Isaiah 9:6 Explained

The Mighty God & Eternal Father

By Craig Bluemel

 

Isaiah 9:6-7

 

9:6 For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

 

9:7 Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. NKJV

 

This prophecy has been used by the Christian church as a supposed proof text to affirm the deity of Jesus Christ as, “the Mighty God,” and as the, “Eternal Father.”  Nothing is further from the truth.  The prophet Isaiah utters these words in Isaiah 9:6-7 as from Yahweh.  The year in about 722 BC as the Northern kingdom of Israel (aka Samaria) is under judgment by the Almighty for its wickedness and false prophets. 

 

Also, Isaiah chapters seven and eight chronicle prophetic words uttered with regard to the evil alliance formed between Rezin, king of Syria and Pekah, king of Israel, designed to topple Ahaz, king of Judah by laying siege to Jerusalem, harassing its inhabitants, dividing the spoils taken from there, and putting Ahaz to death.  For this treachery and more Yahweh Himself has come against Israel.

 

There is also an application of both deliverance and divine judgment upon the southern kingdom of Judah that had also forsaken the way of Yahweh and was soon to be taken captive into Babylon after years of being besieged by the Assyrians and Syrians and other heathen nations for their ungodly ways and frequent backslidings.  In Isaiah 9:1 the prophet speaks of the former times Yahweh delivered Judah (i.e. – the house of David) and brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and Naphtali by permitting them first to come under the direct yoke of Assyria. (See 2 Kings 15:29).

 

Perhaps as a beacon of hope in the extreme darkness of the hour they were facing, Isaiah’s prophecy in chapter nine is of the latter time (in the future) when God will make the way of His people glorious, by the way of the sea, etc.   The emphasis here is clearly messianic, because God fulfilled this prophecy when He sent his Son Jesus to live in Galilee and carry on his principal ministry there (See Matthew 4:13-17).

 

Isaiah 9:3-5 is a part of the messianic hope when God’s spiritual nation will be “multiplied” (Isaiah 9:3) by the addition of the Gentile church, which, in the coming age, would unite with Jewish Christians to carry out Christ's Great Commission and bring in the harvest of the redeemed from all the earth.  In this light compare what Jesus said about the joy of the reapers in John 4:36ff.

 

In the time to come, all the heathen enemies and persecutors of God's people will be utterly crushed as in the days when the Midianite host was defeated by Gideon long ago.  In 9:5 every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult and every garment rolled in blood will be burned as fuel for the fire refers to the complete destruction of all weapons of oppression - both in the temporal judgments of the fall of empires and perhaps those in the Armageddon of the 'last days.' 

 

This historical background is the preface for Isaiah 9:6, a messianic prophecy that is akin to that seen earlier when Isaiah prophesied to the “house of David” (Judah) concerning the future “sign” that Messiah would be born to a virgin.  The difference between the two prophecies is that Isaiah 9:6 specifies the actual roles of the coming Messiah, and this will be the primary body of this particular study.

 

Isaiah 9:6

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.

 

Isaiah’s portrayal is by inspiration from Yahweh of a man that will rule God's kingdom with God's authority. The Christian church wrongly teaches this is Jesus as a person of two distinct natures - God and Man.  This is very confusing because God’s people are looking for a savior that is half God and half man and they are being told to walk and speak and behave as Jesus did.

 

How can a Christian man or woman live the life of Jesus if he is in fact, “God?”  To prove the error of this thinking, the context describes him as, “a child is born,” and again as, “a son is given.”  Both of these terms very clearly describe Jesus as a MAN and NOT as deity.

 

If taken literally at face value, the Mighty God of Isaiah 9:6 is a child born.  The Eternal Father then becomes a “son given.”  Given by whom?  Another deity?  If God is born who gave birth to God?  This logic is why the Roman Catholic Church refers to Mary as, “the Mother of God.”  Christian theologians object to her being called the mother of God, yet they insist Jesus is half man and half God.

 

The following breakdown of the Hebrew words translated in Isaiah 9:6 are much better description of Jesus’ messianic role as a MAN sent by God, born of a woman, and made under the Law, given to save his own Jewish people at the proper time.

The Hebrew word for a son, “given,” is nitan (or nathan; OT: 5414) and in the Niphal perfect it means, “to be bestowed or provided,” showing Yahweh’s provision for His people.  There is another meaning applicable to this word nitan, which in the Niphal perfect means, “to be set, to be put, to be made, or to be inflicted.” 

