The Significance of Names
By the very fact that a name appears in the Bible over a thousand times demonstrates some theological significance. In “bible days” a name was not merely a label or how your mom called you to supper. A name was equal to whomever or in some cases whatever carried the name. A name often represents character, reputation, authority, or even power.
“Let not my lord regard this worthless fellow, Nabal, for as his name is, so is he. Nabal is his name, and folly is with him.” (I Samuel 25:25, ESV)
Giving a name to anyone or anything was tantamount to owning or controlling the person, animal, or object. (Gen 1:5, 8, 10; 2:19-20; II Samuel 12:28.) Changing a name often signified a higher promotion or social status. Even today in Orthodox Judaism a name of an extremely sick or even dying individual is changed in hopes that the new name will bring health or recovery. Of course we know that the “blotting out” of a name was equal to destroying or considering someone “dead.” (II Kings 14:27; Isaiah 14:22; Zephaniah 1:4; Psalms 83:4)
The name and the character/nature of God are often used interchangeably. Believing in Jesus name is the same thing as believing in him, (John 3:18.) Prayer in Jesus name is not a magical formula or the means to end a prayer, but it signifies that one is praying in accordance with the character, the mind, and/or the purpose of Jesus.
Take my name for example: Gregory, which is my first name, is a common masculine first name. It is derived from the Latin name “Gregorius,” which is from the Greek name “Gregorios.” Gregorios means “watchful” and it comes from the Greek word gregorein which means “to
"Watch [gregoreuo] and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The Spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." (Matt 26:41, ESV)
The name Gregory is also associated with a Latin stem “greg” which means flock or herd. So the name became associated with a shepherd who diligently watches over or guides a flock of sheep.
I use to hate my name. The kids would make fun of it in a number of ways. I learned to shorten my name to Gregg by the sixth grade in hopes it wouldn’t give other kids any other ideas.
However, since I studied the bible and Greek and discovered what my name meant, I have been very surprised at the “coincidence” of my name and profession. I am a very cautious watcher and take tremendous care when it comes to bible doctrine and teaching. I am a shepherd who has and is planning on watching very diligently over a flock of sheep in the near future.