"Who do you say I am?" (Matt 16: 15)
From the beginning of beginnings, to the ending of endings, the Bible is filled with names and tells us the importance of those names. From the creation account to the countless genealogies and listing of names, God has a message in them transcending all cultures and lands…that names are revered and important, relevant as well as impacting. They tell us the deeds and character of the item or person being named all throughout Scripture. The name means its function, why it is, where it is, and what it does. This includes the object with the name to the person. And for the person to the very core meaning and nature of who is behind the name. Names even have an authority and power behind them, and there is even a power for making them.
The Bible starts out with God naming the things in the universe as He created them. God named man, and then man was given the opportunity to name the things and animals around him. This was a position of authority and power for God and even for man in a limited sense. Adam named the animals, but not himself, because Adam had authority over the animals but not over himself. God had ultimate authority over all, including Adam. Then later on in the New Testament, God intervened to tell Mary the name of her Child to be… 'Jesus,' thus taking Mary's authority away, but not her responsibility. This was because her child was God Himself incarnate. She was only the mother of God in a very limited sense. Mary was Jesus' mother, but not creator as her child pre-existed her. He was God, and she was not. Thus, the name Jesus given to Mary with all of its power and meaning came to its ultimate meaning: who is God and who we are in Him. God is independent; we are not! And it is because of God's power we exist; without Him nothing would be in existence neither the universe itself or us!
To truly understand God, we must move our self-will out of the way, because it is in His way! We need to know our place in the universe and our role in society, in church as well as our responsibility to them. By knowing these names of God, we will be better able to grow in faith and maturity. They will give us a glimpse into His character, who Christ is and what He does. By knowing this, we get a glimpse of our Lord and Creator, of how to praise Him, how to know Him, how to emulate His character. Thus, this impacts us in all that we do, in our walk with and in Him and on this earth with each other, enabling us to be all we can be for His glory.
All of the names of God are like looking at a diamond with its many facets. Each of these facets is a part of the diamond, but each one is not the diamond in and of itself. Thus, for us to understand God, He reveals Himself to us in the way we can best understand Him. But our minds are so limited in the scope of understanding and comprehension, we cannot get it all at once, so it is trickled and boiled down for us to understand. Hence His many names are all revealing His character one piece at a time and showing how we should know and respond to Him.
Jesus has more titles than any other being who ever was or is! His 'human' name is 'Jesus bar Joseph', meaning Jesus, son of Joseph. That is how people were named back then. In first century culture, your 'last name' was your father's or a significant relative's first name, so names such as Saul, John, James, Judas, and even Jesus were common names. So, the second name of your father gave you your unique identity. That way you were distinguished from the other Joe down the street. Our last names today mainly come from the European Middle Ages where you were identified by your job, so 'Smith,' meant you were some kind of metalworker. Some names we have today were based on the family clan name or the location of our family origins such as O' Brian or McBride names from Britain.
These are the names and titles of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, reflecting who He is, such as Christ which means Messiah.
JESUS: Derived from the Hebrew "Joshua" (Y'shua) or "Je-Hoshua" meaning JEHOVAH IS SALVATION, "Savior," or the "One who saves." He is the One to which every knee (and name) will bow and every tongue confess. Jesus was, in fact, a common name that the Angel of God announced to Mary to be our Savior's name. Jesus was sent to save us. We do not and cannot save ourselves, but only Jesus is the One who saves us from God's wrath, which arose because of our sin. We are not worthy of salvation by a Holy and pure God. Thus, Jesus came to appease God's wrath, to take our punishment, our place of torment. So technically speaking, we are not just saved from our sin, but from God's wrath! Thus, we are saved by God, from God! And because of our salvation, the fallout of our willful sin and rebellion for which we deserved eternal punishment and death is nullified. Jesus saved us from Himself, and the sins we accrued are covered by that process (this is what atonement means). God is so loving to us, yet He cannot set aside His holiness to be contaminated by us. Therefore, He so loved us, He took the initiative and the pain to save us and protect Himself. This is what John 3:16 is all about, and why the cross was needed.
