JesusWalk® Publications

Names and Titles of God:
A Bible Study

by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson

Names and Titles of God, by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
Book front cover | back cover

God's names, titles, and descriptors are windows into his character. As we learn his names and meditate on them, we will come to know him more intimately. We will begin to trust him more fully. And we will find our hearts drawn ever more passionately to do his will here on earth as it is in heaven. And so I invite you to undertake a journey with me to explore God by means of his names.

Why Study the Names and Titles of God?

Should we study the names, titles, metaphors, and descriptors of God so we can impress others with our God vocabulary? By no means. I believe there are three ways that a study of God's names and titles can benefit us, all of them closely related:

  1. Our prayer life is enriched by having meditated on God's names, titles, and metaphors. For example, as I've studied about God as my Shepherd, I find myself calling on God in prayer as my Shepherd, trusting him to supply my needs and to guide me.
  2. Our worship is enriched, as well. With a limited vocabulary of praise and a limited understanding of God we are reduced to a kind of hobbled, truncated praise. But as we begin to know more of God's facets, we are able to praise him better. Several passages in the Psalms and Isaiah indicate a joy in naming the titles and metaphors of God before him.
  3. Our faith in and understanding of God is increased. As I study how God provides as a shepherd, I now am able to trust him more fully in this area of my life. Whereas I once had a lot of anxiety about making ends meet, now my trust in God as my Shepherd and Provider bring me confidence, assurance, and joy that was missing before.

Chapters

  1. Most High God ('El `Elyon). We discuss 'El, the generic term for God and 'Elohim, the plural name used for the Israelite's God. In addition, we explore titles by which God's exalted nature is revealed: Most High God, Father of Glory, High and Lofty One, King of Glory, and My Glory. And we examine Abraham's encounter with Melchizedek in Genesis 14:17-24.
  2. God of Might ('El Shaddai). We examine the names and metaphors of God that refer to his power and might, including military might as the LORD of Hosts/Armies (Yahweh Sabaoth). Also Mighty Warrior and the LORD our Banner (Yahweh nissi). Joshua 5:13-6:2
  3. Yahweh, I AM, the Eternal God ('El `Olam). This is God's unique, self-revealed name, sometimes called Jehovah or the tetragrammaton YHWH. We also examine the eternal nature of God as the Ancient of Days, Alpha and Omega, First and the Last, Everlasting God, I AM, and the One Who Inhabits Eternity. Exodus 3:1-18.
  4. God Our Creator. We examine God as our Creator, our Potter as we are clay in his hands, our Builder and Maker. Is 45:5-12 and Psalm 95:1-7.
  5. The Holy and Righteous One. He is God of Holiness, Justice, and Righteousness. He is known as Holy, Jealous, Righteous One, the Judge of All the Earth, the Awe/Fear of Jacob. We'll also consider compound names: The LORD who Sanctifies You (Yahweh-M'Kaddesh) and the LORD our Righteousness (Yahweh-Tsidkenu). He is the Protector of widows and the fatherless  The theme of God requiring ethical justice is strong in the Bible. Isaiah 6:1-8.
  6. God Our Lord and King. Here we examine God in his role as absolute sovereign, or Lord and King. We'll consider such titles as King of Glory, God of gods, and Lord of lords. Psalm 24.
  7. God our Fortress and Protector. A number of metaphors refer to God's protection for his people. He is our Shield, Fortress, Hiding Place, Keeper, Lifter of Our Head, Refuge, Rock, Shade, Shelter, and Stronghold. Psalm 91.
  8. The Lord Our Provider and Shepherd, the God who leads us and supplies our needs. We explore the LORD who provides (Yahewh-jireh), the LORD Our Shepherd (Yahweh-rohi), the God Who Sees ('El-Roi), the LORD who provides (Yahewh-jireh), the LORD is our Healer (Yawheh-rapha), and and The LORD is Here (Yahweh-Shammah).. Psalm 23.
  9. Abba, Father. Jesus especially revealed God as our Heavenly Father, building on an Old Testament theme. We also consider God in relationships with his people as Husband, God of Israel, and God of our Fathers..
  10. The God of All Grace. While the Old Testament revealed the Merciful God, the God of Love and Peace, and the God of My Mercy, the New Testament's special emphasis is on God's love and mercy. Exodus 34:5-7.
  11. God Our Savior and Redeemer. We conclude with a strong theme of God who rescues his people from trouble -- Deliverer, Redeemer, Savior, and Horn of Salvation. We'll also consider The LORD is Peace (Yahweh-Shalom, the name of Gideon's altar). Mark 10:35-45.

