Isa, Jesus and Yeshua – what’s in a name?

In the course of time, the spelling and pronunciation of names can change, especially when they move from one language to another. Languages do not have the same letters and sounds. We can see how this has happened with many names that are common today. The same thing has happened with the name of Isa.

The original form of Isa’s name is ‘Yeshua’ in Hebrew. It means ‘God saves’.

God inspired the writers of the Injil to use the Greek language, because it was very widely spoken at that time. They wanted as many people as possible to be able to understand the message of God’s love, peace and forgiveness. The Greek language does not have the same letters and sounds as Hebrew, so the writers of the Injil had to write ‘Yeshua’ as ‘Yesous’. In time, this became ‘Jesus’ in English and ‘Jésus’ in French.

In Arabic, it was possible to write ‘Yeshua’ in a form close to the original: ‘Yasoua’. Other spellings were also used. In the Qur’an we find the form ‘Isa’ or ‘Aissa’.

All of these names refer to the same person, whose life is fully described in the Injil.

In the Injil, Isa is also referred to as the ‘Christ’ or ‘Messiah’ (Arabic: al Masih). The title ‘Messiah’ in Hebrew means ‘the anointed one’. ‘Christos’ is the Greek translation of this word, from which we have the English word ‘Christ’. In the Old Testament, prophets, priests and kings were all anointed with oil to show that God had chosen them for a special purpose. But the Jews were waiting for the greatest ‘anointed one’ (Messiah) who would save and deliver them from all their enemies. When Isa came, most of them did not recognise that he was this Messiah, but his followers put their trust in him and believed that he was truly ‘Isa al Masih’, Jesus Christ.


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