Question: Whenever I speak with Jehovah’s Witnesses it seems at some time we will discuss the importance of the name of God. Why do they make such a big deal about the name of God?
Answer: I will not attempt to write a treatise on the subject of the names of God. Books have been written on this topic. Instead my objective is to explore the motives behind emphasizing God’s name.
In the Watchtower Publication “What Does the Bible Really Teach?” I quote from page 13.
Does God have a name? Many religions answer that his name is “God” or “Lord,” but these are not personal names. They are titles, just like “king” and “president” are titles. The Bible teaches that God has many titles. “God” and “Lord” are among them. However, the Bible also teaches that God has a personal name: Jehovah. Psalm 83:18 says: “You, whose name is Jehovah, you alone are the Most High over all the earth.”
Is “Jehovah” God’s only personal name? In making this assertion the Watchtower publication disagrees with every book on theology I investigated. All of them state there are multiple personal names of God. They tried to say these names are titles and gave no support for this assertion. If the Bible called God an “it” then you would have impersonal reference to Him.
Each of the many names of God describes a different aspect of His many-faceted character. Here are some of the better-known names of God in the Bible.
EL, ELOAH: God “mighty, strong, prominent” (Genesis 7:1; Isaiah 9:6).
ELOHIM: God “Creator, Mighty and Strong” (Genesis 17:7; Jeremiah 31:33) – the plural form of Eloah, which accommodates the doctrine of the Trinity.
EL SHADDAI: “God Almighty,” “The Mighty One of Jacob” (Genesis 49:24; Psalm 132:2,5) – speaks to God’s ultimate power over all.
ADONAI: “Lord” (Genesis 15:2; Judges 6:15) – used in place of YHWH, which was thought by the Jews to be too sacred to be uttered by sinful men.
YHWH / YAHWEH / JEHOVAH: “LORD” (Deuteronomy 6:4; Daniel 9:14) –Translated in English Bibles “LORD” (all capitals) to distinguish it from Adonai, “Lord.” The revelation of the name is first given to Moses “I Am who I Am” (Exodus 3:14). This name specifies an immediacy, a presence.
All of these can be considered personal names of God. YAHWEH or JEHOVAH (“LORD”) is the most utilized in the Bible and some believe God’s proper name.
During the time I was writing this post, a Jehovah’s Witness (Bruce K.) sent me a comment on the personal name of God responding to on an article I wrote called “Major Problems with the New World Translation.” The following is part of my reply.
Since God is also identified as “God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob,” without any mention of Jehovah (YHWH), doesn’t this mean that the name Jehovah is not the only way that God can be addressed in the Old Testament?
Jesus never identified the Father as Jehovah. Was Jesus wrong for not calling the Father by his personal name? When He taught us how to pray, how are we to address the Father? Matthew 6:9 “Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.’” Jesus taught his disciples and us to say “Our Father” and not “Our Jehovah.” You need to chastise Him for forgetting to use Jehovah here and all through his ministry. Jesus never said the name Jehovah. Bruce was Jesus wrong?
Why didn’t any of the New Testament writers use the name Jehovah? Were all the writers of the New Testament out of line? Are you going to correct them? There are over 5,700 ancient New Testament manuscripts and none of them ever used the name Jehovah. NONE! Does the Watchtower Organization know more than Jesus and the New Testament writers?
In my posted letter to Angela (Jehovah’s Witness) I wrote: “Forcing the word Jehovah [by the New World Translation] into the New Testament is simply wrong. When your translators did this they went against thousands of Greek manuscripts of the New Testament; some of which date back to the second century. Instead the New Testament uses the words “Lord” [Greek: Kurios] and “God” [Greek: theos] when talking about God. The writers never used Jehovah, even when quoting the Old Testament. The Greek New Testament source for the New World Translation, Westcott and Hort, never used Jehovah. They used kurios for Lord and theos for God. The Kingdom Interlinear confirms Jehovah was never in the original text. This interlinear published by the Watchtower Organization shows how kurios (Lord) and theos (God) were changed to Jehovah in the English translation. Stating God’s name was left out of the King James or any other version of the Bible is false. Angela, I suggest finding a Kingdom Interlinear at your hall so you can see for yourself. When your organization says they removed the name, they are lying to you.” Bruce why do you follow an organization that blatantly lies to you?
Theology books say the names of God represent His character; they tell us who He is. Through God’s many names we learn He is personal, powerful, caring, and much more. So why do the Jehovah’s Witnesses say God’s only personal name is Jehovah? One reason is it gives them the air they are the only true religion that properly worships God. It sets them apart. The other reason is by pointing to “Jehovah” as the one personal name, they can attack the doctrine of the Trinity.
Bruce wrote that by addressing God by His personal name Jehovah would be similar to speaking to the King and calling him Bill. By using this one personal name, Jehovah’s Witnesses are trying to make believing in the Trinity a contradiction. The definition of the Trinity is one God subsists in 3 persons Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; co-equal and co-eternal. If God’s name is Bill then we believe in one Bill subsisting in 3 persons. Does that seem odd to you? Who would believe that? Their tactic is to reduce the Triune God from 3 persons down to one person. They believe in one personal God, Jehovah, and that Jesus is a second god; a lesser god; a created being.
What Jehovah’s Witnesses teach is heresy. The Bible teaches 3 premises: 1) there is only one God, 2) there are 3 distinct persons Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and 3) each person is God. I can supply 28 verses that clearly teach there is only one God. All other so-called gods are false gods such as Satan, idols, and human leaders. None of the false gods are the one true God by nature. Paul writes about false gods in Galatians 4:8 “However at that time, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods.” Paul implies that there is only one God by nature and all others are false.
The issue of one God was important at the council of Nicea in AD 325. It was there Arius brought forth his teaching that Jesus was “a god” a created being; a similar belief held by Jehovah’s Witnesses. This false teaching was soundly rejected by the Bishops (300+ to 2) in attendance. Arianism was labeled a heresy by this early church council. Today this false teaching has been restored by the Jehovah’s Witnesses. To claim Jesus is a lesser god, a mighty god is polytheism (belief in more than 1 god). The early church taught there is only one God and rejected this belief. Today classical Christianity supports that rejection.
If you would like verses in support of the 3 premises go to the series I wrote called “Loving the Trinity.” It is the Jehovah’s Witnesses rejection of the Trinity that motivate them to make a big name about the single personal name of God. In their denial of the Triune God of the Bible they are worshipping a false God and unless they turn to the one true God, they will spend eternity separated from Him.