404 How Our Name Is Tied To Our Destiny

How Our Name Is Tied To Our Destiny

Do you ever read the Bible and get caught up in theological terms? 

Predestination and election are two terms that I’ve wrestled with for a few years. When I try to wrap my head around these concepts, I never feel like I fully have it figured out. And rightly so because it is a beautiful mystery.

Sometimes another perspective helps me get deeper revelation of a concept. That’s why I like the Message translation of Romans 8:29-30ish:

“After God made that decision of what his children should be like, he followed it up by calling people by name.”

How Our Name Is Tied To Our Destiny

There is a lot of technical jargon in the original language about “foreknowing” and “predestining” but this translation gives me new insight.

In the Old Testament, names were a huge deal. When a child was named, they were given their identity. It was a prophetic declaration of the destiny of the child.

  • Adam means man or earth
  • Abraham means father of a multitude
  • Moses means drawn out of the water

By translating predestined as “calling people by name,” it gives a picture of God as a Father naming us as His children. He calls us sons and daughters because He made the decision that we should be like His own son.

You don’t name your children after they are born…well some do, but you know what I mean. If naming your children gives them their destiny, then to name them before they are born is a “pre” destiny. 

Once we believe in Jesus and receive His Spirit, we become sons and daughters of God (Romans 8:14). We take on the name He has given us which destines us to look like His own son, Jesus.

I’ll exchange the complex theological terms for a simple understanding that He calls me by name.

What do you think about this translation?
Does this give you a different perspective on destiny? 


  1. Hey Tony! Some years later and your page is still rocking the internet.

    I like your insight on the name thing. I do have a question though: what if I was born into a family who believed in Buddhism and a fortune teller was consulted to come up with my name?

    I think no doubt that the blood of Jesus is more powerful than anything and I’ve been cleansed. But if God brought up this memory about the origins of my name during prayer, I suppose I should look into it. Would love your insight on this!
    Jan recently posted..“Next Big Adventure”

    • I think about Jacob, who’s name means deceiver or supplanter. He went on to fulfill that to a degree but He also received a new name (Israel) after wrestling with God. I believe that even if you don’t get an actual legal name change, once you encounter the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, He will give you a new identity as his daughter. And that trumps any other name you can be given.

  2. Anna Maria says:

    Wow, this is a truly great article. I never knew that a there much weight carried in a name like that, although I have issues with parents giving names to their children which the children end up not liking. I will make sure that I give a meaningful name to my child.
    Anna Maria recently posted..Workout exercises

  3. If I ever have a daughter I believe I want her name to be Anna. She is mentioned briefly in the Bible and she is from the tribe of Asher- which is one of the twelve tribes of Israel.

  4. I believe it is important to have at least a basic and fundamental understaning of theology. But, honestly, every time I try to wrap my brain about these concepts in particular, I get very confused and start to question the true character of God.

    The Message translation gives insight into that verse, but doesn’t fully explain the complex nature of the terms predestination and foreknowledge. I like how you explained that Him calling us by name gives us our “pre” destiny. I know that for Mike and me, naming our children certainly carried a sense of destiny and prophesying over them-even though we didn’t grasp the full depth of the meaning at the time. I don’t often think about the actual meaning until I’m reminded by a challenging situation or a significant milestone. Our oldest child struggles with self-confidence, which is something we’ve really been working on lately. God reminded me one day of the meaning of his {Hawaiian} middle name: beloved child to be looked upon with pride. When he retreats to feelings of shame, fear, and confusion, I can remind him that that is not who he is in Christ. He is made in the image of God, someone I can be proud of, someone God takes pride in and looks upon with love.

    Thanks for always getting my thoughts going, Tony. I appreciate your persistence with writing and seeking out the things of God.
    Keri recently posted..Bibliotherapy: The Vow

    • Oh I totally agree. I don’t think the fullness of those terms are meant to be simplified. However, another perspective sometimes brings clarity. It did for me, though not everybody agrees in the comments! 🙂 But that’s what’s fun about writing. I get to see different thoughts and perspectives. The Word was never meant to be interpreted alone…always in community.

  5. You don’t name your children after they are born…well some do, but you know what I mean. If naming your children gives them their destiny, then to name them before they are born is a “pre” destiny.

    It works out for some, but it’s a bit different for the one’s named. My dad’s name was Eddy Christobal, which if memory serves me correct means “properous guardian.” My name is an offshoot of that: Eddy Christopher. Somehow he lived his life better by his name than I did. Of course, there’s no saying exactly when that description fulfills itself. So there’s still hope!
    Ed recently posted..Forgiveness

  6. I’ve always believed that our name affects our destiny. My name means:

    Jason = Healer
    Paul = Small/Humble
    Vana = dynamo of energy and faith

    Each one of those names has shaped the man I am and come to pass in my life. I have seen God use me and my story to bring healing to people. He continues to put me in situations that keep me humble and even hides the impact I make in the lives of others from me (not to mention, I am a pretty small guy). And the dynamo of energy and faith? You just need to look at my schedule to see the energy thing and the trials/situations I’ve been in to see my faith.

