The Name Game

Posted by on Feb 28, 2012 in Uncategorized | 3 comments

The very first time I was pregnant, Jud and I began listing out names we liked on the white board in our office almost right away. It was a big deal. Naming a human should be a big deal, I think. They are going to walk around with that handle for the rest of their lives (barring a lot of work at the social security office. Okay, maybe not work, but at least a VERY long wait to deal with people who obviously hate life and wish they were not government employees in spite of their cush pay and benefits. Seriously. It is so much worse than the DMV).


We knew we wanted to name our children with names that meant things we liked. The meaning of their names seems especially important to us because names mean something to God. He has a lot of names:

(1) Elohim: The plural form of EL, meaning “strong one.” It is used of false gods, but when used of the true God, it is a plural of majesty and intimates the trinity. It is especially used of God’s sovereignty, creative work, mighty work for Israel and in relation to His sovereignty (Isa. 54:5Jer. 32:27Gen. 1:1Isa. 45:18Deut. 5:23; 8:15Ps. 68:7).

Compounds of El:

  • El Shaddai:“God Almighty.” The derivation is uncertain. Some think it stresses God’s loving supply and comfort; others His power as the Almighty one standing on a mountain and who corrects and chastens (Gen. 17:1; 28:3; 35:11Ex. 6:1Ps. 91:1, 2).
  • El Elyon: “The Most High God.” Stresses God’s strength, sovereignty, and supremacy (Gen. 14:19Ps. 9:2;Dan. 7:18, 22, 25).
  • El Olam: “The Everlasting God.” Emphasizes God’s unchangeableness and is connected with His inexhaustibleness (Gen. 16:13).

(2) Yahweh (YHWH): Comes from a verb which means “to exist, be.” This, plus its usage, shows that this name stresses God as the independent and self-existent God of revelation and redemption (Gen. 4:3Ex. 6:3 (cf. 3:14); 3:12). Compounds of Yahweh: Strictly speaking, these compounds are designations or titles which reveal additional facts about God’s character.

  • Yahweh Jireh (Yireh): “The Lord will provide.” Stresses God’s provision for His people (Gen. 22:14).
  • Yahweh Nissi:“The Lord is my Banner.” Stresses that God is our rallying point and our means of victory; the one who fights for His people (Ex. 17:15).
  • Yahweh Shalom:“The Lord is Peace.” Points to the Lord as the means of our peace and rest (Jud. 6:24).
  • Yahweh Sabbaoth:“The Lord of Hosts.” A military figure portraying the Lord as the commander of the armies of heaven (1 Sam. 1:3; 17:45).
  • Yahweh Maccaddeshcem: “The Lord your Sanctifier.” Portrays the Lord as our means of sanctification or as the one who sets believers apart for His purposes (Ex. 31:13).
  • Yahweh Ro’i: “The Lord my Shepherd.” Portrays the Lord as the Shepherd who cares for His people as a shepherd cares for the sheep of his pasture (Ps. 23:1).
  • Yahweh Tsidkenu: “The Lord our Righteousness.” Portrays the Lord as the means of our righteousness (Jer. 23:6).
  • Yahweh Shammah: “The Lord is there.” Portrays the Lord’s personal presence in the millennial kingdom (Ezek. 48:35).
  • Yahweh Elohim Israel: “The Lord, the God of Israel.” Identifies Yahweh as the God of Israel in contrast to the false gods of the nations (Jud. 5:3.; Isa. 17:6).

(3) Adonai: Like Elohim, this too is a plural of majesty. The singular form means “master, owner.” Stresses man’s relationship to God as his master, authority, and provider (Gen. 18:2; 40:11 Sam. 1:15Ex. 21:1-6Josh. 5:14).

(4) Theos: Greek word translated “God.” Primary name for God used in the New Testament. Its use teaches: (1) He is the only true God (Matt. 23:9Rom. 3:30); (2) He is unique (1 Tim. 1:17John 17:3Rev. 15:4; 16:7); (3) He is transcendent (Acts 17:24Heb. 3:4Rev. 10:6); (4) He is the Savior (John 3:161 Tim. 1:1; 2:3; 4:10). This name is used of Christ as God in John 1:1, 18; 20:281 John 5:20Tit. 2:13Rom. 9:5Heb. 1:82 Pet. 1:1.

(5) Kurios: Greek word translated “Lord.” Stresses authority and supremacy. While it can mean sir (John 4:11), owner (Luke 19:33), master (Col. 3:22), or even refer to idols (1 Cor. 8:5) or husbands (1 Pet. 3:6), it is used mostly as the equivalent of Yahweh of the Old Testament. It too is used of Jesus Christ meaning (1) Rabbi or Sir (Matt. 8:6); (2) God or Deity (John 20:28Acts 2:36Rom. 10:9Phil. 2:11).

(6) Despotes: Greek word translated “Master.” Carries the idea of ownership while kurios stressed supreme authority (Luke 2:29Acts 4:24Rev. 6:102 Pet. 2:1Jude 4).

