Q: #361. How many people did God give a name to?
A: There are two ways in which God gave a name to a person in the Bible. Some people were given a name before they were born (or shortly after), while others were renamed by God later in life. In Bible times, a person’s name carried great significance, and was VERY important. A person’s name could be chosen based on number of things. For example, something reflecting: how God had played a role in his birth, his character, his future life, his birth order, a physical trait, where he was born, and more. When God gave names, it generally reflected something to do with Him.
Let’s first look at the people who God personally named:
Ishmael (Gen 16:11) Means: “God hears”
Isaac (Gen 17:19) “laughter”
Maher-Shalel-Hash-Baz (Isa 8:3-4) “hasten the spoil”
Jezreel (Hos 1:4) “God scatters”
Lo-Ruhamah (Hos 1:6) “not pitied”
Lo-Ammi (Hos 1:9) “not my people”
Jesus (Mt 1:21,25)(Lk 1:31,2:21) “Jehovah is Savior”
John [The Baptist] (Lk 1:13,60,63) “Jehovah has been gracious”
Several related notes:
#1. God gave prophecies that Josiah (by name) would become a king in (1 Kin 13:2), over 300 years before he became a king in (2 Kin 21:24), and that Cyrus (by name) would become a king (Isa 44:28 – 45:1), about 150 years before he became a king in (2 Chr 36:22-23)(Ezra 1:1-4). So, some might say that because God mentioned their names prior to their being born, He “named” them. (I am not so sure…)
#2. It is possible, based upon (1 Chr 22:9), that God had David name his son: Solomon. (My question though is: “If God told David to name his son Solomon, then why did He tell Nathan to give him the name Jedidiah immediately after he was born in 2 Sam 12:24?”) ***See below: “people God gave a new name to.”
#3. While the Bible does not say this, God likely gave Adam His name as well.
Now, here is a list of the people that God gave a new name to:
Abram to Abraham (Gen 17:5) “father of many nations”
Sarai to Sarah (Gen 17:15) “princess”
Jacob to Israel (Gen 32:27-28)(Gen 35:10) “he strives with God”
Solomon to Jedidiah (2 Sam 12:24-25) “beloved of the Lord”
Simon to Peter (Mt 16:17-18) “rock”
Lucifer’s (Isa 14:12) name was changed to Satan “adversary”
Let’s look at a few of these name changes more deeply. Jacob, which means “supplanter” (tries to take the place of or replace) was changed to Israel, which means “he strives with God,” after he wrestled or struggled with God and prevailed (Gen 32:24-31). Abraham, which means “father of many nations,” was given his new name by God to reflect the covenant He made with Abraham. Peter was given his new name, which means the “rock,” because he was going to be used by God to build the church. Lucifer was one of God’s chief angels. His name meant “morning star” or “light bearer.” However, when he rebelled against God and was cast out of Heaven, his name was changed to Satan, which means “adversary.”
Today, names do not carry as much significance as they did in the past. However, a person’s name is still important, and nearly every name has a meaning. Have you ever found out what your name means? It is interesting to know.
*** Note: If I have missed a name that God gave, please let me know.
Thanks for the compilation.
I believe you missed these that were also named before birth:
Josiah – 1 Kings 13:2
Solomon – 1 Chronicles 22:9
(You have Solomon’s name after birth, Jedidiah, but did not mention before birth name)
Hey Nathan! I want to thank you for pointing out both of those! I actually spent time today (probably way too much time) looking into those you mentioned, and I found a few others too (including a prophecy of Cyrus). I am not totally confident that either points to God personally giving them names, but I did add them to the study under possibilities. In addition, I found that I… Read more »