I wasn’t up here in the Angel Court very long before I came to an amazing and sobering realization. And, again, I have no idea why everything I hear is in my native language. It doesn’t seem important enough to even ask.
The first word used in the Bible for God is ‘Elohim’ (Genesis 1:1). I apologize, but I don’t do this for a living, so I can’t reproduce the Hebrew letters. Tracking them down is not hard. Elohim is plural because God is a Tri-Unity, three persons (hence the plural) in one being, God. The Trinity is ably defended elsewhere, and it is clear that, through the writers of the Bible, God Himself assumes this approach. Yes, it is difficult for mere mortals to understand. But, as the saying goes, God said it, and that’s enough for me.
The next name introduced for God is ‘Yahweh’. This two syllable Hebrew word is somewhat difficult to pronounce as initially given. The Psalms help us out though, and often shorten it the word to ‘Yah’, just the first syllable, and pronounced like ‘Paw’ but with a ‘Y’ instead. And, maybe we can make the second syllable long instead of short, and pronouncing it like ‘way’. Well ‘Yahweh’, pronounced like ‘Yah-way’; I am absolutely positive Yahweh Himself knows we are addressing Him when we say it that way!
I want to be very sensative here. Some good Jewish folks are offended at hearing this name, HIS name, the name He gave Himself, and they historically have gone out of their way to avoid ever saying it. I will discuss this aspect more below.
Still, Yahweh is the next name we find in the Bible for God, and in the early chapters of the first book, Genesis no less. After Yahweh is first used, it is used by itself, but only briefly. The phrase Yahweh Elohim, ‘Yahweh God’ is used afterwards, and then the three possibilities seem to be used interchangeably for the rest of the Old Testament; Yahweh, Yahweh God, or just God (Elohim). Note that, where the word Yahweh occurs in the Old Testament, many Bible translations show LORD, but with the ‘ORD’ in lower, still capital letters. Again, I can’t reproduce that here, but this is easy to verify. When an impersonal perspective is used, God (Elohim) is often the most frequent name. When a more personal perspective is required, the name Yahweh is used. And of course, both names can be used together for a number of reasons. It is clear Yahweh and God (Elohim) refer to the same person however, God Himself.
As the biblical record of human history expands from the creation of Adam and Eve, the name of God is used less and less, and the activities of people become the focus. When the name of God is used, it is usually Elohim. This seems to be the general rule through the end of the first book of the Bible, Genesis. But it should surprise nobody that the ‘God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob’ is Yahweh; these three men used this name to refer to God.
Between the end of Genesis and the beginning of Exodus, several hundred years have passed. Abraham’s descendants, a mere handful at first, have multiplied rapidly, and were almost as rapidly discriminated against, and placed under difficult toil in Egypt. Still, it seemed like nothing could stop the explosive growth of the Israelites. Early in Exodus, God calls Moses to rescue His people Israel from the kingdom of Egypt. As God commissions Moses, their interchange is amazing. At one point Moses asks basically ‘Who shall I say sent me?’
God responds by using the name ‘Yahweh’, already discussed above. In addition, Yahweh actually explains the significance of this name, HIS name; it refers to Yahweh’s character as ever present, ever existing. Yahweh just always is. Then Yahweh tells Moses this:
“this is My name forever
this is my title (memorial) from generation to generation”
The word used for title/memorial is from the root ‘zakar’, to remember, and memorial is the better translation. Yahweh God is saying that He wants to be remembered as Yahweh, and this name used as His name forever. That’s what He told Moses, and that’s what He told Moses to later write. Yahweh is basically telling Israel that, from Moses on, He wants them to call Him this name, Yahweh. In other words, ‘Yahweh is my name, I want my people to call me that, to remember me like that. Tell Israel that I, Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; I Yahweh have sent you to rescue them.’
I know that some Jewish people don’t even want to whisper this name, out of fear they will break the third commandment (Ex. 20:7). And I am not sure exactly when the avoidance of saying the name Yahweh happened, although there are hints it happened before Jesus’ time. I really don’t want to offend them. It is just hard to ignore what Yahweh says to Moses. Yahweh’s whole point in this text is that this name, ‘Yahweh’, is what He wanted His people to call him, forever. Jewish sensitivities aside, what Yahweh says, what Yahweh wants, this HAS to be more important.
