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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Does Isaiah 9:6 Really Prove That Jesus is God? (Mighty God)

Many (but not all) trinitarians will tell you that Isaiah 9:6 proves that Jesus is God.

Isa. 9:6 says –

“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, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”

All Christians, I believe, accept this son as being the Christ. Some will tell you that since the meaning of this symbolic name includes the words “Mighty God, Eternal Father,” then Jesus is the Mighty God and the Eternal Father.

But there are at least two other ways this personal name has been interpreted by reputable Bible scholars. (1) The titles within the name (e.g., “Mighty God”) are intended in their secondary, subordinate senses. (2) the titles within the name are meant to praise God the Father, not the Messiah.

First, there is the possibility that the words (or titles) found in the literal meaning of the name apply directly to the Messiah all right but in a subordinate sense. In other words, Christ is “a mighty god” in the same sense that God’s angels were called “gods” and the judges of Israel were called “gods” by God himself (also by Jesus - John 10:34, 35), and Moses was called “a god” by Jehovah himself. This is the interpretation of Is. 9:6 by the WT Society at the time of this writing (1986).

Yes, men and angels were called gods (elohim - Hebrew; theos - Greek) in a proper, but subordinate, sense by Jehovah and his inspired Bible writers (see the DEF and BOWGOD studies). Although they were given this elevated title in a proper sense (not false gods), it was obviously with the clear understanding that it in no way implied a comparison with the Most High, Only True God. (A bank employee calling his boss, the head of the bank, “the president” would certainly not imply an equality of position, power, etc. with “The President” [of the USA].)[1]

The word “god” as understood by those who used that term simply meant a “mighty one” - see Young’s Concordance. In fact the word “Mighty” as found at Is. 9:6 (Gibbor in the original Hebrew) is also applied to the angels at Ps. 103:20 (see a modern concordance such as the New American Standard Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible). It is interesting that the ancient translation of the Old Testament that Jesus frequently quoted, the Septuagint Version, renders Is. 9:6: “and his [the Messiah’s] name is called the Angel [aggelos, messenger] of Great Counsel.” (And a footnote in Zondervan’s Edition adds that the Alexandrine text renders it, “Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty One, Potentate, Prince of Peace, Father of the age to come.”) The very early (ca. 160 A.D.) Christian Justin Martyr quoted Is. 9:6 also as “The Angel of mighty counsel” - “Dialogue With Trypho,” ch. LXXVI.

So, just as “Lord” was applied to anyone in authority: angels, masters over servants, husbands, etc., so, too, could “god” be applied to anyone (good or bad) who was considered a “mighty person.” Of course only one person could be called the “Most High God,” or the “Only True God,” or the “Almighty God”!

In the same way, “Eternal Father” could mean that the Messiah is one who has been given eternal life and through him God has brought eternal life to many others. (We might make the comparison that the Heavenly Father has brought men to life in this world through their earthly fathers.) This would be intended in a clearly subordinate sense and not to take anything away from the ultimate honor, glory, worship, etc. due the Most High God and Father in heaven - Jehovah.

At any rate, even trinitarians do not confuse the two separate persons of the Father and the Son. They do not say the Son is the Father. They say the Father and the Son are two separate individual persons who are equally “God”!

Therefore, since we obviously cannot take “Eternal Father” in the literal sense to mean that Jesus is the Father[2], we cannot take the rest of that same name (esp. ‘Mighty God’) in its literal highest sense and say that Jesus is Mighty God, etc., either.

In addition to the distinct possibility of the use of the secondary subordinate meanings of the titles such as “God/god” as explained by Bible language scholars (see the BOWGOD study), we can see by the actual renderings of some trinitarian Bible translators at Is. 9:6 that they believe such subordinate meanings were intended by the inspired Bible writer.

Instead of “Mighty God,” Dr. James Moffatt translated this part of Is. 9:6 as “a divine hero;” Byington has “Divine Champion;” The New English Bible has “In Battle Godlike;” The Catholic New American Bible (1970 and 1991 revision) renders it “God-Hero;” and the REB says “Mighty Hero.” Even that most-respected of Biblical Hebrew language experts, Gesenius, translated it “mighty hero” - p. 45, Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon.

Also, The NIV Study Bible, in a f.n. for Ps 45:6, tells us:

“In this psalm, which praises the king and especially extols his ‘splendor and majesty’ (v. 3), it is not unthinkable that he was called ‘god’ as a title of honor [cf. Isa 9:6].” (Bracketed information is included in original footnote; emphasis is mine - RDB.)

