Chapter fifty-three is the most quoted chapter of Isaiah in the New Testament (42 times). In second place is chapter forty which speaks of God's salvation of national Israel in the last days. And the third is chapter forty-nine which speaks of the salvation of the gentiles. This fact should not be glossed over to fast since the Suffering Servant is central to both Israel and the Gentiles. The Suffering Servant affects every person who has lived and every one who will live. The Old Testament scholar Harry Bultema writes of this chapter:
"…regardless of how well known and simple it [chapter 53] may be, it nevertheless contains depths which we shall continue to marvel at forever and ever." (Harry Bultema, Commentary on Isaiah (Grand Rapids:Kregel Publications, 1981), p. 505)
These "depths" relate to the legal aspects of Jesus' dealing with the sin issue in His death, burial, and resurrection. Though it is a simple fact that through His death, God dealt with sin reconciling man back to God, the text and the accompanying New Testament usage tell a theological story that is high and lofty.
The Servant of the Lord
The section of Scripture concerning the Suffering Servant covers 52:13-53:12 and concerns the subject of the Messiah ("Anointed") Savior and Ruler (52:7) who will deal with the nations (52:4-5, 10), transform Jerusalem into the righteous city called Zion, and "the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of the Lord" (52:10). It is this last subject that one finds details concerning the Suffering Servant. God must first deal with the subject of the sin of mankind before He deals with the judgment of the nations, and finally to bring His Millennial rule to His holy mountain (52:2).
I. Shock and Exaltation of the Suffering Servant
13 Behold, My Servant will deal prudently; He will be exalted and extolled and be very high, 14 Just as many were astonished at you, His appearance was thus marred more than any man, And His form more than the sons of men; 15 Thus He will cause to sprinkle many people. Kings will shut their mouths at Him; For what had not been told they will see, And what they had not herd they will consider. (Isa. 52:13-15)
13a. Behold, My Servant will cause to be wise. The Servant will be prudent ("circumspect," "wise," "prosper") as He deals with the subject of sin. The general command to behold is for all mankind as the author addresses "sons of men," "nations," and "kings" which speak of the nations of the world - the Gentile nations. The ruler of this world is the Devil and so the Lord will have victory and prosper in His work on the cross. The conflict of this world goes back to the fall and is spoken of in Genesis 3:15:
And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.
This conflict is spoken of many times in the New Testament. For example in Hebrews 2:14:
Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil.
Some translate "wise" others "prosper." Either translation is correct, but prosper has the meaning that the Lord will prosper, "have success" in many ways, but it is as a result of His death. He will deal correctly and have success with the sin issue. He will do the same as He deals a fatal blow to the plans of the Devil. He will accomplish what was planned from before the foundation of the world. He will fulfill what was prophesied. He will complete that critical event that prepared the way for His earthly millennial rule, namely, that He will come in the flesh from the line of David and His resurrection provides the model for the resurrection to life.
13b. He will be exalted and extolled and be very high. Because of the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord, He will be exalted ("to rise up," be high," "be lofty," "exalted"), extolled ("be lifted," "carried"), and be very high. Dr. Gill writes:
[H]e has been exalted by his Father, by raising him from the dead, and giving him glory; by placing him at his own right hand, and giving him all power in heaven and in earth; by committing all judgment into his hands, that all men may honour him as they do the Father: and he is "extolled" by his people, in his person and offices, by giving him the glory of their salvation, in their hearts, thoughts, and affections, with their mouths and lips; and so he is in his house and ordinances, by his ministers and churches: and is made "very high"; higher than the kings of the earth; higher than the angels of heaven; higher than the heavens themselves. The Jews say of the Messiah, in reference to these words, that he is exalted above Abraham, extolled above Moses, and made higher than the ministering angels; and in another ancient book of theirs it is said, the kingdom of Israel shall be exalted in the days of the Messiah. (John Gill's Exposition on the Entire Bible)
14a. As many were astonished at you. This phrase is placed at the head of the verse for emphasis, as the Lord's work on the cross will stun many. The meaning is "as many people who saw you were stunned ('appalled,' 'awestruck') by your beaten up appearance."
14b. His appearance was thus marred more than any man. His visible appearance was so extremely marred ("disfigured," "corrupted") more than any other man that was seen that it truly stunned those who saw Him.