There is no word more used by Christians then perhaps this Name: Jesus or the word: Savior. It is imperative that we fully understand this Name, who He is, what He has done, our sins, and God's wrath. If we do not, we will perish eternally! Who is your faith in? Who is Jesus? These questions are paramount to our salvation!
CHRIST: "Cristos' in Greek is equivalent to the Hebrew 'Messiah' ('Meshiach'), meaning "The Anointed One." This is extremely important because it tells us Jesus was set apart by God for a specific task, to redeem us. He was not just an anointed person such as a prophet or a priest, but was the ultimate Priest! This title is used more than the any other title for Jesus! In Matt 16:13, Jesus asks the question of who He is to His disciples. Then, Jesus says He is the Son of man! Matt 16:14 is the popular response of His titles: the scuttlebutt what the man on the street thought is given. Christ or Messiah had many meanings to the Jews. At the time, the Jews were expecting a Messiah who would deliver them from the Roman oppression. Jesus came to do just that-- to deliver us from oppression, but not from the Romans. Because the Roman oppressions was temporary, what good would have it done for us now? He came for the ultimate oppression of our sin and condemned state to restore our relationship to God 'YAHWEH'. So Jesus was not an ordinary prophet, or a great teacher, or an exalted and enlightened man, Jesus was and is God incarnate, God who came to be fully God and fully man. Christ is who He is and what He does.
"Who do you say I am?" Christ is who Jesus is, and the identity to who we are in Him. The name of our faith is Christianity, meaning we are followers of Christ.
LORD "KURIOS": This Name is found over 600 times in the NT. It means "Jesus is Lord", similar in scope and meaning to "Adoni" (see article "The Names of God"). This word in Greek times had three uses. First, it could be used as a polite address to a master or statesman or somebody you were honoring, such as the title "sir" in our language. Second, this word was also used for nobility such as the English "Sir" as used to refer to a King, or someone who was knighted. And the third use for the word Lord was used for 'Caesar,' the ultimate King of the Roman Empire. This is called the imperial form.
The NT use of Lord for Jesus meant, "every knee will bow," Phil. 2:6f. This is the decisive imperial form! The early Christians were required as all people in the Roman Empire to declare Caesar as "Lord". This is the same imperial word meaning. Most Christians would not say it to refer to anybody beside Jesus; thus, many were martyred. For us today it means we have One Lord that is not money, power, or pride. We cannot have anything in the way of our Lord, or He is not our true Lord.
Does He have control over you, or do you try to control Him? Is He Lord or lord? Is He your sir, or Lord? Is He the man upstairs, the force in the universe or the Lord of your life?
DESPOTES: Is another Greek term translated to "Lord". It appears 5 times; Luke. 2:29; Acts 4:24; 2 Pet. 2:1; Jude 4; Rev. 6:10. It means who Christ is, as our final and definitive Lord, the ultimate Lord for our faith, practice and worship. In 2 Peter it means His substitutionary Death in our place.
GOD: "Theos" (equivalent to the Hebrew Elohim), This occurs more than a 1,000 times in the NT. An accumulation of a thousand times in 27 different books! If there is any doubt that Jesus is God, this should remove it! I had college professors who claimed the Bible never refers to Jesus as God! I guess they never read the Bible! In the NT, all the persons of the trinity are called "God" 'Theos' in various passages. Jesus is indeed God.
"I AM": Jesus upset His generation especially when He said, "Before Abraham was, I AM," John 8:58, see Exodus 3:14. And also in John's Gospel Jesus claimed to be Yahweh/Jehovah in such phrases as "I AM the Light of the world," "the bread of life," living water," "the Resurrection and the Life," "the Way, Truth and the Life'. This comes from the Hebrew OT verb "to be (see names of God article)
WORD: "LOGOS" "The Word of God" (John l, Rev. 19:13), signifying a Living, Intelligent, Personal Being, who is Master Creator and Lord of all. In the classic Greek language and to the Stoic philosophers 'Logos' meant the ultimate reason and governing force for the universe. For Plato it meant the ultimate reality from which all things in the universe were copied. For the Jews this term meant wisdom. John, being a Jew writing in Greek, was using this title to explain that Jesus was not just a God or a piece of God, or a part of some tritheistic god (that there ares three gods) but God the eternal One who preexisted and created all there is in the universe. John wanted to leave no doubt who Jesus is. This is the ultimate word picture we have in Scripture to give us a glimpse of the eternal Lord and Creator, who transcends time and space.
