In the Name of Jesus: the Meaning of the Words 'Jesus Christ'

Many Christians act like they believe that the name Jesus has magical qualities. Most Christians conclude their prayers with "in Jesus' name we pray" because of the basic interpretation of Jesus' saying that "whatever you ask in my name" will be done. It is argued by many Christians that a prayer not ended this way is a futile prayer. There are spiritual songs that allude to the power in the name Jesus, making the name a magic talisman, like abracadabra.

His name in Aramaic was Yeshuah. That is what he was called by his family and friends. Yeshuah means "he who saves" or "he will save" or "Savior" (see Matt. 1:21). Since Hebrew and Aramaic had no vowels, his name was written the same way as Yoshuah, which is Joshua in English. There are only three letters in his name. The first letter is pronounced yoad. That can be transliterated as a Y or a J in English. The second letter is pronounced sheen, which is SH in English. The third letter is pronounced hay, which is an H in English.

His name in Greek was 'Iesous, which is pronounced Yay-soos. The letters are Iota, Eta, Sigma, Omicron, Upsilon, Sigma. The little mark in front of the first letter tells us that this beginning vowel is not preceded by an H. This translated into Latin with the same pronunciation as in Greek, but was spelled Jesus. The Greek and Latin translations had no meanings like the Hebrew word, but were mere transliterations.

Since Yeshuah was a fairly common name in Jesus' day, he would have differentiated from others named Yeshuah by other names meaning son of Joseph or house of David or of Nazareth. He was not referred to in his own time as Yeshuah Christ. The English word Christ comes from the Latin word Christus, which comes from the Greek word Christos, which means the same thing as the Hebrew word Messiah, which means the anointed one (or one chosen by God for a special purpose).

So, the English words Jesus Christ are actually two phrases in Hebrew or Aramaic, Yeshuah Messiah. They mean he who saves, the anointed one. In the original language, they would be pronounced Yeh-shoo-ah Muh-she-yack, with the accent on the second syllable of both words.

Back to the beginning, there is nothing magical in the name Jesus. Properly understood, in the name of Jesus means in the essence of Jesus or as Jesus did it or with Jesus. The meaning of name in both Hebrew and Greek is essence or identity. In those days, your name was your identification card, your birth certificate, your passport, and the most significant thing about you. Praying to God in Jesus' name can mean in a very profound sense that one is praying as Jesus prayed. And how did Jesus pray?

For further information, contact Dr. Ray Dykes, 405-728-2844 or e-mail.