Isaiah as the 5th Gospel

During Advent and Christmas, be on the lookout for references and allusions to Isaiah in our hymns and carols. By my count, one-third (17 out of 51) of the sung portions of Handel's Messiah come from Isaiah. One might goes so far as to say that around this time of the year, you can't swing a dead cat without hitting a prophecy from Isaiah.

Isaiah has been called the "5th Gospel", because Isaiah is quoted more times in the NT than any other OT book except the Psalms. In addition, the Greek translation of Isaiah (often called the Septuagint or LXX) loads the Greek word for "gospel" with all the Messianic overtones that it carries in the New Testament (Is. 40:9; 60:1; cf. Mt. 4:23; Mk. 1:1, 14-15).

Here's an overview of Isaiah as the "5th Gospel":
--The Messiah will be born of a virgin (Is. 7; Mt. 1:22-24)
--Messiah will be a king (Is. 9; Jn. 1:49)
--The Spirit-filled Servant of the Lord (Is. 42:1-2; Mt. 3:13ff.)
--Servant who heals and restores the broken (Is. 35)
--Messiah as Suffering Servant (Is. 53; Acts 8:26ff.)
--A messenger sent to prepare the way of the Lord (Is. 40:1-3; Mt. 3:1-3)
--Messiah will minister in Galilee of the Gentiles (Is. 9:1-2; Mt. 4:12-16)
--Paul recognizes that the rejection of the gospel by the Jews was foretold by Isaiah (Is. 6:9-10; Acts 28:23ff.)
--Paul recognizes that his apostolic mission is the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy (Is. 49:6; Acts 13:44ff.)
--Not counting allusions, Paul quotes from Isaiah no less than 23 times in his letters

--The book of Romans is practically an exposition of Isaiah:

  • Is. 54 is central to Paul's theme of God's righteousness in Romans
  • Is. 52:5 in Rom. 2
  • Is. 59:7-8 in Rom. 3
  • Is. 53 in Rom. 5:19
  • Is. 50:8 in Rom. 8:33
  • Is. 49:10 in Rom. 9

This is why the influential church father Jerome (c. 345-420 AD) said of Isaiah, "He should be called an evangelist [an author of a Gospel] rather than a prophet, because he describes all the mysteries of Christ and the church so clearly that one would think he is composing a history of what has already happened rather than prophesying what is to come."

Stay Informed

When you subscribe to the blog, we will send you an e-mail when there are new updates on the site so you wouldn't miss them.

The Necessity of Personal Regeneration
Gratitude or Death