Should Christians Use the Hebrew Name of Jesus?

By Dirk Anderson, ©2022

Some Christians advocate using the Hebrew name for Jesus. Some claim that the name "Jesus" is of pagan origin, deriving from the Greek god Zeus.1 Some even advocate a conspiracy theory that Roman Catholics altered the Bible and changed the name of Jesus to a name sounding similar to the popular god Zeus. One Internet site advocating the Hebrew name makes this claim:

"They had worshipped Zeus as the supreme deity. Their savior was Zeus, so now they were ready to accept Jehoshua as Jesus - Iesous, meaning - hail Zeus. Now our translated scriptures say that Jahwah's (Jehovah's) Son's name is Jesus, which is a compound word made up of Ie and Zeus (Hail Zeus)."2

These people advocate that Christians should call Jesus by his Hebrew name, Joshua, which is pronounced as Yēshūá. They believe it is incorrect, unethical, or insulting to call Jesus by a different name, especially if that name is derived from a pagan source. Therefore, they insist that Christians should start using the name Yeshua when referring to Jesus.

The self-proclaimed apostle James Robertson writes:

"I want to confirm that Yah has clearly and repeatedly stated to me over more than ten years that the name 'Jesus' does NOT have his blessing or approval and He wants us to STOP using it. That the only reason He has historically answered prayers in that name is because of His great mercy and grace BUT that this grace has now been withdrawn and prayers in the name of Jesus or to Jesus will be answered by demonic powers in future and NOT by Yah. Furthermore, Yah has made it clear that if you claim to love Yah and love Yahooshua you will cease using the name 'Jesus.'"3

Is this true? Is "Jesus" actually a salute to a pagan deity? Will God stop answering prayers made in Jesus' name? Must Christians start addressing Jesus by his Hebrew name in order to have their prayers answered?

Is "Jesus" a Pagan Name?

There is no evidence that the name Jesus derived from Zeus or "Hail Zeus." In fact, one hundred percent of the evidence indicates that the name Jesus did not derive from Zeus. To someone unfamiliar with Greek pronunciations, Zeus may seem to sound remotely similar to Jesus, but in actuality, the names sound quite differently. Joshua Ensley writes:

"The word in Koine Greek for 'hail' is khárin (Pronounced: KAH-RIO). ...I assure you that no pronunciation of this word becomes anything close to the pronunciation of Yēshūá (Pronounced: EE-AYE-SOUS). ... The word for Zeus in Koine Greek is... pronounced the same in Greek as English. First of all, the word Zeus begins with a zeta—a letter that had a harsh DZ sound (similar to the 'buzz' a bee makes), completely different than the sigma in Yēshūá. These two words, when pronounced by someone who actually has an understanding of Greek pronunciation and linguistics, have no pronunciation connection whatsoever. The linguistics, or lack thereof, of some of these 'internet scholars' is quite hilarious..."4

So if Jesus did not originate from Zeus, where did the name come from? The etymology or origin of the name Jesus can easily be shown to derive from Hebrew sources, debunking the conspiracy theory that Roman Catholics changed the name of Jesus in the Bible.

Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary explains the etymology of the English word Jesus as follows:

"Late Latin, from Greek Iēsous, from Hebrew Yēshūá."

According to linguists, the word "Jesus" originates with the Hebrew word "Yeshua." According to Strong's, in Hebrew, the name Yeshua consists of two parts: yeho, which is an abbreviated form of Yahweh (YHWH), and the verb Y.Sh.Ah, meaning "to save." Thus, Yeshua means "Yahweh saves."

The next step is from Hebrew to Greek. The Old Testament was translated by the Jews from Hebrew to Greek around 250 B.C. into a book known as the Septuagint. This happened centuries before the Roman Catholics even existed. In the Septaugint, Yeshua is transliterated into the Greek name Iesou or Iesous. The "Ie" on the front of the name produced a sound similar to a "y" sound in English.

The next step is from Greek to Latin, which is an easy step, because the same name was used: "Iesous."

The final step is from Latin to English. In the 1611 KVJ Bible and other early English versions, Jesus was actually written as Iesus, which sounds nearly identical to the Greek. This was done because the letter J was not widely used at that time. In fact, other names in the 1611 KJV were also written without it, such as Judas being written as Iudas. Later on, the letter J came into use in the English language, replacing the leading I, and adding a soft "g" sound to the beginning. Hence, Jesus is phonetically close to the original Greek, but probably not exact.

