St. Paul writes in his letter to the Philippians, “At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth” (2:10). Christians have always believed that the name of Jesus is a powerful one, but many are not familiar with the meaning behind it. What does the name mean? Where did it come from?
First of all, the name “Jesus” is one that was divinely given through the angelic message of Gabriel to Mary: “Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus” (Luke 1:31). Out of all the names he could have chosen, God chose that name for a reason.
Baby Jesus figurines
The Catholic Encyclopedia states, “The word Jesus is the Latin form of the Greek Iesous, which in turn is the transliteration of the Hebrew Jeshua, or Joshua, or again Jehoshua, meaning ‘[God] is salvation.'”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church adds, “Jesus means in Hebrew: ‘God saves.’ At the annunciation, the angel Gabriel gave him the name Jesus as his proper name, which expresses both his identity and his mission.”
The name was a popular one in the Old Testament and during the time of Jesus’ birth. It is closely related to the name “Joshua.” For this reason the Old Testament figure of Joshua is often seen as a prefigurement of Jesus, who now leads the people of God into the true Promised Land.
According to some ancient sources, “The Greek name is connected with verb iasthai, to heal; it is therefore, not surprising that some of the Greek Fathers allied the word Jesus with same root.”
In the end, it is a powerful name, one that summarizes who Jesus was and what he came to do on earth.
The name “Jesus” signifies that the very name of God is present in the person of his Son, made man for the universal and definitive redemption from sins. It is the divine name that alone brings salvation, and henceforth all can invoke his name, for Jesus united himself to all men through his Incarnation, so that “there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (CCC 432).
Litany of the Holy Names of Jesus, All Mercy