Question: In the past few years I have been concerned with the fact that we call Our Lord and Savior "Jesus". I never used to think anything of it - I just accepted it but it began to bother me because I know His name is not Jesus. Whether it is Yahushuah, Yahshua, Y'Shuah, Yeshua or another, I want to know His Name because it is above all names - yet almost all the Christian and non Christian world call Him Jesus. Could you please tell me the correct history of Jesus' Greek name and what it really is in Hebrew. I would not normally ask somebody to help me in these sorts of matters, but I do trust your knowledge, your study, your integrity and your ministry and I thank Our Lord and Savior for you. Shalom, Bob. May the peace of Our Lord be with you.
Response: I am most grateful for your kind comments, and even more for your prayers. On the name of our Lord, I am happy to help, and happy to report that the answer is a relatively simple one. Christ's given name, Jesus, means "the LORD saves" (or "the LORD is salvation"). It is a Hebrew name which has been transliterated into Greek as Iesous (Ἰησοῦς: pronounced "ee-ay-SUS"). The English "Jesus" comes from the Latin transliteration of the Greek name into the Latin Iesus. Now Greek has no "y" sound, but the Latin "i" is both an "i" and a "j" (i.e., it can have a consonantal force in front of other vowels), the latter of which is properly pronounced like the English "y" (which explains the German Jesu, "YAY-su"). That is why we spell Jesus as we do, taking it straight from Latin, but we pronounce the name with a soft "j" sound because that is just what we do in English with the consonantal "j" [did I say this was simple?].
All this only explains the name as we have it in English and how that has been derived from the Greek through Latin. The name itself is, as I said, a Hebrew name. If you recall, the name of Moses' successor in the KJV is "Jesus", not "Joshua", and that is an entirely understandable thing, since their names are indeed identical in Hebrew (and also in Greek; cf. Heb.4:8, where only the context tells the Greek reader that we are talking about Joshua and not Jesus, although most English version now translate them as if they were spelled differently). The Hebrew name is Yehoshu'ah (יהושע: pronounced "ye-hoe-shoe-ahhh") which also occurs in a shortened alternative form, not an uncommon thing for Hebrew names, Yeshu'ah (ישוע: pronounced "yay-shoe-ahh"). Both forms are rendered in the Septuagint by the same Greek name, Iesous (the same spelling as discussed above) The New Testament takes many of its spelling conventions from the Septuagint and this unquestionable another such (i.e., Iesous was a well-established way to render the name in Greek by the time of the 1st century). Both the longer and shorter Hebrew forms are derived from two roots, being a compilation of the poetically shortened version of the divine name (Yah instead of YHVH) and the verb "to save" (yash'ah). The meaning is the same for both: "the LORD saves" (or "the LORD is salvation"). This etymological rendering is completely consistent with what the angel who announces Jesus' coming birth tells Joseph: "You shall call His name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins" (Matt.1:21).
Incidentally, the fact that Joshua's name is really identical to that of Jesus is not a coincidence, but reflects the fact that Joshua is a type of Christ. For Joshua led the people into the land, just as Jesus leads us into the holy of holies by His blood, giving us an eternal inheritance as Joshua gave a temporal one (there are also many parallels between the coming in to the promised land and the 2nd Advent and restoration of Israel - Jesus is the ultimate Joshua, and Joshua a type of the coming Messiah). I believe this important to point out because for those of us who have chosen to follow Jesus through the wilderness of sin in which we now dwell, we can be assured not only of our deliverance from the devil's world and from this body of sin in which we now abide, but also our deliverance into an eternal inheritance (that puts the best of this present world to shame), and into an eternal body incapable of sin. For Jesus has indeed "saved us from our sins" through His blood, and will indeed return for us to deliver us into the incalculable riches of eternity.
Please see also the following links:
The Names of Jesus Christ (in BB 4A)
Changing the Name of God?
The Divine Name
Divine Names in the Bible
The Names of the Trinity
The Name Jesus
Yours in the blessed hope of His return and our re-union with Him who is our salvation, Jesus Christ our Lord.