Theos saves?

Does “theos” save?  Is “theos” with us?

 

 

These may seem like an odd questions.  I was actually pondering these very questions one morning as I took my shower getting ready for church after attending shabbat the day before based on a book I had read recently.

 

There are a number of ways to approach these questions:

 

For example, What if I were Greek and said “Theos Saves.”  Would you know who I was talking about?  What would a Greek citizen think if they heard “Theos saves?”  What if a Greek citizen told you “theos is with us?”

 

For those of you that don’t know, θεός or theos is the Greek word for God or deity.  It was applied to Zeus.  It was applied to other gods as well.  Some of your are thinking right now, what’s the big deal?  God saves.  Says so in Job 22:29.

 

Job 22:29 (CJB) 29 when someone is brought down, you will say,

It was pride, because [God] saves the humble.’

 

This is actually שַׁע‎ yāshaʿ (yaw-shah’) which is translated as “He saves.”  The Septuagint, which is the translation of the Hebrew text into Greek, does not use theos here.

 

What about theos being with us?

 

Matthew 1:23 (CJB) 23 “The virgin will conceive and bear a son, and they will call him

Immanu El.” (The name means, “God is with us.”)

If we go to [LXX] (the Septuagint), we find the word emmanouhl. We don’t find theos here either.  In fact, Matthew quotes Isaiah 7:14:

 

Isaiah 7:14 (CJB) 14 Therefore Adonai himself will give you people a sign: the young woman will become pregnant, bear a son and name him

Immanu El [God is with us].

 

Again, no theos.

 

Is this issue a  non-sequitur?  To some, maybe.  After all, are names really that important?  Moshe thought names were important.  Couldn’t he have just said, “God sent me?”  He didn’t think he could so he asked God directly:

 

Exodus 3:13 (CJB) 13 Moshe said to God, “Look, when I appear before the people of Isra’el and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you’; and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what am I to tell them?”

 

If God’s personal name had not been revealed to this point, why the question?  Why then the extra questions as well, (What is his name? What am I to tell them?)? 

 

God had an answer for Moshe – a very direct answer:

 

Exodus 3:14-15 (CJB) 14 God said to Moshe,

Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh [I am/will be what I am/will be],”

and added,

Here is what to say to the people of Isra’el: ‘Ehyeh [I Am or I Will Be] has sent me to you.’”

15 God said further to Moshe,

Say this to the people of Isra’el: ‘Yud-Heh-Vav-Heh [Adonai], the God of your fathers, the God of Avraham, the God of Yitz’chak and the God of Ya‘akov, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever; this is how I am to be remembered generation after generation.

 

No theos here.  Theos had not even been invented by the Greeks yet because there were no Greeks yet.  But more important than that, God didn’t say

 

What ever you want to call me will be fine.  Tell them “whatever” has sent me to you.”

 

No God stated:

 

Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh (haw-yaw ash-er’ haw-yaw) I AM who I AM

 

You see, we find out that names are important to God.  He states as much when he states the following:

 

This is my name forever; this is how I am to be remembered generation after generation.”

 

Did God make His name optional?  Did He tell us to call him whatever we want to?  Did He tell us we could translate His name however we want to? He didn’t even say,

 

tell them elōhîm (the Hebrew word for God or Gods) has sent me to you”

 

He said, “Ehyeh has sent me to you.”  Then He elaborated by getting very specific:  Yud-Heh-Vav-Heh.  This is the personal name of God and He commands us to remember His name – this way – generation after generation.  No grey area here.  He is LORD.  He is Creator.  He makes the rules.  Not us.

 

There can be little argument here.  For the life of me, I am not sure what that argument would be if there was one or how it could be made or how it would even be relevant.

 

When the writer of Psalm 149 states the following:

 

Psalm 149:3-4 (CJB) 3 Let them praise his name with dancing, make melody to him with tambourine and lyre; 4 for Adonai takes delight in his people, he crowns the humble with salvation.

 

We find that the word for name is ‏שֵׁם‎ shfim.  It has the connotation of,

shfim comes from an Arabic root that means “to mark (or) brand

Thoralf Gilbrant, ed., “8428,” in The Complete Biblical Library Hebrew-English Dictionary – Sin-Taw, (Springfield, IL: World Library Press, Inc., 1998), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “8428”.

 

We also find out that,

 

Shfim carries the idea of a person’s “standing,” “reputation” or “fame,”

Thoralf Gilbrant, ed., “8428,” in The Complete Biblical Library Hebrew-English Dictionary – Sin-Taw, (Springfield, IL: World Library Press, Inc., 1998), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “8428”.

