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The New Name

by W. John Walsh

In connection with the Endowment ordinance, Latter-day Saints receive a new name.  Elder Charles C. Rich noted: 

"Joseph [Smith] tells us that this new name is a key-word, which can only be obtained through the endowments." (1)

The concept of getting a new name is symbolic of many things including "a new identity, ...a new life, a new beginning. It's a refreshing of things..." (2) It can mean that you have been "extended a special call, marked by the reception of [the] new name, which in Jewish tradition 'denoted the conferring of a special divine mission.'" (3) The following references may help the reader see other important symbolic meanings:

"And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD shall name.  Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God." (Isaiah 62:2-3)

"He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth [it]." (Revelation 2:17)

"Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, [which is] new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and [I will write upon him] my new name." (Revelation 3:12)

"Then the white stone mentioned in Revelation 2:17, will become a Urim and Thummim to each individual who receives one, whereby things pertaining to a higher order of kingdoms will be made known; And a white stone is given to each of those who come into the celestial kingdom, whereon is a new name written, which no man knoweth save he that receiveth it. The new name is the key word." (D&C 130:11)

"And these are they who are adopted into the family of God. They become the sons and daughters of him whose we are. They are born again. They take upon themselves a new name, the name of their new Father, the name of Christ. Those who believe in him have power to become his sons and his daughters. Truly the peacemakers shall be called the children of God!" (Bruce R. McConkie, The Mortal Messiah, Vol.2, p.124)

"Men cannot be saved unless they take upon themselves the name of Christ. The saints are adopted into his family; they become his sons and his daughters; they are born again; they have a new Father; and they bear the name of their Father, who is Christ. "Take upon you the name of Christ," King Benjamin said to his people, "And it shall come to pass that whosoever doeth this shall be found at the right hand of God, for he shall know the name by which he is called; for he shall be called by the name of Christ." And those who honor their new name and retain membership in their new family shall dwell with their Father in the heavenly home he has prepared for all those who bear his name. They shall be called by the name of Christ here and now and shall continue to bear that sacred name in eternity. And if all individuals who are baptized into his Church, and are thus born again, if they all bear the name of Christ, then the Church is the family of Christ, or in other words it is the Church of Christ." (Bruce R. McConkie, The Mortal Messiah, Vol.4, p.378)

"As with all glorified beings, our Lord has a new name in celestial exaltation, a name known to and comprehended by those only who know God in the sense that they have become as he is and have eternal life. See Rev. 2:12-17. Thus, Christ's "new name" shall be written upon all those who are joint-heirs with him (Rev. 3:12), and shall signify that they have become even as he is and he is even as the Father. (3 Ne. 28:10.)" (Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, Vol.3, p.568)

"Those who were converted to the gospel were given a new name, Anti-Nephi-Lehies, 'and were no more called Lamanites.'" (William E. Berrett, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, p.174)

"In the text of the Old Testament Yahweh is described as the Redeemer of Israel. A redeemer in Israelite society was a close family member who was responsible to help his enslaved kinsmen by buying them out of bondage. A comparable family relationship is created between the Lord and individuals by the making of covenants and the giving of a new name. The adoptive covenant becomes the basis for the Lord's acts of redemption." (Journal of Book of Mormon Studies: The Lord Will Redeem His People: Adoptive Covenant and Redemption in the Old Testament and Book of Mormon, p.39)

"A new name shows a new status or the establishment of a new re lationship. This new relationship may express the dependence of the person who receives a new name, but at the same time re naming may also indicate a type of adoption." (Journal of Book of Mormon Studies: The Lord Will Redeem His People: Adoptive Covenant and Redemption in the Old Testament and Book of Mormon, p.42)

"The connection between redemption, covenant, and name-giving can be seen in the experiences of Abraham, Jacob, and the house of Israel. In Genesis 17:1-8 we can see that Abraham's experience specifically contains two central elements to the covenant-redemption relationship: renaming and adoption. As part of the covenant, Abram is called by a new name, Abraham ("father of a multitude"), denoting a change in nature and character. In addition to receiving a new name there is a specific promise of adoption. Yahweh says, "I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed . . . to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee" (Genesis 17:7). This adoption establishes a sense of possession, a familial relation which allows Yahweh to act as a go'el and redeem, or buy back, his people from slavery. It is also interesting to note that even though the concept of redemption is not specifically mentioned in this passage, it may have been understood as can be seen by Isaiah's statement, which referred to God as the redeemer of Abraham: "Therefore thus saith the LORD, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob" (Isaiah 29:22)." (Journal of Book of Mormon Studies: The Lord Will Redeem His People: Adoptive Covenant and Redemption in the Old Testament and Book of Mormon, p.43)

"The Old Testament view of Yahweh as the go'el of Israel can be seen in the Book of Mormon, where the Lord's acts of redemption are connected to covenants that establish an adoptive relationship with a person or people; when they enter into this covenantal relationship and receive a new name, he becomes their go'el and is able to redeem them." (Journal of Book of Mormon Studies: The Lord Will Redeem His People: Adoptive Covenant and Redemption in the Old Testament and Book of Mormon, p.44)

"This practice connects the idea of renaming as a change of nature with the idea of renaming as adoption, because a new name was also an indication of adoption in the ancient Near East." (Journal of Book of Mormon Studies: The Lord Will Redeem His People: Adoptive Covenant and Redemption in the Old Testament and Book of Mormon, p.47)

"Then you have to go on to give the people the name. It's very important on this occasion to have a new name because he says later on, "This day has he spiritually begotten you." This is the genethlia, the natale, the day of birth. Not only nature is born anew, but all things are born anew. That's why sometimes it's held in the spring equinox. (I can talk faster than this, and I may have to because we have to cover a lot of ground. Be sure you get everything down. No, watch your Book of Mormon very closely here.) In Mosiah 1 he is going to give them a new name and a new identity. See, every time you get a new life or a new advancement, a new step or initiation, you get a new identity, a new persona. When a person is born he gets christened. He is not christened until he joins the church. This is the theory in the Christian world. With us it used to be always on the eighth day, circumcision, etc. You have a new name, and when you get married you get another new name. If you get any office, you also get another new name. Then at your funeral you get another identity, etc. They go through the same ritual every time. And, of course, when you reach maturity there's a very important thing— the rites of initiation that come with maturity. In the Christian churches it's when you are confirmed, around the age of fifteen. In all primitive tribes and [other societies] when a person becomes mature—reaches manhood or womanhood—there is that rite. Then they get a new name; they are identified with another group entirely. Boys are no longer with the women, etc. They now belong to a man's phratry. These are the rites of puberty. So each time you get a new name, a new identity, a new appearance, new marks, and a new title or degree. (Hugh Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Semester 1, p.448-9)

"Everyone who signed agreed to keep the covenants. "You are this day reborn." Remember, he gave them a new name. It was their birthday, it was the beginning of a new age. Everything began anew on that day. Everything was renewed." (Hugh Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Semester 2, p.11)


1.  Journal of Discourses, Vol.19, p.250 - p.251

2.  Hugh Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Semester 1, p.480

3.  Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol.3, Peter



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