Christology 101 (Pt. 1): What’s in a Name?

More than you may think.

Dr. McKay Caston


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 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 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…



Dr. McKay Caston

I create resources to help folks tether their lives to the cross of the risen and reigning Jesus |