Yahweh and Jesus – The Name of Adonai-Yahweh

Yahweh and Jesus – The Name of Adonai-Yahweh

Yahweh and Jesus – The Name of Adonai-Yahweh.

“After these things the word of Yahweh came to Abram in a vision, ‘Fear not, Abram, I am your shield, your reward shall be very great.’ But Abram said, ‘O Adonai-Yahweh, what will you give me, for I continue childless.’” (Genesis 15:2).

Adonai means literally, “My Lord,” and is technically not a name of God, but a title. Adonai is a title of profound respect and honor which means Owner, Master, Sovereign, Ruler, Lord, a God of absolute authority. When addressing Adonai, we are addressing our superior in every way imaginable, and so the use of this title for God implies absolute submission to Him. An example of this distinction between name and title can be found in the words of David in Psalm 8:1, “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” Using the Hebrew, David was declaring, “O Yahweh, our Adonai…” The name of God was Yahweh, the title involving His lordship was Adonai. The title Adonai was reserved in the Hebrew Bible for honoring the Sovereign Lord, the believer’s Lord and Master.

Adonai is the plural form of adon, “lord.” The scholars call Adonai an emphatic plural, a plural word that shows an intense abundance of something. In this case the plural word emphasizes the super-majesty of God. This Lord, in other words, is larger than life, and so it deserves a plural, not a mere singular.  The plurality of this name for God doesn’t necessarily imply the Trinity. But it could.

Adonai and Yahweh were often used together in the Hebrew Bible, and was usually translated as “Sovereign LORD.” The two were used in tandem to emphasize the personal God’s unmatched superiority, authority, ownership of the world. Two examples would be Psalm 140:7, “O Yahweh, O Adonai, thou art my God,”  and 141:8, “For my eyes are toward thee, O Yahweh, Adonai.”  David in fact used all three names/titles for God in his Psalm 38:15, “For in you, O Yahweh, I hope; you will hear, O Adonai my Elohim.” 

Adonai is first used to address God by Abram, soon to be Abraham, in Genesis 15:2, quoted above. The word is used over 400 times in the Hebrew Bible. and often in the Psalms… including Ps. 97:5, “the Adonai of the whole earth.” As well as in Ps. 136:3, “Give thanks to the Adonai ha adonim,” the Lord of lords. When a reader in Scripture sees the name LORD in all caps, it is Yahweh. When it is in lower case, Lord, it is Adonai. When faithful Jews read Yahweh, LORD, in the Bible, they pronounce Adonai, not Yahweh. Yahweh is the unpronounceable name, the Name too holy and sacred to utter. They are thus afraid of saying the holy Name in vain, violating the third Commandment. So they would read “Yahweh,” but they would pronounce it as “Adonai.”

Gospel Fulfillment. When the Hebrew Bible was translated into Greek, the Hebrew word Adonai was translated to the Greek word Kurios. The Greek Kurios had equivalent meanings to Adonai – Lord, Master, Sovereign One, Owner, singular Lord of all the lords. The term kurios was used over 700 times in the New Testament, practically all of them referring to Jesus. When one reads Lord in the Hebrew Bible, the reader thinks Adonai. When one reads Lord in the New Testament, think Kurios. Both words refer to divinity. Make no mistake, Jesus of the New Testament is the incarnation of Adonai of the Hebrew Bible. The early Christians used Kurios to refer to Jesus, and that item of faith, considering Kurios to be equivalent to Adonai, and both terms pointing to Jesus, was central to their understanding of Jesus Christ their Lord. A couple of examples of Jesus as Kurios, the divine Adonai, among the 700 references in the New Testament, are:

(1.) “For there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things, and we exist in Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.”  (1 Cor. 8:6).

(2.) “You call me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am.” (John 13:13).

(3.) “Every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil. 2:11).

(4.) “Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts…” (1 Peter 3:15).

(5.)  “The Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with him are the called and chosen and faithful.” (Rev. 17:14).

Regarding the holy Name of Yahweh, Jesus considered Himself to be on equal footing with the Hebrew Yahweh in the gospels. He claimed to be of one essence with Yahweh God. He declared that He shared the divine identity with the Great I AM. In Acts 2:21, Peter quoted Joel 2:28 about “the LORD,” and then referred immediately to Jesus. Jesus Himself left little doubt that He was of the same essence as the Father God. In John 14:9, for example, He said that anyone who has seen the Son has in fact seen the Father. And in John 10:30, Jesus flatly declares, “I and the Father are one.” The most compelling gospel proof assuming an equality with Yahweh is His frequent use of the “I AM” formula in His teaching ministry. Jesus clearly referred to Himself with an abbreviated form of Yahweh, YHWH, I AM WHAT I AM. With His many I AM’s, in the Gospel of John alone there are 23 I AM statements by Jesus, He staked His claim to divinity, to equality to Yahweh. Jesus indeed claimed the name of Yahweh as His own. That was outlandish of Him, but it was true. And it got Jesus into a lot of trouble. Somehow, in the impenetrable mystery of the Trinity, the divine Godhead, the Three-in-One, Jesus maintained His distinctive role as the Son, as did the Father. Yet still Jesus was one with Yahweh. Jesus was and is Yahweh.  Referring to one means you are referring to the other. God is spirit, Jesus is flesh, and yet they are so close to each other that somehow they are inside each other as One God, while keeping their unique identities.

A Prayer to Adonai (a-doe-nay’), honoring Jesus Christ the Lord as Adonai in the flesh:

We submit to you, Adonai, Lord Master, Owner of all things. We accept your sovereignty over us. You have absolute authority over all creation. For you are in complete possession of everything on earth and in heaven. We know you are not a hard taskmaster, Lord. For you are rich in mercy and ready to forgive. We thank you for knowing what is best for us, that you are easy to please and hard to satisfy. Therefore, behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, so our eyes wait upon you, O Lord. We are not even worthy to gather the crumbs beneath your table, Master, and yet you welcome us to dine with you. You are thus our shield of protection and our very great reward. We are not our own, we have been bought with a price, and so we belong to you, Lord of lords. We thank you for your Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We bow before you as a subject of the King, Adonai, and we laud your matchless Name. Amen.