The “YAHWEH” Doctrine asserts that the name of the Messiah, the Son of God, is YAHWEH, instead of JESUS, and according to this doctrine, every place in the New Testament where the Greek word IESOUS (JESUS) appears originally had the Hebrew word YAHWEH. This doctrine further claims that the Greek word IESOUS, from which the English word JESUS is derived, is a corruption of the name of a pagan deity, thus insinuating that those who use the English word JESUS to refer to the Messiah (Christ) instead of the Hebrew word YAHWEH are in reality praying to and worshiping a pagan deity. That these teachings are not only absurd but patently false may be clearly seen in the following analysis.
- God did not invest the Hebrew language with a mystical quality that made it superior to any other language for the purpose of expressing His true identity. When the Hebrew scriptures (what we know as the Old Testament) were translated into common (koine) Greek (the LXX, or the Septuagint) in the third century before the birth of Christ, the Sacred Ineffable Name of God—YAHWEH, or YHWH—was not given any special treatment. It was translated into the Greek word for Lord—KURIOS. In our English Bibles it is generally given as Lord (commonly known as Jehovah).
- When the New Testament was written, it was written (with a few exceptions) in the same language as the Greek Old Testament—the common (koine) Greek. (This is remarkable, indeed, when it is considered that most of the dialogs—actual conversations—recorded in the New Testament were not spoken in Greek, but in Hebrew/Aramaic.) This facilitated the spread of the Gospel to more than just those who knew the Hebrew/Aramaic language, as the Greek language was known to a far greater percentage of the world’s population than was the Hebrew/Aramaic language. Although some Hebrew/Aramaic words were preserved in the Greek New Testament (e.g., Cephas, Alleluia, and some words that Jesus spoke that were given verbatim and then translated immediately into Greek by the author), they were given in the alphabet of the Greek language (i.e., transliterated), not Hebrew/Aramaic characters! It is ridiculous (if not fatuous) to assert that Hebrew writing (everywhere the name of Christ appeared) was in the “earliest” (read “best”) manuscripts of the Greek New Testament.
- Nowhere in the Greek New Testament does the tetragrammaton (YHWH) appear! Invariably, the New Testament follows the Greek Old Testament (LXX) in using KURIOS for YAHWEH (YHWH). Now remember: even though we have no reason to claim divine inspiration for the translation of the Hebrew scriptures into the Greek language, we do know that the production of the New Testament was under the direct guidance of the Holy Ghost, just as was the writing of the Old Testament in its original form. And by the direction of the Holy Ghost, the authors of the New Testament used the language and syntax of the Greek Old Testament—indeed, there are whole portions of the Old Testament included in the New Testament that are quoted out of the koine Greek Old Testament. (Both Christ and the Apostles have Greek quotations from the LXX attributed to them.) This is irrefutable proof that there is no superiority in the Hebrew tongue relative to the writing of Scripture.
- When God revealed His Glory to Moses, he apparently showed him the structure of the Church Age (“the pattern that was showed thee in the mount”). Subsequently, we observe in scripture that Moses calls or renames his successor YESHUA (the Hebrew word for the English word JOSHUA). According to language scholars, the Hebrew word YESHUA is a contraction of the Hebrew name YAHWEH (Lord in KJV) and the Hebrew word SHUA (salvation/savior/saves). In the Greek Old Testament (LXX) the Hebrew name YESHUA was consistently transliterated (letter-for-letter translation instead of translating the entire word) into the Greek name IESOUS (pronounced YAY-SOOS). In fact, readers of the LXX will find an entire book in the Old Testament bearing the name of IESOUS (Joshua in KJV). Those who have studied the language of TYPES in the scripture readily agree that Moses stood for and represented the LAW, and Joshua (YESHUA/IESOUS) stood for and represented CHRIST. (“The Law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ.”) It should come as no surprise to find that the names JOSHUA and JESUS are both derivations of the same Hebrew word, with one coming straight into English from Hebrew (Joshua), and the other coming from Hebrew through Greek into English (Jesus). Thus we have an Old Testament YESHUA/IESOUS who was Joshua, the son of Nun, who stood for and represented the New Testament YESHUA/IESOUS who was Jesus, the son of God!
- When the angel appeared to Joseph (Matthew 1:21) and gave him the name of the Christ child, we have every reason to believe that this conversation occurred in the Hebrew/Aramaic tongue, and not in the Greek tongue. Yet our original text is in Greek (some scholars now believe that Matthew originally wrote his narrative in Hebrew), and the conversation is recorded using the Greek language. Simple logic tells us that if Matthew (or a subsequent translator) wrote the Greek word IESOUS as the name, we have only to go back to the LXX (Greek Old Testament) and see what that name was in Hebrew. As we have seen above, the Greek word IESOUS is a direct transliteration of the Hebrew word YESHUA (Joshua in KJV). Thus we see that in the language of Joseph and Mary and their contemporaries, Christ’s name was YESHUA. The English form of the Hebrew word YESHUA is JOSHUA; the English form of the Greek word IESOUS is JESUS (another transliteration)!
