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Friday, October 4, 2013

Should Jesus Really Be Considered to be God Because He Was SYMBOLICALLY “Named” Immanuel (Isa. 7:14; Mt. 1:23) Which Means “God is With Us”?

“Jesus,” “Immanuel,”

Another fairly common trinitarian “proof” that “Jesus is God” uses the meanings of personal names. It is very true that personal names were extremely important to God and to his people as recorded in the Bible. The meanings of their names were often carefully selected by their parents and were sometimes changed during their lifetimes because of changing circumstances.

Many trinitarians will tell you that, since the name “Jesus” (probably “Yehoshua” in Hebrew) means “Jehovah is Salvation” (or “Jehovah Saves”), then Jesus is Jehovah.

If that were true, then all the other people in the Bible whose names had that same meaning (which includes all those named “Jesus,” “Joshua,” “Jeshuah,” and “Isaiah”) are also Jehovah!

It is very interesting that Joshua was originally named ‘Hoshea’ (“Salvation” - p. 303, Today’s Dictionary of the Bible, Bethany House Publ.), but Moses began to call him ‘Joshua’ (Yehoshua: ‘Jehovah is Salvation’ or ‘Jehovah the Savior’ - p. 358; “[Jehovah] Saves” - Young’s Concordance; “Jehovah Saved” - Strong’s Concordance) at a certain point. - Numbers 13:8, 16. Obviously Moses meant in no way to imply that Hoshea had become Jehovah! The addition of “Jehovah” to Hoshea’s name merely indicated Moses’ understanding of Hoshea’s loyalty to Jehovah (and that any salvation that might occur through the man Joshua most certainly came originally from Jehovah!)

(Notice that the actual name for “Joshua” in the original language of the NT is identical to the name for “Jesus.” See Heb. 4:8 and compare Heb. 6:20 in the NT Greek portion of a New Testament Greek-English interlinear Bible. Also see Acts 7:45 and compare Acts 16:7 and Matt. 26:51.)

Not only that, but hundreds of others with names similar to “Elijah” (“God Jehovah”), “Abijah” (“Father Jehovah”), “Eliathah” (“God is Come” - Young’s), “Jehu”[1] (“Jehovah is He” - Today’s Dictionary of the Bible; Strong’s Concordance; Young’s Concordance; and Gesenius), etc. are also obviously not Jehovah Himself!

It is certain that many (if not most) of the personal names of God’s people had meanings which were meant to honor God, not to glorify the person who bore that personal name.[2]

I hardly think anyone would consider Ananias (Acts 5:1-6) as being Jehovah simply because his name means “Jehovah has shown favor” or “Jehovah is Gracious” - p. 35, Young’s Analytical Concordance; p. 673, Today’s Dictionary of the Bible (TDOTB), Bethany House Publishers, 1982. Nor is it necessary to imagine that this doomed wretch was in any way the subject or the object of “Jehovah’s Favor”!

Of course it is possible that Ananias’ parents meant that their new son was a favor from Jehovah, but this interpretation is only one possibility. It is just as possible that the name was intended solely as a praise to Jehovah for all He has done (for mankind generally and for Israel specifically). It is certain that no one should believe that this man who was destroyed by God was either Jehovah Himself or a “favor from Jehovah” - no matter what his personal name actually meant!

Should Jesus really be considered to be God because he was symbolically “named” Immanuel (Is. 7:14; Mt. 1:23) which means “God is with us”? No more so than Gabriel was calling himself God when he visited Mary and declared: “The Lord is with thee” - Luke 1:28. Nor did Zacharias mean that John the Baptizer (his new son) was actually God when he was asked, “I wonder what this child [John] will turn out to be?”, and he answered, “Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, for he has come to visit his people and has redeemed them.” - Luke 1:66-68, LB.