Other Greek names for Jesus:
THEOTES: "Godhead" Col. 2: 9, Rom. 1:20.
HUPSISTOS: "Highest" Mt. 21:9.
SOTER: "Savior" Luke 1:4 7.
SOPHIA: "The Wisdom of God," referring to Christ, refers back to Proverbs (I Cor. 1,2). Some people have mistaken this name to be a women's name, thus claiming God is a goddess and should be worshiped as so. This is extreme ignorance of the Greek text and just silly as well as blasphemes!
ALPHA AND OMEGA: The First and the Last, The Beginning and the End (Rev. 1).
IXIOUS: This is an acronym and is not directly in Scripture in this form, but the meaning and the words spelling this acronym are. In the early church Christians evading persecution would write out the Greek word fish, "IXIOUS", or the symbol <>< which stood for Jesus, Christ, God, Son and Savior. This acronym stood for who Jesus was, Savior, not a man or half god-man hybrid like Hercules, but the Mighty One of the Universe, humanity's God and Savior. Just as the name Jesus meant.
Other NT Titles for Jesus:
Son of Abraham: (Matthew 1:1)
Son of David: (Matthew 1:1)
Immanuel: "God with us" (Matthew 1:23, see Isaiah 7:14)
Beloved Son: (Matthew 3:17)
The Beloved: (Matthew 12:18)
Rabbi: Teacher, literally "my great one" (Matthew 23:8)
Son of God: (Matthew 26:63)
Son of Man: (Matthew 26:64, see Daniel 7:13)
Yeshua of Nazareth: (Matthew 26:71)
King of the Jews: (Matthew 27:37)
King of Israel: (Mark 15:32)
Stone: (Mark 12:10)
Chief Cornerstone: (Mark 12:10)
Son of the Most High: (Luke 1:32)
Horn of Salvation: (Luke 1:69)
Sunrise From on High: (Luke 1:78)
The Expected One: (Luke 7:19)
Master: "Chief, Commander"" (Luke 8:24)
The Chosen One: (Luke 9:35)
Living One: (Luke 24:5)
God: (John 1:1)
Only Begotten God: (John 1:18)
The Prophet: (John 1:25, see Deuteronomy 18:15)
Lamb of God: (John 1:36)
Messiah: (John 1:41)
Son of Joseph: (John 1:45)
The Bridegroom: (John 3:29)
Savior of the World: (John 4:42)
The Bread of God: (John 6:33)
The Bread out of Heaven: (John 6:32)
The Bread of Life: (John 6:35)
Light of the World: (John 8:12)
The Son: (John 8:36)
Good Shepherd: (John 10:11)
The Door: (John 10:7)
The Resurrection (John 11:25)
The Life: (John 11:25)
The Way, the Truth, and the Life: (John 14:6)
The True Vine: (John 15:1)
The Vinedresser: (John 15:1)
The Man: (John 19:5)
Holy One: (Acts 3:14)
Righteous One: (Acts 3:14)
Prince Of Life: (Acts 3:15)
Servant: (Acts 4:27)
Prince: (Acts 5:31)
Judge of the Living and the Dead: (Acts 10:42)
LORD: (Romans 10:9-13, see Joel 2:32)
The Deliverer: (Romans 11:26)
The Power of God: (1 Corinthians 1:24)
The Wisdom of God: (1 Corinthians 1:24)
The Last Adam: (1 Corinthians 15:45)
Passover Lamb: (1 Corinthians 5:7)
Abraham's Seed: (Galatians 3:16)
Head Over All Things: (Ephesians 1:22)
The Image of the Invisible God: (Colossians 1:15)
Firstborn of All Creation: (Colossians 1:15)
The Head of the Body, the Church: (Colossians 1:18)