- The angel that appeared to Joseph gave the reason for the name YESHUA—He shall save His people from their sins. We have seen that the Hebrew name YESHUA is a contraction of the Hebrew name YAHWEH and the Hebrew word SHUA (salvation). Thus, YESHUA means YAHWEH HAS BROUGHT SALVATION. It is rather illogical to suggest that the angel said “You shall call his name YAHWEH for he shall save his people from their sins.” The Hebrew name YESHUA (JESUS in English) literally means that YAHWEH HAS COME AS THE SAVIOR FROM SIN. It is inconceivable that rational minds would be inclined to believe that simply the Hebrew name YAHWEH would be in any way superior to the Hebrew name YESHUA, which not only contains YAHWEH, but also contains the revelation of His redemptive purpose in bringing salvation to the world.
- Pilate, at the crucifixion of Christ, put a written message on the cross: This is Jesus, the King of the Jews. In order that all those passing by might be able to understand what he had written, he ordered that it would be written in Greek (the language of the scholars of that day), Hebrew (the language of the Jews) and Latin (the language of Rome, the then ascendant world power). If the UNTRANSLATED Hebrew characters for the Hebrew name YAHWEH were used for the name of Christ in the Greek and Latin portions of the writing, how would anyone except those who understood Hebrew have understood who it was that was on the cross?
- The Sacred Name of God to the Hebrews was YAHWEH. According to Hebrew customs, it was not to be pronounced except by certain ones, and could not even be written without a ceremonial cleansing of the hands by the scribe who was to write it. Eventually, it came to be written in Hebrew as YHWH, without any vowel points, lest the person writing or reading it would accidentally say it and thus profane it (by taking the name of YAHWEH “in vain”). Because of this, the actual pronunciation of the word was eventually lost. Later the vowels from the Hebrew word ADONAI (Lord in KJV) were inserted to make it somewhat pronounceable; hence the modernized version of the word as we have it: YAHWEH. How likely is it that Christ grew up in a society with a personal name that anyone who pronounced it would have potentially been guilty of breaking one of the ten commandments (by taking the name of YAHWEH in vain)? Indeed, if we understand the teachings of the Apostles, this name of Christ is to be invoked at water baptism, in prayer for the sick and in worship. How are we supposed to comply with these Apostolic teachings if the true pronunciation of this name has been forever lost—as would be the case if the name of Christ were YAHWEH instead of JESUS?
- Saul, on the road to Damascus, was arrested by God with a brilliant light from heaven. Looking heavenward, he cried (in the Hebrew tongue): “Who art thou, Lord?” The Greek word used to translate his Hebrew word for “Lord” is KURIOS. This is the word used in the Greek Old Testament (LXX) to translate YAHWEH. Thus, it is very likely that Saul actually said, “Who art thou, YAHWEH?” We have every reason to believe that the answer came back in the same language as the question—i.e., Hebrew. Thus, “I am IESOUS” (Greek for JESUS) would actually have been “I am YESHUA” (Hebrew for IESOUS). But to assert that the answer came back “I am YAHWEH”—as the YAHWEH doctrine requires—leaves us feeling like Saul didn’t get an answer, and makes his conversion unnecessary, as he was already serving YAHWEH as far as he knew.
- To believe that the name of Christ is indeed YAHWEH instead of YESHUA/IESOUS/JESUS, we must first believe that everywhere in the Greek New Testament that the word IESOUS occurs someone has tampered with the original text and replaced YAHWEH (the untranslated Hebrew characters) with the Greek name IESOUS. The early writers after the death of the Apostles, such as Clement, Polycarp, Ignatius and Irenaeus, apparently had very primitive Greek texts of the New Testament, and it is common knowledge that they (writing in Greek) knew Christ’s name to be IESOUS (JESUS), and they very plainly attested to the deity of Jesus Christ.
The YAHWEH Doctrine is a false doctrine. We reject and repudiate it on the grounds that it has no scriptural basis whatsoever, but is the fanciful flight of imagination of someone who is grossly deceived. According to Philippians 2:9-11, the name of Jesus is the name that is above every name, and at the name of Jesus every knee should bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God, the Father. Ephesians 1:21 further reveals that the name of Jesus is above every name that is named, not only in this world (age) but also in that which is to come. Acts 4:12 asserts unequivocally that there is salvation in no one other than Jesus; for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved. Thomas said of Jesus, “My Lord and my God!” Peter said that God hath made that same Jesus whom the Jews crucified “both Lord and Christ.” Paul said that no man speaking by the Spirit calls Jesus accursed; and no man can say Jesus is Lord (or, “Lord Jesus!”) but by the Holy Ghost.
Let the “YAHWEH” camp receive an old-fashioned baptism of the Holy Ghost and they will most assuredly renounce this doctrine of demons that attempts to denigrate the lovely name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Rev. Tim D. Cormier
Reprinted from the May, 2001 issue of the Apostolic Standard.
Edited and revised 13 October, 2010 by Tim D. Cormier.
(C) Copyright held by Tim D. Cormier. This document may not be reproduced in whole or in part, except for personal use, without the express written permission of the author.