Sorting Out ‘Mighty God’ and ‘Everlasting Father’ in Isaiah 9:6

Isaiah 9:6

“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”

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-Despite the fact that this child/son is to be born (with the divine passive, implying that God is the one who begets this son), many readers insist that this passage expounds a high christology, looking forward to Jesus.

-The title “Mighty God” (Heb. el gibbor) is rendered in Brown- Driver-Briggs Hebrew Lexicon as a “divine hero” (p. 42). The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament renders the Hebrew as “mighty hero” (2:299). The plural of el gibbor is found in Ezek. 32:21 when the prophet speaks of strong among the human armies (“mighty ones”). One might even consider the archangel Gabriel, a name which combines gibbor and el. It is interesting that the LXX has dropped this reference with its translation. 

-The other title of interest, “Everlasting Father,” is certainly not saying that the child to be born is one and the same with God the Father. A father can be used of a master/teacher figure, such as Joseph (Gen. 45:8), Elijah (2 Kg. 2:12), Paul (1 Cor. 4:15). The LXX has likewise dropped this reference. As a footnote, the 5th century CE Codex Alexandrinus interpreted and translated the Hebrew as “Father of the coming age.”

-The Christians in the first century did not quote Isa. 9:6 in the NT documents to refer to Jesus, so not much should be made of it in regards to a potential high christology. Interestingly, the early Jewish interpretation of this passage was that is referred to King     Hezekiah. It was not uncommon in the ancient world to regard the reigning king as divine in some sense (although see me recent post on Psalm 45:6-7).       

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