How Jesus Personally Addressed God
The sacred name movement is incorrect in teaching that Jesus called God by the name Yahweh. The teachers of this religious movement make the further erroneous assertion that he resolutely taught his followers to call God by this name. As we search out the errors of these teachings, we will approach the doctrine from various perspectives.
It is essential to consider the doctrine from the standpoint of exactly how Jesus addressed the Creator. This is not only necessary for those who are making this study; it is necessary for the sacred name teacher and his converts. An examination of occasions when Jesus spoke to God will provide understanding regarding whether Jesus directly addressed God by the name Yahweh.
The New Testament, in direct disagreement with sacred name teachere, gives no instance when Jesus addressed God as Yahweh. The truth, as revealed in the Word of God, conclusively shows that when he directly spoke to God he did so using the title Father. Few if any sacred name teachers are willing to deny that he called upon God as Father or that he spoke of God as Father. Fewer still have shown any willingness to confront the matter of why Jesus addressed God using the title Father and did not use their preferred name Yahweh.
Jesus taught by both word and example. There can be no doubt that his example matched his word. If Jesus called God Yahweh, we can be certain that he taught others to do the same. On the other hand, if he did not call God by this name, we will just as certainly know that he did not teach others to do so.
Therefore, finding out how Jesus addressed God becomes essential to our investigation of whether he spoke the name Yahweh and taught his followers to speak this name. What he did is exactly what he expects his children to do. The evidence uncovered in a search of the Scriptures will show that Jesus did not voice the Tetragrammaton when addressing God. As a matter of fact, such a search will reveal that he meticulously refrained from doing so.
At the Tomb of Lazarus
After hearing Lazarus was sick, Jesus delayed for a few days going to the home of his friend. Consequently he was not there when Lazarus died. When he finally arrived, they took him to the tomb and at his request removed the stone from its entrance. Standing before that tomb, Jesus demonstrated a number of individual qualities that anyone desiring to follow his footsteps will aspire to emulate. It will do all mankind well to follow his example of directly speaking to God. It is also well for all men everywhere to have high expectations of what God will do.
His actions serve to show that we are permitted, even encouraged, to personally address God on behalf of others. All who serve God are priests and have no need of a priest to mediate for them. Each servant of God can address God in person. As one approaches God, what is expected? How is he or she to address God? Should he be called Yahweh? Will prayers be answered; will they even be heard unless one calls God by the name Yahweh? What did Jesus call the Creator?
Here are the words he said as faithfully recorded by his disciple John.
Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid .And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.(John 11:41-42)
Here is an example of how Jesus addressed God. He did not call him Yahweh. In this case, as in almost every case, Jesus called upon the Creator as Father. It is evident even to sacred name teachers that he is not speaking the Tetragrammaton. While this fact may cause sacred name teachers a great deal of frustration, it is absolutely obvious that such is the fact.
The usual rationalization given when the sacred name teacher thinks Jesus had to have said the name Yahweh is that the wicked scribes and translators removed the name Yahweh from the text sometime after John wrote. These teachers do not have the audacity to put such a theory forward as an explanation for why Jesus called God Father. Even the sacred name bible revisers, who usually exhibit no compunction at removing words from the Scriptures and inserting the name Yahweh, have left the word Father in this passage.
The truth is Jesus did not call God Yahweh at the tomb of Lazarus. Sacred name advocates are not able to deny it. He addressed him as Father. Jesus did this in many other instances.
One sacred name doctrinal explanation of the actions of Jesus here is that he called God Father so as to distinguish him from himself. Surely these teachers cannot expect any rational person to swallow such a pitiful and contemptible explanation of why Jesus is not addressing God as Yahweh? [Read a fuller treatment of this theory and a footnote on it in Part Two of this study.]
The night before his death Jesus went into a garden on the Mount of Olives and prayed. Knowing he would die the next day brought upon him a deep intensity. He manifested great earnestness and such need that an angel of God came to him and gave him strength. In prayer he was in such distress that sweat came down his face in big drops like blood.
Exactly how he addressed God at such a time is pertinent to this methodical investigation. According to Matthew’s account Jesus prayed twice while in the garden.
And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.(Matthew 26:39)
He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.(Matthew 26:42)
Mark passes on to us the Aramaic title, Abba, that Jesus called God as he prayed. This word means Father.
