Names of God: Elohim (Power)

The first name of God we encounter in the Bible comes in Genesis 1:1. In the beginning, Elohim created the heavens and the earth. Elohim is the only name for God used throughout the entire creation account. The next name for God (YHWH) occurs in Genesis 2:4. So what does this first name reveal about God? Let’s find out!

Elohim is Our Powerful Creator

First impressions are lasting impressions. When you meet someone for the first time, that initial encounter can really set the tone for the relationship moving forward.

So what kind of first impression does God make on us? Since Elohim is the exclusive name for God throughout the creation account, one of the strongest associations we have with that name is God’s creative power. God (Elohim) spoke the universe into existence. Before God and without God, there was nothing. But God created something out of nothing when began speaking the words, “Let there by light…”

In his book on the names of God, Dr. Tony Evans explains that one definition for Elohim is “strong one.” God’s strength is on display through his unique ability to create things simply by speaking them into existence. Artists, engineers and inventors can take raw materials that God has created and form them into something new, but that is not an action of creation per se—it is is an act of shaping or rearranging the things God has already created.

God alone has the power to create. So the first thing that the Bible invites us to understand about God is that he alone has the power of creation.

“The Strong One doesn’t need raw material with which to work. He doesn’t need logic or tangible solutions in order to accomplish His goal. All He needs is Himself, and all you need is faith in His name that He can do all that He purposes to do.” -Tony Evans, The Power of God's Names (p. 33).

Elohim is Plural

In Hebrew (the language of the Old Testament), “El” is the singular word for “god,” and Elohim is the plural form (gods). Even though God is one, the Bible uses the plural form Elohim to describe him. Something that would probably bother English teachers is that throughout the Bible, the plural Elohim is given singular adjectives and verbs.

For an example from the Bible, let’s consider these lines from Genesis 1:26-27: “Let us (plural) make mankind in our image… So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he (singular) created them.”

The very grammar of the Bible shows us that God is both many and one at the same time, a theological concept called the Trinity that isn’t fully revealed until the New Testament (which refers to God as Father, Son and Spirit—e.g. Matthew 28:19).

Elohim Brings Order to the Chaos

Another noteworthy aspect of Elohim’s nature is his desire to transform chaos into order. Genesis 1 shows us how God changes a “formless and empty” world into a world teeming with light and life. By the end of the chapter, that dark, chaotic world was something that God looked down upon and called “very good.” That process of transformation began with the simple words, “Let there be light.”

Today, Elohim is still hard at work transforming our chaos into peace and order by shining his light upon us. Except now, we experience that light through his son Jesus Christ—the light of the world. As it says in John 1:4, “In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.”

Elohim: The Big Ideas

Elohim is the first name of God found in the Bible. It is associated with God’s creative power, his three-in-one nature, and his desire to bring order to our chaos.

“So before God shows us His gentleness, His fatherhood, or His grace, God introduces Himself to us as Elohim, the great and powerful. He wants to establish right from the start that He is the all-knowing, all-powerful, ever-present one.” -Tony Evans, The Power of God's Names (p. 34).