What is the difference between the Hebrew name Yeshua, Yahweh and God,
Jesus? The bible says that it is through his name that we are saved. Then
why do we call him Jesus instead of his Hebrew name, Yeshua?
First, let me be humble and confess that I am absolutely not an expert in
either Hebrew or Greek. You should therefore take my answer as a starting
point, from which you may want to pursue an answer from an expert in the
Hebrew language. Nevertheless, since this is a fairly simple question, let
me do my best to supply an answer.
The word Yeshua is a transliteration of the Hebrew name which is
translated Jesus in our New Testaments. It also happens to be the name of
Joshua, the one who led God’s people across the Jordan River to conquer
much of the Promised Land. Apparently, Jesus of Nazareth was not the first
to have this name. It is perhaps worth mentioning that Jesus’ native
language was not Hebrew, but was Aramaic. Aramaic is a Semitic language
with similarities to Hebrew. Therefore, one can assume that the Hebrew
pronunciation was not the exact form by which Jesus was called during his
It would appear that you are asking whether it is significant whether we
pronounce the name of Jesus as it was pronounced by his contemporaries.
Perhaps you are thinking of passages such as Acts 4:12, “there is no other
name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” or other
passages which command that we pray to God in the name of Jesus. One
should bear in mind that the phrase “in the name of” is an idiom, meaning
something like “because of the power of.” No one believes that the name of
Jesus saves us from our sins. Surely it is the blood of Jesus and the
grace of God which brings salvation. As an analogy, consider one of the
idioms one finds in movies, “Halt in the name of the law!” This phrase
means halt because of the authority of the law. It would be an error to
take the phrase “by the name of Jesus” in its literal sense.
Getting back to your question, it is not literally the name of Jesus which
brings salvation or which allows one to come to God in prayer, but it is
the power and authority of Jesus which brings these things. For this
reason, even if one were to recover the actual pronunciation of the name
of Jesus, or the exact pronunciation of the name of God (be it Jehovah or
Yaweh), this would not help us to be closer to God. Perhaps out of
respect, in your own worship and even in your own vocabulary with other
people, you may want to come as close to the correct pronunciation of
these names as possible. You may end up spending a lot of time explaining
to your friends why you are not using the traditional pronunciation, but
who knows, that may even provoke some helpful discussions. However, it
would not be helpful to be dogmatic about such a matter.
John Oakes, PhD