Urban Legends examines widely held myths from a Biblical perspective.
No, you don’t have to change your name whatever your name means. Let’s analyze the issue from the word of God. In 2 Timothy 2:15 Paul advises on “correctly analyzing and accurately dividing the Word of Truth.”
You see, just as the Bible is broadly divided into Old and New Testaments so the subject of names is divided according to Old and New Testaments. The naming protocol for each testament differs. In the Old Testament names often took on symbolic and prophetic dimensions. Sometimes the names are literal, and sometimes they reflect material geography. Adam for example was called Adam partly because he was made from red clay. In Hebrew, Adam means “to be red.” And there’s a word play as well. The Hebrew word for earth is Adama. His wife’s name also bore symbolic meaning. Eve in Hebrew is Hawwah. It means “living one” or “source of life.” It’s in furtherance of her provenance value that Adam named his wife “mother of all living.” (Genesis 3:20) And when Eve was going to name her first son she called him “Cain” – “I have created a man with God’s help!” (Genesis 4:1) She attached meaning to the name. Abel on the other hand means “breath.” As an aside, some suggest that Cain and Abel might have been twins because conception is only mentioned once.
From scriptures we also see God in the naming business. He sometimes renamed people he had covenants with as expression of those covenants. He changed Abram’s name to Abraham for example. Abram means “exalted father” or “high father.” Abraham on the other hand means “father of a multitude,” and that figures. That was God’s promise to him: “I’m making you the father of many nations.” (Genesis 17:4) Sarah also had a change of name though like Abraham she couldn’t place an advert in the classified section of the newspaper since Sunday Times didn’t exist at that time. She was originally Sarai. Sarai means “quarrelsome.” But God renamed her Sarah meaning “princess.” Again that figures. God had promised Abraham a lineage of kings. She had to become royalty.
And when it came to their offspring they took the cue from God and named him Isaac. Isaac means “laughter.” It’s derived from the Hebrew Tzadaq, meaning “to laugh.” The prophecy about the birth of Isaac had seemed a cruel joke. Abraham was a hundred years old at the time of promise, Sarah ninety. The whole thing was so funny both Abraham and Sarah laughed. (Genesis 17:17, 18:12) Sarah was long past menopause and she said so. (Genesis 18:12) Yet Isaac came as promised. Only now the signification of the name changed.
Throughout the Old Testament we see names had significances. Moses was named after the circumstances of his birth. He was actually named by Pharaoh’s daughter. She named him Moses, “Because I drew him out of water.” (Exodus 2:10) Mo was Egyptian for water. On and on the symbolic naming protocol continued in the Old Testament. Samson for example meant “bright sun” or “solar.” He could logically have gone into the solar panel business. He had an eponymous brand name. And when it came to Solomon we see God get back in the naming business. Despite the circumstances of his birth – the mum had an affair with King David – God sent a name to the naming ceremony. He named him Jedidiah. Jedidiah means “loved by the Lord.” (2 Samuel 12:25) The name Solomon came from his parents. It means “peace.” Of course the ultimate naming for God was Jesus. It actually originates from the Hebrew Yeshua, from where we get the name Joshua. Joshua means “Yahweh saves.” That’s why the name of Jesus is associated with salvation.
After the death of Jesus however the naming protocol changed and we’ll see why. The New Testament era kicked in. Everything changed in the New Testament. Originally salvation was for the Jews but before Jesus left earth for heaven he laid down an internationalist vision: “Go into all the world and preach and publish openly the good news (the Gospel) to every creature of the human race.” (Mark 16:15 AMP) This international dimension of Christianity is why the disciples spoke in international languages at Pentecost. (Acts 2:5-11) They spoke in foreign languages – Romans, Arabs, Libyans, Egyptians, Greeks, Asians and so many others heard their languages. The person assigned the international division was Paul. Peter got the Jewish division. Thus were established two centers for Christianity – Jerusalem and Antioch. Jerusalem was National HQ, Antioch was International HQ. Antioch is in modern Turkey.