(7) Father:A distinctive New Testament revelation is that through faith in Christ, God becomes our personal Father. Father is used of God in the Old Testament only 15 times while it is used of God 245 times in the New Testament. As a name of God, it stresses God’s loving care, provision, discipline, and the way we are to address God in prayer (Matt. 7:11Jam. 1:17Heb. 12:5-11John 15:16; 16:23Eph. 2:18; 3:151 Thess. 3:11). And then there was all of that stuff about God’s name: (1) Abraham called on the name of the Lord (Gen. 12:8; 13:4). (2) The Lord proclaimed His own name before Moses (Ex. 33:19; 34:5). (3) Israel was warned against profaning the name of the Lord (Lev. 13:21; 22:2, 32). (4) The name of the Lord was not to be taken in vain (Ex. 20:7Deut. 5:11). (5) The priests of Israel were to minister in the name of the Lord (Deut. 18:5; 21:5). (6) The name of God is called “wonderful” in Judges 13:18. (7) To call on the name of the Lord was to worship Him as God (Gen. 21:33; 26:25). Consequently, from this we can conclude that such phrases as “the name of the LORD” or “the name of God” refer to God’s whole character. It was a summary statement embodying the entire person of God.2

When we turn to the New Testament we find the same. The name Jesus is used in a similar way to the name of God in the Old Testament:

(1) Salvation is through His name (John 1:12).

(2) Believers are to gather in His name (Matt. 18:20).

(3) Prayer is to be made in His name (John 14:13-14).

(4) The servant of the Lord who bears the name of Christ will be hated (Matt. 10:22).

(5) The book of Acts makes frequent mention of worship, service, and suffering in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 4:18; 5:28, 41; 10:43; 19:17).

(6) It is at the name of Jesus that every knee will one day bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Phil. 2:10-11). So, just as the name of God in the Old Testament spoke of the holy character of God the Father, so the name of Jesus in the New Testament speaks of the holy character of God the Son.

3 (Thanks to J. Hampton Keathley, III for compiling this information)



So, names. They have importance to God and if they are important to Him, we want to see the importance of them too.


Once we found out Gideon was a boy, we felt a whole lot of stress to choose a strong and manly name. We knew it might be a name he would have to grow into, but we really didn’t want it to be something that would convey strength. Thus:


Gideon Charles – G means “hacker” although we initially only found the meaning of ‘warrior’, which we liked. Hacker seems slightly more violent than warrior, but we’re cool with that too. C means ‘strong, manly’ and is also my dad’s middle name. We would love people to know our son as a strong, manly warrior/hacker. We want him to stand up for justice and not shrink back from doing the right thing.


Piper Elise – P means just what you think it does, “one who plays the pipe”. We wanted her to have a musical name without being too overt.  Elise means “consecrated to God” and that is exactly what we want for our little girl and her music. We are praying that she will be a woman who devotes her life to His purposes and His will.


Greer Elizabeth – G means “watchful, vigilant”. One of the things we’ve noticed about the current state of affairs among people is their strong attachment to instant gratification and the present. We want her to be able to delay gratification by keeping the future in mind. Being watchful about her life and vigilant to stick to  the truth will be good tools to help her in that endeavor. E means the same thing as Elise – “consecrated to God”. We liked it for its meaning and also because our dear friend, Sarah, has the same middle name. We hope Greer is a woman much like Sarah. Her character is exemplary. Her heart is sensitive to the Spirit of God and we love how she loves on our children. We hope our new girl is much the same.


And that’s why we named them that.


What does your name mean?


  1. l love the fact that my name, Renee…means “re-born” or “born again” in French!….

  2. Karen and Kay both mean pure. I don’t think Mom and Dad researched names like we do, but I think that’s cool. Maggie’s three names: Emma means healer. Emma was Brad’s Grandmother and a very godly woman. We felt naming our only child after her would be such an honor as well as the meaning of healer. Two fold. Me working in the healing arts and the fact that the gift of adopting Maggie was healing to our hearts. Nicole means victory. We did not know it at the time, but that is also Maggie’s birth mother Suzanne’s middle name. (Thank you God for that affirmation!) We have victory in Jesus and again, two-fold meaning we have Victory over spiritual death and Suzanne chose life rather than death for Maggie. Magdalen means Strong Tower. Mary Magdalene is by far my favorite woman in the NT. She was a close friend of the Savior, walked with Him as a disciple, was given pride-of-place when listed with the women, and as we all know was the first Jesus appeared to. My great-great grandmother’s name was Mary Magdalene!!!

  3. I love how your kids names sound all together 🙂 For some reason, that is important to me as well as meaning. I think you guys chose great names that sound terrific together.

    Our son’s name means “God’s gift,” which is meaningful to us. The girls names are obvious words, but still hold meaning (esp when you look at first and middle names together). Our oldest daughter actually helped us choose the baby’s name, which holds its own special meaning just in the story of how she got her name 🙂 You’re right, names are a big deal (and fun, too).

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