What does Emmanuel mean? The answer may be simple on the surface, but the implications have the potential to change our lives.


What Does Emmanuel Mean?

Scott Dill

6 mins

It’s officially time for Christmas music, so let’s dust off the ol’ pipes together. 3-2-1…

O’ come O’ come…Emmanuel!”

Wait—or is it Immanuel? Either way, you probably aren’t following my lead by singing aloud (because you are a normal person), but I’m sure you can still hear the song in your head.

Why? Well, I bet there’s a chance you’ve heard that tune approximately 10,042 times during the holidays over your life—or even been elbowed in the ribs by your mom to sing it louder while wearing an itchy sweater for a Christmas church service.

What Does Emmanuel Mean?

But whether Emmanuel makes you think of the song, the name of that one kid in your fourth-grade class, or what your old man reminds you to read through when you have a question about how your car works (dad joke), have you ever stopped and thought…what does that word even mean?

Seriously, was it a made-up word to have something that loosely rhymes with ‘Israel’ in the old hymn? Is it just a random nickname for Jesus, or perhaps what you say when someone sneezes?

Would you believe there’s a deeper meaning that actually defines the entire Christmas season?

Where is Emmanuel in the Bible?

Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel.” (Matthew 1:23)

What does Emmanuel mean?

This verse is in the Book of Matthew, one of four Bible accounts that tells the life of Jesus. This verse references a prophecy spoken by the prophet Isaiah around 700 years before the birth of Jesus, foretelling his coming centuries later. As we see, the word states that this son is to be named “Immanuel.” (or Emmanuel; the name spelled with an “i” is the Hebrew translation, and the “e” is the Greek Translation (I don’t believe it’s of concern which you choose)).

Okay, fantastic, that’s where Emmanuel comes from. So then, did Mary and Joseph screw up the entire cosmic plan when they named their kid Jesus? Or maybe Emmanuel is a random nickname?

It’s kind of a nickname—but not random at all.

What does Emmanuel mean?

Emmanuel translates from Hebrew to mean “God with us.” Jesus is still Jesus, don’t worry, but he has many other names in the Bible, including “King of Kings,” “Light of the world,” “Prince of Peace,” (to name just a few), and now we know another—Emmanuel.

What does Emmanuel mean?

Okay—so Emmanuel means “God with us”. Got it. But you may now think: “With us… literally? Metaphorically? In the matrix? Why is this such a big deal for us?”

God With Us - In The Flesh

God became with us in the flesh through his son Jesus, who would come to earth some 2,000 years ago, walking the grounds, being both fully God and fully man. This means Jesus is perfect in every way while still experiencing every pain and struggle you and I face and being tempted in every way you and I are…but all without sin.

And He did it amongst us - with us. Emmanuel.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15)

Our “high priest” is Jesus. He is NOT ashamed or disappointed by our weaknesses because being with us meant he experienced it all—like getting picked last for the sports team. OK, Jesus probably wasn’t picked last, but I’m sure he at least saw the pain on the face of the kid who was.

Nevertheless, He understands us better than we know ourselves. He is with us completely.

What does Emmanuel mean?

God With Us - In Eternity

Further, God didn’t just walk among us for 33-ish years and then vanish forever. We have a chance to be with God in eternity.

He chose to be unjustly tried in a mockery of a court, endure the most brutal death ever created by humankind, defeat death, and walk out of his tomb to rescue you and me from our sinful nature.

Through this, we may experience eternal life with God.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16).

God With Us - In Our Spirit

Outside of Christmas and, well, eternity, what does this mean for us the other 364 days of the year? Well, the fact is, Emmanuel doesn’t just come around to hang for some eggnog and sing a few carols. The beautiful truth is that His desire to be with us is a full-on, everyday promise.

It’s true that as I write this, Jesus is not walking the earth. (Wait, have you heard something?) Even so, His Spirit is walking right now. Where? Well, Emmanuel is a gift that just keeps giving. Every person who believes in Jesus has his spirit inside of them.

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper to be with you forever, even the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. (John 14:16-17)

We see that Jesus/Emmanuel’s desire to be with us wasn’t just when he walked the earth. It’s now. It’s forever. Jesus is truly with us everywhere we go.

What does Emmanuel mean?

God With Us - Always

Jesus, the one who spoke creation into being, A.K.A. Emmanuel, was born in the small backwater town of Bethlehem, grew up in an oppressed and occupied nation, and launched a ministry that challenged every worldly paradigm through his perfect love.

“…For he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we can confidently say, ’The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:5b-6)

It’s His name—Emmanuel—God with us.

Disclaimer: This article is 100% human-generated.

Scott Dill
Meet the author

Scott Dill

I'm married to a great woman. We have two fantastic daughters. Occasionally, you can find me strumming a guitar or banging a drum. Otherwise, I'm hanging with my family and eating popcorn. God continues to be good to me.

Popular Topics