 

Only the context determines which of these definitions is best suited.  I believe it is a combination of these two meanings, so the text might read, “unto us a son is bestowed and set in place.”  The reason for this is to show Jesus as, “bestowed,” by the Father God as a gift to Judah and Israel first and in the totality, spiritual Judah and spiritual Israel.  Jesus will be, “set in place,” shows his role and function as the man whom God has appointed and thru whom he (God) will judge the world in righteousness, as stated in Acts 17:30-31 (below):

 

Acts 17:30-31 God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent, 31 because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead. "  NAS

 

This verse shows a day in which Jesus as a MAN will be appointed and set in place to judge the world.  This coincides with the tenor of Isaiah 9:6-7, particularly the phrases, “and the government shall be upon his shoulder… Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever.”

 

The phrase, “…and his name shall be called,” characterizes the nature of the relationship the Messiah has with his people, and how they call upon him for various reasons and functions.  However, since there are three different possible meanings in the Qal imperfect, each noun that relates to a certain meaning.  The Hebrew word translated as, “called,” is qara' OT: 7121; it is defined as follows:

 

1.     To call unto, to cry (for help), to call (with the name of God)

 

2.     To summon, to invite, to call for, to call and commission, to appoint, to call and to endow

 

3.     To proclaim

 

To illustrate the various applications, Jesus is called or cried out to for help as the counselor, or he is appointed (by God) as the prince of peace, or called upon by using the name of God, seeing that Yahweh chose to give him the name Jesus, which means literally, “Yah saves.”  This is not calling to Jesus as God, but calling upon God thru the name of Jesus as advocate and mediator between God and man (2 Timothy 2:5).

 

The meaning of item 3, “to proclaim,” finds a great deal of application in the NT with the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ by the church.  Next the primary words used in Isaiah 9:6 will be defined and applications given for each word in the New Testament.

 

DEFINING WORDS & APPLICATIONS IN ISAIAH 9:6

WONDERFUL COUNSELOR

 

WONDERFUL = The Hebrew word for wonderful is a noun pele' (OT: 6382) meaning literally, “a miracle, a wonder, a marvel.”  It has several applications, such as:

 

1)     Something extraordinary, a thing hard to understand thing

2)     A wonder (used of God's acts of judgment and redemption)

 

This word pele’ has improperly been used as an adjective to modify the Hebrew word ya`ats translated as, “Counselor” in Isaiah 9:6.  This noun pele' derived from a root word pala' OT: 6381 meaning to separate or to distinguish to be marvelous, to be wonderful, to be surpassing, to be extraordinary, to separate by distinguishing action.[1]  The primary definition as pertaining to Jesus in his Messianic role would be, “wondrous Redeemer separated (unto God) by (his) distinguishing act of redemption.” 

 

COUNSELOR = The Hebrew word for ya`ats (OT: 3289); a primitive root meaning to advise, to consult, to give counsel, to counsel, to purpose, to devise, to plan[2]; reflexively, to deliberate or resolve[3].  The Hebrew word for ya`ats is a verbal adjective in the Qal participle active voice indicating continued, simple action.[4]  Because ya`ats is tied to a noun pele' it could be modified in an expanded text to read, “counseling in the purposes & plan {of God}.” 

 

WONDERFUL COUNSELOR = “The wondrous Redeemer separated {unto God} by {his} distinguishing act of redemption {who} counsels in the purposes & plan {of God}”

 

What an apt description of Jesus’ role at the Father God’s right hand; he is the Redeemer who, by his distinguishing act of obedience to God became the sacrificial lamb crucified as propitiation for the sins of mankind and all who would believe and come to the Father’s throne of grace through him.  Further, Jesus IS the gift of the Holy Spirit, in that he promised his disciples that he would return to them after his death, resurrection and ascension, and he would be their Helper or Counselor as the Parakletos, or One called alongside to advocate and advise.  For more info on this topic, click onto the link Jesus Is The Gift Of The Holy Spirit Part One and read thru the entire 10 part series.

