I hear "arguments" about Christianity sometimes which make me wonder about the condition of the man's mind. It is increasingly apparent that people hear what someone says is "knowledge" and they just run with it. Forget about researching these new found "truths", they don't even seem to apply simple logic to evaluate such claims.
One example is the whole debate about whether Jesus is REALLY the name of the Son of God when the letter "J" didn't exist until hundreds of years later. I am left shaking my head in astonishment at such statements. I would not even spend time addressing such assertions but for the fact that they seem to be becoming much more popular.
These claims demonstrate a lack of understanding in three areas:
- The Process of Language Translation
- The origins of New Testament Scripture
- The authority of God
"Jesus" is NOT a Translation
It is no big secret that there have historically been different languages used by peoples of the world, and even different dialects for those languages. Further, languages change over time as societies and cultures develop.
These languages use varying sets of written symbols (letters) to represent the sounds of speech native to those cultures. Therefore, even the alphabets often differ from language to language. Neither is there a 1:1 correlation between the world languages and their writing systems.
The Hebrew alphabet developed from the Phoneician/Aramaic languages back in the 11th century BC. The Greek language came from the Canaanite/Phenocian languages around 750 BC. The English alphabet originated out of the Germainic languages around the 8th century AD. Long story short, the letter "J" didn't exist during Jesus' time but neither did the English language itself.
Is that evidence of some great conspiracy to hide the true name of the Son of God? Although some say this is the case, those who hold to such claims are either misled or attempting to mislead. How could the Gospel be preached around the world if the message itself were not made available to all of the people of the world in languages they could understand?
In Hebrew, the Son of God's name is often accepted to be Yehoshua or its shortened version Yeshua. The name "Jesus" is a reference to the Hebrew name Yeshua.
Some will say, "Why would Yeshua's name need to be translated?" The answer is that it was not. There is a difference between translation and transliteration.
Translation - take the meaning of a word from one language and re-express it in the word of another language. For example, the Greek word "oikos" when translated into English becomes the word "house".
Translitertation - express the letters/words from one alphabet into the corresponding letters of another alphabet so as to maintain the sound of the original. When you transliterate the Greek word "apostolos" into English, the resulting word is "apostles".
The New Testament was written in Greek, which was the prevailing global language of commerce for the day, as English is now.
When written down using the letters of the Greek alphabet, the Hebrew name Yeshua becomes "Iesous". Iesous, when transliterated into English (written with the English alphabet) is the name "Jesus".
Again, this is not a "different" word in substance. It is converting the letters of one language into the letters of another language. If one writes down a word without using letters from a language the reader knows, they will not understand how to read the word let alone how to pronounce it!
Such is not a conspiracy, but a logical practice that facilitates basic communication and is still done today! For example, this is Obama's name transliterated (written in Chinese characters): 奥巴马.
Copy those Chinese letters and paste it into Google. You will pull up a TON of articles about Obama, but written in Chinese. They transliterate Obama's name into Chinese so that the information can be read and understood by those who read Chinese. That does not change Obama's name. 奥巴马 is STILL Obama's name. Just written in Chinese instead of English.
This is Obama's name in Russian: Обама
in Arabic: أوباما
in Hindu: ओबामा
in Japanese: 小浜
in Korean: 오바마
Again, it is only common sense to use letters that people know and understand when communicating in written form. Otherwise, the words would appear to be gibberish for those unfamiliar with that language.
God, the First Transliterator of Jesus' Name
Please consider this.
The name for the Son of God in the original New Testament Scriptures (God's inspired word) IS the Greek word Iesous!
If it is so critical to God that His Son's name ONLY be represented in Hebrew, then why did He allow these Scriptures to be recorded originally in Greek? Why did He not represent His Son's written name in Hebrew, even if the rest of the text was documented in Greek?
Was Jesus a Hebrew? Yes.
Was He given a Hebrew name? Yes.
Yet and still, when the God of Glory chose to document the words of His Son and the Scriptures relevant to the new covenant, He "inspired" the men to write that name as "Iesous".
Some even claim that the name "Jesus" came from the Greek word for Zeus so that people who call upon this name are actually worshiping a false god. This is absurd and just plain false. The etymology of the word Iesous has nothing to do Zeus. They are completely different words. More importantly, why would God Himself allow His Son's name to be that of a false god?
