Mighty God - Isaiah 9:6 Part-2
by Chuck Jones
Most of us, when we read the Bible, are at the mercy of the translators, those fluent in the Hebrew and Greek languages that our scriptures were originally written in. It isn’t beyond reason to think that they may have chosen words that highlight their theological leaning. They, like many, want to put a positive theological spin on scripture to prove points.
To point at a verse and say, “See here? That proves it” is not a good model of Bible teaching to follow. Many Bible students (and, by extension, teachers) like to line up questionable verses with other scripture texts to gain a broader foundation from which to teach.
A good case in point is the two word title found in Isaiah 9:6, “Mighty God.” I don’t want to be understood as saying this is a mistranslation, but I do think it is a theologically spun translation. It is used therefore as a proof text by some to drive home their point. Let’s compare this text with other scriptures to see what we can learn.
This name comes from Isaiah 9:6. The expression, “and he shall be called” indicates that the title is given to this son by the people as they rejoice in or celebrate him. The Hebrew words are “el gibbor.” My preferred translation is “mighty champion.” I’ll explain why I think this works best.
Beginning with the first of this two-part title, let’s explore how it is used in scripture. “El” is translated several ways, such as God, gods, mighty one, strength and power. “El” is not always used in reference to Yahweh. Note the following examples:
Proverbs 3:27 “Don`t withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power [el] of your hand to do it.” “El” is descriptive of your hand when it has the power (el) to dogood for others.
Psalm 89:6 “For who in the skies can be compared unto Yahweh? Who among the sons of the mighty [el] is like unto Yahweh?” Here “el” is a reference to the sons of the influential andpowerful of society.
Psalm 29:1 “Ascribe unto Yahweh, O ye sons of the mighty [el], ascribe unto Yahweh glory and strength.” Those who are influential and wield power are directed to acknowledge theAlmighty Yahweh.
Daniel 11:3 “And a mighty [el] king shall stand up, that shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will.” Here the term “el” is used to describe an ungodly king because of thepower he exercises.
So the term “el,” although it is used to describe our Heavenly Father, also shows God’s presence or confirmation. However, it is also used to describe the ability, power, or prominence of someone or something.
Names with El
Here are some other names that contain the description “el.” The name Immanuel is literally “with us is God” or “on our side is God.” This descriptive name implies that because Jesus was born, God is showing kindness toward us. Yahweh has acted on our behalf. It does not state that the individual bearing the name is actually God Himself.
Another name found in scripture with “el” is Joel. This name means, “Yahweh is mighty.” This, too, is descriptive of the nature of the prophecies Joel proclaimed. Samuel means “Hear from God,” and Ezekiel means “Judgment of God.” We certainly wouldn’t mistake Joel, or the other prophets as actually being God Himself.