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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Isaiah 53

 

 

Verse 1

Isaiah 53:1 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?

Ver. 1. Who hath believed our retort?] q.d., The Gentiles, some of them, even of their potentates, have believed our report concerning the Messiah: [Isaiah 52:13-15] but, Lord, how few Jews will give credit to what we have said? Albeit this chapter may not unfitly be called "The Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Isaiah"; (a) and things are here set down so plainly that Augustine thinks they need no exposition; yet those buzzards, the later Rabbis, cannot, or rather will not, see that the prophet speaketh here all along concerning Christ; but do strangely writhe, wring, and wrest his words to a wrong sense, applying them, some to Moses, some to Ezra, some to Joshua, the son of Josadak, &c. John Isaac, indeed, the Jew, confesseth of himself, as hath been said before, that by pondering upon this chapter he was converted to the Christian religion. The like we read of some few others in Andreas Bayna and Cornelius a Lapide. But the Jews themselves will tell you, falsely and maliciously, that such pretended proselytes are not of them, but poor Christians hired by us to impersonate their part. Such a thick veil is still before their eyes, such a hard hoof upon their hearts, till God pleases, by his own holy arm made bare, to remove it. "They could not" - that is, they would not - "believe." [John 12:39] "They have not all" - nay, scarce any in comparison - "obeyed the gospel," [Romans 10:16] but blasphemously call it Avengelaion, a volume of vanity, scorning to be saved by a crucified God, although by mighty miracles wrought among them he showed himself to be the Son of God, and an arm to save all who believe in his name. [John 12:37]

And to whom is the arm of the Lord?] i.e., His gospel, which is his power to salvation, [Romans 1:16] and is hid only to them that perish. [2 Corinthians 4:3]


Verse 2

Isaiah 53:2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, [there is] no beauty that we should desire him.

Ver. 2. For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant.] His beginning shall be mean and despicable. See Isaiah 11:1, with the notes. God hid his Son under the carpenter’s son; this the Jews much stumbled at, [Matthew 13:55; Matthew 13:57; Luke 24:1; John 7:27; John 7:41; John 7:52; 1 Corinthians 1:23] that Christ should come without sightly show or state. (a) But they should have known that his kingdom is not of this world. Some of their Rabbis can say, In regno Messiae nihil mundanum. In the reign of the Messiah, nothing is worldly.

He hath no form or comeliness.] How could he? say, when his fair face was covered, sanguine, sputo, spinis, lachrymis, with blood black and blue, swelths, spittle, tears, scratches, so that Pilate, wondering at it, said, "Behold the man," q.d., he is not dealt with as a man; but being in greatest misery, he deserveth to be pitied.

And when we shall see him.] Here the prophet taketh upon him the person of a carnal Jew, who judged of Christ according to his outward appearance. [John 7:14] But what saith the Chaldee proverb? Ne spectes cantharum vel urceum, sed id quod in eo est. Look not on the pitcher, but on the liquor that is contained in it.

And when we shall see him there is no beauty.] Heb., And we shall see him, and no sight or sightliness.

That we should desire him.] And yet he was a man of desires, yea, the "desire of all nations," [Haggai 2:7] all over desirable: [Song of Solomon 5:16] but so he is only to such as have their "senses exercised to discern good and evil." [Hebrews 5:14]


Verse 3

Isaiah 53:3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were [our] faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Ver. 3. He is despised and rejected of men.] Heb., Desitus virorum, one at whom the nature and name of man endeth; as we would say, the very lift and fag end of mankind, nullificamen hominis, (a) a worm and no man, not held so good as wicked Barabbas, but crucified between two thieves, as worse than either of them, and made nothing of. [Mark 9:12] This is so plainly here set forth that some of the Jewish doctors, Aben Ezra for one, whenas they cannot rightly distinguish between the two comings of Christ, the one in humility and the other in glory, duos construunt Christos, they make us up two Christs, the one the son of Joseph, to whom agree those things which the Scriptures speak of concerning Christ’s meanness and sufferings; the other, the son of David, to whom they apply those things that are written concerning the glory, majesty, and triumphs of Christ. (b)

A man of sorrows,] q.d., Made up of sorrows. (c) Atque hic mirus artifex est propheta; and here the prophet showeth singular skill in describing Christ’s state of humiliation through all the degrees of it. And faith is much happier in finding out his cross, blood, nails, tomb, and all, than ever Helen was, or any Popish relic monger, and in making use of them too, to better purpose than that Popish convent of friars do, who have hired those places of the Turk, built temples, altars, and silver floors in honour of the passion.

