Summary: Names in the Bible have very special meanings and often, when placed together, give special messages to God’s people. Has your name been changed to tell the story of Jesus in your life?


By Pastor Jim May

All through the Bible there are lists of names called genealogies. Since we do not believe that there are any accidents in the placing of these names, I thought it might be interesting to see what a few of them would tell us.

Every name in the Bible carried with it a meaning. Most of us in the modern world, especially in western society, are not concerned with naming our children with names that carry any significant meaning. We name our kids after grandma or grandpa, or maybe some aunt or uncle. We might name them something whimsical, like “Wind song”, or musical, like Octave, or maybe after some other person, place or thing that left an impression upon us. Thus we have genealogies in our modern families that contain names that carry no underlying meaning or message.

It was not so in the times when the Bible was written. Just about every name in the Old Testament, not only carried a meaning with that name, but when the Holy Spirit inspired men to write down their genealogy, those names not only made a statement within themselves but when combined with other names often told a story of great significance.

Most people never get deep enough into the study of the Bible to recognize this but the message of a coming Redeemer was hinted from the very beginning of Genesis. God’s plan was already underway when man was created. In the mind of God, all of human history, and the beginning of the eternal kingdom was already a completed task.

As you look at the Book of Genesis, chapter 4 you will see one such genealogy listed. It is the genealogy of Noah, and it begins with the very first man, Adam.

Genesis 1:27, "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them."

Here we see the start of God’s plan for a redeemed people who will serve Him of willingly and worship Him from their heart. That’s all God wanted from the very beginning. He wanted a creation that would want Him in return. He wanted a creation that had the power to choose, and would choose to love God for who He is and glorify Him because He is God.

But God was not to be fooled by this creature called man. God knew of the inherit dangers of giving mankind the power to choose to serve Him or not, and He knew that man would choose to rebel.

That’s why God named the first man Adam. Adam’s name meant “earthy, or red” and God knew that this man Adam was made of flesh from the dust of the earth, and as such he would be susceptible to the same corruption that the earth would endure after the fall in the Garden. Adam’s nature would fall from one of God’s perfect creation, possessing eternal life, to an earthy nature, preferring the works of darkness, and needing the red blood of a sacrifice to bring him back into relationship with God.

God created Eve out of the side of Adam. In a sense showing that his love for man would not allow man to remain under the sentence of death, but that life would come from the side of the pierced Savior one day. Eve’s name meant, “living”, for from her womb would come the first of the race of living human beings, all bearing the same image of God, that would fill the earth. God’s love for His creation allowed the earth to be filled with people until the time of Noah’s Flood. It has been estimated that there were as many as seven billion people on the earth at the time of the flood. There is no doubt that there were at least many millions.

Adam & Even bore two sons at first. The first was Cain, whose name meant “possession or possessed”, because his birth proved that God had given man the power to procreate and possess the earth. The problem was that Cain also was possessed by a spirit of rebellion against God, inherited from his father, Adam.

Then came Abel, whose name meant “vanity, breath, vapor, or mourning”. Who can doubt that Abel fulfilled his name’s meaning for his life was just a vapor that appeared for a while and was gone like a breath. The vanity and pride of Cain had caused him to kill Abel and now the first family on earth was cast into mourning over the loss of their second son at the hand of their first son.

As we look at these names let’s look at their meaning and see what God was saying as their names were listed. Placing the names in order and adding their meaning to a sentence give us this message:

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