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Bible verses about Name
(From Forerunner Commentary)

In biblical thought, a name does not merely identify; it expresses the essential nature of its bearer. In all probability, Adam named the beasts by observing their natures, as he had nothing else on which to base his judgments. From this arises a principle about how the Bible uses the term "name." To know God's name is to know God as He has revealed Himself, that is, to understand His nature.

Notice Esau's understanding of this principle in regard to Jacob, "Supplanter": "Is he not rightly named Jacob? For he has supplanted me these two times. He took away my birthright, and now look, he has taken away my blessing!" (Genesis 27:36). When Abigail pleads for Nabal ("Fool") before David, this principle again comes to the fore: "Please, let not my lord regard this scoundrel Nabal. For as his name is, so is he: Nabal is his name, and folly is with him" (I Samuel 25:25). The Bible shows a name exercises constraint upon a person to conform to it.

In Hebrew thought, names are inextricably bound to existence; nothing exists unless it has a name. The very essence of a thing is concentrated in its name. Hence, creation was not complete until Adam had named all the creatures. To cut off a person's name is to end his existence.

Connect this idea to Revelation 3:12, where those who overcome will receive the names of God; the city of God, New Jerusalem; and the Revelator, Jesus Christ. These names will designate their very existence, nature, and responsibility in God's Kingdom. A change of name frequently signals a change of position or character, as with Jacob to Israel and Saul to Paul.

Similarly, to speak or act in another's name is to act as his representative and to participate in his authority. When we pray "in the name of Jesus Christ," we ask on His authority, not ours, because He has given us permission to do so. To be called by another's name implies ownership by that person. One bearing another person's name comes under his authority and protection. Sons of God, baptized into the name of God (Matthew 28:19), are in this position.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Third Commandment (1997)


 

Perhaps the most important scriptural significance of names is not so much in the label as it is in the reputation (whether of fame or infamy) of the holder of the label. God has often changed the label to fit more correctly the characteristics of the person, i.e. Jacob (Contender) to Israel (Prevailer), Abram (Father) to Abraham (Father of Nations), and Hillel (Light-Bringer) to Satan (Adversary). Even a name change by God cannot automatically alter the reputation of an individual.

David F. Maas
What's in a Name Anyway?


 

Exodus 20:7

This commandment requires serious reflection. Like the second, it includes a warning that God will not hold us guiltless. It seems that sometimes God deliberately understates things for subtle emphasis and to ultimately magnify the meaning.

To understand this commandment better, we need to explain four words:

Take, throughout the Old Testament, is translated into English from seventy-four different Hebrew words. This one means "to lift up," "bear," "carry," "use," and "appropriate."

Vain has the sense of "desolating"; "that which lacks reality, purpose, value, or truth." It may also be translated "lying," "false," "worthless," "profane," "foolish," "reproachful," "curse," "blaspheme," or "useless."

Guiltless means "free," "clear," "innocent," "clean," "blameless," "unpunished."

Name means "a mark or sign standing out"; "a word by which a person, place or thing is distinctively known." Its Hebrew root denotes "high," "elevated," "a monument." It indicates majesty or excellence. A name identifies, signifies, and specifies.

This commandment has nothing to do with the proper pronunciation of God's name, which no one knows anyway since it was lost in antiquity. It has nothing to do with superstition or magical uses of a name. Its application is far broader.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Third Commandment (1997)


 

Exodus 20:7

The third commandment deals with God's name, His character, His office, His position as the great sovereign Ruler of the universe: "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain" (Exodus 20:7; Deuteronomy 5:11). In biblical terms, personal names have a meaning, for they usually describe some aspect of the person's character. So it is with God's name. The Bible reveals Him under different names, each given with a purpose: to set forth some distinct virtue or characteristic of His nature.

In this commandment, the Hebrew word rendered "guiltless" may also be translated "clean." A person is clean or unclean according to how he uses the name of God, whether in truth or in vanity. A person who continually talks about God but denies Him in his daily life is unclean; he is guilty of breaking the law of God, a sinner. If we use God's name in a way that denies the true meaning and character of God, we break the third commandment. As we can easily see, God is greatly concerned about how we use His name.

Martin G. Collins
The Third Commandment


 

Proverbs 22:1

The word "name" translates from the Hebrew word sheem, which designates something as a mark or memorial of individuality, and by implication, honor, authority, or character. The King James Version (KJV) also translates it into "fame," "famous," "infamous," "named," "renown," and "report."

From this verse, we see that a good name (a combination of reputation and character) certainly should outweigh riches, prominence, position, and status. Conversely, a lack in either can leave us in a state of moral and/or spiritual poverty, seeking self-worth over godly worth.

An example of this can be seen in those who strive for political office or a promotion. They attempt to leave an impression of character with the public or a boss, but it is an impression built on a shaky foundation of duplicity. While they may have a "good" reputation, it is not supported by the real important ingredient, character, which is earned throughout our lives.

