Dr. John Hoole



You know those moments in life when you run into somebody who knows your name and you struggle to remember theirs.  You find yourself struggling with personal pronouns in hopes that your mind will locate the name of the person, you are speaking with. Those moments could be embarrassing for sure, but they are not always critical.


However, knowing the identity of Jesus is critical. It is important for us to get the identity of Jesus right – otherwise we will relate to Him in the wrong way.  You may forget a person’s name and wish you could avoid a little awkwardness.  But the consequences of missing the Identity of Jesus is far greater. 


Today we will look at the name given the Mary and Joseph through an angel. The Name JESUS.


An angel visited Joseph in Matthew 1:21 and said:


21     And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins."


The angel Gabriel visited Mary and said:


Luke 1:31 NKJV


31    And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus.


Then we read in Luke 2:21:


21     And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the Child, His name was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.


It was and still is the tradition to name a boy child at his circumcision. But Mary and Joseph knew his name before He was even born.



Did you know that some people claim that our Lord should not be referred to as “Jesus.”  Instead, according to them, we should only use the Hebrew name “Yeshua.”  Some even go so far as to say that calling Him “Jesus” is blasphemous.  They go into great detail about how the name “Jesus” is unbiblical because the letter J is a modern invention and there was no letter J” in either Greek or Hebrew.


Yeshua is the Hebrew name, and its translated English spelling is “Joshua.”


Iesous is the Greek equivalent of this Hebrew name, yeshua, and its English translation  is “Jesus.”  Thus, the names “Joshua” and “Jesus” are essentially the same.

Changing the language of a word does not affect the meaning of the word.  For instance, we call a bound and covered set of pages a “book.” In German, it becomes a buch. In Spanish, it is a libro; in French, a livre, in Russian, a Kniga.  The language changes, but the object itself does not.  And neither does its meaning.


As Shakespeare said, “That which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet” (Romeo and Juliet, II:i). In the same way, we can refer to Jesus as “Jesus,” “Yeshua,” or “YehSou” (Cantonese), Isa (Arabic), Iisus (Russian) without changing His nature.  In any language, His name means “The Lord Is Salvation.”


As for the controversy over the letter “J”, it is much ado about nothing.  It is true that the languages in which the Bible was written had no letter J.


While I enjoy studying Greek and Hebrew,  the Bible nowhere commands us to only speak or write His name in Hebrew or Greek.  It never even hints at such an idea.


Rather, when the message of the gospel was being proclaimed on the Day of Pentecost, the 120 in the Upper Room spoke in the languages of the of the people who had come to Jerusalem for this Jewish feast, such as we read in Acts 2.


Acts 2:9-11 (NKJV)


9     Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,

10     Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes,

11     Cretans and Arabs — we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.


In the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus was made known to every language group in a way they could readily understand.  Spelling and sound did not matter.


Now, having put that issue to rest, let’s examine what the Bible tells us about the name, JESUS.


There is no doubt that Jesus has, by far, the highest name recognition throughout the world today.  Fully one-third of our world’s population—about 2.5 billion people—call themselves Christians.  Islam, which comprises about 1½-2 billion people, actually recognizes Jesus as the second greatest prophet after Mohammed.  Of the remaining 3.7 billion people (roughly half the world’s population), much have either heard of the name of Jesus or know about Him.  Unfortunately, there are still some who don’t.


Scripture says Jesus has been given “the name that is above every name.  Read it in Philippians 2:9-11 (NKJV)


  9     Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,

10     that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,

11     and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.


 Again, the name, Jesus, is transliterated from Hebrew and Aramaic, Yeshua.  This word is a combination of Yah, an abbreviation for Yahweh, which the name of Israel’s God (Exodus 3:14) and the verb yasha, meaning “rescue,” “deliver,” or “save.”


