Matthew 1:23:
Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

Jesus only properly has two names: “Jesus” and “Emmanuel.” The reason I say that is because they were the only two appellations identified with onoma, the Greek word for “name.” However, Jesus was the only one used of him consistently throughout God’s Word being used about 972 times. “Emmanuel” occurs only 3 times: Isaiah7:14; 8:8; and Matthew 1:23.

Its only New Testament occurrence is in Matthew 1:23 the context of which is very intriguing.

Matthew 1:20-25:
But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:
25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

The angel specifically told Joseph in verse 20 to call the baby’s name Jesus. Then it refers to the Isaiah 7:14 prophecy which said they shall call his name “Emmanuel.” The immediate context closes with the birth and notes that Joseph did indeed call him Jesus. Why bring up the name, “Emmanuel” when the context clearly shows Joseph using the name “Jesus” as instructed? The reason is to link Jesus with Isaiah’s prophecy, identifying him as the Messiah spoken of in the Old Testament. Isaiah 7:14 is a prediction of Jesus’ divine conception that was documented in Matthew 1:18-25 and Luke 1:31-35. The disparity is dispelled when one recognizes the two different usages of onoma. Lesson 9, Acting in Someone’s Name notes four usages. The usage of onoma in verse 21 and 25 is the first, the use of a proper name, and the usage of the one in verse 23 is the fourth, reputation, referring to everything which the name covers, all the thoughts and feelings aroused in the mind by mentioning, hearing, remembering, the name including Jesus’ standing as the only begotten son, his authority, and his exploits. The name he would make of himself would identify him as “Emmanuel,” “God with us.”

“Emmanuel,” may be properly translated “God with us” (as in the KJV, NIV and most other translations) or “God is with us” (as in the CJB, CSB, GWN, MGI, MIT, NAB, NJB, NLT and NRS translations). God was certainly with His people in Jesus Christ for Jesus had said, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9). The use of the name “Emmanuel” doesn’t make Jesus God as some conclude The significance of the name is symbolic. Yes, “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself” (II Corinthians 5:19). Please note that it says, “God was in Christ” not “God was Christ.” Symbolism in names can be seen throughout the Bible. The name “Elijah” means “Jah is God.” Samuel means “his name is God.” Isaiah means “Jehovah has saved.” “Elisha” means “God is salvation.”

The truth is that God was always with His people. He stood with them and provided for them throughout the Old Testament. The prophets knew that God was with them, even when He was not with the rest of His people (Isaiah 8:10; Numbers 23:21). It was the awareness of God’s presence with His people that allowed them to overcome their fear (Numbers 14:9; Deuteronomy 20:1; Joshua 1:9). God encouraged his people to do exploits by reminding them that He was with them (Judges 6:12; II Samuel 7:3; I Chronicles 17:2; II Chronicles 15:2; Jeremiah 20:11; Zechariah 10:6). People of godly character were reputed to have the Lord with them (I Samuel 16:16; Genesis 21:22; Zechariah 8:23).

However, never in the history of mankind had God been more clearly with his people than when Jesus walked the earth. Jesus fully declared God and made Him known (John 1:14,18). He was the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3). He always did his Father’s will (John 8:28-29; 5:19,30; 6:38; 12:49-50). Ephesians describing us in our previous undesirable condition calls us “having no hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12). But having God with us assures us of our wellbeing at all times and in all situations. Such was Jesus repute that people wondered at his miracle-working power (John 11:37; Matthew 15:31; Mark 6:51; Luke 2:18; 4:22; 8:25; 9:43; 11:14). I still stand in awe of the truth that God has declared that Christ is in me! What a hope of glory! That means God is with me, causing me to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by me in every place (II Corinthians 2:14).

By Wayne Clapp