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Changing the Name of God?

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Question #1:  I just read your comments on biblical name changes. I found it ironic that you did not mention the fact that man changed the name of the Father & the Son. Man has taken Yahweh's name away and gave Him a title, God. Man has taken Yahshua's name away, the name of Salvation, and given him a name that doesn't mean anything, Jesus. Just a thought. In Yahshua's most Holy Name

Response #1:  Good to make your acquaintance, and thank you for your e-mail. I don't find anything inconsistent in this practice, and will attempt a brief apologia here:

In Matthew 1:21, the angel who appears to Joseph tells him "and she will give birth to a son, and you will call his name 'Jesus'". The Greek word which occurs in this verse is Iesous (Ἰησοῦς). Since the inspired Word of God has no difficulty in making use of a somewhat loose Greek transliteration for the Name of our Savior, I see no reason to insist upon a more precise English version (which, after all, must still be a transliteration rather than true Hebrew). Mind you, I don't have any problem with you doing what you are doing, but it seems important to point out that it is not any particular form or sound that is important here (as if some sort of "magic" were contained therein), but the meaning of the Name that really matters. As long as a Christian is receiving good, solid Bible teaching which explains the divine names and their meanings, the use of traditional English words is likely to be less confusing for everyday use than difficult transliterations which are completely foreign to non-Hebrew speakers (and which would leave even non-initiated speakers of Modern Hebrew shaking their heads). For example, while I see a clear benefit in all Christians knowing that the Hebrew word for God is 'elohiym, I see no advantage in insisting that believers use this Name in the place of our English word "God". I certainly do not, and I can say with certainty that this has not negatively affected my relationship with the Lord in any way. After all, I am a first-language English speaker so that English words will always have a deeper impact than non-English word. Our God certainly takes such things into account (just as in the case of the message to Joseph He gave our Savior's Name in a Greek version since that was the lingua franca of the time and region). In fact, to insist upon using names, terms, words, or phrases which are outside of the norm has definite disadvantages as well: on the one hand it tends to produce a false patina of authority which is usually not justified, while on the other it tends to isolate people who take on this "strange" behavior. Now in many cases, when the organization which is promoting the practice is essentially a cult, this is deliberate. The more odd and bizarre the behavior the new convert is persuaded to adopt, the more rapidly his or her connections with his or her prior life can be severed (making the person all that much more dependent on the "new family"; please see "Read your Bible: Protection against Cults").

One final point. You should be aware that both of the names you use in your e-mail are, in addition to being transliterations themselves, also open to interpretation. "Yashua" for example, not only can be transliterated in other ways, but also occurs in other forms (e.g., yehoshua'). And why capitalize the first letter? This is an English convention, not a Hebrew one. As to "Yahweh", this is indeed the form which the majority of scholars accept as the most probable vocalization of the tetragrammaton. However, as you no doubt are aware, the Hebrew text does not contain any vocalization for the divine Name, so that this transliteration must remain a speculation (please see the links:  "The Divine Name" and "Jesus' use of 'I AM'").

Under the circumstances, therefore, I don't find anything ironic here. Names change because languages differ – and this is a phenomenon that comes straight from the Lord, after all (Gen.11:1-9). Since the New Testament can universally use theos for God ('elohiym) and kyrios for LORD (yhwh), it seems to me that following suit in English is not only permissible, but really actually desirable in order to avoid placing any false barriers between believers and their God in daily worship, prayer, and Bible study.

Please feel free to write me back about any of this.

In the Name of the One who died for us all, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob Luginbill

Question #2:  Robert, You bring up some of the same questions I had before I joined this cult. I used to think cults were bad until I read the actual definition of "cult" and found that every form of religion is a cult, so welcome to the cult. I always thought it was what was in your heart that mattered, not what you did or said. That way of thinking is of little help to the person injured in a car accident in front of you and in your heart you want to help him but you drive on to your lunch date instead. The truth shows at this point. Do you do what is comfortable between you and others or between you and your Heavenly Father (sorry for the capitalizations). Do you seek comfort in man's eyes and whatever customs he sees fit, or do you seek the source of our Salvation and whatever truths He has for us? I just find it odd that our Creator and Redeemer who places such importance in others names would not place the same emphasis on His only begotten Son's name or His own for that matter. It is just not consistent.

Some people say the Bible is full of inconsistencies. I don't believe that, well that is except for translations. Halleluyah, we all say it, it's in the Bible, and it's Hebrew. Why doesn't it say prays Yah/God instead? We are not Hebrew. If we can say Halleluyah, why not Yahshuah? How come an English speaking person is not bizarre for saying the Hebrew word Halleluyah? Is it just because everyone else does it that makes it OK? A lot more people are gay these days, does that make it OK? If the majority view on God is correct, should we not all be Catholic or Muslim? If we were Muslim though we would call our god by his name and not his title.

Jesus and Joshua in Hebrew mean the same thing, how is it then, that one sounds like the original Hebrew and one is not even close? If Joseph spoke Greek because of the times and Saul was also in those times, why did Yahshua choose to speak to Saul in Hebrew in Acts 9? Saul knew Greek also, there must be some importance in the Bible to pointing out that Yahshuah told Saul that the name of the Lord that was talking to him was Yahshuah. Why not just say the Lord said "I am Jesus"? He didn't, He said "I am Yahshuah" (in Hebrew of course).

If seeking comfort with our peers is more important than seeking His truth, we should all be OF this world. Yahshuah says clearly not to be that way.

One last question, If you went to Japan and introduced your self to someone who only spoke Japanese, would you call yourself Robert, or would you transliterate your name first? A name is a name, Ping in Japan is Ping here, only the rest of the language changes. Closed captioning translation is proof that.

In the first few pages of most Bibles, there is an attempt at explaining our Heavenly Father's proper Name. It explains the use of God and Lord. The problem is they have to go back and forth between the two so they don't wind up saying God God or Lord Lord. There would be no confusion if they just used His name instead of titles.

I came to Faith in the name of Jesus, and I have no problem with that and nothing changed when I started using Yahshuah. Out of respect to the Actual Name given by Yahweh, I use what He chose, not what man chose for Him.