When people want to talk about "corrupt" translations/transliterations of Jesus' name, they need to first point their finger at God. This is not the act of some conspiracy by man to hide God's identity or the result of some errant monk. God HIMSELF inspired the Scriptures to be documented in Greek and at the same time allowed the representation of His Son's Hebrew name in Greek as Iesous. The New Testament would be used to bring in the Gentiles and as such, God used the global language of the day in order to reach them.
Why would God allow this name to be documented in that manner if the salvation and power associated with that "name" was dependent upon a specific rendering of Hebrew letters?
The Real Authority of God
The fact that God inspired the transliteration of His Son's name when the Scriptures were originally penned PROVES that the power of God's Son is NOT limited to a Hebrew rendering of His name.
Otherwise, God inspired His Son's name as recorded in the Scriptures to be documented erroneously.
Many in the "scared name movement" contend that unless you use the Hebrew name for God's Son, you cannot be saved and are worshiping a false god. To support this, they will often point to Acts 4:12:
"Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." Acts 4:12
Yet not only is this a false accusation, it shows a lack of understanding about the authority of God. First, let's talk a little bit about the name of God's Son.
The Scriptures say:
"And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call HIS NAME JESUS [Iesous]: for he shall save his people from their sins." Matthew 1:21
"Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call HIS NAME EMMANUEL [Emmanouēl], which being interpreted is, God with us." Matthew 1:23
"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and HIS NAME shall be called Wonderful [pele'], Counsellor [ya`ats], The mighty God [gibbowr 'el], The everlasting Father [`ad 'ab], The Prince of Peace [sar shalowm]." Isaiah 9:6
If we are going to be a stickler for God accepting only one name for His Son, then which one should we use?
Further, there is disagreement even among Hebrew scholars regarding what the ACTUAL pronunciation of Jesus' name in Hebrew would be. (Yahushua, Yehoshua, Yashua, Yeshu, etc.).
What these individuals fail to understand is that "coming in" or "calling upon" the name of Jesus is about belonging to Him and not an exercise in linguistic gymnastics. You impart your name (identity) to those who belong to you, i.e. those in your family.
The word "name" in Acts 4:12 is the Greek word onoma which means, "the name is used for everything which the name covers, everything the thought or feeling of which is aroused in the mind by mentioning, hearing, remembering, the name, i.e. for one's rank, authority, interests, pleasure, command, excellences, deeds...". The word "name" is representative of the personhood of Jesus Christ, not a specific arrangement of alphabet letters. It references all who Jesus is including His authority, His will, and His divine nature.
If connecting to Jesus was just about using the letters from the Hebrew alef bet, then why did the following happen?
"Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded." Acts 19:13-16
These Jews would certainly have used the Hebrew name when calling on Jesus. Yet, the use of this name was not recognized by these demon spirits. These men had no power over demons, even when using the Hebrew name of God's Son. It is not because there was something lacking in His Hebrew name. It is because that is not how the power of God is bestowed.
Psalms 138:2 says, "I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name."
As high as the name of God is exalted, He exalts His word even higher than that. And yes, that includes the New Testament "word" that was inspired by Him to be written in Greek.
"Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever." I Peter 1:23
Those who are born again through faith in the Son of God as revealed in His word are made agents of God's authority by virtue of their place in Him.
"For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch." Mark 13:34
This is the name (authority) under which man are to operate. Walking in submission to the Living God so that it is Jesus Christ Himself who lives within us and works through us.
People will make an idol out of anything. They get hold of one thing (whether true or not) and use it as a means to feel "exclusive", pretending that they are set-apart, holy, or more informed than others. It is a show of holiness and righteousness devoid of any divine substance or Scriptural validity. If there is a conspiracy to hide the name of God's Son, it is certainly reflected in this effort to deny the name of Jesus.
I am not against people who want to use the name Yeshua. My point is that we must stop swallowing a camel and straining at a gnat. The most important thing is to be reconciled to God by submitting to His Son Jesus Christ so that we not only know Him, but are known by Him.
Jesus saved me. Jesus renewed me. Jesus delivered me. Jesus healed me. Jesus walks with me everyday. I will not start denying His name now because some do not like the way God decided to document His name in the Scriptures. Now is not the time to get drawn away by every wind of doctrine. Hold fast to what is true and place your faith in Jesus Christ.