Did Jesus Have a Middle Name?

Did Jesus have a middle name? This is one of the five most frequently asked questions online regarding Jesus. Although we get into some deep theological issues on Parchment & Pen, it’s good to step back once-in-a-while and listen to the questions being asked by our society. Here’s a quick answer to this frequently asked question:

Jesus lived in first century Israel. People during that time were mainly given only a first name. Any additional names would be connected with their village and/or their immediate family. For instance, the apostle Paul (before his life change and subsequent name change) was named, “Saul of Tarsus”. Saul was his first name and Tarsus is the city he was from. The theory is there was probably only one well-known Saul from Tarsus. This naming convention works in a small city. It would not work calling someone “Bill of Chicago.” That wouldn’t be specific enough.

For other people their name came from their family lineage. The successor of Moses, Joshua, his official name in the Bible is “Joshua son of Nun.” Yes, his dad was actually named Nun. Be thankful, unless of course your name is Nun, if so I’m very sorry.

So, let’s get back to the question, “Did Jesus have a middle name?” For a majority of his life Jesus was usually referred to as “Jesus of Nazareth.” That was his name. It wasn’t Jesus Smith. If you walked into Jerusalem and you were looking for Jesus you would say, “Have you seen Jesus of Nazareth?” In Matthew 21:11 people even specify the location of Nazareth for out-of-towners by saying, “The crowds answered, ‘This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.'”

The New Testament, additionally, refers to Jesus as “Jesus the Christ” or just “Jesus Christ.” The word Christ is the Greek translation of the Hebrew word “Messiah.” Christ is not his last name. When you say the name “Jesus Christ” you are affirming Jesus as the Savior of the world. If an atheist says, “I do not believe Jesus Christ is the Savior” they are being silly. It would be like me saying, “I do not believe Alexander the Great is great.”

Did Jesus have a middle name: No. Is Christ his last name: No. Is Jesus the Christ: Yes.

27 Responses to “Did Jesus Have a Middle Name?”

  1. Jesus was the literal son of Joseph. His last name was whatever Joseph’s last name was.

  2. It was not only the common practice to use the town where a person came from but at times their profession. I find it interesting that it does not mention Jesus as a carpenter but “the prophet from…”

  3. Daniel,

    What makes you think he was called by Joseph’s last name? I think Joseph was named in the same way as the other people of his day. According to Matthew 1:16 his father’s name was Jacob. So he was probably called “Joseph son of Jacob” or “Joseph from Bethlehem.”

    If Jesus was ever called a name related to Joseph it probably would have been, “Jesus bar-Joseph”…which just means, “Jesus son of Joseph.” We never hear Jesus referred to by this name so we need to deduce he was called by the names recorded in the New Testament which I specify in the post.

    what do you think?


  4. Jesus may not have had a middle name but Paul probably did. He was a roman citizen from birth, and therefore like all citizens, had three names: a nomen, praenomen, and a cognomen. We know only his cognomen: Paullus. Saul would have been his Jewish name for use in Jewish circles. I don’t think his name was changed midlife from Saul to Paul.

  5. I read somewhere once that the phrase “Jesus H Christ” probably comes from the title “Iesus Hominum Salvator” (which is Latin for “Jesus, Saviour of men”). This might have lead some folks to think that the “H” was an intiial for a middle name.

  6. Thank you for the laugh. I truly enjoyed this one as it was lite and humorus

  7. I thought Jesus’ middle name was the letter H. I’m not really sure what the H stands for though…..maybe Hallowed or Holy? (this is supposed to be a silly joke, people!!)

  8. So, his middle name wasn’t “H”? I’m sorry I just couldn’t help myself.

  9. Christ does not mean “savior”. As the Greek equivalent of “Messiah” it refers to the annointed ruler. The name Jesus means savior but we need to recognize the difference between the two terms – Jesus and Christ. For example, the Koran teaches that Jesus is the Messiah, but like most Christians, Muslims don’t know or think about what that means. If you want some food for thought on this subject, think about the connection between the concept of the Messiah and Jesus’ teaching about the kingdom of God. There is a critical connection here that may transform one’s fundamental understanding of what it means to be a “Christ”ian.