I am not trying to argue with you or anyone else, I just find it funny how Christians are afraid to use His Holy Name because someone might think they are strange. The Jews were afraid of His Name out of ignorance of His intention of it's use, because of that, it has all but disappeared. Christians further hide His Name out of not wanting to stand out in a crowd. If it weren't for those trying to find out all they can out of love for Him, Yahweh's name would be gone forever. Even as you have pointed out, we have no actual solid evidence of the exact pronunciation. One thing is sure, it was not God. If someone says "Praise God" in a crowded mall in England, which of the many gods are they talking about? If you say to that man, "Praise him brother" you might be praising the wrong god. You might know in your heart, but the rest of the crowd might know which god this man is talking about and it might be some pagan god. Way to add to confusion Robert. Don't be afraid to proclaim who is the One True Elohim. By the way, I am not Jewish, I am a believer of all that is written in the Bible, Old and Renewed Testaments.

Thanks for letting people know that biblical names are not JUST names.

Response #2:  You use the example of Saul's conversion in Acts 9, but there is no Hebrew there. Nor does Paul use Hebrew when he describes this event in Acts 22 or in Acts 26. It is true that in Acts 26:14 Paul does say that the voice he heard was in Hebrew - a very natural thing since this was undoubtedly Paul's first language - but the New Testament relates the event in Greek and Paul himself relates the event including Jesus' name in its Greek form. And whenever Paul evangelizes, he gives the Greek form of Jesus' name. Come to think of it, why are we calling him "Paul" anyway, since his Hebrew name was "Saul". The answer has to do with exactly the issue at stake here, namely, making accommodations for the sake of the gospel. Paul adopts this Greek name when he begins to minister to the gentiles, no doubt in order to avoid any stumbling block that a difficult, foreign-sounding name would produce (Acts 13:9). As a professor in a foreign language department I can relate that it is a very common thing to have students adopt a new version of their names (or new a name altogether) in order to better get on the new language's "wave-length". Indeed, almost all of my Chinese friends and acquaintances have an English version of their names, and there actually seems to be a sort of system for conversion of standard Chinese names to English names (which usually bear no discernible similarity one to the other).

Motivation is certainly a key consideration in why we do what we do. No doubt those who were insisting that the gentiles be circumcised in Acts 15 felt that they were preserving the true way. But in fact what they were doing was putting a serious obstacle in the way of faith for these gentiles, one which was at best superfluous to saving faith and spiritual growth, and a worst a system of legalism bound to stifle true faith. Now one could certainly charge those who objected with "fearing to do what was right", but we know from the scriptural account that it was in fact those who wanted to perpetuate circumcision who were in the wrong. Human logic and argumentation only get us so far. As Christians, the Bible has to be our ultimate touchstone. Since scripture has no problem with accommodating the names of God for the sake of the gospel - and in fact does so consistently in the New Testament - are we not obligated to accept the practice? This doesn't mean that there is anything wrong with your making use of some other version of the divine names which may be somewhat closer to the original (though no system of transliteration is, as previously demonstrated, completely consistent, and of course we haven't even addressed the issue of Hebrew pronunciation), but I don't see any reason to reject the traditional practice here as being in any way wrong of deficient - at least until you can show me a scripture that suggests that we should.

In our Lord Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #3:  Robert, After stating Acts 9 was where Hebrew was spoken, I realized I was wrong and in deed it was Acts 26:14 and throughout that Holy conversation that Hebrew was spoken. Unless you are saying that Yahshuah spoke Hebrew to Saul but called Himself Jesus as not to make Saul uncomfortable even though Saul was Hebrew? That makes no sense. It was Saul's first language, but it was also Joseph's, as was pointed out in the last letter. They were both Hebrew. Man takes it upon himself to change the names. Look at the word God. Why did the divine name YHWH get changed to God. The same people that are afraid to say YHWH also write God as G_d. The misunderstanding of YHWH's Commandments/Instructions causes people to do strange things. The Shabbat elevator in Israel is one for example. Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy, you know, don't work on this day. The Pharisees twisted this and Yahshuah explained time and time again that there is a difference between work and helping to live. The Pharisee's idea seemed to be, if not working is good, not doing anything at all that might be considered work, is better. Thus the Shabbat elevator. You don't press any floor buttons because that would be work. It just stops at every single floor for you. This ties in with not taking His name in vain. If the Pharisees didn't say the name at all, at any time, for any reason, they couldn't possibly take His name in vain, thus not breaking that Commandment. In doing so, His Name and it's pronunciation were lost, almost. If the Old Testament was translated by Hebrews who had a fear of YHWH and were afraid of using His name and even held it so sacred as not to want to write it, don't you think that when they translated for the Greeks, they might have place a title like Adonai or Elohim or God or Lord as to keep themselves pure in YHWH's eyes? Look at what fitting in may have started. The traditions of man have almost, in affect, obliterated His Holy Name from existence. How many times in Scripture is His name said to be Holy, full of power, Sacred and the only name by which we are Saved? I am not saying that anyone believing in the name Jesus is not saved. I am just saying, you know and I know that where ever you go, in what ever country, you may try to communicate using the language of that place, but you will always use the name you use in your home land. For that matter, if you were to evangelize is a place that had never heard of Jesus, you would call Him Jesus, would you not? Even though you would use native words for the rest of the communication process. If that is the case, you would be going against everything you point out in using the name Jesus. You use it the way you were taught, not to keep from offending a culture. If you were first told His name was Yahshua, that is what you would use. That is how He introduced Himself and it should be passed on like that. Satan must be in his glory every time we say Jesus. He is witness to mans misguided attempts to keep Holy with the Father by removing His Holy Name.

The Bible points out the meaning of His Name. You know that the name Yahshua and Emmanuel mean something because the Name is built from other words in the language it was given in. Transliterated, these names mean nothing. They are just words made up by man to mean something. I realize that each language may not have the same sounds to make it possible to write the name as it sounds. They did their best they could in writing. Verbally though, there is no reason not to use the given name. We do that today with our own names. We may have to write it the best we can, but we can verbalize it exactly the way our parents gave it to us.

As you point out, your students choose foreign names to fit in. Saul wanted to fit in also. He became Jew to the Jew, Greek to the Greek and I suppose Gay to the Gay to fit in. That is MAN's approach to getting along. Yahshuah on the other hand did not become a Pharisee to the Pharisees or a whore to the whores. Yahshuah was who He is. He is the Savior of us all. Just as He was born Hebrew, He lived it at all times and before all people without changing to fit in.

