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As Christians we declare that we follow the one and only true Son of God called Jesus Christ. We believe that He came from Heaven through a virgin birth, lived in Judea two thousand years ago, performed miracles, was crucified and resurrected from the dead so we can be part of the New Covenant and receive atonement. Everyday thousands of people utter the name of Jesus, some in prayer, others in worship, while others use the name to display frustration.
We open our Bibles and see the name Jesus, we go to church and (hopefully) hear the name Jesus being spoken from the front. We assume that everyone over the past two thousand years has called out to the name of Jesus Christ as well. Even back when He was walking the earth the crowds went out to hear the words of Jesus Christ and to witness His miracles, or did they?
The Secret No One Is Telling You
Today we just assume that because we call Him Jesus Christ that everyone else throughout history has as well. It is the belief that the way it is now is the way it has always been because we are always right and nothing really changes in the world. It’s like how people assume that places such as New York city, Istanbul, or France have always gone by those names. However, that’s not true; New York used to be called New Amsterdam, Istanbul was called Constantinople, and France was called Gaul. Be it because of changes to a language, invasions, or a differing of opinion names change over the decades and centuries.
Even if there aren’t the changes mentioned above, differences in language can change a simple name into a myriad of variations. Take Germany for example, that isn’t the nation’s actual name it’s the English version of it, in French it’s called Allemagne, while the Germans themselves refer to it as Deutschland. The same goes for nations in the Bible, what we call Egypt the ancient Jews called Mizraim, or that Tarshish is southern Spain and Yavan (Javan) is Greece.
We see then that names may change over time but the things they identify remain the same, but what does this have to do with Jesus? Isn’t Jesus His one and only name and isn’t that what everyone called Him during His ministry, first name Jesus, last name Christ? Have you ever questioned why Christ his last name, I don’t remember there being a Mary and Joseph Christ in the early pages of Luke, no there’s something missing here, something that’s been forgotten.
If Christ isn’t His last name then Jesus is still His first name right? It may shock you to know that no one ever referred to Him as Jesus when He walked the earth. In those days He was called by fellow Judeans “Yehoshua.” That name was the one given to Him when He was eight days old during His circumcision ceremony. It is the name Mary called Him by as a child, the name He was known by in the synagogue, and it was the name the apostles would have recognized Him by: Yehoshua from Nazareth the Messiah.
Lost In Translation
If Yehoshua is His name what does it mean? Yehoshua is interpreted from Hebrew/Aramaic as “Yahweh the Savior” or “Yahweh our deliverer.” While the name Christ is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word Mashiach (Messiah), which literally means the anointed one and his anointing. To be anointed means to be covered and/or soaked by either oil or the Spirit of God, David being anointed by Samuel for example (1 Sam 16:12-13). Therefore, when we casually say the name Jesus Christ we are literally saying “Yahweh our savior and deliverer from Nazareth (literal definition varies between “branch” and “guard”) the one covered with the Spirit of God.”
How then did we go all the way from His name being Yehoshua to Jesus? In Jesus’s time because of Roman (and earlier Ptolemaic Greek) rule it was customary to for Jews to have two names. They would have their Hebrew/Aramaic birth names and an alternate Greek name which was either a direct translation or something unique. Take Peter for example, with his multiple names, he was Simon (Shimon; to hear and one the twelve tribes) in Hebrew, Cephas (stone) in Aramaic and Petros (stone) in Greek. We see this with other disciples as well as Matthew who was called Mathaios (gift of God) in Greek and Levi (to be joined and one of the twelve tribes) in Hebrew and with Judas (not Iscariot) who was called Yehuda (praise and is one of the twelve tribes) in Hebrew and Thaddeus (courageous heart) in Greek and Aramaic.
The reason for these double names is that while the people of Judea would speak Aramaic or Hebrew at home and among themselves, while Greek was the primary political and business language in the Roman Empire. If you did any business in the Roman Empire outside of what we know today as Italy you did it in Greek. Even in our day we see the same phenomenon with English (and to a growing extend with Mandarin), where people and businesses will learn English to access new markets and to grow in the global markets.
Through all of these political and linguistic influences which Jesus’s home country was facing we see then that to the Jews Jesus was called Yehoshua and to the Greeks and Romans He was called Iesus. At its core both translations of the name carry the same meaning just in different languages, but how did it become the Jesus we know today?
