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God’s chosen name for us

Renew / Identity
When God called Abraham, Jacob, and Peter and set them off on their God-given missions, He also changed their names to reflect His will for them. Like them, we too have God-chosen names. Indeed, God has chosen a name for “every family in heaven and on earth”. The Bible says that “a good name is to be chosen rather than great riches.” What more a name that God has chosen for us that reflects our part in His Kingdom?

(See Chinese versions: 简体中文 > 神为我们取的名字 | 繁體中文 > 神為我們取的名字)


Ephesians 3:14-16 ESV  For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,

Proverbs 22:1 ESV  A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.

God did not leave it to any human being to choose a name for His Son, Jesus. He sent an angel to instruct Joseph to call Mary’s son, Jesus, which means “Saviour”. When we seek the Lord’s counsel through the Holy Spirit, He may sometimes, though not always, reveal the names He has chosen for us as well as our children.

Matthew 1:20-21 ESV  But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

The prophetic nature of names 

Names are significant. Also, see Names can bless or curse.

1. Eve

Take Eve, for example. Adam gave his wife the name, Eve, because she was the mother of all living. Genetic sequencing has found that all the people alive on this earth do indeed descend in an unbroken genetic line from one woman, dubbed Mitochondrial Eve (known scientifically as mt-Eve, mt-MRCA) through their mothers and all mothers before them.

Genesis 3:20 ESV  The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.

2. Daniel

Daniel was amongst the young men who were taken from Israel into exile in Babylon. There, King Nebuchadnezzar gave him a new name to reflect one of the gods the king worshipped called Belteshazzar, which means “Bel protects his life”. This was one way the king tried to assimilate Daniel into his kingdom’s pagan culture. 

Daniel 4:4,8 ESV  I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at ease in my house and prospering in my palace. At last Daniel came in before me—he who was named Belteshazzar after the name of my god…

Daniel’s original name, on the other hand, means “God is my judge.” We see that this indeed did come to pass. Every time the king tried to pass judgment on Daniel, he failed. Instead, God passed judgment on King Nebuchadnezzar for his arrogance. The king lived in the wild as an insane man for seven years before he was restored back to normality and his position as king.

Daniel 4:33-34 ESV  Immediately the word was fulfilled against Nebuchadnezzar. He was driven from among men and ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair grew as long as eagles’ feathers, and his nails were like birds’ claws. At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation;

3. Jubal

A lesser-known person in the Bible, Jubal, was given a name that means “jubilee, music.” He became the “father of all those who play the lyre and pipe.”

Genesis 4:21 ESV His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe.

We can also choose names for people that can unwittingly bear bad consequences. Take Jacob for example.

God-chosen names

1. Jacob to Israel

Jacob’s name means “deceiver, supplanter”. Jacob was given this name because he was born holding his twin brother’s heel. 

Genesis 25:26 ESV  Afterward his brother came out with his hand holding Esau’s heel, so his name was called Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them.

We see the prophetic nature of his name play out later in life, where he deceived his elder brother of his birthright and blessings. Later, God changed his name to Israel, which means “one who is triumphant with God or one who prevails with God.”

Genesis 27:36 ESV  Esau said, “Is he not rightly named Jacob? For he has cheated me these two times. He took away my birthright, and behold, now he has taken away my blessing.” Then he said, “Have you not reserved a blessing for me?”

2. Simon to Peter

Apostle Peter’s name was originally Simon, which means “to hear, be heard”. Throughout the gospels, we see Simon speaking impulsively and rather rashly, in order to be the first to be heard amongst the disciples. After Simon’s spirit understood that Jesus is the “Son of the living God”, Jesus changed Simon’s name to Peter and appointed him as the rock on whom the Lord would build His church. The name, Peter, means “stone.”

Mark 3:16 ESV  He appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter);

Matthew 16:16-18 ESV  Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

3. Abram to Abraham

Abraham’s name was originally Abram, which means “father who is lifted”. When God made a covenant with Abram, He changed his name to Abraham, which means “father of a multitude” to reflect God’s will on his life.

Genesis 17:3-6 ESV   Then Abram fell on his face. And God said to him, “Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you. 

4. Sarai to Sarah

At the same time, God changed Abraham’s wife’s name from Sarai, which means “quarrelsome”, to Sarah, which mean “princess”.

Genesis 17:15-16 ESV  And God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. I will bless her, and moreover, I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall become nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.”


As the two testimonies below go to show, when God reveals the name He has chosen for us, our heavenly name often gives us a new perspective of our identity, not one that is based on the things of this world, but based on God alone.

Even if we don’t get to know our heavenly name while we are still on earth, God promises to give us “a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it” in heaven. All we have to do is to stay faithful to Him and continue to worship Him in spirit and in truth.

Revelation 2:17 ESV  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’

John 4:24 ESV  God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Testimony 1

“In a moment of difficulty, I asked the Lord in prayer “What do you think of me?” I saw a shining star rotating on my forehead, and the words “morning star” came to my mind. At the time I found this so confusing, that I put that aside in my memory. 

For all of my adult life, I have lived very cautiously, anxious that I might make a wrong decision. Though God put in me great visions for what I could do for Him, I always held back and procrastinated. I thought, “What if I’m not cut out for this? What if I’m not good enough? What if I do or say something wrong? What if this is the wrong way? They are going to call me out.” 

