Jesus Versus Yeshua


Matthew 1:21“And you shall call his name…” announced the angel Gabriel, “Jesus”.

No he didn’t. He said “Yeshua”. But then again, Gabriel wasn’t really called Gabriel either – in Hebrew it sounds different: “Gav-ree-el”. Mighty one of the Lord. But at least Gabriel sounds a bit like Gav-ree-el. It’s at least recognizable! How in the world did Yeshua, the actual Hebrew name for our Lord and Messiah, turn into Jesus?

The name Jesus is derived from the Hebrew name Yeshua/Y’shua, which is based on the Semitic root y-š-ʕ (Hebrew: ישע‎), meaning “to deliver; to rescue.” Yeshua/Y’shua was in common use by Jews during the Second Temple period and many Jewish religious figures bear the name, notably Jesus Christ in the New Testament.

The name Yeshua is a shortened version of the name Yehoshua or Joshua, similar to how Ben is the short name for Benjamin.

And if you’re not sure how to pronounce Yeshua, here  is a really short video that pronounces it correctly for you.

Yeshua is the Hebrew name, and its English spelling is “Joshua.” Iesous is the Greek transliteration of the Hebrew name, and its English spelling is “Jesus.” Thus, the names “Joshua” and “Jesus” are essentially the same; both are English pronunciations of the Hebrew and Greek names for our Lord.

The name Jesus, announced to Joseph and Mary through the angels (Matthew 1:21Luke 1:31), means “Yahweh saves” or “Yahweh is salvation.” Transliterated from Hebrew and Aramaic, the name is Yeshua. This word is a combination of Ya, an abbreviation for Yahweh, the name of Israel’s God (Exodus 3:14); and the verb yasha, meaning “rescue,” “deliver,” or “save.”

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

Yeshua Hamashiach means Jesus the Messiah. The Hebrew title—HaMashiachmeans “The Anointed One” The English word “Messiah” and the Greek “Christos” both mean “The Anointed One” in much the same way that “HaMashiach” in Hebrew does.

And while I’m addressing the original and translated names of Jesus, let’s also look at when it was foretold that the Messiah would be called “Emmanuel”.  In the prophecy of the virgin birth, Isaiah 7:14, the prophet Isaiah declares, “The Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” This prophecy had an initial fulfillment during Isaiah’s day, but it ultimately refers to the birth of Jesus, as we see in Matthew 1:22–23: “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ (which means ‘God with us’).” This does not mean, however, that the Messiah’s ACTUAL GIVEN NAME would be Immanuel.

There are many “names” given to Jesus in the Old and New Testaments, and Immanuel is one of them. Isaiah elsewhere prophesied of the Messiah, “He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). Jesus was never called by any of those “names” by the people He met in Galilee or Judea, but they are accurate descriptions of who He is and what He does. The angel said that Jesus “will be called the Son of the Most High” (Luke 1:32) and “the Son of God” (verse 35), but neither of those was His given name.

The prophet Jeremiah writes of “a King who will reign wisely” (Jeremiah 23:5), and he gives us the name of the coming Messiah: “And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The LORD is our righteousness’” (Jeremiah 23:6, ESV). Jesus was never called “The Lord Our Righteousness” as a name, but we can call Him that! He brings the righteousness of God to us. He is God in the flesh, and the One who makes us righteous (1 Corinthians 1:302 Corinthians 5:21).

To say that Jesus would be called “Immanuel” means Jesus is God, that He dwelt among us in His incarnation, and that He is always with us. Jesus was God in the flesh. Jesus was God making His dwelling among us (John 1:114). God keeps His promises. The virgin Mary bore a son. Two thousand years ago, in Bethlehem, we see that baby born and lowered into the hay for a resting place. That baby, as incredible as it seems, is God. That Baby is God with us. Jesus, as our Immanuel, is omnipotence, omniscience, perfection, and the love that never fails—with us.

No, Joseph did not name Jesus “Immanuel,” but Jesus’ nature makes Him truly Immanuel, “God with us.” Isaiah told us to watch for Immanuel, the virgin-born Son of God. He will save us; He will reconcile people to God and restore creation to its original beauty. We know Him as Jesus, but we can also call Him “God with us,” because that’s exactly who He is.

So, in closing, we refer to Jesus as “Jesus” because, as English-speaking people, we know of Him through English translations of the Greek New Testament. Scripture does not value one language over another, and it gives no indication that we must resort to Hebrew when addressing the Lord. The command is to “call on the name of the Lord,” with the promise that we “shall be saved” (Acts 2:21Joel 2:32). Whether we call on Him in English, Korean, Hindi, or Hebrew, the result is the same: the Lord is salvation.

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  1. Praise God that He is a language creating and knowing God. It amazes me that God knows every dialect past, present and future. My biggest fear is putting God in a box and when I think of culture and language, I am reminded how BIG God truly is! Great post! Lots of love and blessings to you and Peggy!


  2. Good word! “And they sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy art thou to take the scroll and to open its seals, for thou wast slain and by thy blood didst ransom men for God from every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and has made them a kingdom and priests to our God” Revelation 5:9. Let every tongue in every tongue proclaim, Jesus is Lord!


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