Isaiah 53 Redux

Isaiah chapter 53 is perhaps one of the best chapters that shows the mechanics of how the substitutionary atonement works. Regrettably, it’s full of pronouns, and that makes it easy to overlook exactly what is happening in the atonement. Several years ago, one of my mentors suggested that I re-write the chapter and replace all the pronouns with names or titles to help see what’s going on. I used the HCSB translation and started in chapter 52 verse 13. Here’s what I came up with.

The Servant’s Suffering and Exaltation

13 See, My Servant [the Messiah] will act wisely; He [the Messiah] will be raised and lifted up and greatly exalted.

14 Just as many [people] were appalled at You [the Messiah] — His [the Messiah’s] appearance was so disfigured that He [the Messiah] did not look like a man, and His [the Messiah’s] form did not resemble a human being —

15 so He [the Messiah] will sprinkle many nations. Kings will shut their mouths because of Him [the Messiah], For they [the Kings] will see what had not been told them [the Kings], and they [the Kings] will understand what they [the Kings] had not heard.

1 Who has believed what we [the Elect] have heard? And who has the arm of the LORD been revealed to?

2 He [the Messiah] grew up before Him [the Father] like a young plant and like a root out of dry ground. He [the Messiah] didn’t have an impressive form or majesty that we [the Elect] should look at Him [the Messiah], no appearance that we [the Elect] should desire Him [the Messiah].

3 He [the Messiah] was despised and rejected by men [all people], a man of suffering who knew what sickness was. He [the Messiah] was like someone people turned away from; He [the Messiah] was despised, and we [the Elect] didn’t value Him [the Messiah].

4 Yet He [the Messiah] Himself bore our [the Elect’s] sicknesses, and He [the Messiah] carried our [the Elect’s] pains; but we [the Elect] in turn regarded Him [the Messiah] stricken, struck down by God [the Father], and afflicted.

5 But He [the Messiah] was pierced because of our [the Elect] transgressions, crushed because of our [the Elect] iniquities; punishment for our [the Elect] peace was on Him [the Messiah], and we [the Elect] are healed by His [the Messiah’s] wounds.

6 We [the Elect] all went astray like sheep; we [the Elect] all have turned to our [the Elect’s] own way; and the LORD [the Father] has punished Him [the Messiah] for the iniquity of us all [the Elect].

7 He [the Messiah] was oppressed and afflicted, yet He [the Messiah] did not open His [the Messiah’s] mouth. Like a lamb led to the slaughter and like a sheep silent before her shearers, He [the Messiah] did not open His [the Messiah’s] mouth.

8 He [the Messiah] was taken away because of oppression and judgment; and who considered His fate? For He [the Messiah] was cut off from the land of the living; He [the Messiah] was struck because of my people’s [the Elect’s] rebellion.

9 They [Those who killed the Messiah] made His [the Messiah’s] grave with the wicked and with a rich man at His [the Messiah’s] death, although He [the Messiah] had done no violence and had not spoken deceitfully.

10 Yet the LORD [the Father] was pleased to crush Him [the Messiah] severely. When You [the Father] make Him [the Messiah] a restitution offering, He [the Father] will see His [the Messiah’s] seed [the Elect], He [the Father] will prolong His [the Messiah’s] days, and by His [the Father’s or possibly the Messiah’s] hand, the LORD’s [the Father’s] pleasure will be accomplished.

11 He [The Father] will see it out of His [the Messiah’s] anguish, and He [the Father] will be satisfied with His [the Father’s or perhaps more likely the Messiah’s] knowledge. My [The Father’s] righteous Servant [ie, the Messiah] will justify many [ie, the Elect] , and He [the Messiah] will carry their [the Elect’s] iniquities.

12 Therefore I [the Father] will give Him [the Messiah] the many [the Elect] as a portion, and He [the Messiah] will receive the mighty [all people/kingdoms] as spoil, because He [the Messiah] submitted Himself [the Messiah] to death, and was counted among the rebels [guilty people ]; yet He [the Messiah] bore the sin of many [the Elect] and interceded for the rebels [either the guilty Elect (, , ), or perhaps all the guilty people ()].

Interesting, eh?

There are many things worth noting here. Not the least of which is that Christ’s death was the deliberate and pleasing plan of God, and that satan was owed nothing and was not consulted for his opinion on how the death of the Christ was to take place. So much for the “ransom theory” of atonement.


52:1 Awake, awake,
put on your strength, O Zion;
put on your beautiful garments,
O Jerusalem, the holy city;
for there shall no more come into you
the uncircumcised and the unclean.
Shake yourself from the dust and arise;
be seated, O Jerusalem;
loose the bonds from your neck,
O captive daughter of Zion.

For thus says the Lord: “You were sold for nothing, and you shall be redeemed without money.” For thus says the Lord God: “My people went down at the first into Egypt to sojourn there, and the Assyrian oppressed them for nothing. Now therefore what have I here,” declares the Lord, “seeing that my people are taken away for nothing? Their rulers wail,” declares the Lord, “and continually all the day my name is despised. Therefore my people shall know my name. Therefore in that day they shall know that it is I who speak; here am I.”

How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of him who brings good news,
who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness,
who publishes salvation,
who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”
The voice of your watchmen—they lift up their voice;
together they sing for joy;
for eye to eye they see
the return of the Lord to Zion.
Break forth together into singing,
you waste places of Jerusalem,
for the Lord has comforted his people;
he has redeemed Jerusalem.
10 The Lord has bared his holy arm
before the eyes of all the nations,
and all the ends of the earth shall see
the salvation of our God.

11 Depart, depart, go out from there;
touch no unclean thing;
go out from the midst of her; purify yourselves,
you who bear the vessels of the Lord.
12 For you shall not go out in haste,
and you shall not go in flight,
for the Lord will go before you,
and the God of Israel will be your rear guard.

13 Behold, my servant shall act wisely;
he shall be high and lifted up,
and shall be exalted.
14 As many were astonished at you—
his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance,
and his form beyond that of the children of mankind—
15 so shall he sprinkle many nations;
kings shall shut their mouths because of him;
for that which has not been told them they see,
and that which they have not heard they understand.
(ESV)


53:1 Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors. (ESV)


32 Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him.

Luke 23:33

32 Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him.

Luke 23:33

33 And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. (ESV)


34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. (ESV)


25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. (ESV)


2:1 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. (ESV)


34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. (ESV)

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1 comment to Isaiah 53 Redux

  • Question – did Jesus die for sin or for sinners? “Sin” doesn’t go to hell, unbelieving unrepentant “sinners” do. Jesus was a ransom for many, no? What the scriptures seem to plainly teach is Jesus death was a ransom for God’s elect, the perfect substitute sin sacrifice who appeased Gods wrath for elect “sinners”. i don’t want to get caught up in semantics, but you know what I mean.

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