Tuesday, 21 December 2021

Is it with an "I" or "E"? - Immanuel or Emmanuel?

"Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’” - Matthew 1:23

During the Christmas season we will come across the name Immanuel on numerous occasions. However, sometimes we will see that it is spelt with an "E" and then others with an "I." So the question I am asked is: "What is the difference?" 

Here is my answer.

The Hebrew word Immanu'el means 'God is with us' and is found in Isaiah 7, which is then quoted in Matthew 1 with the same spelling or sometimes with an "E." 

So, where does the "E" come in then? The simple answer is that in Greek the name "Emmanouel" is a translation from the Hebrew name Immanuel. The New Testament was written mostly in Greek, and the Old Testament originally in Hebrew. So in order to have the Bible in one language, the Hebrew Immanuel was translated into the Greek Emmanuel. 

But the biggest question to ask is: Does it actually change the meaning? 

And my answer is: Not at all. The meaning is the same. Jesus is the Word made flesh and He is God with us.

As Charles Spurgeon says, "in this great Name IMMANUEL is eternity’s sonnet, heaven’s hallelujah, the shout of the glorified, the song of the redeemed, the chorus of angels, the everlasting oratorio of the great orchestra of the sky." 

He adds that "John Wesley died with the words "The best of all is GOD IS WITH US" on his tongue.

This Christmas season let us us not get bogged down with trivialities, but rather focus on the important truth - God is with us.

Living in Grace


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