The Religious A priori


Suffering Servant

is Messiah

(10) Yet it was the Lord's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though he Lord makes his life a guilt offering he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.

Skeptical argument:This verse is very problematic and the Skeptics have several arguments about it. In fact is probably their strongest objection.

1) That the language is conditional and implies that the Servant must acknowlege his own guilt inorder to "see his offsrping."

2) That Jesus had no Offspring.


(answer #1--guilt) Verse 10: An offering for sin. [asham mva] the word is used repeatedly in the O.T. and translated as "trespass offering" The Masoretic text translates "if his soul shall consider it a recompense for guilt, he shall see his seed..." The text is properly translated in the KJV but the Masoretic requires extra words to arrive at this translation. It clearly states that when you shall place (the Messiah's soul) as a sin offering He shall see his seed and prolong his days.

(answer #2 No offspring) The apologist answers "these are spiritual offspring, Chrsitians, those who believe in him. But the anti-apologists argue "this word for seed, zera, is never used anywhere in the whole Tenoch, for any other purpose than to mean litteral decendents.

A) The offspring could be spiritual and thus, believers, but there is another possibility.

B) The word is not only used for litteral offspring, it is also used figuratively for prosparity or success in one's endeavors.

It could just be a figurative meaning impling that the result of his actions will be an increase in well being, success, a coming to fruition of the plans upon which the actions are predicated.

C) the word is used in all of these senses

Litterally it just means seed and is used in terms of litteral planting seeds and growting crops. In that sense using it of offsrping is itself figurative. It can also represent sexual intercouse, or the seed of a man's body that is spilled out in intercourse. Through metaphorical exitension is is also used to represent nations, prosperity or success, and also followers. Here are several examples.


"Alas, sinful nation, People weighed down with iniquity, Offspring of evildoers, Son s who act corruptly! They have abandoned the Lord, They have despised the Holy One of Israel, They have turned away from Him."

Jer 31:36 "If this fixed order departs From before Me," declares the Lord, "Then the offspring of Israel also shall cease From being a nation before Me forever." Jer 2:21 "Yet I planted you a choice vine, A completely faithful seed. How then have you turned yourself before Me Into the degenerate shoots of a foreign vine?"

This is a figurative use, even though it invovles physical decent form a patriarch, becasue they are symbolized as a vine, and in that sense the term seed is metaphorical in sustaining the plant metaphor and refurs to a figuartive use for real plant seed.

Jer 7:15 "And I will cast you out of My sight, as I have cast out all your brothers, all the offspring of Ephraim.

Of course they were suppossed to be the offspring of Ephriam but he doens't just mean Ephriam. this is clealry a figurative use, even though it invovles phsycial generation.


Isa 57:3 "But come here, you son s of a sorceress, Offspring of an adulterer and a prostitute."

Isa 57:4 "Against whom do you jest? Against whom do you open wide your mouth And stick out your tongue? Are you not children of rebellion, Offspring of deceit?"

compound metahor here! It is not only used to mean offpring of in a general sense of "sons of the wicked" as in "sons of the pioneers" but also sons of deciete. It can't mean that their litteral parents were criminals or sorcerers, clealry is metaphorical. But it also says they are offspring of deciet itself, making it figurative twice over. this is exactly the sort of usage that I interprit for the verse, offspring in the sense of followers, those who follow in the wake of others.


Isa 30:23 "Then He will give you rain for the seed which you will sow in the ground, and bread from the yield of the ground, and it will be rich and plenteous; on that day your livestock will graze in a roomy pasture."

Unless they believe that the millenial kingdom will be totally agricultural this has to be a symbol for the general prosparity in that time, thus, it is used figuratively.

Isa 55:10 "For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth, And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;"

Isa 6:13 "Yet there will be a tenth portion in it, And it will again be subject to burning, Like a terebinth or an oak Whose stump remains when it is felled. The holy seed is its stump."

Holy seed, they will argue is still pertianing to the decendents of Judah and thus, offspring. But it is also putting it into a spiritual context and considering them as offspring of a nation, so it is more figurative than not.

Am 9:13 "Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt."


Isa 17:11 In the day that you plant it you carefully fence it in, And in the morning you bring your seed to blossom; But the harvest will be a heap In a day of sick line ss and incurable pain.

