THE BASIC PRINCIPLE OF INTERPRETATION
This does not mean that we are exclusive or narrow. This means, though, that you will not be spoiled or damaged. I must repeat again that to understand the types you must be taught with certain principles and then you are safeguarded. To interpret the prophecies you must know the basic principles of interpretation and then you are safeguarded. To interpret any verse of the Bible you must keep the basic principle taken by all the sound Bible teachers. The unique, basic principle is that to interpret any verse you need the entire Bible. Firstly you need the context of that verse, then you need the context of the entire book, and finally you need a bird’s-eye view of the entire Bible. Then you are safe in interpreting any verse.
To say this, however, is easy. The ones who declare that the Father in Isaiah 9:6 is the Father of eternity and not the Father in the Godhead may also say the same thing. They may say that to interpret the Bible you need to take care of the context of the verse, the context of the book, and the context of the entire Bible. Actually, however, when they interpret Isaiah 9:6, they do not take care of this principle.
In interpreting or explaining any portion, even any verse, of the Bible, if we do it without keeping this basic principle, we will not be safeguarded from making mistakes, even terrible errors. I would like to spend a little more time to show you how I take care of this basic principle in my further study, thus far, of Isaiah 9:6 as follows:
Since this verse is written in the Hebrew poetic way of expression, and Hebrew poetry goes often in pairs, the first two clauses, “unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given,” form one pair. By just saying a child, we do not know whether this child is male or female. The second part, a son is given, defines the gender of the child. Born and given are also a pair. This indicates that to be born is to be given. There is, though, a small amount of difference here. You cannot say that to be born is just to be given or to be given is just to be born. There is a difference that needs to be taken care of. In like manner, a son is different from a child. The expression “a son” gives you more denotation than a child. A son may be a child, but a child may not be a son. A child is born, but a son is given, which matches John 3:16 saying that God has given us His only begotten Son.
The son in this verse bears two main denotations. One is that the son is the son of a human virgin who was born of her (Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:23). The other denotation is that the son is also the Son of the Most High. Gabriel told Mary in Luke 1:32 that the One conceived in her womb would be called the Son of the Most High. In this sense the son was not to be born but to be given. This being given, though, is related to being born. The son as the son of Mary with the human nature was born, and the son as the Son of the Most High with the divine nature was given through the son of Mary’s being born. This wonderful Son was not only born of the human source, but also given from the divine source. He is both human and divine. This is the very God-promised Messiah to Israel (John 1:41, 45), who is Jehovah Himself to become, by being born of a human virgin (Isa. 7:14), a man by the name Jesus—Jehovah the Savior (Matt. 1:21-23) to be the Christ in God’s New Testament economy (Matt. 1:16). As such a one, His name is called: “Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, Father of eternity, The prince of Peace.” According to the composition, “Wonderful Counselor” [King James Version puts a comma after Wonderful, which should be deleted] and “mighty God” should be one pair, and “Father of eternity” and “Prince of peace” should be another pair. This Wonderful Messiah, as the child born to the children of Israel and a son given to them, is a Counselor, even a Wonderful Counselor to them, who gives them the wonderful counsels all the time and does everything for them. To them He is also God, even the mighty God, who is able to carry out whatever counsel He makes for them as their Counselor. In addition, He is also their Father, from eternity as their source, who fosters them and takes care of them all the time from eternity and through all the generations. He is also a Prince to them, who is their peace, gives them peace, and brings them into peace.
“Father of eternity” does not indicate eternity’s Father, but the eternal Father, just like “Prince of peace” does not indicate peace’s Prince, but the peaceful Prince. The Messiah, who is the Wonderful Counselor and the mighty God to His people, Israel, is not eternity’s Father, but His people’s eternal Father. According to the context of Isaiah 9:6, whatever Messiah is is His people’s. He is His people’s Wonderful Counselor, His people’s mighty God, His people’s peaceful Prince, and His people’s eternal Father, not eternity’s Father. This corresponds with the context of the entire book of Isaiah in 63:16 and 64:8. To say that “Father of eternity” is in the sense of eternity’s Father, or indicates that He is the originator of all creation, does not fit the context either of the verse of Isaiah 9:6 or of the entire book of Isaiah. This kind of interpretation is like a foreign article wedged into a living body. Whatever is mentioned in Isaiah 9:6 is related to Israel, the people of Messiah, not to any creation. The Father of eternity in this verse must be the Son to be the eternal Father of His people.
I hope this shows you that it is not so easy to interpret the Bible, especially a verse like Isaiah 9:6. Do not go to the old books in a light way and believe whatever you pick up from the old books merely by your present capacity of discernment.
(Elders' Training, Book 04: Other Crucial Matters Concerning the Practice of the Lord's Recovery, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)