What Is the Significance of the Name “Jesus?”

Biblical Authority Devotional: Christmas, Part 1

by Erik Lutz on December 14, 2010

The angel told Joseph to name Mary’s son Jesus. The Bible often discusses the significance of this name. Erik Lutz, AiG–U.S., explains.

And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21)

Today’s big question: what is the significance of the name “Jesus”?

Why did the angel tell Mary and Joseph to name the baby “Jesus”? Is there some holy significance to this particular sequence of letters or sounds? No, these letters and sounds are different in every language into which the name of Jesus is translated. The name of Jesus is not phonologically unique; it was a fairly common Jewish name and is still used today, though not in English. For example, Jesús is a fairly common name in many Hispanic countries.

“Jesus” is an English rendering of the Greek name Iēsous, which is a translation of the ancient Hebrew Yehoshua. This name is formed from Hebrew roots signifying “Jehovah is salvation” and is translated in our English Old Testament as “Joshua.” The Greek version of this name also refers to Joshua once in the New Testament (Hebrews 4:8).

The name of Jesus is significant because of who it represents—it means “God our Savior.” Jesus Christ is Immanuel, “God with us” (Matthew 1:22–23). He came to earth as a man in order to die in our place and become our Savior. This is why the angel said, “you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.

The name of Jesus reminds us about the amazing humility of the Son of God when He came as a man to die. As His followers, we must also strive to show the same selfless humility that  Jesus demonstrated while on earth:

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. (Philippians 2:5–8)

However, Jesus is not just a name of unmatched humility; it is also a name of infinite exaltation. His name is glorified far above every other name:

Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9–11; cf. Acts 4:12)

Today’s big idea: the name of Jesus is infinitely glorious because of who it represents.

What to pray: praise the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, our awesome Savior.

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Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively. We focus on providing answers to questions about the Bible—particularly the book of Genesis—regarding key issues such as creation, evolution, science, and the age of the earth.