The meaning of “Jesus” and “Immanuel”

I enjoy learning about word roots and meanings. I find names usually have significant symbolic meaning behind them. As you open up to the first book of the New Testament, the gospel of Matthew you find a LOT of names right off in Matthew 1:1-17 (count them–more than 45). Then you get to the last eight verses of chapter one and an angel foretells the birth of Jesus. What is the meaning of Jesus and Immanuel?

Jesus in Hebrew

Jesus comes from the Hebrew/Aramaic Yeshua, which is basically the same name and meaning as Joshua: “Yah(weh) saves”. The angel who appears to Joseph in Matthew 1 helpfully explains that this child will save Israel from her sins. So whenever you say or pray the name of Jesus, you are in essence saying “The Lord saves“.

What about Immanuel?

Immanuel in Hebrew

This name comes from the prophecy given in Isaiah 7:14 and 8:8,10 and originally was meant as a word of reassurance to the people of Judah. God had not forgotten them in their day of trial. “God is with us” was the literal meaning of Immanu-el, and again the angel explains to Joseph that God is at work fulfilling the ancient prophecy in his time. This baby boy, to be called Jesus, would also carry the symbolic name Immanuel, “God is with us.” He certainly is. Not just in spirit, but in the flesh. Jesus is God in the flesh, God with us (John 1:1, 14).

The meaning of Jesus and Immanuel taken together is “the Lord saves us”, and “God is with us.” Repeat those names in your meditation and prayer time today or even over the next week. Give thanks to God for his salvation and for his real and living presence here with us.

See a video from the first day of the season two “First Fifteen” podcast on this passage