Questions From Readers
● How are we to understand Isaiah 7:14, which the apostle Matthew applied to Jesus? Jesus was not called “Immanuel,” was he?—J. G., U.S.A.
In applying Isaiah 7:14 to Jesus the apostle Matthew wrote: “All this actually came about for that to be fulfilled which was spoken by Jehovah through his prophet, saying: ‘Look! The virgin will become pregnant and will give birth to a son, and they will call his name Immanuel,’ which means, when translated, ‘With Us Is God.’”—Matt. 1:22, 23.
True, Jesus was not called “Immanuel.” But that fact does not mean that he did not fulfill this scripture. It was meant to state a fact regarding his mission rather than to give him a literal name. This can be illustrated by another prophecy of Isaiah, found at Isa chapter nine, verses six and seven: “For there has been a child born to us, there has been a son given to us; and the princely rule will come to be upon his shoulder. And his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. To the abundance of the princely rule and to peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and upon his kingdom in order to establish it firmly and to sustain it by means of justice and by means of righteousness.”
There can be no doubt that this prophecy applies to Jesus Christ, the Son of God as well as of David. Yet nowhere do we read that any of Jesus’ apostles or disciples identified him by these names. Nevertheless, when upon earth he was the “Wonderful Counselor,” and will be such even more so in the coming system of things as he counsels all mankind as to how to gain everlasting life. From his creation onward the designation “Mighty God” was applicable to him; and since his resurrection, when he received all authority in heaven and on earth, and especially since his ascension into heaven, when he became the “reflection of [God’s] glory” and the “exact representation of his very being,” has that designation been most fitting for him. (Heb. 1:3; Matt. 28:18) Further, in that he will provide everlasting life to obedient humankind by means of his ransom sacrifice he very appropriately is named “Eternal Father.” And, since by means of his kingdom he will bring everlasting peace to humankind, as well as to all the universe, how fitting that he be called “Prince of Peace.”
So, too, with Isaiah 7:14, which tells that a “maiden herself will actually become pregnant, and she is giving birth to a son, and she will certainly call his name Immanuel.” That the emphasis is on the role Jesus will play is apparent from Matthew’s giving us also the meaning of Immanuel, namely, “With Us Is God.”
Most appropriate is it that Jesus Christ as the foremost representative of Jehovah God ever on earth has the title “With Us Is God.” And particularly is this so when we remember Jesus’ reply to Philip’s request: “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to Philip: “Have I been with you men so long a time, and yet, Philip, you have not come to know me? He that has seen me has seen the Father also. How is it you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in union with the Father and the Father is in union with me?”—John 14:8-10.
Surely, in view of these facts we can see how fitting it was and is that in prophecy Jesus was identified not only as “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace,” but also as “Immanuel,” meaning, “With Us Is God.” And all this, let it be noted, without his actually being called by these names when he was on earth.