Why use the Hebrew names and titles of the "God" and Savior of the Bible and other Biblical terms?
First, as was stated on the home page, although the author of this commentary is a Christian (in the Scriptural sense of the term - read the essay on True Christianity), it is written from the Hebraic perspective of the one who wrote it, the apostle John. Why? . . . simply because it is impossible to fully understand the Bible without understanding the Yahudic ("Jewish")/Hebraic perspective from which it was written. Several terms and concepts are used that may be somewhat unfamiliar to most Christians. So, for the purpose of effective communication, the following explanations are provided.
Second and more important, one of Satan's greatest and most tragic triumphs over Bible believers is to change the names and titles of the Father and the Son, plus other Scriptural terms, thus diluting, distorting, and confusing their true meanings.
Disclaimer: Just because the author uses certain Hebrew names and terms in this commentary does not mean that he practices a kind of reverse replacement theology - replacing Christians with Yahudim ("Jews"). Please visit Who are the People of Elohim ("God")? for a complete explanation of who the chosen people of Yehovah ("the LORD") are. Also, recognizing that a tactic Satan uses to divide believers in the coming Messiah Yeshua ("Christ Jesus") is to get them quibbling over non-essential issues (rather than being united in the Spirit), he will not be dogmatic about the spellings, pronunciations, or even the use of the following terms as opposed to others.
Y-H-V-H - the closest English approximation of the Hebrew letters Yud-Heh-Vav-Heh (the Tetragrammaton) that represent the name of the "God" of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Israel) and the "God" of the Christians. Written Scriptural Hebrew in the earliest extant manuscripts contains no vowels. It was not until the second century CE that Yahudic (“Jewish”) Masorete scribes started including marks or pointers in their manuscripts that indicated what vowels should be used in pronouncing words. And because of prohibitions against speaking the name of the Creator by pagan, Greek, and Roman Catholic persecutors of the Yahudim (“Jews”) during the early centuries following the diaspora of the Yahudim in 70 and 135 CE, Masorete scribes of most of the earliest extant Hebrew Scriptures refused to include a mark for the second vowel in His name, obscuring its pronunciation and therefore its phonetic spelling. Therefore, although the topic of much research and debate by Bible scholars and others down through the centuries, the exact phonetic spelling of the name (in English), according to various Hebrew and Bible scholars, varies from "eeyahooah" (spelled Yahuah) to Yahweh, Yehovah, and other spellings.
Nevertheless, the "God" of the Bible has made it very clear that He wants His name to be used and proclaimed by His people (an important truth that is neglected by most modern Yahudim and Christians). YHVH actually appears 6,828 times in the Hebrew manuscripts of the Old Covenant Scriptures (the "Old Testament"). The short form Yah appears 49 times. It is His name by which He is remembered from generation to generation (Exodus 3:15). And it is His name that distinguishes Him from the thousands of false, pagan "gods" of the world (Isaiah 45:5). Moses, to whom the name of the "God" of his ancestors was revealed on Mount Horeb (Exodus 3:15), openly proclaimed His name (Deuteronomy 32:3). Yehovah’s people are exhorted to take oaths in His name (Deuteronomy 6:13; 10:20), exhalt His name (Psalm 34:3), give thanks to His name (Psalm 122:4), praise His name (Psalm 113:1, 3; 135:1), bless His name (Deuteronomy 10:8; Psalm 145:21), minister in His name (Deuteronomy 18:5), serve in His name (Deuteronomy 18:7), call upon His name (Isaiah 12:4), and glorify His name (Isaiah 24:15). King David sang praises to His name (Psalm 18:49), declared that he would wait on His name (Psalm 52:9) and make His name to be remembered (Psalm 45:17), appealed to his God to save him by His name (Psalm 54:1), and prophesied that all the earth would sing praises to His name (Psalm 86:9). Finally, Solomon asked, "What is His name, and what is His Son's name? Surely you know!" (Proverbs 30:4). Indeed, how are we going to make the distinct name of our "God" known to the world without speaking it? Isn't it terrible that the enemy of Yehovah’s people has succeeded in keeping His name not only from being spoken by them but in hiding it from their knowledge?