We are not obligated to follow the practice of man, only the example of Yahshuah. Yahshuah is not wishy washy, He is who He is and sometimes, it is uncomfortable to follow His example, but it is what He calls us to do.

You answered my original question on why His name was changed. The traditions of man continue, unfortunately. If His name is what it is and He used it to tell others who He is, shouldn't we use it?

Thank you for responding. I just don't like they way peer pressure has affected something so precious as His Name.

In our Saviors Name, whatever that may be,

Response #3:  I do think I understand your point of view, and you do make some good points. In discussions of this sort, however, sometimes it is the case that the most important points tend to get overwhelmed or lost in the mix. I continue to have two concerns that I would wish to restate. First, I believe that the New Testament is the inspired Word of God. It was, of course, written with the gentile world and worldwide evangelism in view, a fact that explains its language, Greek. It certainly would have been possible for the New Testament writers to transliterate 'elohyim, but they never do. It certainly would have been possible for them to transliterate yhwh, but they never do. Since the Holy Spirit in ministering the Word of God to us gentiles saw fit to use vocabulary more familiar to the gentiles for the sake of the gospel, I am inclined to follow that example. The fact that we are told of instances like that of Paul's conversion where we know without a doubt that the original conversation was in Hebrew and yet in the Word of God the names still occur in the Greek equivalents seems to me to buttress this inclination rather than to undermine it. Secondly, if this issue were really a critical one, it would seem to me that scripture would address it directly at some point. But I do not find that. Instead, as I say, the consistent example of scripture is the opposite. We find examples of this also in the Old Testament where in the book of Daniel God's names appear consistently in Aramaic equivalents which are all different from the Hebrew originals. Finally, when Peter gives his speech in Acts chapter four, the "only name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved" is, in verse ten, "Jesus Christ of Nazareth" (Iesous Christos ho Nazoraios), all Greek forms (Christos being the Greek form of "Messiah", Meshiach). Given the powerful and consistent example of inspired scripture, and in the absence of any direct scriptural guidance to the contrary, I am inclined to continue my practices –   not out of fear or tradition or even stubbornness, but because it seems to me from a careful consideration of the biblical evidence the best thing to do. I understand your position, and your logic is not without merit. Thus it is not that I find any particular fault with your practice, but, under the circumstances, I do object to your finding any fault with the alternative.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #4:  Robert, I understand also where you are coming from, sort of. You make sense if you assume that because parts of the Bible were written in Greek, it was all intended to be a Greek world. Hebrew was the intended language as is indicated by the meaning of YHWH and Yahshua. The reason those Names were not translated as we know the truth to be today was out of the traditions of man.

Scripture does address the fact of the sacredness of His Name, as Gen. 3:15 tries to set the stage for the importance of His Name. Blasphemy take many forms, changing His Holy Name is one of them. I used to think it didn't make any difference either until I kept coming across Scripture like Psalm 102:12 and Deut. 28:58. I also tried to think of what HE wants from us, not what I felt like doing for Him.

Parents spend many hours, days and months anticipating their child's birth. They may spend the same amount of time or longer thinking of what to name their child. They don't leave it up to what ever the doctor or anyone else to name that child. To a parent, their child's name is precious, filled with meaning or just pleasing to their ear. In any case, it is the name THEY chose and it is what they want to hear that child called. Why not, it is their child, right? Shouldn't we respect their wishes?

When Moses said to the Voice "Who shall I say has sent me"? The Voice didn't say, "A big booming voice sent me" or "You guys make up something that impresses you, I'm sure He will be fine with that" or "How about "Builder" because I made everything". YHWH was specific in everything He did, including naming Himself, His Son and even changing the name of others.

We can call anyone whatever we want, but that is what WE want. How about putting our wants aside and call them what their parents wanted in the first place.

This is not a Salvation issue. I might be totally of base in my way of thinking. It is just that so much of Scripture is based on parent child, father son relationships that it is hard to think of my Heavenly Father as just a god, creator and judge, just a title. I am closer to Him than that.

Robert, I am grateful that you have spent so much time answering my thoughts. That is all they are, my thoughts based on my relationship with Yahshua my Savior, through what is originally written in Scripture as it was intended and originally given and spoken by YHWH our Creator. Thank you for reaching out to others and encouraging them to seek the deeper meaning to the Words of the Scriptures. Don't ever be satisfied with the traditions of man. Always seek His Truth.

Thanks again for not just blowing me off. I enjoy and discussion of His Word.

Response #4:  There are a lot of aspects to this question, but let me get back to the two things I consider crucial.

1) The New Testament is the inspired Word of God. It was written in Greek, not in Hebrew and the names therein are in Greek not in Hebrew. The Holy Spirit certainly could have directed that the New Testament be in Hebrew. Certainly the men who wrote it all knew Hebrew perfectly well. But instead we have these Greek words, Greek names or transliterations which as I say we have indeed attempted to duplicate in English (i.e., Christos= Christ [not Messhiach]; Iesous = Jesus [not Jehoshua]). Since the New Testament is the Word of God, I don't think this aspect of the question can simply be deferred to what is found in the Old Testament. If it was acceptable to use equivalents for the names of God in the New Testament, how can it not be acceptable to do so today?

2) No one is saying that names are not important. No one is saying "it doesn't make any difference". What I am saying is that, as with many things in life, there is a range of what is acceptable. As long as we are in the same range of acceptability used by scripture and not doing anything forbidden or discouraged by scripture, then, as long as our consciences do not condemn us, there is nothing wrong with our practices. This is how I read the issue we are discussing. Certainly, if your conscience directs you to do differently, then you should do differently. However, it is always a good idea to be on very solid scriptural ground before taking personal conviction and offering it to others as dispositive truth. I don't see anything in Gen.3:15, Ps.102:12, or Deut.28:58 that reasonably suggests traditional practice is wrong. Take the last verse, for example. To use this verse in the context of this argument is necessarily to suggest that the use of any name at all besides yhwh would be to fail to give due reverence. But by that logic whenever the prophets use the name 'elohiym (or any of the other rather numerous divine names) they would be guilty of disrespect (and cf. Ps.102:24!). Since even Old Testament writers use alternatives (and, in Daniel's Aramaic, other language equivalents), I don't see how verses which command respect for the name of God can be made to say that using anything but the tetragrammaton in its original form is a mistake.

