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Who has believed what we have heard?

And to whom has the arm of the L ord 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,

nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.


He was despised and rejected by others;

a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity;

and as one from whom others hide their faces

he was despised, and we held him of no account.



Surely he has borne our infirmities

and carried our diseases;

yet we accounted him stricken,

struck down by God, and afflicted.


But he was wounded for our transgressions,

crushed for our iniquities;

upon him was the punishment that made us whole,

and by his bruises we are healed.


All we like sheep have gone astray;

we have all turned to our own way,

and the L ord has laid on him

the iniquity of us all.



He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,

yet he did not open his mouth;

like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,

and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,

so he did not open his mouth.


By a perversion of justice he was taken away.

Who could have imagined his future?

For he was cut off from the land of the living,

stricken for the transgression of my people.


They made his grave with the wicked

and his tomb with the rich,

although he had done no violence,

and there was no deceit in his mouth.



Yet it was the will of the L ord to crush him with pain.

When you make his life an offering for sin,

he shall see his offspring, and shall prolong his days;

through him the will of the L ord shall prosper.


Out of his anguish he shall see light;

he shall find satisfaction through his knowledge.

The righteous one, my servant, shall make many righteous,

and he shall bear their iniquities.


Therefore I will allot him a portion with the great,

and he shall divide the spoil with the strong;

because he poured out himself to death,

and was numbered with the transgressors;

yet he bore the sin of many,

and made intercession for the transgressors.


11. From the labor of his soul he shall see. Isaiah continues the same subject. He declares that Christ, after having suffered, shall obtain the fruit of his death in the salvation of men. When he says, “He shall see,” we must supply the words, “Fruit and Efficacy.” This is full of the sweetest consolation; for Isaiah could not have better expressed the infinite love of Christ toward us than by declaring that he takes the highest delight in our salvation, and that he rests in it as the fruit of his labors, as he who has obtained his wish rests in that which he most ardently desired; for no person can be said to be satisfied but he who has obtained what he wished so earnestly as to disregard everything else and be satisfied with this alone.

By his doctrine, or by the knowledge of him. He now points out the way and method by which we experience the power and efficacy of the death of Christ, and obtain the benefit of it. That method is “the knowledge of him.” I acknowledge that the word דעת (dagnath) may be taken either in an active or a passive sense, as denoting either “the knowledge of him” or “his knowledge.” In whichsoever of these senses it is taken, we shall easily understand the Prophet’s meaning; and the Jews will not be able to practice such impudent sophistry as to prevent us from extorting from them a reluctant acknowledgment of what is here asserted, that Christ. is the only teacher and author of righteousness.

Shall justify many. By the word “justify” he points out the effect of this teaching. Thus, men are not only taught righteousness in the school of Christ, but are actually justified. And this is the difference between the righteousness of faith and the righteousness of the Law; for although the Law shows what it is to be righteous, yet Paul affirms that it is impossible that righteousness should be obtained by it, and experience proves the same thing; for the Law is a mirror in which we behold our own unrighteousness. (Romans 3: 20; Galatians 2:16, 21, and 3:10, 11.) Now, the doctrine which Christ teaches, as to obtaining righteousness, is nothing else than “the knowledge of him;” and this is faith, when we embrace the benefit of his death and fully rely on him.

Philosophers have laid down many excellent precepts, which, as they imagine, contain righteousness; but they never could bestow it on any man; 5757     “Mais ils n’ont jamais peu faire un seul hornroe juste.” “But they never could make one man righteous.” for who ever obtained by their rules the power of living uprightly? And it is of no advantage to know what is true righteousness, if we are destitute of it. To say nothing about philosophers, the Law itself, which contains the most perfect rule of life, could not (as we have said) bestow this; not that there was any defect in it, for Moses testified (Deuteronomy 30:19) that “he had set before them good and evil, life and death;” but that the corruption of our nature is such that the Law could not suffice for procuring righteousness. In like manner Paul teaches (Romans 8:3) that this weakness proceeds “from our flesh,” and not from the Law; for nature prompts us in another direction, and our lusts burst forth with greater violence, like wild and furious beasts, against the command of God. The consequence is, that “the law worketh wrath,” instead of righteousness. (Romans 4:15) The law therefore holds all men as convicted, and, after having made known their sin, renders men utterly inexcusable.

We must therefore seek another way of righteousness, namely, in Christ, whom the law also pointed out as its end. (Romans 10:3.) “The righteousness of the law was of this nature: He who doeth these things shall live by them.” (Leviticus 18:5; Galatians 3:12.) But nobody has done them, and therefore another righteousness is necessary, which Paul also proves (Romans 10:8) by a quotation from Moses himself, “The word is nigh, in thy mouth and in thy heart; that is, the word of faith which we preach.” (Deuteronomy 30:14) By this doctrine, therefore, we are justified; not by the bare and simple doctrine, but inasmuch as it exhibits the benefit of the death of Christ, by which atonement is made for our sins, and we are reconciled to God. (Romans 5:10.) For, if we embrace this benefit by faith, we are reckoned righteous before God.