A starkly contrasting example of this is that of Jesus Christ as a man: "[He] made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men" (Philippians 2:7). Christ—God Himself—humbled Himself, surrendering His right to a godly reputation, yet still left the legacy of righteous character and reputation as a human.

Ecclesiastes 7:1-8 gives another example of a good name, this time compared to that of fine ointment and life and death. The chapter starts with "A good name is better than precious ointment," but goes on to say "the day of death [is better] than the day of one's birth." Ointment, in this case, symbolizes a richness or excellence that is added to a person's state, or it may represent anointing oil used to set a person or thing apart as different or special. Verse 8 concludes, "The end of a thing is better than its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit."

In human terms, we know at birth we are a clean slate—we have no knowledge, understanding, wisdom, reputation, or character. Only at death, after lifelong endeavor, do we have the total life experiences to establish a good or bad name and reputation, and this occurs because of the character we have gained or failed to gain in the process.

For those who truly desire it, a good reputation and godly character is built patiently and not through devious or self-aggrandizing means. Based on this, reputation or a perceived good name is simply not enough without the character to accompany it.

Staff
Our Reputation, Our Character


 

Proverbs 22:1

All members of God's church have inherited a Family name far more valuable than any surname. We have an awesome responsibility to uphold and honor the nobility and dignity of the name of God. The reputation we create for our church, our businesses, or our institutions is the legacy we pass on to our brothers and sisters and our children.

David F. Maas
What's in a Name Anyway?


 

Proverbs 22:1

A good reputation, based upon what a person is in his dealings with others, is certainly of greater worth in God's eyes than wealth.

John W. Ritenbaugh
How to Know We Love Christ


 

Ecclesiastes 7:1

Why is the day of death better? At birth, a person is largely a blank slate - his reputation is nothing (apart from his connection with Mom and Dad), so his name is little more than a mere label. However, at his death he has built either a good reputation or a bad one.

David F. Maas
What's in a Name Anyway?


 

Ecclesiastes 10:1

It takes years for a reputation to be built up, but seemingly only a few minutes to destroy it. There are ample warnings in Scripture that if we appropriate God's Family name, and then by our behavior show our contempt for it, our names will be blotted out of the Book of Life (Exodus 32:33). Proverbs 10:7 teaches, "The memory of the righteous is blessed, but the name of the wicked will rot." Conversely, "He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels" (Revelation 3:5).

David F. Maas
What's in a Name Anyway?


 

Matthew 6:9

To hallow God's name means to make it holy or set it apart for holy use, respecting it greatly. We hallow His name by obeying Him in all our conduct. Conversely, prayer without obedience is a form of blasphemy (Matthew 7:21, Mark 7:6-7), as is praise offered to God in the attitude of rebellion against His way. It is vain or vanity—useless and contemptible.

Martin G. Collins
The Third Commandment


 

Matthew 28:19

The word translated "in" is the Greek word eis. It means "into," "inside of." We are baptized into water, into the church, by means of the Holy Spirit. His name becomes ours by begettal (or adoption, as Paul says in Romans 8). It is our spiritual Family name! Therefore, our responsibility is to grow and uphold that name—to bring honor upon it by our words, attitudes, and deeds.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fourth Commandment (Part 1)


 

1 John 3:23

When name is used in this way, it does not mean "the word by which a person is called," but rather "the whole nature or character of the person" as far as we know it or understand it. This is why the proverb says, "A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches" (Proverbs 22:1; see Ecclesiastes 7:1).

"Our help is in the name of the LORD" (Psalm 124:8). David, the psalmist here, does not mean that our help lies in the fact that God is called Yahweh. This name contains nothing magic in it at all. David means that our help is in His love, in His mercy, in His power, in His promises. It is in the things that have been revealed to us as parts of His nature, of His attributes, and of His character—and whether or not we have faith in them.

So then, to "believe in the name of Jesus Christ" means to believe in the nature and the character of Jesus Christ. It means to believe that He is the Son of God and that He stands in relation to the Father in a way that no other person in the universe ever has or ever will. It means that He can perfectly reveal the Father to us. It means that we believe He is the Savior, the High Priest, the Mediator and Intercessor, and our soon-coming King. It means that we believe that through Him we have entrance into God's presence—not just entrance to Him, but actually, fellowship with Him.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Love and Fellowship


 

Revelation 3:12

No matter what a person's name means, it identifies him. Our new names will identify us with a person ("God"), a place ("New Jerusalem"), and very likely a function or responsibility in God's government ("My new name"). Obadiah 1:17, 21 gives us an insight of what our function may be:

But on Mount Zion there shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions. . . . Then saviors shall come to Mount Zion to judge the mountains of Esau, and the kingdom shall be the Lord's.

John W. Ritenbaugh
God's Promises Are Sure!


 

Revelation 3:12

When God resurrects us into His Kingdom, He will give us names to designate our existence, nature, and responsibility in the Kingdom. We are assured of carrying God's own name if we overcome sin. What a tremendous reward to bear His name for all eternity!

Martin G. Collins
The Third Commandment


 

Find more Bible verses about Name:
Name {Nave's}
 




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