What's In a Name?
During her interaction with Romeo regarding his name, Juliet said, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” That sounds great in a Shakespearean play, but it hardly rings true in reality. Bible believing fathers and mothers, for instance, would not name a daughter, Jezebel or a son, Satan. Those are names of infamy that carry with them connotations of evil and deceit. There is indeed something in a name.
Keeping this on a positive plane, I can think of many names by which I have been called in my life that I have thoroughly enjoyed and continue to enjoy. I like my name, for my first name, Michael, has Biblical significance (Jude 1:9 – literally, “who is like God”), my second name, Richard, reminds me of my father and my last name brings to mind my heritage. Beyond that, I enjoy being called “son,” “brother,” “Dad” and “Grandpa.” It was an honor to be called “husband” by a beautiful and faithful lady for over 30 years. It was a great privilege for years to be called “coach.” Some of my former players still call me that and it brings back fond memories. Still, for all the pleasure aroused by these names of earthly significance, none can begin to compare with the spiritual names by which I am called as a member of the church for which Jesus shed His blood.
I am a Christian. As such, I wear the name prophesied by Isaiah in Isaiah 62:2. “And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name.” James called this name a worthy one in James 2:7. The word translated, “worthy” means, “beautiful, handsome, excellent, eminent, choice, surpassing, precious, useful, suitable, commendable, admirable.” That name is the name, Christian, first applied in Antioch to those who had obeyed the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Acts 11:26). It is a name worthy of sacrifice to wear (I Peter 4:16). It is a name that indicates ownership. I belong to Christ. I am His. It is a name that, having heard the Gospel preached by Paul, King Agrippa realized the great apostle wanted him to wear through obedience (Acts 26:28). The name is used so loosely today to apply to anyone who says they believe Jesus is the Christ. It’s frequently misapplied in the media in reference to the “Christian world” as opposed to the “Jewish world,” “Moslem world,” etc. By New Testament standards, a Christian is one who has obeyed the Gospel and thus belongs to Christ; nothing more and nothing less. There is no salvation outside of Christ (Acts 4:12). Based on that truth, one man well said that if one takes away “Christ” from “Christian,” the “ian” in Christian could stand for “I am nothing,” for, indeed, without Christ, I am nothing in a spiritual sense.
I am a saint. That term is used in both the Old and New Testaments. In the Old Testament it is most commonly found in the Psalms. The Greek word used in the New Testament is most frequently translated, “holy.” Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words says, “It is used of men and things in so far as they are devoted to God.” Sainthood is not some future attainment after death, as per Catholic doctrine. When a person obeys the Gospel, he or she becomes a saint. In all but three of his inspired epistles, Paul referred to Christians, who were then living, as saints. As saints, we have been set apart from sin by virtue of the blood of Christ that washed over our souls when we were immersed into Christ for the forgiveness of our sins (I Peter 1:18-19). As Christians, we are to continue to conduct ourselves as saints, those who have been set apart (Ephesians 5:3). Our standard for saintliness is God Himself. “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” (I Peter 1:15-16).
I am a brother. Yes, I am already that in a physical sense, but I also enjoy that appellation in a spiritual sense. All but three of the New Testament epistles employ the word spiritually. The name indicates that I am a family member, that family being the family of God (Ephesians 3:15). Just as in an earthly sense we have brothers by virtue of the common blood of our parents, in a spiritual sense, we have brothers (and sisters, of course), by virtue of the blood of Jesus Christ (Acts 20:28). We are of the same blood, so to speak. The name “brother” should never be used lightly. It is a name indicating acceptance into God’s family, a name that, sadly, far too few can scripturally wear.
Many more Biblical names could be listed but space prohibits further discussion. Why not look these up for yourself? In so doing you will learn what a privilege and blessing it is have been bought with the blood of Christ through obedience to His Word. There are no greater names that can be worn than those bestowed upon us by the Lord.