God's Mystery: (Colossians 2:2)
The Mediator: (1 Timothy 2:5)
Savior of All Men: (1 Timothy 4:10)
Heir of All Things: (Hebrews 1:2)
Firstborn: (Hebrews 1:6)
The Apostle: (Hebrews 3:1)
The Great High Priest: (Hebrews 4:14)
The Author and Perfecter of Faith: (Hebrews 12:2)
Shepherd and Guardian of Our Souls: (1 Peter 2:25)
Chief Shepherd: (1 Peter 5:4)
The Word of Life: (1 John 1:1)
Advocate, Counsel for the Defense: (1 John 2:1)
Only Begotten Son: (1 John 4:9)
Son of the Father: (2 John 1:3)
Firstborn From the Dead: (Revelation 1:5)
The Faithful Witness: (Revelation 1:5)
Beginning of the Creation of God: (Revelation 3:14)
The Amen: (Revelation 3:14)
Lion of Judah: (Revelation 5:5)
The Lamb: (Revelation 5:12)
The Faithful and True One: (Revelation 19:11)
King of Kings and Lord of Lords: (Revelation 19:16)
The Alpha and the Omega: (Revelation 22:13)
The First and the Last: (Revelation 22:13)
The Beginning and the End: (Revelation 22:13)
The Root and Offspring of David: (Revelation 22:16)
The Bright Morning Star: (Revelation 22:16)
NEW TESTAMENT NAMES FOR GOD THE FATHER
Father: (Matthew 6:9)
The God of Israel "Elohay Yisrael": (Matthew 15:31)
Heaven: (Matthew 21:25)
Power "Ha Gevurah": (Mark 14:62)
Lord God of Israel "YHVH Elohay Yisrael": (Luke 1:68)
Lord God "YHVH Elohim": (Acts 3:22)
The God of Glory "Elohay Kavod": (Acts 7:2)
The God of Our Fathers "Elohay Avotaynu": (Acts 7:32)
The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob "Elohay Avraham, Yitzchak v'Yaakov": (Acts 7:32)
The Divine Nature: (Romans 1:20, 2 Peter 1:4)
The Creator "HaBoray": (Romans 1:25, 1 Peter 4:19)
Abba: "Daddy" (Romans 8:15)
Father of Mercies: (2 Corinthians 1:3)
God of All Comfort "Elohay Kol HaNechamah": (2 Corinthians 1:3)
The Living God "Elohay Chaiyim": (2 Corinthians 3:3, 6:16)
Lord Almighty "YHVH Shaddai": (2 Corinthians 6:18)
God (Elohim): (2 Corinthians 9:7)
The Father of Glory: (Ephesians 1:17)
Father of Our Lord Yeshua, the Messiah: (Colossians 1:3)
The Majesty: (Hebrews 1:3)
The Most High God "El Elyon": (Hebrews 7:1)
The Father of Spirits: (Hebrews 12:9)
A Consuming Fire: (Hebrews 12:29)
God of Peace "Elohay Shalom": (Hebrews 13:20)
The Eternal Immortal Invisible King: (1 Timothy 1:17)
Sovereign: (1 Timothy 6:15)
God the Father: (2 Timothy 1:2)
The Father of Lights: (James 1:17)
The Lawgiver and Judge: (James 4:12)
Lord of Armies: "YHVH Tz'vaot" (James 5:4)
The Majestic Glory: (2 Peter 1:17)
The Almighty "Shaddai": (Revelation 1:8)
The King of the Nations: (Revelation 15:3)
Richard Joseph Krejcir is the Director of 'Into Thy Word Ministries, 'a discipling ministry. He is the author of the book, Into Thy Word and is also a pastor, teacher, speaker and a graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena California. He has amounted nearly 20 years of pastoral ministry experience, mostly in youth ministry, including serving as a church growth consultant.