Distractions Part Three, Names

This distraction is sort of a part of the “Hebrew only” distraction I talked about earlier. A section of people who are trying to follow Torah (the Law) as part of their walk with Jesus don’t like to use the name Jesus. They prefer the Hebrew version, Yeshua. But how much of this is a desire to honor God, and how much is simply pretentious?


On the one hand, it is right to call someone by their correct name. I get called Bert every once in a while and I correct the speaker right away. We all do this. So it makes sense to try and call Jesus by His “correct” name. Problem is, He’s got a lot of “correct” names, names which are also titles, and His names also are translated into different languages.


Yeshua is a variant of Yehoshua (Joshua) and means “YHWH saves” or “YHWH is salvation.” Jesus is the English version of the Greek transliteration (probably from Yeshua) Iesous (ee ay sooce). Many times a word or name in one language is hard to say in another language. For instance, in Judges 12:5-6 the word Shibboleth was used to find people of Ephraim who couldn’t enunciate the ‘h’ and said Sibboleth instead. Japanese people (or maybe Asians in general) have a hard time with the letter ‘L’ and say ‘R’ instead. Sometimes a name or word has to be translated because of pronunciation difficulties. After all, we are still suffering from the effects of the confusing of languages at the Tower of Babel. My last name is in a British form, but it also has a Spanish form, a French form, and I’m sure there are others too.


Jesus has many names and titles. He liked “the Son of Man” (85 times in the gospels) as a title or description Himself (used quite a bit for Ezekiel). When He comes back, He will have a name no one knows.


His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. (Revelation 19:12, ESV)


We are going to get a new name eventually too. One that means something instead of just a collection of sounds as most modern names are.


He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’ (Revelation 2:17, ESV)


I prefer to use words that other people can understand. Names are important, but sometimes we make a big deal out of them for reasons other than communicating a Bible message. If I had to pick another name for Jesus, I prefer Immanuel which means “God with us,” because it is used fewer times (so is more unique) and only for the Messiah in the Bible. It is also a direct pronunciation (im maw noo ale) for the Hebrew. Jesus is not a bad name, it’s just a different form for Yeshua. As Paul said, “I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue” (1 Corinthians 14:19). This applies to other thinks too, such as the name of Jesus.