“For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (ESV)
“For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (NKJV)
While most Bible translators place do not place a comma between “Wonderful” and “Counselor” (ESV, NASB, etc.), some don’t (KJV, NKJV). While it may not seem like a big deal, it does change the number of names from 4 to 5. One needs to remember that the original Hebrew did not have punctuation marks, so the translator is forced into making an interpretive decision. I think that 4 names is correct, partially because it keeps the symmetry of the list, with each name having at least two words.
One thing I like better about the KJV/NKJV rendering is the use of the word “unto.” There is two reasons for this. First, I grew up hearing the familiar, majestic language of the King James Version every Christmas. So there is some nostalgia involved. Second, I cannot seem to get Handel’s Messiah out of my head. I simply cannot imagine the choir singing “For TO us a child is born” instead of “For UNTO us a child is born.”
But in making reference to Handel’s Messiah, I must acknowledge that, Handel having used the King James Version, his song supports the idea of FIVE names: Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.
Regardless of whether Isaiah was prophesying about a coming Messiah who would be Wonderful and a Counselor OR a Wonderful Counselor, there is not doubt He was talking about our glorious Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.