|Avraham Moshe (Left), Kofi Adomah Nwanwani (Middle) and Rev. Owusu Bempah (Right)|
1. The Bible nowhere commands us to only speak or write His name in Hebrew or Greek. Adonai (“Lord”) or Elohim (“God”) or Yeshua ("Jesus")
2. Scripture does not value one language over another, and it gives no indication that we must resort to Hebrew when addressing the LORD. The command is to “call on the name of the Lord,” with the promise that we “shall be saved” (Acts 2:21; Joel 2:32). Whether we call on Him in English, Korean, Hindi, Twi, Fanti, Ewe, Ga, Polish, Spanish or Hebrew, the result is the same; the Lord (Adonai) is salvation.
Acts 2:21 = And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord (Adonai) shall be saved.’
Joel 2:32 = And it shall come to pass that feveryone who calls on the name of the Lord (Adonai) shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls.
3. Names can and do translate: Changing a name from one language to another does not change the meaning of the name, nor does it change the character or identity of the person. Elizabeth becomes Elixabete, Isabella, Zsoka, or Eliska, depending on the language one speaks. But she remains the same girl.
A man named Stephen can be called Stephanos, Stefan, Estevao, Teppo, or Estebe, depending on where in the world he is. But he is the same person, regardless of what we call him. Similarly, Jesus and Yeshua refer to the same Person—and it’s not Zeus.
Jeremiah - the "Weeping prophet" became "Jeremiasz" in Poland.
In American English, savior is the preferred spelling of the noun referring to a person who rescues another from danger, or Jesus. All other main varieties of English use saviour. When savior or saviour refers to Jesus (Yeshua).We use the name Jesus, an Anglicized transliteration of the Greek, because Greek is the language that Matthew and Mark and Luke and John wrote their Gospels in and because English is the language we speak. The best translation of Iésous into modern English is “Jesus.”
4. Yeshua Hamashiach means “Jesus the Messiah.” The name Jesus is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Yeshua, which is the shortened form of the name Yehoshua. From this Hebrew word we also get the name Joshua (Joshua 5:15) or Hoshea (Numbers 13:8; Deuteronomy 33:44). The name means “salvation” and is found more than often throughout the Old Testament. This is the name from which we get the Greek word Iesous, pronounced “yay-sus,” or as we say it, “Jesus.”
According to Messianic Jewish scholar Dr. Michael Brown, “The original Hebrew-Aramaic name of Jesus is yeshuˈa, which is short for yehōshuˈa (Joshua), just as Mike is short for Michael. The name yeshuˈa occurs 27 times in the Hebrew Scriptures, primarily referring to the high priest after the Babylonian exile, called both yehōshuˈa (see, e.g., Zechariah 3:3) and, more frequently, yeshuˈa (see, e.g., Ezra 3:2). So, Yeshua’s name was not unusual; in fact, as many as five different men had that name in the Old Testament. And this is how that name came to be ‘Jesus’ in English” (Brown, Michael L. “What Is the Original Hebrew Name for Jesus? And Is It True That the Name Jesus Is Really a Pagan Corruption of the Name Zeus?” Ask Dr. Brown. Jan 3, 2013. Web. Dec 27, 2016).
The Hebrew term Mashiach (or Messiah in English; Cristos, or Christ, in Greek) means “anointed one” and referred to a person who was set apart to serve Yahweh. In the Old Testament, God’s mashiachs were anointed with oil to symbolize the presence and authority of the Holy Spirit (Leviticus 4:3; 1 Samuel 12:14; 2 Samuel 19:21). God had promised Israel an ultimate Mashiach, or Messiah, and gave over 300 prophecies about this Anointed One so that they would recognize Him when He came (Isaiah 53:1; Psalm 22:27; 10:1–4; Daniel 9:25; 7:13). Jesus fulfilled every one of them, thus deserving the title Yeshua Hamaschiach for the Jewish people.
However, Jesus came into the world to offer salvation and forgiveness to everyone who calls upon His name (John 3:16–18; Acts 2:21). Surrounding His throne for all eternity will be people from “every nation, tribe, and tongue” (Revelation 7:9). God is not offended by our languages or our differences. Throughout the Bible, Yahweh even identified Himself by different names as He dealt with people in different ways (Exodus 3:14; Isaiah 48:12; Revelation 1:8). Jesus called Himself the “Son of Man” (Matthew 26:24; Luke 22:22), and others called Him “Teacher” (Matthew 8:19) and “Rabbi” (John 1:49). He never corrected anyone’s pronunciation or use of a messianic title, as long as the person came to Him in faith.
