#100: If God Renamed You, What Would Your Name Be?

A name, in the Biblical tradition, was thought to convey the essence of an individual’s character. If God renamed you, what would your name be?


Jacob, for example, means usurper, describing his attempt to become first born by grabbing his brother Esau’s heel, and later, when he deceived his father into blessing him as the first born (Genesis 25:19-34).

A name could also be indicative of the individual’s destiny. Daniel means “God is my judge” (1 Chronicles 3:1). Lazarus means “God has helped” (Luke 16:20).

Often a child was named after a revered relative in hopes that characteristic of the relative would be seen in the child. For example, Simon was referred to by Jesus as Simon bar-Jonah (Matthew 16:17), which means “Simon son of Jonah.”

Sometimes a person’s name was changed by their peers as in the case of Barnabas (Acts 4:36). He was named Joseph at birth, but his apostle friends referred to him as Barnabas, which means “son of encouragement.”

Occasionally God renamed someone to reflect their new identity. Abram, for example, was renamed Abraham which means “father of many nations” (Genesis 17:1-5). Jacob was renamed Israel which means “having striven with God and men” (Genesis 32:28).

Four people in the New Testament had their names changed. Simon was renamed Peter which means “little stone,” by Jesus (John 1:40-42). James and John the sons of Zebedee were renamed Boanerges by Jesus, which means “sons of thunder” (Mark 3:16-17).

Finally, Saul became Paul which means “little” (Acts 13:9). Saul’s name would have had both positive and negative implications. Saul was the first king of Israel, but he ultimately came to ruin in the later stages of his life.

We don’t know if God changed Saul’s name to Paul, or if Saul himself might have changed his name. We are not even sure of exactly when the change occurred, except that it seems to have changed after his baptism, and after he and Barnabas were sent off on their missionary journey by the leaders of the church. From this point forward Saul is always referred to as Paul.

If God renamed you….

If God were to rename you and that name was a reflection of your character what name would you have? Would your name be, cheater? Liar? Arguer? Manipulator?

Or would your name be, encourager? Supporter? Leader? Faithful? Honest? Brave? Servant? 

As we begin the New Year, let’s spend just a few minutes thinking about what we want to be known for this year. If you aren’t happy with the name you were known for in the past, then be like Joseph who became Barnabas, or Saul who became Paul.

Start today! Be the person you want to be known for! Focus on becoming the man or woman God intends you to be! Do that today, tomorrow, and for the rest of your life, and someday you will hear “well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21).

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome! If your name was a reflection of your character have you had different names over the course of your life? If so, what made you change? How did you change? Considering where you are in your life, do you need to change your name?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?


Category: Personal Development | Character

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Nathanael says:

    Hello Ron,
    I actually got my name changed by God. I was called “Rudolf Eugen” after my two Grandfathers, one of which was a high ranking freemason and the other was a german counsellor to the late emperor Willhelm. Both heritages proofed to be desastrous to my spiritual life. In a counselling session I broke free from these heritages. Rigth then God said, that he would give me a new name as a sign of the new aera lying befor me. So he named me “Nathanael” what later became my legal name too.n Nathanael means appropriately “Gift from God”.

  • Ariel says:

    I believe that if I had to be renamed, my name would be Joy. Ever since I was a young child, I was always very happy, smiling and laughing. My parents thought that all children were like this and that I’d eventually grow out of it. I never did. However, I believe that I had lost this inherent joy, a gift from God, when I started to question the existence of the great Creator. I eventually fell from the Christian faith and my life became full of anger and hatred. At my lowest time, I had found God again. Through all the hardships, He was always by my side and I never realized it. From then on, I have felt the happiness I had as a child come flooding back to me and drawing others towards me. Last summer, my aunt asked me why I was so unnaturally happy all the time. My response was that this joy is a gift from God that is meant to be shared with others and to bring people closer to Him.

  • Matthew Puliz says:

    I enjoyed reading the article. It is interesting God renames people because of life changing events. Names in the Bible had much more meaning than names today. My parents named me Matthew or in Hebrew “gift of God” because they thought they couldn’t have a baby. Today, if I was going to be renamed it would be Helpful. I see myself as helping others in class, at work, and in my personal life. I have always liked doing service projects and seeing people do things they couldn’t have done without my help. In the future, I would like to be named “Developer” because I want to develop people to grow into their full potential.

