You have definitely heard hymns and worship songs sung to Immanuel, referring to Jesus Christ. Immanuel or the Romanized version, Emmanuel, is not a name we normally use when referring to Jesus. Sometimes people wonder why Jesus has two names – Jesus Christ and Immanuel.
Why Does Jesus Have Two Names?
According to the words of Charles Dyer in the Return to the Word blog, the only safe approach to determining the fulfillment of prophecy is first to understand the prophecy in its original context. Then one must examine the New Testament to see if the prophecy corresponds to the later events that actually transpired.
Let’s look at the prophecy in the book of Isaiah and the fulfillment of the prophecy in the book of Matthew.
The Prophecy in the Book of Isaiah
The prophecy that announced the birth of Christ is Isaiah 7:14 which says,
“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”Isaiah 7:14
God was giving a sign to Ahaz king of Judah, who received threats from Rezin king of Syria and Pekah son of the king of Israel. God had told Ahaz that the attack would not come to pass (Isaiah 7:7). After saying this, God prompted Ahaz to ask Him for a sign which he refused to do. God then went ahead and gave the sign according to the prophetic Bible verse above.
God was to fulfill the sign at a later date, not at the time He gave it. God also made reference to the house of David when He gave this sign. The time of fulfillment of the prophecy came when Jesus was born. The child who would be born was God’s grand plan for the salvation of the world and not only Israel.
The Fulfillment of the Prophecy in the Book of Matthew
The fulfillment of the prophecy is recorded in Matthew 1:23 which says,
“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).Matthew 1:23
Why then was Jesus not called Immanuel when He was born? It’s interesting that in Matthew 1:22, Joseph had instruction on what to name the child born of the virgin:
“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”Matthew 1:22
Jesus was born to Mary who was a virgin at the time and betrothed to Joseph. She wondered how she would have a child yet she was a virgin. The angel of the Lord told her that it would be by the Holy Spirit. This shows that the child to be born was no ordinary child but would be the Son of God and would inherit the throne of His father David (Luke 1:32).
The prophecy and its fulfillment indicate it was a Messianic prophecy pointing to the birth of a Savior. When the angel made the announcement to Joseph, he called him “Joseph son of David.” In the gospels, those who wanted Jesus to heal them often referred to Him as “Son of David.”
The prophecy was also to the house of David and was significant because it showed that the Messiah would come from the lineage of King David. Joseph was a descendant of David and God recognized him as the earthly father of Jesus.
The Relationship Between the Names “Immanuel” and “Jesus Christ”
From the above Scriptures, we can safely conclude that the name “Immanuel” was signifying who Jesus would be to us. He was going to be “God with us” just like He was given other titles in Isaiah 9:6, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
When Jesus was born, He became “God with us” because He was known as the Word of God, He was God, and made His dwelling among mankind (John 1:1,14). In addition to that, Colossians 2:9 says, “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.” The fullness of the Deity is God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This shows that as much as Jesus was not named Immanuel when He was born, the name was to show us that in Him, we would always have the fullness of God.
Jesus is not on earth today, but He left us the Holy Spirit (John 14:26) to dwell in the hearts of those who believe in Him. We always carry the presence of God wherever we go. God is always with us by His Spirit. Everything God does in the world today is by the Holy Spirit. God is no longer a distant God who lives in heaven, but One who is always among us and lives in us. He has a personal relationship with everyone who believes in Jesus Christ.
Why Does Jesus Have Two Names?
There are many other prophecies about the coming of Jesus Christ as the Messiah. This article focused on only one prophecy because it is the one that refers to the coming Messiah as “Immanuel.” It is not wrong to call Jesus “Immanuel” in the same way you call Him “Prince of Peace” in honor of His nature and attributes.
The names “Immanuel” and “Jesus Christ” are like two sides of a coin, one is a prophecy and the other fulfillment of the same prophecy. One exists in the Old Testament and the other in the New Testament.
As you sing along to “O Come O Come Emmanuel” over the Christmas season, you now know that you are worshipping the One who brought God’s presence to dwell with us for eternity.