“And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.”
I have been seeing of late some people arguing that Jesus should not be called so but Yeshua. Many like arguments have been coming to the fore and it is quite disturbing at how such people would seek to disturb the tranquil of the church over insignificant, unverified, and unverifiable trifles.
We know how dear this sweet name is to us who believe in him. The hymn writer wrote this words, “How sweet the name of Jesus sounds in a believer’s ear! It soothes his sorrow, heals his wounds, and drives away his fear.” We have seen many sweet and worthy things said about that most noble name. It is this most noble name that people desire to cast the slur of vain trifles at.
So I wish to talk on that most holy name of the person of Jesus which has come under attack by such reckless talkers.
“For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.”
(2 Corinthians 11:4)
I may not have a full knowledge of this argument, but what I have heard is this, the letter J was not in use at the time of Christ so his name couldn’t have been Jesus. They trace the root of the letter J and say it was about fifteen centuries after Christ that the letter J was invented. Since the name of Jesus is the only name by which we could be saved we must therefore not believe in a Christ whose name starts with the letter J. The messiah whose name starts with the letter J is a false Messiah. That is the argument as I have heard it.
So what is being said is that the Jesus whose name starts with the letter J is another Jesus different from that which Paul preached. Is this argument true? Let us see below.
Language: A Shifting Sand
“And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech… Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.”
(Genesis 11: 1, 9)
Before I go on to talk on the core of the matter I’d like to point out some things to us about language. Language since man’s rebellion at the tower of Babel has been a shifting sand. This is how God ordained it to be as a punishment to our race. But just as we live with death which is a curse and let wisdom guide as we face its realities, so also must we live with the fact that language is a shifting sand which is a curse and let wisdom guide us as we face its realities.
Nations have different languages almost as varying as their geographical locations. The only uniform languages are those of colonial nations such as English, French, etc. To maintain the uniformity it has to be propped up by the educational systems in the colonised nations and with the help of a uniform dictionary. Even with such things meant to assist in maintaining uniformity in English Language for example, we still have seven types of English languages in the world.
Not only do languages change from place to place, nations to nations, people to people, etc., it also vary from time to time. Not many people who read and understand modern English Language thoroughly can understand old English, for example the English of the King James Bible is not readily understood by the modern reader. That is why many fall prey to the non sense written in contemporary English translations of the Bible. Not being able to understand the English in which it is written they opt for contemporary English translations which does the Christian faith a major disservice. I have read writings written before the King James Bible and they vary from the King James English. I have also read writings written between the time of the first publishing of the King James Bible to this present time and they vary from the King James English and vary from our modern English. Their difference are so striking, that should you take it as it is written and apply the meaning of the present time to them, you’d be shocked at why people would be writing such things. However when you read it giving meaning to what you read according to the context in which it is presented then would you be able to get what the writer really meant. There are many languages in the world that also have their old versions. There is old Spanish for example and old Turkish that many modern people don’t understand. Shall we then say they speak one language just because they are spoken by people in the same geographical location and are called by the same name of their nativity? Shall we judge old writings of such languages with the meanings of the present? No. To do so would be folly.
We can also see this varying effect in the very Bible and this is particular with the names of People. When talking about whose name is written in the Old Testament as, “Elijah” he is called “Elias” (Matthew 17:10). Elisha is called, “Eliseus” (Luke 4:27). The name Eliseus is so strange that as I write this words my system underlines the name Eliseus with red dots thinking it is wrong, but Elisha is seen as correct. Even Joshua in the Old Testament is called, “Jesus” in the New Testament (Hebrews 4:8).
Not only does the changes in names occur when a name in the Old Testament is referred to in the New Testament. We see that Jesus changed some of the names of his apostles, particularly that of Peter. Peter was originally called Simon but Jesus changed it to Peter meaning rock. This same Peter was called Cephas because that was the Greek meaning of his name. So Simon, Peter, and Cephas were the names of one person. Saul was later called Paul. Judas the brother of James introduced himself in his epistle as Jude not Judas. Elijah when he walked on earth was written as “Elijah.” When he was referred to in the New Testament he was called “Elias.” But in the same New Testament, the same Elijah is called “John,” that is “John the baptist.” That he is called John does not mean he is not the Elijah and/or Elias who was to come. The list goes on.
Now we are faced with differing geographical locations, differing people of differing history, differing language with almost absolutely nothing in common, and differing times, all these are we faced with all at once. Names are sure to change in such circumstance. Peter for example in my own native language is spelt Peteru. Pronounced Pay-Tay-Ru. Quite interestingly the name for rock (which Peter means) is apata which sounds like Peter. Maybe there is a connection between my language and ancient Hebrew, but there wasn’t enough reason to call his name Apata and we rather call him Peteru. In Latin he is called Petri. In some languages including mine John is called Yohana. The letter J is also pronounced as Y in many language, for example, the name spelt Jancker in German is pronounced Yancker. In such languages even when it is spelt Johana it is still pronounced as Yohana.
So language is never static and it is ever changing.