We will not be dogmatic about the correct spelling and pronunciation of Elohim’s ("God's") name because it's what is in our hearts that counts rather than exact spellings and pronunciations (cf. 2 Timothy 2:14). Nevertheless, trusting that our Heavenly Father will honor the intention of our hearts, we use the name Yehovah in this commentary because it is a name based on extensive historical and linguistic research and much archaeological evidence.2 The term "LORD" as misused in most English translations of the Scripture (including the New King James Version, which is quoted in this commentary) in the place of Yehovah, is not a proper, Scriptural name of the Elohim of the Bible and should not be used as such. It is a descriptive title. In fact, Adonai, which is Hebrew for "my Lord," is used in the Hebrew Scriptures as the descriptive title of the supreme, sovereign Ruler Yehovah. Accordingly, Adonai (rather than "the Lord") will be used in this commentary to refer to a title of the God of the Bible and not to His name. The Hebrew plural term ‘elohiym (English: Elohim) is frequently translated "God" in Scripture but is a title referring to Yehovah’s divine, omnipotent, collective plural nature (more than one being functioning as one) rather than to His proper name. In fact, Elohim refers to the Father, the Son, and the Spirit as one, as in Genesis 1:1 and frequently throughout the Scriptures. Elohim is also used in Scripture to refer to created or spiritual offspring of Yehovah (humans or angels) or even to other “gods” (cf. Exodus 22:19; Psalm 8:5; John 10:35), so may be confusing when used as a title of Yehovah. Therefore, although "God" is commonly used in referring to Yehovah by both Yahudim and Christians, its meaning can be misleading and must be determined by context. Although Yehovah and Elohim are ultimately the same Being and are used interchangeably or together hundreds of times in the Hebrew Scriptures (e.g. Genesis 2:4), referring to either or both the Father and the Son, depending on the context, in this commentary, to avoid confusion and to distinctly refer to the "God" of the Bible, we use the title Elohim in passages of Scripture or situations in which the collective plural title, referring to both the Father and the Son, is appropriate. For example, “the wrath of Elohim” is used rather than "the wrath of Yehovah" because Revelation 6:16 makes it clear that the "wrath" of the Day of the "Lord" (Yehovah) is the wrath of both the Father and the Son.
Yeshua – "Jesus" in most English translations. Although various other spellings include Yahushua, Yashuah, Yahusha, and so forth, numerous scholars have agreed on the name Yeshua3 which is the name used by most in Israel and the Middle East. "Jesus" is derived from the Greek name Iesous which means "savior." However, Yeshua, a contraction of Yah-shua, which literally means "Yah saves" is much richer in meaning and will be used in this commentary. In the Tanakh (the "Old Testament"), there is no clear distinction between the Father and the Son. Except on special occasions (as when Yehovah appeared to Abraham as a man [Genesis 18], the Father and the Son functioned as one (e.g., Genesis 1:1 vis-à-vis John 1:1, 3). Therefore, the name of both in the Tanakh is Yehovah (the name represented by YHVH) which means "Yah is the self-existent one - the I AM - the one who always was and will always be" (cf. Exodus 3:15-16). Hundreds of times in the Tanakh, beginning in Genesis 2:4, the name Yehovah Elohim (translated in most English Bibles as “the Lord God”) which refers to His collective plural nature, is used to identify the God of the Bible. However, when the Son was manifested in the flesh as the Messiah, His name was modified to Yah - shua ("Yah saves") (cf. Matthew 1:21), the correct phonetic spelling of which is Yeshua, to designate His function as the Savior of the world (1 John 4:14).
BCE (Before the Common Era) and CE (the Common Era)— refer to events or times before or after Yeshua’s birth. The usual terms BC (Before Christ) and AD (Anno Domini – in the year of the Lord) are misleading because they, in a subtle way, undermine the deity of the Messiah, implying that He did not exist before His birth. They also play into the hands of the replacement theologians who teach that Christians have replaced Israel as Yehovah’s chosen People. The alternative terms BCE (Before the Common Era, Christian Era, or Current Era) and CE (the Common Era, Current Era, or Christian Era) are also misleading because they are ambiguous terms developed by Yahudim ("Jews") and secularists to deny that the coming of the Messiah Yeshua to Earth was the turning point of world history and, indeed, to deny the Son of the Father Yehovah’s existence altogether. Also, they are inaccurate, because astronomical and historical evidence have shown that Yeshua was born in 2 BC or BCE. However, for the sake of communication and the lack of a better alternative, the neutral terms BCE and CE will be used in this commentary to designate calendar dates.