And acquainted with grief.] Heb., Knowing of infirmity, or inured to it. See Hebrews 4:15. The Greek Litany hath, "By thine unknown sorrows and sufferings, good Lord, deliver us."

And we hid as it were our faces from him.] Or, And he hid as it were the face from us, viz., as one for his loathsomeness, his low condition, ashamed to be seen. The Jews, in the Talmud, (d) question, What is the name of Messiah? Some answer, Hhenara, leprous; and he sitteth among the poor in the gates of Rome, carrying their sicknesses.

He was despised.] Double despised; and for the unworthiness of the things, this is repeated.

And we esteemed him not,] i.e., We contemned and derided him.


Verse 4

Isaiah 53:4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

Ver. 4. Surely he hath borne our griefs.] He took our infirmities natural, though not sinful; or, He suffered for our offences. And his satis sufficient passion is our satisfaction, as Luther phraseth it. He suffered, saith Peter, "the just for the unjust." He "bore our sins in his own body on the tree." [1 Peter 2:24] He, the true scape goat, "taketh away the sins of the world," [John 1:29] bearing them into the land of forgetfulness. This is his continual act, and this should be as a perpetual picture in our hearts. "Surely" he did all this for us; iuramentum est vere. This surely or truly is an oath, for better assurance and satisfaction to any doubting conscience. For which cause also the same thing is said over again, [Isaiah 53:5] and herewith agreeth that of the apostle in 1 Timothy 1:15, "This is a sure saying, and worthy of all men to be received, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners."

Yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God,] sc., For his own deserts, and not for ours. We looked upon him as a deceiver, a winebibber, a blasphemer, and one that wrought by Beelzebub, &c., and therefore we crucified him.

Smitten (a) of God.] Percussus Dei, saith the Syriac. The apostle saith, "God spared not his Son"; [Romans 8:32] and because the creature could not strike a stroke hard enough, himself was "pleased to bruise him." But that this was done for his own proper sins, and in a way of vengeance, was a gross mistake.

And afflicted.] Or, Humbled. He was "stricken," "smitten," "afflicted." But then afterwards he was "exalted," "extolled," and "made very high." [Isaiah 52:13] We also who "suffer with him shall be glorified together," and in a proportion. [2 Timothy 2:12]


Verse 5

Isaiah 53:5 But he [was] wounded for our transgressions, [he was] bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace [was] upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

Ver. 5. But he was wounded for our transgressions.] Not for his own; for he "knew no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth"; nevertheless he took upon him whatsoever was penal that belonged to sin, that we might go free. He was content to be in the winepress that we might be in the wine cellar.

He was bruised for our iniquities.] Eαυτον αφηκεν εις βελεμνον, as Anacreon did upon a worse occasion.

Cernis ut in toto corpore sculptus amor!

O love, that love of his! as Bernard speaketh; let it bruise our hard hearts into pieces, grind them to powder, and make them fall asunder in our bosoms like drops of water. Let us propagate our thankfulness into our lives, meditating returns answerable in some proportion to our Saviour’s sufferings.

The chastisement of our peace was upon him.] They which offered burnt offerings of old were to lay their hand upon the head of the beast, thereby signifying the imputation of our sins unto Christ, and that we must lay hand on him by faith, if we look for any comfort by his death and passion. (a)

And with his stripes we are healed.] By the black and blue of his body after he was buffeted with dry blows; and by the bloody welts left on his back, after he had been scourged, which was a punishment fit for dogs and slaves. Nero they threatened to scourge to death, as judging him rather a beast than a man. But what had this innocent Lamb of God done? And why should the physician’s blood thus become the sick man’s salve? We can hardly believe the power of sword salve.


Verse 6

Isaiah 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Ver. 6. All we, like sheep, have gone astray.] Gone of our own accords, as "longing to wander"; [Jeremiah 14:10] to wander as sheep, lost sheep, than the which no creature is more apt to stray, and less able to return. "The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib. "The very swine accustomed to the trough, if he go abroad, yet at night will find the way home again. Not so the silly sheep. "Lo, ye were all as sheep going astray," saith Peter, "but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls." [1 Peter 2:25]

We have turned every one to his own way.] Quo variae errorum formae innuuntur, dum suas quisque opiniones sectatur. Each one, as he is out of God’s way, so hath his own by way of wickedness to wander in; wherein yet, without a Christ, he cannot wander so far as to miss hell.

