On Facebook, a friend recently made this declaration (excerpted from a slightly longer post): “the name yeshua is a false made up name–just to get people to forget the name of Jesus.. and it is to get people to return to judiasm…—–yeshua is not my king and saviour—Jesus is my king and saviour…. if you are a christian then listen to the Lord…..you shall not use the name of yeshua, —–but it is the name of Jesus that is above all Names—not only now but forevermore.“
Here was my response:
My friend, please do not confuse differences of culture and language with complete adherence with Judaism. That would be an unfortunate mistake and a false accusation. Yeshua is merely the Hebrew translation of the name. There is nothing improper here by any means whatsoever. Messianic believers who call on Yeshua are looking to Him as Savior. We should rejoice with them in receiving Him as Lord!
Here’s truth: in very early English language, the letter “j” was pronounced with a “y” sound. As language evolved, the pronunciation shifted to the “j-uh” sound, however the spelling remained the same in this case. So…”Yesus” (in pronunciation) became our more familiar “Jesus.” The same with Yerushalim…to Jerusalem and Yoshua (or Yeshua) to Joshua. The same with Yacov to Jacob, or the Greek version: James. The actual Greek for Jesus is “Iesous,” which in itself is taken from the Hebrew “Yeshua.” (In Aramaic, Jesus’ spoken language, it would be pronounced more like “EE-shu.” The problem is the Aramaic used four letters that do not have English equivalents.) The Greek version of the Old Testament (the LXX, also called the Septuagint) was in regular use during the time that Christ lived. Guess what Greek name is used to describe the Old Testament figure Joshua? Jesus! Can you see the equivalence? A writing utensil that I use every day is a “pen,” but in French is “un steelo,” and in Spanish (as you well know), it is “pluma” or “boligrafo.” Which is more correct? What a foolish question. It is what it is, and every translation is correct! In Spanish, Jesus is more “Hey-soos,” and in China, “Ye-su.” Technically, both of those are closer to the original than the “J-uh” sound we’ve become accustomed to with the English language.
The English speakers who use “Yeshua” are building a bridge to better reach the Jews and/or celebrating the way the name would have been pronounced in His day. How wonderful! The point isn’t the pronunciation, it’s recognizing Him as the Messiah. Let us not miss the forest for the trees. If there are some that would argue that “Yeshua” is the only proper name for the Messiah, this also would be nonsense. But neither should we be offended or decry as wrong any use of “Yeshua” to call on the Son of God. This would be equally foolish. In all things, let us be gracious with one another, believe the best about one another, and clothe ourselves with love. This is the way of Christ!
Further, in your original post you write, “if you are a christian then listen to the Lord…..you shall not use the name of yeshua.” The direct implication is that anyone who says “Yeshua” is defying the Lord. This is dangerous, my friend, and akin to allying with the accuser of the brethren. Tread carefully. Where in the scripture does it declare that the Lord says “you shall not use the name of Yeshua?” Are you putting words into His mouth? Here’s the very real truth: no one in Jesus’ day would have said “Jesus” the way we say it in English. Neither Hebrew or Greek. Who then is in the wrong?
It is out of loving concern that I write this to you my brother…and I do so here publicly only because you have made this declaration in a public way. I look forward to seeing you soon. May we humbly sharpen each other as we look to Christ as the author and finisher of our faith.
Here are a few additional thoughts from my participation on the on-going comments on the original post:
With the New Testament, especially the Gospels, they are writing in Greek the accounts of a Hebrew culture. So when they use “Iesous,” (which we translate as Jesus, but is actually pronounced like “Ee-shoosh”), they are writing down the Greek form of a name that is originally spoken in Hebrew and Aramaic. There is simply not an equivalent group of Greek letters to correspond with the spoken Hebrew and Aramaic sounds. This isn’t a matter of opinion, it’s fact. It’s perfectly fine to make a personal decision not to use “Yeshua,” but when we condemn others who do, we are in error. They are simply calling on Jesus in their language.
How can you say it’s been made up? EVERY language is made up! Agreed, it is a more modern term, and reflective of a more modern Hebrew, but certainly it is not of a different meaning. If Jews are calling on Yeshua as Lord, they are saved! Rejoice my brother! If Christians call on Yeshua, they are remembering He was born as a Hebrew in a Hebrew culture and they are closer to the original pronunciation of His name that we are in English. This is merely fact and a way for some to identify with Him. It is when we make absolutes of our positions, on either side, that we become like the Pharisees of old. Let’s be very careful here.
When we start to claim that one is better (“Yeshua” being more honoring to God, OR “Jesus” being more honoring to God), both claims are in error and making mountains out of molehills. When we become offended at one versus the other, then we are unloving, untrusting, and accusatory of spirit. This is also error! The Word of God who became flesh, who lived here among us for a while, who went to the cross and bore our sins, who rose from the grave triumphant over death, who holds the keys of death and of hell, who sits at the right hand of God, and has been given all authority under Heaven and earth, is it unto Him we worship and surrender our lives? Then how we, in our particular language, dialect and culture, pronounce His name is immaterial. We are talking about the same Lord! Again…NOBODY, Greek or Hebrew during the time of Christ, said “Jesus.” That’s just how we say His name in English. It would delight my heart, and the Father’s, if every modern Jew would have their eyes opened to see the Messiah and called on Him to be saved. I don’t think the Father would then reject them if they called Christ, “Yeshua.” Faith in Him to save us by His grace is ALL that matters in regards to His saving work!