“Why Was Jesus Called Immanuel?” by C. Poblete

In Matthew’s gospel Jesus is called Immanuel.

Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us”(Matthew 1:23).

This is not a personal name. In Isaiah 7:14 it is seen as fulfilled, not in the naming of Jesus, but in the whole account of His origin and naming. It is not that Jesus ever bore the name Immanuel but that it indicates His role, bringing God’s presence to man.

Matthew now explains to his readers what this phrase means. It is actually a transliteration of the Hebrew into Greek—making a new Greek word from the sound of the Hebrew phrase “God is with us.”

God Is With Us Because Of Jesus

This is a statement, not a prayer. The meaning is explained to Matthew’s readers. Matthew’s use of this term may be understood in one of two ways.

  1. The phrase “God is with us” describes the nature of Jesus. He is God who has become a human.
  2. Matthew wanted to show that the virgin conception was not something new, but that it had been predicted by the prophet Isaiah. God is now with the people to save them as the prophets have predicted.

Therefore “God is with us” would not so much describe the exact nature of Jesus, but rather that God has been gracious to His people by sending His Messiah.

Summary

When the conception of Jesus was announced to Joseph the angel told him that a son would be born who would be called Immanuel – God with us. The phrase may be emphasizing the truth of the gospel that God became a human being in Jesus Christ. It is also possible that Matthew is emphasizing that God was faithful to His promises in sending the Messiah to His people the Jews.

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