Isaiah 9:6 - Mighty God, Everlasting Father
What Trinitarians Say
Trinitarians claim that the titles "mighty god" and "everlasting father" mean that the Messiah was prophesied to be Yahweh himself.
What We Say
First, we must recognize that none of the New Testament writers quote Isaiah’s language as evidence of Christ’s deity. We would think that if the Apostles, who continuously quoted the Old Testament to support their claims, saw this passage as many modern Christians do, they would have certainly employed it in their own arguments. However, seeing this passage as proof that the man Jesus was foretold to be God himself would have been as strange an interpretation to their ears as it is to the Jews today.
Jesus is called “Everlasting Father” nowhere else is the Bible. Interestingly, to deny that Jesus is the Father is actually a tenet of Trinitarianism. Trinitarians do not believe that Jesus is the Father, but do believe he is a separate person who shares the same essence with the Father. If Jesus is truly meant to be identified as the Father here, then Trinitarianism is damaged. Perhaps a more appropriate translation of the word “everlasting” would render Jesus as the “Father of the age"; a reference to the coming Messianic age of Jesus.
In the Bible, the head or the founder of a thing is often called “the father” of it. In Genesis 4:20, Jabal is called “the father of those who live in tents and raise livestock.” In the next verse we read that Jubal was called “the father of all who play the harp and flute.” Obviously, these men are not the literal progenitors of every one to participate in such activities, but they are spoken of in this way because they are founders of these things. In the same way, the Messiah will be the founder, and ruler, of the world to come. We should also note that in the New Testament, Paul even portrays himself as the true “father” of Timothy in 1 Tim 1:2, certainly because he was the one who fostered the work of faith in his life, not because he was literally his parent. Paul would also call Abraham our Father in the faith, and we his children (Gal 3:29).
The translation “Mighty God,” while a literal translation, also appears inadequate for modern readers. The word “god” (Elohim) enjoyed a much broader application than it does in Christian circles today, who use “God” as a sort of proper name. Yet Isaiah’s readers would have understood that a “god” was anyone who ruled with God’s power. Even Jesus, quoting Psalm 82:6, calls the judges of Israel “Gods” in John 10:34-35: “Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, You are Gods?’” A more appropriate modern presentation of the title “Mighty God” (el gibbor) in Isaiah 9:6 might be “Mighty Hero,” or “Divine Hero.”
Trinitarian translators display their translation bias when they render the same word (Elohim) as “God” in Isaiah 9:6 when speaking of Jesus, but render it “ruler” or “heroes” in passages like Ezekiel 31:11, Ezekiel 32:31 when speaking of other men. Elsewhere, the Bible uses “God” to describe angels (Psalm 8:5), Moses (Exodus 7:1), the prophet Samuel (1 Samuel 28:13-14), King Solomon (Psalm 45:6), and other human authorities over Israel (Psalm 82:1, Joshua 22:22).
We even find that Jesus himself did not even use the term “God” to describe himself in the New Testament, but when accused of making himself God, claimed only the title "son of God" (John 10:33-35). However, even if Jesus had called himself “god,” he would have still been within the custom of his fellow Israelites who followed the practice of God himself who “called [men] gods to whom the word of God came” (John 10:35). Yet we find Jesus always taking his proper place beneath the Father, whom he styles “the only true God” (John 17:3), and never attempts to usurp any appellation not bestowed on him from above.
Finally, Isaiah 9:6 does not indicate that this Messiah figure will actually be Yahweh himself, or in any way equal to him. Jesus is portrayed as God’s ruler, one appointed by heaven to rule with power and authority. No honest Trinitarian exegete will attempt to claim that the ancient Israelites had ever heard of the Trinity, or that the Messiah would actually be God. The prophecies of Isaiah, which came directly from God himself, simply state that “to us a child is born and to us a son is given” (Isaiah 9:6). In light of historical, biblical usage of the language of Isaiah 9:6, a better translation would read something like, “the government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty Hero, Father of the Coming Age, Prince of Peace.” This perfectly describes the character and office of our Lord Jesus Christ, the ruler of God’s coming Kingdom.
Many recognizable trinitarian scholars have attributed this verse to not refer to God but to a mortal human ruler. Many ancient and modern Jews claimed this verse is a reference to King Hezekiah and ultimately to the Messiah that was to come. The following list shows some popular translations that give a different view of this verse as opposed to the popular trinitarian view.
“Wonder-Counsellor, Divine Champion, Father Ever, Captain of Peace.”
“A wonder of a counsellor, a divine hero, a father for all time, a peaceful prince.”
“In purpose wonderful, in battle God-like, Father for all time, Prince of Peace.”
“Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty Hero, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”
—Revised English Bible
“Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty One, Potentate, Prince of Peace, Father of the age to come.”
—The Septuagint, as found in the Codex Alexandrinus, translated by Sir Lancelot C.L. Brenton, c. 1850.
“Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty, Judge, Everlasting, Father, Prince, and Peace.”
—Sanhedrin 94a, in the Talmud.
Two translations apply neither “God” nor “Father” to the Messiah: “the Messenger of great counsel: for I will bring peace upon the princes, and health to him.”
—The Septuagint, as found in the Codex Vaticanus, published in 1851 by Sir Lancelot C.L. Brenton.
“Wonderful counsellor of the mighty God, of the everlasting Father, of the Prince of peace.”
—Tanach translation of the Hebrew Masoretic text.