  10. It is interesting that Jesus nazoraios, which is one of the titles of Jesus, means pertaining to the city of Nazareth, like being a Nazarene, or it can mean a separated one, as in, being a Nazarite. They meant it as slander since they believed no good thing could come from Nazareth, but they inevitably dubbed Jesus as the Separated One in their slander.

    Matthew uses the word in 2:23 and 26:71. Most translations word it “Jesus of Nazareth”, but really what is being said is either Jesus Nazarene, Jesus Nazarite, or Jesus Separated One. Besides these two instances, this word appears 11 times in the books of Luke, John, and Acts. The book of Acts documents how Peter used the term to describe our ascended LORD as Jesus the Nazarene in Acts 2:22, 3:6, and 4:10. In Acts 24:5 Tertullus levels accusations against Paul stating he is the leader of a sect termed “the Nazarenes”, really meaning the separated ones. So Luke documents what Matthew stated was a reality as he wrote his gospel, that reality being that Jesus was indeed commonly referred to as The Nazarene.

    Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13

    -The Orange Mailman

  11. So these comments got rather more serious than the post. I mean, people ask this because they think it starts with an H right? It’s the full swear if you’re going to drag it out for those that use it as such. :)

  12. The title Jesus of Nazareth is critical. It is the first sign that connects Jesus to the old testament Phophacys. It is evident for the bible that the Jerusalem religious culture at the time was actively seeking a Messiah. They were aware of where he would come from. Being referred to as Jesus the prophet from Nazareth would naturally garner mattended turning than ‘Bob the prophet from Gad’. The name and title was prophetically significant. He would not have referred to himself as Son of Joseph because he was not.

  13. Thanks iphone for the awesome autocorrect. Here is what i really meant… The title Jesus of Nazareth is critical. It is the first sign that connects Jesus to the old testament Phophacys. It is evident from the bible that the Jerusalem religious culture at the time was actively seeking a Messiah. They were aware of where he would come from. Being referred to as ‘Jesus the prophet from Nazareth’ would naturally garner more attention than ‘Bob the prophet from Gad’. The name and title were prophetically significant. He would not have referred to himself as Son of Joseph because he was not.

  14. Actually, Jesus (Joshua in Hebrew/Aramaic of course) is called “bar-Joseph” (or the Greek equivalent rather) twice in dialogue, which is reasonable under the circumstances.

    The first time is John 1:45, where Philip finds Nathanael and tells him they’ve found “the one of whom Moses writes in the law and the prophets, Jesus son of Joseph, from Nazareth”.

    The other time is John 6:42, where the Jewish crowd in the synagogue in Capernaum (probably not to be identified with Jewish leaders shortly afterward in technical dispute, nor altogether with the proto-zealots searching for Jesus after the feeding of the 5000 from the previous day, who are also on the scene) are asking one another, “Isn’t this Jesus son of Joseph, with whose father and mother we’re acquainted?”

    Luke calls Jesus “bar-Joseph” at Luke 3:23, too, although he clarifies that he’s talking about legal status “as to the law”. This is a bit of key information for the theory that Luke was recording the line of Mary into whose family Joseph was adopted as the elder son upon marrying her; compared to Matthew’s geneology which involves the verb “to beget”–a verb very explicitly not applied to Jesus in relation to Joseph.

    So while it doesn’t happen often, it does happen. From a legal standpoint, Jesus (as attested by Luke who is clearly strongly in favor of the Virgin Birth) can be called Jesus bar-Joseph, although from a biological standpoint He could even be called Jesus bar (h)Eli!–if that was Mary’s father. But more properly, if strangely to Jewish ears (which is probably why this formulation doesn’t appear in the NT), He would be Jesus bar-Miriam, “son of Mary”. But since that would be weird, or rather since that would seem to call His mother’s character into dishonor, His town name becomes the reference.

