Most people have only one name, but the titles and names of Jesus add up to more than 50 in the Bible.
Why is that? It’s because Jesus is so completely amazing that a single name could never properly describe him!
Let’s review some of the names of Jesus in the Bible and what they mean.
The first of the names of Jesus in this list is redeemer.
The idea of a “redeemer” comes from the idea of “buying back” or “paying the price” for something (or someone) that was lost.
Slaves could be redeemed by buying them and giving them their freedom. In the Old Testament God was called the redeemer because he saved his people from captivity.
However, in the New Testament, the focus falls on Jesus as the redeemer who pays to price to save that which was despised, and who turns what is worthless into precious gold.
At his baptism, the Father announced Jesus as his “beloved Son.” This didn’t mean a son in the sense of someone physically born, but a “Son” in the sense of someone who is beloved above all, and who inherits all that his father has.
In the Old Testament, we see Jesus prefigured in the beloved sons of Isaac, Joseph, and David. In the New Testament, Jesus himself prefigures our own standing as beloved sons and daughters of God as a result of our salvation through him.
The word “prince” refers to the one who has full authority over something, or who is the ultimate source.
As the “prince of peace” Jesus is the one who is both the centre and origin of peace.
The prophet Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah who was to come would be the “prince of peace.” Jesus made peace and reconciled all things through his blood shed upon the cross.
As a result, we can be justified and have peace with God.
The New Testament was written in the Greek alphabet. In that alphabet, the first letter is called “alpha” and the last letter is called “omega.”
The idea of God being the first and the last is already found in the Old Testament. However, in the New Testament, this is applied to Jesus, and expressed by the name “Alpha and Omega.”
Jesus is before all things. All things proceed from him. Jesus is also unending, so that all things find their conclusion in him.
Jesus should our focus at the beginning, the centre, and at the end of our lives.
The prophet Isaiah prophesied that Jesus would be called “Immanuel” which means “God with us.”
This summarises the purpose of God in sending Jesus to this earth. Through him, God came to be with us. Through Jesus, God doesn’t stand apart from humanity. He became one with us.
There was an obvious “oneness” with humanity at Jesus’ birth, but the greatest union between God and humanity happened at the Cross, where God, in Christ, took upon himself the sin of the world, in order to save all who trust in him.
A mediator is one who stands in between and who communicates between two people who are estranged. Jesus is the mediator between God and man, because he was both fully God and fully man.
Everything that God has revealed about himself to humanity has been revealed through Jesus.
All access that we have to God is also through Jesus. The power of his mediation is based on the fact that as the perfect “God-man,” Jesus died to reconcile us to God.
In the Old Testament, the sacrificial system of the temple depended on the sacrifices of innocent animals, and the most typical of these sacrifices was the perfect, spotless lamb.
Even in Old Testament times, as in Isaiah 53 the lamb was used as a symbol of the Messiah who was to come, and of his work of removing the sin of his people.
When Jesus arrived, John the Baptist announced him as the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” In the gentleness and meekness of the lamb, we can see the true nature of God.
In the opening of the Gospel of John, Jesus is presented as the pre-existent and creative Word.
Many people think that this name comes from the “logos” of Greek philosophy. However, it is more reasonable to consider that the name “the Word” comes from the “word of God” through whom God created all things and through whom his will was revealed to his people throughout the Old Testament.
In the New Testament, Jesus is revealed as the “Word,” as the one through whom God has revealed himself to the world.
In the Old Testament, God revealed himself as the “fountain of living waters.” This had special significance in a land that was mainly dry and arid, and where water was scarce and needed, not just for refreshment, but for life itself.
In the New Testament, Jesus takes up this name and the associated imagery, and announces himself as the true source of living water, from which all who drink of it will live forever.
When we drink of the living water that is Jesus, we ourselves will become conduits of this living water for others.
One of the most characteristic names by which God calls himself in the Old Testament is the “Rock.” This is because the Israelites were traditionally a people of the hills and not of the plains, and they found protection from their enemies among the rocks of the high places.
In the New Testament, it is Jesus who is specifically called the “Rock.”
Ultimately, he alone is solid, immovable, and trustworthy.
In the Old Testament, Israel was called “the vine.” The vine was considered the source of all good things, since it provided not only fruit and juice, but also shade and beauty.
The juice of the grape was a symbol of blood, and therefore of life itself.
By the time of the New Testament, the Jewish people had become arrogant and proud in their specially status as God’s special people.
Jesus calls himself the “true vine” to remind the people that they are not the source of life and fruitfulness, but he is.
In the Old Testament, the promised Messiah was referred to as “the branch.” He was to be a descendant, a branch of the human family, and of king David.
A branch was something easily overlooked, as one branch among others, just as Jesus was in his humanity. As a branch grows and bears fruit, so too would Christ.
The name “Nazareth” which was Jesus’ hometown, is related to the word “branch.”
Because of the prophecies about the “branch” in the Old Testament, the designations “of Nazareth” or “Nazarene” applied to Jesus should be considered messianic titles.
Particularly in Old Testament times, the territory assigned to the tribe of Judah consisted of rugged wilderness, inhabited by wild beasts, and lions in particular.
