A New Name: John 1:35-51

Focus Passage: John 1:35-51 (CEV)

35 The next day, John was there again, and two of his followers were with him. 36 When he saw Jesus walking by, he said, “Here is the Lamb of God!” 37 John’s two followers heard him, and they went with Jesus.

38 When Jesus turned and saw them, he asked, “What do you want?”

They answered, “Rabbi, where do you live?” The Hebrew word “Rabbi” means “Teacher.”

39 Jesus replied, “Come and see!” It was already about four o’clock in the afternoon when they went with him and saw where he lived. So they stayed on for the rest of the day.

40 One of the two men who had heard John and had gone with Jesus was Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter. 41 The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother and tell him, “We have found the Messiah!” The Hebrew word “Messiah” means the same as the Greek word “Christ.”

42 Andrew brought his brother to Jesus. And when Jesus saw him, he said, “Simon son of John, you will be called Cephas.” This name can be translated as “Peter.”

43-44 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. There he met Philip, who was from Bethsaida, the hometown of Andrew and Peter. Jesus said to Philip, “Come with me.”

45 Philip then found Nathanael and said, “We have found the one that Moses and the Prophets wrote about. He is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth.”

46 Nathanael asked, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”

Philip answered, “Come and see.”

47 When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said, “Here is a true descendant of our ancestor Israel. And he isn’t deceitful.”

48 “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked.

Jesus answered, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.”

49 Nathanael said, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God and the King of Israel!”

50 Jesus answered, “Did you believe me just because I said that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see something even greater. 51 I tell you for certain that you will see heaven open and God’s angels going up and coming down on the Son of Man.”

Read John 1:35-51 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

One of the most intriguing things Jesus did in His ministry was giving one of His disciples a new name – and it seems as though Simon, son of John, was the only disciple Jesus “renamed” – though we might simply say Jesus gave him a nickname. This disciple is more famously known as the name Jesus gave him, Peter, and many times both names are used together to form “Simon Peter”.

Not only is giving Simon a new name an interesting thing to do, Jesus does this almost immediately after meeting him. Verse 42 of our passage describes this: “Andrew brought his brother to Jesus. And when Jesus saw him, he said, ‘Simon son of John, you will be called Cephas.’ This name can be translated as ‘Peter.’

Simon Peter was one of Jesus’ first disciples, and while there would be another disciple named Simon in the core group of twelve, this other Simon almost certainly would not have been a follower of Jesus at that time.

So why might Jesus give Simon Peter the new name – immediately after meeting Him?

In my mind, this is because Jesus saw the potential in this Simon, and the name Cephas (i.e. Peter) was a much better name for him knowing what he would become in the future.

While Simon Peter was the only disciples we know of that Jesus gave a new name to, we can take this detail of this event and apply it to our own lives.

Jesus does not see us simply where we are today; He sees us through the eyes of what we will become in the future. If our current name doesn’t fit us, He will give us a new name when He returns – and the name He gives us will fit us perfectly!

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus "Reflective Bible Study" package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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