Subject: Names for Jesus
I have been searching for the truth for a long time and the One who Is; I noticed has been being called by the wrong name, "God." I appreciated your article VERY much and was relieved to see that another person has noticed what I have noticed and what has been revealed to me through the Holy Spirit.
Since the Hebrew language does not have a J... is the
name Jesus Christ also false? If so,
what then should we call the Son of the Almighty? What Bible translation do you recommend I read? Should I study Hebrew to learn the accurate
Torah and then later learn Greek to better understand the truth within the New
Testament? What do you suggest?
Please respond Craig.
Thank you for your time. May the
One who is and will always be, bless you mightily.
My dear sister in Jesus, Rhonda~
Please forgive the delayed reply to your precious email; I was deeply touched by what you wrote because of the humble and honest approach to seeking the Father, and His son Jesus. I live each day in severe, intractable, and chronic pain; it is so disabling, that often Dave Maas answers many questions, since we receive numerous questions every week, and we take time to give in-depth answers to each question asked. Dave is a dear brother in Jesus and a scholar in Greek and Hebrew. However, after praying about your questions, I felt the Lord wanted me to personally answer.
In your email Rhonda, you said, “I appreciated your article VERY much…” and it made me wonder if you have read both articles, since I wrote two different ones. You probably didn’t see the other study on the origins of the word ‘God,’ because it is listed under CRAIG’S BIBLE STUDIES menu; it is likely you were only viewing the article I wrote recently (PART TWO) about the association between the words, “Gad,” and, “God.” However, the first article (PART ONE) actually answers many of your questions by providing the names of God in Hebrew and Greek. If you have not read PART ONE the links below are found in the Bible Studies menu:
67. The Origin of the English Word for God
To answer your questions, let me first give you the ‘short’ answer, and then I will follow up with a more in-depth reply following; here is the list of questions you asked:
1. Since the Hebrew language does not have a J... is the name Jesus Christ also false? No
2. If so, what then should we call the Son of the Almighty? Jesus
3. What Bible translation do you recommend I read? For basic reading, I recommend the New American Standard Bible - Updated Edition
4. Should I study Hebrew to learn the accurate Torah and then later learn Greek to better understand the truth within the New Testament? I would reverse the order, study Greek first and then the Hebrew.
5. What do you suggest? It depends on where you’re at right now and upon the level of study you wish to attain. For beginners, do you own a Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, with Dictionaries of Old Testament and New Testament words? Strong’s Concordance is considered the most basic of Bible learning tool Rhonda.
My overall suggestion for you is to reply and let me know how much basic knowledge of the languages you now possess, and what you hope to achieve in your studies. Also, are you computer literate enough to use Bible software programs? If so, please let me know, and we can go from there.
Once I know the level of study you currently have, and what your goal is, I can recommend the best Bible software, or the best books to buy as learning tools. Beginners often waste a LOT of money buying books and software that is beyond their ability, and they get overwhelmed; I hope to prevent this from happening to you.
Regarding the names for God and Jesus, I hope my articles do not make you feel that using the word, “God,” in every day conversation is wrong or sinful. Though its origin can be traced, as I did in my research, you and I still have to function and communicate in every day language, or else we cease becoming, “all things to all men,” as the apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian church.
1 Corinthians 9:19-23 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. To the weak, I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it. NASU
For the record, there is no one “correct” way to pronounce the name of Jesus, otherwise the thousands of dialects and languages spoken throughout the world would cease to exist. In Genesis 11:6-9, God confounded the languages at Babel, and before that time, all people spoke one universal language, which we do not know. For certain, it was not Hebrew or Aramaic, as these dialects emerged afterward.
The point in mentioning this is to illustrate that God, albeit traced to the enunciation of the tribe of Gad, (pronounced, “gawd” like the English, “God”), is still just an English language version, neither right or wrong, true or false in a relational sense. This is very important Rhonda, because all too often Christians are snared into a trap of legalism, whereby they perceive the Hebrew language and its version of God’s name via YHWH as, “sacred,” and ignorantly believe it is the only proper way to pronounce the tetragrammaton (YHWH) as, “Yahweh,” or as, “Ehyeh,” or whatever.
