2024-07-10
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Some people say that Christ shouldn’t be referred to as “Jesus.” Instead, we should use the name “Yeshua.” Some go as far as to say that calling Him “Jesus” is offensive, while others go into detail about the name “Jesus” being unbiblical because the letter “J” is a modern innovation, and there’s no letter “J” in Hebrew or Greek.

What was Jesus’ real name?

“Yeshua” is the Hebrew name, and in English, it’s spelled “Joshua.” “Iesous” is the Greek rendering of the Hebrew name, and its English spelling is “Jesus.” Therefore, the names “Jesus” and “Joshua” are essentially the same, as both are English pronunciations of the Greek and Hebrew names for Christ. For an example of how the two names are interchangeable, see Hebrews 4:8 and Acts 7:45. Changing the language of a word doesn’t affect its meaning. In English, we call a covered and bound set of pages a “book.” In German, it’s a “buch,” and in Spanish, it’s a “libro.” The language changes, but the object itself doesn’t. In the same way, we call Jesus “Jesus,” “Yeshua,” or “YehSou” without changing His nature. In any language, His name translates to “The Lord is Salvation.”

Regarding the controversy over the letter “J,” it’s much ado about nothing. The languages in which the Bible was written indeed didn’t have the letter “J.” However, that doesn’t mean the Bible never refers to “Jerusalem” or “Judah.” It also doesn’t mean we can’t use the spelling “Jesus.” If someone reads and speaks English, it’s acceptable for them to spell things in English. Spellings can change even within a language. For example, the British write “Saviour” while Americans write “Savior.” The addition or subtraction of a “u” has nothing to do with whom we’re talking about. Jesus is the Savior and the Saviour. “Jesus,” “Iesus,” and “Yeshuah” are all referring to the same Person.

The Bible doesn’t command us only to write or say His name in Greek or Hebrew. It never even hints at the idea. Instead, when the message of the Gospel was being shared on the Day of Pentecost, the apostles spoke in the languages of the Medes, Parthians, and Elamites, as detailed in Acts 2:9-10. In the Holy Spirit’s power, Jesus was made known to every language in a way they could readily understand, so spelling didn’t matter. We call Him “Jesus” because, as English speakers, we know of Him through English translations of the Greek New Testament. The Bible doesn’t value one language over another, and it doesn’t indicate that we should resort to Hebrew when addressing Jesus. The command is to call on His name with the promise that we’ll be saved, as detailed in Acts 2:21. Whether we call on Him in Korean, English, Korean, or Hebrew, the result is the same: He is salvation.

What does the name Jesus mean?

If a name is ever packed with significance, it’s the name Jesus. The Bible says Jesus was given the name above all names, so in the name of Jesus, every knee will bow in heaven, on earth, and under the earth, as detailed in Philippians 2:9-10, so why is His name so powerful? What does the name Jesus mean? The name Jesus, announced to Mary and Joseph through the angels, as detailed in Matthew 1:21 and Luke 1:3, means “Yahweh is salvation” or “Yahweh saves.” Transcribed from Aramaic and Hebrew, the name is “Yeshua.” It’s a combination of “Ya,” an abbreviation for “Yahweh,” the name of Israel’s God, as detailed in Exodus 3:14, and the verb “yasha,” which means save, deliver, or rescue.

The English spelling of “Yeshua” is “Joshua,” but when translated from Hebrew to Koine Greek, the initial language of the New Testament, the name “Yeshua” becomes “Iesous.” In English, “Iesous” translates to “Jesus.” Therefore, “Yeshua” and, correspondingly, “Joshua” and “Jesus” mean “the Lord is salvation” or “Yahweh saves.” The name “Jesus” was popular in first-century Judea. For this reason, Jesus is often called “Jesus of Nazareth,” separating Him by His childhood home, the town of Nazareth in Galilee, as detailed in Matthew 21:11 and Luke 18:37. Despite its commonness, the name “Jesus” is extremely significant. God sent Him for a specific purpose, and His name bears witness to that mission. Just as Joshua/Yeshua in the Old Testament led his people to triumph over the Canaanites, Jesus/Yeshua in the New Testament led His people to victory over their spiritual enemies and sin.

Galatians 4:4-5 says when the time was right, God sent His Son to redeem those under the law so that we might receive adoption to sonship. John 3:17 also reminds us that God sent Jesus to save us. The meaning of Jesus’ name, “Yahweh save,” shares His mission to deliver and save and His identity as the Savior of the world. Simultaneously, the commonness of Jesus’ name highlights His humility and humanity. The Son of God emptied Himself of His glory to become a humble man. The “Lexham Survey of Theology” articulately captures the dual significance of the name “Jesus.” The name of Jesus is essential because of its meaning and whom it represents. There’s authority and power in the person of Christ, and, of course, the person is designated by the name. More so than with other names, we link the name Jesus with His quality, distinctive character, and work, as seen in several biblical truths.

Salvation is in Jesus’ name alone, as detailed in Acts 4:11-12. Believers were baptized in Jesus’ name, and miracles and healing were performed in Jesus’ name. He also taught believers to pray in His name. Jesus lives up to His name in every way. His name reminds us of the presence, power, and purpose in the risen Christ, assuring us that God intends to save us. Jesus brought God to humanity and brought humans to God through the salvation He bought. In the Bible, when people acted or spoke in Jesus’ name, they did so as the Lord’s representatives with His authority. The life of a believer is to be lived in Jesus’ name, as detailed in Colossians 3:17 and bring glory to God by doing so.

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