When God changed a person’s name and gave them a new name, it was usually to establish a new identity. There are lots of names God has changed. Some of them are Abraham, Sarah, and Isaac (Gen. 17:5, 15, 19); Ishmael (Gen. 16:11); Solomon (1 Chron. 22:9) and Solomon's nickname Jedidiah (2 Sam. 12:25); Cyrus (Isa. 44:28; 45:4); John the Baptist (Luke 1:13); Jesus (Matt. 1:21); Peter and the two brothers James and John whom Jesus nicknamed "sons of thunder" (Mark 3:16-17) etc .Each of these name changes spoke primarily to the plans which God had for the individuals. A name was a person’s identity, and an identity was a person’s vocation or calling. But only God can give one his or her life’s calling.
1) Jacobs name changed to Israel.
Genesis 35:10 And God said unto him, Thy name is Jacob: thy name shall not be called any more Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name: and he called his name Israel.
We find Jacob renamed Israel right after he had spent a night wrestling with God. He encountered God, and as a result God changed his name. He was no longer Jacob the deceiver, but Israel, the one who wrestles with God.
2) Abram name changed to Abraham
Genesis 16-17: No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be
Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations." First, God changed Abram's name to Abraham. Abram means "noble father"; Abram was living a narrow, family centered life. "Abraham" means "the father of many nations." God wanted to bless the whole world through Abraham. Abraham was to be, not only the physical father, but also the spiritual father of many nations. Second, in order to make Abraham a source of blessing for the world, God renewed his covenant with him. God wanted to raise a covenant people who would be a source of blessing for all people on earth.
3) Sarai became Sarah
Sarai called herself - worthless, abandoned, ashamed, lonely, failure, fearful, betrayed, ugly, and barren. But now God adds “AH” - it’s His breath. He breaths into her and makes her new. Sarah means Princess. Her identity is changed; she is the daughter of a king. God changed her identity with His spirit, spoke His word into her, and impregnated her with faith and birthed His promise.
4) Saul’s of Tarsus name changed to Paul
In the book of Acts, Luke simply identifies Saul as the one who is also called Paul.
Acts 13:9 "Then Saul, who also is called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him." After Paul met Jesus on the Damascus Road he was a new man with a new heart. The old men with the old beliefs were a thing of the past. Luke continues to call the apostle Saul immediately after his conversion.
5) Simons name changed as peter by Jesus Christ.
John 1:42 And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, "You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas" (which, when translated, is Peter). Peter will be a rock not only by name, but by nature as well. He will be foundational in the church that Jesus is planning build. As Peter he now has a new relationship and a new purpose in his life. Christ entrusted a special authority to Peter to preserve, interpret and teach His truth.