And the name Yahweh is used repeatedly all through-out the Old Testament. Wait, did I make that clear enough? Some Jewish people now refuse to say the name that appears almost constantly in the Old Testament, the Jewish scriptures; the Torah (Law), the Prophets, the Writings… The people that Yahweh God worked through to pen the books of the Old Testament, THEY WERE NOT ASHAMED AT ALL to use Yahweh’s name! They use it constantly! This happened even at Yahweh’s direction at times! Again, using an English translation, you should be able to realize this looking for ‘LORD’ with the letters ‘ORD’ smaller, but still capital letters. This is the translater’s way of saying the Hebrew word is Yahweh. You will see this all over, and in every book (but Esther, I think). Looking at the text of the Old Testament, the word Yahweh is and was to be used… extensively… And for Yahweh to be behind that, and then expect we never use His name, the name He gave Himself… And it should come as no surprise; the Prophets all use this name, Kings, Priests and Levites all use this name, especially at crucial turning points in Israel’s journey…
So Elijah the prophet gathered all Israel to Mt. Carmel (1 Kings 18), to try and bring them back to Yahweh. Well, Baal worship was a lot more fun (think wild parties), and didn’t tug at the conscience like Yahweh did (…nothing new under the sun). Just Elijah the Prophet (and Yahweh) facing 450 prophets of Baal. And note that, in v.21, Elijah explicitly uses the name Yahweh as he confronts the people of Israel! Ok, so the god who answers by fire is the real one, a simple test. After the prophets of Baal spend all afternoon cutting themselves and jumping all over their alter… Elijah builds an alter God’s way (12 uncut stones), puts the flesh of the offering on the alter, dumps water repeatedly on everything, then prays… Yahweh accepted that offering, and a fire-ball from heaven resulted. What did the people of Israel say as they fell on their faces? What did they cry out over and over? (Hint, v. 39!)
‘Yahweh Hu ha Elohim!’ (Yahweh, He is the God!)
The Israelites instinctively knew which name to use, and weren’t afraid to say it. Maybe at that particular time, they were afraid NOT to say it!
The more generic word for Lord is Adonai, and that word is used for God a lot too, but that is really secondary. Yahweh was the name God gave to Himself, and He expected Israel to use it. Looking at the Hebrew scriptures, they did.
“Oh sing to Yahweh a new song, sing to Yahweh all the earth” Psalm 96:1
“And the gentiles shall fear the name of Yahweh, and all the kings of the earth, your glory” Psalm 102:16
“All the kings of the Earth shall thank You, Yahweh, because they have heard the words of Your mouth. And they shall sing in the ways of Yahweh for great is the glory of Yahweh.” Psalm 138:4, 5
[There are many other good examples!]
How can Jews or anyone else sing a name they can’t say? How can the gentiles fear a name they never hear? There are many indications that Yahweh’s original intent for Israel was to be a shining light to the gentiles, to show them the way to the true God, whose glorious name was, is Yahweh. The nations around Israel certainly needed that and still do.
There was a significant delay between writing the section above, and actually being able to put together the rest of this entry. Our Jewish brothers can either accept or reject what I have included above. But the discussion above is not my real point here.
The New Testament was written, also at God’s direction, and mostly by Jewish believers in Jesus, who was Himself, a Jew. Further, the New Testament was written in Greek. As I sat up in the Angel Court thinking, my enquiring mind was seeking this. What name for God did the New Testamant writers use? More specifically, was Yahweh their God too? The delay has been from me reading the New Testament a lot (which I usually do anyway) and noting how the early church referred to God, how the New Testamant writers referred to God, which words they used, and what the significance might be.
I apologize if this discussion gets a bit technical here, but that can’t be avoided. The name ‘ho Theos’ (with slight variations in form as required) is the usual Greek word for the generic understanding of the true God. It is probably a reasonable translation for the Hebrew word Elohim. Another name used in the New Testamant is ‘O Kurios’ (or something similar based on the particulars of the usage) which is generally translated as ‘the Lord’, and can be used for either God or Jesus. In English there are two parts to this phrase; the article (the) and the name (Lord). Greek is the same with the article (ho, ton, etc.) and then the name (Kurios, Kurion, etc.). Again, this would look so much nicer if I could actually include the Greek letters, and I apologize. (I wish I could do this for a living!) But, at first glance, for the name of the Lord as used in the New Testament, it is the Article, then the Name, ‘the Lord’. The English translaters have used this approach almost uniformly.
We could now further complicate things here, and talk about the Septuagint, which is a translation of the Hebrew Old Testamant into Greek, made as the Jews spread out, away from Israel, into a largely Greek speaking world. The Septuagint as a translation varies in quality from writer to writer, from book to book. Still, the New Testament writers were probably very familiar with the Septuagint (Greek) version of the Old Testament, and God may have chosen to fold some of this into the New Testament. This would be an amazing study all by itself.
