September 23, 2011


What’s in a Name?
Laura MacCorkle, Crosswalk.com Senior Editor

To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it. Revelation 2:17, NIV

Growing up, I always wished for a “kinder, gentler” name.

With a last name like “MacCorkle,” I’m sure you can imagine the kind of variations on a theme that I encountered during my formative years: MacDorkle, MacSnorkle, MacaDoodle, MacCorky-Snork.  And so on.

I really didn’t want to stand out and just wanted to blend in and have a “normal” name like everyone else. I remember thinking “Foster” or “Graham” or “Smith” might be nice and less conspicuous names. But, as I would later realize, changing your name is no simple task. It becomes a legal issue, whether you go to court to have it changed or (for the female set) whether or not you get married and take your husband’s last name.

In the Bible, sometimes it took supernatural intervention to change names: Abram to Abraham, Simon to Peter and Jacob to Israel. In Genesis 32, we read:

That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two maidservants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of Jabbok. After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered. Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.” Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.” But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there. So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”

Jacob’s name being changed to Israel signified a turning point in his life. A spiritual crossroads. After wrestling with God, he had a new identity and a new purpose going forward. His name meant “prince with God,” and his descendants were known as Israelites. 

While I was wishing for a different last name as a child, I didn’t realize that I, too, had already undergone a name change. It happened when I was three years old and accepted Christ into my heart. At that point, I became known as a Christian. “A child of God. An heir to the Kingdom. A member of a royal family and priesthood. And a descendant of Israel”(Eph. 3:6).

What about you? If you have not asked Christ to come into your life, are you ready for a new name today? Please visit Crosswalk’s Who Is Jesus? section for help in taking this important step. And if you have already become a Christian, consider what your new name means to you.

Intersecting Faith & Life:

Whether you have just become a Christian or have walked with the Lord for quite a while, you have a new name in Christ. Reflect on what your name—your identity as a believer—means to you. Does it define who you are? Ask God to help you to know who you are in him.

Further Reading:

Isaiah 62:2, NIV
1 Peter 2:9, NIV
Revelation 3:5, NIV