We already know that the Greek translation of Yehoshua was Iesus, when the name was translated into Latin (the language of the Romans) it remained the same. It wasn’t until centuries later after the fall of Rome when the Latin language fractured into Spanish, French and Italian that things started to change. When Iesus was translated into French the “I” was turned into a soft “J” and would be pronounce as Jeyzu., This was because of the German influences of the language, as in Germans all of the “Y” names in Hebrew were turned into “J” names, such as Yirmeyahu to Jeremiah (for reference is was Ieremias in Greek). Later as the English language developed as an amalgamation of Latin, French, German and other languages the soft “J” was turned into a stronger German type hard “G” type pronunciation leaving us with the Jesus we know and love today.
But this is where things begin to get very interesting, if we were to make a direct translation from Hebrew to English of the name Yehoshua would not be Jesus but Joshua.
It’s hard to accept I know, but even in older King James Versions of the New Testament we see in two instances where Joshua and Jesus are used interchangeably. In these two verses the writer is clearly speaking of the Joshua who came after Moses. Yet His name was translated as Jesus because of the Greek texts which read Iesus.
Acts 7:45 Which also our fathers that came after brought in with Jesus into the possession of the Gentiles, whom God drave out before the face of our fathers, unto the days of David; KJV
Hebrews 4:8 For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. KJV
We even see this exact same translation in the Septuagint, the Greek version of the OT which was the most popular translation used in the time of Jesus. There it also translates the name of Joshua/Yehoshua into Iesous.
I guess that does it, I broke the church as we know it and we don’t worship the Son of God called Jesus, but the Son of God called Joshua. I guess its time to rewrite all of those popular worship songs. I can’t wait to start singing songs such as “Joshua Lover of My Soul,” “Joshua Freak,” “Just Give Me Joshua,” and “Turn Your Eyes Upon Joshua.” It also looks like anything from U2’s Joshua Tree album is now fair game for Sunday mornings, who knew? We can also use this knowledge to launch a hip new rebranding campaign; “are you hurting, and looking for purpose in life then come to the church of Joshua the Soaked and find love, peace and eternal life.”
Promised Land Parallels
With this new understanding about Jesus’s name being Joshua things begin to get very interesting. Jesus lived out His earthly ministry according to the prophecies and scriptures written about Him (1 Corinthians 15:4). God planned all the way back at the beginning what Jesus would do on the earth and how He would use prophets and other writers to declare what was to come, even if the true measure of what they received were veiled to them and their readers at first. We see this same kind of divine planning which went into the life of Joshua, as many of the things he did were prophecies and guideposts towards the the second Joshua that would later come. These two lives are in many ways direct parallels of each other. Just as the coming Messiah was hidden in the Law given to Moses, His destiny was revealed through the life of Joshua.
Joshua’s name in Hebrew was originally Hoshea which means “a savior deliverer”, (Num 13:8) but later his name was changed to Yehoshua, no longer a “savior/deliverer” but “Yahweh the (is my) savior/deliverer.” This name change happened after he spied out the land of Canaan and came back along with Caleb with a good report (Numbers 14:6) and tried to motivate the people to go and take the Promised Land. That day he was renamed Yehoshua, no longer to be a savior/deliverer in his own strength but a declaration that Yahweh is the savior/deliverer of the people. That name “Yahweh is the savior & deliverer” is exact the name given to the Christ/Messiah and it is a continuation of the name Immanuel “God with us”. Just like Joshua, Jesus came after Moses (a picture of the Law) to lead the people into a Promised Land, Joshua was appointed to lead the people into the physical land of Canaan while Jesus came to bring us into our Heavenly Promised land.
The parallels don’t stop there:
-Joshua sat in Moses’ tent and watched as God and Moses talked (Ex 33:11); Jesus sits at the right hand of God in the heavenly tabernacle and talks with God directly.
-Joshua refused to worship the golden calf at Mt. Sinai (Ex 32:17); Jesus refused to worship Satan in the wilderness.
-Joshua called on the people after spying across the Jordan to go and fight the giants of the land (Num 14:6, 30); Jesus conquered the Devil and calls His followers to go reclaim souls from the enemy.
