Bible Study

What’s in a name?

What is in a name? I would say a lot. A name is most often thoughtfully given to a child. During his/her life a person will add characteristics to his/her own name. At funerals family and friends will speak about the beautiful and different sides of someone’s character.

In the Netherlands we tend to give children the names of our parents or grandparents. Most Dutch have two Christian names and a first name. In the Catholic south most of the children have a third name which is the same for boys of girls: Maria. In earlier generation when a child would die during childbirth or soon after, the next child could have the same name as his or her dead sibling. Sometimes parents ran out of names and named their children the likewise, easy Jan 1 and Jan 2. In the Netherlands the most common names for boys are Jan and Piet and for girls Ans and Maria. The use of last names was already common in the 17th century. People were named after their father, the place they lived, or their occupation. During the French occupation at the beginning of the 19th century (1811) everybody had to have a last name to make administration more efficient and useable for taxes. I found out through Wikipedia that my maiden name is the most commonly know last name in the Netherlands.

My husband and I named our children after family members as well. It immediately gives a child a kind of bond; they belong to a family. Our oldest daughter is named after my mom and her best friend who took care of my mom when she was sick. Our middle daughter is named after my sister and aunt, but also after her grandmothers from both sides. Our youngest is named after her grandfathers. The family tree of my husband’s family even goes back to 1570 and his family always lived in the region of Eindhoven.

In Children’s Church the children will learn about the family tree of Jesus. To start off we asked them to fill in their own family tree: names of parents, grandparents and great grandparents. We will focus on the names in the Bible: often a person’s name identified them and stood for something specific. This is especially true of God. Each of the many names of God reveals a different aspect of His many-faceted character. I love to dwell in His names, to find refuge and strength, and to know that He is everlasting. His first name is I AM.


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