And the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all,] i.e., Of all his elect. The iniquity of us all he hath made to meet on him, so the Hebrew hath it; or, To light on him, even the full weight of his wrath and dint of his displeasure, for our many and mighty sins imputed unto him. Let the Jew jeer at this and say, that every fox must pay his own skin to the flayer; let the Romanist reject imputed righteousness, calling it putative, by a scoff; there is not anything that more supporteth a sinking soul than this "righteousness which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith." [Philippians 3:9] This manus Christi, as nailed to the cross, is the only medicine for a sin sick soul, believe it.


Verse 7

Isaiah 53:7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

Ver. 7. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,] Heb., It, the punishment of our sin, was exacted; and he, being our surety, was afflicted. Or, It was exacted, and he answered, i.e., satisfied.

Yet he opened not his mouth.] Though he "suffered, the just for the unjust," [1 Peter 3:18] with the unjust, upon unjust causes, under unjust judges, and by unjust punishments. Silence and sufferance was the language of this holy Lamb, "dumb before the shearer," insomuch as that Pilate wondered exceedingly. The eunuch also wondered when he read this text, Acts 8:32, and was converted. And the like is related of a certain earl called Eleazar, (a) a choleric man, but much altered for the better by a study of Christ and of his patience. "I beseech you, by the meekness of Christ," saith Paul; and Peter, who was an eyewitness of his patience, propoundeth him for a worthy pattern. [1 Peter 2:23] Vide mihi languidum, exhaustum, cruentatum, trementum, et gementem Iesum tuum, et evanescet omnis impatientiae effectus. Christ upon the cross is as a doctor in his chair, where he readeth unto us all a lecture of patience.

He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter.] Or, As a sheep that is led to the slaughter, which, when we see done, we should think of Christ, and see him as it were in an opera glass. The saints of old did so in their sacrifices; and this was that hidden wisdom David speaks of, Psalms 51:8; the ceremonial law was their gospel.

And as a sheep before her shearer is dumb.] The word Rachel signifieth an ewe. [Genesis 31:38; Genesis 32:14] This ewe hath brought forth many lambs, such as was Lambert and the rest of the martyrs, who, to words of scorn and petulance, returned Isaac’s apology to his brother Ishmael, patience and silence; insomuch as that the persecutors said that they were possessed with a dumb devil. (b) This was a kind of blasphemy.


Verse 8

Isaiah 53:8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.

Ver. 8. He was taken from prison and from judgment.] Absque dilatione et citra iudicium raptus est, sc., ad crucem, so Vatablus rendereth it. He was hurried away to the cross without delay, and against right or reason, (a) Or, as others, he was taken from distress and torment into glory when he had cried, Consummatum est, It is finished; and, Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit. The Seventy render it somewhat otherwise, as may be seen, Acts 8:33. The apostle Peter explaineth it, Acts 2:24.

And who shall declare his generation?] Or, Who can reckon his age or his race? Or, Who can utter or describe his generation? i.e., the wickedness of the men of those times he lived in. Or, the history of his life and death. Some understand it to be his eternal generation. [Proverbs 8:24-25] Others of his incarnation, that great "mystery of godliness." Quantus enim Deus quantillus factus est homo! Others (b) of his holy seed, his cross being fruitful, and his death giving life to an innumerable generation. [Revelation 7:9]

For he was cut off out of the land of the living.] Quasi arbor saevis icta bipennibus; as a tree that is hewn down. [2 Kings 6:4]

For the transgression of my people.] Our iniquities were the weapons, and ourselves the traitors, that put to death the Lord of life; Judas and the Jews were but our workmen. This should draw dreary tears from us. [Zechariah 12:10]


Verse 9

Isaiah 53:9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither [was any] deceit in his mouth.

Ver. 9. And he made his grave with the wicked,] i.e., He should have been buried among malefactors had not rich Joseph begged his body. Or, His dead body was at the disposal of wicked ones, and of rich men or rulers, the Jews and Pilate, at his death.

And with the rich.] The same, say some, with wicked. And indeed Magna cognatio ut rei sic nominis, divitiis et vitiis. Rich men are put for wicked rich. [James 5:1] And how hardly do rich men enter heaven! Hyperius thinks that the two thieves crucified together with Christ were rich men, put to death for sedition; and Christ was placed in the midst, as their chieftain; whence also that memorable title set over his head, "King of the Jews."

Because he had done no violence.] Or, Albeit he had done, &c., notwithstanding his innocence and integrity.