In addition, Rotherham has rendered “Eternal Father” as “father of progress,” and the New English Bible translates it: “father of a wide realm.”

The above-mentioned Bible translations by trinitarian scholars which apply the words in the name at Is. 9:6 in a subordinate sense directly to Jesus clearly show that they do not believe this scripture implies an equality with Jehovah the Father.[3]

And second, another way competent Bible scholars have interpreted the meaning of this name is with the understanding that it (as with many, if not most, of the other Israelites’ personal names) does not apply directly to the Messiah (as we have already seen with “Elijah,” “Abijah,” etc.) but is, instead, a statement praising the Father, Jehovah God.

Personal names in the ancient Hebrew and Greek are often somewhat cryptic to us today. The English Bible translator must fill in the missing minor words (especially in names composed of two or more Hebrew words) such as “my,” “is,” “of,” etc. in whatever way he thinks best in order to make sense for us today in English.

For instance, two of the best Bible concordances (Young’s and Strong’s) and a popular trinitarian Bible dictionary (Today’s Dictionary of the Bible) differ greatly on the exact meaning of many Biblical personal names because of those “minor” words which must be added to bring out the intended meaning.

Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, for example, says the name “Elimelech” (which is literally just “God King”) means “God of (the) King.” Young’s Analytical Concordance says it means “God is King.” Today’s Dictionary of the Bible says it means “ God his king” - p. 206, Bethany House Publ., 1982.

Those missing minor words that the translator must supply at his own discretion can often make a vital difference! - For example, the footnote for Gen. 17:5 in The NIV Study Bible: The name ‘Abram’ “means ‘Exalted Father,’ probably in reference to God (i.e., ‘[God is the] Exalted Father’).” - bracketed information is in the original.

This is why another name the Messiah is to be called by at Jer. 23:6 is rendered, 'The LORD [YHWH] IS Our Righteousness' in the following Bibles: RSV; NRSV; NEB; NJB; JPS (Margolis, ed.); Tanakh; Byington; AT; and ASV (footnote). Of course other translations render it more literally by calling the Messiah "The LORD [YHWH] Our Righteousness" to help support a 'Jesus is God' doctrine. Some of these (such as the NASB) actually render the very same name at Jer. 33:16 as "The LORD [or Jehovah] is Our Righteousness"! - [bracketed information is mine].

(Unfortunately for "Jesus is Jehovah" advocates, the very same name given to the Messiah at Jer. 23:16 is given to a city at Jer. 33:16.) [4]

Therefore, the personal name at Is. 9:6 has been honestly translated in the footnote as:

“And his name is called: Wonderful in counsel IS God the Mighty, the Everlasting Father, the Ruler of Peace” - The Holy Scriptures, JPS Version (Margolis, ed.)

to show that it is intended to praise the God of the Messiah who performs great things through the Messiah.

Also, An American Translation (by trinitarians Smith and Goodspeed) says:

“Wonderful Counselor IS God Almighty, Father forever, Prince of Peace.”

Of course it could also be honestly translated:

“The Wonderful Counselor and Mighty God Is the Eternal Father of the Prince of Peace.”[5]

And the Tanakh by the JPS, 1985, translates it:

[a]“The Mighty God is planning grace;

[b] The Eternal Father [is] a peaceable ruler.”

This latter translation seems particularly appropriate since it is in the form of a parallelism. Not only was the previous symbolic personal name introduced by Isaiah at Is. 8:1 a parallelism (“Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz” means [a]“quick to the plunder; [b] swift to the spoil” - NIV footnote) but the very introduction to this Messianic name at Is. 9:6 is itself a parallelism: [a]“For unto us a child is born; [b] unto us a son is given.” It would, therefore, be appropriate to find that this name, too, was in the form of a parallelism as translated by the Tanakh above.

So it is clear, even to a number of trinitarian scholars, that Is. 9:6 does not imply that Jesus is Jehovah God.

We often find trinitarians insisting that the three “persons” of the "Trinity" all share the very same personal name: Jehovah (or Yahweh). This is impossible on the face of it. After all, a personal name is a name given to a single person as a method of identifying that individual person. And trinitarians themselves agree that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are three separate persons! Just as each person has his very own identifying title (“Father,” “Son,” “Holy Spirit”), so too, must they each have his very own personal name (“Jehovah,” “Jesus,” and ???).[6]

Many people recorded in the Bible were given personal names praising Jehovah as the Father (e.g. “Abijah,” “Abiah,” “Joab,” etc.). No such names ever praised him as the Son, Messiah, Holy Spirit, etc.