So the name we use for the Son of God, when we come to Him in faith, appears to be unimportant to Him. He hears our hearts, anyway, regardless of the words our mouths are speaking (Luke 9:47). In the words of Dr. Brown, “Do not be ashamed to use the name JESUS! That is the proper way to say his name in English—just as Michael is the correct English way to say the Hebrew name mi-kha-el and Moses is the correct English way to say the Hebrew name mo-sheh. Pray in Jesus’ name, worship in Jesus’ name, and witness in Jesus’ name. And for those who want to relate to our Messiah’s Jewishness, then refer to him by His original name Yeshua—not Yahshua and not Yahushua—remembering that the power of the name is not in its pronunciation but in the person to whom it refers, our Lord and Redeemer and King” (ibid.).
Jesus = Yeshua = Christ = MessiahThe name “Jesus” comes from the Greek way of expressing his name: Ἰησοῦς, which is pronounced “Yay-soos”. While we have an English version of the Hebrew name for Gabriel, we seem to have ended up with an English version of the Greek version of the Hebrew name for our Messiah, that doesn’t even sound close anymore. It makes him all the less recognisable to his Jewish brethren. Jesus just sounds so… gentile! But when Jewish people hear his name in Hebrew, quite often the lights go on. Ah! Yeshua! The name Yeshua was known and used in Jewish history – you can find men called Yeshua in the roll calls of teams serving in the temple (1 Chronicles 24:11, 2 Chronicles 31:15, Ezra 2:2,6,36). It’s a version of Joshua, and it means “salvation”. This makes much more sense to Jewish ears.
How Jesus is known and what he is called in IsraelSadly, for many long years among Hebrew-speaking Jewish people, Yeshua has been known as “Yeshu”, which is an acronym for a curse: “yimakh shemo ve zikhro” which means, “May his name and memory be obliterated”. So much suffering and persecution has been inflicted upon Jewish people in the name of Yeshua that his very name has become a stumbling block and offense, and now he is often considered one of the enemies of the Jewish people. This word “Yeshu” is made of three Hebrew letters – Y-Sh-U (ישו), but it is missing the last letter of his name – the “Ah” sound. This last letter is called an “Ayin” (ע), which, rather interestingly, means “eye”. It’s almost as if without the “ayin” they cannot see, but when the “ayin” is added, sight comes to the blind.
In Israel, Yeshua is commonly called Yeshu, but there are some academics who call him Yeshua, and funnily enough, one particularly extremist group who sprayed anti-Messianic graffiti on a church, declaring that Yeshua was a monkey, actually spelled his name correctly! But sadly he is often referred to as Yeshu haNotzri, which means “curses on Jesus-the-Christian”. In Israel, he is usually seen as gentile, Christian, and ‘other’. But Jesus wasn’t a Christian – he wasn’t a Christ follower – he was Christ himself! The Jewish Messiah! Jesus wasn’t a Christian, Mary wasn’t a Catholic, and John wasn’t a Baptist: They were all Jewish! While “Notzri” is the Hebrew word for “Christian”, it actually means one from Nazareth (Natzret in Hebrew). It would be more accurate to say Yeshua me Natzret – Yeshua from Nazareth. It’s close, but worlds away in Israeli perception. Christ is the Greek word for Messiah, so Jesus Christ really means Yeshua the Messiah.
I remember being in a class on the New Testament at university here in Israel which was taught by someone who did not believe in it one iota – it was simply considered an important book which has shaped western civilisation. When students asked about what “Christ” meant (was it his surname?) the professor explained that it was the Greek word for Messiah. To my delight, she wrote on the board (in Hebrew, to a class full of Israeli students):
This is not well understood here in Israel, but slowly, the lights are going on as more and more people understand that Jesus Christ is not a foreign personality of a pagan religion, but Yeshua, salvation, is the Jewish Messiah from Nazareth in Israel, the one prophesied in the Hebrew Bible. “And you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).
What should we call him then?So now to the question, having established his real, Hebrew name, Yeshua – should we cease to call him Jesus?
It is true that his mother and friends called him Yeshua rather than Jesus, but if you know him as Jesus, does he mind that? Is it incorrect to call him Jesus? There are some who would argue till they’re blue in the face that it is critical to call him Yeshua and not Jesus, but Yeshua’s coming was also God’s time to take salvation to the gentiles. I believe that it was no accident that his name was disseminated in the international lingua-franca of the day: Greek. It was to go far and wide, to every nation on earth.
God was now opening up the way to all the peoples of the earth to come to him. If you relate to him by his name Jesus, then don’t let it be a burden to you to change to Yeshua if you don’t feel the need to. He knows his sheep, and his sheep know his voice. His name has gone out to the nations in various versions of the Greek “Yay-soos”, but now, back here in his birth-place, Israel, people are starting to discover Yeshua their Jewish Messiah.
Yeshua will be recognised again by his brothersJust as Joseph was unrecognisable to his brothers dressed in foreign Egyptian garb and speaking a strange language when they came for help, Yeshua has been out among the gentiles, bringing salvation, and now appears to be shrouded in gentile terms and culture. It has become hard for his Jewish brothers and sisters to recognise him as one of the tribe.
