In biblical times, a good name meant more than a good reputation. People understood that a name expressed the essence or identity of a person.

In the Near East, a person’s name identified something about their character or circumstances, such as birth or family. Genesis 17:17 provides an illustration of this practice: Sarah and Abraham named their son ‘Isaac,’ which means ‘he laughs.’ When God told 100-year-old Abraham that his 90-year-old wife would give birth, he laughed.

Because names were so significant in biblical times, the power to name someone or something demonstrated authority. Genesis 17:1-5 gives an account of God’s authority when he changed Abram’s name to Abraham. Similarly, Pharaoh conveyed his authority over Joseph when he renamed Joseph as Zaphenath-Paneah (Gen. 41:45).

When God told Moses, ‘I know you by name’ (Ex. 33:17), God was declaring that he recognized Moses for who he was, his character, circumstances, and identity. God still knows each of his believers by name; he completely understands who and what we are.

See all posts in Glossary

Upcoming Tours

Mar 30 — Apr 08, 2020
Heart Of God
Led by George DeJong
Jun 28 — Jul 12, 2020
Out of Egypt, Into a Good Land
Led by George DeJong
Fall 2020
Ancient Paths to Modern Leadership
Led by George DeJong
Nov 01 — Nov 15, 2020
Walking with the Patriarchs
Led by George DeJong
Spring 2021
Israel in Depth
Led by George DeJong
Fall 2021
Through the Roof
Led by George DeJong