Jesus’ name is actually Yeshua. That is what His mother, father, friends, enemies and Heavenly Father called Him. Jesus is the English translation of the Hebrew name. If I asked you, “What does ‘Jesus’ mean?” What would your answer be? (Stop and really ponder this before moving forward.) In the Western Church, we have all heard “Jesus” more times then we can begin to count, yet to explain what His name means proves difficult. Why?
The Importance of Using Etymology to Understand Biblical Names
Simply put, “Jesus” in English, has no intrinsic meaning. Regardless of how much we use this translation of His name, we cannot give it a root meaning. So in order to understand the Messiah’s name, we need to go back to the Hebrew name given to Him by his Father. Let’s read right from the beginning of Matthew when the angel announces to Joseph that Mary is pregnant with a child from the Holy Spirit. I want you to notice carefully what this messenger of God tells Joseph.
But as he [Joseph] considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Yeshua, for he will save his people from their sins.”
Have you ever thought about who decided what His name would be? Of course, it would have to be his Heavenly Father! Why did Yahweh choose the name that He did? To understand the answer, you need to realize that in biblical history children were typically named based on either: 1) an observable characteristic or 2) a prophetic role they would fulfill. An example of children being named for an observable characteristic would be Moses, whose name means “to draw out”. He was given this name because he was quite literally “drawn out” of the river. One could also argue that Moses’ name had prophetic implications because one day he would “draw out” the people of Israel from Egypt by the miraculous signs he would perform being “as God to Pharaoh” (Exodus 7:1). As with many names, the reason many biblical children receive their names is because of both 1 &2.
The messenger of Yahweh announces to Joseph both the name of the child and the reason why Yahweh chose that name! Isn’t that so cool! We get to see right from the announcement of Mary’s pregnancy the prophetic role that Yeshua will fulfill in his life. Yeshua means “to save, deliver, rescue”. The messenger is prophecying that this child is the means of salvation and deliverance from sin for all people! Amazing!
Prophets Testify to the Meaning of Yeshua’s Name
I want to share one of my favorite stories in all of the Bible, and it illustrates the meaning of the name of Yeshua perfectly. Notice what a prophet and prophetess speak after seeing Yeshua for the first time. They recognize the role He will fulfill and give glory to God! The story reads:
22 And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” 25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, 28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,
29 “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
according to your word;
30 for my eyes have seen your salvation
31 that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel.”
33 And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed 35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”
36 And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, 37 and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.
Simeon and Anna both have the revelation that this child, Yeshua, is the salvation and redemption of Israel.
Another prophet, Isaiah, writes, and Paul later quotes him in Romans, saying:
26 And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”; 27 “and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins.”
If you desire to further your studies by understanding the name of our Heavenly Father, please check out the article below. The entire plan of Yahweh centers around making His name great throughout the earth!
One of the beauties of the Hebrew language lies in the intrinsic meanings of its names. I encourage you to go look at the Hebrew meanings for other names found in the Scriptures. In doing so, I trust that we will learn things previously hidden. May the spirit of the Messiah lead us into a greater revelation of Himself as we ponder the meaning of the name of Yeshua.