SYNOPSIS – The name Jesus means “salvation of Yahweh” – The promised redemption has arrived in him – Matthew 1:18-21.
In the gospel of Matthew, Joseph saw an angel in a dream who announced the name of the child with whom Mary was pregnant – ‘Jesus.’ The name was most appropriate for he was appointed to “save his people from their sins.” The declaration linked this name to the saving act that God was about to achieve for His people. So, just what does the name ‘Jesus’ mean?
‘Jesus’ is the English equivalent of the Aramaic form of the Hebrew name ‘Joshua’ or Yeshua. In the Greek New Testament, it is spelled Iésous and pronounced ee-ay-sous (Strong’s – #G2424).
- (Matthew 1:18-21) – “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was thus: His mother Mary, having been betrothed to Joseph,— before they came together, she was found with child by [the] Holy Spirit. Moreover, Joseph her husband, being righteous and yet unwilling to expose her,— intended, privately, to divorce her. But when these things he had pondered, lo! a messenger of the Lord by dream appeared to him, saying,— Joseph, son of David! do not fear to take unto thee Mary thy wife, for that which in her hath been begotten is of the Holy Spirit. Moreover, she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus,— for he will save his people from their sins.” – (The Emphasized Bible).
- (Luke 1:26-32) – “Now, in the sixth month was the messenger Gabriel sent forth from God into a city of Galilee, the name of which was Nazareth,— unto a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the name of the virgin was Mary; and entering in unto her, he said— Joy to thee, favoured one! The Lord be with thee! And she at the word was greatly troubled and began to deliberate of what kind this salutation might be. And the messenger said unto her— Do not fear, Mary, for thou hast found favour with God,— And 1o! thou shalt conceive in thy womb and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus: the same shall be great, and Son of the Most High shall be called, and the Lord God will give unto him the throne of David his father,— And he shall reign over the house of Jacob unto the ages, and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” – (The Emphasized Bible).
In the New Testament, the name is applied primarily to Christ, but also to one of his ancestors, an associate of the Apostle Paul, and Joshua, the son of Nun, the successor of Moses and the leader who led Israel into the land of Canaan – (Luke 3:29, Acts 7:45, Colossians 4:11, Hebrews 4:8).
In the Old Testament, the name appears first in Exodus 17:9 – “And Moses said to Joshua, choose for us men and go out, fight with Amalek.” The original name of Joshua was Hoshea, the son of Nun – One of the twelve men that Moses sent to spy out the land of Canaan. He changed the 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).
Hoshea means “salvation,” “deliverance” or “help.” It is derived from a Hebrew verb that means “to save, help, deliver” (yasha – Strong’s – #3467. Compare the verb used 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 of the Hebrew name for God (Yahweh) to the name Hoshea, thus it became Ye-hoshua. In several of the later books of the Old Testament the second syllable was dropped from the spelling and the name shortened to Yeshua. The shorter form reflects Aramaic influences among the Jewish people after the Babylonian Captivity – (Nehemiah 8:17, Ezra 2:2).
Thus, the name ‘Jesus’ means more than simply “savior” – It combines the name Yahweh with the word for “save” or “salvation.” ‘Jesus,’ therefore, means “Yahweh saves” or “salvation of Yahweh” – The promised salvation of the One God of Israel came to fruition in his Messiah – ‘Jesus.’
Joshua’ was one of the greatest leaders of ancient Israel. Moses was the man who delivered Israel from Egypt – But ‘Joshua’ brought Israel into the Promised Land of Canaan. Likewise, ‘Jesus’ is the Greater Joshua who now saves his people from their sins, delivers them from bondage to Satan, and leads them to the ultimate Promised Land in the Kingdom of God – The New Heaven and Earth.