In providing this answer with respect to recognizing the Trinity in the Old Testament, I noticed that Jesus is called the Father which could be confusing when trying to understand the Trinity. In what sense is Jesus the Father but certainly not the Father?

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (NIV Isaiah 9:6)

Please do not answer unless your answers uphold the doctrine of the Trinity. I do not want the debate about the trinity to confuse the question. The answer must assume the Trinity is true, that is the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are equal yet different persons that share the same single divine nature and therefore are called the One and true God.

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    It's dangerous territory to try to divide up the Trinity too strictly. I think it's also safe to say (drawing on quotes about quantum mechanics) that if you think you understand the Trinity completely, then you don't understand it at all. Jul 13, 2012 at 13:30
  • Nice question Mike and I agree with DJClayworth, this could be a point of contention. I wonder if it would be better asked on hermeneutics.stackexchange.com Either way, you're well known for having great answers this is one of the few great questions you have :) Dec 18, 2013 at 14:13

5 Answers 5


And why is he called Counselor? These are adjectives used to describe/praise him. These are metaphorical descriptions.

He is also a brother and a son -

Mat 12:48 He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

He is both, the son of David and Lord of David -

Mat 22:42 “What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?” “The son of David,” they replied. 43 He said to them, “How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? For he says, 44 “‘The Lord said to my Lord:“Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.”’

I think His description as an everlasting father is supposed to illustrate a point that He will watch over and protect His disciples whom he considers as His own children -

John 14:18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.

Edit: I would like to make an addition.

This question reveals one of the mistakes that non-trinitarians make. Attempting to define God in human terms and concepts.

The concept of father, mother, brother, sister did not exist before God invented the family unit. It would've been meaningless to call someone your brother before Adam and Eve had sons.

God who created these concepts, is not defined/limited by these. He is above these concepts and yet he is the perfect fulfillment of them. He is not the brother of anyone. Yet he is the perfect model/example of a good brother.

I am a sister. I had no choice, I was given this role. But He voluntarily takes upon these roles for our sakes, becoming our friend, counselor, brother, father, shepherd, and everything else it takes for the expression of His love towards us.

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    RE: "This question reveals one of the mistakes that non-trinitarians make" ... did you mean to say "Trinitarians" there? If not, I'm not sure I follow the logic. By the same logic, it could be said that the concept of "Father" or "Son" did not exist before God invented the family unit. "God ... is not defined/limited by these ... and yet he is the perfect fulfillment of them". I think this is a perfect description of the "non-Trinitarian" perspective, and as such, is not an effective illustration of where "non-Trinitarians" have gone wrong, if that makes sense.
    – Jas 3.1
    Jul 13, 2012 at 19:53
  • @jas3.1 my point was over emphasis of non-Trinitarians like Jehovah's witnesses to categorise God into roles. They think Jesus couldn't be God because he is called the son not father. My point is you might aswell call them the holy trinity of a,b,c. Their identity isn't tied to their name. Jul 14, 2012 at 2:09
  • @jas3.1 "By same logic it could be said .. concept of father and son didn't exist". Yes sir. Strange though it may seem to you there was a time when even the simplest of concepts didn't exist. Matter and space. Width and height. Points, lines and circles. Nothing.. Jul 14, 2012 at 2:14
  • -1: The concept of father, mother, brother, sister did not exist before God invented the family unit.: Umm... Nothing, literally nothing, existed before God invented it.
    – Jim G.
    Jul 14, 2012 at 3:41
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    Actually the passage can be understood perfectly from a non-trinitarian perspective using exactly the reason Monika Michael is giving: they are metaphorical descriptions. The explanation does not in itself lend any support to the trinity doctrine.
    – x457812
    May 24, 2017 at 17:46

Simply, our Lord Jesus is the father of his people, though not The Father. It is a title of leadership of all the people of God. I'm not adding anything to Monika's accepted answer, just removing what I think is not needed.

  • Yes - I like this point highlighted. The more I think bout it he fathered a new living church having been in counsel with the father in eternity to do so.
    – Mike
    May 5 at 1:41

How about Jesus' own explanation?

I and my Father are one. [John 10:30 KJV]

If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake. [John 14:7-11 KJV]

If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him. [John 10:37-38 KJV]

Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: [John 17:20-22 KJV]

  • Everyone accepts these passages, but they're interpreted in different ways. You really should edit this post to explain what you think they mean and how that helps us understand Isaiah 9:6.
    – curiousdannii
    May 5 at 2:35

IMHO, I'm giving more of a Hermeneutics answer vs a Christian / denomination specific answer.