In fact, part of the problem here is what "name" means in the context of the Bible. In scripture, the name (Heb., shem) is quite simply more than the verbal designation by which a person is known – it represents the person, and can sometimes be translated "person". In other words, it is the person behind the name that counts – the name merely represents the person and has no magic inherent in it. Abraham's new name (or Israel's etc., etc.) are significant because of the spirituality, spiritual maturity, and spiritual victory they represent. Without that, the change of name is meaningless, and if that is understood, the change of name itself merely incidental. What God wants is for us to genuinely respect HIM rather than merely pay Him formulaically correct lip-service (cf. Is.29:13). What He wants is not formula or ritual, but for His worshipers to worship Him "in Spirit and in truth" (Jn.4:24). 

A good example of this in the New Testament is the widely misunderstood Matthew 28:19 where disciples are made (in part) "by baptizing them into the name (i.e., Person) of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit". That is to say, Matthew 28:19 is not a command to repeat a verbal formula (as it is traditionally understood), but a command for something much more ineffably substantive, namely, our union with the Trinity through the baptizing of the Spirit that all believers have at the point of faith in Christ, that act of God whereby were are made One with Him and His Son (i.e., their Persons). Similarly, the NAME of the Lord is so very important in scripture because of what it represents – who HE really is; His true Person. So that if we are understanding who HE is, then the substance behind the formula has been accomplished; whereas even if we have some special formula right but miss the substance then all has been for naught.

As I say, I have no problem with a point of view which says "well we ought to get both correct", and if that is both the intent and the effect of your position, I certainly could not disagree with your personal practice. My point of view is that if the substance is correct, formula is largely unimportant (again, within the range of what scripture by example shows is acceptable). Moreover, since I have been burned and seen many others burned many times "by ritual over reality" (even when, as in your case, the intent and original practice was not erroneous), my practice is to shy away from everything extra-biblical and, in my view, superfluous – not out of fear or stubbornness or tradition, but because in my observation and experience nothing is gained but much is risked for the reasons outlined in previous e-mails (again, please see the link:  "Read your Bible: Protection against Cults").

So, again, we seem to be at the point of spinning around the same arguments. I suppose at this juncture we may have to agree to disagree.

In the One who died for all of our sins, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob L.

Question #5:  Robert, The Renewed Testament may have been written in Greek except for Matthew. Matthew may arguably have been written in Hebrew. But even if it all was written in Greek, that doesn't change some facts.

1. Not all sounds in Hebrew are written or even accurately conveyable in Greek

2. We know the mother tongue of those that were told, verbally, the Holy Names.

3. If you want to be close with a person, you use the language that they are most comfortable with i.e. Moses, Paul in Acts 22, Joseph and Mary. Not Greek because future Scriptures would be written in it.

4. Names with meaning are made up root words to create the new word name.

5. The names God, Jesus, Iesous, Emanuel in the Greek do not have root words that makeup their meanings.

6. The Bible points out the names and gives their meanings.

7. The meaning of the names can be found by breaking the names into their building blocks in Hebrew but not in Greek.

8. Hebrew is pointed out, for some reason in the Renewed Testament, that Paul was spoken to in it.

9. Hebrew is important, if not, why make note of its use, especially when saying His Name?

It may have been acceptable to use the translation for man, but was it acceptable to YHWH? Do we ever consider His feelings, or is He just some emotionless Klingon? As the English language grows and changes, will it be good and acceptable to rewrite the Bible calling Him Snoop J.C.? Is nothing to be kept sacred? The 1611 King James is written in English, see how it changed?

There is a difference between names and attributes. There is one Divine Name, but there are many attribute that would describe the bearer of that Divine Name, like the Names you point out.

OOPS, I meant Exodus 3:15, sorry. With that correction, we don't use the Name (haShem) that He specifically gives us for ALL generations. Calling Him by the Name he asks us to is not lip service, it is this persons way of finding out why we call Him what we call Him and what was originally intended and not how mans evolution changed His intent.

I work in a denominational church, and I agree with your statement about avoiding extra-biblical practices. This is why I do seek the truth instead of the accepted traditions. If it isn't in the Bible, why do we do it. If it isn't the original, why did it change. Again words are different than names when it comes to translation if it can be verbalized. If it can't be verbalized, then you get Jesus. At one time that was the excuse. In this day of modern communication, we have no excuse.

I wonder what our Heavenly Father would say if we asked Him what He prefers? He might say "friend, you belong in a cult somewhere".

Thanks again for taking time for me. May your ministry be Blessed,

Response #5:  I still don't think I have a definitive answer on the NT question. When you write "to use the translation for man, but was it acceptable to YHWH?", are you referring to the inspired writers of the NT? If so, then we have a serious doctrinal disagreement over inspiration which transcends this discussion. If not, then to return to the NT question, it seems to mean that equating the name "Jesus" with "Snoop J.C." is inappropriate inasmuch as the former is a longstanding, serious attempt to represent the name of our Savior whereas the latter is simply ridiculous. I have no problem distinguishing the two. In my experience, in fact, the number one problem I encounter in erroneous translation and interpretation is lack of proportionality. That is to say, where there is a serious disagreement as to whether the correct answer is "2" or "2.5", a suggestion that "3,349,104.13" might be correct (because it is also a number) need not be seriously considered – it is clearly outside of that range of acceptability I keep harping about. The name Jesus in its present form has a long pedigree. It precedes the birth of the Messiah by about 300 years, for Iesous is the Greek equivalent for Joshua used by the writers of the Septuagint version. This version did much to condition (and aid) the writing of the New Testament because it laid down a set of precedents for translating, quoting, and transliterating from the Hebrew version. These are not followed slavishly by the New Testament writers, but the influence of the LXX is unmistakable in the GNT. Therefore by the time of the birth of Jesus the name Iesous was already traditional (300 years worth). Thus it seems inconceivable to me that the writers of the NT would not have considered the issue you are broaching – if it were a serious issue. Think about it. There was the apostle John, for example, a multilingual Hebrew and Greek speaker writing for gentiles but for Jews too. When it came to writing Jesus' name the first time in his gospel (Jn.1:17), therefore, he had a very serious choice to make. He could have used a transliteration that was more faithful to the Hebrew than Iesous. He could have used a transliteration of Messiah (Meschiach). But instead of course he uses the traditional Greek equivalent Iesous and the translation Christos. If this issue were all that terribly important, please explain to me why John did what he did? As to English, the name "Jesus" is no farther from and arguable even closer to the Hebrew than Iesous, but it certainly and unquestionably is the most direct English rendering of the Holy Spirit approved Greek traditional equivalent Iesous. Again, I have no problem with going back to the Hebrew in practice if a person is personally led to do so; but, again, I refrain myself and don't encourage the practice in others because while I feel it adds little or nothing, it has the potential for damage.