14c. And His form more than the sons of men. Likewise, His form ("shape," "outline," "figure") was marred more than any other man that ever lived.
15a. Thus He will cause to sprinkle many people. Because of His suffering unto death, He will make clean many nations. The picture is that of the blood of the sacrifice sprinkled on the Ark of the Covenant (mercy seat). Many goy ("nation," "people" - usually non-Hebrew people) will be "made" clean as the strongest Hebrew verb (causative) is used. That is, mankind cannot clean themselves it is the Messiah who makes individuals clean. That which is unclean cannot make itself clean. The Messiah makes individuals clean by His shed blood. In a legal sense it is the declaration of the imputed righteousness of Christ on mankind that one can be called righteous. Man by himself cannot claim self-righteousness. The righteousness man can claim is Jesus'.
15b. Kings will shut their mouths at Him; For what had not been told they will see, And what they had not herd they will consider. The kings of the earth will "close the mouth," be stunned at the presence of the Lord. Dr. Unger writes:
"Many are astonished at His humiliation; so many (not merely men, but) nations (millennial nations) shall He sprinkle expiatorily and cleanse for their role (as nations) in the Davidic-Messianic earthly Kingdom (2 Sam. 7:8-15). Kings (even the great of the millennial earth; Psalm 72:8-11) shall shut their mouths at him (Isa. 49:7, 23). They will be silenced in awe and veneration (Job 29:9-10; Mic. 7:16), so overwhelming will be the impression of the Servant lifted so high from such a low depth of ignominy." (Merrill F. Unger, Unger's Commentary on the Old Testament, p. 1295)
II. Humiliation and Sorrow of the Servant
1 Who has believed our report? And to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? 2 And he will grow up before him as a young plant. And as a root from parched ground, No form for him, And no splendor, And we will see him, but not look upon [him], And we will not desire him. 3 He who was despised and rejected of men, A man of sorrow and knowing grief, And as one who hides faces from him, He who was despised and we esteemed him not. (Isa. 53:1-3)
1a. Who has believed our report? In a rhetorical question, the author poses the question but does not expect an answer. Has the Jew believed the prophets declaration? Some have, but the sense is related to the time of Jesus as He faces the Jewish leadership and they reject Him as the Messiah, the Suffering Servant. The Rejection of the Servant of the Lord is prophesied!
1b. And to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? Again the prophet asks a rhetorical question. It was to the Jew that the arm of the Lord was revealed! The idiom "arm of the Lord" refers to the sole power of the Lord. This power of the Lord was seen in its greatest sense by His deliverance of the Jew out of Egypt. Does he that practices the Passover remember what the Lord has done for them during their bondage in Egypt or their captivity in Babylon? The answer no! They remember, but value their own strength, their own traditions.
The apostle John quotes this verse as Jesus tells the disciples of His imminent death:
37 But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him, 38 that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke: "Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?" (John 12:37-38)
2a. And he will grow up before him as a young plant. To grow up like a young plant or shoot is a common figure of speech used even in modern English, but here it also serves as a reference in Scripture to the promised seed, the Son of Jesse – the Messiah, who will come from the line of David and rule the nations (Isa. 11:1; Rom. 15:12). The pronoun "him" refers back to the Lord of verse one. So the Suffering Servant will grow up "before the face" of the Lord. One could say, the Lord Himself oversaw the upbringing of the Promised One.
2b. And as a root from parched ground. The Messiah will "go up," or "ascend" as a young shoot coming out of the ground from a root. The significance of the language is not only that of a normal child that grows up, but moreover, the ongoing picture of the olive tree in Scripture (Cf. Jer. 11:16; Zech 4; Rom. 11) that uniquely identifies Israel. Messiah will grow up like any normal man, but He will also come out of a specific lineage, namely, that of Jesse, and hence, David. This Messiah will be the Son of David. What make this description unusual is the manner or condition in which He enters the world. He will come at a time of dryness in the land. Drought is a condition of judgment from the Lord. When the Lord appeared at His first coming, the chosen nation Israel was in both spiritual and physical drought. The Roman Empire was in control of the land, and the spiritual leaders were relying on tradition instead of the word of the Lord (Matt. 151-6).
