When we arrived in Spain—over thirty years ago—I was somewhat surprised that my name wouldn’t translate into Spanish. I wasn’t alone. Many American names didn’t make it, so people adopted a Spanish name they liked, or like me, had one given to them.
On our first day in language school, our teacher, Carlos, asked our names. My husband got to keep his, but when Carlos heard mine, he shook his head. Lou Ann wouldn’t do! He suggested translating Ann, which is Ana in Spanish--like Anna in English. So, I got a new name. It took some getting used to, but now I actually prefer it. It’s easy for everyone to spell. It’s “normal.” And, it’s one less hurdle for a new friend to overcome. Ana. I like it!
When you read the Bible, you notice the importance God gives to names. They have meanings. The name tells something about the person. Here are some examples:
- Abraham (God changed it from Abram in Genesis 17:5) means “father of a multitude.”
- Sarai means “princess” and was changed to Sarah, which means “princess of many.”
- Isaac means “laughter.” Remember, both Abraham and Sarah laughed when they heard they would have a son in their old age.
- Jacob means “holder of the heel” or “supplanter.” Jacob was a trickster much of his life, but later he reaped what he sowed when his father-in-law Laban tricked him repeatedly. His name was changed to Israel, meaning "God prevails" after he wrestled all night with the Angel of God (Genesis 35:10).
- Esau possibly means “hairy.”
- Moses means “drew out.” And he became her (Pharaoh’s daughter’s) son. And she called his name Moses: and she said, Because I drew him out of the water (from Exodus 2:10).
- Joshua and Jesus mean “Yahweh is salvation.”
- Joseph means “he will add.” Joseph, the eleventh son of Jacob, did indeed add. He helped to save the lives of his brothers, and he added his sons to the heads of the tribes of Israel.
- Samuel means “asked of God, name of God.” Samuel’s mother Hannah asked God for a son, and Samuel was her first child, whom she gave back to God to serve Him.
- David means “beloved.”
- Daniel means “God is my judge.”
These are, of course, just a sampling of Bible names and their meanings. I find it interesting that God listed many genealogies, workers, givers, tribes, etc. in His Word. The Bible refers many times to God knowing people by name.
Jesus, the Good Shepherd, calls His own followers by their names. He said, The sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out (John 10:3b).
Indeed, when a person has called upon the Lord Jesus for the salvation of his soul, he becomes a new creature. He becomes a Christ follower, a Christian. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Are you a Christian? Are you in Christ? Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved (Acts 4:12). For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:13).
And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:8-11).
If you are a Christian, would people say about you as they did about Peter and John, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus? (Acts 4:13)
May the Lord help us to glorify His Name.