The Name which is above every name
Written by arkwriter   
Wednesday, 20 June 2012 04:29





Paul  S.  Wong


The Third Commandment reads like this:


“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.” (Ex. 20:7)


Many people who read the English Bible do not know the word “LORD” in capital letters is a translation of the Hebrew tetragrammaton יהוה “YHWH” that represents the sacred name of God.  Whenever this original Hebrew “YHWH” appears in the Old Testament the Jews would substitute the Hebrew word  “Adonai”  that literally means  “LORD”.  Their reason for doing so is because of the fear that they might violate the sacredness of God’s name.  The only time when the name “YHWH” was pronounced audibly as “YAHWEH” was when the high priest entered the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.  This Jewish tradition was still in effect during the time when Jesus Christ walked the earth.


While the religious Jews continue with their tradition of not uttering the name of “YAHWEH” even to this day, there is another extreme view that goes in the opposite direction.  The Sacred Name movement promotes the invocation of the name “YAHWEH”.  In their liturgy the English words “God” and “Lord” are replaced by the Hebrew words “Elohim” and “Adonai”.  Many Sacred Name assemblies use the Hebrew name of “YAHSHUA” and look upon the Greek/ English name of “JESUS” with disdain.  This is unfortunate but it is a fact that they avoid the name of “JESUS”.  It is highly commendable to use the Hebrew name of “YAHSHUA”, but to completely disregard the Greek/English name of “JESUS” or His name in other languages is a serious error.  Here is the rationale for having a balanced view on this issue.

The Hebrew name “YAHSHUA”

is related to Salvation

We need to realize that our Savior was born in Israel and His name was first revealed to His earthly parents who are Jews. “But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit,  And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name YAHSHUA (JESUS), for He will save His people from their sins.” (Mt. 1:20-21)  The angel revealed the Savior’s name “YAHSHUA” in Hebrew that consists of two words. The first word “YAH” is the shortened name for “YAHWEH”, the Eternal God, and the second word “OSHUA” means Savior.  “Then Moses said to God, “Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?’  And God said to Moses,  ‘I AM WHO I AM (YAHWEH)’.  And He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM’ (YAH) has sent me to you.” (Ex. 3:13-14)  When our Lord said, “Most assuredly,    I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” He was referring to His name “YAH” (Jn. 8:58). The Hebrew name “YAHSHUA” is related to salvation therefore it is more meaningful than another name in another language.  The angel gave the reason for this name.  “You shall call His name YAHSHUA, for He will save His people from their sins.”  The apostle Peter preached: “To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.” (Acts 10:43)  “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)  For this reason the meaning of the Hebrew name “YAHSHUA” should be understood by all believers.  There is a variation in the English spelling of this name.  Some spell “Y’SHUA” while others spell “YESHUA”.  There should be no conflicts on the spelling because they all refer to the same Savior.


The Greek/English Name

“JESUS” is also Acceptable


Many Sacred Name congregations do not use the Greek/English form of the name “JESUS” because of two main reasons.  They think that it is derived from the names "Zeus" or “IASO” the mythical Greek dieties.  This is incorrect.  Any reliable Bible dictionary will inform us that “JESUS” is a transliteration of the Greek “IESOUS”.  The second objection is that the letter ‘J’ was non-existent in the Hebrew alphabet therefore we should not pronounce the Savior’s name with the ‘J’ sound.  It must surely grieve the Holy Spirit to see God’s children arguing about the letter ‘J’ in our Savior’s name.  Our Heavenly Father is not concerned about phonetics.  He is not seeking a people who pronounce the Savior’s name that begins with a ‘J’ or a ‘Y’.  Our Lord said, “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.” (Jn. 4:23)  The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not about the letters ‘J’ or ‘Y’.  It is about the Eternal God who became Man so that He could suffer, shed blood and die for the sins of mankind. 


The Savior’s Name is above
every name in the world


“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of men.  And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.  Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 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, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil. 2:5-11 - NKJV)


For most Christians living in the English-speaking countries, the name of “JESUS” is “the name which is above every name”, but for the Sacred Name congregations they would rather have “YAHSHUA”, the Hebrew name of their Savior. One of their assemblies have printed its own Bible that uses the Hebrew words “Elohim” for “God”, “YAHWEH” for “LORD”, “YAHSHUA” for “JESUS” and “the Messiah” for “Christ”.  If they choose to use Hebrew names for their liturgy that is fine, but the name “JESUS” is also acceptable.