  • Jamie Montgomery says:

    This article was a great read because I have never stopped and reflected on myself, my name, and how people see me. It is eye opening to see how God renamed so many people due to their personalities and events along the way. If I was able to re-name myself, based on the reflection of my character, I would go with supporter. I want nothing but the best for everyone and want to help everyone along the way. I believe the biggest blessing anyone can give is to support someone, no matter their background or history. To have support not only from people but from God is all that is needed. If I am able to be the light of the Lord through supporting others, I would love to be named Supporter. Support helps people to reach their goals and push through the difficult times.

  • Samuel Han says:

    Love the article and reflection time I get to have after reading through, “If God renamed you, what would your name be?” It is clear that several servants of God had their names changed after their characters, personality, or even their essence of that person had changed. Pastors use the name changing occurrences in the bible to tell stories and lessons about characters that have changed their life, personality, and characteristic through the touching, guidance and directing of God in their lives. For instance Jacob like mentioned in the article means usurper, meaning a liar and deceiver. Who names their kids that way? One would ask, but perhaps it could have meant that this is the type of person that he was, crafty and sneaky. His life had changed through hardship and toilsome life in the desert and working for his uncle. He came back to his home town rich and successful.

    God has chosen His people directly with personal interest and care. I believe that I am the son of God and that He is working in my life. I wouldn’t change my name because it is a special name to me for the meaning it holds and the kind of person Samuel was for God. I want to be a person that God uses directly for His kingdom and purpose.

  • Matt alvarado says:

    The article raised a number of authenticating points in an individual’s life. How is our birth name and its meaning lived out to who we are today? Have we lived up to our name? Gone beyond its meaning? Fallen short? Looking beyond the etymology of my own name and having to rename myself, I would rename myself the challenger. This may be an unorthodox name, but I feel it is a testament to my true character. In my humble opinion, I believe that I play a key role in challenging others to be the best that they can be, while encouraging myself to do the same.
    However, I don’t think that the view in retrospect of our person fulfilling the name that we were given knowing of what we know now get in the way. We were given our birth name for a fulfillment of a greater plan that God has lined up for us. The rest will fall into place, even if it is not what we expect.

  • Braydon says:

    I am one of many who have been given my middle name that is tied to a revered relative. My middle name, Richard, is my grandfather’s name, on my father’s side. My grandfather is a loving man and has always been very close to the Lord. My parents gave me his middle name out of respect for my grandfather, and in the hopes that I too could learn to love the Lord as he does. I am incredibly thankful that he has passed his faith down to my father and look forward to passing this gift to my children one day.
    If God were to change my name to represent my character, I believe He would change my name to Nachman, which means “Compassionate” in Hebrew. Since I can remember, I have cared deeply about those that enter my life. Whether this means friends, family, or mere acquaintances, God has given me a great sense of compassion and caring towards the people in my life. I feel pain when I see others going through pain, and become overjoyed to experience or hear about the good things happening in the lives of the ones I care about. For this reason, I believe God would change my name to Nachman.
    If God were to change my name to reflect a new identity I think he would change my name to Neander, which is a Greek name meaning “new man.” I believe He would have given me this name about a year ago when I began to take my faith more seriously and searched to find Jesus like I never had in the past.
    It was interesting to think about how names were given in Biblical times. I believe that it is important to have something to live for, and towards, and even without changing our actual names, we can make a conscious effort to live our lives with a purpose, as if it was already given to us by our name.

