Christmas: “For unto Us…”

What’s your favorite holiday? Mine is Christmas. Plus, my favorite music of all time is Handel’s Messiah. One of the choruses that I really like is “For unto Us a Child Is Born,” which is based on Isaiah 9:6.

Isaiah 9:6 (HCSB) states:

For
a child will be born for us,
a
son will be given to us,
and
the government will be on His shoulders.
He
will be named
Wonderful
Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal
Father, Prince of Peace.

According to the Old Testament scholar, John Goldingay, the promises in this verse is “messianic.” “The basis for conviction that the vision will be fulfilled lies in the son’s name (v. 6b). We have reckoned that this is also so with Immanuel (“God is with us”). It would thus be quite natural for this fourfold name in verse 6, too, to be a statement about God—and not a statement about this son. And this fits the meaning of the name.”[1]

Obviously, we know that Immanuel is Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:23). In line with one of the Patristics, Ambrose, expressed concerning the child/son born and given to us, “In the term child there is an indication of age; in the term son a reference to the fullness of Godhead. He was made of his mother and born of the Father, but as the same person he was born and given. Do not think of two but of one. For the Son of God is one person, born of the Father and sprung from the virgin.”[2]

What are the characteristics of God the Son?

  1. Wonderful Counselor
  2. Mighty God
  3. Eternal or Everlasting Father
  4. Prince of Peace

Wonderful Counselor — As stated by Gary V. Smith, Old Testament scholar and professor, “Wonderful Counselor combines the idea of doing something ‘wonderful, extraordinary, miraculous” (פֶּ֠לֶא or peleʾ) with the skill of “giving wise advice, making plans, counsel.’”[3] Since God is a God of wonders and miracles, God the Son is the Wonderful Counselor. He Himself does wonders, and at the same time, He counsels us. I like it how Goldingay calls Him as “wonder-planner,” or “wonder-working planner.” As J. Alec Motyer, an Irish biblical scholar says, “The perfection of this King is seen in his qualification for ruling (Wonderful Counsellor).”[4]

Mighty God or ʾēl gibbôr (אֵ֣ל גִּבּ֔וֹר ) in Hebrew “includes a divine name similar to the name Ezekiel (God will be my strength)” as stated by Smith.[5] It shows the King’s person and power. It’s definitely a description of Yahweh. Therefore, He Himself is Yahweh. As stated by Goldingay, “we have already seen the word for God (’el) in the name Immanuel, while 42:13 uses the word for mighty in describing Yahweh going out to battle like a champion.”[6]

Eternal or Everlasting Father (אֲבִי־עַ֖ד orʾăbîʿad) elicits the book’s initial depiction of God as one who raised children and had to see them leave. “In this son’s name it would also more pointedly recall Yahweh’s commitment to David’s line as father … for ever (Ps. 89:26, 29),” as indicated by Goldingay.[7] According to Smith, “Father” is a relatively rare way of describing God in the Hebrew Bible (Deut 32:6; Jer 3:4, 19; Isa 63:16; 64:7; Mal 2:10) and a rarer way of describing a king (1 Sam 24:12), though the Israelites are frequently called God’s sons (Exod 4:22–23).[8]

The word, “everlasting,” cannot be given to any human ruler unless divine. This means God the Son is also Father of eternity. Just like God the Father, He is the Alpha and Omega (Rev. 1:8). As King, He displays His relationship to his subjects as the Everlasting Father [9].

Prince of Peace (שַׂר־שָׁלֽוֹם or śar šālôm) – Smith says, “Peace implies an end of war and is reminiscent of the ideal peace described in the kingdom of God in 2:4.” [10] Isn’t that awesome? This verse says that God the Son is the Prince of Peace. The society His reign produces is peace. Jesus did say in John 14:27 (HCSB): “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Your heart must not be troubled or fearful.”

Since Jesus Christ is the Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace, He deserves all our worship and praise. Thus, we celebrate Christmas everyday. Since He is the object of our worship, my next blogs will be all about Him, His Gospels, and worship in the New Testament.


[1] Goldingay, J. (2012). Isaiah. (W. W. Gasque, R. L. Hubbard Jr., & R. K. Johnston, Eds.) (p. 71). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[2] McKinion, S. A. (Ed.). (2004). Isaiah 1-39 (p. 70). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[3] Smith, G. V. (2007). Isaiah 1–39. (E. R. Clendenen, Ed.) (p. 240). Nashville: B & H Publishing Group.

[4] Motyer, J. A. (1999). Isaiah: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 20, p. 101). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[5] Smith, G. V. (2007). Isaiah 1–39. (E. R. Clendenen, Ed.) (p. 241). Nashville: B & H Publishing Group.

[6] Goldingay, J. (2012). Isaiah. (W. W. Gasque, R. L. Hubbard Jr., & R. K. Johnston, Eds.) (p. 71). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[7] Goldingay, J. (2012). Isaiah. (W. W. Gasque, R. L. Hubbard Jr., & R. K. Johnston, Eds.) (p. 71). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[8] Smith, G. V. (2007). Isaiah 1–39. (E. R. Clendenen, Ed.) (p. 241). Nashville: B & H Publishing Group.

[9] Motyer, J. A. (1999). Isaiah: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 20, p. 101). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[10] Smith, G. V. (2007). Isaiah 1–39. (E. R. Clendenen, Ed.) (pp. 241–242). Nashville: B & H Publishing Group.

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