For he shall bear their iniquities. The Prophet explains his meaning by pointing out what this doctrine contains; for these two clauses agree well: “he shall justify by his doctrine,” or “by the knowledge of him,” inasmuch as “he shall bear their iniquities.” Having been once made a sacrifice for us, he now invites us by the doctrine of the Gospel, to receive the fruit of his death; and thus the death of Christ is the substance of the doctrine, in order that he may justify us. To this saying of the Prophet Paul fully subscribes; for, after having taught that “Christ was an expiatory sacrifice for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him,” he at the same time adds, “We are ambassadors for Christ, and beseech you, be ye reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:20, 21)

My righteous servant. He shows that Christ justifies us, not only as he is God, but also as he is man; for in our flesh he procured righteousness for us. He does not say, “The Son,” but “My servant,” that we may not only view him as God, but may contemplate his human nature, in which he performed that obedience by which we are acquitted before God. The foundation of our salvation is this, that he offered himself as a sacrifice; and, in like manner, he himself declares,

“For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also may be holy.” (John 17:19)

12. Therefore will I divide to him a portion. Isaiah again declares what will be the result of the death of Christ. It was necessary that he should add this doctrine as to the victory which Christ obtained by his death; for what was formerly stated, that by his death we are reconciled to the Father, would not have sufficiently confirmed our hearts. Here he borrows a comparison from the ordinary form of a triumphal procession held by those who, after having obtained a signal victory, are commonly received and adorned with great pomp and splendor. Thus also Christ, as a valiant and illustrious general, triumphed over the enemies whom he had vanquished.

And he shall divide the spoil with the strong. This statement is the same as the preceding, and it is a customary repetition among Hebrew writers. Those whom he formerly called “great” he now calls mighty or “strong.” Those who translate רבים (rabbim) by the word “many,” 5858     “Ceux qui traduisent, Je luy distribueray portion avec plusieurs.” “Those who translate, I will divide to him a portion with many.” torture, in my opinion, the Prophet’s meaning. In these two clauses there is only this difference, that in the former God testifies what he gave to Christ, and in the latter he adds that Christ enjoys that benefit, he enjoys it not on his own account, but on ours; 5959     “Non point pour soy, mais pour nous.” “Not for himself, but for us.” for the fruit of this victory comes to us. For us Christ subdued death, the world, and the devil. In a word, the Prophet here applauds the victory which followed the death of Christ; for “although he was crucified through the weakness of the flesh, yet by the power of the Spirit” he rose from the dead, and triumphed over his enemies. (2 Corinthians 13:4) Such is the import of the metaphor of “Spoil,” which the Prophet used; for “he ascended on high, that he might lead captivity captive and give gifts to men.” (Psalm 68:18; Ephesians 4:8)

For he poured out his soul to death. He now adds that Christ’s humiliation was the beginning of this supreme dominion; as Paul also declares that Christ, “after having blotted out the handwriting which was opposed to us, triumphed on the cross.” (Colossians 2:14) So far, then, is the shame of the death which Christ died from making any diminution of his glory, that it is the reason why God the Father exalted him to the highest honor.

And was ranked with transgressors. He describes also the kind of death; as Paul, when he magnifies “the obedience” of Christ, and says that “he abased himself even to death,” likewise adds, that it was no ordinary death, but the death “of the cross,” that is, accursed and shameful. (Philippians 2:8) So in this passage Isaiah, in order to express deeper shame, says that he was ranked among malefactors. But the deeper the shame before men, the greater was the glory of his resurrection by which it was followed.

Mark quotes this passage, when he relates that Christ was crucified between two robbers; for at that time the prediction was most fully accomplished. (Mark 15:28) But the Prophet spoke in general terms, in order to show that Christ did not die an ordinary death. For the purpose of disgracing him the more, those two robbers were added; that Christ, as the most wicked of all, might be placed in the midst of them. This passage is, therefore, most appropriately quoted by Mark as relating to that circumstance.

He bore the sin of many. This is added by way of correction, that, when we hear of the shame of Christ’s death, we may not think that it was a blot on the character of Christ, and that our minds may not, by being prejudiced in that manner, be prevented from receiving the victory which he obtained for us, that is, the fruit of his death. He shows, therefore, that this was done in order that he might take our sins upon him; and his object is, that, whenever the death of Christ shall be mentioned, we may at the same time remember the atonement made for us. And this fruit swallows up all the shame of the death of Christ, that his majesty and glory may be more clearly seen than if we only beheld him sitting in heaven; for we have in him a striking and memorable proof of the love of God, when he is so insulted, degraded, and loaded with the utmost disgrace, in order that we, on whom had been pronounced a sentence of everlasting destruction, may enjoy along with him immortal glory.

I have followed the ordinary interpretation, that “he bore the sin of many,” though we might without impropriety consider the Hebrew word רבים (rabbim,) to denote “Great and Noble.” And thus the contrast would be more complete, that Christ, while “he was ranked among transgressors,” became surety for every one of the most excellent of the earth, and suffered in the room of those who hold the highest rank in the world. I leave this to the judgment of my readers. Yet I approve of the ordinary reading, that he alone bore the punishment of many, because on him was laid the guilt of the whole world. It is evident from other passages, and especially from the fifth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, 6060     Romans 5:12,18. ­ fj. that “many” sometimes denotes “all.”

And prayed for the transgressors. Because the ratification of the atonement, with which Christ has washed us by his death, implies that he pleaded with the Father on our behalf, it was proper that this should be added. For, as in the ancient Law the priest, who “never entered without blood,” at the same time interceded for the people; so what was there shadowed out is fulfilled in Christ. (Exodus 30:10; Hebrews 9:7) First, he offered the sacrifice of his body, and shed his blood, that he might endure the punishment which was due to us; and secondly, in order that the atonement might take effect, he performed the office of an advocate, and interceded for all who embraced this sacrifice by faith; as is evident from that prayer which he left to us, written by the hand of John, “I pray not for these only, but for all who shall believe on me through their word.” (John 17:20) If we then belong to their number, let us be fully persuaded that Christ hath suffered for us, that we may now enjoy the benefit of his death.

He expressly mentions “transgressors,” that we may know that we ought to betake ourselves with assured confidence to the cross of Christ, when we are horror­struck by the dread of sin. Yea, for this reason he is held out as our intercessor and advocate; for without his intercession our sins would deter us from approaching to God.

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