39 Great Biblical Examples of Nicknames in the Bible

Names are important in the Bible. They identify people and remind us of the stories that took place in their lives. Knowing the names of different Biblical characters can help us to remember their story, and it can help us teach others what the Holy Bible says. It can be hard to remember everyone in the Bible’s names, so in this article, we will be looking at nicknames in the Bible.

We will look at examples where a person was called something other than their name. This can happen in a few different ways. On multiple occasions, God changes someone’s name, and in other moments, the Bible describes God by using a different name. Furthermore, we will also be going over some Biblical names and their nicknames, even if they aren’t in the Bible. 

For the first portion, we’ll look at people who received nicknames in the Bible. 

Many people in the Bible Received Nicknames

Many times throughout scripture, Jesus and God changed people’s names. He met them and gave them a new name. The name change marked an identity shift in each person’s life because a person’s name was important and personal to them. 

When someone’s given name was changed, it didn’t just mark a new name; it marked a new identity. The original given name was no longer important, but instead, God called them to go by different names. The word of God reveals many of these situations throughout the Old Testament and the New Testament. 

In the Old Testament, both situations happened to people who were patriarchs of the Israelite nation, and in the New Testament, all name changes happened to apostles. 

Abram’s Name was changed to Abraham 

Abraham is one of the most important figures in scripture. He was the man God promised to make the father of a multitude of nations, and He is where the Israelites come from. 

Here are the important parts of Abram’s story: Abram couldn’t have kids, and in ancient times kids were extremely important. They were who you would pass your inheritance to. Abram walked closely with the Lord, so God promised to give him a family and a great land as an inheritance. 

The moment that God made this promise to Abram, He also changed Abram’s name. 

God spoke in Genesis 17:5 and said, “No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations.”

The reason that Abram’s name was changed was because he entered into a covenant with God. A covenant is like a promise and is a significant event. God was changing Abram’s life, and giving him a new life as Abraham. 

Jacob Became Israel 

Another example of a name change in the Old Testament is in the story of Jacob. Jacob was Abraham’s grandson. Abraham had Isaac, and Isaac had Jacob and Esau. 

Jacob had scammed his brother out of his birthright and blessing as the firstborn son. Esau was older, but Jacob tricked him into giving up his inheritance and blessing. 

Esau was furious, and Jacob ran away in fear. While in exile, Jacob got married a couple of times, and he worked hard for many years. Eventually, God called Jacob to his family’s land, and Jacob went. 

On Jacob’s journey, a man appeared to him in a cave, and he wrestled. The word of God reveals that the man Jacob was wrestling with was God. After fighting for a while, this conversation ensues… 

“The man asked him, “What is your name?”

“Jacob,” he answered.

Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” Genesis 32:27-28

God changed Jacob’s name to Israel because He wrestled with God and humans and overcame them. 

The reason this name change is important is that Jacob had lived his entire life scheming to take from others. He fought with people, and he did not have a good reputation. God is making a change in Jacob’s identity. Jacob is going from a schemer and scammer to someone who walks closely with God. 

James and John were Nicknamed the Sons of Thunder 

In a more light-hearted example, Jesus nicknamed James and John the “son of thunder.” James and John were two of Jesus’ closest friends. They were a part of his closest group: the 12 disciples. 

They traveled with Jesus and learned from his ministry. The 12 disciples were set apart for special training, and they were to be taught how to heal people and cast out demons. 

Jesus’ interaction with these men is revealed in Mark 3:17. “James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means ‘sons of thunder’),”

Scripture does not elaborate on why they received this name, or if this name had a specific meaning. However, I think Sons of thunder is an awesome nickname. For the son of God to call you the “sons of thunder,” must have been an honor. 

Simon was Re-named Peter 

James and John were not the only disciples to receive nicknames. Simon Peter also received a name change. In Matthew 16:16-18 Peter has an interaction with Jesus, and Jesus changes Peter’s name to “Peter, the Rock.”

Here is what happened: “Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock, I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.”

Rocks are sturdy and strong, so Jesus was declaring that Peter was durable in building the Church. Jesus was probably inspired by Peter’s insight, so he changed Peter’s name. 

Peter showed insight and boldness. Not everyone at the time believed that Jesus was the son of God, so making this declaration was a bold move. Peter spoke up and was confident that Jesus was the Son of God. 

Simon Peter did become the Apostle Peter, who helped build the church in the book of Acts. The things that Jesus spoke did come true, and Peter’s name change signaled a new movement in Peter’s life. 

Although Simon Peter was called to ministry with Jesus earlier, he was now being called to a life of servitude to the early Church. The church is called the bride of Christ, and Peter’s responsibility is to care for her. 

Saul became Paul

After Jesus ascended to Heaven, there was a war between the Israelite leaders and the early church. The Israelite’s leaders, the Pharisees, wanted to suppress the Christians through violence. They sought to kill anyone who followed Jesus because they believed He was a false teacher.

One member of this group, Saul, experienced an identity change when He had an interaction with Jesus. Saul was on his way to arrest and kill Christians in Damascus, but God intervened. 

Jesus appeared to Saul on the road, asking Saul why Saul was persecuting Him. Paul was struck with blindness and repented of his violence towards Christians. 

From this moment on, Saul was usually referred to as Paul. Scholars believe that Saul was called Paul all along, but specifically in scripture, Paul’s name shifts after this moment. There are a few instances where Paul is still referred to as Saul, but it is uncommon. 

This identity change highlights the shift that happened in Paul’s life. He went from being a prosecutor to an Apostle and joined the early church. 

God has a few different names 

Not only does God rename people, but there are a few examples of God having different names in the Bible too. Although Yahweh, is usually the name attributed to God, God also receives various nicknames throughout the Bible.

God’s names are important. The different names reveal God’s character and help people to understand who He is on a deeper level. 

Here are some examples of the names of God in the Bible:

  • Abba – Father 
  • Adonai – Lord Master
  • Alpha and Omega – the Beginning and End 
  • Attiyq Youm – The Ancient of Days 
  • El Chay – The Living God
  • Jehovah – The Self- existent one
  • El Chuwl – The God Who Gave You Birth 
  • Elohim – The Creator 
  • El Deah – The God of Knowledge 
  • Jireh – God our Provider 
  • Rohi – Shepherd 
  • Shalom – Peace
  • Sabbaoth – The Lord of Hosts
  • Logos – the Word 
  • Wonderful counselor
  • Everlasting Father

There are even more names for God in scripture that are worth studying. God’s names are important because the different names reveal different aspects of his character and heart towards people.

The Names of Jesus 

Not only did God have nicknames, but the son of God did too. Jesus is the Son of God and is co-equal with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Just like God, Jesus’ names are important, because they reveal to us essential aspects of his character. 

Here are a few of the names of Jesus in Scripture:

  • The Bread of Life
  • Prince of Peace
  • Lord Jesus Christ
  • Son of the Living God
  • Good Shepherd
  • Lamb of God
  • Savior
  • Redeemer
  • Only Begotten Son
  • Beloved Son 
  • The Head of the Church 
  • High Priest 
  • Master 
  • King of the Jesus Immanuel
  • Advocate 
  • Mediator 
  • Judge
  • The Word 

There are only a few examples of Jesus’ name in scripture. There are even more that you can read about

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