The name Jehovah is an important name of God in the Bible. Jehovah is a name that only God can claim (Psalm 83:18). God uniquely revealed himself to Israel by this name (Exodus 6:2-4). In fact, we are commanded to “extol him that rideth upon the heavens by his name JAH” (Psalm 68:4). (Jah is actually a contraction of the name Jehovah.) God’s name Jehovah occurs over six thousand times in the Scriptures. Because of this fact, it is imperative that we understand some biblical truths about this name.
The Authorized (King James) Version and most other translations of the Bible translate the Hebrew name יְהֹוָה (Jehovah) as “Lord” or “God” in all capitals. For instance, when you read “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1), the word “Lord” is in all capitals; the Hebrew word is Jehovah. Again, Moses prayed saying, “O Lord GOD, destroy not thy people” (Deuteronomy 6:26). “God” is in all capitals and the Hebrew word is again Jehovah. Pretty much every time you see LORD or GOD in your Bible, the original word is the name Jehovah. Time after time God uses this name to reveal himself to us.
However, the name Jehovah is an exclusively Old Testament name for God. The name Jehovah never occurs in the New Testament. Not even once. In fact, when the writers of the New Testament quote the Old Testament they always translate the Hebrew name יְהֹוָה (Jehovah) with the Greek word κύριος (Lord) or θεός (God).
For example, Matthew quotes the Book of Isaiah when he says, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight” (Mathew 3:3). The passage in Isaiah says, “Prepare ye the way of the LORD” (Isaiah 40:3). The original Hebrew has the name Jehovah (יְהֹוָה LORD); but when Matthew quotes the passage, he translates the name Jehovah as κύριος (Lord). Even Jesus translated the name of Jehovah in this way: “But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). Jesus is quoting from Deuteonomy 8:3 where it says “that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live”. Again, the Old Testament says LORD with all capitals because the original Hebrew has the name Jehovah. But when Jesus speaks this verse, the original Greek has God without all capitals because the word is θεός. The name Jehovah (יְהֹוָה) simply is not in the New Testament.
The fact that the authors of the New Testament, who were under divine inspiration (2 Timothy 3:16), never use the hame Jehovah but instead use Lord or God is interesting. In fact, understanding why they did this is important for understanding how they viewed Jesus. The New Testament authors purposely and divinely translated the name Jehovah in the way that I have demonstrated in order to show that Jesus is the same LORD Jehovah God of the Old Testament in human form. Let’s have a look at some scriptures that bear this out.
In Isaiah 45 the LORD Jehovah is speaking (v. 21); and he says, “unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear” (v. 23). The Apostle Paul is paraphrasing this passage when he says “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11). Paul obviously is connecting Jesus, the man that God has exalted (see Philippians 2:9, Colossians 1:19), with this Old Testament prophecy about Jehovah. Notice that every tongue will confess “that Jesus Christ is Lord”. The original Greek uses the word κύριος (Lord) here, the same word that the New Testament uses to translate the name Jehovah. There will come a day when every tongue will confess that Jesus is Jehovah come in the flesh (John 1:1, 14).
Again, the LORD said in Isaiah 44:6, “Thus saith the LORD…I am the first, and I am the last”; and Jesus himself says, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last” (Revelation 22:13). Jesus cannot lie. If he identifies himself with Jehovah, then Jehovah he must be! Look at what Jesus said in the gospel of John: “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:56-58).
Notice that Jesus claims that Abraham saw him. The Jews knew this was humanly impossible; Jesus was only about thirty years old! How could he and Abraham have possibly seen one another? But notice how Jesus answered their question: “Before Abraham was, I am”. I AM was a name by which Jehovah called himself (Exodus 3:14). In the Old Testament Jehovah visibly appeared to Abraham (Genesis 17:1, Exodus 6:3). Jesus’ claim is incredibly plain: Jesus is claiming to be the same Jehovah I AM that appeared to Abraham in the Old Testament. Jesus could not have seen Abraham as a thirty year old man; but he could as the eternal God Jehovah!
Let’s look at one more passage. All of Romans 10 is devoted to talking about salvation through Jesus Christ. Verse 9 says “that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved”. Notice that Paul calls Jesus “the Lord” (κύριος). Just a couple of verses later Paul say that “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord (κύριος) shall be saved” (v. 13). Paul is quoting from Joel 2:32 where it says “that whosoever shall call upon the name of the LORD (יְהֹוָה Jehovah) shall be delivered”.
Now follow Paul’s logic here. He says that if we confess Jesus the Lord, we will be saved. In order to support this statement with scripture, he quotes from the prophet Joel. But instead of saying “all who call on the name of Jehovah” like the original Hebrew in Joel does, he says “all who call on the name of the Lord”. Paul just called Jesus “Lord” two verses earlier. Paul is instructing people to call on the name of Jesus because it is the name of Jehovah in flesh: the name of Jehovah that we call on for salvation. Peter had this same understanding of Jesus’ name when he said this about the name of Jesus: “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
Jesus is LORD! ~CJK