Day 19: The Meaning of a Name

Read: Start by reading John 1:40–42 out loud. 

Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter).—John 1:40–42 NIV

Meditate:  A well-chosen name should describe a person well. Godly parents often have long conversations about their choice of a name for their baby, hoping to find just the right name to give to their child. Choosing a good name can even help a person develop the character that the name represents.

We should find it interesting that when Jesus looked at Simon, He gave Simon the name Cephas, or Peter, which means stone. Some commentaries indicate that Jesus wanted to give Simon the name Cephas because it was a stronger name. For whatever reason that Jesus felt the need to establish the name, it must have been meaningful to Simon. 

Read John 1:40–42 again. 

  • Imagine Jesus looking at you and giving you a name that only He knows.
  • What name might best describe how He sees you?
  • Praise Him for His matchless name!

 As Jacob wrestled with God and asked for His blessing, he gained the name Israel (Genesis 32:28). This name change was significant, because Israel was to become a great nation as God’s chosen people. Saul also changed his name to Paul when be became passionate about following Jesus. And we see how Simon’s name change, Cephas, or Peter, carries the meaning that Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Christ will become a rock on which Jesus will build His church.

Revelation 2:17 also talks about a new name: “Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it” (NIV).

Notice: Consider the meaning of your name. How does your life show a connection to your name? How does its meaning play out as you serve Christ and make a difference in the world? Is there a name that better describes you?

What name best describes your role in the Christian community?

As you go about your day, ask God to give you words to encourage people who may have names that don’t describe them well. When we give authentic words of encouragement about a person’s character, we may help change the way that person sees himself or herself. 

Pray: Each time you speak someone’s name today, pray that God will give you His eyes. How does God see that person? Ask God to give you words of life to speak.