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And she will give birth to a son, and you are to call his name Jesus,a for it is he who will save his people from their sins.”

a[21]
Jesus is the Greek form of the name “Joshua,” which means “Yahweh saves.” It was a common name at the time of Christ.

“Jesus.” The angel would have spoken to Joseph in Hebrew or Aramaic because the phraseology is Semitic (G. Osborne, Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament), and the name “Jesus” means “Yahweh is salvation.” The angel explains the name “Jesus” by saying, “for, he will save his people from their sins.” “Jesus” is the same name in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, as “Joshua” in the Old Testament, something that has caused some confusion in some modern versions. For example, in the King James Version in Acts 7:45 and Hebrews 4:8, the Old Testament man Joshua is mistakenly called “Jesus.” Joshua was one of the types of Christ in the Old Testament and there are some profound parallels between Joshua and Jesus.

“it is he.” This is emphatic in the Greek; “he” is put as the very last word in the sentence for emphasis. That would only be confusing in English, so we would have to use capital letters or bold letters. We might say, “Because HE will save his people from their sins.” We place a little more emphasis on it by saying, “it is he,” (cp. NASB).

“sins.” In this context, to be saved from sin is multifaceted. The major emphasis is a metonymy of effect, where “sin” is put for the effect of sin, i.e., the consequences of sin, which is death. In saving people from their sin, Jesus saves people from everlasting death. Jesus Christ came to give people everlasting life, as Scripture attests in many places. Also, however, Jesus saves people from sin in many other ways, including changing their life so that they do not continually live in sin and its consequences, and forgiving sin so people do not have the weight of sin on their shoulders. [For more on sin, what it is and what it does, see commentary on 1 John 1:7, “sin”].


Commentary for: Matthew 1:21