As to the nine points:

Not all sounds in Hebrew are written or even accurately conveyable in Greek

1. The same is true of English – all languages are different, which argues for my point that perfect transliteration is not possible in any case.

We know the mother tongue of those that were told, verbally, the Holy Names.

2. True; the fact that even so all of them who communicate with gentiles use equivalents in both testaments argues for flexibility.

If you want to be close with a person, you use the language that they are most comfortable with i.e. Moses, Paul in Acts 22, Joseph and Mary. Not Greek because future Scriptures would be written in it.

3. True; the fact that scripture uses names which gentiles are more comfortable with argues that therefore the gospel is more important than forms of names.

Names with meaning are made up root words to create the new word name.

4. Often true; but cf. 'el shadday - if Hebrew can use 'el which is technically different from 'elohiym, using another language with roots of similar meaning would seem to me to be following suit.

The names God, Jesus, Iesous, Emanuel in the Greek do not have root words that makeup their meanings.

5. I don't follow; "God" is Germanic; "Jesus" is a transliteration of the Greek Iesous; Iesous is a transliteration of the Hebrew "Yashua/Yehoshua"; and Emanuel is a Greek translation of the Hebrew phrase 'imanu 'el". What we have here are apples and oranges (or, better, an apple, a tangerine, an orange, and a potato, since two and three are related more closely, and four is something completely different).

The Bible points out the names and gives their meanings.

6. True; this tells me that the meaning is what is really important, because scripture does explain the names, but does not tell us to use the original Hebrew forms.

The meaning of the names can be found by breaking the names into their building blocks in Hebrew but not in Greek.

7. If a person has the linguistic dexterity break down a name in Hebrew (and there is more controversy about many Hebrew compound names than you might imagine), then such a person would have no problem researching the origin of the Greek name (especially since, as you point out in #6, the Bible tells us this anyway). Without linguistic skill and resources, the Hebrew names are not all that clear. For instance, yehoshua comes in two forms, both of which have to do with the root for deliverance and the name yah (notice, not yhvh); 'elohiym is often taken to be the plural form of 'el, the generic name for a god, but that is disputed; and yhvh is apparently the imperfect 3rd person singular of the verb hayah, the verb "to be", but translating it is not so simple. In my view it means something like "I will be what I can/may be" and thus emphasizes the fact that nothing is impossible for God (see the link: note #1 in Bible Basics #1: Theology). So when you use any of these names in Hebrew or a new English transliteration, in order for this to provide some benefit, it would seem to me that this presupposes that people know what these names really mean – not just that they are compounds of two roots/forms, but precisely what the roots/forms mean separately and in conjunction (an event which always modifies the meaning by creating a phrase); in the case of yhvh in particular, I haven't bumped into many people who have a clue (see the link above).

Hebrew is pointed out, for some reason in the Renewed Testament, that Paul was spoken to in it.

8. True; the fact that Paul's "most familiar language" as you put it well was Hebrew, put together with the further fact that this notwithstanding he still wrote the divine names in Greek every single time speaks volumes about the importance of communication over mere form.

Hebrew is important, if not, why make note of its use, especially when saying His Name?

9. This one I don't get; where in the NT does the use of Hebrew get specifically connected to the use of the name as opposed to the entire communication (which is what we have in the passage we have been discussing, Acts 26:14)?

On Exodus 3:15, yes this is the strongest expression of the sentiment, but I don't see it saying what you are saying, especially in the Hebrew. On this verse most of the versions are highly interpretive here.  My own translation, "this is a remembrance of Me from generation to generation" is a far cry from, say, NIV "the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation". Not that the NIV et al. are outright wrong, but these sorts of translations do lead a person reading an English version to get nervous about using another name, and that is clearly not what the Hebrew is saying in my view. In the Hebrew's true tone and emphasis, the Name is a plus rather than a minus, a blessing rather than a threat; here the Lord is telling us something wonderful about Himself, not threatening us implicitly if we make a formal error and, heaven forbid, call Him 'elohiym or worse "God" henceforth. Names are important and should be given their proper emphasis. And we should, to the best of our ability, understand what the names mean because they tell us much about the Person behind the names, the real object of our proper worship.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #6:  Iesous is only a Greek equivalent in spelling only, not in meaning. This is my point, there may be huge sarcasm in my Snoop J.C. reference, but I am not far off, just as you point out in your number example. Yahshua and Joshua(Jahoshua) are "2" or "2.5" where as "Iesous" or "Jesus" are "3,349,104.13". Like you said, one is a serious attempt and one is only as close as they are both written with letters. There makes not sense that Yahshua and Joshua(Jahoshua) mean the same thing in there building block roots and are the same name. But when translated, not inspired, but translated they become two completely different words. One with meaning, one just letters.

First of all, do you believe our Savior's original given name is Yahshua or Jesus? The next step only works if you believe in the fact that His name is Yahshua. Not what is acceptable by the masses, but what was this Hebrew Child's given name. If we can agree it is Yahshuah, in order to keep me happy, then I want you to try something. If His Name is roughly pronounced in Hebrew as Yahshua or Y'shua, TELL someone His name. Now translate what you just said in writing using the Greek alphabet and grammar. Does it come out sounding like Joshua when you read it? Remember Joshua and Yahshua mean the same thing. It sounds like Iesous. Most past on knowledge of our Savior came in the written form as we read in the written Gospels. If you can't write the way it sounds because of language limitations, you wind up with Iesous. I can accept that. But once the world became smaller and we find that we can now actually speak to those we at one time could only write to, we can now more accurately let them know His True Name. If Jesus is the actual given name, shouldn't Joshua(Jahoshua) be Jesus also, or at least should it he be Jesous? Even the 1611 KJV shows that it was possible to have gotten His name closer to what was heard as He walked with His disciples.

