HOUSMAIL NO HM#089 - UNTO US A CHILD IS BORN - Isaiah 9:6                                                   14 April 2002

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, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this . (Isaiah 9:6-7 KJV )

There are many Trinitarian believers, who have not done their Bible homework carefully enough, who try to mis-use this verse as a "proof text" for the Doctrine of the Trinity. In this short article we will consider some of the evidence which is available to refute that mis-use of Isaiah's words.

Of course those of us who are not Hebrew Scholars do need to be very cautious about venturing into areas where we lack the expertise to usurp the role of the "official" translators. However this is one of those easier cases where we do not need to be "experts" in Hebrew ourselves, in order to understand that many recognised scholars are divided in their opinions about the meaning of these verses. Many of them tell us that several Hebrew words in this verse, have been inadequately rendered into English by the KJV translators.

Isaiah is prophesying the birth of a child. The words "UNTO US", tell us that this is about a "CHILD OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE" -- a descendant of Abraham. That points us to God's promise to Abraham, that through one of his descendants, all nations of the earth will receive a blessing. (Gen 12:3; Gal 3:8 )

More specifically still, Isaiah says that this "child of the Jewish people" is to sit on the throne of David. And that points us to God's promise to David, that one of his descendants will establish the Kingdom FOR EVER. Even more wonderful, this "son of David" will also be "SON OF GOD". (2 Sam 7:12-16) Isaiah repeats the same prophecy in different words, in Isaiah 9:6-7; 11:1-10.

It will be easier if we start with a proper overview of Isaiah's theology. A prayerful and careful reading of the whole of his book will quickly reveal that Isaiah is NOT a Trinitarian! He is a Jewish UNITARIAN whose theology is firmly grounded in the Creed of Moses -- the Shema. (Deut 6:4-5) Check it out for yourself in Isaiah 41:4; 42:8-9;43:10; 44:6-8; 45:5, 21; 46:9-11.

Since these verses in Isaiah are about Jesus, it will also help if we understand HIS own assessment of His relationship to God. Isaiah is an integral part of the OT Scriptures from which Jesus learnt what His father had planned for Him.

Jesus is NOT a Trinitarian! He worships and prays to the same "One Lord" as Moses and Isaiah. He repeats the Shema as His own personal Creed. (Matthew 22:37-38) When praying, He addresses His Father as " the only true god". (John 17:3) His Father is also both his God and our God. (John 20:17)

There is only one possible conclusion from those brief statements by Jesus. If the "One True God" is someone else apart from Himself, that means that Jesus does NOT regard Himself as either God, or part of a "triune god-head"!

We MUST NOT use this passage in Isaiah 9:6 in any way which contradicts those very positive Unitarian statements by both Isaiah and Jesus! And if we start from that point, our eyes will be much more open to see the REAL meaning intended by Isaiah.

Since the Scriptures say clearly that Jesus is the Son of God, (which is not even nearly the same as saying that He is God!), then what does it really mean when He is called the "Mighty God" and "Everlasting Father"?

In our English language, some of the meaning has been lost. The "name" in Isaiah 9:6 is NOT a name in the same sense as we now use the word. It should be understood as a composite TITLE which describes the OFFICE and RANK to which this Child will be appointed when He inherits the throne of David. The two Hebrew words from which this part of the title is translated, are «EL GIBBOR».

It is certainly true that most uses of «EL» refer to God. BUT ..... THAT IS NOT THE ONLY MEANING of this word. It has several other uses. e.g. In Ezek 31:11, «EL» is translated «mighty one». There it certainly does NOT mean the ONE TRUE GOD! Instead it refers to a powerful human ruler not yet born in Isaiah's time -- a future MAN who God was going to use to pour out His Judgements against Egypt. ELIM, (the plural form of EL) appears in Exod 15:15, referring to the leaders of Moab. Consequently, it should not surprise us to find «EL» is also used of the Son of God, without any inference that it means He is actually God.

The same is true of «GIBBOR». It is frequently translated "mighty men". (e.g. Gen 6:4; Joshua 1:14 KJV) Other eminent translators render it as «hero», or «potentate». For some of these different renderings, check it out in the NEB and Moffat translations, and the Bagster English translation of the Septuagint version.

Clearly Isaiah cannot be saying that Jesus is either "GOD THE FATHER", or His own father! That would be both illogical and absurd! In any case, other Scriptures draw a clear distinction between Jesus and His Father, which tell us clearly that this cannot possibly be what Isaiah means. We must look for some other meaning.

In other parts of the OT, someone who was the first to do something was called its "father." For example, in Gen 4:20, Jabal is called "the father of those who live in tents and raise livestock". (Gen. 4:20). And his brother, Jubal, is called, "the father of all who play the harp and flute". (Gen. 4:21). This is not using "father" in the sense of literal father or ancestor. (The descendants of both of these men all died in the Flood.) The word "father" is being used here about Jesus, in the same way.

Concordances and Lexicons tell us that the word which has been translated "everlasting" in the KJV, can also validly be translated as an "AGE", meaning an "(eternal) era of time".

Thus, because the child prophesied by Isaiah, will be the one to establish the "age to come", raise the dead who will live in that age, and rule over it, he is called "father for all time", (NEB, Moffat) or the "father of the coming age", (LXX, footnote in the Bagster translation) or the "Father of the world to come". (Douai-Rheims and Knox versions)

Isaiah's «name» for Jesus is not so much a proper name as a title. It is the name given to Jesus by God which is «ABOVE EVERY OTHER NAME». (Philipp 2:9) This «name» refers to His RANK above all others -- except of course His Father!(John 14:28; 1 Cor 15:27-28)