But we really don’t need to mention the Septuagint at all. This is how it works, and is SO easy to verify. When the New Testament writers include a verse out of the Hebrew Old Testament, and when that Old Testament verse (in Hebrew) includes the name Yahweh, the New Testamant writers always use the word ‘Kurios’, well the correct form of this word, but they OMIT the article. (The Septuagint usually does the same thing.) So, when including Old Testament passages in the New Testament, Yahweh is translated as Kurios in the Greek, yet without any article. This also happens a LOT in the New Testament, and is very easy to check, with an interlinear perhaps.
For example, John the Baptist is speaking, and he says this about Jesus:
‘For this is the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet saying “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘make ready the way of the Lord…’ ” ‘ (Matt. 3:3)
The phrase ‘the way of the Lord’ in Hebrew (Isaiah 40:3) is ‘Derek Yahweh’ and in the Greek is “ten hodon kuriou.” The New Testament writer (Matthew) uses Kurios without the article to translate Yahweh into Greek. As I said above, this happens a LOT; the New Testamant use Old Testament passages frequently. Still, note that the New Testament writers were NOT bashful about referring directly to the name Yahweh as they pulled Old Testamant passages into their thoughts, again under God’s guiding hand. Pressing further, we also notice that the phrase “Angel of Yahweh” occurs in the New Testament too. As with translating Old Testamant passages, this phrase translates Yahweh with Kurios and no article. So far, this is not a big deal. It is helpful in understanding the construction (Kurios without the article), but we would expect something like this as the New Testament writers (under God’s direction) translate the original Hebrew for the name Yahweh into Greek.
But this is what I was looking for (and found) in the New Testament. Aside from translations of Old Testament passages, did the New Testament writers (again, under God’s direction), use this construction (Kurios without the article) to directly infer the Old Testament name Yahweh? Asked another way, did the New Testament writers shy away from referencing the name Yahweh? The answer is no, they did not!
For example, in Mark 13, Jesus is talking about ‘the great tribulation’, Daniel’s 70th week, a 7+ year time of grievous difficulty for both Jewish people and the world. Jesus includes as the centerpiece, the appearance of the Antichrist (the abomination of desolation) standing in the holy place of the Temple, in the middle of that week, in the middle of that 7 year period. After illustrating the terrible character of those days, Jesus says in v. 20 “Unless the Lord had shortened those days…” The word translated ‘the Lord’ is ‘Kurios’ (no article). Mark is indicating Jesus actually said ‘Unless Yahweh shortened those days…’
In Luke 1, Luke records an angel (Gabriel, v. 19) appearing to the priest Zecharias, promising him and Elizabeth a son in their old age (‘geron’), and describing this child’s great significance in Israel’s future. In v. 15, the Angel says “…For he will be great in the sight of the Lord…” The Greek words for ‘in the sight of the Lord’ is simply ‘enopion Kuriou.’ The angel said Yahweh, and Luke uses Kuriou without the article to correctly translate that. In v. 16, the angel says “And he will turn back many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God.” In Greek, for this last phrase, Luke correctly writes “Kurion ton Theon auton”, or ‘Yahweh their God’ which the Angel said to Zecharias. This is NOT the inclusion of an Old Testament passage! The angel is actually talking to Zecharias in Hebrew, and Luke’s accurate rendering in Greek makes it clear that the angel was not afraid to say the name Yahweh to Zecharias.
The promised child (John) is later born. In Luke 1:66, the people around Zecharias and Elizabeth are absolutely amazed over the miraculous birth of this child; they are both quite old! As Luke records, he writes about what the people are saying: “…for the hand of the Lord was certainly with him.” The phrase ‘hand of the Lord’ is simply ‘chier Kuriou’, or ‘the hand of Yahweh.’ The article is omitted. The author, the people were thinking, saying Yahweh. Two verses later (v. 68) Zecharias is praising God too. He begins “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel…” The words used for ‘Lord God’ are ‘Kurios Ho Theos’. Zecharias was thinking, and probably said “Yahweh God”, and Luke, again under God’s direction, makes sure the translation reflects this.
In Luke 2, the baby Jesus is brought into the temple to be circumcised, according to the Law. Simeon, and aged saint, meets baby Jesus and his parents there. In v. 26, Luke writes “It was revealed to him (Simeon)… …he should not (die)… …before he had seen the Lord’s Christ” (NASB). The Greek for the phrase ‘the Lord’s Christ’ is ‘ton christon kuriou’, which comes directly from, and easily translates the Old Testament phrase ‘the anointed of Yahweh.’ The reference to Yahweh’s name is the main point here, and Luke’s Greek clearly points to that by omitting the article for Kuriou. But the word commonly translated as ‘Messiah’, is a part of the Hebrew phrase ‘Anointed of Yahweh’ too. This entire phrase was originally given that significance by David. David used that phrase to refer to Saul’s official anointing as king, which David himself refused to violate, even at his own expense. After God’s promise to David later in his life, the phrase was applied to David’s promised descendant, the Messiah, the anointed On, so the Christ, Christos in Greek. So Simeon didn’t just hear the name Yahweh, he heard the whole Hebrew phrase, ‘anointed of Yahweh’, or ‘moshiach Yahweh’, as in 1 Samuel 23:6 and other places.