I have studied Hebrew and Greek for the past 30 years, so I feel qualified to speak with some degree of expertise in this area, and if I can prevent you from following the err of so many others, particularly those that get sucked into the trappings of the so-called, ‘messianic Christian,” movement, I will have honored the Father, and His son Jesus. The wise believer follows two fundamental principles when it comes to understanding the scriptural names for God and His son Jesus:
1. God is not concerned with how we pronounce His name, or by whatever language used to call upon Him in truth AND in love (especially love).
2. Distinguish between point #1 (pronunciation) and the MEANING of the original words for God in both Hebrew and Greek, for the PURPOSE of loving Him, His son Jesus, and those called by His name.
Now let me give you a basic example of what I mean, so you can grasp and live it in your relationship with God and His son Jesus. The Romanian word for, “God,” is, “Dumnezeu,” which best translates to mean, “Dominant power or ruler.” To apply the two principles listed above, and determine if it is ‘true’ or if it is ‘false’ we will not be able to do so merely by means of pronunciation. Instead, our focus should be directed at finding the MEANING of the biblical words for God in the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament.
One Hebrew word most common in the Old Testament is Elohim, which defined means, “Strongest of the strong.” Now compare this Hebrew word MEANING to the MEANING of the Romanian word for God, “Dominant power, or ruler.” Aren’t both words saying the same thing Rhonda? The primary criteria involved in our interpretation should be the MEANING of words used, whether for God’s name, His titles, or the name of Jesus.
The reason for my research into the origins of the English word for God were intended to provoke people to reexamine what they believe and commonly take for granted. It isn’t necessarily wrong to say, “God,” but my concern is that this word has become so generic to all faiths, Christian or otherwise, that the intrinsic characteristics of the Almighty Creator are being watered down. A believer that uses the word, ‘God,’ to communicate with Him or to communicate the gospel to others should also have his or her view of Him aligned with the overall meanings found in the scripture.
The reason I cautioned you about getting hung up on enunciation versus meaning was due to the first question you asked about the Hebrew language not having a ‘J’ in relation to the name of Jesus Christ. Again, the meaning of the name of God’s son is what counts, not how we pronounce it. For example, in Swahili, the dominant language of many East Africans, Jesus Christ is spelled, “Kristo Yesu.” If you are familiar with Spanish or Italian, you know that they have a similar pronunciation of these words. But I say that what is most important to you, me and all believers, is the MEANING of the name Jesus Christ, so that we can and do associate its meaning with his inherent nature and role and function in our lives.
First, the word, “Christ,” is not a name, but refers to a title given him by God the Father, (Yahweh), and originates from a Greek root word, “chrío,” meaning, “to smear or rub,” and literally means, “anointed one.” The Greek spelling of Jesus Christ is rendered in Matthew 1:18 as follows, “Toú dé Ieesoú Christoú…” and the English version is, “Now the birth of Jesus Christ…”
If you want to speak transliterated Greek Rhonda, then you will have to pronounce the name of Ieesoús, which sounds like this: ‘ee-ay-sooce.' Now picture yourself trying to share the gospel of, “ee-ay-sooce,” with an unbeliever! Not very pragmatic, and really doesn’t follow biblical logic either, but I make mention to help guide your honest search for truth. Now personally, I don’t really feel bothered if someone prefers to call Jesus by the word, ‘Yeshua,’ or ‘Yehoshua,’ or any one of many versions, as long as they don’t get legalistic and overtly obnoxious about the correct enunciation, because in doing so, they miss the heart of God, and tend to veer away from being an expression of the Father’s love and mercy to others.
Again, what IS important is the MEANING (i.e. – the definition) of the name Jesus, which is actually of Hebrew origin. The name of Jesus is transliterated from Hebrew to English as, ‘Jehoshua,’ or as, ‘Yehoshua,’ and literally defined as meaning, “Yah saves,” or “Yah is salvation,” (depending upon its application in a given scripture context). We know Jesus is not himself Yahweh, but he is Yahweh’s son, and the man thru whom Yahweh provides redemption because of his blood sacrifice as the Lamb of God. Therefore, the name of Jesus, which means, “Yah saves,” reveals him as the one thru whom Yahweh redeems those that believe in his atoning work at Calvary.
