"All that is good should also please us, always and everywhere and in every creature. We must protect and support goodness with solicitude, and resist boldly those who combat it."

- St. Thomas Aquinas
Of Nicknames And New Names

Anyone who surfs the Thinklings for any time at all will begin to notice that all of the Thinklings and most of the honorary Thinklings have nicknames. This isn't something that happened on purpose - our nicknames grew out of our circumstances, or family relationships, or often just kind of organically as we practiced the fine art of friendship. The origin of some of the nicknames is a bit murky - it is hard to pin down when and why Mark was ever dubbed "Blo". Jared's moniker "Rod" is also a bit of a mystery. Other nicknames (such as mine - "Jewel") are easier to place. Mine dates back to a declaration made by Rod at a youth camp at night in the Colorado mountains in July, 1995, and predates the folk singer (no wait, pop singer) of the same name. For those of you interested in the Thinklings' nicknames, some interesting inside information can be found in A THOROUGH(LY SKETCHY) HISTORY OF THE THINKLINGS.

In teaching a recent class on John based on Beth Moore's "John, the Beloved Disciple" study, I was struck by the nicknames attached to some of the disciples. Have you ever noticed that? John and James are the "Sons of Thunder". Thomas was called "The Twin". Peter was, of course, declared to be "Rock". In fact, his new name Peter (Rock) and his usual surname Bar-Jonah (Son of John) mean that if we knew him here in America today we might know him as "Rock Johnson". You'd have to like a guy named "Rock Johnson", right?

It makes me wonder - and I hope I'm not being irreverent to wonder this - if our Lord was a bit of a "nicknames" guy. It wouldn't surprise me a bit. As I read Jesus' words I'm struck by the rich, expressive language He used. Camels flying through the eyes of needles, mountains being flung into the sea, that sort of thing. I think that hanging around with Jesus, sitting at His feet and just listening to Him, must have been an exhilarating, and often frightening, experience. And now and then one might even hear him declaring a new nickname for one of his followers.

Others in the Bible were given nicknames and new names. Barnabas was given his name because he was the "Son of encouragement". Saul became "Paul" as he ministered to the Greeks. And, of course, we can't overlook Jacob, the "Supplanter", becoming Israel, he who "strives with God". Or Abram being renamed Abraham.

In thinking and wondering on this, I am reminded of the passage from the message to Pergamum in Revelation 2:17b ". . .I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.".

Does that not thrill you? A new name. What does that mean?

Perhaps a name that reflects your new, redeemed character. A "victory" name - the way Simon and Saul and Jacob and Abram were renamed following their encounters with the Lord. A new name, on a white stone. Perhaps a white stone similar to those that I'm told juries used in the first century. Yes - a white stone to show aquittal, pardon, and innocence rather than the black stone that was used in judgement.

Jesus is the great redeemer and the great re-namer. When He saves us and begins the process of sanctification He redeems our fallen character and begins to bring out the jewels and the gold of our new self with His refining and purifying fire. I wonder if perhaps when we meet Him in glory He will whisper our new name to us:

"You were once Liar. Your new name is Truthful."

"You are no longer Needy. Your new name is Fulfilled."

"I call you Beloved."

"You're new name is Beautiful."

"You're old name was Wounded. I pronounce you Healed."


I think of His love for me and it makes me gasp in awe.

His name is Wonderful!

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Comments on "Of Nicknames And New Names":
1. Marla - 03/30/2004 8:00 pm CST

I love the worship song, "I Will Change Your Name":

I will change your name, you shall no longer be called
Wounded, outcast, lonely, and afraid.
I will change your name, your new name shall be:
Confidence, joyfulness, overcoming one,
Faithfulness, friend of God, one who seeks My face.*

Just now when I Googled for these lyrics, it took me the testimony of a women in the church where I grew up! (and where we are now starting to attend) Here's the link (it totally relates to the topic of new names):

http://www.stonewallrevisited.com/pages/sandra_a.html

2. Shrode - 03/31/2004 1:07 am CST

Wow, Bill. Thanks. It really is good to have you back. What a great and encouraging devotional. (Of course the argumentitive, nerdy, arrogant know-it-all in me is saying, "Yeah, but that's a futurist interpretation of the passage, it probably doesn't really mean a new name literally. I'll have to go look it up in a commentary to find out what that passage really means." Sometimes I just have to tell myself to shut up.)

