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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 (1)Wonderful Counselor, (2)Mighty God, (3)Eternal Father, (4)Prince of Peace.

Is this order: 1) Wonderful Counselor, 2) Mighty God, 3) Eternal Father, and 4) Prince of Peace significant?

The Godhead is generally described as 3 Persons. Here, it adds the "Prince of Peace" at the end, perhaps meaning Jesus, the Man - the culmination of the previous 3 (Col. 2:9). Could that be correct? Otherwise, why 4 names instead of 3 as we might expect?

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    reading a trinity into this is absurd. It is speaking of one person and it isn't God as He is not born. However the Q about order is interesting. – user48152 May 19 at 2:14
  • God was born according to the New Testament writers. – Sola Gratia Jun 3 at 18:50
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First, the identities begin with the child who is said to be "a son." The word "son" is every bit as much a title as is the word "father." It is worth noting that the son is not ascribed an eternal nature here; only the Father is.

Secondly, the word "person" for God is not used in the Bible as we use it today; nor was the word originally taken to mean what we think of today. Today, the word is generally understood to mean "being"; but the etymology of the word comes from Latin and French in which the word (Fr. persone, Lat. persona) indicated a character or role, as in a theatrical play, such as indicated by the use of a mask.

The titles given in Isaiah 9:6 indicate multiple roles in which God relates to His creation. He comes to us as a Father, representing parental attributes. He comes to us as a Son, showing the level of sacrifice and love which God has toward us in offering such a Gift. And He send us His spirit as our Comforter. The son of the King, Jesus may also be properly considered a "prince"; and he comes to make reconcile us to the Father, thus making peace.

Of the four titles listed together, they can perhaps be seen as coming in pairs:

Wonderful Counselor - Mighty God
Everlasting Father - Prince of Peace

Paired in this manner these titles help us to grasp Who God is. It is a singular fact that this verse avers that the Son is the Father. Jesus corroborates this fact in John 14. This is a challenging mystery for human minds to grasp. Knowing that it is so, we may still struggle to understand it. Yet God's Son is not a son in the same fashion as are sons born to human parents; and God cannot be likened to mortal flesh.

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  • stick to the biblical text, not the imagination of the Q's misleading parameters. – user48152 May 19 at 2:25
  • In your analysis of the titles in pairs, you show "Almighty God". Of the different bible translations I have seen, they only show "Might God". Which translation are you referencing here? – agarza May 19 at 3:06
  • @agarza That was an unfortunate typo on my part, perhaps influenced by my recollection of the lyrics of "Handel's Messiah." I've corrected it. Thank you for pointing it out. – Polyhat May 19 at 4:41
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Is the order of Identities in Isaiah 6:9 significant?

Answer: I believe it may be.

The quote in question curiously places the "Prince of Peace" at the end:

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.

Suppose we break this down with annotations:

  1. Wonderful Counselor - Could this be representative of the Holy Spirit since we are "counseled" through the inspired Word?
  2. Mighty God - Here, our inclinations may be to immediately think God the Father. However, that may be premature, since,
  3. Eternal Father - Seems to suggest the Father. Surely He isn't mentioned twice in succession in the list if it does represent 4 identities?
  4. Prince of Peace - This must surely be referring to Jesus, the Man.

What seems difficult here is to differentiate between "Mighty God" and "Eternal Father." Those who recognize that Christ existed in His Preincarnate form as God should understand how this Figure might be identifying Christ in such a form. It is unclear that either of these identities represents the Holy Spirit, although naturally, the H/S is definitely one Personality of "Mighty God" in totality.

Here, let us consider a passage from the Letter to the Colossians:

Colossians 2:9a: For in [Christ] all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form,..." (emphasis added).

Paul has just told us that "all the fullness of [the Godhead] dwells in Jesus' body. This might suggest that the entire Godhead resided with Jesus in some fashion throughout His ministry. Is it possible that the quote from Isaiah is intended to culminate with Jesus, the Prince of Peace based on that assumption?

Below, I've embedded a diagram where I attempt to bring these ideas together. Note that on the Left, I've illustrated the Prince of Peace at the center. Many may disagree with this analysis and perhaps suggest that the illustration on the right is the correct one. Others may disagree with any such arrangements and reject the entire concept out of hand.

enter image description here

If we set aside the argument that the translation of the words "Wonderful Counselor" is two words separated by a comma, or that they all might be arranged solely for "aesthetic appeal" such that the names equal 4, it seems that the list might represent 3 identities of God + Jesus, the Man of flesh and blood.