2c. No form for him, And no splendor. Just as a fresh shoot grows up and looks like all the other shoots, so there is no form or beautiful shape about Him that sets Him apart from the rest. His physical form is just like that of the rest of the Hebrew men. Nothing special in His appearance and having no splendor or glory about Him. He is, you might say, a common man.
2d. And we will see him, but not look upon [him], and we will not desire him. The nation will visibly see Him, and will walk and talk with Him but they will not identify Him as the Messiah. The Lord will take on the form of man, God taking on flesh, and reason with the leaders of a nation that has spiritually dried up (cf. Matt. 23). The picture being drawn in words is this: The olive tree is in a drought condition, however, a new tender shoot will sprout up out of that drought condition, but the tree will not produce olive fruit. A similar condition of barrenness is described in Isaiah chapter 17, though there, the context is the Great Tribulation where the barrenness of the land is even more extreme. As Matthew 21 through 23 relates the leaders do not desire ("take pleasure in," "desire in") Him.
3a. He who was despised and rejected of men. The magnitude of the leaders value of Jesus is measured by the Hebrew word "despised," which in the passive form used here relates the idea of "worthlessness," or properly, "one who is being despicable, vile." In fact, He is described as being rejected of men. A cast away with the idea of "ceasing," "to stop," "to desist." Man just wants Him to go away! The Servant of the Lord is not wanted by man on earth. The Lord has to choose man, call individuals to Him (John 6:44). The leaders do not respect Him. They do not value Him. They are in spiritual control of the nation and refuse to give up their control. This is similar to the Church today. The Church does not want His return, man is in control and desires and values their buildings, their programs, but does not value His coming! Notice what the Lord says in Matthew 15:8-9, "Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men."
3b. A man of sorrow and knowing grief. The Servant is described as a man of sorrows ("pain" either physical or mental) and one who knows or has experienced grief, the pain of affliction, as one experiences the pain of a disease or sickness. This is physical pain. A picture of what happened to Jesus during His last day on earth. The beating, the exhaustion of carrying His own cross to the last moments of His life.
3c. And as one who hides faces from him. The picture is one of avoidance, of shame that they let such a tragedy happen to a person, but they want the whole episode to go away from their minds. They cannot face the facts associated with the Servant of the Lord who came and died and the great injustice taken against an innocent man.
3d. He who was despised and we esteemed him not. In typical Hebrew literary style Isaiah closes the verse as he started it. In repeating the main point of Jesus being "the one who was despised," regarded as "worthless," or worse, "vile." One who we [the Jews as a whole, or the Jewish leadership] did not esteem ("calculate," "count," or "value") Him.
III. Expiation of the Servant
4 Surely our grief he himself carried, And our sorrows he bore them, And we esteemed him one who has been struck, Struck of God and intensely afflicted. 5 And he had been fatally wounded for our transgressions, He was one intensely broken for our iniquity, [The] chastisement of our peace [was] upon him, And with his wound he has healed us, 6 We all like sheep went astray; We have turned, each one, to his own way, And [the] Lord caused to meet in him the guilt of us all. (Isa. 53:4-6)
4a. Surely our grief he himself carried, and our sorrows he bore them. The emphatic expression "he himself carried" ("bear up," "carry," or "take") relates the fact that:
Christ not only assumed a true human nature, capable of sorrow and grief, but he took all the natural sinless infirmities of it; or his human nature was subject to such, as hunger, thirst, weariness, &c.; and to all the sorrow and pain arising from them; the same sorrows and griefs he was liable to as we are, and therefore called ours and hence he had a sympathy with men under affliction and trouble; and, to show his sympathizing spirit, he healed all sorts of bodily diseases; and also, to show his power, he healed the diseases of the soul, by bearing the sins of his people, and making satisfaction for them. (John Gill's Exposition on the whole Bible)
4b. And we esteemed him one who has been struck, struck of God and intensely afflicted. We counted, or calculated Him as being "struck," or "killed" by God. His affliction is described in the intensive making the sense of the affliction severe and though, extreme as it is, the meaning may range from a severe, but recoverable wound, to a fatal blow. Since we know the story, it was indeed a fatal blow.