Answering a question from a Jewish lawyer in Luke 10:27, Jesus said “You shall love the Lord your God…” The phrase ‘Lord your God’ is again “Kurion ton Theon sou”, the accurate Greek translation for Yahweh your God, which Jesus Himself would have said.
In Acts 13:11, Paul is reprimanding Elymas the magician. Paul says “The hand of the Lord is upon you…” The phrase for ‘hand of the Lord’ is simply ‘Chier Kuriou’, which translates ‘hand of Yahweh’. If (since) Elymas knew Hebrew, Paul confronted him using Hebrew. Even if Paul said it in Greek, his wording directly infers the name Yahweh. Paul at least thought that, and probably said that.
In Romans 10:13, Paul includes an amazing, very generic statement: “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved”. ‘Name of the Lord’ in the Greek is “to onoma Kuriou”, including no article for Kuriou, so “name of Yahweh.” This is probably a translation of an Old Testament passage, and this is a familiar Old Testament picture. But Paul clearly uses terminology that infers the Hebrew name Yahweh to his at least mixed Hebrew and Gentile audience, the Christians in Rome. And writing again to the same audience (Rom: 11:34), Paul himself is praising God. In part Paul says “For who knew the mind of the Lord?…” The Greek for “mind of the Lord” is “noun Kuriou”, with no article for Kuriou. Whether or not Paul said “Yahweh”, he directly inferred that name and surely thought it. His readers probably did too.
Paul is again writing in 1 Thessalonians 4:6, cautioning his readers against taking advantage of fellow believers. Then he says “…for the Lord is the avenger…”, and the Greek is simply ‘ekdikos Kurios’, or …Yahweh is the avenger… This example is interesting, because it seems Paul’s churches were familiar with the way Paul understood God’s name, Yahweh.
And read 2 Timothy 2: 19. In 2 Timothy, Paul is writing to his beloved disciple Timothy, shortly before Paul expects to die for his Savior. In v. 19, the phrase “the Lord” (in the English) occurs twice in this very global sounding, yet none the less amazing verse. In both places, the word ‘Kurios’ / ‘Kuriou’ (without the article) is used. Placing the name Yahweh in this verse seems natural in Paul’s mind. Timothy probably understood exactly what Paul meant.
This is just a small glimpse; this construction occurs a lot. My conclusions are a) The New Testament speakers (even Jesus!) and writers, again under God’s direction, used language that directly infers the name Yahweh, and b) The New Testamant original readers probably understood that inference to varying degrees. In other words, the New Testament writers and most New Testament individuals (including Jesus) did NOT shy away from using the name Yahweh, the personal name for God, the name that God gave Himself.
Matthew 1:20 “But when he (Joseph) had considered this, behold, and angel of Yahweh appeared to him in a dream saying…”
Revelation 1:8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega” says Yahweh God, “who is, who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”
Jews and Christians alike, we can boldly say
“Yahweh, Hu Elohenu” (Yahweh, He is our God!)
I hear the names Yahweh and Yahweh God up here in the Angel Court a lot, but only from (good) Angels. They say these names for God with such love in their eyes. I don’t think demons even can say them…
c2017 by ACR
This is sort of an aside, but from what I can see, what I can remember, the word ‘Kurios’ in it’s various forms, appears to be used in the following ways in the New Testament.
a.) ‘Ton Kurion’ — Fairly generic “The Lord” referring either to God or Jesus (yuch, or Ceasar).
b) ‘Kurion’ — Without the article, should almost always be translated Yahweh, or at least LORD, but with the ‘ord’ smaller, yet capital letters.
c) ‘Kurie’ — A personal title, often translating to ‘sir’, but can also mean ‘lord’ or ‘master’, and maybe even a reference to Yahweh at times. Each occurrance needs to be carefully studied.
d) ‘Tow Kuriow’ — I think this is the Dative construction, and usually indicates some form of direction, e.g. ‘to the Lord’. It is very difficult to understand exactly what is being referenced. This warrants much more careful scrutiny.
e) And, by the way… When Paul refers to both God and Jesus in the same phrase, he at times includes the article for the construction just once at the beginning. This may result in the appearance of Kurios without the article, but this is just the way the construction works, the way Paul writes it. Generally this is the way Paul refers to both God and the Lord Jesus in the same phrase.