Suffering Servant

From: George Athas (
Date: Mon Mar 16 1998 - 19:00:08 EST

Ben Crick wrote:

> This IMHO is where we should look for the OT background. Jesus was speaking
> futuristically about his blood being spilt; it had not yet been spilt at the
> time he was speaking. Compare the "prophetic perfects" in Isaiah 53, where
> Isaiah prophesies the sacrifice of the coming Servant in terms as if it had
> already taken place.

Well Ben, in the sense contemporary to the author of the Servant Songs, the
suffering of the servant had already taken place. The author (let's call him
II-Isaiah) wrote to the exiles in Babylon. For them, the Servant Songs proclaimed
that Israel's sins, which incurred the exile, had been paid for. In this primary
sense, the suffering servant is the nation of Israel, or the remnant of Israel.
However, IMO, prophecy is two-pronged: (1) It has an immediate significance and
meaning to the original recipients in their own time and place, and (2) a shadow
is cast in which the prophecy is ultimately fulfilled by Christ. In this case of
the suffering servant, (1) the servant is the remnant of Israel in Babylonian
exile, and (2) Christ is the servant who pays for sins. Thus, it is right for
II-Isaiah to write in the perfect for that is what it immediately meant for him -
something that had already taken place.

This was perhaps a little fo the B-Greek agenda, but I could not let the statement
just pass.

Best regards!
George Athas
 PhD (Cand.), University of Sydney
 Tutor of Hebrew, Moore Theological College
Phone: 0414 839 964 ICQ#: 5866591

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