Before Paul took over the international division persecution had actually dispersed the disciples to foreign shores. Christianity wasn’t always popular. The wave of persecution after Steven’s death sent the Christians north of Palestine (Phoenicia), the Mediterranean islands (Cyprus) and Antioch. Antioch was the third largest city in the Greco Roman world, behind Alexander and Rome. Certain disciples had come from Cyprus and Cyrene and began to preach to Greeks. It was unheard of. Report soon got back to Jerusalem and Barnabas was dispatched to unravel what was going on. He discerned it was the move of God and threw himself in. But before all these God had dazed Peter by baptizing non-Jewish believers in the Holy Spirit. Hitherto the Jewish Christians thought the baptism of the Holy Spirit was their exclusive preserve. When Peter laid out how God had sent him to Cornelius, an Italian the Jews exclaimed, “God has broken through to other nations.” (Acts 11:15-17) It soon became obvious Christianity was a radical departure from Judaism though it had its roots in Judaism. Changing the names of the new converts to Jewish names was unthinkable in the circumstances. It would amount to turning them into Proselytes rather than Christians. God never mandated it and the Jerusalem HQ people didn’t mandate it either. And so the non-Jewish converts retained their names irrespective of meaning or root.
When you read Paul’s closing remarks in his letter to the Romans you’ll find a list of names. Many of those people were named after gods. There were about 28 names in all.
In that letter, Paul mentioned three of his cousins – Andronicus, Junias and Herodion. Andronicus is Greek in origin. It actually contains the word “nike” meaning victory. The name therefore means man of victory. Nike was the Greek goddess of victory. Junias is Latin in origin. It means belonging to Juno, the Roman goddess of protection, strength and marriage. Herodion means “the song of Juno.” In Roman mythology Juno was the wife of Jupiter and queen of the heavens.
Urbanus is a Latin name meaning “city dweller.” The word “urban” comes from it. Narcissus was a beautiful youth in Greek mythology. He stared at his own reflection for so long he eventually died and turned into the narcissus flower. We got the word, narcissistic from it. Means self-absorbed. Tryphena and Tryphosa mean softness and delicate. They derive from “truphe,” meaning luxurious. Persis literally means Persian woman. Rufus means red haired. Asyncritus means incomparable. Phlegon means to burn brightly. Hermes is the Greek god associated with speed and good luck. He’s the patron of travellers, athletes and thieves! Patrobas means paternal. Hermas is derived from Mercury. In Greek mythology he’s the god of shop keepers and merchants. Philologus means lover of letters and the word. The word philology came from it. Julia means hairy. The name is derived from the clan name of the Roman dictator, Gaius Julius Caesar, which is in turn derived from the name of the Roman god Jupiter. It’s how we got the month of July. Nereus in Greek mythology was the name of the god of the sea. Olympas means heavenly.
Not one of these people was advised to change his or her name. Some names were actually whimsical. No deep meaning. And there’s no indication the names determined their destiny, or determined their fortune. As a Christian you carry the name of Christ. It’s the ultimate surname. All your rights and privileges are contained in that name. It has cross-dimensional authority. At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow – of things in heaven, and of things on earth. (Philippians 2:10) It is that name that determines the fortune of the Christian not ancestral surnames or given first names and middle names. If our personal names determine our destiny as Christians the guy named after Hermes the patron god of thieves must turn out to be a thief! And Christian women named Julia would grow beards! But of course not! Knowledge is critical.
You don’t need to change your name after becoming born again. Unless of course you fancy a new name, which is okay by God. But your destiny is in the name of Jesus the Christ, not in your personal name. And that’s New Testament teaching. You are complete in him, who is the head of all principality and power. (Colossians 2:10)
If you’ll like to give your life to Christ please pray this prayer: Father I acknowledge that I am a sinner, that Jesus Christ died for me, that you raised him from the dead. Please forgive me. I accept Jesus today as my Lord and my Saviour. Amen.
You may send topics of Urban Legends you want clarification on. Mail email@example.com.
© #Illuminare Leke Alder | firstname.lastname@example.org