In Isaiah 7:14, the prophet foretells that a virgin will give birth to a son and call him Immanuel, which means "God with us".

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14 ESV

Matthew 1:22-23 references this prophecy and indicates that it was fulfilled in the birth of Jesus.

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). Matthew 1:22-23 ESV

It is understood by many that Immanuel was not intended to be a proper name, but to be a title or description. What is the basis for this understanding?

  • In Isa. 7:14, "Immanuel" in Hebrew means "God [is] with us," like my last name in Gaelic means "son of Fergus". The name "Emmanuel" (Matt. 1:23) is a quote of Isa. 7:14 with the Greek spelling of the name. Immanuel/Emmanuel is not a title, but a name. Conversely, "Christ" (messiah) is a title that refers to any man anointed by the high priest of Israel to be a king-like deliverer of the Jewish people. Accordingly, "Christ" (Messiah) is a title applied to Jesus by Judaism-influenced Christians (Judeo-Christians; cf. Matt. 1:16). Some Christians even think its Jesus' last name (but it's not). Jul 18, 2013 at 21:02

4 Answers 4


There are certainly many names and titles by which the Messiah is called. As well as "Emmanuel", Isaiah has in 9:6 (ESV):

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Aquinas says (Summa Theologica 3.37.2 ad 1):

All these names in some way mean the same as Jesus, which means "salvation." For the name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is "God with us," designates the cause of salvation, which is the union of the Divine and human natures in the Person of the Son of God, the result of which union was that "God is with us." 1

He therefore sees no real contradiction, since both names/titles are apt ways to speak about the same person. (He does not distinguish here between a name and a title, though he of course acknowledges that "Jesus" is the proper name of Jesus.)

John Calvin (Commentariorium in Isaiam prophetam) investigates the meaning of "and (she) shall call" (וְקָרָ֥את) in the Hebrew text of Isaiah. He asserts that the giving of a name, in Hebrew custom, was reserved to the father, and so since it is the mother who is doing the calling here, she must be doing something other than giving the child its regular everyday name. Calvin says she is announcing it like a herald (in hoc nomine promulgando, virginem fore instar praeconis), and it is a designation which is far more splendid than any mere man could have. This all points to it being something other than an ordinary personal name. He further notices (Commentarius in harmoniam evangelicam) that in Matthew, the verb is "they shall call", indicating the shared faith of all believers in the fact and purpose of the Incarnation. If we are all doing the calling together, then it sounds a lot less like the bestowing of a personal name, and a lot more like the recognition of the nature of Jesus, in the form of calling him by a particular special title.

1. in omnibus illis nominibus quodammodo significatur hoc nomen Iesus, quod est significativum salutis. Nam in hoc quod dicitur Emmanuel, quod interpretatur, nobiscum Deus, designatur causa salutis, quae est unio divinae et humanae naturae in persona filii Dei, per quam factum est ut Deus esset nobiscum.


God Bless everyone I have little to say but what I have to say is meaningful. When Moses ask God "Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? What was God answer to Moses? God said tell him "I am what I am", meaning that even though we Call Jesus or "Yeshua" God those not have an exact name instead he is everything and everything is in him. He is the healer, he is property he is salvation. The name Immanuel is another tittle giving to him because it was custom for Hebrews give their children meaningful names, and in the title was his purpose for example Christ means anointed, Yeshua means "God is salvation" and Immanuel means "God is with us" so you see that even in the names God speaks to his people. Even though we have an exact name that we call him he does not only goes by a single name because he is an all powerful all knowing God. Hope this helps, God bless.

  • So do you think 'Immanuel' is a title or a proper name? And why?
    – curiousdannii
    Sep 4, 2014 at 22:54
  • Yes, we need some sources. This site strives to be academic. Please edit in a source or two that supports what you are saying.
    – user3961
    Sep 5, 2014 at 0:44

The Hebrew for Isaiah 7:14

לכן יתן אדני הוא לכם אות הנה העלמה הרה וילדת בן וקראת שמו עמנו אל

The last two words are "Amnou"(עמנו) + "Al"(אל). You can see these way on the left.

(אל) means "God"

(עמנו) means "with us"

So the end reads: his name will be with us "God"

I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive. (John 5:43 NKJV)

For some reason it is transliterated as one word, so it ends up as Amnoual, and in the newer pronunciation as Emmanuel.

  • 1
    To be specific, it is transliterated as one word--not translated.
    – Narnian
    Sep 5, 2014 at 11:56

Simply because it is not a proper name. It is a title or epithet. The word 'name' is, however, often used in the sense of 'title'.

The translation in Mt 1:23 that is phrased as 'named his name Immanuel' is a literal rendering, but is not English idiom. The NIV rendering 'call him' is simple, clear, and in proper English.

Cf. G-Mt in a new translation of N.T. (IRENT) in http://tiny.cc/bostonreaders .

  • Welcome to Christianity.SE. Please take the tour and visit the help center to see how we are different from other sites. Also, please make more clear what you are referring to in your citation/cf. Link only sources often die over time, or are rendered unusable by various firewalls or protection methods. May 4, 2017 at 19:53

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