Just so you understand me about "the translation of man" vs. inspired Word. The Inspired Word is the Message given to man. Translation is how man makes it possible for different languages to understand the message. I had a Pastor once say "God would not let His Holy Word be translated incorrectly". This same Pastor slammed the gender neutral version of the Bible and the Message Bible. If His statement was correct, those translations could not have been written. Man does what he thinks is best, hopefully with YHWH's best interest at heart. But sometimes we goof unknowingly and instead of going back and check to see if we missed anything. We just add onto what was acceptable at the time. As you might know, science discovers new things about our past all the time when it comes to lost civilizations and biology. This new knowledge goes a long way in proving the Bible as accurate, but modern school text books don't show that updated information. The text was acceptable at one time, and if you want to check its accuracy, it is up to you to seek the truth on your own. It is sad, but no one wants to buck traditional thought, no matter what its accuracy or lack there of.

Robert, you are correct that in our eyes the name may not change a thing and in others it may cause confusion, but then again, it might open peoples eyes to the fact that we should always seek the truth and not what is socially acceptable. Jesus is fine, but a deeper walk leads you to Yahshuah if you let it. Perfect translation may not be possible but we certainly can do better now a days. remember, we were originally discussing name translation, meaning and all, not text of the Bible.

"Names are important and should be given their proper emphasis. And we should, to the best of our ability, understand what the names mean because they tell us much about the Person behind the names, the real object of our proper worship." Well put.

Thank you again for your time. Discussions like this always get me digging in the Word and keeps me hungry. We may never agree, but then again, I am not opposed to the Holy Spirit teaching me a thing or two. Thanks Robert,

Response #6:  My last e-mail was an attempt to focus our discussion along the lines of what scripture says, but this discussion seems to be spinning out of control. If we are to continue, I really do need to get to the bottom of your view on the New Testament as it is written, because all of these arguments pivot around that point. Do you think the New Testament text is inspired in the same way that the Hebrew/Aramaic Old Testament is? I certainly do, and I have to proceed according to that principle. As suggested in my previous e-mail, the force of both of our arguments (and their applicability too) depends in no small measure on your answer to this question. I will be happy to answer your questions and respond to your latest e-mail once we've gotten this point clear. Without clarity on this pivotal point, however, I'm not sure how valuable this discussion can be for either of us. For if you feel, for example, that the NT as written is just a general reflection of the thoughts and writings of early Christian figures with the precise text itself not of crucial import, then I would have to disagree in the strongest possible terms. If, however, you do hold to verbal plenary inspiration, that is, accept the scripture as written to be the inspired Word of God, then the precise forms of the words as written are of great importance, and the use of the Greek Iesous, for example, would remain as the queen of arguments with which you have yet to come to grip. In the former case, it would not make much difference and we would be left with the irony of you holding strong for an original use of names while finding the original text of NT scripture of no particular importance; in the latter case, however, we would be left with the severe contradiction of professing inerrancy while finding the use of Iesous essentially in error. I remain committed to the principle that knowing who Jesus is is far more important than using a name which may or may not be "better", especially if such a practice causes me or anyone else to drift farther from Him.

In our Lord Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #7: Bob, I do, in fact believe the Message that is contained in the Bible, both Old and Renewed Testaments, come directly from YHWH. The way they were translated is the question. I don't believe that YHWH told the Renewed Testament writers to write Jesus instead of instead of Yahshuah.

Due to limited language sounds, it may have had to be written Iesous, but that is not YHWH's intention. At one time that was acceptable due to the lack of telephones, TV and quick transportation. But now we can pronounce to others exactly how we want words to sound and not rely on letters to speak for us. This is all hard for me to get my point across in writing for many reasons. One I can't type worth beans, Two, you can't hear my voice, and three, I am a simple man that uses simple words to try to get my thoughts across. I am not a scholar or Pastor or even a Rabbi. I am just someone who has a love for his Heavenly Father.

OK, let me get back on track here. We were talking about the meaning of Biblical name and their importance, right? I was just trying to point out the Name which most people know the Savior, is not His actual Name.

The name most often used has no meaning at all. It was made up to represent a name that could not be pronounced with the language that the Gospel writers were writing with and who they were writing to.

Bear with me as I try one last time to get my point across. Remember, the name doesn't change the person, but it can affect the personal-ness of a relationship.

As you know by my e-mails, I go by two initials, but the periods in my name let you know that my name means something other than just the initials.

People are always getting these initials confused.  When people make these MISTAKES, I do not point them out because I know their intention. They just don't know they are mistaken. It doesn't make me mad or hate them, I just accept it and don't try to make them feel bad by correcting them. Some older people here have known me for years by the wrong name. A few years ago, name badges were purchased for the staff here for several reasons. One, to identify who worked here and two, to make people more comfortable by giving them a name to call us by. Much to many peoples surprise, I became a different person to them. Not by actual being, but by the revelation of my true identity. I got apology after apology when the people that were mistaken took the time to read the name badge. Many said, "Why didn't you tell me I was calling you by the wrong name"? I just let them know, I knew they meant no harm and were just going by what others had told them my name was. Once the truth was revealed, most felt better that they were not mangling my name. Not one has ever said "I don't care what your actual name is or what you want to be called, I am comfortable with calling you Chris and that is what I will call you, unless you have some objection". I would not object if that was said,  but knowing the truth and disregarding my feelings, wouldn't draw me any closer to that person. I wouldn't shy away from them either, but it sure would tell me a lot about who's feelings were more important.

Bob, it is strange but this last paragraph just recently came to me as an analogy for you. I never thought about it, but maybe that is why my mother named me as she did. The name Robert doesn't get messed up as often as mine does. I never realized the uniqueness of my name until just now. Maybe it was for such a time as this. A time when others like me are trying to draw as close as possible to our Friend and Savior. I want to seek mutual comfort in my personal relationship. In doing so, you need to seek the other person feelings out first. I want to place Him above all.

So, hopefully as you can see, this is a relationship issue rather than a Greek Manuscript issue. Is it just a name or is there thought, feeling and meaning behind that Name. I think it is about time to apologize to Yahshuah for the misunderstanding, and say thank you to  modern communication that makes it possible to read His name badge.

Response #7:  I can identify with the name thing to some degree. I get people calling me "Bill" quite a lot – most likely because Bob and Bill are fairly close and "-bill" is the last syllable of my last name. I had a seminary prof. whom I liked quite a bit who did this consistently over several years. I never felt the need to correct him. I am a sinful and imperfect person. If I can see and understand that who I am is a lot more important than any name by which I might be mistakenly called, then I am very sure that My Savior who is perfect and knows what is in my heart is not going to find my use of "Jesus" offensive, even it is a mistake (a point which I am still not conceding).

Thank you for your straight-forward response to my previous question. I now understand your position. I don't agree with it, mind you, but if I thought as you did about the text of the NT, then I might find your point of view more reasonable and your arguments more persuasive. However, if we take the position that the scripture is a mere translation of something that was once original, then we are doomed, in my view. That is because – in that hypothetical case – no one could then tell us definitively what the Bible says or means since we would be working merely from a translation – and if we don't know Greek, for example, from a translation of a translation! As someone who works with these issues both as a career and a calling, I can tell you emphatically that all translation is interpretation, so that to remove the authority of the text of the NT is essentially to render it meaningless – at least for all practical purposes. If I thought this were the case, I would despair of ever figuring out anything in scripture, give up this ministry, and take up some time-consuming hobby instead – because my task of understanding what the Bible really says would then be rendered impossible. Happily, that is not the case. I believe in the infallibility of the Word of God, and that that Word is faithfully, fully, and inerrantly represented in the text of scripture. True, some scripture is "translated" as we have observed, but even this was done under the Holy Spirit's control so that it is precisely the words of, say, the book of Romans as they occur in their Greek original which are inspired (rather than some theoretical Hebrew exemplar that the apostle Paul may or may not have had in the back of his mind). Liberal theology has done quite a bit of damage to the community of true faith by taking this theory of the "Ur-text" to various extremes (e.g., "form criticism"). I'm not saying at all that this is what you are doing, but it is important to point out that some doctrinal points of view are more potentially damaging to faith than others (e.g., anything that calls into question the Person of Christ is equally dangerous).

Anyway, I think you can see now why my position on this isn't likely to move, for no other reason than that I believe Iesous is inspired in form and usage (and thus sets both example and precedent for "Jesus"); and at the same time I can see from what you have shared with me that unless and until you adopt the same belief of "high inspiration" that this argument will not be decisive for you. Thus we seem to be at an impasse.

In any case, I have enjoyed our discussion and am happy to chat about this or anything else further. At some point in the (unfortunately what is looking more and more like the far distant) future, I hope to have available the final installment in the Basics series, "Bibliology, the study of the Bible", a study which will flesh out in much more detail why I believe as I do in the inspiration of scripture. Until that time, I would be pleased to discuss the issue with you one on one.

In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #8:  Hi Robert, I had a quick thought about our topic of discussion on His Name. As we discussed, His Name, Jesus/Yahshuah, has meaning according to Scripture, thus the reason for His Name. As I had said before, according to the Strong's or the Dictionary for that matter, the word Iesous or Jesus has no meaning, other than a reference to it being the Greek equivalent of Joshua. I believe the Hebrew to Greek translation was a sound for sound translation, even as you had pointed out it was written in Greek. Even if that was the case, there is still no meaning to those Greek names. If the importance of the names were their meaning as is pointed out in the Hebrew, wouldn't it make sense to write the Name as it would be in the Greek with the words that meant what His Name was supposed to mean? Did I make any sense there? Let me give you the example. If Yahshuah means "Yah Saves" built from the poetic form of Yahweh and the Hebrew for Salvation, shouldn't the same be done in the Greek? Example, Theosotoria. Theos is Greek for God and Sotoria is Greek for Salvation. This would make more sense, would it not? Theosotoria would give meaning back to the Greek name. After all, YHWH had chosen a meaningful name, not one that just sounded good, right? I don't know how accurate my attempt is at translating the thoughts behind the Name Yahshuah into a Greek name. If they could get the name and meaning of the name Joshua translated accurately, how come they couldn't do the same for Our Saviors Name that means the same as Joshua?

Since it is Christmas time, you might also consider that we don't call Hanukah the "Festival of Lights" – we use the Hebrew name.

Response #8:  On Hanukkah, as with other events, it may be mentioned in the Bible but that is not the same thing as God instituting it as a festival. The festival was of human origin; a tradition (like Christmas and Easter) rather than a divine ordinance.

As to the rest, to take an example, in his defense before Festus and Agrippa, the same passage where he mentions that Jesus spoke to him in Hebrew, Paul quotes the Lord by using the Greek name Iesous, i.e., "Jesus". That is to say, here we have scripture giving us a verbatim account of Paul evangelizing, and in doing so he saw no problem with using Jesus' Greek name, even though we may be sure that Agrippa would have understood a Hebrew rendering of it. Yes Greek certainly can translate as well as transliterate. "Savior" is a translation as is "Lord" (kyrios) while "Emmanuel" and "Jesus" are transliterations. Scripture uses both techniques. Therefore as I have said at least a dozen times by now, since God's holy Word leads the way in doing what I am doing, I see nothing wrong with it.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #9:  Hi Bob, Hanukkah may not be a Divine ordinance, but there must be some significance in recognizing it along with Yahshuah in that Scripture. Unlike Christmas and Easter that are never mentioned as to any of His followers observing these traditions of man. We know how corrupt the celebrations of man's Christmas and Easter are or have become. But that is a whole other topic.

I agree somewhat that as long as we are lead to Yahshuah, the words or way doesn't matter. I have heard it said that drugs lead many to the Lord. That may be true and ultimately good for that person. The end result may not make any difference especially in regards to His name. But once you know who and where He came from and the culture He was raised and loved, once you know that, His actual given Name, the one His mother called Him, why would we want to stick to the traditions of man over expressing the love of our Savior in His mother tongue? I know, it doesn't matter. maybe not to you and maybe not so much to Him, but maybe it would show Him that we are above the popular opinion and we are seeking to be a close to Him as possible. Just a thought,

Response #9:  Hanukkah is only mentioned at John 10:22 as a time marker. That is its only significance. Nothing in that scripture suggests it was anything more than a humanly instituted tradition. Scripture mentions plenty of things by way of historical existence without thereby approving of them. Scripture has a lot to say about the devil. We can get from this that he exists. We cannot get from this that he has divine approval.

