Adonai (Authority)

The third major name for God (used around 400 times in the Old Testament) is Adonai, the plural form of the Hebrew word for lord or master. This word has to do with dominion, authority, and ownership. A person’s Adon (singular) is the one they submit to as the final authority in their life.

Masters, for their part, are not to use and abuse those entrusted to their care. On the contrary, they have a responsibility to care for their subjects the way that a kind and benevolent ruler would care for their people. While some human lords might be tempted to use their power for their own selfish gain, God is different. He is our compassionate King and Lord who genuinely cares for us.

“God, in His role of Adonai, fulfills all the responsibilities of ownership. He provides, protects, guards, leads, cares for…and much more." -Tony Evans, The Power of God's Names (p. 58)

It All Belongs to God

Throughout the Bible, we see that everything belongs to the Lord (Psalm 50:10, 97:5). God is the creator and master of everything and everyone, which means he is our ultimate source of authority, power, and protection. There is nothing we have that we possess apart from God, just as there is no authority on earth apart from the authority God has established (Romans 13:1).

The Big Three: What Does it All Mean?

  1. God is Elohim, a powerful creator who speaks worlds into existence.
  2. God is YHWH, a personal God who is directly invested in our everyday lives.
  3. God is Adonai, our master and owner who compassionately cares for us.

Let’s reflect for a moment on how to bring all these concepts together.
  • If we reject God as Elohim, then he is a personal God and authority figure who is nevertheless powerless to help us.
  • If we reject God as YHWH, he is powerful and mighty but cold, distant or unconcerned.
  • And if we reject God as Adonai, we expect him to be powerful and personal while rejecting his authority over us.

You can see a fatal flaw in each of these scenarios, because in each case we deny an essential part of God’s character.

If we want to experience the power (Elohim) and presence (YHWH) of God, we need to acknowledge him as our master (Adonai). We shouldn’t expect God to work miracles (Elohim) in our lives if we reject a personal relationship (YHWH) with him or deny his authority over us (Adonai).

Instead, we need to recognize that God’s essential nature includes power, presence, and authority— and live our lives in Christ accordingly.