The Name of Jesus

The Name of Jesus December 31, 2016

And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb” (Luke 2:21).  So tomorrow, the 8th day after Christmas, which falls on New Year’s Day, the church year commemorates the Circumcision and Name of Jesus.

With the baby’s circumcision, He took upon Himself the burden of the Law, which He fulfilled on our behalf.  And with His naming, His identity and purpose are made clear.  “Jesus” means “Yahweh saves.”  God saves.  His very name proclaims His divinity and His saving work.

His name in His language was “Yeshua.”  It is the same name that we render in our translations of the Old Testament as “Joshua.”  Christ’s name links Him to the warrior who brought God’s people into the Promised Land.  The new Joshua is the Prince of Peace who brings God’s people into the Heavenly land of promise.

His name in Greek, as given in the New Testament is Ἰησοῦς.  That would be transliterated in our alphabet as Iesous.  The Latin alphabet uses “J” for “I,” so the common spelling in the West became “Jesus.”  But the “J” was still pronounced as a “Y.”  English uses the letter “J” for the affricate/dʒ/, the voiced version of what we spell as the “ch” sound.  Not all languages even have those sounds.  A more accurate-to-the-original pronunciation would be “Yesus,” or minus inflectional endings, “Yesu.”  That, in fact, is how “Jesu” is pronounced in other European languages (as in Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring”).

When the Greek root is written in capital letters, we have “IHS” (iota, eta, sigma).  When you see those letters in church art, they do NOT mean “In His Service.”  They are the Name of Jesus.

We pray in the name of Jesus, being able to approach the Father in confidence because “God saves.”  The Apostles preached in the name of “God saves.”  At the name of “God saves,” every knee should bow.


Photo, Creative Commons, public domain

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