Jesus of Nazareth has many names in the Bible, such as Immanuel (Matt. 1:23), Lamb of God (John 1:36), and the Word (John 1:1-2). Some of his names are titles like Christ (Col. 1:15), Son of Man (Mark 14:1), and Lord (John 20:28). A name that doesn’t appear in the Bible is when people say “H” as a middle initial for Jesus Christ. What does the letter mean?
When people say the letter H as a middle initial for Jesus Christ, they are guilty of blasphemy, which is to use God’s name in a vain or hollow manner. To profane the name of Jesus Christ, and use it as a curse word, is a serious sin. The history of the letter in the name is ambiguous; yet, theories exist.
What exactly is blasphemy? Does God forgive blasphemy? What is the origin of using H as the middle name of Jesus Christ? What does it mean to use God’s name in vain and what is the consequence for it? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and others.
Also see Did Jesus Have A Last Name? to learn more.
What is blasphemy?
Some people hear others say the letter H as a middle initial for Jesus Christ and don’t realize that there is no biblical basis for it. So to be clear, rarely, if ever, do people say the letter in a reverential way.
Most often, when the initial is heard it’s in the context of anger, stress, or confusion. It’s not a holy way to refer to Jesus Christ and violates God’s moral standard, which invites his punishment and wrath.
What is blasphemy? Blasphemy, which may consist of speech, thoughts, or behaviors, means to denigrate, mock, or disrespect God, his name, and the reverence that is due to him.
Blasphemers received the death penalty in the Old Testament (Lev. 24:10-16). In the New Testament, Jesus taught that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is the unforgivable sin (Matt. 12:31).
|ESV||Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.|
|KJV||Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.|
|NASB||Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven.|
|NIV||And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.|
|NLT||So I tell you, every sin and blasphemy can be forgiven—except blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which will never be forgiven.|
Does God forgive blasphemy? God forgives sincerely repentant people who are guilty of blasphemy. One characteristic of genuine repentance is to never blaspheme God’s name again. “Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit” is a certain expression of blasphemy that Jesus says isn’t forgivable. Many scholars believe blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is to reject Jesus’ offer of forgiveness and salvation.
Where does using the letter H in Jesus’ name originate? The use of the letter H probably started in England because of its possible connections to the Anglican Church. The curse seems to be unique to English, although Jesus Christ’s name can be blasphemed in any language.
The Anglican Church has historically used a divine monogram for the name “Jesus Christ” that consists of three Greek letters: iota-eta-sigma. The eta, when it’s in the uppercase, looks like the English letter H. Therefore, the English equivalent of the monogram looks like JHC. J is for “Jesus,” C for “Christ,” leaving the middle letter, H. The eta is simply the second letter in the Greek name for Jesus: ΙΗΣΟΥΣ.
While this theory is possible, it can’t ultimately be proven. Curse words are often slang and informal, which means their origin isn’t often found in a well-known, well-written piece of literature.
Also see What Personality Type Was Jesus Christ? to learn more.
What does it means to take God’s name in vain?
Exodus 20:7 reads, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain” (ESV). Taking God’s name in vain means to “misuse the name” of God” (NLT). Many people misuse the names “Jesus” and “Jesus Christ” when they say them as curse words.
The consequence for taking God’s name in vain in the Old Testament was death. Leviticus 16:16 reads, “Whoever blasphemes the name of the Lord shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall stone him. The sojourner as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death.”
Pastor Ligon Duncan explains that humor can be blasphemous, too: “To take up God’s name in vain means any frivolous, or insincere, or thoughtless, or unsubstantial use of His name. It might mean irreverent humor which mocks God in speech, or mocks others with His name.”
He continues: “It might be blasphemy or cursing or a broken oath, but it means more than that. It could mean professing faith in Christ, and claiming to be a Christian, and receiving baptism, and yet walking in worldliness.”
Also see Was Jesus Christ a Refugee? to learn more.
13 holy names for Jesus Christ found in the Bible
|Immanuel||Immanuel is a Hebrew word meaning “God with us.” It’s used in connection with the birth of Jesus Christ who was the Word (John 1:1) that became flesh (John 1:14).|
|Nazarene||In the first century, it was common to identify a person according to their location of origin, such as the town where they were from. People identified Jesus being from Nazareth, not because he was born there, but because he spent time there (Luke 2:4).|
|Son of Man||Jesus is identified as “the Son of Man” (e.g. Mark 8:38), which is rooted in Daniel 7:13. The title refers to Jesus as being from heaven.|
|Son of God||Jesus uses this title to describe himself multiple times in the Gospel of John (5:25; 10:36; 11:4). The name is used in different ways depending on the context. Sometimes it highlights his heavenly origin; other times it emphasizes his relationship to the Father.|
|Son of David||God promised David that the Messiah would come from his line (2 Sam. 7). The name Son of David (e.g. Matt. 21:9) denotes that Jesus came from David’s ancestral line and that he is the one God promised the third king of Israel.|
|God||Certain New Testament passages clearly and strongly identify Jesus as God, including John 1:1, cf. 1:18; John 20:28; Rom. 9:5; Titus 2:13; and Heb. 1:8. There are many other passages that ascribe to Jesus attributes that only God possesses.|
|Lord||Lord was a common way to refer to Jesus in the early church (Acts 2:36; 10:36; Rom. 10:9; 1 Cor. 8:6; 12:3; Phil. 2:11). It conveys sovereignty and headship. Sometimes it’s used as a title of respect (e.g. John 4:11); other times it means something much more sacred and lofty (e.g. John 20:28; Acts 22:10).|
|Word||John identifies Jesus as the Word (John 1:1; 1:14; 1 John 1:1). Jesus is the sum total of all that God wanted to communicate to people. As the Word, Jesus reveals truth to people.|
|Servant||This name describes one of the roles Jesus had while on earth (Matt. 12:17-21; Phil. 2:7).|
|Lamb of God||John the Baptist gives this title to Jesus (John 1:29, 36; Rev. 5:6). It reflects Jesus’ sinless nature and his sacrifice on the cross for sin.|
|High Priest||The book of Hebrews identifies Jesus as High Priest (9:11-12). It describes the intercession he makes for believers.|
|Mediator||Sin created a rift between God and people. Jesus mends the rift as a mediator (1 Tim. 2:5).|
|Last Adam||Paul describes Jesus as the “Last Adam,” in contrast with the first man God created. The first Adam introduced sin into the world. The last Adam takes it away (John 1:29).|
Also see Did Jesus Meditate? to learn more.
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