Where did Paul get the idea that the Messiah died for our sins according to the Scriptures in 1 Corinthians 15: 3?

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on Think Apologetics. Tabernacle of David considers this resource trustworthy and Biblically sound.


Something that can tend to be overlooked is something Paul says in his well-known resurrection text in 1 Cor. 15:

“ For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,  that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.”- 1 Cor 15: 3-4.

A common question is where does it say in the Jewish Scriptures in that the Messiah would die for our sins? Obviously there is no text that explicitly says “The Messiah will die for the sons of humanity.” Paul doesn’t list any texts that he is using here. However, Justin Bass says the following:

“Isaiah 53 is the only place in all the Hebrew Scriptures that contains a statement corresponding to “died for our sins.” The suffering servant, a mysterious figure that appears throughout Isaiah 40–55, is said in 53:12 to bear the sins of many and even intercede for their sins. This means Isaiah 53 is almost certainly in the background to 1 Corinthians 15:3b: Commentators on 1 Corinthians almost universally agree that Isaiah 53 is in the background of this passage when it says “according to the Scriptures.” Specifically these texts from the prophet Isaiah:

“But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him” (Isa 53:5–6) .“He Himself bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors” (Isa. 53:12) Notice the key phrases “pierced through for our transgressions,” “crushed for our iniquities,” “bore the sin of many,”and “interceded for the transgressors.” Those last two phrases in the versions of Isaiah from the Greek Septuagint and found among the Dead Sea Scrolls have “sins” instead of “the sin” and “their transgressions” instead of “the transgressors.” Therefore, the most ancient reading of this passage (and the one Paul would have been familiar with) declares: “He Himself bore the sins of many, and interceded for their sins” (Isa. 53:12). The earliest followers of Jesus believed that Jesus’ death was in some way in substitution for them, specifically for their sins.”- Justin Bass, The Bedrock of Christianity: The Unalterable Facts of Jesus’ Death and Resurrection, pp. 97-99.

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