Nec te tun plurima Pentheu

Labentem texit pietas. ”


Verse 10

Isaiah 53:10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put [him] to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see [his] seed, he shall prolong [his] days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

Ver. 10. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him.] Singula verba hie expendenda sunt cum emphasi, saith one. (a) Here every word hath its weight, and it is very sure that the apostles and evangelists, in describing the mysteries of our salvation, have great respect as to this whole chapter of Isaiah, so especially to these three last verses. And it must needs be that the prophet, when he wrote these things, was indued with a very great Spirit; because herein he so clearly setteth forth the Lord Christ in his twofold estate of humiliation and of exaltation, that whereas other oracles of the Old Testament borrow light from the New, this chapter lendeth light to the New in several places.

He hath put him to grief.] Or, He suffered him to be put to pain. See Acts 2:23; Acts 4:28. God the Father had a main hand in his Son’s sufferings, and that out of his free mercy, [John 3:16] for the good of many.

When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin.] Compare 2 Corinthians 5:20, "He made him sin for us that knew no sin." Our sins were laid upon him, as the sins of him that sacrificed were laid upon the beast; which was thereby made the sinner, as it were, and the man righteous. Christ’s soul suffered also. [Matthew 26:38] It was undequaque tristis, surrounded with sorrows, and heavy as heart could hold. This sacrifice of his was truly expiatory and satisfactory. Compare Hebrews 10:1-2.

He shall see his seed.] Bring many sons to God, [Hebrews 2:10; Hebrews 2:13 Isaiah 53:8] a holy seed, the Church of the New Testament to the end of the world, [Psalms 72:17] filiabitur nomine eius. The name of Christ shall endure for ever; it shall be begotten as one generation is begotten of another. There shall be a succession of Christ’s name, till time shall be no more. (b)

And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.] He came to send fire on the earth, which while he lived upon earth was already kindled. [Luke 12:49] This some interpret as the gospel, which how wonderfully it spread and prospered, the evangelical and ecclesiastical histories testify.


Verse 11

Isaiah 53:11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, [and] shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

Ver. 11. He shall see of the travail of his soul.] Or, Because his soul laboureth, he shall see (his seed), and be satisfied. A metaphor from a travailing woman. Compare Acts 2:24, John 16:21.

And shall be satisfied.] (a) As a parent is in his dear children, or a rich man in the sight of his large farms and incomes. If therefore we would gratify and satisfy Christ, come by troops to the ordinances.

By his knowledge,] i.e., By the lively light and impression of faith. {as John 17:3 Acts 25:23; Acts 26:18 John 6:69} Faith comprehendeth in itself these three acts - knowledge in the understanding, assent of the will, and trust of the heart; so that justifying faith is nothing else but a fiducial assent, presupposing knowledge. The Popish doctors settle the seat of faith in the will, as in its adequate subject, that they meanwhile may do what they will with the heart, and with the understanding. To which purpose they exclude all knowledge; and as for confidence in the promises of Christ, they cry it down to the utmost, and everywhere expunge it by their Indices Expurgatorii; for a bare assent, though without wit or sense, is sufficient, say they; and Bellarmine defendeth it, that faith may better be defined by ignorance than by knowledge.

Shall my righteous servant.] Jesus Christ, "the just one." [1 John 2:2] "Jehovah our righteousness." [Jeremiah 23:6]

Justify many,] i.e., Discharge them from the guilt of all iniquity by his righteousness imputed unto them. This maketh against justification by works. Cardinal Pighius was against it; so before him was Contarenus, another cardinal. And of Stephen Gardiner it is recorded, that he died a Protestant in the point of man’s justification by the free mercies of God and merits of Christ. (b)

For he shall bear their iniquities.] Baiulabit; that, by nailing them to his cross, he may expiate them.


Verse 12

Isaiah 53:12 Therefore will I divide him [a portion] with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Ver. 12. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the great.] Or, I will give many to him. [Psalms 2:8] Some sense it thus: I will give him to conquer, plunder, and spoil the evil spirits; {as Colossians 2:15} and this he shall have for a reward of his ignominious death, and his intercession for some of his enemies, whom he conquered by a new and noble kind of victory, viz., by loving them and by praying for them.

And he was numbered with transgressors.] So he became a sinner, though sinless: 1. By imputation; 2. By reputation.

And he bare the sins of many.] Not of all, as A. Lapide here would have it, because all are many, &c.

And made intercession.] For those that with wicked hands crucified him; [Luke 23:34 Acts 2:23] so for others still. [Hebrews 7:25]

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 53:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/isaiah-53.html. 1865-1868.

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Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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