What Is the Meaning of Immanuel in the Bible?

What Is the Meaning of Immanuel?
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Immanuel, meaning "God is with us," is a Hebrew name first appearing in Scripture in the book of Isaiah:

"Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." (Isaiah 7:14, ESV)

Immanuel in the Bible

  • Immanuel (pronounced Ĭm mănʹ ū ĕl) is a masculine personal name in Hebrew meaning "God with us," or "God is with us."
  • The word Immanuel appears only three times in the Bible. Besides the reference in Isaiah 7:14, it is found in Isaiah 8:8 and cited in Matthew 1:23. It is also alluded to in Isaiah 8:10.
  • In Greek, the word is transliterated as "Emmanuel."

The Promise of Immanuel

When Mary and Joseph were betrothed, Mary was found to be pregnant, but Joseph knew that the child was not his because he had not had relations with her. To explain what happened, an angel appeared to him in a dream and said,

"Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." (Matthew 1:20-21, NIV)

The Gospel writer Matthew, who was addressing a Jewish audience primarily, then referred to the prophecy from Isaiah 7:14, written more than 700 years before the birth of Jesus:

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel—which means, 'God with us.'" (Matthew 1:22-23, NIV)

In the fullness of time, God sent his Son. When Jesus was born all doubt about Isaiah's prophecy faded away. Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled the prophet's words because he was fully man yet still fully God. He came to live in Israel with his people, as Isaiah had foretold. The name Jesus, incidentally, or Yeshua in Hebrew, means "the LORD is salvation."

The Meaning of Immanuel

According to Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible, the name Immanuel was given to a child born in the time of King Ahaz. It was meant as a sign to the king that Judah would be given a reprieve from attacks by Israel and Syria.

The name was symbolic of the fact that God would demonstrate his presence through the deliverance of his people. It is generally agreed that a larger application existed as well—that this was a prophecy of the birth of the incarnate God, Jesus the Messiah.

The Concept of Immanuel

The idea of God's special presence living among his people goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden, with God walking and talking with Adam and Eve in the cool of the day.

God manifested his presence with the people of Israel in many ways, as in the pillar of cloud by day and fire by night:

And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. (Exodus 13:21, ESV)

Jesus told his disciples, "For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them." (Matthew 18:20, NLT) Before his ascension to heaven, Christ made this promise to his followers: "And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:20, NIV). That promise is repeated in the last book of the Bible, in Revelation 21:3:

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. (NIV)

Before Jesus returned to heaven, he told his followers that the third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, would dwell with them: "And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever." (John 14:16, NIV)

During the Christmas season, Christians sing the hymn, "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" as a reminder of God's promise to send a Savior. The words were translated into English from a 12th century Latin hymn by John M. Neale in 1851. The song's verses repeat various prophetic phrases from Isaiah that foretold the birth of Jesus Christ.


  • Holman Treasury of Key Bible Words.
  • Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible.
  • Tyndale Bible Dictionary (p. 628).
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Zavada, Jack. "What Is the Meaning of Immanuel in the Bible?" Learn Religions, Dec. 6, 2021, learnreligions.com/what-does-immanuel-mean-700741. Zavada, Jack. (2021, December 6). What Is the Meaning of Immanuel in the Bible? Retrieved from https://www.learnreligions.com/what-does-immanuel-mean-700741 Zavada, Jack. "What Is the Meaning of Immanuel in the Bible?" Learn Religions. https://www.learnreligions.com/what-does-immanuel-mean-700741 (accessed May 29, 2023).