One of the most perplexing questions pertaining to Old Testament studies is the question concerning what has been called the “greatest of all prophetic utterances” (Baron vi) — Isaiah 53. The question is, “Who is the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53?” Although this question directs attention to the chapter mentioned, this study will include the last three verses of Isaiah 52, since they form an integral part of the passage.
A study of the above question is most significant for various reasons: (1) scholars are greatly divided as to the identification of the Suffering Servant in Isaiah 53, (2) the New Testament writers make numerous reflections upon this prophecy, and (3) the issue remains as to whether or not Isaiah’s prophecy is one of true prediction.
Scholars have advanced various theories as solutions to the problem. Some have suggested the collective theory which states that the Servant is a group, the nation of Israel, or some ideal portion of it. Others have advanced the individual theory which says that the Servant is an individual of the past, present or future. Still others contend that the Servant is not to be identified with any chosen single group or individual but that the conception of the Servant is a fluid and shifting one (cf. Hyatt 79). Such a concept is suggested by Torrey when he says that the Servant is “the personified nation Israel, or Israel’s personal representative” (135). I am convinced that the Servant in Isaiah 53 is an individual, and Jesus Christ is the only one who could have fulfilled it.Read More