Gabriel and Zacharias (Zechariah) meant exactly what Israelites have meant throughout thousands of years when saying “God is with us” and similar statements. They meant “God has favored us” or “God is helping us”! - Joshua 1:17; 1 Samuel 10:7; 2 Chron. 15:2-4, 9 (cf., Jer. 1:8; Haggai 1:13).[3] But if we insist on trinitarian-type “proof,” then Gabriel must have meant that he (Gabriel) is God! And Zacharias (whose own name means ‘Jehovah is renowned’ - p. 678, TDOTB) must have meant that John the Baptizer is God! – Also see 1 Sam. 17:37; 2 Sam. 14:17; 1 Ki. 8:57; 1 Chron. 17:2; 22:18; 2 Chron. 1:1; 35:21; 36:23; Ezra 1:3; Is. 8:8, 10; Is. 41:10; Amos 5:14; Zech 8:23. (Also see “Immanuel” in the Insight books.)

This understanding is seen throughout the Bible. For example, “But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, the secrets of his heart are disclosed; and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you.” - 1 Corinthians 14:24-25, RSV.

Or, in a Psalm many of us apply to ourselves or our friends:

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me - ASV.

The widely acclaimed trinitarian Bible dictionary, The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 1986, Vol. 2, pp. 86, 87, states:

“The name Emmanuel [or Immanuel] which occurs in Isa. 7:14 and 8:8 means lit. ‘God [is] with us’ .... In the context of the times of Isaiah and King Ahaz the name is given to a child as yet not conceived with the promise that the danger now threatening Israel from Syria and Samaria will pass ‘before the child knows how to refuse evil and choose the good.’ Thus, the child and its name is a sign of God’s gracious saving presence among his people .... [The name Emmanuel] could be a general statement that the birth and naming of the special child will indicate that the good hand of God is upon us.” - p. 86. And, “The point of the present passage [Matt. 1:23] is to see in the birth of Jesus a saving act of God, comparable with the birth of the first Emmanuel. Both births signify God’s presence with his people through a child.” - p. 87.


1. “JEHU - ‘Jehovah is he.’

(1.) The son of Obed, and father of Azariah (1 Chronicles 2:38).

(2.) One of the Benjamite slingers that joined David at Ziklag (1 Chronicles 12:3).

(3.) The son of Hanani, a prophet of Judah (1 Kings 16:1, 7; 2 Chronicles 19:2; 20:34), who pronounced the sentence of God against Baasha, the king of Israel.

(4.) King of Israel, the son of Jehoshaphat (2 Kings 9:2), and grandson of Nimshi.” - Easton’s Bible Dictionary, ‘Jehu,’ from Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Thomas Nelson Publ. (Also p. 331, Today’s Dictionary of the Bible, Bethany House, 1982.)

So four different men, worshipers of the one true God, Jehovah, were namedHe is Jehovah’ in the Holy Scriptures!

2. “Now Malchiel means ‘God is king,’ ... Gedaliah ‘Jehovah is great,’ Zerahiah ‘Jehovah hath risen in splendor,’ Jehozadak ‘Jehovah is righteous,’ and Joel, if a compound name, ‘Jehovah is God.’ A moment’s reflection makes clear that these names do not describe the persons who bear them, but in every case speak of God. They emphasize the important facts that personal names might be, and often were, memorial and doctrinal, and that personal names were a part of the ordinary speech of the people, full of meaning and intelligible to all, subject to the phonetic laws of the Hebrews, and obedient to the rules of grammar. ....

“But with Jehoshaphat, Abijah’s grandson, early in the 9th cent. [B.C.], the custom became established. Henceforth it was conventional for the king of Judah to have for his name a sentence with Jehovah as its subject. .... During the five centuries and a half, beginning near the close of Solomon’s reign and extending to the end of Nehemiah’s administration, 22 high priests held office, so far as their names have been preserved in the records. Of these pontiffs 17 bear names which are sentences with Jehovah as subject, and another is a sentence with El [God] as subject. .... evidently the priests of Jehovah’s temple at Jerusalem not only recognized the appropriateness for themselves and their families of names possessing a general religious character, but came to favor such as expressly mentioned God, especially those which mentioned God by His name of Jehovah.” - p. 2115, Vol. 3, The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, Eerdmans, 1984 printing.

