Did Jesus have a last name?
If I could be honest with you, not many of my American friends are asking good questions. It’s pretty sad how easy it is for many to be considered a “Christian” these days in America. But occasionally I will come across a thinker—someone who really is working through honest thoughts about Christianity.
One of the more recent questions I’ve encountered has been, “Did Jesus have a last name?”
Others may also ask, “Did people in the Bible have last names?”
This is a great question!
To answer it simply, they did not have last names as we, twenty-first-century Americans, do. Nowhere in the Bible does Jesus have a last name. You see, we live in a different time and a different culture. Needless to say, many things have changed since Bible times, including name giving.
Some have mistaken Jesus Christ to be considered his full name. Christ is not a last name, but a title. It’s his office. He is the Christ—the Messiah—the Anointed One.
Back in the day, people commonly had only one name followed by their parent’s name to help identify them. For example, we read of Simon, son of Jonah, or James, son of Zebedee. We see this in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. It was also common for some to be identified by their tribe, such as Aaron, the Levite. Others are identified by their vocation, like Matthew the tax-collector.
As you can see, there didn’t seem to be a strict naming system.
For those wondering if Jesus had a last name, well, he didn’t. Many have concluded that if we gave him a twenty-first-century name, so that he could fit in, he would probably have a surname similar to Johnson or Carlson since he was Joseph’s son. But in their day they put son before the parent’s name instead of behind it. In Hebrew, bar meant son of. This would make his name, Jesus son of Jospeh. In Hebrew, ישו בן יוסף. Transliterated, Yeshua bar Yosef.
This is how I understand it from the Scriptures and from Bible teachers. Hopefully this helps answer the question, “Did Jesus have a last name?” Walking through honest questions about Christianity is very exciting and encouraging to me. Let’s continue sharing in Christ and seeking the truth.