It has come to my attention that some people are using the name “Yeshua” in place of the name “Jesus”. They want to go as far as saying that the use of Jesus’s name is some kind of sin, that it is some kind of pagan mistranslation and that our Lord won’t hear your prayer if you use the name Jesus. Where does this originate from? I had heard some people say that it is from the messianic Jews who want to claim the savior for themselves. I realize that Yeshua literally means Joshua.


This is a fairly common issue for certain segments of the Christian community to bring up.  You are right that the move to make a big deal out of the exact name we use for Jesus comes largely from Messianic Jews, but not entirely.   Some people tend to be legalistic and divisive and look around for issues to use as a point of division.  Such people find this an opportunity to create divisions.  

Here are the facts.  The writers of the New Testament, when writing the name of Jesus, did not use the Aramaic Yeshua.  They translatliterated it into a more Greek-sounding name when reaching out to a Greek audience.  The transliteration of Yeshua into Greek uses the Greek spelling roughly equivalent to Jesous–very similar to the English Jesus.  Jesus is not a pagan mistranslation.  It is a Christian transliteration.   If the apostles did not call our Savior Yeshua when speaking to Greeks, and they were the closest friends of Jesus and were also inspired teachers, then how can anyone claim that this is an important issue, never mind that it is a salvation issue?  To tell you the truth, this is really foolish and it does dishonor to Jesus to divide over this issue.  Do we really think Jesus would care what we call him?  Jesus was called the Nazarene.  He was called a Galilean.  He was called the Son of David.  He was called many things during his own lifetime and, as far as we know, he never made an issue out of what people called him.  I would bet that his mother had a nickname for him.  I propose that you can call Jesus whatever you want, as long as you love him!   The names Joshua, Jeshua, Yeshua and Jesus are all equivalent.   Yeshua does not “mean Joshua.”  Yeshua in Hebrew is often turned into Joshua in English.  In other words Joshua and Jesus are essentially the same name, like Isabel in Spanish and Elizabeth in English.  Probably Jesus was known as Yeshua to his Aramaic-speaking friends, but to make an issue out of this….  What can I say!

If you come across someone making an issue out of whether we call Jesus Yeshua or Jesus or Joshua, you should lovingly and patiently point out that even the New Testament writers did not call him Yeshua, so they are probably being a bit arrogant to make an issue that we know the apostles did not make.  You should humbly suggest that making this an issue is divisive and hurtful to Christianity.

John Oakes

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