And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.(Mark 14:36)
Luke’s account does not materially differ with Matthew’s or Mark’s. This prayer is central during one of the most significant times in the life of Jesus. He most earnestly and fervently addressed God in the garden. If addressing God using the name Yahweh offers a greater degree of efficaciousness, surely this would have been the time for Jesus to speak it. But the Scriptures show that Jesus, at this critical period in his life, did not address God using the name Yahweh.
The action of Jesus serves to show that there is no necessity for anyone to pray using the name Yahweh. It also indicates to all unbiased people that our Creator is happy to be called Father rather than Yahweh. Those who would follow the example of Jesus find no need to address God using the name Yahweh. Jesus did not address God in the garden using this name. He never did so at any other time.
The Prayer After The Passover Supper
In an upper room in Jerusalem after Judas left, Jesus had intimate discussions with his eleven disciples. He spoke to them in a straightforward manner and not in parables. Before he crossed the brook Cedron to go to the garden of Gethsemane, he prayed an important prayer to the Creator. John recorded this prayer so future generations would have the opportunity to learn from it. Our purpose for studying it is to discern just how Jesus addressed God. Here are a few excerpts from his prayer.
These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: (John 17:1)
And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. (John 17:5)
And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. (John 17:11)
That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. (John John 17:21)
Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. (John 17:24)
O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. (John 17:25)
These six sentences, spoken by the Messiah during his prayer, demonstrate his customary manner of addressing God. All who have open hearts and exhibit a willingness to believe what the Bible says will confess the truth. Jesus did not call the Creator Yahweh. For those who seek truth, this is truth. It can be received or it can be rejected; but it is truth.
On the Cross
On the cross, our Lord directly called upon God. He could have spoken the name Yahweh at that time had it been his purpose to do so. On this occasion he did not chose to speak this name. According to Luke’s gospel Jesus spoke to God in this manner:
And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost. (Luke 23:46)
Matthew and Mark give a record of some of the words of Jesus on the cross. This instance was another opportunity for Jesus to have addressed God as Yahweh. Neither evangelist reports that he uttered this name. Read Mark’s record of what Jesus said.
And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying,
Eloi, Eloi, Lama sabachthani?
Which is, being interpreted,
My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me? (Mark 15:34)
Here was the perfect opportunity for Jesus to have called God Yahweh and to have taught others by his example. The cross was surely his most notable pulpit. For twenty centuries people have viewed what he did there as of the utmost importance. At the cross he gained the attention of generations. He shed his blood for the whole world there, but he did not speak the name Yahweh there.
Teach Us To Pray
Notable among the occasions when Jesus had opportunity to address God as Yahweh and thereby teach others to do so was when he specifically taught his disciples to pray. The disciples came to him with their desire.
And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples. (Luke 11:1)
Their request was equivalent to asking: Teach us to partition God. Teach us to call on God. Teach us to address God.
Yet, when the Teacher responded to their request, here is how he said for them to address God.
And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. (Luke 11:2)
As Jesus taught his immediate followers how to pray, he also taught his future followers. Notice how specific he was. He told them how to speak to God. “When you pray, say, Our Father…” Where is the sacred name teacher who will explain why Jesus did not tell his disciples to pray addressing the Creator as Almighty Yahweh? Isn’t that how sacred name teachers instruct their disciples?
For humankind, praying is a most intimate connection with God. It is then that one shows respect, even awe for the Creator. From the teaching of Jesus, it appears that directly addressing God by the name Yahweh is not a way to demonstrate ones reverence and respect. Jesus taught his followers to address God not as Yahweh but as Father.
On all these occasions related by the writers of the Gospels, Jesus addressed God and taught others to do so. In these instances, our Lord never even once spoke the name Yahweh. How much less did he teach others to call upon God using this name?
Sacred name teachers like to preach the necessity of everyone calling on God using the name Yahweh. Yet, they cannot point to any occurrences as examples of Jesus having used this name in this way. The Scriptures are clear. They will continue to remain so. First, Jesus did not address God as Yahweh when he prayed. Second, Jesus did not teach his followers to address God as Yahweh when they pray.
If one is earnestly seeking truth, here it is. Jesus did not use the name Yahweh when speaking to God or when speaking of God. Check the Holy Record. Believe the truth that is found there. Stop inserting stuff into the Bible that was never there and should not be there now.