After not being able to sleep restfully for several days one week, I shared with a group of brothers and sisters-in-Christ who decided to pray for me at the end of our meeting. During our prayer time, my sisters sensed a dark figure by my bed. When we asked God what this was, the Holy Spirit revealed that this is a spirit of fear that has been guiding my life. Though I have the Holy Spirit in me, I was still living with a fear of failure. This opened my eyes to the fact that I wasn’t being discerning by holding back. Rather, I was afraid of failing. 

Once I commanded the spirit of fear to leave me in Jesus’ name and declared that I will be guided by God alone, one of my sisters was prompted to ask God what my heavenly name is. She received the name “Esther” for me, while another thought she heard “star”. In addition, they saw that God had given me a beautiful crown of flowers on my head to remind me of Him. For me, this symbolised a blessed turning point from my old fear-led self to my new faith-led self. 

At home, I researched the name, Esther. To my surprise, I found that Esther is in fact Persian for “star” (setareh). One source suggested that this name was given to Esther (of the Book of Esther in the Bible) because she was as beautiful as the morning star. This moved me to tears because of what happened a few months ago when I asked God what He thought of me. Now I know that God has called me Esther because to Him, I am beautiful as a morning star. Whenever I am tempted to hold back in fear, I am reminded by this memory to stand firm and walk with God. Praise Him!”

Testimony 2

“I had been a church-going Christian for nearly 20 years when I was radically touched by the Holy Spirit, and was born again as a believer. I felt the Lord convict me to get baptised again, to die to my old self and be resurrected to new life.

On the day of my baptism, a brother-in-Christ, who was baptising me, asked me what name I was to be baptised. I paused and I asked the Holy Spirit this question. He gave me a name that was different from mine, which means “love and precious” in English. I was very surprised because it’s a name that is not common and which I actually don’t like. I told this to my baptiser, and by faith, he baptised me using this new name.

The next day, I was praying when the Holy Spirit prompted me to look up the meaning of the name I was born with. By faith, I searched online for its meaning. I found out that my name was based on paganism, a mythical queen.

I never knew this about my birth name and was convinced that the Lord was indeed giving me a new identity! Thank you, Lord.”

The meaning of some names in the Bible



The father of all nations

Genesis 17:5 ESV  No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations


Happy, blessing

Genesis 30:13 ESV  And Leah said, “Happy am I! For women have called me happy.” So she called his name Asher.


God is my judge

Genesis 30:6 ESV  Then Rachel said, “God has judged me, and has also heard my voice and given me a son.” Therefore she called his name Dan.


Division, Dividing

Genesis 10:25 ESV  To Eber were born two sons: the name of the one was Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided, and his brother’s name was Joktan.



Genesis 3:20 ESV  The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.



Genesis 30:11 ESV  And Leah said, “Good fortune has come!” so she called his name Gad.


A stranger there

Exodus 2:22 ESV  She gave birth to a son, and he called his name Gershom, for he said, “I have been a sojourner in a foreign land.”


There is no glory

1 Samuel 4:21 ESV  And she named the child Ichabod, saying, “The glory has departed from Israel!” because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband.


God hears

Genesis 16:11 ESV  And the angel of the Lord said to her, “Behold, you are pregnant and shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the Lord has listened to your affliction.


God contends, or one who struggles with God.

Genesis 32:27-28 ESV  27 And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” 


Man of reward, hired man

Genesis 30:18 ESV  Leah said, “God has given me my wages because I gave my servant to my husband.” So she called his name Issachar.


Supplanter, deceiver

Genesis 27:36 ESV  Esau said, “Is he not rightly named Jacob? For he has cheated me these two times. He took away my birthright, and behold, now he has taken away my blessing.” Then he said, “Have you not reserved a blessing for me?”


He will add

Genesis 30:24 ESV  And she called his name Joseph, saying, “May the Lord add to me another son!”


To praise

Genesis 29:35 ESV  And she conceived again and bore a son, and said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” Therefore she called his name Judah. Then she ceased bearing.


Jubilee, music

Genesis 4:21 ESV His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe.


Joined, adhered 

Genesis 29:34 ESV  Again she conceived and bore a son, and said, “Now this time my husband will be attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” Therefore his name was called Levi.


Twist, wrestle

Genesis 30:8 ESV  Then Rachel said, “With mighty wrestlings I have wrestled with my sister and have prevailed.” So she called his name Naphtali.



Matthew 16:18 ESV  And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.



Genesis 38:28-29 ESV  And when she was in labor, one put out a hand, and the midwife took and tied a scarlet thread on his hand, saying, “This one came out first.” But as he drew back his hand, behold, his brother came out. And she said, “What a breach you have made for yourself!” Therefore his name was called Perez.



Genesis 5:28-29 ESV  When Lamech had lived 182 years, he fathered a son and called his name Noah, saying, “Out of the ground that the Lord has cursed, this one shall bring us relief from our work and from the painful toil of our hands.”


Behold, a son

Genesis 29:32 ESV  And Leah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Reuben, for she said, “Because the Lord has looked upon my affliction; for now my husband will love me.”


Appointed, a substitute

Genesis 4:25 ESV  And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and called his name Seth, for she said, “God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him.”


He Who Hears 

Genesis 29:33 ESV  She conceived again and bore a son, and said, “Because the Lord has heard that I am hated, he has given me this son also.” And she called his name Simeon.


To dwell, exalted house

Genesis 30:20 ESV  Then Leah said, “God has endowed me with a good endowment; now my husband will honor me, because I have borne him six sons.” So she called his name Zebulun.

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