Therefore, the name Jesus has a very clear etymology from the Hebrew. The theory that it derived from Zeus or any other pagan deity is not based upon any historical facts. It is entirely fiction.

What is the Biblical Name for Jesus?

Having established that Jesus is derived from a Biblical source, and not a pagan source, why not refer to him as Yeshua instead of Jesus? Are we insulting Jesus by calling him by a name that is different from his Hebrew name? The truth is that Jesus was known by Christians as Iesous, not Yeshua. The New Testament, the inerrant Word of God, breathed by the Spirit, refers to Jesus 972 times as Iesous (1 Tim. 3:16). The oldest fragments of the Bible, pre-dating the rise of Catholicism, always refer to Jesus as Iesous. Of all the thousands of ancient fragments discovered, there is not a single one referring to Jesus by any name other than Iesous. Was the Holy Spirit insulting Jesus by calling him Iesous instead of Yeshua? Of course not. It would be blasphemy to claim the Holy Spirit was insulting Jesus by a wrong use of his name. The Holy Spirit put his stamp of approval upon Iesous and that should forever settle the matter.

In addition, there is no certainty about the pronunciation of Jesus' Hebrew name. There is no doubt that it is some form of Joshua; however, there are several different valid ways to spell and pronounce Joshua in Hebrew: Yehoshua, Yahooshua, Yeshua, or Yashua. The majority of scholars seem to favor Yeshua, but the truth is, no one knows the answer with any degree of certainty. Think about this: If Jesus is angered with people for mispronouncing his name by using the English Jesus, then would he not also be equally infuriated if they called him Yeshua when he was actually Yehoshua? Or Yashua when he was actually named Yeshua?

It is unbelievable that Jesus is upset one iota about the pronunciation, or mispronunciation, of his name. The bottom line is, no one knows the exact pronunciation of the Hebrew name. Besides, Jesus was referred to by Iesous 972 times in the New Testament, and He is never once called by a Hebrew name.

Was Jesus Known by His Greek Name?

It is probable that Jesus was not widely known by his Hebrew name, but rather by his Greek name. It is unknown if Jesus was ever called by a Hebrew name even within his own family, let alone by outsiders. In order to understand why, it is important to understand history. Greece conquered Jerusalem in 332 BC. By the time of Jesus' birth, Greek had been spoken in Palestine for over three centuries. Even the Romans adopted the Greek language, and it was the common, universal language of the average person in the Roman Empire. William Dankenbring writes:

"Greek was the 'lingua franca' and 'language of commerce' throughout the Roman Empire…Greek was well-known among the Jews, especially the priesthood, leadership class, and the merchant class. In particular, Greek was well understood in 'Galilee of the Gentiles', the region where Jesus Christ was raised, and grew up as a young lad. There is no doubt, therefore, that Jesus and the original apostles all spoke Greek commonly, as a 'second language.'"5

Dankerbring goes on to describe how the vast majority of funerary (grave) inscriptions from that time period were written in Greek. 70% were written in Greek, and only 18% were written in Hebrew or Aramaic.6 This lends credence to the fact that Greek was spoken more commonly than Hebrew or Aramaic by the people of that region, especially in the gentile region of Galilee. Pieter V. Van Der Horst, in Biblical Archeological Review, informs us that a "majority of the Jews in Palestine and the western Disaspora spoke Greek."7 In fact, so many Jews could not speak Hebrew that they used the Septuagint instead of the Hebrew texts. Since the people in Galilee generally spoke Greek, it is probable that Jesus was referred to by his Greek name, Iesous.

Some may argue that the gospels were originally written in Hebrew or Aramaic and only later translated into Greek, and that those original texts used the Hebrew (or Aramaic) name for Jesus. However, there is no physical evidence that any of the New Testament books were ever written in anything other than Greek.8 Even Matthew may originally have been written in Greek, as Dankerbring informs us:

"The Magdalene fragment from the Gospel of Matthew has been identified as coming from a document dated to the middle of the first century A.D.-during the very lives of the apostles! This fragment is written in GREEK, and could even be a fragment from an original monograph written by the apostle Matthew himself! This amazing new discovery is powerful evidence, obviously, that the writer, evidently the apostle Matthew, was very familiar with the Greek language and was capable of writing intelligently in it."9

Paul said, all scripture "is given by inspiration of God" (1 Tim. 3:16). Most Christians would take this to apply to both the Old and New Testaments. If it is so important that Jesus be called by his Hebrew name, then why is there not a single reference to it in the New Testament? What an oddity! Of the 972 references to Jesus in the inspired text, there is not a single mention of the Hebrew name! This would certainly lead one to question how essential it is to call Jesus by his Hebrew name!

