8 More Titles of the Messiah

Michael A. Rydelnik
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The “Messiah” is given a number of other titles throughout the Bible. For the first seven titles we reviewed, check out the first post here. If you’ve already seen those, here’s Dr. Rydelnik with eight more titles of the Messiah.

1. Wonderful Counselor

In Isa 9:6, the King Messiah is given four glorious dual throne titles, each reflecting His deity.[1] In the first one, the word “Wonder” stands in epexegetical construct to Counselor; Hence, the child is “a wonder of a counselor” or more simply, “Wonderful Counselor.” The term “wonder” is used exclusively of the acts of God on behalf of His people and the judgment of their enemies (Cf. Ex 3:20; 15:11; 34:10; Jos 3:5; Neh 9:17; 1Ch 16:12; Ps 40:5 [MT 40:6]; Isa 25:1; 29:14). This wondrous nature of God is especially evident in Jdg 13:15-21, where the name of the Angel of the Lord is “wonderful” (13:18) meaning beyond comprehension. Then the Angel does a “wonderful thing” (13:19) and ascends in the flame of Manoah’s sacrifice. Additionally, the word Counselor reflects a uniquely divine attribute. For example, God needs no counselor (Isa 40:13), and the Messiah has the Spirit of counsel upon Him (Isa 11:2). Ultimately, Isaiah uses both of these titles together to describe the Lord, indicating that God alone is wonderful in counsel (Isa 28:29).

2. Mighty God

Some have tried to assert that this phrase in Isa 9:6, commonly translated “Mighty God” (‘el Gibbor) should be understood as “mighty warrior.” However, the title is used consistently of deity (Dt 10:17; Ps 24:8; Jer 32:18; Neh 9:32). In fact, in the nearest context it is used of God (Isa 10:21). Although gibbor can mean “hero,” and ‘el can mean “great,” whenever these two words are used together, they refer to deity. Thus, the born child and the given son, is no less than God Himself.

“The Servant of the Lord is not just the Messiah of Israel but also the Messiah of the whole world.”

3. Father of Eternity

This title in Isa 9:6, commonly translated “eternal Father,” indicates the divine eternality of the Messiah. The word translated “eternity” does not merely mean a long time, but rather it refers to “forever.” This is supported by the very next verse that speaks of His reign never ending. Some have misunderstood this name as a declaration that the child is God the Father. Rather, it is stating that He is the Father of forever, a phrase that means He is the Creator of time or Author of eternity. Thus, the child is identified with the divine Creator whose first act was to create time.

4. Prince of Peace

The word “prince” used in Isa 9:6 does not necessarily mean “the son of the king.” Rather it means “ruler” or “leader” (Isa 3:14). Here it indicates one who will be the Ruler of Peace. According to Isaiah, Messiah will establish peace between humanity and God (Isa 53:5), and His reign will institute universal peace (Isa 2:4; 11:6-9) for all humanity.

5. The Branch of the LORD

The title “the Branch” is used for the Messiah repeatedly in the OT (Isa 4:2; Jer 23:5; 33:15; Zch 3:8; 6:12). The root word means sprout, growth, or branch. A Phoenician inscription (third century BC) uses the phrase “Tsemach Tsedek” for the rightful heir to the throne. When used this way it refers to a son or scion of a king.[2] David used the verb (tsamach) in his last words when reflecting on his hope for the Messiah based on the Davidic covenant: “He has not (yet) made it grow?” (2Sm 23:5, author’s translation). Isaiah 4:2 states that the Branch of the Lord will be glorious in His kingdom. This statement views the Messiah as the Son of Yahweh, and the verses that follow describe the cleansing of Israel, similarly described in Zch 3:8-10, a passage that also uses the messianic title “the Branch.” In Jer 23:5-6 and 33:15-16, “the Branch” is the righteous son of David who will save Judah and Israel and execute justice. His deity is recognized by His other title “The Lord [Yahweh] Our Righteousness.” Jeremiah 33:19-26 goes on to assure readers of the coming of the Branch because of God’s faithfulness to His covenants. In Zch 6:12, “the Branch” is the rightful king who unites the priesthood and the monarchy.