The lion was renowned for its fierceness and strength. Jesus was descended from David, and therefore from the tribe of Judah.
In the book of Revelation, Jesus is most often referred to as a lamb. However, he is also called the “Lion of the Tribe of Judah.”
This highlights his power and fierceness in defending his people, by protecting them and defeating their enemies.
In the book of Revelation, the author adds another name to the list of names of Jesus when he calls him the “bright and morning star.”
This star is understood to be Venus, the brightest of the stars and the first star to shine in the evening and the last star to shine in the evening.
Although we know now that Venus is a planet and not a star, the ancients didn’t know the difference. They simply recognised Venus as the first, brightest, and most beautiful star.
In the same way, Jesus is different to all others. He is the first, the brightest and the most beautiful.
When the Lord God appeared to Moses at the burning bush and commissioned him to rescue his people from Egypt, he told Moses that the special name, by which he was to be known by his people throughout all generations, was simply, “I am.”
That’s why, when Jesus announced himself as “I am” to the Jewish people, they tried to stone him for blasphemy, for claiming to be God.
If you pay attention, you will see that Jesus uses the name “I am” throughout the gospels to particularly highlight his divinity.
He didn’t hide who he was. He is the great “I am,” the eternally present one.
The phrase “Son of Man” comes originally from Daniel’s vision in the seventh chapter of his book. There, Daniel sees someone, clearly a divine figure, however “like the son of man,” who comes in the clouds of heaven and approaches the throne of God, where he is given power and authority and the kingdom. He then gives what he has received to his people, who have been suffering terrible oppression.
The “son of man” was the favourite one of the names of Jesus by which Jesus referred to himself while he was on earth.
As he did so, the people could not have helped thinking about Daniel’s prophecy, and that Jesus was claiming that he was the one who would receive the kingdom and save his people.
When Jesus referred to himself as “the way, the truth, and the life,” this was a startling multi-faceted claim that was without precedent.
By calling himself “the way” Jesus was saying, not just that he was the destination of life, but also its very means.
By calling himself “the truth,” Jesus wasn’t referring to propositional truth, as in true statements versus false statements. Instead, Jesus was saying that he himself was the only genuine means to reality.
By calling himself “the life,” Jesus was claiming to be not just to have life, but also to be the very essence and source of life itself.
These statements deserve our deep reflection.
“Christ” isn’t a name among the names of Jesus, but a title, although we often do use it as a name. It is the Greek translation of a Hebrew word that means “the anointed one.”
In the Old Testament the ones who were anointed were the priests, kings, and prophets. They were anointed by having oil poured on their heads as a sign of the special call of the Holy Spirit upon their lives, because they were to represent God before the people.
In the New Testament Jesus is called “Christ” because he is ultimate anointed one, to whom priests, kings, and prophets all pointed.
He is the one who came to earth with a special mission: to fully represent who God was to the world.
Bread was a food staple that even the poorest could have. It sustained lifeIn the Old Testament, God was the source of bread, as he demonstrated by giving the Children of Israel manna in the wilderness.
In the New Testament, Jesus reveals himself as the true source of Life.
Jesus calls himself the “bread of life” because the one who believes in and depends on him will live forever.
In ancient times, mighty emperors would call themselves “king of kings,” because they would rule over other kingdoms with their own kings.
In the New Testament, Jesus is called the King of Kings because he will rule over the entire world, and he rules over all.
There is no higher authority in the world than Jesus. Every knee will bow to him, and to him we must surrender our lives.
Ancient buildings had a “cornerstone” which was the stone on which the structural integrity of the building depended. Because of this, it was carefully chosen and carefully placed, and the building was constructed on it.
Jesus is called the “Chief Cornerstone” because he is the one on whom everything depends, not just the church, but our very lives.
We should be careful not to let anything else replace Jesus’ role as the cornerstone of our lives.
In Bible times, shepherds had bad reputations. They were essentially uneducated and their jobs involved them being away from society.
The Bible uses the idea of “bad shepherds” to represent religious leaders who look after their own interests rather than those of the flock in their care.
In John 10, Jesus denounces the bad shepherds as thieves and murderers.
There, Jesus refers to himself as the “Good Shepherd,” who knows and loves his sheep, and who gives his life for them. We should be careful whom we choose to follow.
The final name in this list of names of Jesus is ‘the bridegroom’. There are few happier events than a wedding, and few happier people on the day than the bride and the bridegroom.
In Bible times, weddings involved huge celebrations that could go on for days. The Bible consistently refers to God’s people, the church, as his bride, and Jesus as the bridegroom. Just as the bridegroom looks forward to being together with his bride forever, so too does Jesus rejoice over you.
Those are just a few of the many wonderful names of Jesus. The reason for so many names is because you just can’t put who Jesus is into words! Why not experience him for yourself?
Article supplied with thanks to Dr Eliezer Gonzalez.
About the Author: Dr Eli Gonzalez is the Senior Pastor of Good News Unlimited and the presenter of the Unlimited radio spots, and The Big Question. Sign up to his free online course called Becoming a Follower of Jesus to learn about Jesus and His message.
Feature image: Photo by Aaron Torres on Unsplash