What About "Emmanuel"?
by Joel Hemphill
Matthew 1:23 in the KJV of the Bible says, "And they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interrupted is, God with us." Some have taken this to mean that Jesus is himself the Eternal God in flesh. Is this true or false? We must know for sure!
First, let's look at the beginning of this verse. "Behold, a virgin...shall bring forth a son." Now here is a good question: Is Jesus"God," or the "Son of God"? He must be one or the other! Christianity cannot have it both ways! Since there is only one "Lord God" of the Old and New Testaments, only He can be God, and Jesus is His virgin born "Son." Jesus absolutely cannot be both!
The King James Translators were Trinitarians .
If you study the name Immanuel, or "Emmanuel," you will find that it is a Hebrew word that means not "God with us," but "God is with us." There is a world of difference! The KJV translators got it wrong. I love the version of the Holy Bible that was authorized by King James I of England, and first published in 1611, and I mostly study and write from it. However, we must remember that these men were Trinitarian in belief, and this influence is very obvious in some places, and not so obvious in others. Some of the more recent translators have corrected their mistakes. The Complete Jewish Bible, the NCV, The New English Bible, The Message, and the New Living Translation all agree with the Holman CSB when it says, "And they will name him Immanuel, which is translated ' God is with us' ." Here are more examples of their mistakes.
1. I John 3:16: " Hereby, perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us." Of course " God " did not lay down his life for us, God is immortal (deathless) and cannot die. At least they put the word "God" in italics so we would know that it was not in the original, but was supplied by them. The truth is, as stated so clearly in the Gospel of John (3:16), that " God so loved...that he gave his only begotten Son " to die.
2. I John 5:7: "For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one." Scholars tell us that of over 5,000 ancient Greek manuscripts still in existence, these words are found in only about seven or eight copies, all from the 15 th or 16 th centuries . These words are not included in the texts of the NIV, RSV, NASB, ESV, or the NLT. The text notes of the NIV explain why. They say "the addition is not found in any Greek manuscript or N.T. translation prior to the 16 th century." It is likely that John did not write this verse but that it was added within the last several centuries. God is the custodian of His word, and has given us all we need for salvation and service, but we must read any translation with discernment, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Bible does not contradict itself, so if it states a truth clearly, 500 times, and then there is one verse that seems to be in opposition, it must be looked at skeptically. (Paul says "God" 513 times in his writings and not once can it be proven that he is speaking of Jesus).
What is Matthew Telling Us?
Is Matthew telling us that Jesus is God Himself, with us, as a human being? No way! He had already said in verse eighteen of this chapter that "the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise." The English word "birth," is translated from the Greek word "genesis," which means "beginning - to generate or cause to spring forth." So he says that the literal "beginning" of Jesus was when the "Holy Ghost" generated him, and caused him to "spring forth" from the womb of Mary. Look again at verse 23, where Matthew quotes from Isaiah Chapter 7 , "Behold a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son." See also verse 25, "and knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son."
Galatians 4:4 sheds light on Jesus' birth as well. "But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law." The word "made" in this verse is the Greek word "ginomai," and means "to cause to come into being." "When the fulness of time was come" God caused his Son "to come into being." Regretfully, the council of Nicea told us in error that Jesus was begotten in eternity, "not made ."
Consider this fact . There is not one verse in Matthew's gospel that states or hints that Jesus Christ was a pre-existent being, that moved into the womb of Mary and came our looking like a baby! He taught what all of the other Scripture writers taught, that Jesus was caused to "spring forth" from the womb of a virgin by a creative act of the Holy Ghost. It was not an incarnation ! Listen to the Harper-Collins Bible Dictionary, 1996 Edition:
"(Incarnation) refers to the Christian doctrine that the pre-existent Son of God because man in Jesus. None of the writers ( Matthew, Mark, Luke) deals with the question of Jesus' pre-existence. It is only with the fathers of the church in the third and fourth centuries , that a full-fledged theory of the incarnation develops."
