Is Jesus' Real Name Actually Yeshua?

Are Christians who say 'Jesus' worshiping the wrong savior?

Low angle view of Jesus statue against blue sky

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Is Jesus' real name actually Yeshua? Followers of Messianic Judaism, Jews who accept Jesus Christ as the Messiah, think so, and they're not alone. In fact, some Christians argue that those who refer to Christ as Jesus instead of his Hebrew name, Yeshua, are worshiping the wrong savior. These Christians believe that using the name of Jesus is like calling the Messiah the name of the Greek god Zeus.

What Is Jesus' Real Name?

Indeed, Yeshua is the Hebrew name for Jesus. It means "Yahweh [the Lord] is Salvation." The English spelling of Yeshua is “Joshua.” However, when translated from Hebrew into Greek, in which the New Testament was written, the name Yeshua becomes Iēsous. The English spelling for Iēsous is “Jesus.”

This means Joshua and Jesus are the same names. One name is translated from Hebrew into English, the other from Greek into English. It is also interesting to note that the names "Joshua" and "Isaiah" are essentially the same names as Yeshua in Hebrew. They mean "savior" and "the salvation of the Lord."

Given how translation factors into this debate, must we call Jesus Yeshua? Think of it this way: Words for the same object are said differently across languages. While the dialect changes, the object itself does not. In the same way, we can refer to Jesus by different names without changing his nature. The names for him all mean 'the Lord is Salvation.'"

In short, those who insist we exclusively call Jesus Christ Yeshua are overlooking the fact that how the Messiah's name is translated is not essential to salvation.

English speakers call him Jesus, with a "J" that sounds like "gee." Portuguese speakers call him Jesus, but with a "J" that sounds like "geh," and Spanish speakers call him Jesus, with a "J" that sounds like "hey." Which one of these pronunciations is the correct one? All of them, of course, in their own language.

The Connection Between Jesus and Zeus

The names Jesus and Zeus are in no way connected. This theory stems from fabrications and has made the rounds on the internet along with vast amounts of other misleading misinformation.

More Than One Jesus in the Bible

Jesus Christ, in fact, was not the only Jesus in the scriptures. The Bible also mentions others with the name, including Jesus Barabbas. He's often called just Barabbas and was the prisoner Pilate released instead of Jesus Christ:

So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” (Matthew 27:17, NIV)

In the genealogy of Jesus, an ancestor of Christ is called Jesus (Joshua) in Luke 3:29. Also, in his letter to the Colossians, the Apostle Paul mentioned a Jewish companion in prison named Jesus whose surname was Justus:

... and Jesus who is called Justus. These are the only men of the circumcision among my fellow workers for the kingdom of God, and they have been a comfort to me. (Colossians 4:11, ESV)

Are You Worshiping the Wrong Savior?

The Bible doesn't give preeminence to one language (or translation) over another. We are not commanded to call upon the name of the Lord exclusively in Hebrew. Nor does it matter how we pronounce his name. 

Acts 2:21 says, "And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (ESV). God knows who calls upon his name, whether one does so in English, Portuguese, Spanish, or Hebrew. Jesus Christ is still the same Lord and Savior.

Matt Slick at Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry sums it up like this:

"Some say that if we don't pronounce Jesus' name properly ... then we are in sin and serving a false god; but that accusation cannot be made from Scripture. It is not the pronunciation of a word that makes us Christian or not. It is receiving the Messiah, God in flesh, by faith that makes us a Christian."

So, go ahead, boldly call on the name of Jesus. The power in his name comes not from how you pronounce it, but from the person who bears that name: our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.