Could You Explain the Name “Jesus”?

Question from a reader:

"I have been told that the name Jesus is not really the messiah’s name, and that we should not use it or pronounce it as is normally done. What do you think?"

Answer from Randy Alcorn:

Jesus is not a pure Greek name, as there is no “J” in Greek. Yashua’s Greek name begins with an iota. The name is transliterated IESOUS and sounds like ee-ay-soos.

Since the entire New Testament is written in Greek, not Hebrew, it suggests that God does not consider it inappropriate to use a name or title for Christ in keeping with that of another language or culture. The New Testament repeatedly calls the Hebrew Messiah by Greek names, several of them.

The inspired writings of the apostles refer to Yashua with other linguistic renderings pronounced differently. Yeshua and the Jewish apostles frequently quoted from the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, which was frequently read and studied by Jews in the New Testament era.

Yashua is not an undisputed form, but due to the absence of Hebrew vowels is variously rendered YESHUA or Y’SHUA or YAHSHUA. My messianic friends mostly call Him Yeshua. But I am happy with any of these, since they refer to the same person, my beloved Savior.

When I spent time in China the believers did not call the Messiah either Yashua or Yeshua or Jesus. There are more than two hundred Chinese dialects and each one has a different pronunciation. In Mandarin the two characters for Christ’s name are read “YE-SU,” in Cantonese “YE-SOU,” in Taiwanese “YA-SAW,”and in Hakka “YA-SU.”

Our Lord rejoices to have people of every tribe and language and nation (spoken of in Revelation 5 and 7) address him in the way of their own language.

Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries