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Isaiah 53 is Jesus

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/1/2011 Category: Religion
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,489 times Debate No: 18571
Debate Rounds (5)
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Full resolution: Isaiah 53 points to Jesus being the messiah and a substitutionary death for our sins.

Burden of proof is shared, first round is acceptance only.


I accept the debate.
Debate Round No. 1


Thank you for accepting this debate. Isaiah 53 is one of the most beautiful servant songs in the entire book of Isaiah. In this debate, I will analyse it verse by verse to prove that this verse is not referring to Jesus.


As mentioned above, Isaiah 53 is a servant song. Who is this servant? None other than Israel! If we want to decipher any biblical text, we must view it in context. In the other servant songs, they are unanimously identified as Israel. Consider:

  • “You are My servant, O Israel” (41:8)
  • “You are My servant, Israel” (49:3)
  • see also Isaiah 44:1, 44:2, 44:21, 45:4, 48:20

We will see that this chapter cannot be referring to Jesus. Pastor Walter Riggans admits:

“There is no self-evident blueprint in the Hebrew Bible which can be said to unambiguously point to Jesus. Only after one has come to believe that Jesus was the Messiah, and more specifically the kind of Messiah that he is, does it all begin to make sense...” (Yehoshua Ben David, Olive Press 1995, p.155)


(1) Who would believe what we have heard! For whom has the arm of God been revealed!

In this opening verse, world leaders are shocked at the incredible news of Israel’s salvation: “Who would believe what we have heard!”

In verse 1, the world leaders are shocked at the incredible news of the messianic redemption and salvation of Israel. (Pardon my imagry.)
The second half refers to God's redemption from physical persecution. Throughout the Old Testament, God's Arm always denotes a redemption of Israel. (See: (Deut. 26:8). (See also Exodus 3:20, 6:6, 14:31, 15:6; Deut. 4:34, 7:19; Isaiah 51:9, 52:10, 62:8, 63:12; Jeremiah 21:5, 27:5; Ezekiel 20:33; Psalms 44:3, 89:11, 98:1, 136:12).

(2) He formerly grew like a sapling or a root from dry ground; he had neither form nor beauty. We saw him, but without a desirable appearance.

This verse is pure imagry. The verse is a pure metaphor that represents the Jewish struggle in exile. Consider a young sapling that is in dry ground, although it appears it will die, it is miraculously saved. In tihis verse, Isaiah describes the miraculous return from exile. Note that this imagry is throughout the Bible. (see Isaiah 60:21, Ezekiel 19:13, Hosea 14:6-7, Amos 9:15).

(3) He was despised and rejected of men, a man of pains and accustomed to sickness. As one from whom we would hide our faces, he was despised, and we had no regard for him.

The servant is described as universally despies and rejected. Historically, this has been the theme for the Israelites. Other imagries include Isaiah 49:7; 60:15; Psalm 44:14; and Nechemia 3:35

This clearly applies to Israel, though it cannot be referring to Jesus. According to the New Testament, Jesus is immensely popular. In fact, in Mark 3 Jesus has to go out to sea to avoid being overrun by the crowds! Luke 2:52 describes him as strong and well respected man, a man who was "praised by all." This is a far cry from Isaiah's imagry of "despised and rejected,"

Jesus may have died a criminal's death, however isaiah describes one who's rejection has sppanned the ages--obviously referring to a nation and not an individual.

(4) Indeed, he bore our illnesses and carried our pains – but we regarded him as diseased, stricken by God and afflicted.

This again cannot be reconciled by Luke's description as physically strong.

Throughout the centuries of Israel's exile, many nations persecuted the Jews.

(5) He was wounded as a result of our transgressions, and crushed as a result of our iniquities. The chastisement upon him was for our benefit; and through his wounds we were healed.

This describes the world leaders confessing that Jews suffered as a direct result of "our iniquities"--i.e., anti-sematism.

Isaiah 53:5 is sadly mistranslated. It should say because of our transgressions instead of for our transgressions. There is a major language difference.

Indeed, this directly contradicts the Jewish teachings that G-d promises forgiveness to anyone who returns to him. Therefore, tehre is no need for the Messiah to atone for others (Isaiah 55:6-7, Jeremiah 36:3, Ezekiel chapters 18 and 33, Hoseah 14:1-3, Jonah 3:6-10, Proverbs 16:6, Daniel 4:27, 2-Chronicles 7:14).

6) We have all strayed like sheep, each of us turning his own way, and God inflicted upon him [Israel] the iniquity of us all.

The nations realize that their lack of proper leadership caused them to treat the Jews with disdain. They further acknowledge how punishments that should have befallen the nations were averted through Israel’s sufferin

(7) He was persecuted and afflicted, but he did not open his mouth. Like a sheep being led to the slaughter or a lamb that is silent before her shearers, he did not open his mouth.

This again is pure imagery. This refers to the Jewish people. Take, for example: "You give us as sheep to be eaten and have scattered us among the nations... we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered" (Psalms 44:12, 23).

This prophecizes many hardships. Ironically, this refers in part to the 11th century Crusaders who "persecuted and afflicted" the Jews in Jesus' name. Recently, it was Hitler that "led [the Jews] to the slaughter," although they had a chance to convert, they remained as a "lamb that is silent before the shearers."

(8) He was released from captivity and judgment; who could have imagined such a generation? For he was removed from the land of the living; because of my people's sin they were afflicted.

The phrase, "land of the living," refers specifically to Israel. Hence, this verse "He was removed from the land of the living," does not mean that the servant was killed, but rather exiled from Israel.

Again, this verse describes the world's surprise at witnessing the return to the Promised Land. "Who could have imagined" that an affected nation are now prospering.

Here the text makes absolutely clear that the oppressed Servant is a collective nation, not a single individual. This is where knowledge of biblical Hebrew is absolutely crucial. At the end of the verse, the Hebrew word for “they were" always refers to a group, never to an individual. (see for example, Psalms 99:7)

(9) He submitted his grave to evil people; and the wealthy submitted to his executions, for committing no crime, and with no deceit in his mouth.

If you want to use this verse to claim Jesus lived a sinless life, this is contradicted by the fact that he claimed to be God Himself, thus violating the prohibition against making any physical image of God. According to the Talmud, anyone that claims to be God is automatically considered a liar.

Historically, this imagry is correct. The Jewish people were given the choice to "convert or die." However, there was "no decit in his omuth" the Jews refused to accept a pagan deity as their God, thus they "submitted to the grave."

Further, wealthy Jews "submitted to his executions, for committing no crime" – killed so that wicked conquerors could confiscate their riches.

I am out of room to analyse the rest of the chapter. My source is: ask my opponent to carefully read my arguments and that link. This is where I got my argument.

Thank you.



I'd like to thank my opponent for this debate. I (Pro) will be defending the Chrstian interpretation of Isaiah 53, that the chapter is referring to Christ Jesus, my Lord and Savior who lived the perfect life that I couldn't live, who died the death that I deserved, and who was raised on the third day so that I may live and enjoy his glory forever.

New Testament Jesus
I noticed Con gave quotations from the NT when talking about who Jesus is, so I am assuming that both Con and I will be getting our information about who Jesus was, what he did etc., primarily from the NT.

Servant is Israel
Throughout the OT, the nation of Israel is indeed referred to as God's "servant", and this might surprise Con and some of the readers, but the suffering servant that is prophesied in Isaiah 53 is indeed Israel. But not Israel the nation, the suffering servant is referring to the true Israel, the true seed of Abraham, and the true servant of God, Jesus Christ.

Note: When I say "true servant", I don't mean that the nation of Israel is a false servant of God. What I mean is that like everything in the OT, the nation of Israel as God's servant, is a type or foreshadow of the real thing, they were a type of the true servant of God, Jesus.

Why This Passage Is Not Referring To The Nation of Israel
Con gave his interpretation of the passage, I will give mine in the later rounds. I will use this round to refute Con's claim that the passage is referring to the nation of Israel.

1. Con's interpretation of Isaiah 53 gives the passage an ousider's perspective.

There are no passages in the OT (or NT) that is not primarily from the perspective of God, a prophet, the writer of the book, or God's people. It is never from an outsider's (non people of God) point of view. Outsiders are always in the third person and are quoted when they say something. They are NEVER the primary point of view and they are never portrayed as people who acknowledge and know God, yet that is the case in Con's interpretation.

Con said, and I completely agree, that we must view Biblical text in context, but right off the bat he takes this text out of context by asserting for some reason that world leaders and the non-Jewish nations are the ones speaking in Isaiah 53, when in every other case when the first person is a group of people, it is always the people of God.

This is not consistent with the way any of the writings in Isaiah or any writings in the OT are written. But even if we are to generously grant that the passage is from an outsider's perspective, it will lead to inconsistencies and incoherencies, which leads us to #2.

2. Interpreting Isaiah 53 in which the "servant" is the nation of Israel from the point of view of non-Jewish nations will lead to many internal problems. (as I will show throughout the debate)

Isaiah 53:4-5 says:

Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 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.

Con, to help his cause, arbitrarily claims that verse 5 should be correctly translated, as "wounded as a result of our transgressions, as a result of our iniquities." And he completely disregards verse 4 and the second part of verse 5.

a) So in the first part of verse 5, the nation of Israel was wounded/pierced as a result of the other nations' transgressions (violation of law/command), and the nation of Israel was crushed as a result of the other nations' iniquities (wickedness)?

Con's interpretration of the first part of verse 5 makes it pretty much redundant and meaningless. The other nations are automatically violating the law and being wicked when they persecute and crush Israel. The verse however, without twisting and manipulating it, clearly implies that the servant got what the transgressors and wicked people deserved, especially in light of verse 4 and the second part of verse 5.

b) By Con's interpretation, verse 4 is saying that the nation of Israel bore the non-Jewish nations' griefs, and carried their sorrows?
The second part of verse 5 would then mean that upon the nation of Israel was the chastisement that brought peace to the non-Jewish nations, and with through the stripes or wounds of the nation of Israel, the non-Jewish nations were healed?

When and How did Israel accomplish this?

His interpretation of the first part of verse 5 completely misses the whole point and core of verses 4 and 5. It is clear that the servant actively and substitionarily took on what the speaker(s) of this chapter deserved, pain and suffering, for their transgressions and iniquities, and the servant's sufferings and stripes also brought them peace and healed them.

Furthermore, Is Con asserting here that the nations esteemed Israel stricken and smitten by God(verse 4b)? When did this happen? The other nations knew of Elohim (God)?

c) Con also claims that there is no need for the Messiah to atone for others because God promised forgiveness to anyone who returns to God, according to Jewish teachings. Thought I agree wiht that, Con is forgetting that also according to Jewish teachings, a sacrifice for atonement and forgiveness of sins has ALWAYS been required.

Verses 6 and 10
compounds Con's translation even more:

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.
10Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him;
he has put him to grief;

a) God's people is always referred to as sheep not the outsiders.

b) Con's interpretation would mean that the LORD laid the iniquities(wickedness) of the other nations on the nation of Israel?

c) The LORD crushed the nation of Israel and put them to grief?

How does Con reconcile this with his interpretation of verse 5 and that the chapter is talking about the persecution of the nation of Israel?

Verse 12
in the end says:

"yet he bore the sin of many,
makes intercession for the transgressors."

According to Con's interpretation, the nation of Israel bore the sin of the other nations and intercedes for the transgressors (other nations)? When did Isreal do this?

3. God's servant is not always referring to the collective people of Israel.

Though the OT, indeed, often referred to the nation of Israel as "God's servant", there are passages where "God's servant" is referring to a distinct servant that is set in contrast to the Israelite people.

Isaiah 49 (Ironically Con tried to use this to support his claim that servant songs are unanimously identified as the nation Israel)

Con quotes verse 3 here where it says, "You are My servant, Israel". But if we read the chapter, we see that the servant here is not the people of Israel and as a matter of fact, this servant's specific purpose is to gather and bring the preserved of Israel back to God!

Isaiah 49:3-6

3And he said to me, "You are my servant,
Israel, in whom I will be glorified."
4 But I said, "I have labored in vain;
I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity;
yet surely my right is with the LORD,
and my recompense with my God."

5 And now the LORD says,
he who formed me from the womb to be his servant,
to bring Jacob back to him;
and that Israel might be gathered to him
for I am honored in the eyes of the LORD,
and my God has become my strength—
6he says:"It is too light a thing that you should be my servant
to raise up the tribes of Jacob
and to bring back the preserved of Israel;
I will make you as a light for the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth."

God's "servant" is not always referring to the nation of Israel, even when the servant is referred to as "Jacob" or "Israel". There is a distinct "servant" who is also referred to as "Jacob" or "Israel" whose purpose is to bring back the tribes of Jacob, the people of Israel back to God. We see this in Isaiah 49 and as I will argue, Isaiah 53.

The servant in Isaiah 53, just as in 49, is indeed Israel, the TRUE Israel, Christ Jesus.

Debate Round No. 2


Patzer24 forfeited this round.


Looks like Con's account is no longer active. I guess this debate is done. Ill let the text speak for itself.

Isaiah 52:13 - 53 The Suffering Servant

13Behold, my servant shall act wisely;
he shall be high and lifted up,
and shall be exalted.

14As many were astonished at you—
his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance,
and his form beyond that of the children of mankind—

15so 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.

1 Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?

2For 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.

3 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.
4 Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.

5 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.

6 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.
7He 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.

8By 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?

9And 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.
10Yet 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.

11Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see[i] 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.
Debate Round No. 3


Patzer24 forfeited this round.


Debate Round No. 4


Patzer24 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by Rednerrus 6 years ago
your* link...
Posted by Rednerrus 6 years ago
you're link did not work, also, let's try not to post links to be read in addition to our posts. this is a debate, we can't just link materials to be read, we have to use those materials in the debate.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Nur-Ab-Sal 6 years ago
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Total points awarded:05 
Reasons for voting decision: Con forfeited several rounds, Pro gets more convincing arguments.