Ask Your Preacher
“Name Nuances”Categories: GRAB BAG
What is the significance of a name change in the Bible?
What’s In A Name?
Dear What’s In A Name,
The significance depends upon the circumstance. When Saul's name was changed to Paul, we aren't told any reason for the change – as far as we know, it was simply a change from a name with Jewish origins to a name with Greek roots. However, when Simon was called Peter, we are told Jesus specifically picked that name for him (Jhn 1:42) – Peter means 'rock, boulder'... so Jesus was saying something about the type of man that Peter was. That context gives the name change greater meaning.
Probably the most significant name change in the Bible is the one that God did with Abram. God changed Abram's name to Abraham. Abraham means "father of a multitude" (Gen 17:5). God changed his name to signify that Abraham would become the father of many nations.
In all name changes found in the Bible, it always comes down to the context to define the significance of the alteration.