The Uncommon Christ: EL SHADDAI & ONLY POTENTATE

The Uncommon Christ series explores lesser-known scriptural names and titles of Jesus Christ.


The Lord is referred to as the Almighty nearly 100 times in our scriptural canon, and references to His power are countless. He has other names that are similar in meaning; while they appear far less frequently, each adds unique dimension to the Savior's character and purpose. Here are two.

When the Lord made His covenant with Abraham, He introduced Himself as el Shaddai [ehl shah-DIE] (Genesis 17:1). The root of this name is related to the word "overpower," so it is usually translated in the KJV as “God Almighty.” But the phrase also means “breast,” painting a picture of nourishment, sustenance, and the love a mother has for her infant. Further, the word dai means “sufficient” or “enough.”


Jehovah [the Self-Sufficient] is also El Shaddai [our All-Sufficient], “who fills everything in every way” (Ephesians 23:1, NIV). Through Him, we never lack for what we truly need.


Yet how often do we feel that we, ourselves, are lacking? That we aren’t meeting our own or others’ expectations, or even that we are flat-out failing? (Am I a good parent? How can I forgive this person? Am I succeeding in my job or calling? Will I ever kick this habit?) This often causes us to compare ourselves with others to see how we are measuring up, which ends up causing more pain for either us or others.


True peace comes only through El Shaddai, our All-Sufficient Lord: through Him what I have, give, and am becomes enough. Even if only in His eyes, we are enough to the One whose opinion really counts.


The Apostle Paul referred to Jesus as “the … only Potentate" (1 Timothy 6:15, KJV). Potent means “power,” and potentate refers to someone who “possesses independent power or sway” (1). So this name expresses the superiority of the Lord's power: He is the Almighty, the Omnipotent [All-Powerful].


As I look at “potentate,” I'm reminded of the related word potential (the power to do or become). Our ability to do anything of eternal value, especially becoming like our Heavenly Parents, lies far beyond mortal grasp. My potential is unreachable without His power—He potentiates me, meaning He endows me with His power and thereby increases the effect of my efforts.


Through Jesus Christ--El Shaddai and my Only Potentate--my efforts become enough, and all the facets of my potential can be realized.








REFERENCES

  1. etymonline.com