Straightforward statements of Scripture actually identify Jehovah as the Father (e.g. Is. 64:8 - “O Jehovah, thou art our Father,” ASV) but never as the Son, Messiah, Firstborn, etc.

The unique personal name 'Jehovah' is always applied to the Father (never the Son, etc.): in Ps 110, for example, the heavenly glorified Jesus sits at the right hand OF Jehovah (cf. Acts 2:33-36 and Eph 1:17, 20); “Yet it pleased Jehovah to bruise [the Messiah]” - Is. 53:10, ASV; Jesus does his work “in the majesty of the name of Jehovah HIS GOD” - Micah 5:4, ASV; “I will tell of the decree: Jehovah said unto me [Christ], Thou art my son; This day have I begotten thee.” - Ps 2:7, ASV (cf. Acts 13:33); “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, Against Jehovah and against his anointed [Christ]” - Ps. 2:2, ASV (cf. Acts 4:25, 26).

Isn’t it clear that “Jehovah” is the name of the Father only? Jehovah is the Father’s unique personal name. No other person has that personal name. (In cases where more than one person really do share the same personal name in the Bible writings and there is a possibility of confusing the identity of them, that personal name is usually further identified: For example: “Simon who is called Peter” - Matt. 4:18, RSV; “Simon, the Cananaean” - Matt. 10:4, RSV; “Simon, a tanner”- Acts 10:6, RSV.)

It would certainly be foolish not to do this, and we continue the same custom today. And yet the only time this most important of all personal names [”Jehovah”] is further identified, IT IS ALWAYS AS THE FATHER!) Jehovah is the Father only. But many trinitarians are forced to deny this because only Jehovah (the Father alone) is God - 2 Ki. 19:19; Is. 37:16; 45:5, 21, 22, ASV. Only the Father (Jehovah alone) is God!

The Personal Name “Jehovah”

“5. ‘Jehovah’ - The name most distinctive of God as the God of Israel is Jehovah .... The meaning may with some confidence be inferred ... to be that of the simple future, yahweh, ‘he will be.’ It does not express causation, nor existence in a metaphysical sense, but the covenant promise of the Divine presence, both at the immediate time and in the Messianic age of the future.... It is the personal name of God.... Characteristic of the OT is its insistence on the possible knowledge of God as a person; and Jehovah is His name as a person. It is illogical, certainly, that the later Hebrews should have shrunk from its pronunciation, in view of the appropriateness of the name and of the OT insistence on the personality of God, who as a person has this name. [The ASV] quite correctly adopts the transliteration ‘Jehovah’ to emphasize its significance and purpose as a personal name of God revealed.” - The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, p. 1266, Vol. 2, Eerdmans, 1984.

So the ASV properly translated the thousands of places in the Holy Scriptures where this Holy Name appears as “Jehovah.” Unfortunately the vast majority of Bibles today still follow the dishonest tradition of changing those thousands of instances into “LORD.”[7]

Jehovah denotes specifically the one true God, whose people the Jews were, and who made them the guardians of his truth. .... The substitution of the word Lord is most unhappy, for it in no way represents the meaning of the sacred name.” - p. 220, Smith’s Bible Dictionary, Hendrickson Publ.

“The name of God is described as his ‘holy name’ more than all other adjectival qualifications taken together. It was this sense of the sacredness of the name that finally led to the obtuse [stupid] refusal to use ‘Yahweh’ [‘Jehovah’], leading as it has done to a deep loss of the sense of the divine name in [English Bibles] (with the notable exception of JB).” - p. 813, New Bible Dictionary, Tyndale House Publishers, 1984.

Jehovah, the special and significant name (not merely an appellative title such as Lord) by which God revealed himself to the ancient Hebrews” - p. 330, Today’s Dictionary of the Bible, Bethany House Publ., 1982.

“Here is why we did not [use ‘Jehovah’ in the NIV Bible]: You are right that Jehovah is a distinctive name for God and ideally we should have used it. .... We are the victims of 350 years of the King James tradition. It is far better to get two million to read it - that is how many have bought [the NIV] to date [1979] - and to follow the King James [‘LORD’], than to have two thousand buy it and have the correct translation of Yahweh [or Jehovah].... It was a hard decision, and many of our translators agree with you.” - Edwin H. Palmer, Th.D., Executive Secretary for the NIV (See 'Tribute' in foreword of The NIV Study Bible, 1985.), quoted from letter published in 15 July 1979 WT.


