What’s in a name?

What’s in a name?

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet

We’re familiar with this line of Shakespeare’s from Romeo and Juliet but the idea behind it is one of controversy at times.  Some feel that a name is just meaningless and has nothing to do with the person it attaches itself to, while others assume that a name implies many things about the way that person thinks acts and perceives things.

[To me, I found it humorous since my sister’s maiden name was, like mine, Rose, and I was tempted to see if her aroma changed along with her name, but that was a little too weird…]

So what really is in a name? Why is it important? Names were important in biblical times, and why they’re important for us

Importance of names

Bible Knowledge Commentary (BKC): “In Bible times a person’s name stood for the person–and represented him and his characteristics.

1 Sam 25:25 (NIV) May my lord pay no attention to that wicked man Nabal. He is just like his name–his name is Fool, and folly goes with him.

Gen 27:36 (NIV) Esau said, “Isn’t he rightly named Jacob? He has deceived me these two times.”

Name Meaning
Emmanuel God With us
Abram High/Strong father
Abraham Father of many
Sarai Contentious?
Sarah Lady/princess
Mahershalalhashbaz the spoil speedeth; the prey hasteth” Asymbolic name given to Isaiah’s son to signify the imminent destruction of Damascus and Samaria by the Assyrian power
Barnabas Son of encouragement
Saul Prayed for
Paul Humble/small
Joel YHVH is God
Micah Who is like God?
Hosea Salvation/help/deliverance
Ezekiel God will strengthen
Nahum Comforter
Haggai Festive
Habakkuk Embrace
Zechariah The Lord Remembers
Amos Burden-bearer
Malachi My Messenger
Zephaniah God has hidden
Peter Rock/pebble


A good name is needed!

Prov 22:1 – A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches; and loving favor rather than silver or gold.

Why is it so important to have a good name?  Obviously it means having a good reputation and namesake rather than choosing ‘Rick’ over ‘Charles.’  

But as we’ve seen with some of the OT examples, our names represent us, and hopefully we can fulfill what our reputation or our name means.

Eccl 7:1 – A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death than the day of one’s birth.  To the normal person – this doesn’t seem to make logical sense, but this is advice of the wisest man to walk the earth telling us that a good name is very important.

For example, when we meet someone who has heard good things about us, we’re going to feel a lot better off than someone who’s heard rumors or some of our less-than-shining moments.  You never know what’s said of you when you’re not around.  Live in a way that you’re not afraid the truth to be spread.  Ideally, our reward for right actions should not be based in praise from others, but still a person who lives life in such a ways that others do praise, the glory goes to God for that.

Thus, more importantly we need to strive to have a good and proper name/reputation to God. He knows our works and our hearts.  What will He see?  Will He see us as a person deserving of the name “never gave up,” or “cared for the widows?” Or will our name become synonymous with “selfish” or “weak?”

Our new name

 These are things to think about for now and later.  The Bible tells us that God will give he who overcomes a new name!

Rev 2:17 – He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give to him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knows except he who receives it .

Rev 3:12 – Him who overcomes I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will go out no more. And I will write upon him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of Heaven from My God, and My new name.

NIV Study Notes: “God’s name… is a symbol of [His] nature, character, and person… The name of the Lord is the manifestation of His character… it is synonymous with the Lord Himself.” Thus taking God’s name in vain is a serious offense. But this means that our new name will be a symbol of our character and very being.

My name now, and hopefully to come

I have a name given to me by my parents that shows up in the bible (though spelled differently).  It doesn’t show up as a name, but rather just a word.  Corban (Mark 7:11).  That word was transliterated into Greek from the Hebrew. It was used in the Hebrew several times in the Old Testament to mean “gift dedicated to God.”  For me, I have a name to try to live up to!  Even if your name doesn’t have a biblical meaning, think about what you’d like your name to be if it was to describe your life.

We all have a name in this life, but if we overcome we’ll be given a special and meaningful name. What will your new name be?



About corbinisme

web developer and superhero

Posted on January 6, 2014, in Christian Living. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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