– Joshua waited three days before crossing the Jordan (Josh 1:10-11) into the Promised land; Jesus remained in the grave 3 days before ascending to glory.
-Joshua crossed the Jordan on dry land (Josh 3:1-17) through a miracle of the Spirit; while Jesus was baptized into it and the Spirit appeared as a divine witness.
-Joshua who unlike Moses (the giver of the law) led the people into the promised land (Num 26:65, 27:18-23, Deut 31:14-15); Jesus who fulfilled the law leads us into the promised land of forgiveness, righteousness and total relationship with God.
-Joshua after crossing the Jordan circumcised every man (Josh 5:1-7); Jesus after crossing from death to life has circumcised our hearts and has written His law upon it.
-Joshua led the armies of Israel to capture the Promised Land (Deut 31:1-8, Josh 1:2-3); Jesus leads the armies of heaven and the church to expand the kingdom on earth.
-Joshua who uttered a cry and the walls of Jericho fell (Josh 6:16-20); Jesus who made His cry on the cross and the veil of the temple was torn in two.
-Joshua spared the life of the harlot Rahab (Josh 6:25); Jesus spared the life of the woman caught in adultery.
-Joshua who prayed that the sun should not set until he had completed the battle (Josh 10:12); Jesus upon the cross brought darkness over the land until he had declared “it is finished”.
-Joshua and the people faced betrayal and defeat because of the greed of one man Achan (Josh 7:19-26): Jesus was betrayed because of the greed of one man Judas Iscariot
-Joshua made a covenant with the heathen Gibeonites to spare them from the Judgment of God on the land (Josh 9); Jesus made a New Covenant for both Jew and Gentiles to spare them from the eternal judgment of God.
-Joshua made a public display of the fallen kings he had defeated (Josh 8:29, 10:24-26); Paul says that Jesus made a public spectacle of the spiritual forces He has defeated (Col 2:15).
-Joshua commissioned the 12 tribes to continue the fight and claim their territory (Josh 23:3-5); Jesus commissioned the 12 apostles to preach the gospel to every people, tribe and nation so the Kingdom would be spread.
Of all of these parallels the most important one is that Joshua came after Moses to bring the people out of the wilderness and into the promised land.
There’s Something About That Name
Jesus, Iesus, Yehoshua, Isa, Jezu, Yesu, Hesus, Iosa, Ihu or how it appears in any other language how we pronounce His name is not the issue as long as we know the power behind it. The name in itself isn’t a magic word, the power comes from His actions, sacrifice, resurrection and in who He is. Our faith in who truly He is will move mountains not whether we use an I or a J, or if we pray in Greek, Aramaic or English. His blood, authority and dominion go beyond simple words. At His name, His true name “Yahweh our Savior the One covered with the Spirit of God.” every knee will eventually bow.
Where do we go from here? Understanding Jesus’s true name should awaken you even further to the purpose of His coming to earth, that we can see the parallels and previews of the life of Joshua and see its fulfillment through Jesus. We are to take this knowledge and use it to take that next step in understanding who Jesus is and how our lives revolve around that truth. That true name of “Yahweh our Savior the One covered with the Spirit of God” should be what we think about whenever we say His name, or read about Him, or pray, or even try to understand what it looks like for us to follow Him.
Jesus didn’t just come to make us good moral people, He came to save us from sin and its eventually outcome of death and separation from God. Like Joshua He leads us into enemy territory to retake the land in the name of God’s kingdom, but now rather then using swords we use faith, prayer, testimony, good works, love, compassion, power and the fullness of the Holy Spirit to do so.
It also means that we today as Christians must look at the life of Joshua and the people he led and do all that we can so that we don’t end up like they did in the book of Judges. Those who claimed a relationship with God but looked and acted even worse than the Canaanites they allowed to remain in their land, or those who would worship God only when they felt that Baal had failed or ignored them.
The secret name of Jesus must be known to us so we see Him as He truly is, our savior, deliver and King. We must take this knowledge and spread it to all people in all places that “Yahweh our Savior the One covered with the Spirit of God” has come to set us free and to bring us into the Heavenly promised land. The Law, our good deeds, or even our hearts desires cannot carry us into the Promised Land only Jesus can.
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The Secret Name of Jesus ChristCameron Conway is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.