On Isaiah 9:6

The text is as follows:

כִּי־יֶלֶד יֻלַּד־לָנוּ בֵּן נִתַּן־לָנוּ וַתְּהִי הַמִּשְׂרָה עַל־שִׁכְמו

ֹ וַיִּקְרָא שְׁמוֹ פֶּלֶא יוֹעֵץ אֵל גִּבּוֹר אֲבִיעַד שַׂר־שָׁלוֹם׃

The ESV has “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” The New World Translation (the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ translation) is little different from this. It translates El gibbor exactly the same way, capital letters and all.

The phrase I wish to look at is the phrase “Mighty God” (El gibbor) There is only one other place in the entire Bible where this phrase is found, and that place is Isaiah 10:21. There, the phrase refers obviously to the Holy One of Israel (vs 20), the LORD (vs 20), which is “Yahweh,” in Hebrew. Therefore, there can be no question about the fact that in chapter 10, verse 21, El gibbor refers to God. However, the Jehovah’s Witnesses will say that in 9:6, though the verse does refer to Jesus, it doesn’t mean “Almighty God,” but “Mighty God.” This is not born up by the exegesis, since the same phrase describes the Father in 10:21 as describes the Son in 9:6. Furthermore, if Isaiah 9:6 refers to Jesus, then Jesus is the Father. That is, He has the same substance as the Father. Therefore, Isaiah 9:6 is a great place for Christians to go to prove to Jehovah’s Witnesses that Jesus is God.

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18 Comments

  1. theologian said,

    November 2, 2006 at 8:13 pm

    The Hebrew is not showing correctly in my Firefox browser.

  2. Josh said,

    November 2, 2006 at 9:36 pm

    Whine Whine Whine :-)

  3. Josh said,

    November 2, 2006 at 9:36 pm

    P.S. Mine either.

  4. Nikolai said,

    November 2, 2006 at 10:09 pm

    I don’t see how changing Almighty to Mighty helps JWs in their rejection of the Trinity. My favourite verse though to point a JW to is John 1:3 (not John 1:1). In my opinion, John 1:3 is simply irrefutable for John there says that without Christ was not any thing made that was made, in other words, positively reversed, one can say that all that was made was made by Christ. Now if Christ Himself was made, John 1:3 is false since “all that was made” must include Christ as well since he was made (according to JWs). In my experience, they’re stunned when you tell them this if they have at least half a brain. Of course no truth will change their mind unless God regenerates them.

  5. November 2, 2006 at 11:49 pm

    Hey have you seen the Standing Judicial Commission’s report on Louisiana Presbytery and Steve Wilkins. I posted it on my blog if you haven’t.

  6. John Dekker said,

    November 3, 2006 at 12:39 am

    Hmm.. I don’t know if this verse proves Jesus is God.

    It can also be translated, “A Wonderful Counselor is Mighty God, the Everlasting Father is a Prince of Peace.”

  7. greenbaggins said,

    November 3, 2006 at 8:29 am

    To Nikolai, I agree that John 1:3 says everything you said it says. You have a very powerful argument there.

    To Andrew, I have read the SJC’s report on your blog, and I rejoiced mightily. Thank you *very* much for posting it.

    To John, the difficulty with that translation is that the four names are in a sequence with no copula (verb meaning “to be”) in between any of the four. They seem to be in a sequence. Furthermore, there is no “vav” in between them either, which one might expect after “El gibbor” if two ideas such as you suggest are meant to be expressed.

  8. theologian said,

    November 3, 2006 at 10:21 am

    I can read the Hebrew now :)

  9. Steve said,

    November 3, 2006 at 10:24 am

    This is really a shallow attempt to prove that Jesus is YHWH/Yahweh/Jehovah. The argument fails to understand there is a difference between a personal name and a title or descriptive phrase.

    If a certain title or descriptive phrase is found in more than one location in the Scriptures, it should never hastily be concluded that it must always refer to the same person. Such reasoning would lead to the conclusion that Nebuchadnezzar was Jesus Christ, because both were called “king of kings” (Dan. 2:37; Rev. 17:14); and that Jesus’ disciples were actually Jesus Christ, because both were called “the light of the world.” (Matt. 5:14; John 8:12) We should always consider the context and any other instances in the Bible where the same expression occurs.