 

This helps us understand the following:

 

Shfim is used with other words to denote various attributes of God

Exodus 6:3 (CJB) 3 I appeared to Avraham, Yitz’chak and Ya‘akov as El Shaddai, although I did not make myself known to them by my name, Yud-Heh-Vav-Heh [Adonai].

Thoralf Gilbrant, ed., “8428,” in The Complete Biblical Library Hebrew-English Dictionary – Sin-Taw, (Springfield, IL: World Library Press, Inc., 1998), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “8428”.

 

By my name – Let’s chew on that statement while we dig a little deeper:

 

The Lord‘s name is Jealous for his people (Exo. 34:14),

 

Exodus 34:14 (CJB) 14 because you are not to bow down to any other god; since Adonai — whose very name is Jealous — is a jealous God.

 

and his name is to be feared because it is honored, awesome and holy (Lev. 20:3;

 

Leviticus 20:3 (CJB) 3 I too will set myself against him and cut him off from his people, because he has sacrificed his child to Molekh, defiling my sanctuary and profaning my holy name.

 

Deut. 28:58).

 

Deuteronomy 28:58 (CJB) 58 “If you will not observe and obey all the words of this Torah that are written in this book, so that you will fear this glorious and awesome name, Adonai your God;

 Thoralf Gilbrant, ed., “8428,” in The Complete Biblical Library Hebrew-English Dictionary – Sin-Taw, (Springfield, IL: World Library Press, Inc., 1998), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “8428”.

 

Are you starting to get the picture here?  I don’t see a need to go further into the text about names being important – specifically, the name of God, because the text is quite clear unless you don’t want to see what it says?

 

This leads us to the last part – Jesus.  Dr. Michael L Brown has written a fascinating book that I have enjoyed very much entitled What do Jewish people think about Jesus?  In chapter 38, he tackles the sacred names movement theories accurately and thoroughly concerning Zeus and YAHshua. 

 

I don’t have a Ph.D. In Semitic languages like Dr. Brown.  I don’t have to.  I have interlinears and commentaries by some pretty smart people in their own right.  There are many with PhDs in Semitic languages that are on different bible translation teams for various versions – why don’t they all come up with the same exact translations?  Because it is a translation.  Translations have bias: theological, financial, scholarship etc.  The point is, translation strategies are based upon a number of factors seen and unseen.  Marcion had one.  The Roman Catholic church had one.  Martin Luther had one.  The list goes on . . .

 

As I have stated, I have thoroughly enjoyed Dr. Brown’s book and would recommend it to others.  That being said, I disagree with his summation on pages 164-165 in chapter 38.  I think he took the easy way out on a difficult subject and actually contradicts himself in several ways when he states:

 

In short, “Jesus is as much related to Zeus as Moses is to Mice.” Unfortunately, some popular teachers continue to espouse the Jesus-Zeus connection, and many believers follow the pseudo-scholarship in these fringe, “new revelation” teachings. Not only are these teachings and practices filled with error, but they do not profit in the least.  So to every English-speaking believer I say:  Do not be ashamed to use the name JESUS!  That is the proper way to say His name in English – just a Michael is the correct English way to say the Hebrew name mi-kha-el and Moses is the correct English way to say the Hebrew name mo-sheh.  Pray in Jesus’ name, worship in Jesus’ name and witness in Jesus’name.  And for those that want to relate to our Messiah’s Jewishness, then refer to Him by His original name, Yeshua – not Yahshua and not Yahushua – remembering that the power of the name is not in its pronunciation but in the Person to whom it refers, our Lord and Redeemer and King.

     All of this is quite straightforward and without scholarly dispute.

 

Obviously, I do dispute some of what he has stated in this paragraph. Not the Zeus.  Not the Michael or the Moshe.  Not the Yahshua.  No, what I object to is the contradiction – implied and otherwise. Let’s start with this (and I don’t mean this disrespectful in any way).  Let’s sit in synagogue singing and reading from the prayer books, and let’s call HaShem (the Name) theos every time elōhîm is mentioned.  Technically, from a language standpoint, they are the same thing – they mean god.  But as I am sure Dr. Brown will admit, they are NOT the same thing because context is not the only thing that matters.  Adonai is a substitution for Y-H-V-H out of respect – out of fear – out of reverence.  This is also the basic Hebraic definition of “awe.”  There is not awe in theos.

 

Fouad 266 challenged an area that was also pretty much without dispute in scholarly circles because [LXX] (the Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures) from around the 4th century had kurios and theos substituted everywhere Y-H-V-H would have been. Fouad 266 is earlier (1st to 2nd century) and has the Tetragrammaton (Y-H-V-H) in Aramaic square nestled among the Greek text.  This phenomenon was also observed at Qumran as well.

