The claim made by the Jehovah’s Witnesses that Jesus used the name of ‘Jehovah’ is impossible to ‘prove’ one way or the other but I believe there is enough evidence to come to a verdict which is beyondallreasonable doubt.
The Watchtower Society claims in Insight on the Scriptures, Vol.2, p.10, in an article on ‘Jehovah’
“In view of Jesus’ condemnation of Pharisaic traditions (Mt 15:1-9), it would be highly unreasonable to conclude that Jesus and his disciples let Pharisaic ideas (such as are recorded in the Mishnah) govern them in this matter. Jesus’ own name means ‘Jehovah is Salvation.’ He stated: ‘I have come in the name of my Father’ (Joh 5:43); he taught his followers to pray: “Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified’ (Mt 6:9); his works, he said, were done ‘in the name of my Father’ (Joh 10:25); and, in prayer on the night of his death, he said he had made his Father’s name manifest to his disciples and asked, “Holy Father, watch over them on account of your own name’ (Joh 17:6, 11, 12, 26). In view of all of this, when Jesus quoted the Hebrew Scriptures or read from them he certainly used the divine name, Jehovah. (Compare Mt 4:4, 7, 10 with De 8:3; 6:16; 6:13; also Mt 22:37 with De 6:5; and Mt 22:44 with Ps 110:1; as well as Lu 4:16-21 with Isa 61:1, 2.) Logically, Jesus’ disciples, including the inspired writers of the Christian Greek Scriptures, would follow his example in this.”
I want to look at this explanation carefully, because although on the surface it might seem reasonable, underneath it is not.
First, please note the phrases used, “highly unreasonable,” “in view of all this” and “logically.” There is no evidence here only the assumptions of a writer that appears already to know what he wants the Scriptures to say.
It is evident from the Gospels that Jesus was not governed by Pharisaic traditions but that gives not one shred of evidence when seeking to determine whether Jesus pronounced the name of Jehovah or not. Indeed the acceptance that Jesus had in the Synagogue when He read the Scriptures is surely evidence that He did not pronounce it. He was accepted when He read the Scriptures and only hounded out after He applied them to those present. If Jesus had pronounced the name of Jehovah in the Synagogue the riot would have started long before because of the very tradition the Watchtower alludes to, that the name was not to be pronounced.
Second, they say that Jesus’ name means “Jehovah is salvation” and then quote a number of Scriptures where Jesus talks about making this name known. His name comes from the Hebrew word yeh-ho-shoo’-ah, which Strong’s Concordance tells us comes
“From H3068 and H3467; Jehovah-saved; Jehoshua (that is, Joshua), the Jewish leader: – Jehoshua, Jehoshuah, Joshua.”
The word numbered H3068 above is yeh-ho-vaw’ which Strong’s tells us means,
“(the) self Existent or eternal; Jehovah, Jewish national name of God: – Jehovah, the Lord.”
Please note that we are told this is the name of God and as such, this can of course equally refer to Jesus, if He is God. The fact that He has this name does not automatically mean that He is bringing another’s name but that God saves.
The verses quoted in the article are very interesting and I would assert they show more than ever that Jesus did not use the name.
Jesus did say in John 5:43, “I have come in the name of my Father” (I have kept the NWT translation unless otherwise stated) but how did that show itself in His ministry. In addition, we will need to come back and look at verse 39, which is very interesting and has everything to do with the context of this passage.
The passages the Watchtower Society say clinch the fact that Jesus used the name Jehovah are as follows:
“Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified” Matthew 6:9.
Here Jesus is talking about the sanctifying or setting apart of the name of Jehovah. It would be the time to use the name so that all people can see and hear just how Jesus sets apart the name. He therefore says, “Jehovah in the heavens!” No, he does not he says “Father” – He does not use the name at all.
Maybe then in John 10:25 where he was talking of doing works; these will be in the name of Jehovah. No again, we see they are, “in the name of my Father.”
What about the final case in John 17 where He is praying for the disciples to be kept in the Name, He obviously prays to Jehovah. Once again no, He says in John 17:11, “Holy Father, watch over them on account of your own name.”
