Isaiah 53, Hebrews, and Covenant Renewal

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The servant of Isa 53 is often interpreted in sacrificial terms. This essay argues against that view that those scholars who see the servant figure in extra-sacrificial terms as a means of restoring a fractured covenant relationship between God and his people are correct. This insight revolutionizes how one understands Hebrews' allusions to the Isaianic servant material. Unlike the majority of modern interpreters, the article argues that Jesus' vicarious death is salvific like that of the servant (it renews covenant relationship) but not atoning in Jewish sacrificial terms (i.e., not the means of maintaining the covenant relationship). Covenant renewal precedes and enables restored relationship with God in ways that then allow for the subsequent offering of sacrificial worship, which includes the means for the forgiveness of sins (a central feature of sacrificial atonement). Like the servant, Jesus's death first inaugurates the new covenant. Only in the context of this inaugurated covenant relationship does he then ascend to his Father to serve as high priest and offer his atoning sacrifice. This ongoing high-priestly, atoning work maintains the covenant he inaugurated when he died.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRethinking the Atonement
Subtitle of host publicationNew Perspectives on Jesus's Death, Resurrection, and Ascension
EditorsDavid M. Moffitt
PublisherBaker Academic
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Isaiah
  • Hebrews
  • Death
  • Servant
  • Jesus


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