 

Based on the scriptures above about the name, it stands to reason that those 1st and 2nd century scholars/scribes must have thought that translating Y-H-V-H into theos or kurios was not the same as translating the other names in the text.  With that in mind, let’s examine Matthew 1:18-24:

 

Matthew 1:18-25 (CJB) 18 Here is how the birth of Yeshua the Messiah took place. When his mother Miryam was engaged to Yosef, before they were married, she was found to be pregnant from the Ruach HaKodesh.
19 Her husband-to-be, Yosef, was a man who did what was right; so he made plans to break the engagement quietly, rather than put her to public shame. 20 But while he was thinking about this,

 

an angel of Adonai appeared to him in a dream and said,

Yosef, son of David, do not be afraid to take Miryam home with you as your wife; for what has been conceived in her is from the Ruach HaKodesh.

21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Yeshua, [which means ‘Adonai saves,’]

because he will save his people from their sins.”

22 All this happened in order to fulfill what Adonai had said through the prophet, 23 “The virgin will conceive and bear a son, and they will call him ‘Immanu El.” (The name means, “God is with us.”) 24 When Yosef awoke he did what the angel of Adonai had told him to do — he took Miryam home to be his wife, 25 but he did not have sexual relations with her until she had given birth to a son,

 

and he named him Yeshua.

 

First, we have to decide whether it is significant that an angel of Adonai appeared to Yosef.  This angel gave Yosef and order – a command. Since the angel is from Adonai, then the command is also from Adonai. What would of happened if Yosef has said,

 

You know, gee-wiz, Yeshua? Really?   I  like the name Rumpelstiltskin.  I think that is what I will call him . . .”

 

Could Yosef have used Dr. Brown’s argument to defend his decision to name Yeshua  Rumpelstiltskin?  I am not trying to be cute here, I am trying to make an important point because our Savior and King was given a name by the command of God that had a definition AND a purpose:

 

  • Adonai saves is the definition

 

  • He will save the people from their sins is the purpose.

 

I have been told by more than one of my Jewish brothers that us Gentiles always look for the answers but that they look for the questions.  With that in mind, re-read the verses quoted above about God’s name and ask yourself the following questions:

 

Why did God tell Yosef what name to give the yet-to-be-born child if it didn’t matter?

 

Why did Yosef obey this command if it didn’t matter?

 

Do your truly believe that Yeshua and Adonai are one?

 

The name matters.  It mattered to God.  It should matter to us – out of reverence – out of respect – out of fear – in other words, awe. As Rabbi Feldman stated a last year during shabbat:

 

If you are not in awe of God, there is something wrong with your walk.”

 

So I agree with Dr. Brown partially, but for different reasons:  the power is in who and what the name represents.  The power is in God and all that He is and all that He decrees.  I will not come before Him as Cain and do it my own way – I will come before him in the manner He prescribes.  God does not need to adapt to my will, understandings and needs – I need to adapt to His.

 

Iēsous is a letter for letter mapping of Yeshua because the Greeks did NOT have a word for “Adonai saves.”  They didn’t believe that He did. This would be considered a lexical gap in my opinion.  The Greeks didn’t call Adonai I AM or Jealous or Y-H-V-H, they called him theos.  To them, that is all He was, at best.

 

So yes, Christians today can call upon the name of Jesus for their salvation.  They can also teach the prosperity gospel.  They can also start Jewish roots movement churches.  They can preach and rationalize that worldliness and godliness can co-exist from their pulpits.  They can talk about the worldly things they like and do. They can be strong on conversion and weak on discipleship.  They can state that unless you speak in tongues that you are not saved.  They can teach that all you need is mental assent that Yeshua is God for salvation and ignore the necessary repentance part. 

 

I am not God.  He weighs their hearts.  I am neither equipped nor authorized to judge their hearts.

 

However, I suspect it is all of these things – starting with getting all things Jewish out of the church that has led to many of the horrors and atrocities performed in God’s name all over the world.  How many really believe or know that Yeshua also died to break down the wall of enmity between Jew and Gentile?  To make one new humanity?  I won’t even go into spiritual Israel. 

 

There is a song called “Jesus saves.”  I kind of chuckle when I hear it because I can’t help but hear

 

(Adonai saves) saves”

 

So whether their understanding is weak, or disrespectful or irreverent or even blasphemous – in the end it will be their heart towards God that will be judged – not whether they called Him Jesus or Yeshua – but in whether they had a heart for God.  Maybe, just maybe, that respect or awe starts with understandings:  an understanding of the name and an understanding of the man behind the name. 

 

As for me and my house . . .

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About Even If Ministries

Dani'el 3:17-18 (CJB) 17 Your majesty, if our God, whom we serve, is able to save us, he will save us from the blazing hot furnace and from your power. 18 But even if he doesn’t, we want you to know, your majesty, that we will neither serve your gods nor worship the gold statue which you have set up.”
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