What is very interesting is that this evidence means nothing; Jesus does not use the name, “Jehovah” but in every instance uses the term, “Father.” This of course means that the Watchtower’s conclusion, “Jesus’ disciples, including the inspired writers of the Christian Greek Scriptures, would follow his example in this,” takes on a very different meaning.
The disciples would have followed His example and addressed God as, Father not “Jehovah.”
Once we have seen exactly what the Scriptures say then the extension that the Society seek to make, “In view of all of this…” does not have any grounds. The fact that Jesus never used the Name gives no evidence as to whether He did when He was quoting from Old Testament Scriptures and indeed what He said in John 5:39 seems to give clear evidence that He would not.
Before looking at this verse, it is interesting to bring out the statistics from the Watchtower Society’s own CD Rom.
In Matthew’s Gospel, the name Jehovah is recorded as appearing 26 times – but only 18 of these are in the text – the rest being in footnotes. Of these, the words are put in Jesus’ mouth 8 times.
In Mark’s Gospel, the name Jehovah is recorded as appearing 9 times in the text. Of these, the words are put in Jesus’ mouth 8 times.
In Luke’s Gospel, the name Jehovah is recorded as appearing 36 times in the text. Of these, the words are put in Jesus’ mouth only 9 times.
In John’s Gospel, the name Jehovah is recorded as appearing 5 times in the text. Of these, the words are put in Jesus’ mouth 4 times.
Therefore, in all the words that Jesus spoke the Watchtower Society has Jesus saying the Name of Jehovah just 29 times. When we take out duplications – the same instance being recorded in different Gospels we only have 16 unique occasions. Of these 13 are Old Testament quotations that assume Jesus would use Jehovah. However as we have shown above this is very questionable.
We are left then with three times that the Watchtower Society can put the word Jehovah in the mouth of the Lord when it is not an Old Testament quotation. Three times in three and a half years of ministry is hardly, “making the name known.” That is no evidence to in anyway ‘prove’ that Jesus used the name at all.
Of the three instances mentioned above two are found in Mark’s Gospel at 5:19 and 13:20 and the other at Luke 20:37. (1) The reason the Society claim on the CD they can put the word “Jehovah” is that one version, The Divine Name in the Christian Greek Scriptures published in 1564, used it. However, their Kingdom Interlinear Translation does not mention this version but quotes 7 other versions printed between 1599 and 1979 for Mark 5:19; 10 other versions printed between 1599 and 1981 for Mark 13:20; and 14 other versions printed between 1668 and 1981 for Luke 20:38.
However, what the Society also admit in the K.I.T. footnotes is that the original manuscripts Codex Sinaiticus, Codex Alexandrinus and the Vatican MS of 1209 all put Lord in these verses. These versions are accepted in most cases as the authority for translation but because the Society want to put ‘Jehovah’ into the mouth of Jesus just three times, the Society ignore the primary evidence. The fact that more versions use ‘Lord’ than ‘Jehovah’ and so outweigh this so-called evidence, is ignored.
The above shows that the evidence quoted is not evidence at all. The case is nowhere near proven; indeed, as we have shown the Scriptures quoted would actually show the opposite.
In conclusion, I would bring a Scripture that I have already alluded to, as positive evidence to the contrary, John 5:39. In the NASB it reads,
“You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me.”
First, please notice that the Scriptures that are being referred to hear are of course what we know as the Old Testament. The listeners had nothing else and so talking to the Jews, Jesus was talking about the Old Testament Scriptures that contained the tetragram, ‘YHWH’. However, please note carefully what this verse says; it does not say that these Scriptures bear witness to Jehovah but that these Scriptures bear witness to Me (Jesus). How amazing! If Jesus was really into making the name of the Father known, He would not have made such a statement. Even the Old Testament bears witness to Jesus!
Second, we are to note that the knowledge of Scriptures is not an end in itself. Searching them, taking in knowledge of them is not sufficient – we need to have a relationship with Jesus Christ Himself. The name of God is not the key issue here but the relationship that we have with Christ – do we know forgiveness of sins and the saving grace that flows from the death of Christ?
I believe an honest look at the Scriptures show that there is no evidence that Jesus used the name of Jehovah and indeed it is clear, beyond all reasonable doubt, that He did not.
(1) The quotation re the God of Abraham etc is from the Old Testament, but the part where the Society have Jesus using the ‘Divine Name’ is not part of that quotation.