Let’s remember what happened to Joseph and his brothers in Genesis 45:1-5:
“…Joseph made himself known to his brothers. And he wept aloud, so that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard it. And Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence. So Joseph said to his brothers, “Come near to me, please.” And they came near. And he said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.”
Joseph was a foreshadowing of the Messiah – sold for 20 silver coins as Yeshua was betrayed for 30, suffering at the hands of, and on behalf of, his brothers, and yet procuring salvation both for his family and a whole lot of other gentiles besides. We know that there will be a time when this revelation will come to the Jewish people en-masse too, as God promises in Zechariah 12:10;
“I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn”.
This has not yet happened, but when it does, there will be a lot of weeping both in horror (what have we done?) but also joy, as there was with Joseph and his brothers. They will embrace their Jewish brother, Yeshua, the promised Messiah. And the joy of reconciliation and familiy reunion will be mutual, for God has profited all those years of rejection for the benefit and salvation
Does the name ‘Jesus’ actually mean ‘Hail, Zeus’?There are several strange and misleading teachings that make their rounds concerning the name of God and of Jesus Christ; one such false doctrine is the idea that the name of Jesus actually means “Hail, Zeus.” Promoters of this bizarre concept claim that anyone who uses the name Jesus is offering praise to a false god and is not saved. They go so far as to say a person must use only the Hebrew name for Jesus, since there is only one name by which we can be saved (Acts 4:12).
First, we will explain the “Jesus-means-hail-Zeus” theory, the best we can. Then we will look at what the truth of the matter from a biblical perspective.
Those who teach that the name Jesus means “Hail, Zeus” usually start with the name of God, YAH (see Isaiah 26:4, NET). From that name of God, they take the Messiah’s name to be YAHSHUA, which they say means “YAH Is Salvation.” They contend that is the name used by the apostles and by the Messiah Himself; however, after the apostles were dead and gone, the Roman Church took over Christianity. In order to make their brand of religion more palatable to the pagans, the Roman leaders changed the name of the Messiah into a Greek/Latin hybrid, Iésous, which (supposedly) means “Hail, Zeus.” Since Zeus (or Jupiter) was the chief god in the Greco-Roman pantheon, the pagans had little trouble accepting this new demigod. By changing the Savior’s name, Christianity had been effectively stripped of its Hebrew roots, and the melding with paganism was a success. The Greeks’ savior could still be Zeus. In time, the word Iésous was further corrupted into Jesus in English.
As “proof” for their conspiracy theory that Jesus means “Hail, Zeus,” advocates point to the fact that the second syllable of Jesus (-sus) sounds similar to the name of the chief Greek god. Especially when Jesus is pronounced in Spanish, it becomes “evident” that people are “actually” saying “Hey, Zeus.” Added to these “proofs” is the fact that ancient sculptures of Zeus show him with a beard—just like modern-day pictures of Jesus!
What can we say to such far-fetched nonsense? First, not everyone who has a beard is trying to take the place of Jesus. Second, just because a certain word or word part sounds like another word is no proof of commonality. Basing theories of word origin on pronunciation is preposterous. Humorous sounds exactly like humerus, but there’s nothing particularly funny about the bone that goes from the shoulder to the elbow. Third, the Messiah’s Hebrew name is Yeshua, not Yahshua—the latter being a fabrication in order to make the name sound more like YAH.
Fourth, the Hebrew name Yeshua translates into Greek as Iésous. This is the name that the angel Gabriel commanded Joseph to name Mary’s child: “You are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). The name Jesus is a simply a Greek form of Joshua, a common name among Jews. The same verse also alludes to the meaning of the name: the Lord was to be named Jesus because “he will save his people from their sins.” The name Jesus means “The Lord Saves” or “The Lord Is Salvation.” Whether you spell it Jesus or Jesu or Joshua or Yeshua, the meaning stays the same, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with Zeus.
Names can and do translate. Changing a name from one language to another does not change the meaning of the name, nor does it change the character or identity of the person. Elizabeth becomes Elixabete, Isabella, Zsoka, or Eliska, depending on the language. But she remains the same girl. A man named Stephen can be called Stephanos, Stefan, Estevao, Teppo, or Estebe, depending on where in the world he is. But he is the same person, regardless of what we call him. Similarly, Jesus and Yeshua refer to the same Person—and it’s not Zeus.
We use the name Jesus, an Anglicized transliteration of the Greek, because Greek is the language that Matthew and Mark and Luke and John wrote their Gospels in and because English is the language we speak. The best translation of Iésous into modern English is “Jesus.”
Part of Timothy’s work as a pastor was to “command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer or to devote themselves to myths” (1 Timothy 1:3–4). Paul was concerned that “such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith” (verse 4). Conspiracy theories and myths regarding the etymology of Jesus’ name are distractions from the true work of God. We should not pay any heed to claims that the name Jesus means anything but what Scripture says it means: “The Lord Saves.”
Watch Rev. Owusu Bempah and Kofi Adomah Nwanwani:
Source: GhanaSky.com - The sky is our limit