The Right Anchor Of Our Hope Of Salvation
“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”
Now upon what is our Salvation to be anchored? On the name of a sound or on the name of a person? On the name of a person of course. It is not upon the sound of his name that we hope but on the name of his person. Now names may vary but the person remains constant. As we have seen Elijah had a changed name in the New Testament, but all the time he was referred we understood that it was the same person. For where it is written “Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.” (James 5:17), we do not assume it was some one other than the same Elijah, probably one similar to him but with a different hair style. We don’t also assume that when Jesus called Peter by his name he did not refer to Simon. Neither do we think that when Paul made mention of Cephas that he referred to a Greek parallel guy of the Hebrew Peter. Nor do we think when Saul is called Paul it meant that it was not the Paul who consented to Stephen’s death and persecuted the church. If we read meanings to things this way, the testimony of Paul wouldn’t be complete. The testimony that says, “But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed. And they glorified God in me.” (Galatians 1:23-24). If his testimony was not complete because of the change of name, how shall then glory be given to God for his sake.
When we also look at the difference in names as they vary from language to language, we see that they don’t mean different people. People in another language call Peter Peteru, and John Yohana, all the while knowing that in English which can be considered a universal language it is Peter and John, yet when they are call by these names they are not understood to mean different persons from the ones who are called Peter and John, lest we think that they were deceived as the propounders of this argument of trifles think people are deceived to be worshiping Jesus as the Messiah.
So also is our faith, hope, and salvation not found in the name of a sound or spelling but in the person who was begotten, crucified, risen, and enthroned. It is he who said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6) that we hope upon. It is he who was prophesied that should come. It is he who is called Emmanuel. It is he by whose stripes we are healed. It is he of whom we read in our Bibles, “and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21). This is the anchor of our hope of salvation, the person of Christ.
When the Bible says, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12), lest we think that the emphasis is on his name than on his person, we see that it says first, “Neither is there salvation in any other.” We are first introduced with very special emphasis to his person, and the name mentioned later was in reference to his person not to the sound of the name.
Now here is the truth about this argument. It is an argument trying to shift our hope from a person to a sound or a spelling. It is an idolatry of having hope in a sound or spelling the way witches and wizards believe in the words they speak in their incantations. Our salvation is not built on an incantation. It is built not on a spelling or sound but on that most noble person of Christ. It is the people who practice incantations that are concerned about sounds. They are the ones that must curl their tongue in a particular way if their incantation is to work. But we are not of such. To have a hope on the sound or spelling of a name is to have hope on sinking and shifting sand. They who think their hope and salvation are found in the name of a sound or spelling have their hope and salvation lost in the sands of time for even they who say his name is Yeshua cannot tell us with all certainty (except for vain signs of presenting us with marks on old scrolls or wall carvings) that the Yeshua they say is not Yashua, Yishua, Yushua, Yoshua, Yaoshua, Yeoshua, or something of that sort. If the name Elijah could be transformed to Elias with time, how do we know that this hope of salvation has not been buried in the sands of time leaving us with nothing to hope on for salvation?
The Incomplete Reasoning Of Such Propounders
“There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification.”
(1 Corinthians 14:10)
Also we are to know that while all the wrath of the propounders of arguments of trifles have been angrily vented on the letter J, the whole of the letters of the English alphabet was introduced about five centuries after Christ. That is the earliest forms. But how we have it today has also been altered greatly. So if we say that Jesus should not be called so because the letter J was invented 15 centuries after Christ, then we ought not to have anything of our faith written or read with English alphabet. Everything should be written in Hebrew alphabet. If Jesus is another Jesus from which Paul preached, then the Bible is another Bible, and the gospel in it is another gospel. And the preachers of this gospel should be forever accursed, for it is written, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:8-9). But this is not another Christ, neither is it another gospel, but the one true gospel, only presented in our languages. Why should we be seen as people that should be accursed? That they reject the name Jesus and not the entirety of the Bible shows either their double standards in judgment or their incomplete reasoning.
Let these people say anything they want to say, it is obvious that it is important that we should have the good news of the gospel in our native languages that we may share in that salvation. We ought to also understand with clarity the gospel of Christ, as it is written, “So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air.” (1 Corinthians 14:9).
“For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?”
(1 Corinthians 14:8)
As said before, the reality of language is that it is a shifting sand. Wisdom must therefore guide us not to have our hopes of salvation planted on that which is a shifting sand. Woe to them who have their hope of salvation anchored on the sound of a name rather than in the person of Jesus Christ the begotten, crucified, risen, and enthroned. The name of his person is what is important not the sound or spelling of it.
Lastly, we must not for any reason on this account seek to justify modern “translations of the Bible,” and their foolish content, but we must still maintain the King James Bible. Changes in languages we are to accept as shown here occur naturally or of necessity, not by the orchestration of men. Especially when such actions of men are done with destructive intent. We must therefore still stick to the King James. You only need to read it regularly to understand it adequately. Thank you and remain blessed.
Prayer: Dear Father and Lord, we request today that you keep guiding us into all truths. Let us not be lured aside by foolish propounders of subtle heresies. Keep us loving that most sweet, noble, worthy, and magnificent name of your Son. That wonderful name of Jesus. Thank you dear Father. Amen.