The Savior’s Name is 

the Best in any language


Let me affirm that I do believe the Hebrew name of our Savior is “YAHSHUA” and I do call upon this precious name in my prayers every day.  However, I pray and preach in the precious name of “JESUS” to my English-speaking Christian friends, and I also talk about “YESU” to my Chinese friends and relatives.  To me, the name of my Savior is above every name on earth, regardless of whether it is in Hebrew, Greek, English or Chinese.  In the Chinese Bible the name of the Savior is printed with these two Chinese characters 耶穌.  There are more than two hundred Chinese dialects and each one has a different pronunciation and enunciation.  In Mandarin these two characters would be read “YESU, in Cantonese it is “YE-SOU”, in Taiwanese it is “YA-SAW”, and in Hakka it is “YA-SU”.  You can see there are differences in pronunciation in only four Chinese dialects.  You can imagine the diverse ways of pronouncing the Savior’s name in the other two hundred Chinese dialects.  What about the pronunciation in the over three hundred Indian dialects, not to mention the tens of thousands of languages and dialects in the world?  Surely God cares for people of all languages. 

The Wonderful Works of God
in different languages

The Day of Pentecost is the birthday of the Church when the disciples “were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, ‘Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, . . . . Cretans and Arabs - we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.” (Acts 2:4-11) God was speaking to “devout men, from every nation under heaven” and “everyone heard them speak in his own language.” The disciples were talking about “the wonderful works of God” in various languages of the world. The word “God” was spoken in different languages. He is an international and multi-lingual God. If He wanted the Hebrew language to be the only means of communication He could have made the disciples speak only Hebrew and made everyone listen in that language. He wants to save people of all languages. “And they sang a new song, saying: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,” (Rev. 5:9; ref. 7:9).

Greek Language was Widely
Used in the Early Church

At the end of the Old Testament period (circa 400 B.C.) Hebrew began to fade out and Aramaic became the lingua franca of the South West Asia. By the time of Jesus Christ, Aramaic was the common vernacular in Palestine with koine Greek and Latin being universal languages. The super-scription on the cross was hence written in Greek, Latin and Hebrew/Aramaic (Lk. 23:38). This was done so that the people could read it in the language they are familiar with. The Gospel according to Saint Luke and the Acts of the Apostles were dedicated to a Greek believer Theophilus, therefore these two books were originally written in the Greek language. (Lk. 1:1-4; Acts 1:1)

Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, wrote nine epistles to the Gentile churches. Being a Roman citizen he wrote to the Roman church in Latin. (Acts 22:25-29; Rom. 1:7; 11:13) All the other eight epistles were written in Greek. Paul was well educated and spoke Greek. (Acts 21:37) He spoke to the Athenians using the Greek words “Theos” for “God” and “Kurios” for “Lord”. He used the same words over and over again in his eight epistles to the Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Thessalonians. In all his epistles he addressed the Savior in Greek as “Kurios Iosous Cristos” translated as “Lord Jesus Christ”.

The Church is “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner-stone.” (Eph. 2:20) With such strong and solid support from the New Testament we are convinced that the use of the Greek name and title “Lord Jesus Christ” is fully acceptable.

God Accepts His Different

Names from Different People

In the Old Testament time God revealed His different names to different people at different times. He does not insist on only one way of calling on His name.

    “And God spoke to Moses, and said to him: ‘I am YAHWEH (the LORD). I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as EL SHADDAI (God Almighty), but by My name YAHWEH (the LORD) I was not known to them.” (Ex. 6:2-3)

If “YAHWEH” is the only name that we can address our God then Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had no knowledge of it. We can see that different people called the Deity in different ways. Melchizedek, king of Salem, called Him “EL ELYON” - God Most High (Gen. 14:18-20). The prophet Isaiah called Him “Q’DOS YISRAEL” - Holy One of Israel (Isa. 1:4) and “BIR YISRAEL” - Mighty One of Israel (Isa. 1:24). We can exalt the One True God by addressing Him in different ways.

Our Lord Jesus Christ Addressed

God in Different ways

The four Gospels showed our Lord Jesus Christ addressing God in His prayers in different ways. In the Garden of Gethsemane our Lord “fell on His face, and prayed, saying, ‘O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me, nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” (Mt. 26:39) Mark recorded our Lord addressing His prayers, Abba, Father, all things are possible for You.” (Mk. 14:36). John recorded His prayer, “Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep them through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are” (Jn. 17:11) During His crucifixion “Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?’ (Mt. 27:46; Mk. 15:34) In the Sermon on the Mount He taught His disciples “In this manner, therefore, pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.” (Mt. 6:9; Lk. 11:2) Our Lord had addressed His prayers to “My Father” and “My God” and not once as “YAHWEH”. If our Lord Jesus Christ had never taught His disciples to pray in the name of “YAHWEH” no one should insist on it.

Our Lord Jesus Christ Taught

Us to Pray in His Name

The Lord Jesus Christ taught His disciples to pray in His own name. “And whatever you ask in My Name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.” (Jn. 14:13-14) He said that if we pray in His own Name YAHSHUA “the Father may be glorified in the Son”.

This article was first published in the Ark Forum
as the topic for discussion on June 29, 2002.
It is republished on June 20, 2012


Paul Wong is a Christian minister and the President of ARK International.
His ministry also serves as an architectural service company in Houston.
The ARK Forum on the Internet is international and non-denominational


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Last Updated on Sunday, 15 July 2012 21:24