Showing posts from April, 2018

What's In A Name? (Part 3)

There was a time when names had meaning. A time when people gave their kids certain names because of what the name meant, not just because they thought the name sounded good. In Genesis 17:4-5, God changed Abram's name to Abraham because he would be the father of many, exactly what the name means. In Judges 8, when the people ask Gideon to rule over them, Gideon refuses and says that God will rule over the people. Sounds noble enough, until we get to Judges 9 and find out that the name of his son was Abimelech, which means "my dad is king." Super classy, Gideon. My point is, there was a time when names meant something.

The name of God has meaning too. In Exodus 3, when God tells Moses he's sending him to convince the pharaoh to let the Israelites leave Egypt, Moses is concerned that the Israelites will wonder who gave Moses these instructions. God replies in Exodus 3:14, "I am who I am" (but it can also mean "I will be who I will be"). He goes on …

What's In A Name? (Part 2)

Last time we discussed how Genesis 1 consistently uses elohim (translated "God" in English translations). Genesis 2, beginning in verse 4 and continuing throughout the chapter, introduces us to a new designation, yahweh elohim. Most English Bibles translate this as LORD God. While Genesis 2 combines these two words in reference to God, yahweh often stands alone in the Hebrew Bible. In fact, it's the title most often used for God, occurring some 6800 times.

If we understand elohim as a more generic word for God, we should think of yahweh as God's actual personal name. We don't find this out until later in the Bible when God reveals his name to Moses in Exodus 3, but the writer of Genesis 2 is well aware of God's name and chooses to use it.

The name of God is not to be taken lightly. It even gets its own commandment: "You shall not take up/lift up the name of Yahweh your God in vain, for Yahweh will not hold innocent anyone who takes up/lifts up his name i…

What's In A Name?

In the beginning... God.

So begins the Bible.

Throughout the rest of the first chapter of Genesis, and into the first three verses of the second chapter, the one behind all creation is consistently called "God." In Hebrew, the word is elohim (pronounced eh-lō-HĒM). This is the second most popular "name" for God in the Hebrew Scriptures. I did a quick search in my digital Hebrew Bible and it came up with 666 occurrences (awkward). When you see "God" in the Hebrew Scriptures, it's often elohim in the Hebrew. It's what we might call a more generic word for God. Interestingly, it's also plural. Yeah, plural. Let's talk about that.

Some folks like to look at this and suggest that even in God's very name there is a nod to the Trinity. I'm not sure about that, for a couple of reasons. First, God is not God's name, but more on that next time. Second, this word isn't used only in reference to God. For example, it's used generica…

The Bible and Tattoos Part 3

So far we've looked at the only verse in the Bible that really talks about tattoos and some verses in the New Testament that talk about our bodies as the temple of God.

Another theme often pointed to in the Bible is the idea of the weaker brother. In the early history of Christianity, Christians were still trying to figure out whether or not the laws of the Hebrew Scriptures were still important. To put it simply, they were asking, "Is it ok to eat a pork chop?" Not all Christians agreed on the answer. Paul says in Romans 14:1-3 (NIV), "Accept the one whose faith is weak without quarreling over disputable matters. One person's faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them." 1 Corinthians 8:9-13 (NIV) speaks to this subject as well, "…

The Bible And Tattoos Part 2

Yesterday we focused on the only verse in the Bible that actually mentions "tattoos" by name. Folks like to point to some other verses in the Bible when it comes to tattoos. Some will mention 1 Corinthians. From the NIV, 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 reads: "Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy that person; for God's temple is sacred, and you together are that temple." Similarly, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 reads: "Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies."

In 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 (and in the preceding verses), Paul is not talking about our physical bodies. He's explaining that the collective of Jesus followers in Corinth are together the temple of God, and division destroys that t…

The Bible And Tattoos Part 1

Since I'm offering consultation for biblical language tattoos (no joke, check out or, I thought it might be a good idea to mention what the Bible says about tattoos. Considering the lengthy posts you can find online, you might think the Bible has a lot to say about tattoos. You can check out 25 Important Bible Verses About Tattoos or What Does The Bible Say About Tattoos. They're both... problematic, but check them out. In reality, the Bible doesn't say much about tattoos. Like a lot of things in the Bible, we have the ability to take a tiny amount of content in the Bible and yammer on about it endlessly.

The "go to" verse in the Bible for tattoos is Leviticus 19:28, which in the NIV reads: "Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD."At first glance, this text seems rather straightforward. For this reason, I've heard this verse cited in opposition to tattoos countle…