Isa 23:3 And were on many waters. The grain of the Nile, the harvest of the River was her revenue; And she was the market of nation s.

Ec 11:6 In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good

(11) After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied;

Skeptical argument:The original Hebrew doesn't contain the words "of life" in this passage. So it can't be talking about Jesus' resurrection.


This is clearly a remarkable passage. It obviously contradicts the notion that the servant is cut off form the land of the living. The Jews were never really cut off form the land of the living, but Jesus was. He also got better. Now how can this passage say this? It is a resurrection. The original Hebrew doesn't contian [of life] but the LXX does (NIV footnotes).

"The Suffering Servant Of Is. 52-53"

"The expression "by His knowledge My righteous servant will justify many" (v.11) means that by knowledge of Him many will be justified. The Servant here is not portrayed as a teacher but as a Savior in His priestly ministry, saving people by bearing their iniquities, not by imparting knowledge to them. The benefits of His atoning work will be received by those who come to know Him. Their salvation will crown His work with success: "

by his knowlege my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquites.

NIV footnotes say this passage actually says "by knowlege of him" not "his knowlege."

(12) Therfore I will give him a protion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
Skeptical ArgumentOf coure the Skeptics say "how can this be if he is God?" He cannot share with the strong or have to be numbared among the great.


First, this is forgetting the true nature of Trinitarian doctrine. He became a man. A portion among the great just means that he will be known, remembered, the historical personality of Jesus of Nazerath that the Logos incarnated into will go down in history and be rememered, form a human point of view. "Divide the spoils with the Strong" is figurative language, and spoils are people. He will take in many people with him, those who are saved.

"The Suffering Servant Of Is. 52-53"

"J. A. Alexander gives us a literal translation of verses 10-11: "He shall see (His) seed, He shall prolong (His days), and the pleasure of Jehovah in His hand shall prosper. From the labor of His soul He shall see, He shall be satisfied; by His knowledge shall My servant, (as) a righteous one, give righteousness to many, and their iniquities He shall bear."

Therefore I will give Him a portion among the great, and He will divide the spoils with the strong, because He poured out His life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors (v.12).

Commenting on this verse, J. A. Alexander writes, "This denotes intercession, not in the restricted sense of prayer for others, but of the wider one of meritorious and prevailing intervention, which is ascribed to Christ in the New Testament, not as a work already finished, like that of atonement, but as one still going on (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 9:24; 1 Jn. 2:1)" (p.307).

When we read Isaiah 52:13--53:12 in its entirety and take it in its simple, unforced, and obvious meaning, the evidence shows that the speaker is not the Gentile nations but the redeemed community. The passage also reveals a suffering Servant who bears a striking resemblance to Jesus as He endured suffering on the cross."

because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the trasngressors. For he bore the sin of many and made intercession for the transgressors.

*This attitude is toatlly contrary to the nature of Israel as portrayed in the book of Isaiah, it simpley does not fit. Israel in Isaiah is not pouring itself out to death for anyone but is faithless and way ward. It is Messiah who brings Irael back. "will keep you," God tells the Messiah "and will make you to be a covenant for the land." (Is 49:8--see previous page for identification as Messiah). So Messaih must redeem Israel and be the basis of their turning to God. But Israel is in no shape to serve this role for anyone else, and since God is a stumbling block to them (see above on vrse 2) than it is more likely that the Messiah is the stumbling block for Israel, rather than Israel the redeemer misunderstood by the Gentiles.

*Messiah speaks in 50:6, in contrast to faithless Israel in the previous verses, and says " I offered my back to those who beat me, my checks to those who pulled out my beard, I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting..." This is far more consistant with the attitude of the suffering servant than is Israel's attitude of "ever seeing and not percieving..."

*Jesus was numbered among transgressors.Crucified between two theives. Thought to be a blasphemer and lyer for centuries by the Jews. IT makes far more sense to thing that this suffering servant.

II. Messiah Will be Light to the Gentiles

A. Israel's Original Mission.

B. Israel cannot accomplish its mission without Messiah.

Messiah is contrasted with wayward Israel in several places Isaiah. Is 50:1-3 "Where is your mother's cirtificate of divorce withwhich I sent her away? OR to which of my creditors did I sell you? Becasue of your sins you were sold, because of your transgressions your mother was sent I lack the strength to rescue you?

