Did God Kill Jesus? — a closer look at Isaiah 53:10.

Penal Substitution advocates frequently visit Isaiah 53 in an attempt to find evidence for the vengeful, bloodthirsty God they preach. Particularly vs. 10 which says that “…it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin…” (NKJV). Thus, they say, God had a direct hand in Jesus’ death — He killed Him as an offering to “appease” His wrath.

This perspective robs the Gospel of its beauty and its listeners of their awe. Its summary is simple — “God hates you so much that He had to kill His own Son so He could be pleased with you again.” How is this goodnews?! We plead on those who currently hold such a view of the Atonement to reconsider what they preach.

The doctrine that “the wrath of God” (if you understand “wrath” to mean vengeful, malicious, bloodthirsty anger) had to consume Jesus so we could go free is in no wise Biblical. God was NEVER the One punishing man, it was sin (see Rom. 5:12, 6:23). Sin’s consequence (death) is in itself, it need not be exacted by God. God never needed a sacrifice to forgive man (Isa. 1:11-14). He always did!

Man was in bondage to sin and the devil, not God (John 8:31-36, Heb. 2:14). Hence, Jesus came as a Ransom paid TO sin and the devil to deliver us (1 Tim. 2:6, Matt. 20:28, 1 Corin. 6:20, 7:23). So in the equation of sin and its penalty (death), God is completely passive. What He does is to set us free, not punish sin with death. Knowing this is very key.

God revealed in the New Testament is no bloodthirsty Tyrant. He does not do evil (see Jam. 1:5, 13, 16-17). He is ALWAYS good. This means we must read Isa. 53:10 VERY CAREFULLY so as not to misrepresent the nature of God. God couldn’t have “bruised” Jesus. In fact, the Septuagint (LXX) Translation of this text actually corrects the rendering: “The Lord willed to cleanse Him of the afflictions.”

This means that a large portion of the Early Church held the belief that Jesus’ death was not God’s anger murdering Him. This concept was probably strange to them. Their understanding of the text was non-penal but restorative. Below is our attempt at giving a better understanding of the Isaiah 53:10 text.


Isaiah 53:10: Word-by-word Exegesis.


Isaiah 53:10 (NKJV)
10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him;

The phrase “it pleased” translates the Hebrew word “chaphets.” It means to delight in, take pleasure in, will or wish. So Isaiah calls the “desire” of the Lord the bruise of the Messiah.

The phrase “bruise” translates the Hebrew word “daka” which means to crush, to make humble or oppress. It implies to be brought down or fall under weight. It appears morphologically in the Piel Infinitive in the Hebrew, hence, it should be put: “His being bruised pleased the Lord.” This means that it was the Father’s will that Jesus would suffer in our place. This is what He always wanted (see Eph. 1:3-6, Heb. 4:1-10, 10:7-9, 2 Tim. 1:8-10, Rev. 13:8, 2 Pt. 3:9, 15, Acts 2:22-32, John 6:38).

So Isaiah 53:10a simply means that Him coming under the weight of our sin was according to the will of the Lord in salvation. God didn’t bruise Him but He was bruised ACCORDING to God’s plan to save man. Him giving Himself to save us is what was pleasing to the Father (Eph. 5:2). The suffering He went through must NOT be seen as God “punishing Him” but the consequence for OUR sin which He took.

The text continues:

“…He has put Him to grief.”

The word “grief” translates the Hebrew word “chalah” which means to be sick or ill, diseased. Throughout the chapter, Isaiah uses the motif of sickness and healing in the spiritual sense. Also, note that there were no punctuations in the original Hebrew manuscript. These were supplied by the translators. The punctuation of this verse in the NKJV can be misleading (i.e. placing a full stop after “grief” and continuing the next sentence with “When”).

The text would have made more sense this way:

9 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him;
He has put Him to grief WHEN you make His soul an offering for sin.

That is, He was made “sick” (spiritually) WHEN He became an offering for OUR sin. It thus becomes clear — His sufferings were as a result of OUR sins, not God. God did not kill Jesus, our sins, which He took upon Himself, did!


© Josh Banks Ministries. 2020.


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