1-7 The Use of God’s Name
We have seen that God’s name and that of His Son Jesus has very
deep meaning. When we speak of ‘God’ we are touching upon
every aspect of His wonderful purpose of love and truth. That God’s
name should be used in vain as a mild expletive or expression of exasperation,
is therefore one of the most insulting things a man can do to his Maker.
For this reason everyone who wants to please God and honour Him will make
every effort not to use God’s name lightly. In many societies worldwide
such blasphemy has become a standard part of modern language; to break
out of what may have been the habit of a lifetime will not be easy. A
heartfelt prayer for God’s help in this will surely not go unheeded
by Him. Those within our sphere of control and influence, e.g. children,
could also be reminded of the seriousness of blasphemy: “For the
Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain” (Dt.
On the other hand there are those who insist that the true Christian church
must use the Hebrew words Yahweh or Jehovah in its name. By doing this,
such people are using God’s holy and marvellous name to fuel a kind
of spiritual elitism, whereby they despise other people merely over the
pronunciation or use of one word. This is not to say that the use of God’s
name is wrong; it is especially suited to our personal prayers once we
are properly baptised into the name. The New Testament, however, does
not give us any indication that this is necessary or even desired by God.
He inspired the writing of the New Testament so that it was written in
Greek, using only one word for ‘God’ - ‘theos’,
meaning ‘a great one’. No distinction is made in it between
‘God’ and ‘Yahweh’, nor is there any specific
command concerning what believers should call themselves as a community.
Peter speaks of a believer as a “Christian” rather than a
‘Yahweh-man’ or something similar (1 Pet. 4:16). An over-emphasis
on the use of the name ‘Yahweh’ leads to a devaluing of the
work and place of the Lord Jesus, in a similar way to which many ‘evangelical
Christians’ over-stress the name and office of Jesus to the neglecting
of the mightier place of God.
Other names by which the early community of Christian believers called
themselves do not include the name ‘Yahweh’.
? “The commonwealth of Israel” (Eph. 2:12)
? “The general assembly and church of the firstborn” (Heb.
? “The church of God” (Acts 20:28)
? “The church of the living God, which is the pillar and ground
of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15)
? “The house of God” (1 Tim. 3:15).