Thoughts on the Meaning of Life… Todd Helmkamp

Did Jesus Always Know Right from Wrong?

Posted by Vogeler on May 9, 2008

Hey all,

Recently a friend of mine asked my opinion about Isaiah 7:14-16.  The text of verse 16, “But before the boy knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, the land of the two kings you dread will be laid waste.” seems to indicate that there was indeed a time before Jesus was morally accountable.  Here are my thoughts:

My reading, in contrary to Matthew Henry et al, is that the context refers to the son born of the virgin, not to Isaiah’s son Shear-Jabesh, mentioned in verse 3. 

My friend tells me that some commentaries have said that v 16 was originally written “a boy” not “the boy”, but like he mentioned, every translation/version I’ve looked at including the King James says “the boy”.

 So, is “the boy” a more accurate translation than “a boy”?  It completely changes the meaning of the passage.

If the accurate translation is the commonly used “the boy”, judging by the context then there was a period when the child born of the virgin (Immanuel, the Messiah, Jesus) did not know right from wrong. 

I don’t see any problem with this, for a couple of reasons.  First, Jesus was fully human as well as fully God.  Brennan ( my 3 month-old) certainly doesn’t know right from wrong, and Luke (my three-year-old) doesn’t fully understand it either.  Second, we know that Jesus voluntarily limited Himself (“who touched Me?” to the woman with a hemorrhage, “Only the Father knows the day and the hour”, etc), so perhaps He limited that phase of His development.

Also, the first we hear of Him ministering in any capacity is at the age of 12, which is the Jewish age of accountability  (correct me if I’m wrong).

That’s my take on the issue.  Readers, what do you think?


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