God has just one personal name. It is written יהוה in Hebrew and is usually rendered “Jehovah” in English.* Through his prophet Isaiah, God stated: “I am Jehovah. That is my name.” (Isaiah 42:8) This name appears about 7,000 times in ancient Bible manuscripts—far more frequently than any other term for God or, indeed, anyone else’s personal name.*
Are there other names for God?
Although the Bible refers to God by only one personal name, it uses many titles and descriptions for him. The following list of some of those titles and descriptions shows how each one reveals an aspect of Jehovah’s nature or his personality.
Derived from Arabic, the word “Allah” is not a personal name but a title meaning “God.” Bible translations in Arabic and other languages use “Allah” as an equivalent for “God.”
“The first and the last,” or “the beginning and the end,” meaning that there was no Almighty God before Jehovah and there will be none after him. (Isaiah 43:10) Alpha and omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet.
Becomes whatever is needed to fulfill his purpose. This phrase has also been translated “I Will Become whatsoever I please” or “I Will Become What I Choose to Become.” (The Emphasised Bible, by J. B. Rotherham; New World Translation) This description helps to explain the personal name, Jehovah, given in the next verse.—Exodus 3:15.
God must feel that his personal name, Jehovah, is important, because he included it thousands of times in the Bible.—Malachi 1:11.
God’s Son, Jesus, repeatedly stressed the importance of God’s name. For instance, he prayed to Jehovah: “Let your name be sanctified.”—Matthew 6:9; John 17:6.
Those who come to know and use God’s name take the first steps in building a friendship with Jehovah. (Psalm 9:10; Malachi 3:16) Such a relationship enables them to benefit from God’s promise: “Because he has affection for me, I will rescue him. I will protect him because he knows my name.”—Psalm 91:14.
The Bible acknowledges: “There are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth, just as there are many ‘gods’ and many ‘lords.’” (1 Corinthians 8:5, 6) Yet it clearly identifies the one true God by his name, Jehovah.—Psalm 83:18.
Yes, God will forgive your sins if you take the proper steps. The Bible says that God is “ready to forgive” and that he “will forgive in a large way.” (Nehemiah 9:17; Psalm 86:5; Isaiah 55:7) When he forgives us, he does so completely. Our sins are “blotted out,” or erased. (Acts 3:19) God also forgives permanently, for he says: “I will no longer remember their sin.” (Jeremiah 31:34) Once he forgives, he does not rehash our sins in order to accuse us or to punish us again and again.
However, God’s forgiveness is not based on weakness or sentimentality. He never bends his righteous standards. For this reason, he refuses to forgive some sins.—Joshua 24:19, 20.
Steps to gain God’s forgiveness
Acknowledge your sin as a violation of God’s standards. While others may have been hurt by what you did, you must first recognize that your sin is an offense against God.—Psalm 51:1, 4; Acts 24:16.
Feel a deep sorrow for your sin. This “sadness in a godly way” leads to repentance, or a change of heart. (2 Corinthians 7:10) It includes regret over the wrong steps that led to the sin.—Matthew 5:27, 28.
Change your course of action, that is, “turn around.” (Acts 3:19) This could mean that you avoid repeating a single wrong action or practice, or it could mean that you may have to change your whole way of thinking and acting.—Ephesians 4:23, 24.
If your sin is serious, speak to someone who is qualified to provide the spiritual help you need and who can pray in your behalf.—James 5:14-16.
Misconceptions about gaining God’s forgiveness
“I have sinned too much to be forgiven.”
As long as we follow the steps that God sets out in the Bible, we will be forgiven, since his capacity to forgive is greater than our sins. He can forgive serious sins as well as those that have been repeated many times.—Proverbs 24:16; Isaiah 1:18.
For example, King David of Israel was forgiven of adultery and murder. (2 Samuel 12:7-13) The apostle Paul, who felt that he had been the world’s worst sinner, was also forgiven. (1 Timothy 1:15, 16) Even the first-century Jews whom God held responsible for killing Jesus, the Messiah, were forgiven if they have a change of heart.
“If I confess to a priest or a minister, my sins are absolved.”
No human is now authorized to forgive a fellow human for sins against God. Although confessing to another person can help a sinner to recover, only God can forgive sins.—Ephesians 4:32; 1 John 1:7, 9.
If that is so, then what did Jesus mean when he told the apostles: “If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven; if you retain those of anyone, they are retained”? (John 20:23) He was describing a unique authority that he would give to the apostles when they received the holy spirit.—John 20:22.
As promised, the apostles received this gift when the holy spirit was poured out in 33 C.E. (Acts 2:1-4) The apostle Peter used this authority when judging the disciples Ananias and Sapphira. Peter miraculously knew about their deceptive scheme, and his judgment indicated that their sin would not be forgiven.—Acts 5:1-11.
That miraculous gift of the holy spirit, like other gifts such as healing and speaking in tongues, ceased after the death of the apostles. (1 Corinthians 13:8-10) Thus, no human today can absolve another person of sin.