What Is The Significance of a Name?


The names assigned to people have always had a significance. What mother names her son Judas or Cain? Names give an expectation, a prediction, a statement of worth. "Calling names" can give negative expectations and lead to conflict.


In this series, we will look at the names of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. The names tell us a lot. Particularly with the names attributed to Jesus, we see not only the worth attached to Him, but also the many roles and functions that He did and still does.


The study will inevitably lead to a comparison of personalities and roles within the Trinity, the Godhead. A study of may be helpful in putting this in perspective.


The revelation of the personal name of God as the supreme compliment. In Exodus 33 beginning with verse 12, Moses begs for the closest possible encounter with God. Moses gets what is arguably the highest compliment given to a human while that human was still alive upon the Earth. Moses is warned that "man cannot see Me and live" (verse 20). But God placed Moses in a split (cleft) of a rock, hid him from God as He was passing, and removed His hand as He passed by. AND while God was passing by, Moses heard God repeat his personal name (verse 19). No other human has ever been blessed or recognized in this way.


Today, we do not accurately know the personal name of God (see ) . God's name is a name that is not to be taken in vain, nor any direct reference to Him. Exodus 20:7 "You shall not take the name of Jehovah your God in vain. For Jehovah will not hold him guiltless that takes His name in vain." Jesus' name is the name that is above every name (Philippians 2:9-11 "Therefore God has highly exalted Him, and has given Him a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of heavenly ones, and of earthly ones, and of ones under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.") When Jesus was upon the Earth and performing miracles in the sight of anyone who would watch, blaspheming the Holy Spirit was the unpardonable sin (Mat 12:31 - 32 "Therefore I say to you, All kinds of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven to men, but the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit shall not be forgiven to men. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him. But whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this world or in the world to come.")


God has used names to communicate expectations and worth. Abram's name meant exalted father [possibly as in father to one family] until it was changed to Abraham (father of a multitude) in Genesis 17: 5. Isaac, the promised son, had a name that meant "he laughs." Jacob, "the supplanter," was re-named Israel in Genesis 32: 28, "one who strives with God." Moses' name meant "he who was taken out of the water." Saul's Jewish name was changed to Paul after he became a Christian. The Revelation uses names and references like Babylon and "the beast" to convey meanings that were symbolic.


Men have used names to disparage other people. We are familiar with the stories of Belteshazzar and of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, but all of those names were assigned by Nebudnezzar of Babylon in an effort to get the Israelites to forget their heritage as people of God. Their Hebrew names were, respectively, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Daniel 1: 7. Jesus called Satan "the father of lies" in John 8: 44.

Names matter. This has application not only to our understanding of Bible stories but to human relations today. If you're going to call someone a name other than what their mothers gave them, make it a respectable name that shows positive expectations.


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