    Names matter – and if/when I eventually have kids, I will put a lot of time into choosing their names to match the calling I feel God is putting on their lives.
    Jason Vana recently posted..The Shame of our Guilt

    • Dynamo of energy and faith. That may very well be the most awesome last name ever!

      I totally agree, I’m going to take my timing naming my children. It means too much to just get a name that “sounds cool”.

  7. Interesting perspective, but I have to disagree. I think the key in that verse is “foreknowledge”. I’m certainly not going to solve a thousand year argument about predestination and election in a comment (or a post), but I am comforted in knowing that predestination, election and foreknowledge is more of God “knowing” way before anything was created who are His and how our world goes down. If God is Omniscient, He foreknows, predestined and chose what should and will happen. We are merely characters in His story. Our minds are not able to comprehend much of these “mysteries” since we are limited by time. God isn’t. God only “steps into” time when he needs to intervene. We see things as yesterday, today and tomorrow. I’m certain God sees all of it from beginning to end without being limited to time and seasons. He does however communicate to us in “time” so that we are to understand since we are unable to do otherwise.

    P.S. I really don’t like the Message translation. I don’t stone people that do, but I don’t really enjoy it at all.

    • Yeah, it’s a tough one to wrap our heads around since we live linear. We might be able to conceptualize it but still never fully grasp the concept of foreknowledge. I’m convinced that’s why extended discussion usually devolves into an “I’m right, you’re wrong” deal.

      I’m just happy to be called a son. Whether it was my choice or because I was chosen.

      P.S. What’s your biggest gripe about The Message? You think it mistranslates things or you just find it hard to read?

      I don’t use it exclusively but supplementally. I think it makes plain some of the more complex concepts in Scripture.

      • Amen to that. Becoming a Son is where it’s at. The rest is important but not gnash your teeth important. 🙂

        My beef with the message is some of the translation. It’s a little too “liberal” for my taste. Also, I like to stay closer to the original translation. The paraphrase is more likely to confuse some people (if they don’t read an actual version from original manuscript). I think it’s good to use it as a complement to an actual translation, but not as the only translation that is read.
        Moe recently posted..Discipleship: All About Jesus

  8. I think the idea is more about knowing us than it is about naming us.

  9. I love this translation. I’ve been wrestling with Romans 9 for about a year now. It’s tough, and I don’t know that we can ever grasp these concepts with absolute certainty.

    I think the picture of adoption is absolutely beautiful though. That God, being the only one who is fully aware of how unlovable we are, isn’t just stuck with us, his loser children, He chooses us. He wants us. I don’t know if my finite brain can truly grasp the the hugeness of that.

    Good stuff.
    Nikki Weatherford recently posted..Boobs, bitches, and a bedazzled cross.

    • We’re about to get into Romans 9 in my church. One of my best friends is dating a Messianic Jew so Romans 9-11 is going to be a pretty intense discussion, I think.

  10. makes me think of Jeremiah 1:5… I love the concept of naming in the Bible. It holds SO much significance for me for so many reasons… great post Tony!
    Jenny recently posted..Wordless Wednesday | Every Door Leads Somewhere…

    • Yeah, names are huge. I’ve been thinking about what I want to name a son/daughter for years. I still don’t know if I’ve actually landed on a name yet. There are a few I like but I guess I’ll know when the time comes.

  11. Tony, I love it! What a great way to see it. I need some time to mull it over but the simplicity of it, though the amazing impact, speaks volumes.

    • I was thinking about that too. Simplicity doesn’t always mean an absence of complexity, sometimes simple is the fullest revelation of a complex concept.

      Or something like that. That may or may not have made any sense. 🙂

  12. Hmm…this is very interesting Tony. I hadn’t looked at it from that angle before but it makes a lot of sense. Makes you wonder if you don’t follow God if you do the opposite of the meaning of your name.
    Jason recently posted..Just because someone says they’re Christian doesn’t mean they’re Christian

  13. I like it…and it’s true…we named both our kids long before they were born.

    Emily Alexandera (after both grandfathers names)and Alexandera means leader…and warrior…(the tested and passed for GT-gifted and talented – age 5.

    and I pick…Caleb Joshua Sanchez for my son…

    i’ve always loved the fact that Caleb and Joshua were the only one that stood up for against the other 10 spies…and the only ones that staked out the promised land…

    so in a sense, yes…i want that destiny for my Son…to stand out and stand on his beliefs…even if the tide is turned the other way…

    There is no greater love of God that to call us HIS son and daughter.

    there is something special about being adpoted into a family…

    it’s like when we sponser a child…we give money to sponser…but to adopt is a whole different incredible event…

    Jesus sponsered us by dieing on the cross for our sins…and saved us…but God the Father didn’t leave it there….he Adopted us into his own Family…

    arny recently posted..White Little Building (Final Chapter)

    • I really like the distinction you make between sponsoring and adopting. There’s a big difference. Both are great but one changes a situation while the other changes a heart.

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