Isaiah 53

Listen to Isaiah 53
1 1Who has believed what he has heard from us?[a] And to whom has 2the arm of the LORD been revealed?
2 For he grew up before him like a young plant, 3and like a root out of dry ground; 4he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.
3 5He was despised and rejected[b] by men; a man of sorrows,[c] and acquainted with[d] grief;[e] and as one from whom men hide their faces[f] he was despised, and 6we esteemed him not.
4 7Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, 8smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 9But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, 10and with his stripes we are healed.
6 11All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned--every one--to his own way; 12and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, 13yet he opened not his mouth; 14like a 15lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, 16who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people?
9 And they made his grave with the wicked 17and with a rich man in his death, although 18he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet 19it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief;[g] 20when his soul makes[h] an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; 21the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see[i] and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall 22the righteous one, my servant, 23make many to be accounted righteous, 24and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 25Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,[j] 26and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,[k] because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; 27yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.

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Isaiah 53 Commentary

Chapter 53

The person. (1-3) sufferings. (4-9) humiliation, and exaltation of Christ, are minutely described; with the blessings to mankind from his death. (10-12)

Verses 1-3 No where in all the Old Testament is it so plainly and fully prophesied, that Christ ought to suffer, and then to enter into his glory, as in this chapter. But to this day few discern, or will acknowledge, that Divine power which goes with the word. The authentic and most important report of salvation for sinners, through the Son of God, is disregarded. The low condition he submitted to, and his appearance in the world, were not agreeable to the ideas the Jews had formed of the Messiah. It was expected that he should come in pomp; instead of that, he grew up as a plant, silently, and insensibly. He had nothing of the glory which one might have thought to meet with him. His whole life was not only humble as to outward condition, but also sorrowful. Being made sin for us, he underwent the sentence sin had exposed us to. Carnal hearts see nothing in the Lord Jesus to desire an interest in him. Alas! by how many is he still despised in his people, and rejected as to his doctrine and authority!

Verses 4-9 In these verses is an account of the sufferings of Christ; also of the design of his sufferings. It was for our sins, and in our stead, that our Lord Jesus suffered. We have all sinned, and have come short of the glory of God. Sinners have their beloved sin, their own evil way, of which they are fond. Our sins deserve all griefs and sorrows, even the most severe. We are saved from the ruin, to which by sin we become liable, by laying our sins on Christ. This atonement was to be made for our sins. And this is the only way of salvation. Our sins were the thorns in Christ's head, the nails in his hands and feet, the spear in his side. He was delivered to death for our offences. By his sufferings he purchased for us the Spirit and grace of God, to mortify our corruptions, which are the distempers of our souls. We may well endure our lighter sufferings, if He has taught us to esteem all things but loss for him, and to love him who has first loved us.

Verses 10-12 Come, and see how Christ loved us! We could not put him in our stead, but he put himself. Thus he took away the sin of the world, by taking it on himself. He made himself subject to death, which to us is the wages of sin. Observe the graces and glories of his state of exaltation. Christ will not commit the care of his family to any other. God's purposes shall take effect. And whatever is undertaken according to God's pleasure shall prosper. He shall see it accomplished in the conversion and salvation of sinners. There are many whom Christ justifies, even as many as he gave his life a ransom for. By faith we are justified; thus God is most glorified, free grace most advanced, self most abased, and our happiness secured. We must know him, and believe in him, as one that bore our sins, and saved us from sinking under the load, by taking it upon himself. Sin and Satan, death and hell, the world and the flesh, are the strong foes he has vanquished. What God designed for the Redeemer he shall certainly possess. When he led captivity captive, he received gifts for men, that he might give gifts to men. While we survey the sufferings of the Son of God, let us remember our long catalogue of transgressions, and consider him as suffering under the load of our guilt. Here is laid a firm foundation for the trembling sinner to rest his soul upon. We are the purchase of his blood, and the monuments of his grace; for this he continually pleads and prevails, destroying the works of the devil.

Cross References 27

  • 1. Cited John 12:38; Romans 10:16
  • 2. See Isaiah 51:9
  • 3. Isaiah 11:1
  • 4. [Isaiah 52:14]
  • 5. Isaiah 49:7; [Psalms 22:6; Mark 9:12]
  • 6. [John 1:10, 11]
  • 7. [Matthew 8:17]
  • 8. Psalms 69:26
  • 9. [Romans 4:25]
  • 10. Cited 1 Peter 2:24
  • 11. Cited 1 Peter 2:25; [Jeremiah 50:6, 17]
  • 12. 2 Corinthians 5:21; [ver. 10; Colossians 2:14]
  • 13. Matthew 26:63; Mark 14:61; John 19:9; 1 Peter 2:23
  • 14. Cited Acts 8:32
  • 15. [Jeremiah 11:19]
  • 16. Isaiah 57:1
  • 17. Matthew 27:57, 60
  • 18. Cited 1 Peter 2:22; [Hebrews 4:15; 1 John 3:5]
  • 19. [ver. 4]
  • 20. [ver. 6]
  • 21. [Isaiah 44:28]
  • 22. [1 John 2:1]
  • 23. Acts 13:39; Romans 5:18, 19
  • 24. [ver. 5]
  • 25. Isaiah 52:13; [Philippians 2:9]
  • 26. [Colossians 2:15]
  • 27. ver. 6, 8, 10

Footnotes 11

  • [a]. Or Who has believed what we have heard?
  • [b]. Or forsaken
  • [c]. Or pains; also verse 4
  • [d]. Or and knowing
  • [e]. Or sickness; also verse 4
  • [f]. Or as one who hides his face from us
  • [g]. Or he has made him sick
  • [h]. Or when you make his soul
  • [i]. Masoretic Text; Dead Sea Scroll he shall see light
  • [j]. Or with the great
  • [k]. Or with the numerous

Chapter Summary


This chapter treats of the mean appearance of Christ in human nature, his sufferings in it, and the glory that should follow. It begins with a complaint of the small number of those that believed the report concerning him, the power of God not being exerted, Isa 53:1, the reason of this general disbelief was the meanness of his outward circumstances, and the want of comeliness in him; hence he was treated with general neglect and contempt, Isa 52:2,3 was the more unkind and ungenerous, since it was the griefs and sorrows of others he bore, and their sins also, for which he was wounded and bruised, that they might have healing, Isa 53:4-6, yet he took and bore all patiently, like a lamb at the slaughter, and the sheep under the shearer, Isa 53:7, which was the more extraordinary, since he was used, both in life and at death, in so rigorous and barbarous a manner, and all for the sins of others, having been guilty of none himself, Isa 53:8,9, and, what is most amazing, the Lord himself had a hand in grieving and bruising him, Isa 53:10, though for his encouragement, and a reward to him, as man and Mediator, for all his sufferings, it is intimated that he should succeed and prosper, have a numerous issue, should justify many, and have a portion and spoil divided with the great and mighty, Isa 53:10-12.

Isaiah 53 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.