Some of Jesus' apostles also were known by Greek names: Andrew, Simon, Philip, and Levi/Matthew. Why is it so difficult to believe that Jesus was also known and called by his Greek name? Consider the Biblical evidence:

Matthew, an apostle of Jesus, never once in his gospel called Jesus by a Hebrew name. He called him Iesous, 261 times. The angel Gabriel tells the parents of Jesus, "thou shalt call his name Iesous, for He shall save his people from their sins" (Matt. 1:21).

Mark calls Jesus Iesous 129 times. He introduces his book as, "the gospel of Iesous" (Mark 1:1).

John refers to Jesus as Iesous an amazing 399 times, including in his personal letters. Not once does he ever refer to Jesus with a Hebrew name.

Peter refers to Jesus 18 times in personal letters as Iesous. In the book of Acts, Peter calls upon those listening to his preaching to be baptized in the name of Iesous (Acts 2:28). Not Yeshua, but Iesous. Some may argue that Peter actually spoke in Aramaic and used the Hebrew name for Jesus, but that Luke later wrote it down using the Greek name Iesous. The problem with that argument is there is no proof that Peter used the Hebrew name of Jesus in his speech. Other gospel writers, such as Matthew and Mark, used Hebrew and Aramaic words at times in their writings, but they never used a Hebrew or Aramaic name for Jesus.10

What about Jesus' brothers? Surely, having been raised with Jesus, they would have known to call him by his Hebrew name if that was his actual name! On the contrary, James, writing specifically to Jewish Christians, introduces his letter: "James, a servant of God and of the Lord Iesous Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad…" (James 1:1). Jude also refers to Jesus as Iesous four times in his brief letter.

Paul refers to Jesus as Iesous 297 times, including this important passage:

"At the name of Iesous every knee shall bow" (Phil. 2:10).

Paul was writing to Greek-speaking Christians in Rome, Corinth, Ephesus, and other cities. Paul and his associates wrote to these people in Greek, and there is no doubt that Paul understood Iesous to be the name of Jesus. Paul did not say that at the name of Yeshua every knee would bow. He said at the name of Iesous.

Outside of Scripture, the earliest Christian writing, the Didache, written when some of the apostles were still alive, refers to Jesus as Iesous (9:2,3). That document never refers to him by his Hebrew name. There is no evidence that any Christians in the first centuries referred to Jesus by a Hebrew name.


The Christian faith must be based upon the written word of God, the New Testament. There is substantial Biblical evidence—972 references in the NT—that Jesus was known as Iesous. Gabriel commanded his parents to name him Iesous, not Yeshua. Repeatedly his apostles and brothers referred to him as Iesous, and never once did they refer to Him by a Hebrew name. There is not a single Biblical reference to Jesus being called Yeshua, Yashua, Yehoshua, Yahooshua, or Y'shua. The score is 972 to zero. If calling Jesus Iesous was deemed proper by the Holy Spirit, the apostles, Jesus' brothers, Paul, Mark, Luke, and the rest of the first-century Christian community, then it is appropriate for today's church to follow the Holy Spirit's leading and do likewise.


1. Others claim it derives from the Egyptian god Isis. Again, there is absolutely no evidence of this and the names are linguistically different.

2. The quote from the website, as of Nov. 27, 2022, is attributed to A.B. Traina (The Origin of Christianity), but this cannot be confirmed.

3. James Robertson,, as of Nov. 27, 2022.

4. Joshua Ensley, "The Etymology of 'Jesus': Debunking the Sacred Name Only Movement," 3,, as of Nov. 27, 2022.

5. William Dankerbring, Did Jesus and the Apostles Speak Greek, chapter 2.

6. Ibid.

7. Pieter W. Van Der Jorst, Biblical Archeological Review, Sep-Oct 1992, 48-54.

8. Irenaeus of Lyons (~180 AD) wrote that Matthew wrote in Aramaic, and this was repeated by later church historians, but no fragments of Matthew have ever been discovered in Aramaic. Other than these statements written long after Matthew was written, there is simply no proof an Aramaic document of Matthew ever existed.

9. Dankerbring, chapter 2.

10. Matthew used a Hebrew title for God in Matthew 27:46, "My God, My God..." The rest of the quote is in Aramaic. This demonstrates that Matthew knew some Hebrew words, and yet he never used a Hebrew name for Jesus.