Q. I have a friend who came to know Jesus several years ago. Now after getting some information off the internet he will only call Jesus “Yeshua”. He tells me that “Jesus” is a false name with pagan origins and therefore Jesus and Yeshua are two different people. He claims that people who worship “Jesus” are worshiping a false Messiah and are deceived. While those worshiping Yashua worship the true Messiah of the Bible. What are the origins of “Jesus” so I can explain to him that Jesus is His name and Yeshua is the Jewish way to say it.
A. The first official translation of the Bible into English took place abut 500 years ago. Therefore, people who make statements like this want us to believe that for 500 years everyone, including the greatest Biblical scholars of the time, has been deceived into worshiping a false god.
Jesus is English for the Greek word Iesous (pronounced E-a-soos). Although it’s a Greek word, Iesous has a Hebrew origin where it’s pronounced Yehoshua. It’s a compound word, made from two other Hebrew words. One stands for the name of God, the other means to save. Therefore Yehoshua means “God saves”. It’s the name the angel told Mary to give her Son in Luke 1:31. Since Luke wrote his gospel in Greek, he used Iesous. So Yehoshua became Iesous which became Jesus. They’re all the same.
Sometimes the Lord’s Hebrew name is shortened into Y’shua, which can be pronounced Yeshua. Next to Jesus, it’s the most popular way to say His name.
Apparently the pagan connection actually comes from the Greek word Christos (Christ), a title that also referred to Greek gods. Christos means anointed one and has its parallel in the Hebrew mashiach (messiah), which also means anointed one.
Those who complain that using Christ in connection with Jesus makes Him a pagan god are apparently unaware that God called King Cyrus of Persia His anointed in Isaiah 45:1 using the Hebrew word mashiach. Did that make Cyrus the Messiah? Of course not. The title has no importance of its own but derives its status from the name associated with it. Your friend is mistaken.
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Phil. 2:9-11).