This really is a great post Bill, and thank you. Jesus does transform us. And I love your take on Jesus as a "nickname" guy. You have humanized him for me that much more. I love "nickname" guys. The outgoing, friendly sorts that people are just drawn to, that have unspoken leadership in any group that they are part of, that are sure to make sure no one feels left out, and one of the ways they make you feel like "part of the group" is by assigning you a friendly nick-name. Being a nerd in school, I thanked God for nick-name guys.

Here's some nicknames given to me (on different occasions) by nickname guys in middle school:

Wheels
Flip
Splat

Each time it happened, I was sitting with a group of boys and feeling inadequate, and the "leader" assigned me the name and it made me feel like a part of the group, and you know what, it worked.

Jesus, thank you for being a nickname guy.

3. Jared - 03/31/2004 2:55 am CST

Great, great post, Bill. You are truly a Jewel among men.

4. Bill - 03/31/2004 3:01 am CST

Thanks Shrode and Jared for the kind words.

Also - Shrode - I chuckled when I read your comment. My thought was "Heh, only two comments in and I'm already being debunked." :-)

My Rev citation wasn't meant as a futurist take - it was meant in the same spirit that people of all eschatological stripes accept the book of Revelation - as an encouragement to believers. I don't want to argue about whether we "really" get a new name in Heaven (although it wouldn't surprise me :-).

5. jen - 03/31/2004 4:46 am CST

That's a great post, Bill (Yay! Bill posted!). I love nicknames too. Chicks don't use them with each other like guys do - I think we're missing out on something really fun. That said, I've had a couple over the years:

Freakin' Jen (which is my domain name)
JR (my initials)
Guinevere (given to me by the father of my best frined in junior high)

I'm still called the first two by the folks who gave them to me, when I see them.

6. Stroke - 03/31/2004 4:59 am CST

i thought "rod" came from "J-rod" which is a form of Jared. but early manuscripts may contradict this theory.

an old guy at our church when we were kids called him snaggletooth!

7. Theologian Guy - 03/31/2004 11:18 am CST

Everyone on our blog, 2nd-Storey Window, carries a nickname. Most are meant to be funny or weird, and occasionally interesting/significant.

Does the internet really need another blog? No. Probably especially not one written by a bunch of wacky seminary students. So be it. I hope you folks will stop on by.

Yes. This was something of an advertisement for our blog. Sorry. How else will people find us if nobody knows about it?

OK, be good kids.

8. Jared's Mom - 04/01/2004 4:04 am CST

Hey "Stroke" the "old guy" didn't call him snaggletooth, it was snicklefritz!

9. Blo - 04/01/2004 5:04 am CST

Great post Bill. I really enjoy your writing.

Stroke - I was once "corrected" by Rod for spelling his name Jrod - even though it was me playing with his nickname. Remember that Rod. Now it is either Jared or Rod never J-rod. I'm glad someone else mentioned the J-rod connection to his name.

By the way Blo is a distortion of Marco Polo - when we were young Bird used to call me Po-blo and latter shortened it to Blo. Of course it was probably better as a mystery.

10. Bill - 04/01/2004 5:20 am CST

I consider these stories of the origins of "Blo" and "Rod" to be apocryphal.

11. salguod.net - 04/03/2004 3:59 pm CST

A new name ...
Bill at the Thinklins wrote recently about nicknames in the Bible and whether Jesus was the kind of guy who gave a nickname to all his friends. What struck me was his relating how Jesus might greet us: Jesus is...

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