 

While researching how this Hebrew word pele is used throughout the OT it occurs primarily in texts that describe the supernatural wonders and works of Yahweh, as in the passages:

 

Exodus 15:11 Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders (pele')?  KJV

 

Psalms 77:11 I will remember the works of the LORD: surely I will remember thy wonders (pele') of old.  KJV

 

Psalms 77:14 Thou art the God that doest wonders (pele'): thou hast declared thy strength among the people.  KJV

 

Psalms 78:12 Marvelous (pele')  things did he in the sight of their fathers, in the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan.  KJV

 

Also, (pele') occurs in Psalms 88:10, 12; 89:5; 119:129; Isaiah 9:6; 25:1; 29:14; Lamentations 1:9; Daniel 12:6.  To best illustrate how the Hebrew word pele’ was intended and is used elsewhere in the OT one look no further than the Book of Isaiah itself (see below):

 

Isaiah 29:14 Therefore, behold, I will again do a marvelous work (pala') among this people, a marvelous work (pala') and a wonder (pele'); for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hidden."   NKJV

 

Isaiah 29:14 is used by the apostle Paul specifically in his first epistle to the Corinthian church referring to Jesus Christ as a man whom God uses to redeem his people.  There are two main texts that Paul uses Isaiah 29:14 descriptive of the man Jesus 1 Corinthians 3:19 & 1:19 (see below)

 

1 Corinthians 1:18-19 For the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will set aside." NAS

 

Later in 1 Corinthians 1: 30 Paul further elaborates on his use of Isaiah’s prophetic words by saying, “But by His (GOD’S) doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption."  Note the emphasis is on what GOD did “IN” Christ Jesus, who BECAME to the church wisdom from God.  Then later in chapter three Paul uses Isaiah 29:14 to again drive home his point concerning the redemption found in the gospel message:

 

1 Corinthians 3:19-20 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. For it is written, "He is the one who catches the wise in their craftiness"; 20 and again, "The Lord knows the reasonings of the wise, that they are useless."

 

Leaving no room for speculation whatsoever, the apostle Paul finishes the text in 1 Corinthians 3:23 describing the order of authority. 

 

1 Corinthians 3:23 …and you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God. NAS

 

These words, “and Christ belongs to God,” should forever settle in the mind and heart of the Christian that Jesus is not God, and that Isaiah 9:6 should not be used to affirm the teaching of the deity of Christ.  1 Corinthians 3:23 says, “… you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God.”  This phrase is in order of declension, so it defines order of rank; how then can Jesus be God if he also belongs to God in the exact same way we belong to Christ? 

MIGHTY GOD

 

MIGHTY - The Hebrew word gibbowr (OT:1368) for mighty is an adjective; Strong’s defines gibbowr as powerful, warrior; as an adjective it means strong or mighty.

 

GOD - The Hebrew word for God is 'el (OT: 410); as a noun 'el is a shortened from OT:352 and literally means, “strength.”  To fully understand how the word fits into the context of Isaiah 9:6 it becomes necessary to trace the meaning of the word from its Hebrew root origin.  The root word is 'ayil (OT:352) and below are the possible definitions and applications of OT:352:

 

'ayil -- OT:352

 

1)         Ram

a)               Ram (as food)

b)               Ram (as sacrifice)

c)               Ram (skin dyed red, for tabernacle)

 

2)         Pillar, doorpost, jambs, pilaster

 

3)         A strong man, a leader, a chief [5]

 

4)         Mighty tree, terebinth

 

If 1b is used then 'el gibbowr would be rendered as strong sacrifice; this is a possibility, and if it truly is the intended meaning, perhaps it is meant to build upon the prior words for wondrous counselor by his distinguishing act of obedience to God as he became the sacrificial lamb crucified and the propitiation for their sins.  I believe this is valid but unlikely, since the tenor of Isaiah 9:6 is directed more towards strong, governmental-type leadership (throne of David).

 

Therefore I favor definition #3 and believe 'el gibbowr means a strong man, a leader, a chief in Isaiah 9:6 because this is the general sense in which the Jews viewed the coming Messiah (i.e. – as a strong leader like Moses, or Abraham, or David).

EVERLASTING FATHER 

 

EVERLASTING = The Hebrew word is `ad (OT: 5703); in this context it is a noun and is defined as meaning, perpetuity, forever, continuing future. It can be used of ancient past time, or as in the case of Isaiah 9:6 it means, forever as used of future time that is of continuous existence.  In other words, continuous future existence that has a starting point and continues forever.

