. Jehovah means “I AM”.

The simple definition is not a full explanation of the name Jehovah. In telling Moses who He is, God is telling Moses something important about His nature. Jehovah, or I AM, is a declaration that God is eternal. He is not “I was” or “I will be”. He is I AM. He is changeless. What He is now He always has been and always will be. He is self existent. He simply is. He does not owe His existence to another god before Him. He is not dependent on some outside agency. He exists because He is God who has always existed. The name Jehovah declares the eternal, changeless, self-existent nature of God.

Of course, when God spoke to Moses He did so in Hebrew. The name He gave to Moses would have been written in Hebrew, which is quite different from English. A close English approximation of the Hebrew word is YHWH. The word Jehovah is a rough English transliteration and pronunciation of the Hebrew name. Though some people make a big deal out of saying Yahweh instead of Jehovah, the English translation is a legitimate and proper use of God’s name. Most English translations of the Bible translate YHWH as LORD, and print the name a little differently to inform the reader that the original is speaking of Jehovah. Any time a Bible translation has the word Lord in all capital letters, it is indicating the name Jehovah. Jehovah is the proper name for the God of the Bible, a name that distinguishes Him from all the false gods and that declares to man His infinite nature.


4 thoughts on “What does Jehovah mean?

  1. I believe that Jehovah is the Old Testament Jesus, since Jesus said no one has seen the Father at any time, and that Christ reveals the Father. There are appearances of God in the Old Testament (Moses saw God’s backside) and it would seem these appearances would have to be Christ from the evidence.

    • Jesus is certainly the God of the Old Testament. He is Jehovah that declared Himself to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and all the children of Israel. One of the most powerful declarations of His deity is found in John 8:58, “Before Abraham was, I Am.” Jesus infuriates the Pharisees by taking the name of Jehovah for Himself and claiming to be the Jehovah of the Old Testament.

      Jehovah is the name of the Trinitariam God. God the Son is not the only rightful holder of the name Jehovah, so is God the Spirit and God the Father. The Old Testament uses Jehovah in reference to all three persons of the Trinity. The times where Jehovah appeared to individual men can almost certainly be attributed to God the Son. At the end of Exodus 35 the name Jehovah is used to describe the one who gifts men to build the temple. In the Old and New Testament the gifting and empowering of men to do ministry is a function of the third person of the Trinity, God the Spirit. Psalm 2:7 presents God the Father as Jehovah declaring the decree that the Son would be begotten. In that verse Jehovah is distinct from the Son, doing that which only the first person of the Trinity does.

      We rejoice that Jesus is the God of the Old Testament. On this truth hangs all our salvation. However, the God of the Old Testament is not Jesus alone. Jehovah is the Trinitartion God, God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit.

      • I did not think about Jehovah being a dual title like Elohim, good point with Psalm 2. However, I have never believed the trinity doctrine, and believe it is a construct of man, spurred on the Catholic church, the same church that burned Christians at the stake during the inquisition. The Cathars were completely wiped out and hundreds of Waldenses burned. The Bible condemns the shedding of innocent blood, but that is exactly what they did. Catholics also changed *two* of God’s commandments, on idolatry and the Sabbath day. The trinity doctrine goes back to Constantine and further back, paganism.

        God created man in his image, and he put them in families. God is a family too, Father and Son, and the church is to become the “bride” of Christ. What is the family role of the Holy Spirit? It doesn’t have a family role, it is God’s power, God’s essence, etc. The Bible refers to Christ over and over again as “the seed of the woman” and also as God’s Son. If the Holy Spirit is a “person”, then Matthew 1:18 would indicate that the Holy Spirit is Jesus’ father. But that would contradict scripture! This is a problem — you can’t waffle back and forth between the spirit being God’s power and the Spirit being a separate person! Does Jesus have two “fathers” – God the Father and God the Holy Spirit?

        The baptisms in Acts were all in the name of “the Lord” – ie Jesus. Acts 8:16, 10:48, 19:5, 22:16. Just as the pagan god name “Easter” was added by corrupt scribes (who will add to themselves God’s plagues – Revelation 22:18), the scripture of Matthew 28:19 was also corrupted – because it does not agree with other scripture! Acts 4:10-12

        As pointed out in the above video (link deleted), neither Jesus nor the disciples taught the trinity doctrine. The trinity is a reflection of paganism, not the gospel once delivered by Christ.

        You probably did not expect this reply, but I believe this doctrine has done much to usurp/weaken the role of Christ, just as the Catholics have, and Protestants have followed suit. Christ is the head of the church, no man is – that is what the Bible teaches. Catholics even have tried to put Mary Jesus’ mother as part of a trinity concept. This is idolatry. Children understand the concept of father and son, they do not understand a mythical holy spirit person. If we were made in the image of God, what is the ‘image’ of the holy spirit? Is it man, woman, boy, girl, animal – what? The appearance has never been described. But humans have seen Jesus. And scripture says that Jesus is the “express image” of the father – Hebrews 1:3. There is a *family* resemblance, and they look like men, even though they are spirit. There is no such description of the mythical 3rd person of the trinity.

      • The doctrine of the Trinity is clearly described in the Christian church long before the formation of the Catholic church. The earliest creeds are Trinitarian descriptions of the faith of the church. These creeds are summations of the Bible’s teachings. Aside from the Trinitarian formula in Matthew 28 (which you say is a textual corruption), the Bible includes other significant Trinitarian descriptions. Ephesians 1 describes the work of the Trinity in salvation. Romans 8 shows the Trinity at work in prayer. 1 Corinthians 12 discusses the Trinity giving gifts to the church. The concept of God as One who is Three Persons is found throughout the pages of the Bible.

        The Holy Spirit is the agency by which God’s power is put to work in the world, but the Bible presents the Holy Spirit as more than a force. The Holy Spirit is depicted as a being who can be grieved, resisted, quenched. The Holy Spirit is a being who comforts, teaches, convicts and guides. The Bible declares the Holy Spirit is God. 2 Corinthians 3:17 equates the Spirit of the Lord with the Lord who appeared to Moses. “Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” In Hebrews 3:7-11 the Holy Spirit is declared to be the Jehovah of the Israelites (compare Psalm 95:7-11). If the Holy Spirit is not God, how then can He be blasphemed? (Matthew 12:31) Though the concept of the Trinity is impossible for any person to fully understand, the Bible clearly defines the Father, the Son and the Spirit as fully God while also declaring that God is One.

        I do not waffle between the Spirit being power and person. The Holy Spirit is always the third person of the Trinity as revealed in the Bible. The role of the Spirit is that of agent, sent out in full agreement with the Father and the Son to draw men to the Father through Jesus, to change Christians into the likeness of Jesus to the glory of the Father and to strengthen Christians to live Godly lives for the exaltation of the Father and the Son. A proper understanding of the Trinity does not demean Christ. The Biblical teachings of the Trinity elevate our view of God by showing Him to be greater than human intellect can comprehend. A right understanding of the Trinity helps us understand the Spirit’s powerful working to reveal the Son to men so the Father will be eternally praised.

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