The name ‘Jesus’ means “salvation of Yahweh,” In him, the salvation promised by God has arrived for His people – Matthew 1:18-21.
An angel informed Joseph that Mary was with child “begotten of the Holy Spirit,” and instructed him to name the child “Jesus,” -a most appropriate name. As the angel declared, “he will save his people from their sins.” This name linked him to the saving act that God was about to accomplish for His people as promised in Scripture.
When spelled ‘Jesus,’ it is the anglicized form of the Aramaic name ‘Joshua’ or ‘Yeshua,’ a shortened form of the original Hebrew name ‘Ye-hoshua.’
- (Matthew 1:20-21) – “Now, when he had pondered these things, behold, by dream, an angel of the Lord appeared to him, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David! Fear not to take unto you Mary your wife, for that in her has been begotten is of the Holy Spirit. Moreover, she will bring forth a son, and you will call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
In the very first verse of Matthew, Jesus is identified as the “son of Abraham.” This was more than just one name among many listed in a genealogy. Not only was he the biological descendant of Abraham, but he also came to fulfill the covenant promises made to the patriarch. This gospel account demonstrates this in several ways.
For example, the announcement to Joseph is conceptually parallel to the prediction made to Abraham about his firstborn son by Sarah. This occurred when he was ninety-nine years old, and Sarah was ninety. Though not a virgin, she was well beyond childbearing age, making her pregnancy. And like the angel’s announcement to Joseph, Abraham received his son’s name by divine appointment:
- (Genesis 17:19) – “And God said, Nay, but Sarah your wife will bear you a son; and you will call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his seed after him.”
In the Old Testament, the name ‘Jesus’ or ‘Joshua’ appears first in Exodus – “And Moses said to Joshua, choose for us men and go out, fight with Amalek.” That man’s original name was ‘Hoshea,’ the “son of Nun,” and one of the twelve men sent to spy out the land of Canaan. Later, Moses changed his name from ‘Hoshea’ to ‘Joshua’:
- “These were the names of the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land. And Moses called Hoshea the son of Nun, Joshua” – (Numbers 13:1-8, Exodus 17:9).
‘Hoshea’ means “salvation, deliverance, help.” It is derived from the Hebrew verb for “save, help, deliver” – (yasha – Strong’s – #3467). Compare its usage in the following passages:
- (Exodus 14:30) – “Thus Yahweh saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians.”
- (Deuteronomy 20:4) – “For Yahweh your God is the one who goes with you …to save you.”
Moses changed the name by prefixing the first syllable from the Hebrew name for God or Yahweh to Hoshea, resulting in Ye-hoshua. In several of the later books of the Hebrew Bible, the second syllable was dropped, and the name was contracted to Yeshua, reflecting Aramaic influences after the Babylonian Captivity – (Nehemiah 8:17, Ezra 2:2).
Thus, the name ‘Jesus’ means more than “savior.” It combines the name Yahweh with the Hebrew word for “save” or “salvation.” It, therefore, means “Yahweh saves” or “salvation of Yahweh.” Thus, the promised salvation of the One God of Israel came to fruition in his Messiah – ‘Jesus.’
The announcement that “he would save his people from their sins” echoes key themes from the “Servant’s Song” of Isaiah, and deliberately so:
- (Isaiah 53:5) – “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our sins; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”
- (Isaiah 53:10-11) – “Yet it pleased Yahweh to bruise him; he has put him to grief: when you will make his soul an offering for sin, he will see his seed, he will prolong his days, and the pleasure of Yahweh will prosper in his hand. He will see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied; by the knowledge of himself will my righteous servant justify many; and he will carry their sins.”
The genealogy of Jesus presented in Matthew begins with Abraham, the Great Patriarch, and progenitor of Israel. He is the “son of Abraham,” the “seed” who fulfills the covenant promises.
Likewise, he is the “son of David,” the prophesied “Messiah” – ‘Jesus’ – the one who brings the “salvation of Yahweh” and removes the stain of sin from his “people.” And he is the Greater Joshua who delivers the saints from bondage to Satan and leads them into the true and greater “Promised Land” in the Kingdom of God.