5a. And he had been fatally wounded for our transgressions, He was one intensely broken for our iniquity. In the first point, He is one who is seen as being intensely wounded (or fatally wounded). The Hebrew word has a range of meanings ("begin," "profane," "defile," "pollute," "wound," "to play the flute or pipe"), but at its core is the idea of "to be pierced, perforated," and hence, "slain," or, "fatally wounded" which fits the context. The New Testament testimony of the Lord's death on the cross relates the full theological significance of this passage. From the testimony of the historical prophecy of the events as the soldiers "pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out" (John 19:34), to the typographical significance of the "Lamb of God" (John 1:29) and the theological meaning of a "just penalty" and propitiation for the crime committed as a "blood atonement" (Rom. 3:25; cf. Col. 1:14; Heb. 9:28; 1Jn 2:2; 4:10; Rev. 1:5).
Though the transgressions were from us, He, Himself paid the price and was fatally wounded. The Hebrew word for transgression is pesha' meaning "to transgress," "a rebellion," and has the meaning to transgress either against an individual, a nation, or against God. The root idea is to be a rebel. This complements His "bruising" or "crushing" that He received because of our "iniquities" or "guilt." It was the punishment due us, but He Himself bore the punishment. The distinction between a transgression (pesha') and an iniquity ('avon) is sometimes hard to make, but in general a transgression is to go beyond or overstep the bounds, or to act in violation of a law, whereas an iniquity is "to pervert" or "twist" what is right, and hence is associated with the word sin (chata') whose basic meaning is to miss the mark. Dr. Gill writes concerning these words:
The Jews sometimes distinguish these three words [iniquity, transgression, & sin]; "iniquity", they say, signifies sins through pride and presumption; "transgression" intends rebellions against God; and "sin", what is committed through error and mistake. (John Gill's Exposition on the whole Bible)
Dr. Wiersbe writes, "The prophet calls it transgression, which means rebellion against God, daring to cross the line that God has drawn (Isa. 53:5, 8). He also calls it iniquity, which refers to the crookedness of our sinful nature (vv. 5-6). In other words, we are sinners by choice and by nature." (Warren Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary – Old Testament Prophets (Colorado Springs: Victor, 2002), p. 61)
5b. [The] chastisement of our peace [was] upon him. Barnes well notes:
Chastisement is a common corrective theme of God's love for His people in both the OT (cf. Job 5:17; Prov. 1:7; 3:11) and the NT (cf. Rom. 5). It serves to correct our thoughts and behavior. The purpose of the chastisement is to train us, to teach us a lesson that we will not soon forget. The level of chastisement is in such a measure as to burn the lesson into our very heart. In the case of our Lord, the chastisement that was due mankind was placed upon Him. And the level of chastisement was extreme even unto death.
5c. And with his wound he has healed us. We are made healthy of our problem by the shedding of His blood. The Hebrew word rapha' means to "heal," make healthful," "physician," and so the NT concept of the Great Physician comes from here (Matt. 9:12; Mark 2:17; Luke 5:31). The fundamental concept is that Jesus, the Lamb of God took away the sin of the world. The great sin issue has been dealt with (a completed act) at the cross of Christ and all who are "saved" are legally acquitted because of the judicial wound that had taken place. It is not that our individual sins are not an issue – they are, but it does mean that the payment for sin has been made at the cross once for all.
Peter speaks concerning the Lord's work on the cross as he says, "and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed" (1 Peter 2:24). In fact, so joyous is Jesus' death as a substitute that His death, burial, and resurrection is given a name - the gospel or good news (1 Cor. 15:1-4).
6a. We all like sheep went astray; We have turned, each one, to his own way. The symbolism of sheep [Israel] going astray, and the Lord who is the Shepherd is an old Jewish concept (Num. 27:17). The idea is that sheep left alone tend to drift away. The influences of the field attract them to dangerous parts. The ideas of the world look attractive and left without a constant influence (the Good Shepherd), the sheep will go astray, get lost in the field and require a rescue. Every one of the sheep of the field will turn his own way without the Shepherd's constant attention to keep them from going astray (cf. Ps. 78:52; 79:13; 95:7; 100:3; Mat. 10:6). This is one of the great passages concerning the doctrine of the total depravity of man. That all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23; cf. 1 Kg. 8:46; Psa. 14:2-3; 53:3; 103:3; 143:2; Prov. 20:9; Eccl. 7:20; Rom. 3:9; 3:19; Gal. 3:22; Jam. 3:2; 1 Jn. 1:8, 10).