As mentioned earlier, the English spelling of the Hebrew Yeshua is Joshua.  But when translated from Hebrew into Koine Greek, the original language of the New Testament, the name Yeshu becomes Iēsous.  In English, Iēsous becomes Jesus.


Thus, Yeshua and, correspondingly, Joshua and Jesus mean “Yahweh saves” or “the Lord is salvation.”


For examples of how the two names – Joshua an d Jesus -  are interchangeable, let’s look at two verse in the New Testament.


Acts 7:45 KJV


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;


The Jesus mentioned in this verse is not our Lord.  It is speaking of Joshua, as seen in other translations.


Acts 7:45 NKJV


45     which our fathers, having received it in turn, also brought with Joshua into the land possessed by the Gentiles, whom God drove out before the face of our fathers until the days of David,


Now look at Hebrews 4:8 KJV


8     For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.


Again, the word Jesus refers to the Old Testament character Joshua.


Over the past two thousand years, more people on planet earth have known the name of Jesus than any other name.  Since AD 33, over eight billion people, by one estimate, have claimed to be followers of this Jesus — or Jésus or Isus or whatever the Savior is called in your language.


Today, the name of Jesus can be found in more than six thousand languages, and more are being added every year.


On the one hand, it’s strange that this single name has dominated the past two thousand years of world history.


For most of us, the name Jesus has a sacred ring to it; it sounds holy and divine.  But this wasn’t the case when Mary and Joseph followed the angel’s instructions and gave their baby His name.   The name, JESUS, was a very common name at that time.


The first-century Jewish historian Josephus mentions at least twelve different people he knew with the name Jesus, including four high priests.


In Acts 13:6, we read of the Jewish false prophet, Bar-Jesus.  In Colossians 4:11, Paul mentions one of his fellow workers, Jesus, called Justus.


Again, the name of Jesus is  not phonologically unique.  It was a fairly common Jewish name and is still used today, though not in English.  Jesús is a fairly common name in many Hispanic countries.


Despite its commonness, the name Jesus is remarkably significant.  Jesus was sent by God for a particular purpose, and His personal name bears witness to that mission.


Just as the Yeshua/Joshua in the O.T. led his people to victory over the Canaanites, the Yeshua/Jesus in the New Testament led His people to victory over sin and their spiritual enemies.


The Lexham Survey of Theology eloquently captures this dual significance in the name Jesus:


“He was, from one angle, ‘just another Joshua,’ and yet, in another sense, he was the true Joshua—the one who would live up to the meaning of this name in ways that no others could.”

Galatians 4:4–5 says,


4       But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law,

5       to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.


God sent Jesus to save us (John 3:17).  That’s the meaning of Jesus’ name—“Yahweh saves”—and reveals His mission (to save and deliver) and His identity as Savior of the world.


The name of Jesus is important because of its meaning and because of whom it represents.  There are power and authority in the person of Christ Jesus, and, of course, the person is designated by the name.  Salvation is in the name of Jesus alone:


Acts 4:12 NKJV


12     Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."

(see also John 14:620:31Acts 2:21Joel 2:321 Corinthians 6:111 John 2:12).

Forgiveness of sins is received through the name of Jesus, as we read in Acts 10:43.


43     To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins."

 (see also 22:16).

Believers are 
baptized in the name of Jesus:  In Acts 2:38 Peter replied


"Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.


Even Napoleon himself admitted, "I know men and I tell you that Jesus Christ was no mere man: between him and whoever else is in the world there is no possible term of comparison."


However, Jesus is not just a name of a man who is unmatched by any other human.  It is also a name of infinite exaltation.  His name is glorified far above every other name, as we read earlier:


Philippians 2:9 NKJV

 9      Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,


If ever a name was packed with significance, it is the name Jesus.  In the name of Jesus we have what the world cannot give us.


• Peace that passes human understanding.


 • A forever home prepared for us by the one who has this name.


The Song of Solomon describes the experience of many, when it says, "Your name is oil poured forth" (Song of Solomon 1:3).