I received a very simple, yet interesting question today. The question asks what God’s “real” name is. Here is the question:
What is God’s real name?
Okay, so to answer this very simple yet great question, let us first start at the most basics and then move forward to the more complex. For the very basic part of this question, we should first define what a “name” really is. By the way, thanks for the question!
What Is a Name Anyway? Why Do Things/People/Beings Have Names?
What is in a name, and what does a name mean? Let us see what the word “name” actually means. Here are a few definitions of what the term “name” means:
- What somebody or something is called. A description. (Microsoft Encarta Dictionary)
- Give the name or identifying characteristics of; refer to by name or some other identifying characteristic property; (online dictionary)
- A language unit by which a person or thing is known; (online dictionary)
So it appears a name is nothing more than a title or description given to something or someone. It helps us identify people & distinguish them from one another. Just by the definition of “name” alone, it is quite easy to see that in fact no one, or no thing, has just 1 “name.”
For example: My first name is Benjamin. My middle name is John. My wife (Sarah) often calls me “sweetheart” or “honey” or “Bennie” or even “babe.” My mother calls me son. My brother calls me “bro.” My nephew calls me “uncle.” Some call me Ben. Some may call me a writer. Some may call me “funny.” Someday my children may call me “Dad” or “Father.” I call my Wife “Sarah.” I also call her “Nurse” because she does this for a living. These are all accurate and true names, and yet we all have more than one.
Jesus is called: Christ, Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews, Son of God, Son of Man, Master, Rabbi, Teacher, etc.
So it is quite clear to see that a name (meaning a title or identifying characteristic), is something we all have. Not only that, but we have several names.
What Do Names Mean in the Bible? Do People’s Names Have Meanings? Do Names Sometimes Change?
Names in the bible often have a meaning behind them. For example, consider Methuselah’s name. Who on Earth would name their kid Methuselah? But the name actually has a meaning. It means: In his death it shall come. This is actually referring to a prophecy, that in the year Methuselah dies, the flood of Noah will come (and boy did it come).
Adam’s name means, “Man” or “Earth.” The name Abram means, “Exalted father.” Moses means “to draw out.” So names often have a longer meaning behind the one word.
Sometimes people are mentioned in the bible having a whole sentence for a name. In Isaiah, a whole list of names are given for the messiah: “Mighty Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” These long titles are also sometimes applied to Kings as well.
What is even more interesting to note, is that God changed many people’s name in the bible. The apostle Paul’s name was originally “Saul.” Abraham’s name was originally “Abram.” Sarah’s name was originally “Sarai.” Jacob’s name was changed to “Israel,” and so forth. In fact, we too will have a new name one day. In the bible, it says God will give us a private title that only He will know:
“I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.” — Revelation 2:17
So based on these facts alone, we can see that not only do all beings/humans have more than one name, but names can change, and we can have private names only known by God. This fact is 100% supported by the scriptures. Names themselves only help to identify us, or describe us, and nothing more. They can change, and we can be called by many different names. Isn’t this true for God?
So What Is God’s “Real” Name? What Should We Call God?
First, I must say that it is a bit tricky the way you worded the question, and here is why: Your question is worded in a way that it assumes God only has 1 “real” name, and one “real” name only. I don’t think this is scripturally true, nor logically accurate after understanding what a “name” is. That is a bit like asking, “What is the “real” color of a rainbow?” A rainbow is made up of several colors, not one. God can be called several names, not just one.
God is revealed in the Bible with several titles/names. Here is a short list off the top of my head of names or titles God is called or referred to (many times by Himself) in the bible or by other religions/languages:
- The Almighty
- The Lord God
- I AM THAT I AM
- King of Kings
- Lord of Lords
- Alpha & Omega
- Father of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
- Lord of Hosts
These are but a few names or titles off the top of my head that God is sometimes called. “God” is probably the most frequently used term in the United States, and I often simply call him God. I think God understands we are referring to Him, despite what title or name we may use. After all, we are talking about a being that knows all things here.
Moses asked God what His name was, and God replied, “I Am that I Am.” Jesus instructed his disciples to call God “Father,” and Jesus himself often called God “Father.”
Muslims refer to God as “Allah.” Some Christians call him “Jehovah.” Some call him, “Yahweh.” Which one is real? Which one is accurate? All of them. They are all referring to the same thing. Just like if you ask which is the correct “name” or “title” for God: Father or I am that I am? They are both true. They are both accurate.
If there is a Red Chevrolet Corvette sitting in your driveway, and someone comes up and says, “Hey, that is a car.” Then another comes and says, “Hey that is a Corvette.” Then another comes and says, “Hey, that is a Chevy.” Then another comes up and says, “Hey that is a V8 engine.” And yet another comes and says, “That is Red.” Who is right? All of them are right. Those are all accurate names or titles for that object.
To illustrate this point again: My mother loves dogs. She has 5 of them! One is a huge German Shepard, and he is beautiful. He is black, with white & brown “wolf-like” markings on his face. In fact, he is part wolf. My mom named him Domingo. She calls him “Wolfy,” “Mingy”, and more. I usually call him “Peepy.” Which name is correct? All of them. Which name is the real name for God? All of them.
A name is just a title we use to identify something. Any name is relevant as long as it accurately describes the Almighty Creator of all. As I pointed out, even God himself has revealed different names within his revelations & scriptures. Prophets, believers, and disciples have all called Him different titles & names.
Conclusion: What Is In a Name? What Do We Call God? Does it Matter?
The bible authors & other religions have called God by different names & titles. He Himself has revealed different characteristics, titles, and names. This is not unusual, as we all have many different titles & names. They can all be his “real” name.
An interesting question to ask would be, “Does it matter what we call God?” My answer would be no, as long as you don’t blaspheme his name, call God any name you want that has been revealed by Him.
Consider this one fact in closing: Does God really truly care most about what name we call him, as long as we refer to the one true Almighty? Really think about this for a minute. If this was such a big deal to God, wouldn’t it have been a commandment repeated several times throughout the bible, and all prophets and Jesus would have only called Him by this 1 name? It would have said this if that were true: Thou shall only call me by this name, and this name only. But it isn’t like that at all. He may reveal many names, but he never commands us to only refer to him by only one title or name. He provides us with several.
Furthermore, don’t you think Satan knows God’s real name(s)? But doesn’t God still cast out Satan, and will throw him into hellfire? What matters most to God? Calling him 1 particular name, or doing his will? I think we can all agree that we should do God’s will.
Call Him God, Father, Jehovah, Yahweh, Almighty, Allah, or whatever you want. But do his will, follow His commands, repent of your sins, and pray without ceasing.
I tell you the truth, those things God cares about more than the name(s) we use in reference to Him. That is clearly illustrated throughout the whole scriptures.