  15. Whoops, meant to register for comment tracking.

  16. If one were to follow the old Scandinavian method, the name would consist of three parts: given name, son/daughter of & town or parish one lived. Such as: Kari Eiriksdtr Nes. That is Kari, the daughter of Eirik, who came fro the town of Fla.

    In the case of Jesus it could be Jesus (Ieschoua) Bar-joseph of Nazareth,

  17. I’m with Kendra…
    my dad and uncles almost always used the H in their times of exasperation and frustration to bring a spiritual finality and intensity to their rants … !
    A habit that I’ve never been fond of from the beginning and have never used regardless of the circumstances…
    Until that time … Earl J.

  18. Anthony Parrott October 2, 2012 at 8:58 am

    Actually, we do see Jesus called “Son of Mary” in Mark 6:3. As Ben Witherington has pointed out, this was a highly dishonorable way of referring to someone, essentially and simultaneously calling someone an illegitimate child and calling the mother of that child promiscuous.

  19. What is interesting is that there are two times where the Bible explicitly states what the name of Jesus should be:

    Matt 1;21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt CALL HIS NAME JESUS : for he shall save his people from their sins.

    23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall CALL HIS NAME EMMANUEL l, which being interpreted is, God with us.

    Therefore, I am dumb enough to believe Matthew which states his NAME is Jesus and his NAME is Emmanuel.

    How fitting that the Holy Spirit clarified his names identifying the hypostatic union of his humanity and deity.

    And it is also worth noting that believing that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God that we have eternal life.

    John 20;31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

  20. Charles Hancock October 2, 2012 at 11:22 am

    The messanic jew would say that Jesus name was Yeshuah.

  21. When I was growing up I assumed that, given what older gentlemen would say, His middle name was Effin. Or at least a variation of it.
    Sorry,couldn’t help it………

    Love you guys at Credo House!

  22. I wasn’t sure where this article was heading, and I thought that comment # 3 and # 7, after getting into the bar-Joseph reference, would bring up the story about Barabbas (bar-Abbas) being called by his last name whereas his first name was also Jesus.

    (One version of the story goes so far to include the conjecture that Jesus Bar-Joseph and Jesus Barabbas went to school together.)

    I don’t know on what authority that story rests, but it makes for a good sermon outline; with the idea that ‘abba’ means father, so Barabbas is literally “son of his father” or an Everyman kind of character who represents all of us; we who get off free because Jesus takes our place.

    Later, I heard this story expanded into one where Jesus Barabbas is listening from a distance as Jesus Bar-Joseph is brought before Pilate and cannot hear Pilate’s questions — who to release, and what to do with Jesus of Nazareth — but only the crowd’s answers. So he in effect hears, “Barabbas… Barabbas… Barabbas…; crucify him… crucify him… crucify him.” At that point Barabbas feels his life is over, only to find it given back to him.

    Again, I don’t know what the scholars have to say about this story, but I do know it to be fairly widespread.

  23. Anthony,

    I’m fuzzy about whether Mark 6:3 counts as a translation of bar-Miriam in the sense of a name, since (unlike how “the brother of James etc.” is used immediately afterward) the direct article is used for Mary. In Greek it reads literally “Is not this the artisan, the son of the Mary?” The stylism suggests this is information like being “the artisan” or “the brother of these men and women”, but not intended as a name in this case.

    You’re right however that, being “in the country of His” (i.e. around Nazareth although Mark doesn’t name the area), if the people are familiar enough with His family to not only name all His brothers but also to talk about how His sisters are still among them (Jesus having otherwise packed the family up earlier to move to Capernaum, meaning the sisters married men back in Nazareth), then for them to refer to Him as “the son of Mary” would be insulting her character–thus insulting Him as a bastard. By contrast, the people in Capernaum (even when they’re confused about things He’s saying) call Him “Jesus Son of Joseph from Nazareth”, even though Joseph couldn’t have been alive when Jesus moved the family to Capernaum near the start of His ministry.

  24. I suggest Yashua ben YHWH.

  25. Yeshua bar Yosef (Jesus son of Joseph) was the original Aramaic name for Jesus of Nazareth.


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