Isaiah 8 in the New Testament

Bryan Murawski   -  

One area I love to study but rarely have time to explore thoroughly in a sermon is the New Testament’s use of the Old Testament.  The NT seems to love Isaiah 8, quoting the chapter no less than four times in three different books.

Here are a few charts comparing the NT’s use of Isaiah 8 (all Scripture in ESV).  I have highlighted the text that is quoted in both the original and quoting source and will offer minimal comment on each passage.  I encourage you to open Scripture and compare the context of both texts to see how the NT writers are applying Isaiah’s message.

1 Peter 3:14-15 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, Isaiah 8:12-13 “Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. 13 But the LORD of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.

Though the English versions translate the last word of the first verse differently in each case (“troubled” and “dread”), they are the same word in 1 Peter and the Greek version (LXX) of Isaiah 8:12.

Notice that Peter’s quotation and application of Isaiah 8:13 changes “the LORD of hosts” to “Christ the Lord.”  Peter has no problem taking a passage that was originally applied to YHWH in the OT and applying it to Jesus in the NT.  Why?  Because Jesus is YHWH!  The divinity of God is clearly seen in Peter’s use of Isaiah 8.

Romans 9:32-33 Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33 as it is written, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”Isaiah 8:14 And he will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Isaiah 28:16 therefore thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I am the one who has laid as a foundation in Zion, a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation: ‘Whoever believes will not be in haste.’

In Romans 9, Paul appears to merge two passages from Isaiah, one from chapter 8, another from chapter 28.  Just like Peter in 1 Peter 3:14-15, Paul has no hesitation taking what was originally about YHWH God in the OT and applying it to Jesus in the NT.  Isaiah 8:14 speaks of God being the stone/rock of stumbling (cf. 8:13).  In the context of Romans, Paul interprets this stumbling stone as Jesus (cf. 10:9-11).  Once again, this clearly points to the deity of Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 2:8 and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.Isaiah 8:14 And he will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

Peter quotes Isaiah 8:14 in context here.  Though he toggles the “stumbling/offense” terms, the meaning is essentially the same.  Notice how Peter shows the reason for the stumbling because of the rejection of God’s word, which is something Isaiah connects to stumbling as well (8:20; cf. 8:16).

Hebrews 2:13 And again, “I will put my trust in him.” And again, “Behold, I and the children God has given me.”Isaiah 8:17-18 I will wait for the LORD, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob, and I will hope in him. 18 Behold, I and the children whom the LORD has given me are signs and portents in Israel from the LORD of hosts, who dwells on Mount Zion.

Hebrews follows the LXX almost exactly here (as is usual for that book), following the Greek’s change of “trust” to “hope” and “YHWH” to “God.”  The meaning stays mostly the same.

Once more, in the context of Hebrews, the author is speaking about Jesus.  That is the “him” in that original context.  In Isaiah 8, the “him” is the LORD (YHWH) God.  The author of Hebrews has no qualms about applying to Jesus what was said of God.  Jesus is God!