Why Did Some People’s Names Change In The Bible?
In the ancient world, names were ideally regarded as reflecting the identity of a person. The Bible is full of such examples. When Hannah’s prayer to YHWH for a child was heard, she named her son Samuel (“God Hears”).
A name change therefore indicates a change in the identity of a person. The Bible also refers explicitly to this idea. When Saul received the Spirit of the Lord, the text says “He was changed into a different person” (1 Samuel 10:6). Similarly, YHWH changed Abram’s identity in the book of Genesis by making him into a father of many nations. His name was changed to Abraham (“Father of Many”).
These ideas extend to believers today. Like Saul, the believer also receives the Holy Spirit, and he/she is likewise changed into a different person. We speak of the believer as one who is “a new creation,” “born again,” or “a child of God.” And the book of Revelation also takes up the idea that believers are the recipients of a new name, a name known only to them and God (Rev. 2:17).
Pastor Chad LewisNovember 1, 2016