To which Messiah responds "...I have not been rebellious, I have not drawn back..." (v5)

1) Messiah to be covenant for Israel

"will keep you," God tells the Messiah "and will make you to be a covenant for the land." (Is 49:8-

2) Messiah to bring Israel back to God

Is 49:5

And now says the Lord, who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant, To bring Jacob back to Him, in order that Israel might be gathered to Him (For I am honored in the sight of the Lord, And My God is My strength)

C. Messiah to bring Israel back AND be light to Gentiles.


He says, "It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make You a light of the nations So that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth."

D. What the Sevant does in 53 is exactly
what the book says Messiah will do.

1) Messaih emerges out of Israel

Is 43:10 "You are My witnesses," declares the Lord, "And My servant whom I have chosen, In order that you may know and believe Me, And understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, And there will be none after Me.

"My witnesses" is plural, "My servant" is signular. The servant is part of the witnesses, coming out of Israel, produced by the line of David. Edersheim documents that Rabbical authorites recognize this verse as pertianing to Messiah.

2) Messiah rejected

Is. 50:6 "I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard, I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting..." And we see a rejected servant in 53, a "man of sarrows accounted with greif." This is one who "was despised and rejected."

3) Messiah accomplishes his task

Is 41:4

"here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight, I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring jutsice to the nations." Or chater 11: 1 which is clearly marked out as the Messiah: "A shoot will come up from the stump of Jessey; from his roots a branch will bear fruit...(4) but with rigtheousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decsions for the poor...(10) in that day the root of Jessey will stand as a banner for the people, the nations will raly to him and his place of rest will be glorious."

Is, 42:6 (established as Messiah on previous page) "I will keep you and make you to be a covenat for the people and a light for the gentiles."

Compare: "(2)" He grew up before him like a tener shoot, and like a root out of dry ground....(12) "because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the trasngressors. For he bore the sin of many and made intercession for the transgressors."

We see that clearly throughout the book of Isiah, Israel is in no shape to be a redeemer, but itself must be redeemed. It cannot be a light to the nations without one from among it's people, Messiah, brining it back to God. In that process Messiah will be a light to the Gentiles, and the covenant for the land. Chapter 11 sasy explicitly that Messiah (the Branch) will do do this, he will be the light to the gentiles. And that is just what we see happening in 53, the servant is marked by the same, or close epithet, Branch, shoot, and is redeeming many. In fact in 52 we see that he will draw the nations to himself. This chapter (53) fits everything it says about Messiah, his mission, and his function, it does not fit anything about Israel.

III. The functin of the Passage in the overall book (s) of Isaiah.

A. Dialectical pattern of the book

1) God condemns Israel for waywardness

2) God calls Israel back and encourages her to be faithful.

3) The Messiah as Intsurment of God's plan
punctuates the pattern of dialogue

B. Chapter 53 as Crucial pivot in God's plan

1) Servant takes the rap for the many and redeems

2) After 53 Israel is seen in the blessed Kingdom in peace and prosterity.

3) The Servant's work as redeemed Israel.

The editor/redactor has placed this passage in the central location. After all the interwoven messages of confonfation and comfort, punctuated by expecations of the Messiah as redeemer, the suffering servant takes the balme for transgressions, it punished on behalf of the people, and than we see the people livng in the blessings of God . The editor used this passage as a means to express the hope and promise that as a result of the Lord's work Israel would return to God and live in peace and abanundance. Although the edtor probably invisioned this as looking forward to the return form exile, the work of Messiah in accmplishing redeemption, it does not necessarily mean that it refurs to a chronological event in that day priror to return from exile. But it looks forward to an event that would transpire at some point in the futre.

C. Israel as redeemer of Itself and others doesn't fit the pivital function.

There is no sense of how Israel was redeemed. Without the work of the SS being that of Messiah the work is incomplete. Irael would go from being wayward and weak to suddenly being strong enough to serve as suffering redeemer with no sense of how it got there and the interwoven strands of Messianich promise for this function would just be loose ends that are never tired up.

Note: this view works even better if one is determined to see the final chapters as eschatological (end times, Messianich Kingdom).

The Religious A priori