My Twitter profile begins with “Follower of Yeshua.” Some people may wonder why I use that name, rather than the more commonly used Jesus. After all, the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and said to her:
“And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.” –Luke 1: 31 (ESV)
Some folks are really attached to that name and get all squeamish when other folks prefer to use Yeshua. After all, we’ve sung hymns that tell us “There’s Something About That Name,” “There’s Power In the Name of Jesus,” and “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Sweetest Name I Know.”
Before you start getting upset, please know I’ve sung those songs most of my life, and still do. But what about the other names and titles we use for Jesus? He’s the Prince of Peace. Son of God. In the first chapter of Matthew, as the angel was explaining things to a confused Joseph, he repeated what he’d told Mary, and quoted scripture from Isaiah 7:14 saying,
“Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (ESV)
The Jesus/Yeshua thing took a long time becoming important to me. My first realization was when I found out that the letter J wasn’t used as a separate letter with its own sound until the 1500s. It was just an extended “I” before that. And there was no J in Aramaic or Hebrew or Greek. So the angel didn’t use a name beginning with a J. Mary couldn’t have named him Jesus.
The Geneva Bible was a popular English translation for Protestants before the King James was translated. It was the Bible brought to the new world by the Pilgrims. It used the spelling Iesus, which continues the Latin form of the name.
Even in Spanish, it may be spelled with a J but it is pronounced “Hay soos.” Of course, other languages spell and say it differently anyway. So does that create another problem in our use of the name?
And when we meet someone from another country, do we try to change their name to an Anglicized version to make it easier on ourselves? Sven, Duong, Antonio, Miguel, or Ogechukwu may prefer a nickname, or may not.
The Latin translations of the scriptures came from the Koine Greek texts, which used Iesous for the name. It was a translation of the Aramaic/Hebrew name Yeshua.
That name is a form of the familiar name Joshua. Oops, no J allowed! In Hebrew form, it’s Yehoshua. Both Yeshua and Yehoshua mean God is salvation. We hear this meaning in the angel’s words to Joseph in Matthew 1:21
“She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Yeshua, [which means ‘Adonai saves,’] because he will save his people from their sins.” (CJB)
Often in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) the word salvation is used, and the Hebrew word is a form of the root word in Yeshua.
Psalm 38:22 Come quickly to help me, Adonai, my salvation!
Ok, enough of this wonky stuff. I don’t want your eyes to glaze over. I get excited when I see the puzzle pieces fit together in God’s Word.
What really convinced me was recalling one of the first times I visited my eventual mother-in-law’s home. My husband and I were in the early stages of dating. I was invited to a family gathering, where I was getting to know them, and they were getting to know me.
I noticed his family called him by his proper name, Kenneth. I called him the name by which he had introduced himself to me, Kenny. His friends called him Kenny, Ken, or KR. I asked him later which name he preferred. He said it didn’t matter.
At the next family gathering, his mother pulled me aside and politely said to me, “I named him Kenneth.” That was all she said about it, but I got the message. After that, with his family, I called him Kenneth.
So, I was imagining night approaching, and the evening meal was ready. Miriam looked out the door to call her son home. She didn’t say, “Jesus, time to come in! Supper’s ready!” She would have called him by the name the angel said to call him in Aramaic/Hebrew. Yeshua.
My mother-in-law wanted her son called by his proper name. It didn’t matter to my husband.
When I sign my name to a check, the power is not in the ink I put on the paper. It’s not even in my name. It’s the authority I have to access the resources. Both my husband and I can access the bank account. If we chose to do so, we could add other names to the signature card.
We access all the promises and power of heaven through the authority of the Son of God.
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. –Matthew 28:18 (ESV)
The Complete Jewish Bible uses the name Yeshua. French, Italian, Arabic, Chinese, and other languages use their version of the name. The person and the authority behind the names are the same. The Christ/Messiah. The Anointed One who died and was raised to conquer death. The living Savior of the world. That baby born at Bet Lechem was given a name pronounced by hosts of angels.
I use both Yeshua and the derived Anglicized version, Jesus, interchangeably. But knowing that the first use of His name was Yeshua, and it was repeated among both family and friends, makes it more meaningful to me. We only derive the meaning of Jesus from its original meaning. His name is Salvation.