6b. And [the] Lord caused to meet in him the guilt of us all. The turning away is seen as a transgression, which is remedied by the guilt that was laid upon Jesus at His death. The Hebrew uses the strongest verb form "the Lord caused to meet our guilt," "to make attack upon our guilt," or "reached the mark of our guilt." It was not His guilt, but our guilt [ie. The guilt of all mankind] that was being addressed. There was purpose and strength in dealing with mankind's sin. The death of our Lord was no small matter to God, likewise, the sin issue was no small matter to deal with. The sin issue of all mankind being laid or transferred from mankind to the Messiah was as intense an event as ever was.
The idea of guilt is a legal term. Going astray is identified as the legal offence and our being in a state of guilt is our condition. However, it is the Lord who takes the consequence of or punishment for our guilt. Most translate "guilt" as "iniquity" here and is the most common translation for this word. But both guilt and punishment would fit the verse justly since the next section deals with unjust treatment inflicted by man.
IV. Submission of the Servant
7 He was oppressed and he was the one who was being afflicted, And he did not open his mouth, He will be brought as a sheep to slaughter, And as a sheep before her shearers was silenced, Yet he will not open his mouth. 8 He was intensely being taken from prison and from justice, And who will explain his period? For he had been cut off from [the] land of [the] living, For [the] transgression of my people [was] [the] strike upon him, 9 And he put his grave [with] the wicked ones, And with the rich in his death, Because he did no violence, And no deceit [was] in his mouth. (Isa. 53:7-9)
7a. He was oppressed and he was the one who was being afflicted. He was oppressed (lit., to press) by His captures and is called "one who is being afflicted," a state of being.
7b. And he did not open his mouth. The silence of the lamb led to slaughter is noted in the New Testament and has the meaning He gave His life freely. As His accusers questioned Him before Pilate, He answered nothing (Matt. 27:11-14; cf. 1 Peter 2:21-24). His accusers questioned Him before the Sanhedrin and Caiaphas, He said nothing except who He was – the I am (Mark 14:60-62). Then again, Jesus said nothing when questioned by Herod (Luke 23:9).
7c. He will be brought as a sheep to slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers was silenced, yet he will not open his mouth. When John the Baptist proclaimed, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29b; cf. Acts 8:32; Rev. 5:6, 9), he referred to the OT teaching of the Suffering Servant who will shed His blood as a sacrifice and central to that typology is the sheep brought to slaughter. Sheep are quite as they get sheared. Jesus was not being sheared, He was being slaughtered. The Lamb was prepared for slaughter, and during the whole preparation time He was like a sheep that is patent and quite, waiting for her shearer to finish the task.
8a. He was intensely being taken from prison and from justice. He was taken from His prison ("restraint," "oppression"), the intensive nature of the action provides a picture of Him being snatched up and taken away. Dr. Unger interprets the intense nature of the act as "He was taken away by a violent death, as lqh is employed in Jer. 15:15; Ezek. 24:16, answering to the words, 'cut off out of the land of the living,' by (through) oppression and by (through) a judicial sentence." (Merrill F. Unger, Unger's Commentary on the Old Testament, p. 1299 ) In other words, He had no proper legal hearing, and was executed with emotional hostility.
8b. And who will explain his period? The interpretation of this phrase has brought much discussion, but the context and flow of this section of scripture make the interpretation simple. The Hebrew dor ("period," "generation," "habitation," "dwelling") is taken in the first sense, meaning "a period of time." And the action is in the intensive, "to put forth," "mediate," "consider," hence, the meaning is "intensely pondering to the point of explaining" what His death means in light of who He claimed to be and what Scripture says concerning Him. The Jewish leadership provided no justice, no discussion of who He is they just wanted His death. Who among the Jewish religious leadership will explained why God had to come in the flesh, live a perfect life under the law, and die as a substitute for mankind? The answer is no one among them will explain His life on earth.
8c. For he had been cut off from [the] land of [the] living. Dr. Unger writes, "the land of the living is the realm of physical life, and to be cut off from it is physical death, which Christ endured as the result of the common legal justice denied Him" (Unger, p. 1299). Simply put, this is the first part of the gospel – that He died. The rest of the gospel will follow with His burial and resurrection. But His substitutionary death and what that means concerning the sin issue and all that means must come first.
