Two Names


God appeared to Jacob again, when he came from Paddan-aram, and blessed him. And God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; no longer shall your name be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.” So he called his name Israel. And God said to him, “I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply. A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall come from your own body. The land that I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you, and I will give the land to your offspring after you.” Then God went up from him in the place where he had spoken with him. And Jacob set up a pillar in the place where he had spoken with him, a pillar of stone. He poured out a drink offering on it and poured oil on it. So Jacob called the name of the place where God had spoken with him Bethel. Genesis 35:9-15 ESV

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:14-19 ESV


“James Andrew! What have you done?” Jimmy heard his mother call. He hunched down in his bedroom, wanting to hide. He had made a mess in the kitchen, and he knew he was in trouble. When his mom called him, “James Andrew,” it meant he was in trouble. “That’s my ‘naughty name,'” Jimmy sometimes said.

Jacob had two names, too. “Jacob” means someone who takes something that belongs to someone else. His name showed what kind of life he had led. It was his “naughty name.” God also gave him a new name, Israel. “Israel” means triumphant with God. God told him his new name twice. This new name showed who Jacob was by God’s grace, the mercy he didn’t deserve.

When God gave Abram the new name of Abraham, the Bible doesn’t use the name Abram anymore. But when God gave Jacob his new name, the Bible sometimes calls him Israel, and still often calls him Jacob. Jacob was still a sinner, but he was also a saint by God’s grace. It’s only by God’s grace, the mercy no one deserves, that anyone can be a saint.

We are just like Jacob. Whatever your name is, you have two other names. One name is “sinner.” Because you don’t love and follow God the way you should, you are a sinner who deserves God’s punishment. But God loves you so much that he came to earth in Jesus to die for you. Because of Jesus, your sins are forgiven, and you have another name. That name is “saint.” God’s love and mercy are wonderful!


Dear Jesus, thank you for dying for my sins so that I can be a saint in you! Amen.