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Christology 101 (Part 1): What’s in a Name? More Than You May Think.

In the ancient world, names often were ripe with meaning. 

For example, before his name change, the Hebrew meaning of Abram's was exalted father, which seemed a tragic irony in that he was old and had no children.

However, in the LORD's covenant with Abram, he receives a name change to reflect the sovereign kindness of God. Abram becomes Abraham, which is a compound name comprised of two Hebrew words, av (אַב), which means father, and raham (רָהָם), which means many. Put them together, and you have Av-raham, father of multitudes. In English, it's just Abraham. But the original meaning of the name is theologically rich. 

The same is true for Moses, which also is comprised of two Hebrew words, me (מֵ), which means out of and sheh (שָׁה), which means drawn. When combined they mean "drawn out of," which perfectly describes how Me-sheh, or Moses, was rescued from the Nile by Pharaoh's daughter. 

The name Jesus has the deepest, richest, most significant theological meaning of them all.

The English name Jesus is a transliteration of the original Greek form of his name, Iēsous (Ἰησοῦς), which is the Greek form of the Hebrew name, Joshua (Yeshua, יֵשׁוּעַ). 

Hang with me.

When translated from its two component parts, Yeshua (יֵשׁוּעַ), is translated, "the LORD (Ye) saves (shua).”

This is why the angel told Joseph to name Mary’s son, Jesus. The meaning of his name would reveal the purpose for his birth, which was "to save his people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21).

Those who receive the forgiveness of sins through repentance and faith are given a new name, too.

We are called saints.

You’re probably thinking, "There must be a Greek word coming soon.” 

You’re right! 

The Greek word for saint is hagios, which is usually translated as holy. To be holy is (1) to be set apart and (2) to be declared legally or to function as someone who is morally pure, spotless, without blemish, etc. 

Believers are referred to as saints not because of our moral purity but because of the moral purity of Jesus that is credited to us as gift-righteousness. 

Because of the substitutionary life and atoning death of the risen Jesus, sinners become saints, aliens become citizens, enemies become friends, orphans become adopted children, and the condemned are justified.

Yes, it is by grace alone that we've been set apart to receive the grace of reconciliation with the Father as fully forgiven, perfectly accepted as righteous, adopted in love children of God.

What an amazing grace it is!

Having tasted of the grace of God in the Son, former slave-trader turned pastor and hymn writer John Newton would sing,

How sweet the name of Jesus sounds in a believer’s ear, 

It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds, And drives away his fear.

It makes the wounded spirit whole, And calms the troubled breast;

’Tis manna to the hungry soul, And to the weary, rest.

In view of the nail-scared Savior, we, too, may join the chorus—all to the praise of God’s glorious grace.

If you teach Sunday School, a Bible study for adult or youth small groups, teach your kids as a homeschool parent, lead family devotions, are a missionary, serve as a camp counselor, etc., the principles in the PPGR Preaching System will give you a template that will help you create lessons that are biblically grounded, tethered to the cross of the risen Jesus, and applicable to real life.

Get more information about the PPGR Preaching System.