8d. For [the] transgression of My people [was] [the] strike upon Him. The transgression of My people [Jews] was placed as a strike (or "mark") upon Him. The meaning here may be a reflection of verse five as the strike resulted in our being healed. Another interpretation may simply be that because of the lack of justice exercised by the Jewish people during His trial, this transgression is seen as a unique transgression of the Jewish people that was likewise transferred to Jesus. They rejected Jesus, but He does not reject them. His promise to the covenant people is His word and there is nothing they can do to nullify the covenant and His word.
9a. And He put His grave [with] the wicked ones, And with the rich in his death. The intention was that He get buried in a common grave with the rest of the criminals who had no special place to be buried, but instead, Joseph a rich man, came forth and buried Him in his tomb which was hewn out of the rock (Matt 27:38; 57-61; John 19:38-42).
Joseph is said to have been wealthy; he must have been prominent to have secured an audience with Palate after his official public hours. When buried, those crucified were normally thrown into common graves; they did not receive an honorable burial in their family tomb. Exceptions were often made when relatives asked for the body, but in the case of treason (as claiming to be the Jewish king would be) an exception would not be made unless the deceased had a prominent advocate. Jesus had a posthumous ally in this man of influence, who was not ashamed to go on record as his follower. (Craig Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary – New Testament (Downers Grove:Intervarsity Press, 1993), p. 128)
9b. Because he did no violence, And no deceit [was] in his mouth. Again His innocence is proclaimed. It is because He did no violence (either ethical or physical wrong), and because no deceit (in the sense of deceiving) was found in Him, He was given a dignified burial place, set apart and guarded. This verse is used by Peter to exhort Christians to live lives as examples of the suffering servant (1 Peter 2:22), and the 144,000 are found with no deceit in their mouths before God (Rev. 14:5).
5. Satisfaction of the Work Done
10 And it pleased [the] Lord to crush him, He caused to be grieved when you set his soul a trespass offering, He will see seed, He will make long [the] days, And [the] pleasure of [the] Lord will succeed in his hand. 11 He will look from [the] trouble of his soul, [and] he will be satisfied, By his knowledge, My righteous servant will cause to justify many, And their punishment he, he bore. 12 Therefore I will intensely share for him among [the] great, And he will intensely divide the booty, Under which he caused to empty out his soul to death, And he was counted with [the] transgressors, And he bore the sin of many, And he made intercession for those who are transgressor. (Isa. 53:10-12)
10a. And it pleased [the] Lord to crush Him. The Lord is the one who crushed Him and He was pleased ("to delight in," "take pleasure in," "desired") in doing it. A just act had been accomplished and it served as a propitiation, a satisfaction to the Lord. This work on the cross is spoken of in the New Testament as a satisification for the sin issue:
[W]hom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed (Rom. 3:25).
And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world (1 John 2:2).
In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins (1 John 4:10)
10b. He caused to be grieved when you set his soul a trespass offering. The offering caused great pain and grief as the penalty was placed upon Him. The Hebrew word for soul is nephesh and has a wide range of meanings, "soul," "life," "person," "mind," "heart," but has as its core the idea of "a living being." Just as in the fall both the physical and spiritual was affected, so in His death both the physical and spiritual was met with. Dr. Barnes writes:
This word properly means, blame, guilt which one contracts by transgression Gen 26:10; Jer 51:5; also a sacrifice for guilt; a sin-offering; an expiatory sacrifice. It is often rendered 'trespass-offering' Lev 5:19; Lev 7:5; Lev 14:21; Lev 19:21; 1Sa 6:3, 1Sa 6:8, 1Sa 6:17. It is rendered 'guiltiness' Gen 26:10; 'sin' Pro 14:9; 'trespass' Num 5:8. The idea here is, clearly, that he would be made an offering, or a sacrifice for sin; that by which guilt would be expiated and an atonement made. In accordance with this, Paul says 2Co 5:21, that God 'made him to be sin for us' hamartian, that is, a sin-offering; and he is called hilasmos and hilastērion, a propitiatory sacrifice for sins Rom 3:25; 1Jo 2:2; 1Jo 4:10. The idea is, that he was himself innocent, and that he gave up his soul or life in order to make an expiation for sin - as the innocent animal in sacrifice was offered to God as an acknowledgment of guilt. There could be no more explicit declaration that he who is referred to here, did not die as a martyr merely, but that his death had the high purpose of making expiation for the sins of people. (Barnes, note on 53:10)
10c. He will see seed, He will make long [the] days. The Lord will physically see His seed ("offspring", fig. of moral quality – "a practitioner of righteousness"). That is, He will literally see His followers in His resurrected body, and His days will be "caused to be long" or "made long" in His resurrection. He will see all those who believe the gospel of Christ in all generations ordained to come.