6. The LORD (Yahweh) Our Righteousness

Having already called the Messiah the “Righteous Branch” (Jer 23:5), Jeremiah also uses another messianic title, “Yahweh Our Righteousness” (Jer 23:6). It is most likely that the thought here is not to be construed as a divine epithet because the same title is used of the city of Jerusalem in Jer 33:16. Thus, it should be understood to mean “Yahweh is Our Righteousness.” However, it should not be considered a mere theophoric title without divine significance because theophoric titles generally use the shortened form of God’s name, “Yah.” This is seen in the names like Jeremiah (Yah Exalts) or Elijah (My God is Yah). Only messianic titles use the full name of God, “Yahweh.” This indicates that in some unique way, like the Angel of Yahweh (Ex 3:1-6; Jdg 13:1-23), the Messiah is identified as God Himself.

7. The One Shepherd

In Ps 80:1, God Himself is called the Shepherd of Israel. This makes the messianic title “One Shepherd” even more significant. In Ezk 34, after rebuking the false shepherds of Israel, God promises to restore the nation at the end of days. At that time, God will regather the people from all the lands in which they have been scattered (Ezk 34:13). Then, God will appoint “a single shepherd” (lit. “One Shepherd”) over them, called “My servant David” (Ezk 34:23). Under the care of the One Shepherd, “Yahweh will be their [Israel’s] God” (Ezk 34:24). Ezekiel repeats the same promise in 37:24, looking at the day when Israel is restored to their land and to their God, under the care of the One Shepherd.[3]

While the above references refer to the One Shepherd when He will establish the messianic kingdom, Zechariah uses the term “Shepherd” to describe a much different situation. In speaking of the death of the Messiah, He writes, “Sword, awake against My shepherd . . . Strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered” (Zch 13:7). Seemingly before the Messiah ever begins to shepherd the people of Israel, He must be struck and Israel will be scattered. Then God will one day regather them under that Shepherd, and they will know the Lord.

8. The Light to the Nations

In the Servant Songs, God promises that the Servant will restore Israel to their God (Isa 49:5-6). But these same songs indicate that the Servant’s ministry will go beyond Israel to the whole world. Thus, He will establish justice on earth, and the islands will wait for His instruction (Isa 42:4). Not only will the Servant be a new covenant mediator for the people of Israel, but He will also be “a light for the nations.” In Isa 49:6, God tells His Servant that the task of restoring Israel is insufficient for One so great as He, promising “I will also make you a light for the nations, to be My salvation to the ends of the earth.” The Servant of the Lord is not just the Messiah of Israel but also the Messiah of the whole world.

[1] Some have maintained that these are merely theophoric names, a long title that contains the name of God but which does not indicate that the bearer of the name is deity. They often will compare these titles in Isa 9:6 gram- matically to the long title in 8:3, “Maher-shalal-hash-baz” (“Swift is the booty, fast is the prey”). Then the title is translated “A Wonderful Counselor is the Mighty God, The Eternal Father is the Prince of Peace.” In response, the name in 8:3 (“Maher-shalal-hash-baz”) is dependent on the same words being used in 8:1. Second, the title in 8:3 is not parallel syntactically to 9:6 because all the words in 9:6 are substantives that do not have subjects and predicates. Moreover, titles such as used in 9:6 frequently reflect the nature of the person who is named (e.g. 2Sm 12:24-25; Isa 1:26; Hos 1:10).

[2] W. C. Kaiser, Jr., “Tsemach” in Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Jr., Bruce K. Waltke (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1980), 769.

[3] Ecclesiastes 12:11 also uses the term “One Shepherd” as the One who was the source of the divinely inspired wisdom of Ecclesiastes. See the article “Messianism in Ecclesiastes” in this Handbook.

For Further Reading:

The Moody Handbook of Messianic Prophecy

by Michael Rydelnik and Edward Blum

The ultimate, all-in-one resource on what the Old Testament says about Jesus As Jesus walked the Emmaeus road, he showed his companions how the...

book cover for The Moody Handbook of Messianic Prophecy