Encountering the Old Testament, 3rd Edition

A Christian Survey

series: Encountering Biblical Studies


26. Isaiah 40–66: Great Days Are Coming!

Chapter Intro Video

Chapter Objectives

  • Describe the contents and major themes of Isaiah 40–66
  • Evaluate the multiple-author view and one-author view of Isaiah
  • Compare the three interpretations of the suffering servant passages in chapters 52 and 53
  • Summarize what Isaiah prophesies about Judah’s return from Babylonian exile
  • Summarize Isaiah’s final description of God’s restoration of his people (chapters 60–66)

Chapter Summary

  1. The proponents of the multiple-author view of Isaiah give as support the time span of the material in Isaiah, the differences in subject matter and vocabulary in 1–39 and 40–66, and the mention of King Cyrus by name.
  2. Proponents of the one-author view cite Jewish and Christian tradition, the possibility of predictive prophecy, and the use of Isaiah in the New Testament.
  3. The themes found in Isaiah 40–66 are: God’s people are in captivity for their sins, the captivity proves that God is God, and God will restore and redeem his people.
  4. The suffering servant has been interpreted as Isaiah, Israel, or Jesus.
  5. Isaiah’s celebration of Judah’s return included mention of Jerusalem’s rebirth, the need for the people to trust in God, the sins of Israel, the call to true righteousness, and how God would deliver Israel.
  6. Isaiah, like other prophets, predicted that one day foreigners would become part of God’s people.
  7. Isaiah presented the climax of God’s restoration by stating that it would include Zion’s glorification, Zion’s marriage to God, and the judgment of the nations. Isaiah’s presentation included his prayer for God’s intervention, blessing for God’s servants, and reaching the nations with God’s glory.

Study Questions

  1. What are the arguments some interpreters have given to support the multiple-author view of the book of Isaiah? What evidence have others used to support the single-author view?
  2. How do the concepts of chapter 40 lay a foundation for the rest of the book? What key ideas occur there?
  3. How does Isaiah 40–66 develop the motif of the Lord’s servant? What characteristics best describe the servant?
  4. Isaiah’s words concerning gentiles joining God’s family suggest God intended Israel to bring spiritual light to them. What responsibility do you have personally in God’s plan to reach the world?