3. Barnes' Notes on the NT:

Phil. 4:9

And the God of peace shall be with you.

The God who gives peace. Comp. Hebrews 13:20; 1 Thessalonians 5:23. See Barnes "Philippians 4:7". The meaning here is, that Paul, by pursuing the course of life which he had led, and which he here counsels them to follow, had found that it had been attended with the blessing of the God of peace, and he felt the fullest assurance that the same blessing would rest on them if they imitated his example. The way to obtain the blessing of the God of peace is to lead a holy life, and to perform with faithfulness all the duties which we owe to God and to our fellow-men.


The Adam Clarke Commentary

Ruth Chapter 2

Verse 4. Boaz came from Beth-lehem

This salutation between Boaz and his reapers is worthy of particular regard; he said, Yehovah immachem, "Jehovah be with you!" They said, yebarechecha Yehovah, "May Jehovah bless thee!" Can a pious mind read these godly salutations without wishing for a return of those simple primitive times? The words may be thus paraphrased: "May God be with you, to preserve you from accidents, and strengthen you to accomplish your work!" "May God bless THEE with the increase of the field, and grace to use his bounty to the glory of the Giver!"


The Adam Clarke Commentary

Luke 1:28

The Lord is with thee

Thou art about to receive the most convincing proofs of God's peculiar favour towards thee.


The Adam Clarke Commentary

Phil. 4:9

And the God of peace

He who is the author of peace, the lover of peace, and the maintainer of peace; he who has made peace between heaven and earth, by the mission and sacrifice of his Son, shall be ever with you while you believe and act as here recommended.


The Adam Clarke Commentary

Ps. 46:7

The Lord of hosts is with us

We, feeble Jews, were but a handful of men; but the Lord of hosts-the God of armies, was on our side. Him none could attack with hope of success, and his legions could not be over-thrown.


John Darby's Synopsis of the New Testament

Phil. 4:9

"Moreover, the Christian, although walking (as we have seen) in the midst of evil and of trial, is to occupy himself with all that is good, and is able to do it when thus at peace, to live in this atmosphere, so that it shall pervade his heart, that he shall be habitually where God is to be found. This is an all-important command. We may be occupied with evil in order to condemn it; we may be right, but this is not communion with God in that which is good. But if occupied through His grace with that which is good, with that which comes from Himself, the God of peace is with us. In trouble we shall have the peace of God; in our ordinary life, if it be of this nature, we shall have the God of peace. Paul was the practical example of this; with regard to their walk, by following him in that which they had learnt and heard from him and seen in him, they should find that God was with them."


The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible

Luke 1:28

the Lord is with thee;

so the angel to Gideon, (Judges 6:12) or "be with thee", an usual form of salutation among the Jews; (Ruth 2:4)


The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible

Ruth 2:4

and said unto the reapers, the Lord be with you;

to give them health, and strength, and industry in their work


The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible

1 Chronicles 22:18

Is not the Lord your God with you?

Blessing them with wealth and riches:


The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible

2 Chronicles 1:1

And Solomon the son of David was strengthened in his kingdom,

Well settled and established on the throne of his father, after the death of some persons, from whom he might expect trouble, see (1 Kings 2:46)

and the Lord God was with him;

directing and instructing him, prospering and succeeding him


Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament

Ruth 2:4

Jehovah be with thee. Jehovah bless thee

(Ruth 2:4). It seems that these were customary salutations, acknowledging the blessing of the Lord in the abundance of the harvest.


Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament

Ps. 46:7

Jehovah of hosts is with us

(Psalms 46:7). If God be for us, who can be against us, is the New Testament echo of this confidence. The great security is in God.

For more, see:

IMMANUEL (INDEX; Watchtower Online Library)

IMMANUEL (Insight-1 pp. 1187-1189; Watchtower Online Library)

NAME (Examining the Trinity)

Does Matthew 1:22, 23 Really Imply That Jesus is God? (Defend Jehovah's Witnesses)


Defend Jehovah's Witnesses