10d. And [the] pleasure of [the] Lord will succeed in his hand. The Lord found pleasure, delighted in the finished work of Christ on the cross. The death, burial, and resurrection were all pleasing to the Lord and so the going forth of the gospel of Christ will succeed ("rush," "advance," "prosper") in the Lord's hand. The Lord's hand in the figurative sense meaning "authority," "strength," or "power." The meaning takes a theological legal aspect that makes His death a legal act that served as a just payment to cover the penalty of the great sin issue.
11a. He will look from [the] trouble of his soul, [and] he will be satisfied. It is as though Jesus sees the result of His death as He endures the events of the cross and is satisfied by what that accomplished. His substitutionary work satisfied ("have one's fill of," "have desire satisfied") Him.
11b. By his knowledge, My righteous servant will cause to justify many. It is by the Lord's knowledge ("practical experimental knowledge," "understanding," or "wisdom") that righteousness is imputed for the purpose of justifying (declared to be legally acquitted) the many. That is legal talk. Just as Adam's sin is imputed to mankind (Rom. 5:12-21), man's sin is imputed to Christ (2 Cor. 5:19; 1Peter 2:24), so the righteousness of Christ is imputed (2 Cor. 5:21) to believers. Mankind is not capable of being declared righteous by themselves, but God looks upon the death of Christ and sees the righteousness of Christ and credits man with Christ's righteousness. God looks at man and sees Christ. Christ is the mediator, the legal advocate for mankind, but more, Christ is the legal representative of mankind before God and He was able to do this because He, very God, came in the flesh and took the full punishment due mankind (Rom. 5:14; 1 Cor. 15:22).
There is an interpretative problem here. Isaiah clearly declares that the Servant justifies "many," literally, "for the many," or "for the great number." The declaration is not for "all," (Hebrew kol – "all," "whole") but for many, a limited number. Did Christ die for all or only the elect? Clearly, Christ died for the whole world (John 1:29). This is consistent with the typology of the temple sacrifice where once a year on the Day of Atonement, the high priest entered the holy of holies and sprinkled the blood of the sacrifice upon the mercy seat, making atonement for the whole nation, but was every Jew saved? Of course not. Those who are declared righteous are said to be righteous because of their belief in what God had told them. They are covered because of Christ's death. Just as with the topology of the temple propitiation (the sprinkling of the blood on the mercy seat) Christ's death covered all of mankind but not all mankind is saved. The offer is for all, but no one comes to the Father unless He draws him (John 6:44). The theological significance of these verses is incredible and deep.
11c. And their punishment he, he bore. The conclusion of the concept of substitionary death is presented in this last phrase which stresses the fact that the Servant himself bore the punishment ("guilt," "consequence or punishment for iniquity"). The emphatic "he, he bore," is usually translated "he himself bore." Making it unmistakably emphatic that the Servant bore the punishment due mankind.
12a. Therefore I will intensely share him among [the] great. Therefore (literally, "for thus") introduces a result clause, "for this reason, I will share ("to divide," "apportion," "assign," "distribute") Him among the great ones." There has been two main interpretations presented; (1) that Jesus would have a great number of followers; and (2) that Jesus would be counted among the great of the earth. The second interpretation is more closely aligned with the text as the Hebrew bet prefix "in" or "among" the great has the meaning He is in the same group as the great ones ("mighty," "powerful" ones). Jesus is counted among the great people of the world. In fact, the world does not think much of Him, but God has made Him important independent of what the world says. Time is counted in reference to His walking on the earth by the time marker B.C (Before Christ) and (A.D.) Anno Domini "In the year of the Lord." His followers are numbered in the millions. More Bibles and books concerning Him have been published over the years than any other subject. More schools of higher education and Seminaries whose sole concentration is the study of Christianity have been organized over the years than any other religion including secular universities. There is not a nation on this planet that has not had a missionary go, a church established, a Bible translated, His name proclaimed.