Acts 4:10 &12 “… let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead…And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” NASU
Much more could be said, but that is for another time.
Recall to memory what I said earlier Rhonda, about starting your study tools with the purchase of Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, with Dictionaries of Old Testament and New Testament words. James Strong, who authored the book in the 1800’s, devised a numerical system, whereby every word in the entire Bible was given a reference number, which enables the Bible student to readily access cross-reference words and also, to find the definition of the Old Testament Hebrew & Aramaic words, or the New Testament Greek & Aramaic words.
For example, the Hebrew word, ‘Yehoshua,’ (i.e. – Joshua or Jesus), is identified numerically by Strong’s as reference number OT: 3091; using this number, you then go to the Strong’s Old Testament dictionary, locate number OT: 3091, and you will find the basic definition of the Hebrew word’s meaning, which as I said earlier, is literally defined as, “Yah saves,” or “Yah is salvation,” and the Hebrew to English transliterated version of this Hebrew word is spelled, ‘Yehoshua.’ The word can also be spelled two different ways; first as, ‘Yehowshuwa`,’ which is pronounced as sounding like, ‘yeh-ho-shoo'-ah’ or secondly as, ‘Yehowshu`a,’ which is pronounced as sounding like, ‘yeh-ho-shoo'-ah.’
As you study the scriptures in the original languages, you quickly discover that many if not most words are derived from one or more root words, and to accurately ascertain the meaning of any given word in scripture, one must trace the root meaning back to the primary word cognate. Again, Strong’s Concordance is a very helpful tool, because it always mentions root word derivations, so you can refer to them in sequence, working backward to find the primary meaning.
For example, ‘Yehoshua,’ is reference number OT: 3091 and is derived from two different words, indexed here as Strong’s reference numbers OT: 3068 and OT: 3467. Strong’s also notes that Yehoshua is IDENTICAL to the name of the leader of the Israelites named, ‘Jehoshua,’ (i.e. Joshua).
Next, you have to locate the two reference numbers above (OT: 3068 and OT: 3467) and their meanings, or else you will not have a full understanding of the name of Jesus. The Strong’s reference number OT: 3467 is the Hebrew word, yasha` (which is pronounced as sounding like, yaw-shah'); yasha` is a primitive root word and defined as meaning, “to be open, wide or free, i.e. (by implication) to be safe.” Now take these meanings, and add them as yet another component to the name of Jesus; you can see pronunciation means little or nothing compared to the MEANING. In other words, Jesus’ name, which means Yah saves, also indicates the WAY He saves, by making one’s spirit, “open and free,” and feeling, “safe,” from the consequence and power of sin. Pretty cool stuff, eh?
Lastly, and I close with this summary the reference number OT: 1961 hayah (which is pronounced as sounding like, “haw-yaw”), is a primitive root word meaning, “ to exist, i.e. be or become, come to pass.” This word definition adds depth to the name Jesus, because like his Father God, he exists as one that saves and frees those in him, thru his Father’s power, manifested as in the resurrection. The name Jesus is a compound word of ‘Yah’ and ‘Oshea.’ Yah is the shortened version of Yehovah (or Yahweh) and the Strong’s Concordance reference number for this Hebrew name is OT: 3068. Yehovah (pronounced as sounding like, ‘yeh-ho-vaw'’) is defined literally as meaning, ‘(the) self-Existent one.’ The Hebrew word Yehovah or Yahweh is also traced to the Hebrew root word hayah.
So you now have a much clearer idea of what names for God and Jesus mean, and hopefully you will pursue more in-depth understanding by getting familiar with the basic Bible helps and tools that will assist in your search, along with your desire, and God’s desire to reveal more of Himself thru His son Jesus, and those who are a part of his spiritual body.
God bless you Rhonda, and let me know the answers to the earlier questions I asked. Always allow time for replies, as we are inundated with questions daily.
Love in Jesus,
Craig Bluemel - The Bible Answer Stand Ministry (www.bibleanswerstand.org)
1 Peter 3:15 Always be ready to give a logical defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope that is in you, but do it courteously and respectfully.