    When Jehovah’s personal name (YHWH) was removed from the origional Hebrew text and was replaced with the title LORD (in all capitol letters), the beginnins of the confusion set in. If Bible students were to use translations that consistently used the divine name throughout the Old Testament, they wouldn’t be so prone to be confused on issues like this.

  10. greenbaggins said,

    November 3, 2006 at 10:36 am

    Shallow? Really? Is this an attempt to answer my argumentation? This is a respectful answer? To quoque, my friend. The phrase “always refer to the same person” is really not very helpful when the phrase in question only occurs twice in the entire Bible. By the way, I don’t have to prove that Jesus is God. He will prove that abundantly on Judgment Day, when He comes on the clouds of heaven.

    But to answer your argumentation, the JW’s argue that this verse applies to Jesus. They say this, as I linked in the main body of the blog entry, and as you did not contradict. They argue further that the phrase does not mean “Almighty God,” but “Mighty God.” It is this argumentation that founders on 10:21. While you are correct in saying that we should not hastily conclude identity because of the same words, nevertheless, the principle is also true that Scripture interprets Scripture. If we want to know what a phrase means, we need to examine how that phrase is used in the rest of Scripture. There may be more than one way in which the phrase is used. Context must determine in those cases which meaning is being used. In this case, the phrase “El gibbor” cannot mean merely “mighty God” in 10:21. Therefore, the JW’s have absolutely no basis on which to say that it means something less than that in 9:6. You really haven’t answered this, Steve. You say we should always consider the context and any other instances in the Bible. That is ***precisely*** what I did, and you did not!!! The rest of the verse received careful attention in my blog post (though it did not receive any attention whatsoever in your reply, nor did 10:21 receive any attention whatsoever in your reply). I think I am the one who did the contextual study here. I am really astounded that you can think my blog post shallow after that. On the contrary, since you haven’t even remotely answered my argumentation, I must assume that you have no answer.

  11. Steve said,

    November 3, 2006 at 11:19 am

    At your request, I was trying to keep my comments short and precise. I presented the main idea of my argument and supported it with a few scriptures. I will be glad to expand my treatment of the discussion to answer your questions more fully in a later post.

  12. Steve said,

    November 3, 2006 at 11:31 am

    P.S. I apologize that my attempt to be short and precise frustrated you. It was not my intent to be disrespectful.

  13. greenbaggins said,

    November 3, 2006 at 11:36 am

    It is impossible to discern tone on sucha forum as this. I was not expressing offendedness in the first part of the response. I was merely trying to say that you cannot say that I should refuse to call people names and/or be disrespectful of other people’s views, and reserve the right for yourself by calling my work shallow. My work is always like the tip of an iceberg. There is research underneath that you don’t know that I did, but that, in the interests of being concise, I omit. Now, your attempt to be short and precise omitted to answer the actual argumentation in my post. That was the problem.

  14. Steve said,

    November 3, 2006 at 11:42 am

    OK, I will put something together that respectfully addresses each of your valuable points. In the end, we may not fully agree with each other, but we will come away with a better understanding of different points of view on how to understand this scripture.

  15. Gomarus said,

    November 3, 2006 at 12:54 pm

    As an aside, I have been told that the Hebrew for “everlasting father” could also be translated “father of eternity.” Any substance to this? I’m not a student of the Hebrew grammar.

  16. greenbaggins said,

    November 4, 2006 at 3:58 pm

    Yes, it could be. One must then note that “father of” or also “son of” often means “characterized by that thing.” For instance, take “sons of disobedience.” That phrase does not mean “disobedience was their father.” Rather it means “they are just as characterized by disobedience as a son has the characteristics of his father.”

  17. February 20, 2007 at 6:12 am

    This is the idea: Jesus is YHWH, the God of Isreal. There are Three Majestic Beings within the God-family. The name of the First Person is not certain. The nature of the Thrid Person is Spirit. The name of the Second Person is YHWH. This is the God Who communicates to Israel as the I AM. Not the Father. The God Who talks to Abraham is not the Father but the Son, named “YHWH”..

  18. August 31, 2009 at 5:35 pm

    The Hebrew וַיִּקְרָא transliterated “Vayiqera” only translates into English as “And He called”.

    The “He” is the subject of the three titles which follow . He called “the Son given” ‘Prince of peace’.

    The following therefore is the correct translation from the Hebrew into English:of Isaiah 9:6.
    “Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given and The Wonderful Counsellor Mighty G-d; Father Everlasting; He called his name ‘Prince of peace”.


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