Israel or the Hebrews - refers to the descendants of Jacob (natural or proselytized). “true Israel,” as distinguished by the apostle Paul (cf. Romans 9:6), looks forward in faith to the coming of the Messiah, whether or not they have yet recognized that He is Yeshua (cf. Romans 11:25). Although "Hebrews" referred originally to the descendants of Abraham, the two terms came to be used interchangeably in referring to the descendants of Jacob.
Yahudim - "Jews" is a meaningless, derogatory term coined by translators of the King James Bible and used in most English translations. The Hebrew and true Scriptural term "Yahudim" means "worshippers of Yehovah." Originally and technically "Yahudim" referred to members of one of the tribes of Israel - the tribe of Yahudah ("Judah"). But after the Northern Kingdom (Israel or Ephraim) divided from the Southern Kingdom (Yahudah), "Yahudim" referred to subjects of the Southern Kingdom because of its dominant tribe, Yahudah. However, after the Northern Kingdom was destroyed by the Assyrians in 722 BCE and many thousands of subjects of the tribes of the Northern Kingdom fled to the Southern Kingdom, intermingling all twelve tribes, "Yahudim" came to refer to the entire nation of Israel. The book of Daniel, which was written while the Yahudim were in captivity in Babylon, uses the terms "Yahudim" and "children of Israel" interchangeably (Daniel 1:3; 3:8, 12; also, cf. Daniel 9:7, 11, 12). And that is how the term was used by the apostle Paul, himself an Israelite/Yahudi ("Jew") of the tribe of Benjamin (Romans 11:1), who, in explaining his own identification as a Yahudi, clearly stated that he was also a citizen of "my own nation" (Israel) which he also identified as "all our twelve tribes" (Acts 26:4-7). Then, throughout His letter to the Romans, Paul used the terms "Israel" and "Yahudim" interchangeably.
The New Covenant. From the beginning, starting with Adam, Yehovah has actually had only one covenant with His People: to bless them and give them life if they walked in unity with Him, but to curse them and consign them to death if they did not walk in unity with him. All other covenants—the covenants with Noah, Abraham, Moses, David and others—from the time of Yehovah’s original covenant with Adam until the coming of the “second Adam” Yeshua, have been imperfect variations of that Original Covenant, modified for imperfect, fallen humans, and are therefore, because they are outdated, collectively referred to in Scripture as the Old Covenant. However, because He lived a perfect, sinless life, walking in perfect unity with His Heavenly Father, and gave His life so that His Followers might have eternal life if they continue to walk in unity with their God, Yeshua restored/renewed the Original Covenant, as it was with Adam, when Adam had an intimate, personal relationship with Yehovah. Also, note that the New Covenant applies just as much to Yehovah’s People Israel as it does to the Followers of Yeshua, because it was first promised to Israel (Jeremiah 31:31-33).
The Old Covenant Scriptures and the New Covenant Scriptures—commonly referred to as the Old Testament and the New Testament, respectively. However, “Old Testament” and “New Testament” are ambiguous, misleading terms, giving the impression that Scripture given before the time of Yeshua is outdated or has been replaced by Scripture given after the time of Yeshua. But the apostle Paul stated, "All Scripture [referring especially to the "Old Testament," because the "New Testament" had not yet been compiled] is given by the inspiration of [Yehovah] . . .” (2 Timothy 3:16). This presents us with a dilemma, because, as has been established above, Jews who look forward in faith to the coming Messiah but do not yet recognize that He is Yeshua, and those who already know Yeshua as the Messiah, are, in the eyes of Yehovah, who knows the end from the beginning (Acts 46:10), already “one in the Messiah” (Galatians 3:28). Therefore, all of Scripture—both what is called the “New Testament” and what is called the “Old Testament”—was given to both believing Jews (“true Israel”—Romans 9:6) and to the present Disciples of Yeshua (the Christians). And there shouldn’t be any division between the “Old Testament” and the “New Testament”—one should flow into the other seamlessly. That division is a major perpetuator of Replacement Theology, on one hand, and Messianic/Hebrew Roots theology (which is often an over-reaction to Replacement Theology but is also, ironically, a form of Replacement Theology) on the other hand. Therefore, in this commentary, “the Old Covenant Scriptures,” referring to those Scriptures written before the first advent of the Messiah by men who were under the Old Covenant, will be used rather than “Old Testament” and “the New Covenant Scriptures,” referring to those Scriptures written after His first advent by Followers of Yeshua who were under the New Covenant, will be used rather than “New Testament.”