1. Remember, there was no capitalization (or punctuation) in the original Bible manuscripts (or their copies for many hundreds of years thereafter). Therefore, it is strictly up to the personal interpretation of the translator as to when and where he wants to add capitalization! Of course, since the words in question at Is. 9:6 are parts of a name, all the major words found there are often capitalized in English (as is done for most other names). For example, Ex. 17:15 - “The-LORD-Is-My Banner” - NKJV, NASB, NLV, and “The LORD is my Banner” - NIV, REB, GNB, and “Under-the- Eternal’s-Banner” - Moffatt. Is. 8:3 - “Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz”, NIV, NKJV, NJB, ETRV, and “Quick-Loot-Fast-Plunder” - GNB. Rev. 19:13 - “the name by which he is called is The Word of God,” most translations.

Therefore, it is not meaningful that ‘God,’ ‘Father,’ etc. are also capitalized in most translations of the name at Is. 9:6. (Trinitarian Dr. James Moffatt, for example, translated this name in Is 9:6 in all lower case letters.)

2. Jesus was never called by the title “Father,” and he didn’t want anyone to take the title “Father” (in a religious sense, of course) other than his Father, Jehovah, in heaven. (Matt. 23:9) The relationship between Jesus and men (some men, at least) isn’t described as Father and sons but brothers. (Ro. 8:29; Heb. 2:10-18)

The evidence given in the Aid book proving that the title “Alpha and Omega” must be applied to the Father and not Jesus, applies equally well to the title “Eternal Father” of Is. 9:6. The Aid book says:

“The title [Alpha and Omega] occurs again at Rev. 21:6, and the following verse (21:7) identifies the speaker by saying: ‘Anyone conquering will inherit these things, and I shall be his God and he will be my son.’ Inasmuch as Jesus referred to those who are joint heirs with him in his kingdom as ‘brothers’ not ‘sons,’ the speaker must be Jesus’ heavenly Father, Jehovah God.” - Aid, p. 57.

3. “… on occasion [Elohim (‘God’ or ‘god’ in Heb.)] is used of the heavenly beings {Angels} around Yahweh’s throne (Ps. [8:5]); ... 97:7; 138:1), judges (Ps. 82:1, 6... and also John 10:34-36), Moses (Exod. 7:1; cf. 4:16), and the apparition of Samuel (1 Sam. 28:13; cf. Isa. 8:19). It is also relevant to note that Isaiah [9:6] combines the two terms used in Psalm 45 to address the king (viz, [‘Mighty’ and ‘God’]) and applies the title to the ideal king of the future {Christ} .... Because, then, Israelites regarded the king as God’s viceroy on earth, his legitimated son who exhibited divine qualities, it is not altogether surprising that ... a Davidic king should exceptionally be given a title [Elohim: “God” or “god”] that was in fact not reserved exclusively for deity.” - p. 202, Jesus as God, Murray J. Harris (highly trinitarian), Baker Book House (highly trinitarian), 1992.

4. For those trinitarians who insist that the “name” of the Messiah given at Jeremiah 23:6 (“Jehovah Is Our Righteousness”) proves that he IS Jehovah - - compare Jeremiah 33:16 where the very same “name” in the original OT Hebrew is given to a CITY. - KJV, RSV, NRSV, NASB, NEB, JB, NJB, NIV, ASV, NAB (‘70), NAB (‘91’), GNB, AB, Tanakh, JPS (Margolis, 1917), Beck, Moffatt.

5. After I posted some of this on the “GreekTheology” internet discussion group, I received this reply from “bar_enosh”:

“Several Jewish versions do follow this thought, that the "name" here actually describes God, or what God is doing through the Child.  For example, the Tanakh (Jewish Publication Society, 1985) reads: "He has been named 'The Mighty God is planning grace, The Eternal Father, a peaceable ruler.'"

“The Stone Tanach (Artscroll Mesorah, 1999) gives: ‘The Wondrous Adviser, Mighty God, Eternal Father, called his name Sar-shalom [Prince of Peace].’

“These renderings essentially follow the classical Jewish commentators, such as Rashi and Kimchi, who render 'the God, who is called and is Wonder, Counselor, the mighty God, the eternal Father, calls his name the Prince of Peace.  Another commentator, Luzzato, renders, "God the mighty, the eternal Father, the Prince of Peace, resolves upon wonderful things," and is prophetically declarative, as were the names of Isaiah's sons.  (Keil & Delitzsch)

“Grammatically, the Hebrew terms in the Hebrew text can be read in several different ways, as mini-sentences or as straight ‘titles.'  Additionally, Jewish commentators generally apply the sentence-title to King Hezekiah, or to Hezekiah as a "type" of the Messiah.  But they translate in a way that shows God as the actor, in behalf of this child who would bear the name.”