12b. And he will intensely divide the booty. The picture is that of a conquering army that has defeated its foe and it is time to divide the possessions of the city just conquered. Jesus' death on the cross accomplished one of the biggest events of all history. His booty is yet future though as there are things which must still play out before He comes again and reigns as King Jesus. The whole earth will be placed under His foot in the Messianic Kingdom. This phrase points to the future. The rapture's division, His second coming and the and the division that occurs with the resurrections, the Messianic kingdom on earth where He will divide the land and rule, and divisions which occur prior to the new heavens and earth. The picture might be seen by the separation of the sheep form the goats (Mat. 25:32-33).
12c. Under which he caused to pour out his soul to death. The allusion might be made of the priest who pours out the wine of the drink offering where the entire libation is poured out to the Lord at the incineration of the animal on the altar. Christ's soul was made an offering for sin. And as such, this pouring out was a "sweet aroma" to the Lord (Num. 15:3). The drink offering was also used in the priestly system for the purpose of (1) Thank Offering: for unexpected deliverance or blessing already granted; (2) Votive Offering: for blessing or deliverance granted in answer to prayer which had an accompanying vow; and (3) Freewill Offering: to express thankful devotion without regard to specific blessing. (Duane Lindsey in John Walvoord & Roy Zuck gen ed., The Bible Knowledge Commentary (Colorado Springs:Victor Books, 1985), p. 170). The allusion might also be made to the animal's blood being poured out unto death. The blood being the requirement for a just payment as Hebrews notes:
[A]nd not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption (Hebrews 9:12)
12d. And he was counted with [the] transgressors. He was counted ("reckoned," "numbered," "appointed") with those who are transgressors. In other words, He was seen as the proper representative of mankind being the Son of Man, legally representing mankind for the crime committed. He was the legal substitute who took the punishment for mankind, the kinsman redeemer. Jesus says this verse is fulfilled in Him (Luke 22:37; cf. Mark 15:27 – in the Majority Text & TR).
12e. And he bore the sin of many. To make things clear, the Lord says, in the emphatic, "he, he bore the sin of many." He Himself carried ("bore," "carried," lifted up") the singular sin (i.e., sin is seen as collective). Romans five describes the theological significance of the verse as Paul writes:
14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. 15 But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. 16 The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification. 17 For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. 18 So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. 19 For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.
Verse 15 tells the story. It was through the transgression of one [Adam] that many [polus: "many," "a great number"] died. God does not see those who are saved as dead, but as alive in Christ. Likewise, the grace ("favor," "loving-kindness," but here meaning, "benefit," or "bounty") of God, given as a gift by God to many. A great number are dead and will stay that way, whereas, a great many benefit by the grace of God. However, verse 18 clearly states that "through one transgression [i.e. Adam's] there resulted condemnation ["damnatory sentence," lit., "down-judge"] to all men [collectively, "mankind"]." However, Paul goes on to state, "through one act of righteousness there resulted justification ["legally acquitted"] of life to all men."
All mankind are declared guilty, but through Christ's substitutionary death, salvation is offered to all mankind. This fact is declared in the following verses:
Again the typology of the Day of Atonement is applied to Christ's death. The sacrifice covers the whole nation (the world with respect to Christ) but, its application is limited to those who are declared righteous.
12f. And he made intercession for those who are transgressor. Christ as the intercessor, the Great High Priest who entered the Holy Place once by His blood, having obtained for us eternal redemption (Heb. 9:12). His office as High Priest included the function of intercessor for us before God (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25) and mediator (1 Tim. 2:5). The intercession performed in this verse points to the legal representation before God the Father concerning the sin issue of each transgressor. At the moment one believes the gospel of Christ, that Christ paid the price for our sins, Christ acts as intercessor, a legal mediator on our behalf. He meets with God the Father on our behalf. He is the personal Savior, the Suffering Servant of God that served as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Posted by Scofield Prophecy Studies at 11:40 AM