God gave Adam his name. Through the first two and a half chapters of Genesis “adam” appears with an article: “the man.” In 3:17, however, the word is used without the article and is the name “Adam.” Adam gave his wife a name, too. Eve means “the mother of many.” Unique to many Bible names are the prefixes and suffixes “el” and “yah” (or “jah,” “yo,” and “ah”). “El” is from the Hebrew word for God: Elohim. “Yah” and its variants are from God’s personal name: Yahweh. “Joel,” meaning Yahweh is God, combines the “Ya” of Yahweh and the “el” of Elohim. “Elijah,” meaning God is Yahweh, begins with the “El” of Elohim and finishes with the “yah” of Yahweh. “Joshua” is a compound of “Yah” and the Hebrew word for “saves” and means “Yahweh saves.”
God revealed himself to us in the first verse of Scripture with the confession, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Here God is “Elohim.” God’s attributes are found throughout the Scriptures. Psalm 90:2 points to an eternal God. Psalm 102:25-27 reveals an unchanging (immutable) God. John 1:18 shows us God who is Spirit. An omnipotent God is recorded in Luke 1:37. An omniscient and omnipresent God is found in Psalm 139. In Isaiah 6:3, the cherubim worship a holy God. In Deuteronomy 32:3, 4, a just God is proclaimed. A faithful God is declared in 2 Thessalonians 3:3. John 3:16 is probably the most well-known verse where a loving God is revealed. Romans 5:8 speaks of the God of mercy and Romans 3:24 of the God of grace.
The first use of God’s personal name is in Genesis 2:4, “This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD* God made earth and heaven” (NASB). Here God’s personal name is transposed to “LORD” and used with God: Yahweh Elohim. The revelation of God’s name and its meaning is found in Exodus 3: “God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM’; and He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, “I AM has sent me to you.”’ God, furthermore, said to Moses, ‘Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, “The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.” This is My name forever, and this is My memorial-name to all generations’” (14, 15). God Gave His name to Moses and established with Moses and the Hebrew people a personal relationship covenant.
God—Elohim—and God—Yahweh—come together in the confession of Deuteronomy 6:4, “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!” It was about this same God that the angel announced to Mary, “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David” (Luke 1:31, 32). “Jesus” is the same name as the Old Testament name “Joshua.” Jesus is “Yahweh who saves” and in so doing makes a personal relationship covenant with us.
We believe there is one God who is the creator of all that is, both that which is visible and that which is invisible. We believe that this one God has give us His name “I AM” or “Yahweh.” We believe the giving of a name, as was the case in the Bible times, is part of the covenant God makes with us calling us and inviting us into an intimate and personal relationship with Him.
* Ancient Hebrews adopted the practice of saying “Adonai” (Lord) whenever God’s personal name “Yahweh” was written in the Scriptures as a protection against taking God’s name in vain. Translators today honor this practice by transposing “Yahweh” to LORD or GOD (notice the ALL CAPS with two font sizes).