Trinitarian scholar Professor James Dunn agrees. In his book "Christianity In The Making" he states:
"We cannot claim that Jesus believed himself to be the incarnate Son of God" (p. 254). "In Matthew and Luke Jesus' divine sonship is traced back specifically to his birth or conception: he was Son of God because his conception was an act of creative power by the Holy Spirit" (p. 51). "It is less likely that we can find such a Christology ("incarnation or pre-existence") in Paul or Mark, or Luke or Matthew " (p. 64).
Matthew Meant What Isaiah Meant.
Please look at Isaiah Chapter 7, from which Matthew 1:23 is quoted. On this occasion two enemy kings had come against Judah, to war against it, and King Ahaz and his people were filled with fear. God sent the prophet Isaiah with words of comfort, "I am with you." "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel" (God is with us). This was some 740 years before the birth of Jesus, but Isaiah began to say it to comfort his people, and against the enemy. Look at Chapter 8, verse 10, "Speak the word and it shall not stand: for God is with us." The leading O.T. Hebrew lexicon, The Brown-Driver-Briggs Lexicon of the O.T. says of Immanuel that it is a "name of a child, symbolizing the presence of Yahweh to deliver his people." Referring to 8:8-10 it says, Immanuel is a " declaration of trust and confidence , with us is God!"
The NIV text notes for Isaiah 7:14 say of Immanuel , "The name 'God is with us' was meant to convince Ahaz that God could rescue him from his enemies."
To put the name Immanuel in perspective the respected Blackaby Study Bible points out that, "It is only used once in the N.T., and no one on record ever called Jesus by this name."
Jesus Is A Sign.
Look again at Isaiah 7:14: "Therefore the Lord himself ( "the Lord thy God" v. 11) shall give you a sign ." Although Jesus is not God Himself in human flesh, "with us," he certainly was filled with the Spirit of God beyond measure, and is a great sign to all ages that "God is with us." Please consider this carefully. When Mary and Joseph brought the baby Jesus into the temple "to present him to the Lord (God)" (Luke 2:22), they were met by the prophet Simeon, to whom the Holy Ghost had revealed "that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ (not "God," but "God's Messiah") (v. 26). "Then took he him (the baby) up in his arms and blessed God , and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word (the "Holy Ghost" had told him): For mine eyes have seen thy salvation" (vs. 28-30). "And Simeon blessed them (Mary, Joseph, and the baby) and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set...for a sign which shall be spoken against" (v. 34) . So Simeon knew that Jesus was the "sign" promised by God through the prophet Isaiah.
Jesus Is The "Son of Man" (a Human Being) .
Yes, Jesus is a sign that "God is with us." But do not be confused. There is not one Bible verse, Old or New Testament, that states that God Almighty, the Most High, is a man , ever desired to be a man , or intended to become a man ! In fact, he said the exact opposite. "God is not a man" (Num. 23:19; I Sam. 15:29). "Neither the son of man" (Num. 23:19) Note: Jesus is called "son of man" 84 times in the Gospels . God called Ezekiel "son of man" 90 times in the book of Ezekiel. Whatever Ezekiel was, as to manhood, Jesus was.
Jesus Is The Second Moses .
Not only is Jesus the second Adam (I Cor. 15:21-22; 45-47) , but he is the second Moses . Listen to Moses in Deuteronomy chapter eighteen:
"The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren , unto him shall ye harken. And the Lord said unto me...I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee , and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him, ...my words which he will speak in my name " (Deut. 18:15, 18-19).
My friend, this is not "a God" that the Lord God promises to send, but, " a Prophet from among their brethren , like unto thee (Moses) ." Did it happen?
"Philip findeth Nathaniel, and saith unto him, we have found him, of whom Moses in the law and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth" (John 1:45).
"For Moses truly said unto the fathers, a Prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren...God having raised up his Son Jesus , sent him to bless you" (Peter speaking) (Acts 3:22, 26). (See also Acts 7:37, 52).
"Consider the apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; Who was faithful to him that appointed him , as also Moses was faithful in all his house" (Heb. 3:1-2).
"Wherefore in all things it behooved (was necessary for) him to be made like unto his brethren ...to make reconciliation for the sins of the people" (Heb. 2:17).
No precious reader, it was not a "God" who died for us, but a man; the unique, virgin born, sinless Son of God, "the man Christ Jesus."
Blessings to all seekers for truth