“And His name will be called… Mighty God.”
What is the meaning of the name “Mighty God”?
This name is the compound Hebrew title El Gibbor, and both parts of the name need to be understood
“God.” The first part of the title is El, the singular form of the word Elohim. In the Old Testament this referred to the one true God (though on occasion it was used of mighty heroes, or even false gods). Yet even though Jesus Himself pointed out that the title is sometimes used of mighty sons of men (JN. 10:34), the title is so often used of God and only God, that the prophet Hosea used El to set God in contrast to man in Hosea 11:9. That Isaiah 9:6 was predict- ing One who would be far more than a man is indicated by the third name “Everlasting Father” and by the New Testament record of Christ. The Christ who walked on water, died voluntarily for our sins, and then physically rose from the dead is the One who also said, “Before Abraham was, I am” (JN. 8:58). He is the One of whom John wrote:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made (JN. 1:1-3).
“Mighty.” The other part of the name is Gibbor, which means “strength, power, hero.” What a statement! In a world where heroes are often determined by athletic prowess, personal talent, or financial power, we are told that the only One truly worthy to be called “hero” is the One whose might is unparalleled.
The focus of Isaiah’s prophecy is El Gibbor, the mighty God who is our true Hero. What this prophet in the seventh century BC anticipated, the New Testament confirms. Because the Messiah would be God, He would have God’s power—but to Isaiah the amazing thing was that the Messiah would not only have the power of God, He would be the God of power!
What is the evidence that Jesus Christ is the “Mighty God”?
By His perfect life, sacrificial death, and resurrection, He showed we could trust Him, though most of His own people rejected Him. John wrote, “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him” (JN. 1:11).
Yet in many cases He was recognized as the long-awaited Messiah. Nicodemus, a rabbi of Israel, recognized Him (cp. JN. 3 with JN.19). The disciples recognized Him (compare MT. 8:27 with 16:16). Mary Magdalene recognized Him, and her life was transformed (LK. 8:2). Others’ lives were changed as well, including the church’s most feared persecutor, Saul of Tarsus (ACTS 9).
These and thousands of other first-century people believed—and for good reason. Jesus Christ proved Himself to be El Gibbor as He displayed His life-changing might and power. Still today, for those who see their need of a Savior, the evidence of Christ’s mighty power is overwhelming. For those who sense their own inability to live up to God’s standard, the apostle John wrote, “As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (JN. 1:12).
The New Testament provides us an opportunity to see the fullness of the “Mighty God” Isaiah predicted, showing both how His power was displayed in His life on earth—but also how it was seen before He even came to the earth.
Jesus, the Mighty God before His birth. The Bible clearly states that Christ displayed His might by creating the world before He physically entered it. John 1:3 says, “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” Colossians 1:16 agrees: “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.”
Christ’s display of might in the act of creation distinguished Him from mere humans. We have the ability to make things, but we require some basic raw materials. Christ showed His might in the ability to create—to make something out of nothing. It takes divine might to truly create. Christ demonstrated that power in the most profound way—by creating the universe.
Jesus, the Mighty God during His earthly life. Jesus showed His right to be recognized as the Mighty God by demonstrating power over nature (LK. 5:1-11), power over disease (MT. 9:18-26), power over demons (LK. 8:26-39), power over sin (MK. 2:3-12), and power over death (1 COR. 15:1-19). Throughout the course of His public life, Christ revealed His divine might in ways that not only were undeniable (ACTS 2:22) but also intentional validations of His claim to be God (JN. 20:30-31). When we see the otherwise inexplicable demonstrations of God’s might in the unparalleled life of Christ, it becomes clear why Paul would call Jesus “the Son of God with power” (ROM. 1:4) and “Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 COR. 1:24).
What is the importance of the name “Mighty God” to believers today?
While appreciating the evidence that shows Christ to be the Mighty God, we must remember that this is more than mere theological data. It is inspired evidence that urges us to see and respond to Christ as He is—our “Mighty God.”
He is the source of our power In Acts 1:8, Jesus promised to send the power of the Holy Spirit to enable us to be His representatives in the world. Inherent to this provision of the Spirit is the fact that He wants us to live distinctive lives in an impure world as evidence of His presence in us.
He is the strength of our lives. In Philippians 4:13, Paul wrote, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” What a great promise! He will strengthen us for all the circumstances and inevitabilities of life. This doesn’t mean that we will never know pain or hardship, but that we can endure in triumph. How can we do that? Only as we rest in His power, not in our own.
He secures our eternity. The apostle Peter wrote that we are “kept by the power of God” (1 PET. 1:5). Nothing can overcome God’s power to keep us in Christ. What a great assurance it is to know that we are secure not because of our own ability to hold on to Him, but by His power holding on to us.
In view of the evidence, how can we see our Lord Jesus Christ as anything less than the Mighty God, El Gibbor? In 1885, J. B. Figgis took it even further, describing in his book Emmanuel the surprising way in which the Mighty God not only showed His might by miracles, but also by His disarming meekness:
Christ’s inimitable meekness and patience never once forsook Him in a vexatious, ungrateful, cruel sphere. He never stepped out of the humble sphere in which He was brought up; He does not seem to have ever possessed for Himself so much as the smallest coin, and when He died had no means for providing for His mother, and could only commend her to one of His disciples. Yet, His life was infinitely superior to all others. If Jesus were no more than a man or a hero, why are there not more men like Him? What God did for one man, God would certainly do for others. It is unaccountable that it has never been done. The incarnation, when Jesus came as “the Mighty God,” alone helps us to the solution of such an enigma.