(Isa. 9:6-7) Does this passage predict Jesus?

CLAIM: Isaiah writes, “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. 7 There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness” (Isa. 9:6-7). Does this passage refer to Jesus?

RESPONSE: Let’s consider two critical arguments of this passage:

ARGUMENT #1: This passage is never quoted in the New Testament

While the NT authors never directly attribute this passage to Jesus, they do cite this chapter as messianic. Matthew cites Isaiah 9:1-2 in his gospel (Mt. 4:15-16). As we have already seen, Matthew often cites the OT so that we check the surrounding context (c.f. Mt. 1:23; 2:14-15; 2:23). Consider coming across a hyperlink on a website. While the hyperlink wouldn’t answer your question, by clicking on it and reading the article, it would invite you to find the answer. In the same way, Matthew didn’t always cite the OT with a one-to-one correlation in mind. Instead, he cited it so that we would look up the surrounding context and see the comparisons in the OT.

Since this passage is so laden with messianic themes, it is still a prediction of Jesus, even if the NT authors never quoted it. In fact, this passage attributes titles to this child that are normally attributed to Yahweh:

Wonderful Counselor: This title is used of Yahweh (Isa. 25:1; 28:29).

Mighty God: This title is used of Yahweh (Isa. 10:21).

Eternal Father: This title is used of Yahweh (Isa. 63:16b).

Prince of Peace: This title is used of Yahweh (Isa. 26:3, 12).

For this reason, if Jesus didn’t fulfill these passages as the God-man, then who does?

ARGUMENT #2: This passage cannot refer to Jesus, because it calls him the Father—not the Son

Critics argue that this passage calls the child the “Eternal Father.” How can Jesus (the son of God) be called the Father?

The answer to this objection is found in a closer look at the Hebrew. This Hebrew phrase literally means: “the Father of Eternity.” Arnold Fruchtenbaum writes, “The Son who is to be born will be the Father of Eternity, meaning that He is the source of eternal life. Clearly this is to be no mere man.”[1] Geisler and Howe write,

Considered in this way, we see that Jesus is the One who gives us eternal life. By His death, burial, and resurrection, He has brought life and immortality to light. Truly, He is the Father of eternity for His people. The name “Father of eternity” indicates that, as a loving father provides for His children, so Jesus loves us and has provided for us by giving us everlasting life.[2]

In the same way, Jabal was called the “father of those who dwell in tents,” and Jubal was the “father of all those who play the lyre and pipe” (Gen. 4:20-21; c.f. 1 Pet. 3:6; Jn. 8:44 for similar usages). Of course, this doesn’t mean that they were the literal father of tent-dwellers and musicians. Instead, they were the originator of these things. In the same way, Jesus is the one who brings eternity to the people.

[1] Fruchtenbaum, Arnold G. Messianic Christology: a Study of Old Testament Prophecy concerning the First Coming of the Messiah. Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 1998. 40.

[2] Geisler, Norman L., Thomas A. Howe, and Norman L. Geisler. Making Sense of Bible Difficulties: Clear and Concise Answers from Genesis to Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2009. 114-115.