So that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ [Yeshua the Messiah] is Lord [YHVH], to the glory of God the Father. Phil 2:10-11
In previous postings on the Name of the sovereign God of the universe, YHVH [Yehovah], I talked about the importance of knowing and speaking His Name, as well as the sad history of the silencing of God’s Name for the past 2300 years. If you recall from those blogs, after the return from exile in Babylon, priests of the Second Temple era decided that God’s name was too holy to pronounce, and they banned the speaking of the Name among the common Jewish people (the priests still knew how to pronounce the Name).
In this blog, I continue this history up into the New Testament period and show how there was even further obfuscation of the Name leading up to the time of Yeshua’s first coming. The first translation of the Old Testament [Tanach] into Greek was the Septuagint, which was completed in 132 BCE. By this time, it was well established that the Name of YHVH was not to be written in any texts (even within Greco-Roman writings). Since the Jews had already been substituting Adonai (Lord) for YHVH, the Septuagint scribes continued the same tradition. When more modern English translators strove to come up with translations that were more faithful to the original Hebrew Tanach Scriptures, they reverted the references to God’s Name (as opposed to His holy title of Lord) back to “LORD”, leaving the other references as “Lord”. Thus, we have a clear way to distinguish God’s Name (YHVH) from his title (Lord) in the Old Testament Scriptures.
When the translators of the Greek New Testament translated the Greek into Latin and modern languages such as English, though, they could not distinguish between the references to the Name YHVH and Lord (as a title). Both words are written as Kurios in Greek. What we have in the New Testament, then, are many verses that are ambiguous as to which meaning is being expressed, God’s Name or His title. I want to focus here on the places in the New Testament where Yeshua is referred to as Lord. Many times this truly is a holy title given to our Messiah and Savior. However, there are quite a few places where Yeshua is being addressed by the Name of God Almighty, YHVH [Yehovah].
Some of the most obvious references to Yeshua as YHVH are quotes or paraphrases of Old Testament verses. The most vivid example of this is the Scripture quoted at the top of this blog, Philippians 2:10-11. Just before this passage (vv. 6-8), the author is saying that Yeshua did not take advantage of the fact that He was in His very nature part of the Godhead, but lowered Himself to be born as a human and then of His own will gave up His life to die on a cross. Then in Verse 9, Sha’ul says that Abba Father gave Him the Name that is above every name. Believers in Yeshua, having the English translations available to them for the New Testament, have always assumed that this Name above all names is Jesus [Yeshua]. However, remember that Yeshua was the name given to the Son of God when He was born on Earth as a human – this name represents His mission, since Yeshua means salvation or deliverance.
Here are a few other verses where it speaks of Yeshua as Lord (which should have been translated as LORD [YHVH]:
- Rom 10:9-10: ..if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord [YHVH] and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
- I Cor 12:3: and no one can say “Jesus is Lord [YHVH]” except in the Holy Spirit.
- Matt 23:39: [Yeshua said to the people on “Palm Sunday”] – for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord [YHVH]!’
Some of these verses include quotes or paraphrases from the Old Testament:
- Phil 2:10-11 was patterned after Isa 45:3: That to Me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall confess. They shall say, ‘Surely in the Lord [YHVH] I have righteousness and strength.
- Matt 23:39 was a direct quote from Psalm 118:26 (with LORD in all caps): Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord [YHVH]!
You’re probably asking yourself at this stage – so what is the point of all this? Here’s the bottom line – Jesus [Yeshua] was the Messiah’s name when He was on the Earth fulfilling prophecy as our Savior, but His eternal name is the same as the Father’s – YHVH or Yehovah! He is one of the three persons of the Godhead. He existed from the beginning and was there directing the Creation of the universe along with Abba and the Holy Spirit (John 1:3). To know Yehovah the Father is to know Yehovah the Son and Yehovah the Ruach HaKodesh – they are one [echad] in Spirit but different in character and roles.
[We usually address people by using formal titles (Mr, Mrs, Doctor, and so forth) when we don’t know them well, of if they are entitled to a higher level of respect. Only when we have established some degree of intimacy, do we begin calling people by their given names.] For example, if we are Yeshua’s servants, we would call Him Master; but we are His friends so we call Him by His name, Yehovah. If you want to draw even closer to our Creator, Redeemer, Miracle-Worker, and Lord, call on His Name and you will be able to speak to any or all of the holy and awesome persons of the Godhead who created and love us!