 

Strong's defines `ad OT: 5703 as from OT: 5710; properly, a peremptory terminus, i.e. (by implication) duration, in the sense of advance or perpetuity (substantially as a noun, either with or without a preposition).  The 1828 Webster’s Dictionary definition of peremptory and terminus is as follows:

 

·         Peremptory = absolute; decisive; authoritative; in a manner to preclude debate or expostulation. (e.g. -  The orders of the commander are peremptory).

 

·         Terminus = The act of limiting or setting bounds; the act of ending or concluding

 

·         Peremptory Terminus = The authoritative act of passing on or removing the eternal (perpetual) existence; in the case of Jesus, it would mean the authoritative act of passing on or denying access to eternal life.

 

The root origin of the Hebrew word `ad OT: 5703 comes from `adah OT: 5710; `adah is defined as meaning, “to pass on or to remove or to adorn.”  To adorn is the most common use of `adah in the OT.

 

FATHER = The Hebrew word is 'ab (OT: 1) and in this context it is a noun; Brown Driver & Briggs Hebrew Lexicon definitions for this word are as follows:

 

'ab -- OT: 1

 

1)         The father of an individual

 

2)         Used of God as Father of His people

 

3)         The head or the founder of a household, a group, a family, or a clan

 

4)         An ancestor

a)               A grandfather, the forefathers - of a person

b)               Used of people (in general)

 

5)         An originator or patron of a class, profession, or art

 

6)         Used of a producer, a generator (figuratively)

 

7)         Used of benevolence and of protection (figuratively)

 

8)         Used as a term of respect and honor

 

9)         A ruler or a chief (specifically)[6]

 

I prefer #9 because it is consistent with the rest of the verse; Isaiah 9:6 seems to portray the Messiah as an authoritative ruler that has been delegated some serious decision making power.  By combining the two nouns used for everlasting Father and using the context of Isaiah 9:7b which reads, “and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever,” we see Jesus sits on David’s throne at a certain point in time, and from that point onward establishes justice forever (Peremptory Terminus).

 

EVERLASTING FATHER = The literal meaning would be properly rendered as, “The ruler with authority to pass on or deny access to eternal life.” 

 

Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible translates this verse as, “father of futurities.”  Either way, the passage in no way supports the doctrines that teach Jesus is one and the same as the eternal Father God.  Jesus is a man in subjection TO God, but appointed by Him also as the ruler over His spiritual creation, which is the church.

PRINCE OF PEACE

 

PRINCE = The Hebrew word is sar’ (OT: 8269) and is a noun; it means a chief, a head, an overseer, prince, elders & used of the representative leaders of people.

 

OF PEACE = The Hebrew word is shalowm or shalom (OT: 7965) and is a noun; it means completeness, soundness, welfare, peace

 

a)         Completeness (in number)

b)         Safety, soundness (in body)

c)         Welfare, health, prosperity

d)         Peace, quiet, tranquility, contentment

e)         Peace, friendship

1)         Used of human relationships

2)         With God especially in covenant relationship

f)          Peace (from war)

g)         Peace (as adjective)

 

I think you could use any one of the definitions and make it work within the context of Jesus as Head of the church and his spiritual body.  I prefer this rendering of sar shalom:

 

Jesus… The chief elder in covenant relationship with God…shalom!

 


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[1] (from The Online Bible Thayer's Greek Lexicon and Brown Driver & Briggs Hebrew Lexicon, Copyright (c)1993, Woodside Bible Fellowship, Ontario, Canada. Licensed from the Institute for Creation Research.)

[2] From The Online Bible Thayer's Greek Lexicon and Brown Driver & Briggs Hebrew Lexicon, Copyright (c)1993, Woodside Bible Fellowship, Ontario, Canada. Licensed from the Institute for Creation Research

[3] Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright (c) 1994, Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, Inc.

[4] The Complete Word Study Bible Copyright © 1991, 1994, 2002 AMG International, Inc

[5] The Online Bible Thayer's Greek Lexicon and Brown Driver & Briggs Hebrew Lexicon, Copyright (c)1993, Woodside Bible Fellowship, Ontario, Canada. Licensed from the Institute for Creation Research

[6] Brown Driver & Briggs Hebrew Lexicon, Copyright (c) 1993, Woodside Bible Fellowship, Ontario, Canada. Licensed from the Institute for Creation Research