In John 1:42, we read, “And he brought him to Yeshua (Jesus). Yeshua looked at him and said, “You are Simon Ben Yohanan. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter).”
The Bible was, and is, a Jewish book written into a Hebraic Jewish culture. There are vast differences between the Hebraic culture and our westernized Hellenistic culture. One of those differences has to with surnames and how they affect us.
In our Hellenized culture, a surname is just that a name used to identify someone. In the Hebraic culture, a name is so much more than a way of identifying someone. It is also that person’s character, reputation, and the spirit of someone. So in a Hebraic culture, when you say the name of someone, you are invoking that person’s spirit.
This is why the Bible prohibits us from speaking the name of other gods because we invoke them and call upon them when we do. No Christians in their right mind would want to call upon a demon, but that is what we are doing when we speak the name of other gods.
To some of you, this might seem strange because it is so left field of normal Christianity. But if you stop for a moment and consider what the Bible says, it makes sense. We all know how we feel if we hear the name of someone we dont like, even if that person is not around us, just saying his or her name makes us feel as if they are in the room with us, and we feel unloved or angry. And the opposite is true; we all know how we feel if we hear the name of someone we love, even if that person is not around us, just saying his or her name makes us feel loved and happy as if they are in the room with us. And of course, this should also make us see the dangers of the “say his name” movement. According to the Bible, saying his name will not honor him; instead, it will summon a demon disguised in the dead person’s character and personality. You do not want that to happen to you; therefore, a Christian can not and should not participate in the “say his name” movement.
Even though the Bible forbids us from saying the name of another god, it encourages us to say the name of our God, Yehovah. Time and time again, we see how the Bible promises rich blessings, protections, and provisions to someone who says the name Yehovah. One of those promises is found in John 17:11; “I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one.”
Here in John 17:11, Yeshua (Jesus) says there is protection in His Father’s name, the name of Yehovah. He also says His name is the same as His Fathers, and because He has the same name as His Father, we who believe in Him can be protected and one by the name of Yehovah.
To understand what Yeshua is trying to tell us here in John 17:11, we first have to remember His name is original Hebrew name is Yehoshua, shortened to Yeshua. The name Yehoshua starts with the three letters YEH which is the same as the first three letters in the name of our God Yehovah. So what Yeshua is saying here is that He has His Father’s name because His name Yehoshua has in it His Father’s name in two ways; 1. The first three letters are identical, 2. His name Yehoshua means Yehovah saves. This, combined with Yehoshuas’ total obedience to the law of Moses, is what brings unity and protection between Him and His Father Yehovah. This is also what Yehoshua (Yeshua) desires for us.
How? Do we all have to change our names into Yehoshua?
When the Bible was written, the term Jew did not refer to a man or a woman from the tribe of Judah born in Israel. The word Jew did not exist when the Bible was written. Instead, they used the term Yehudi or Yehudim. In the Bibel, a Yehudi or Yehudim worships the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Yakov (Jakob) regardless of what tribe they belong to. We see this in the book of Esther with Mordechai from the tribe of Benjamin being referred to as a Yehudim, and we see Daniel, who was not from the tribe of Judah, also referred to as a Yehudim. Mordechai and Daniel were Yehudi or Yehudim because they worshiped the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Yakov (Jacob). The first Christians were seen as Yehudi until Emperor Constantine made it illegal for a gentile-born Yehudi to live as a Yehudi. The Bible says a Yehudi is a worshiper of Yehovah, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Yakov. Because Constantine made it illegal for a Christian to be a Yehudi, he made it illegal for a Christian to worship the God of Israel. How can a Christian be a Christian if they can’t worship the God of Israel, the God of the Bible? The short answer is; they can not be Christian and not worship the God of Israel. A Christian is someone who worships the God of Israel, so therefore a Christian is a Yehudi.