I think it's important to note some facts about Isaiah:

The Book of Isaiah contains the prophecies of Isaiah (whose name means "Yahweh is salvation"), the son of Amoz, who lived in Jerusalem and prophesied mainly about Judah and Jerusalem. He took up his prophetic office in the year that King Uzziah died and continued that ministry during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. Hosea and Micah were among his contemporaries. Isaiah's ministry lasted over fifty years (740-687BC), after which, according to tradition, he was sawn into pieces during the persecutions which raged after the accession of Manasseh (Hebrews 11:37).

The authorship of the latter half of Isaiah, beginning with Chapter 40, has been the subject of much dispute. Unquestionably, there is a distinct break at the end of chapter 39. The difference may be explained in one of two ways. The traditional view holds that 40-66 were composed later in Isaiah's life and are predictive prophecy. Others assume because of the Babylonian setting of this unit, it was composed by some great unknown prophet who wrote AFTER the events occured rather than before. A variant of this view suggests a school of Isaiah in which the prophet's disciples spoke in the name of their teacher after his death. Once prediction is regarded as a fundamental part of the prophet's message, there is no compelling reason for denying the unity of the book.

And Isaiah's acceptance in ancient times is evident in its being in the Dead Sea Scrolls

5 There are now identified among the scrolls, 19 copies of the Book of Isaiah, 25 copies of Deuteronomy and 30 copies of the Psalms .

7 The Isaiah Scroll, found relatively intact, is 1000 years older than any previously known copy of Isaiah. In fact, the scrolls are the oldest group of Old Testament manuscripts ever found.

So then, I feel that it is important to review the Hebrew:

Isaiah 9:6 (Young's Literal Translation)

For a Child hath been born to us, A Son hath been given to us, And the princely power is on his shoulder, And He doth call his name Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Father of Eternity, Prince of Peace.

But if we look at

Isaiah Chapter 9 יְשַׁעְיָהוּ Note that this is Isaiah 9:5 instead of 9:6

For 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;

ה כִּי-יֶלֶד יֻלַּד-לָנוּ, בֵּן נִתַּן-לָנוּ, וַתְּהִי הַמִּשְׂרָה, עַל-שִׁכְמוֹ; וַיִּקְרָא שְׁמוֹ פֶּלֶא יוֹעֵץ, אֵל גִּבּוֹר, אֲבִי-עַד, שַׂר-שָׁלוֹם.

It appears that what we use for Isaiah may be a translation of Pele-joez-el-gibbor-Abi-ad-sar-shalom More about that title is found in the link.

And finally... "why is Jesus the Son called the Father in Isaiah 9:6?" Because that is how the title was translated.


I like the JFB commentary on this:

everlasting Father—This marks Him as "Wonderful," that He is "a child," yet the "everlasting Father" (John 10:30; John 14:9). Earthly kings leave their people after a short reign; He will reign over and bless them for ever

Barne's commentary explains, how it can be "the father of eternity", as in the father of eternal life, kingdom of God, the Messianic age or the eternal age to come.

The everlasting Father - The Chaldee renders this expression, 'The man abiding forever.' The Vulgate, 'The Father of the future age.' Lowth, 'The Father of the everlasting age.' Literally, it is the Father of eternity, עד אבי 'ĕby ‛ad.

This fits well with the passage that says, after his atonement and resurrection, he shall see his offspring:

Isa 53:10-11 [NRSV] Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him with pain. When you make his life an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring, and shall prolong his days; through him the will of the LORD shall prosper. Out of his anguish he shall see light; he shall find satisfaction through his knowledge. The righteous one, my servant, shall make many righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.

It is important to note that this difficulty in reading the verse calling the Son as eternal father is caused by misguided anachronistic fixation and assumption of systematic theology of trinity developed in 4th Century Roman Church, which has a peculiar detachment in the nature of Trinity, that any form of unity and overlap between the father and son are seen as Modalism (eg. John 14:7-11; 10:37-38; 17:20-22). This peculiar disunity of the Trinity is not hidden among the mainstream trinitarians, as they are often seen as openly denying monotheism by twisting the definition or meaning of Greek words like monos, and heis (Mark 12:29) and Hebrew echad (i.e. one) to indirectly reject monotheism (the oneness of God), and they even openly argue that Trinity is not taught in the OT (which is outright false), but only revealed in the NT, in the name of progressive revelation. They unknowingly present a United-theism or compound team of tritheism, in their trinity, which resists the idea of monotheism.

We should not impose human or worldly relations on the nature of God, as Monika mentioned.

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