By Joe Slater
A popular cliché says, “There’s nothing in a name.” That’s an overstatement, to say the least. Would you name your daughter Jezebel?
Names in Scripture often have significance. My name is Joseph, the name Rachel gave to her firstborn son (Genesis 30:24). The name means “add,” in keeping with her hope that “the Lord shall add to me another son.”
Sometimes a name reflected the person’s character. Jacob’s name means supplant or deceive. Sure enough, in his early years Jacob took undue advantage of his brother and hoodwinked his father. God later changed Jacob’s name to Israel, meaning strive or wrestle with God (Genesis 32:28). Jacob had wrestled with a physical manifestation of God as he sought His blessing. No longer would he obtain what he desired by underhanded methods. The change in names coincided with a change in character.
People didn’t always live up to their name, however. While the prophet Micaiah (“who is like Yahweh?”) behaved consistently with that honorable name (1 Kings 22:14), his nemesis Zedekiah didn’t. Zedekiah means “Yahweh is righteous,” which is certainly true. But Zedekiah was anything but righteous and didn’t really respect the Lord righteousness or His righteous word (1 King 22:24).
If you are in Christ, you are a Christian, the name the disciples were called in Antioch (Acts 11:26). Luke used a peculiar word for “called” which indicates that the Lord Himself gave that name (see Isaiah 62:2 where a new name was prophesied). It means one who belongs to Christ, one who follows Christ. It differs little, if at all, from a disciple (learner-follower). Let each one of us strive to live up to the noble name “Christian”!
- Joe Slater serves as minister of the Church of Christ in Justin, TX. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://justinchurchofchrist.com