In the Bible, names have meanings. God is called a number of things, and each one emphasizes a particular aspect of his character: His divinity, his power, etc.
The Significance of "Jehovah"
"Jehovah" is the Hebrew name equated with "I Am." In some languages it is translated "The Eternal" because it describes His eternity and self existence. It comes from the same root as the verb "to be." It is often used when there is a close relationship between God and a person.
"I Am" and "Jehovah," Used Interchangeably
God expressed His eternity in another way when He called Himself "I am." As He was sending Moses to call His people out of Egypt, Moses asked Him: "...when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you: and they shall say to me, what is His name? What shall I say unto them? And God said to Moses I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you" (Ex. 3:13-14).
The very next verse uses the name Jehovah: "And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations" (Ex. 3:15).
God's name in this passage is expressed by two different Hebrew words, one is translated "I am" and the other is "Jehovah." Both are called God's name, and both express the idea that God is the eternal one.
Jesus Identified Himself with Jehovah
Jesus Christ, to identify Himself with Jehovah, applied God's name "I am" to HImself, using the Greek words "ego eimi" which mean "I am": "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am" (John 8:58). The next verse makes it clear that the unbelieving Jews knew Christ Jesus was equating Himself with "I am," that is: "Jehovah." They thought His statement was blasphemous, so they tried to execute Him.
Old Testament Prophecies Equated Jehovah with Christ
In Zechariah 12:10, a prophecy which had already identified Jehovah as the one speaking (12:1, 4), Jehovahsaid: "...and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced..."
This is a reference to the crucifixion. Who was pierced at the crucifixion? This passage calls Him Jehovah.
Jeremiah 23:6, another prophecy, says that at His second coming the righteous branch of David will be called "Jehovah our righteousness:" "...and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS." "LORD" in caps is the King James Version's translation of "Jehovah" in Hebrew. The New World Translation adds the word "is" which hides the fact that it refers to Christ, but it eliminates any possible doubt that the Hebrew name being used is "Jehovah:" "And this is his name with which he will be called, Jehovah is our righteousness."
It Is Not Wrong to Call Jehovah by His Other Names
The New Testament uses a number of names for God. Here are three examples:
- "For you must not prostarte yourself to another god, because Jehovah, whose name is Jealous, he is a jealous God" (Ex. 34:14, New World Translation).
- When Jesus called to God from the cross he said: "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matt. 27:46).
- When teaching the disciples to pray, Jesus said, "After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed by thy name" (Matt. 6:9).
"Jehovah" May Be Translated
The New World Translators try to represent the sound of this name for God in Hebrew, writing :Jehovah." Many other translators of the Bible translate the Hebrew word with the English word "Lord." Representing the sound of the Hebrew word with "Jehovah" gives some idea of how the word sounded, but is not exact, because the Hebrew word begins with a letter which is sounded "I" and not "J."
Some feel it best not to translate "Jehovah" with the English word "Lord" as most English translations do, but to use "Jehovah". Is there any justification for the translation "Lord?"
The New Testament was originally written in Greek under the inspiration of God. When the word "Jehovah" is quoted from the Hebrew of the Old Testament, the Greek New Testament does not spell out the Hebrew word with Greek letters, but translated it with the Greek word "Kurios" ("Lord" in English). In this way, God lets us know that it is OK to translate "Jehovah" into other languages.
In addition, the entire Old Testament was translated into Greek around 200 B.C. This translation, called the Septuagint, also translated the Hebrew word for "Jehovah" with the Greek word "Kurios."
Under the inspiration of God, the Greek New Testament refers to Christ with the same word, "Kurios," ("Lord") which it uses to translate "Jehovah." As an example, the entire title "Lord Jesus Christ" is found 82 times in the New Testament (See Romans 5:1). "Kurios," ("Lord") is not a specific term which always means Christ, but is also used at times for a person who is in charge.
There is at least one clamorous exception to the rule that the New World Translation always writes out "Jehovah." In this case the Witnesses themselves translate the Hebrew "Jehovah" as "Lord". Why?
The Exception, Jehovah in Psalm 34:8 Is Christ in I Peter 2:3
As a rule, the New World Translation always renders "Kurios" in the Greek New Testament as "Jehovah" when it refers to the Father, but "Lord" when it refers to Jesus Christ. Wherever the New Testament quotes the Old Testament, the New World translators could tell whether to use "Lord" or "Jehovah" by noticing if the Hebrew word which the New Testament quoted was "Jehovah."
In I Peter 2:3, however, they faced a real problem. The passage quotes Psalm 34:8: "Taste and see that Jehovah is good..." (New World Translation). In I Peter 2:3, they translated: "Provided you have tasted that the Lord is kind." Why did they not follow their rule and translate, "Jehovah is kind?" Read on in I Peter and you will find that the passage is referring to Christ. To hide the fact that Jehovah of the Old Testament is the Lord Jesus Christ, the New World Translation broke its rule and used "Lord" in I Peter to translate "Jehovah" in the Old Testament passage.
What Name Is Above Every Other?
The name of Jesus Christ is "...above every other name." (Php. 2:9). This is not because a man is above Jehovah, but because Jesus Christ is Jehovah.
Which name you prefer to use for God is not terribly important, and depends to a large extent on which of His attributes you want to emphasize. What is important is that you become His child and enter His Kingdom. To do this, "Ye must be born again" (John 3:7). See the first and last chapters of this book to find out how.