The Torah - the Hebrew name of the first five books of the Bible (the Pentateuch), commonly referred to as "the Law" in the New Covenant Scriptures. However, the Torah is much more than the rules and ordinances of the "Old Testament" Law. It contains all the teachings and instructions for living a happy, successful life as a child of Yehovah.
The Saints, the Redeemed, the Remnant, the Elect - Yehovah’s ancient People Israel who, in faith, anticipated the Messiah, His current People the Yahudim ("Jews") who look forward in faith to the coming Messiah, and the Disciples of Yeshua are all, in both the Old Covenant Scriptures and the New Covenant Scriptures, referred to as the “called,” the “chosen,” the “elect,” the “redeemed,” the "remnant," and the “saints.” Indeed, as the apostle Paul explains, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in [the Messiah Yeshua]” (Galatians 3:28). Whether “the Saints,” “the Redeemed,” or “the Elect” are referring to those Hebrews who look forward in faith to the coming Messiah or to the ones who have already accepted Yeshua as their Messiah must be determined by context.
The Disciples of, Followers of or Believers in Yeshua (the Messiah) - commonly referred to in Gentile translations of the New Covenant Scriptures as “Christians.” However, “Christian,” first coined by the Greek-speaking people in Antioch (Acts 11:26), has become a misleading term, giving the impression that the Yahudim ("Jews") who look forward in faith to the coming Messiah but have not yet recognized Him are separate from and have been relegated to an inferior status or replaced by the Christian Church, when, in fact, the People of Yehovah Elohim, including ancient Israel, have believed in, interacted with, and followed the Messiah throughout their history. The final confirmation that they are His chosen people will be when the Messiah returns in the clouds, they look on Him who they have pierced, mourn, repent, and are saved (Zechariah 12:10; Revelation 1:7; Romans 11:26).
Life in the Messiah - commonly referred to as “Christianity.”
Yehovah's People or the Assembly of, the Congregation of, the Community of or the Body of Believers in Yeshua - commonly referred to in Gentile translations of the Renewed Covenant Scriptures as the "Church” (Greek: ekklesia – a gathering of citizens called out from their homes to some public place of assembly). “Church” is a term originally coined by the Roman Catholic Church to refer only to that religious organization and has taken on misleading connotations because it gives the false impression that Yehovah’s original chosen people Israel are separate from the “Church.” However, in both the Old Covenant Scriptures and the New Covenant Scriptures, "the assembly," "the congregation," and "the bride” refer to the corporate People of Elohim, and Paul explains that Gentiles who become Disciples of Yeshua are “grafted into” the “commonwealth of Israel," in which "You [Gentiles] are . . . fellow citizens with the saints [Israel]." (cf. Romans 11:24; Ephesians 2:12, 19). In the Kingdom of Yehovah Elohim, there is no distinction between the ancient Hebrews (beginning with Abraham) who looked forward in faith to the coming Messiah, the modern-day Jews who anticipate in faith His coming, and the present-day Disciples of Yeshua (Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:11). Also, etymological studies have shown that the original root of the word “church” is not ekklesia; it is derived from the Greek term kuriakon (from kurios - lord or master) loosely meaning "lord's house." So, in this commentary, in most cases, the term “assembly” will be used rather than “church.”
Antimessiah—commonly referred to as “Antichrist” (1 John 4:3). Although many have the anti-messiah spirit, at the End of the Age, there will be a man (Revelation 13:18), the incarnation of Satan, the false messiah who, for a short time (42 months) will rule the world.
Note: If a term replaces the original term in a quotation, it is enclosed in [brackets]. Direct quotes from the Biblical text and from the original languages are in italics.
2 For thorough, scholarly, yet fascinating explanations of the research and archaeological discoveries supporting the name Yehovah, read Nehemiah Gordon's 2012 book Shattering the Conspiracy of Silence and Miles Jones' 2019 book Sons of Zion versus Sons of Greece, both available from Amazon.com.
3 For a scholarly and interesting discussion of the name Yeshua, read Nehemiah Gordon's book The Naming of Jesus in Hebrew Matthew, available from Amazon.com
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