Features of This Book

This study is designed with various of kinds of readers in mind. It is written for Christians who are seeking to understand and grow in their faith, though it will be profitable for Jews, Muslims, and seekers. It is meant to be used for personal study, in small group Bible studies and adult classes, as well as the basis for preaching.

Hebrew and Greek Word Studies. Rather than relying on previous books about the names of God, I've gone back to the original Hebrew and Greek languages and the conclusions of contemporary conservative scholars to determine the meanings of the words as precisely as possible. If you find Hebrew and Greek confusing, you're not alone. Please accept my condolences and just skip it. But for preachers, teachers, and small group leaders I've included this kind of information, as well as footnoting my sources, so that readers can assess the value of the information and not just pass it along blindly to their listeners.

Questions are included at various points in each chapter to help the reader pause and think more deeply. It's too easy for us to read unthoughtfully and assume that we understand what we are reading. The questions are designed to help readers articulate and apply what they are learning to their own lives and growing faith. Each question includes a hyperlink to the Joyful Heart Bible Study Forum where participants can share their answers to the questions and read what others have written.

Songs and Hymns are ways that we use the names and character of God in our worship. To help those designing worship services around the names and titles of God, I have tried to include some of the more popular hymns and songs that I could find. My list is, of course, incomplete, so perhaps you'll be able to suggest some other songs.


Detail of Michelangelo's "Creation of Adam" (1511), a fresco on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, Vatican.

Lists of the Names and Titles of God in each of eleven categories are included too. I encourage you to try to use these ways of addressing God in your prayers for each week of the study. Your prayers will be richer for it, and so will your understanding of the great God whom we serve.

How Many Names, Titles, Descriptors, and Metaphors of God Are There?

It depends on how you count them and what you include. This book includes about 120 core names, titles, and descriptors -- more or less -- with about 219 variations. Plenty enough for you to bask in wonder of God!

Detailed Index will help you quickly find any place where a particular name of God is mentioned.

Artwork and paintings are windows that help us learn about God in other ways. I've included some paintings that illustrate incidents in which God's names were revealed. For those who are preparing PowerPoint and multimedia presentations, you are welcome to follow links in my webpage-in-progress, "Artwork relating to the Names and Titles of God."

Who Is this Book For?

Names and Titles of God is designed for laypeople who want to make a serious, and at the same time spiritual, study of the names of God. Small group leaders and teachers will find it a wonderful guidebook to an 11-week study, complete with handouts that can be duplicated for group members. Pastors and preachers will find this 220-page book a rich trove of careful, footnoted research and reflection on the names of God, as well as application on how these names should affect our lives.

I looked for a comprehensive book on the names of God and couldn't find one. So I wrote one.

Here's what readers say....
  • "Amazed at the constant, reliable depth. I have never experienced such devotion to God's word." -- Susan Dennis
  • "Brought me to a deeper place of intimacy and enhanced my prayer life and times with God." -- Laura Chase
  • "Direct, straightforward, well-written, well-researched, easy-to-understand, but not shallow." -- Norman Silver
  • "Truly anointed. God shows Himself in this study. You start out reading and the next thing you know it's like God takes over and He teaches you." -- Lori Binggeli

Here's what some others say....

Order the book. I know it will enrich your thoughts, your prayers, your worship, and your life.

Yours in Christ's service,
Pastor Ralph

You can study it week-by-week in our free online Bible study. But you might like to have the whole study, either printed out from an e-book or purchased in print form, to help you keep all your notes in a single place. Why don't you order a copy. The price is right!

You can purchase this 234-page book either as a paperback book or in e-book format.

  Names and Titles of God, by Dr. Ralph F. WilsonPaperback format, list $19.95, must be ordered through Amazon.com and other online booksellers. You may also ask your local bookstore to order it. The paperback book has 266 pages and is 7.5" x 9.25". ISBN 0981972152 (978-0-9819721-5-2). Printed in both the US and UK.

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Copyright © 1985-2014, Ralph F. Wilson. <pastor@joyfulheart.com> All rights reserved. A single copy of this article is free. Do not put this on a website. See legal, copyright, and reprint information.

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