There will probably be disagreements as I've noted from other contributors. Nonetheless, I feel that at least entertaining this idea was well-worth the effort.

It would be interesting if there is more evidence to help illuminate this further.

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  • How do you come to the conclusion that the 'prince of peace' relates to Jesus. It appears the prince is coming after Jesus based on - John 14:29-31 - 29 I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe. 30 I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me, 31 but he comes so that the world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me. Jesus does what he is commanded, not the one who commands. – another theory May 19 at 9:54
  • @anothertheory I appreciate your comments, however, in Acts 3:14-15, Peter relates to his Jewish audience that they: "[Put] to death the Prince of life, the one whom God raised from the dead, a fact to which we are witnesses." We simply differ on this point. I believe Jesus, the Prince, did come. In John 14:29-30: "Now I have told you before it happens, so that when it happens, you may believe..." Here, Christ is referring to His imminent brutal torture and execution, nothing more. This latter text must be read in context. – Xeno May 19 at 19:25
  • Acts 3:14-15 & other - Luke nor Paul were witnesses even though that is what they say. J 14:29-30 talks about someone to come would not make sense if Jesus was talking about himself. as to brutal torture etc... this is a very long response, but you should consider Psalm 91:9-16 - who is this talking about? – another theory May 21 at 9:12
  • @anothertheory Sorry, I'm a bit confused. Can you explain further what you're trying to say? All the apostles were witnesses to Christ. Paul spoke to Christ in Acts 9 (cf. Acts 22) as the Lord directed him to the work that lay before him as an apostle. I never referred to Luke as an apostle; he was of course, Paul's close companion. Also, if you are referring to the one to come in Jn. 14:26a, He is clearly revealed: "the Helper, the Holy Spirit." Maybe the confusion comes from an understanding of the "prince of this world" - the Devil vs. "the Prince of Peace" - Jesus? – Xeno May 21 at 16:16
  • Paul was never a witness to anything - nor did he have any authority - he spoke of his own gospel - no witnesses to his Damascus experience only what he said. Acts 26 mission to the Gentiles yet Act 22 he will get his instructions when he goes to Jerusalem & men saw the light but did not hear the voice. yes Act 9:7 men heard the voice but could not see anyone. Rev 21:14 - only 12 Apostles not 13 Apostles. 1 Corinthians 15:5 5 and that he appeared to Cephas,[a] and then to the Twelve (he accepts he is not 1 of the 12), apostle in Greek is a messenger. – another theory May 24 at 9:09
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You'll notice that Isaiah writes, "And His names name will be called . . ."

Isa. 9:6(b)
6bAnd His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
(Holy Bible: New King James Version. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1982.)

The "identities" are actually a translation of the literal meaning of a single name: Pele-joez-el-gibbor-Abi-ad-sar-shalom.

Isa. 9:6
6For a child is born unto us, a son is given unto us; and the government is upon his shoulder; and his name is called Pele-joez-el-gibbor-Abi-ad-sar-shalom;
(The Holy Scriptures, According to the Masoretic Text. Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1955.)

The name means, "Wonderful in counsel is God the mighty, the everlasting Father, the Ruler of Peace."

Isa. 9:6 fn.
"That is, Wonderful in counsel is God the mighty, the everlasting Father, the Ruler of Peace."
(The Holy Scriptures, According to the Masoretic Text. Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1955.)

This is in the same vain as names like Daniel and Elisha, which mean "God is my judge" and "God is salvation," respectively.

Brown–Driver–Briggs
"דּנאל / דניּאל ... Daniel = 'God is my judge'"
"אלישׁע ... Elisha = 'God is salvation'"
(A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, by Francis Brown, D.D., D.Litt., S. R. Driver, D.D., Litt.D., and Charles A. Briggs, D.D., D.Litt., Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1906.)

As it is for many Hebrew names, these meanings describe not the nature of the person who bears the name, but rather the God of that person.

The Jewish Study Bible, p. 802
"Semitic names often consist of sentences that describe God; thus the name Isaiah in Hebrew means, 'The LORD saves'; Hezekiah, 'The LORD strengthens'; ... These names do not describe that person who holds them but the god whom the parents worship."
(The Jewish Study Bible, edited by Adele Berlin and Marc Zvi Brettler, New York: Oxford University Press, Inc., 2004.)

As for the identity of the God whom they believed in, He is identified in the name as the Everlasting Father.

You'll also note that Isaiah writes, "the government will be upon His shoulder."

Isa. 9:6
6For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
(Holy Bible: New King James Version. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1982.)

