What is in a name?

What is in a name?


Sometimes God wants to make a change in our lives and if there is something that is standing in the way of that change, God can and does change that. Such as happened when God changed the names of some in the Bible. Let’s look at a few:



Abram to Abraham

Genesis 17:1-5 (ESV) ~ When Abram was ninety-nine years old the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.” Then Abram fell on his face. And God said to him, “Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations.


  • What a humbling experience we have here. No doubt, Abram immediately fell on his face at the first appearance of God. He got as low as he could to show reverence for God, that he was ready to listen and receive whatever message God had for him. God said several things to Abram, but we want to focus on the name change, for now.
  • Abram’s name was changed to Abraham. This is the name meanings:
    • Abram ~ high father
    • Abraham ~ father of a multitude
  • If we look at the chapters prior, we see that God gave Abram a great promise. Like many, Abram took matters in his own hands when the promise didn’t come like he thought. Notice that the name change comes AFTER Abram messed up.



Sarai to Sarah

Genesis 17:15-16 (ESV) ~ And God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. I will bless her, and moreover, I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall become nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.”


  • We see a change for the relationship in Abram and Sarai’s family. We don’t really know how this relationship was: Did Abram blame Sarai for not being able to bear children? But we do know that God has ALWAYS got a plan.
  • Sarai’s name was changed to Sarah.
    • Sarai ~ strife, contention, quarrelsome
    • Sarah ~ princess
  • Sometimes God changes our name, spiritually speaking, to change the way others around us treat and interact with us.



Jacob to Israel

Genesis 32:28 (ESV) ~ Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.”


  • Jacob was taught that he had to become a new person and change his behavior. We look at his life and see that Jacob deceived Esau, following man’s desire to become great, to get something that wasn’t his. He couldn’t trust that God had a plan and a purpose.
  • Jacob’s name was changed to Israel.
    • Jacob ~ supplanter, heel-grabber, or deceiver.
    • Israel ~ prevailer, he who strives with God and prevails
  • Jacob did something that many of us need to realize in our own lives, we must grab a hold and not let go of God, until God blesses us. We receive a small touch and GLORY God has moved in our lives. We need to hold on for a great and mighty touch, a touch that will make a major change in our lives.
  • Jacob was a new man with a new life. He must, therefore, live a holy and pure life, a life totally dedicated and committed to God. He must live like a new man. He must now trust God day by day and step by step. Thus, he needed a new name to help him remember the fact—the name of Israel.



God has given us as believers a new name, the very name to associate us with His very own dear Son, we are now called “Christian”. The great need of the hour is for believers to humble themselves before God and remember the name we have been given, the name of Christian. This name should remind us …

  • Of our conversion experience
  • Of other deep experiences with God
  • Of God’s great call to us, the great task He has given each of us to do
  • Of God’s promises (covenant) of His assurances to fulfill the promises made to us
Pastor Andy Lambert

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