Do you worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Yakov (Jacob), the God of Israel? If you are a Christian who believes in Yeshua (Jesus), you worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Yakov. If you worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Yakov, the Bible says you are a Yehudi. How should a Yehudi live his or her life? In obedience and love for the law of Moses totally dependent on Yehovah. Where does the Bible say this? In Romans 2 and Isaiah 56, we see Paul and Yehovah saying all those who repent from lawlessness to law and join themselves to Yehovah are a true Yehudi regardless of DNA or ancestry.
What are the first three letters in the word Yehudi?
The first three letters are YEH, the same as the first three letters in the name of our God Yehovah and the same as the first three letters in the name Yehoshua (Yeshua/Jesus). The name Yehudi means someone who worships Yehovah.
In John 17:11, Yeshua (Yehoshua/Jesus) says if we become a Yehudi, we will be protected by the power of Yehovah’s name, one with Yehovah and Yehoshua. How do you become a Yehudi? The Bible says by repenting from lawlessness to law, reconciling with Yehovah by faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Yeshua (Yehoshua/Jesus.) Now that you have become a Yehudi by choice, you have to do what Simon did and grow into your new self-image by stop living as a gentile and start living as a Yehudi. How do you make this transition? By remembering that words, names, and titles have great power and authority in the Hebraic culture of the Bible.
Every time Yehovah wants to change someone, we see how He gives them a new name or adds a new character to their name. Abram becomes Abraham, Sara becomes Sarai, Yakov becomes Israel, Hoshea becomes Yehoshua, and Simon Ben Yohanan (Peter) becomes Cephas.
When Simon heard someone calling him by his new name Cephas, or when he thought to himself, “my name is now Cephas,” he invoked in himself a new self-image. It did not happen overnight; Simon Ben Yohanan, the impulsive fisherman, still lingered on for a time, but the more he grew into his new name of Cephas, the more he grew into his new identity as a rock and a leader of the congregation in Jerusalem.
The new birth, which we call salvation, makes you a new creation. In your salvation, Yehovah gives you a new name. Because you have repented from lawlessness to law, having reconciled yourself to Him by the cross, you are no longer a gentile. You are now a Yehudi, a worshiper of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Yakov (Jacob).
From now on, you need to invoke your new name Yehudi so you can replace your old gentile self-image with the self-image of a Yehudi. It will not happen overnight, and just as with Simon Ben Yohanan, your old gentile self will linger on for a time. But the more you grow into your new self-image as a Yehudi, the easier it gets to live as a Yehudi and not as a gentile. The other benefit of being a Yehudi is the protection and unity with Yehovah. Because you are a carrier of His name, the name of Yehovah, you have His protection.
Before I close for today, let me make something clear so that no one will misunderstand what I am saying.
Even though Simon Ben Yohanan was given the name Cephas, we see in all the Gospels how the other Apostles and Yeshua Himself continued to call him by his given name Simon Ben Yohanan. When asked by Yeshua if he loved Him, Yeshua called him by his given name. When the angel told them to proclaim Yeshua had risen from the grave, the angel specifically made sure Cephas heard about it. When Paul had to confront Cephas in front of everyone, Paul knew him as Cephas, not Simon Ben Yohanan. So the Bible does not teach that we should now all legally change our names into Yehudi and stop using our given names. We are still allowed to be called by our given names, but we are to do what Simon did; we are no longer to be just Ben, Bill, Jane, or Tom. We have become Yehudi Ben, Yehudi Bill, Yehudi Jane or Yehudi Tom, which means Ben a worshiper of Yehovah, Bill a worshiper of Yehovah, Jane a worshiper of Yehovah, Tom a worshiper of Yehovah.
Because you are now Yehudi (fill in your given name) you are to see yourself as Yehudi regardless of what it says on your driver’s license. But you have a responsibility to use the power and the authority of your new name to invoke in you the new self-image as a Yehudi so it can replace your old gentile self. So grow accustomed to thinking “I am a Yehudi” my name is “Yehudi (your given name)” so you can invoke in you your new personality and your new self-image.