As I said in the previous and one way or another in all of the previous e-mails, this practice of ours in using the name Jesus is definitely not "sticking with the traditions of man". Rather, it is sticking with the tradition and practice of scripture which is inspired by God. If Paul uses the Greek name Jesus – not in a translation but in actual evangelism – and if scripture records not only the event but the actual spelling of that Greek name as it was actually used at that time, it would seem to me that one cannot reduce that to "man's tradition" without overturning the authority of scripture since it is the scripture that does it and records it. Of course the names of God have been translated into many languages other than English, so I do not have any issue with you back-translating them into Hebrew. It's just that this is not the example given to us by the apostles or the scriptures. You won't find "Yashuah" or any variant thereof in the New Testament, and there are innumerable places and occasions where the writers inspired by Spirit could have used this version of our Lord's name (cf. the transliteration "Emmanuel"). Again, I don't have any problem with you doing what you're doing, but I really must object to doing differently being characterized as "following the traditions of men" when in fact all we are doing thereby is following the traditions and practices of the apostles and the Word of God.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #10:  Hi Bob, When you said that the mentioning of Hanukkah is a time marker, it reminded me of other mentionings in Scripture. So are you saying there is no other significance than giving time reference for mentioning this Feast? What would be the purpose of the time reference? It doesn't change the meaning of the text if Yahshuah was not a participant or was using the reference as a metaphor for perhaps a clear dedication of His purpose and Ministry here. If it was time alone, there is no reason to even mention it and if it were left out, no one would ever miss a thing. I guess when I was younger and I was told by my parents that I need to read the Bible, I glanced over things like Feast of Dedication and Passover. What difference does it make when things happened in the Bible? It wasn't about the time that was important, it was about the action that took place, right? Or maybe there is more to His word. Maybe EVERY Word IS YHWH breathed and has a purpose under Heaven and we may be taking His Word to lightly in some cases just due to the fact we are from another time and culture and some things can get overlooked. This is one of the things I realized after I went to Israel. I had no interest in going really, and certainly did not have the money to go. But my mother-in-law wanted my family and I to go and paid the way. I am glad I went and would go again in a heartbeat if given a chance. In fact my wife and I talk about moving there some day. After going, I did not have an oohy gooey feeling about possibly walking in Yahshuah's footsteps or touching something He may have touched. I had no spiritual experience from going there. Some people do and that is fine. I did become more aware of the Bible and its Words and how they apply to us as believers. I found that not knowing the people and culture can cause us to take for granted and overlook many things. I did not go with a Messianic group or Jewish group, I went with the Pastor of a non-denominational church that I was attending. A Pastor who also disagrees with my views that I have now. My eyes were opened to many truths while I was there and the Bible has come alive. It is not just stories any more, it is His loving Instruction manual for our lives. More and more of the Bible had meaning instead of just fill in words or useless references. Each and every Word has more importance than we give them credit. I think all teachers of the Word should go to Israel at some time early in their ministry to get a better perspective on the land and subject they are teaching on.

In all honesty, and placing the Bible aside just for this question, what name, in what language do you think our Messiah introduced Himself as throughout His life in his home town? No right or wrong answer, just an opinion.

Have you ever been to Israel? The food has much to be desired in my opinion, my family loves the food. The landscape is beautiful.

Response #10:  On Hanukkah, Passover is clearly a much different case because Passover was a biblically mandated festival whose observance was only abrogated by the cross. Hanukkah, on the other hand, is an entirely human invention. Every word in the Word of God is inspired, important and is there for a purpose. Our job as teachers and interpreters of the Bible is determine exactly what that purpose and meaning is in each case. To overstate or understate or incorrectly state the meaning or purpose of any of the Bible's words, sentences, verses, etc. is an error. Nobody can be perfect on that score of course, but that is the standard to which we are called, "rightly dividing the Word of truth". The time marking of this phrase in John 10:22 turns out to be extremely important as a matter of fact. This phrase gives us a critical piece of information which helps us to establish the chronology of Jesus' earthly ministry (and that is important for any number of reasons: see the chart, A Comparative Chronology of the Ministries of John the baptist and Jesus Christ). It is also very helpful to understand that this festival was being held in Jerusalem at that time (e.g., gives us a sense of the traditionalism that characterizes the spirituality-lacking religion of that time), however I notice that nothing in context suggests that Jesus participated in the festival. Hanukkah existed then and it exists now (like Christmas and Easter exist now). My only point is that the mention of the festival in scripture definitely does not equate to divine approval of the tradition any more than the mention of pagan observances or customs in the Bible do. In my view, since Hanukkah was a human invention, we would have to have some indication from scripture that Hanukkah is approved by God to recommend its celebration, and I am not aware of any such passage.

On the name, from what I have been able to determine Nazareth was a crossroads of Greek, Aramaic and (less so) Hebrew culture. They definitely did speak Hebrew in Jerusalem, but in the north Jesus most likely introduced Himself in Greek and Aramaic. I'm not sure what precisely the Aramaic version would look like, but there would have been some difference. The biblical Aramaic root for "deliver", for example, is shazabh (which would yield something like Yashzabhah). As I say, it is not uncommon in today's world for people in multi-lingual environments to have name equivalents in other languages, and that was certainly the case in antiquity as well (as mentioned before, Daniel and his three friends; Paul/Saul etc.).

On the subject of visiting Israel, I have studied Modern Hebrew and had a number of archaeological classes on the subject but have never been to Israel. Like Greece (where I have been several times), I would imagine that it's all gone now, and the topography is even much changed since antiquity. It's fun to go to Greece, but its utility for my scholarship is limited. For sentimental reasons I would love to go to Israel but I feel it might be counterproductive for me at least. I purposely didn't go to see that Mel Gibson movie precisely because I didn't want images that bore little relation to the past reality I have been laboriously trying to uncover through the truth of the Word to interfere negatively (and I suspect seeing what Israel looks like today would likewise give many false impressions). Paul got into serious trouble listening to his emotions rather than his head on this very subject (i.e., his ill-conceived final trip to Jerusalem). Given the fact that the end times are upon us and Israel will be the focal point of much of the trouble that will ensue it seems to me that moving there would be a huge mistake. I will go to Israel if I am still around when the call to "flee Babylon" comes down, for then I believe that Israel will be the proper destination for the remaining believers not destroyed in the Great Persecution, the place of gathering just before the Lord's return (please see the link:  in CT 5: "Flee Babylon!").

I do like middle-eastern food though!

In Jesus,

Bob L.

 


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