This prophecy is not about the nature of the Son, but rather the government or authority that would be placed on His shoulders. The "name" is symbolic of the counsel that God would provide and the privileges that the Son's government would possess.

As we can read in the following verse, the Son's reign would enjoy everlasting peace.

Isa. 9:7(a)
7aOf the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
(Holy Bible: New King James Version. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1982.)

This peace is achieved through the love of the Lord God, who gives His counsel and is described in the name as the "Ruler of Peace".

Isa. 9:7
7Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
(Holy Bible: New King James Version. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1982.)

Is the order of Identities in Isaiah 9:6 significant?

The order of "identities" is merely the word arrangement carried over from the meaning of the name Pele-joez-el-gibbor-Abi-ad-sar-shalom.

Regarding the nature of the Son, Isaiah, in another prophecy, describes Him as a man seemingly afflicted by God.

Isa. 53:3-4
3He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. 4Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
(Holy Bible: New King James Version. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1982.)
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The question here is Is the Hebrew word “El gibor” only used for God?
The correct translation should be Mighty Hero

Hebrew El = God – coming form the root;

  1. god, god-like one, mighty one a) mighty men, men of rank, mighty heroes b) angels c) god, false god, (demons, imaginations) d) God, the one true God, Jehovah
  2. mighty things in nature
  3. strength, power

My bold, underline & brackets.

Ezekiel 33:11 - King James Bible I have therefore delivered him into the hand of the mighty one(el) of the heathen; he shall surely deal with him: I have driven him out for his wickedness. el – used for King – ie heathen king mighty one.

Ezekiel 32:12 By the swords of the mighty (giborim) will I cause thy multitude to fall, the terrible of the nations, all of them: and they shall spoil the pomp of Egypt, and all the multitude thereof shall be destroyed.

Ezekiel 32:21 The strong (El) among the mighty (gibor) shall speak to him out of the midst of hell with them that help him: they are gone down, they lie uncircumcised, slain by the sword.

Ezekiel 32:21 has the exact words as Isaiah 9:6, but in plural. Since the words “El” and “gibor” are used simultaneously together. Arguably should be written “MIGHTY GODS”

Isaiah 9:6 is not a prophecy therefore can not relate to Jesus. Child already born

NET Bible - For a child has been born to us, a son has been given to us. He shoulders responsibility and is called: Extraordinary Strategist, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Young's Literal Translation - For a Child hath been born to us, A Son hath been given to us,

Contemporary English Version A child has been born for us. We have been given a son

Lexham English Bible Isaiah 9:6 – For a child has been born for us; a son has been given to us. …

New Century version Isaiah 9:6 – A child has been born to us; God has given a son to us.

The Empathised Bible Isaiah 9:6 – For, A Child, hath been born to us, A Son, hath been given to us…

Revised English version – which appears to be out of favour - Sixteen different Christian denominations, all came together and translated Isaiah 9:6: They have come to the conclusion that el gibor means Mighty Hero.

For a child will be born to us,a a son will be given to us, and the government will be on his shoulders. And his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty Hero, Father of the Coming Age, Prince of Peace.

Translations by some scholars – there are many more

Professor of Greek and New Testament, James Moffatt: “For a child is born to us, a child has been given to us; the royal dignity he wears, and this the title bears – ‘A wonder of a counsellor, a divine hero, a father for all time, a peaceful prince’”

The Septuagint LXX translated by Sir Lancelot C.L. Brenton: Isaiah 9:6 For a child is born to us, and a son is given to us, whose government is upon his shoulder: and his name is called the Messenger of great counsel: for I will bring peace upon the princes, and health to him. 7 His government shall be great, and of his peace there is no end: etc…

Ferrar Fenton Bible translation: Isaiah 9:6 For a son has been born, a gift to us,- On his shoulder the princedom rests,- The wonderful Counsellor, call his NAME, GREAT LEADER, Time’s Father, the Prince of Peace! Now endless order and Peace shall spread O’er David’s Kingdom and throne.

Jesus: “Prince of Peace?”

Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35″For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 36 and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household. (Matthew 10:34-36)

Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division; 52 for from now on five members in one household will be divided, three against two, and two against three…” (Luke 12:51,52)

And He said to them, “But now, let him who has a purse take it along, likewise also a bag, and let him who has no sword sell his robe and buy one. (Luke 22:36)

“But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me.’ ” (Luke 19:27)

There appears to be translation / interpretation bias to advance a particular view point, but with scrutiny the truth comes out.

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