6. Even IF the trinity were true (and it clearly is not), it seems ridiculous that the three separate PERSONS of the “trinity” would all have the same personal name. Why differentiate between them at all then? It is more than just strange that we would take the effort and time to call one the Father, and one the Son, and one the Holy Spirit to identify those separate persons and then not have them also differentiated by distinctive personal names!

Every scripturally important person has his own personal name in the Bible (and in everyday life). When it so happened that more than one person actually had the same name in Scripture, they would, as one would naturally expect, nearly always be further differentiated. For example: “Simon who is called Peter” - Matt. 4:18, RSV; “Simon, the Cananaean” - Matt. 10:4, RSV; “Simon, a tanner”- Acts 10:6, RSV.

Notice how the inspired Bible writers identified even much less important persons in the Scriptures. Yes, just as writers today, the Bible writers very often identified their subjects so as not to confuse their readers. More than one individual in the Bible actually shared the same singular, personal name, but the Bible simply does not allow them to be perpetually confused!

(1) Judas - Lk 6:16 (bis)-examine all 12. Why do some have ‘identifiers’ (‘appositives’)?

- Acts 1:13 - examine all 11 names. Why do some have identifiers?

- Acts 5:37

(2) Mary - Mk 15:47

- Jn 19:25

- Acts 1:14

- Acts 12:12

(3) James - Mt 10:2

- Mt 10:3

 - Acts 1:13

- Acts 12:2

Do we ever see in the Bible one name or title shared by different persons continually being used with no further identification (or only occasional identification of only one of them )? No, only when a person cannot be confused with another of the same name is there no need of further identification. For example, Abel (like Job, Balaam, Cain, Isaac, Moses, etc.) is the ONLY person so named in the Bible, and thus there is no need for identifiers when “Abel” is used. But when confusion could arise, further identification is usually provided with Bible names! - Matt. 23:35 (note Zechariah’s identifier - - why?); James 5:11; Jude 11; Gal. 4:28; Acts 6:11.

Certainly the much more important name of Jehovah would not be without identifiers if more than one person really had that name: ‘Jehovah, the Son;’ ‘Jehovah, the Father;’ ‘Jehovah, the Holy Spirit.’ Needless to say, except for “Jehovah is the Father,” this NEVER occurs in scripture. “Jehovah” is used without further identification nearly 7000 times in the inspired scriptures (and when he is identified it is always as the Father!). This simply would not happen if “Jehovah” were really the name of three persons!

7. Unbelievably, most trinitarian scholarly (and not-so-scholarly) works completely ignore this terrible blasphemy. For example the respected trinitarian scholars Dr. Sakae Kubo and Prof. Walter F. Sprecht in their review of modern Bible translations were so upset by the New King James Version’s use of clearly spurious [added by later copyists] passages such as 1 Jn 5:7 (KJV; NKJV) that they wrote:

“The brochure advertising this revision [the NKJV] gives as the purpose of the project “to preserve and improve the purity of the King James Version.” To improve the purity would surely include the removal from the text of any scribal additions that were not a part of the autographs [original writing]. No devout reader of the Bible wants any portion of the sacred text as penned by the original authors removed. But neither should he want later additions, in which some passages have crept into the text, published as part of the Word of God.” - p. 294, So Many Versions?, Zondervan Publ., 1983 ed.

How ironic (and extremely hypocritical) when the most blasphemous removal of (and addition to) the original inspired words, the most sacred Name of God Himself, is virtually ignored. The only mention of such a practice by nearly all trinitarian Bibles is certainly not condemned by these scholars, but actually condoned. (e.g., pp. 156, 227).

For much more, see:

God at Isa. 9:6 (rs p. 405-p. 426; Watchtower Online Library)

“Mighty God” and “Eternal Father” (ip-1 chap. 10 pp. 117-132; Watchtower Online Library)

Isa. 9:6 "Mighty God, Eternal Father" (Examining the Trinity)

Isa. 9:6 - NWT (Defending the New World Translation)

NAME - “Jesus,” “Immanuel,” and Is. 9:6 (Examining the Trinity)

BOWGOD (God and gods) (Examining the Trinity)

Does Isa. 9:6 prove that Jesus is God? (Search For Bible Truths)

One God in Three? (Pastor Russell; Heading: "No Trinity in the “Old Testament”')

How does the Codex Sinaiticus render Is. 9:6? (Jehovah's Witnesses Questions and Answers)

How is translated Isaiah 9:6 in old Aramaic Targums? (Jehovah's Witnesses Questions and Answers)


Defend Jehovah's Witnesses