  • Malachi Kobayashi says:

    My name is Malachi. All of my family and friends called me kai growing up which is short of Malachi. However Malachi is a Hebrew name meaning God’s messenger or angel and kai is a hawaiian name meaning ocean. I think it first started off by just having a shorter name and people would often pronounce my name wrong, also as a child growing up in Hawaii I loved the ocean. I also preferred the name kai growing up because it wasn’t a unique name and people could pronounce it. However once I hit high school I became more embracing of the name Malachi. I believe that this name served me right maybe not so much of an angel delivering specific news but I believe more of God’s messenger in the way that I hope to be able to convey God’s message of love to the best I can. My personality and my past has always led me to have empathy for those who were meek or looked over by society. In my specific context kids who came out of situations like mine who were adopted or from single parent homes. As I look into the future I would like to see myself who exemplifies God’s love for those around me regardless of how society views them. I personally believe that changing the inside of someone is the best way to change the outside as well. I want to embrace this love so that I see people the way God sees them and can act accordingly. If you love someone and see them as fellow children of God why would you ever harm them in anyway? In my more current situation I feel that my growth is towards my middle name which is Ikaikalani. Ikaikalani in hawaiian basically means heavenly stregnth. Ikaika is stregnth or like a warrior and lani is heaven. I think this is where I am needing to work on because throughout high school and if I’m being honest even in college I struggle with because I tend to like to please other people which could be to my detriment sometimes. Instead I have been working on finding my strength in the Lord and making sure my actions and thoughts are pleasing to Him above all else. Too often sometimes I look to please those around me which are only human and can sway away from my personal moral compass or more importantly what God would want me to do. That is why in this new year I am practicing on becoming Ikaikalani relying on the Heavenly Strength of the Father.

  • Sophia Bowles says:

    This blog reminds me of a Proverb that says, “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold” (Proverbs 22:1, NIV). This verse in Proverbs states the importance of reputation, the way we are known by others and most importantly, God. I think that what others say about me and who I am in God is a truer testament than what I could boast about myself. With that said, my birth name is Sophia Joy Bowles. I was named Sophia because it means wisdom and my parents wanted me to apply to wise teaching and statutes. I know the importance of discernment and discretion in life and think wisdom also has a lot to do with responsibility. I do think that my middle name Joy suits me. Nehemiah 8:10 says that the joy of the Lord is my strength. I think there is power in this type of joy because it is contagious. And my joy is found in the Lord and the hope He provides. Therefore, my intent is to spread His hope, joy, and wisdom as I hold on to His strength rather than my own. I hold on to His name as well rather than my own because I am His.

  • Adrie says:

    I think God has a way of renaming people that gives them a new identity according to their new purpose. Our names or titles that we hold on earth are given to us by people, but when God gives someone a new name it holds a deeper meaning. It means that he saw something within that person that only he could see. In the case of Abraham and Sarah, God gives them new names as a promise of what they were going to become. God changed their names but continued to work out the details of their lives.
    If I were to receive a new name I would like it to mean resilient. Resilient means to be able to withstand difficult situations. I believe this is one of my weaknesses. I don’t see myself as a resilient person but I have faith that as God continues to work in my life I will become stronger.

  • Jessica Rice says:

    I have always felt that God does not name us by the name that was chosen by our parents and the nicknames given to us by our peers, but by the Fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) that He has gifted us with. My birth given name is Jessica, a Hebrew name that means “God beholds”. When searching my name in books as well as on the internet, I found that a common statement made by those who have the name Jessica or know a Jessica was that those with the name tend to be creative, artistic, and like to be involved in various activities that allow them to express themselves openly. While this happens to be true to my nature, if I was to choose a new name for myself, using it as a way to represent my character and faith, it would be the name Kindness. Kindness is not a name that is common amongst the general public (I have never met a “Kindness”) but it is what I imagine God thinking when He looks at me. Equipped with other fruits of the spirit such as joy and love, I think that Kindness is the most relevant to my character and something that I would like to act out even more throughout this next year.

  • Lisa Olivarez says:

    In general, I have always thought that peoples first names sort of reflect who they are, sometimes that is not always they case though. My name is Lisa Marie, the Hebrew meaning of my first name is suppose to be derived from Elizabeth and mean either oath of God or God is satisfaction; while my middle name, Marie is suppose to mean rebellion, and bitter. I have always liked my middle name but , I think that although life offers situations that may cause bitterness, I myself do not want to be a bitter person, I will however admit to rebelliousness. As for my first name I really like it’s meaning, so If I were to receive a new name I think I would choose Elizabeth because I do feel that God is satisfaction and the center of all positive growth I go through.