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Bible Dictionaries

The American Church Dictionary and Cycopedia

Name, the Christian

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The name received in Holy Baptism. In former days people in general had only one name, as John, Henry, Mary, etc., and were further known by their occupation or some other distinctive word. But the names of trades, place, etc., thus added on to the Christian name, (i.e., supra or sur nomen) gradually became permanent surnames, so that now every person after infancy and Baptism has two names, viz., a Christian name and a surname. The Christian name we receive at our Christening, that is, Christianing or Baptism or New Birth. It is given, not inherited. It is a new name given to us in our Baptism because we then become something new. It is given in Baptism to indicate a new relationship to God by thus being brought into covenant with Him. We find many examples in the Bible of new names given in connection with a change of spiritual conditions. Thus Abram's name was changed to Abraham when God made His covenant with him, and Jacob's name was changed to Israel when that covenant was renewed with him, which had been made with Abraham. In the same way and for the same reason Christian names have great significance. They are the sign that those who bear them have been brought into covenant with God, that they have been made in their Baptism, "members of Christ, the children of God, and inheritors of the kingdom of heaven." (See BAPTISM, HOLY; also CHRISTIAN.)

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Bibliography Information
Miller, William James. Entry for 'Name, the Christian'. The American Church Dictionary and Cyclopedia. 1901.

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