My friend (age 70) who is Presbyterian by family line consistently brings up the fact that it makes him so angry when people call Yahweh “Jesus” because he says that the name Jesus was NEVER used in the Old Testament and that through generations of mankind “man” named Jesus. Therefore we are wrong to use the name Jesus because it was NOT what God called him. He said properly we need to call him Yahweh or the other Hebrew names but not Jesus. It makes him very angry. I tried to show him the New Testament Scripture where the angels called Him Jesus, but my friend does not believe this is true because the Bible has been rewritten so many times that the original Bible did not use the name Jesus. How would you answer this kind of person?
by Shari Abbott, Reasons for Hope
Let’s set aside his skepticism about the reliability of the New Testament. That’s another question for another day.
Your friend is not correct when he says the name Jesus was not used in the Old Testament. But before I address that, let’s begin with a foundation of understanding that the Bible is progressive revelation.
We know that Yahweh (YHVH) is the covenant name of God that was revealed to Moses on Mt. Sinai prior to the exodus of God’s people from Egypt. God appeared to Moses in a burning bush and Moses asked,
“Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?” (Exodus 3:13)
And God answered, “I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.” (Exodus 3:14)
Old Testament vs New Testament
Today, with full revelation that we have in the Holy Scriptures, we understand the Great I AM to be a Triune God — one God in three distinct Persons: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. All three Persons are co-eternal, co-equal and co-existent in the one Godhead. So when God revealed His name of Yahweh to Moses, it was a revelation of the name of our Triune God. However, an Old Testament Israelite would not have understood God to be a Triune God. In fact the Shema proclaims “God is one” (Deu 6:4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD), and that is precisely what God revealed to them, and wanted them to understand, at that time.
Next, remember that the Israelites were being prepared by God to recognize the coming Messiah, the “seed” promised in the garden Who would rescue fallen man (Genesis 3:15). From the beginning in the garden, and continuing throughout the Old Testament, we read of God revealing more and more of His purpose and plan of redemption.
When Jesus was born the prophecy of a coming Messiah was fulfilled and when He began His earthly ministry He further revealed Himself as that Messiah…and He also clearly claimed to be God.
So regarding your friend’s reasoning for not calling the Son by the name of Jesus, the Scripture clearly proclaims Jesus to be His name.
Matthew 1:21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
To call the second person of the Trinity by the name of Yahweh rather than Jesus, fails to acknowledge and proclaim His incarnation and atoning work.
Yahweh is not a Hebrew word for the name Jesus. Although both names refer to the same Triune God, the name Jesus was given to the incarnation of God among men. He lived among us and died for our sins. Peter made this very clear when he said,
Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead.…Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:10, 12 )
Jesus is not a translation of the name Yahweh.
Jesus is actually an English name that derives from the Hebrew Yeshua (also Yehoshua/Joshua, which means God is Salvation). So the Hebrew for the name Jesus is found in the Old Testament, but not in reference to God.
The etymology (study of the history of words, their origins, and how their form and meaning have changed over time) of the name Jesus is as follows:
The Hebrew/Aramaic name of Yeshua was translated as the Greek name Iesous. Then it was translated into Latin as Iesus. And from the Latin Iesus came the Anglicanized name of Jesus.
Yeshua or Jesus?
The names Yeshua and Jesus both refer to the second person of the Trinity, so this raises another question. Is it more correct to use the Hebrew name Yeshua or the Anglicanized name of Jesus?
My answer is that either one is technically correct, because it is a matter of language not revelation. Both refer to our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. However, we should also ask, which name magnifies the Lord above all?
Yeshua is the name that Jews use to refer to Jesus of Nazareth, Whom they believe to be nothing more than a good man and prophet. Therefore the name Yeshua does not necessarily honor Jesus as Lord and Saviour. If someone desires to use the Hebrew name, including Jesus’ title as Messiah would be better. Yeshua Ha Mashiach is translated, Jesus the Messiah. That leaves little doubt of His Lordship.
Although the name of Jesus is the name above all names, and is universally recognized as the name of our Lord and Saviour, Christians might do well to also use His title….the Lord Jesus Christ.
Yeshua Ha Mashiach, the Lord Jesus Christ
To Him alone be the glory!
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