The Savior’s Birth, Life, and Death All Foretold Through Isaiah’s Words Isaiah in the New Testament


Using the words of Isaiah during Advent to prepare for Christmas makes sense. Among the authors of the four Gospels, Isaiah is cited twice as often as any other Old Testament prophet, which makes him the perfect source for study and celebrations.

In the New Testament, Isaiah is quoted at least 57 times. His words are paraphrased 64 more times. It is clear New Testament writers had respect for Isaiah’s teachings and used them often; probably much like members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints often cite Joseph Smith.

“This event offers at least three insights into the Savior’s use of the Old Testament scripture: first, Jesus confirmed the words of Old Testament prophets and His role in fulfilling them; second, He affirmed the events of the Old Testament as historical fact and used them to teach eternal truths; and third, Jesus exemplified great respect for the law of Moses as given in the Old Testament.”—Thomas F. Olmstead, Ensign, July 2002

Of course, as recorded in the King James Bible, the best use of Isaiah was the day when Jesus “went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read” (Luke 4:16). An attendant there handed him the scroll of Isaiah. He unrolled it until He came to this passage from Isaiah 61; He read:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,“

To preach the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18–19 [see Isaiah 61:1-2]).   ,

Then the Savior rolled the scroll up and stated: “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears” (Luke 4:21). At that moment those there knew that Jesus was proclaiming Himself as the fulfillment of Isaiah’s 750-year-old Messianic prophecy. Following His example, the apostles and other New Testament writers often quoted from Isaiah.

But for this season of the year, Isaiah is also a great source of verses about the Nativity.  In Matthew’s case, for example, Isaiah is in Chapter 1, but Matthew also cites the prophet in many others chapters to help show Jesus fulfilling scripture.

Larger numbers indicate chapters, smaller their verses.Larger numbers indicate chapters, smaller verses

Gospel of Matthew (The New Testament: A New Translation for Latter-day Saints)

The Birth of Jesus

118 Now, the birth of Jesus Christ happened in this manner. When his mother was engaged to Joseph, before they came together, she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and not wanting to make a public example of her, wanted to send her away privately. 20 While Joseph was pondering these things, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying,
“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you will name him Jesus because he will save his people from their sins.”
22 All of this took place to fulfill the word of the Lord through the prophet, saying, 23 “ Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bring forth a son and they shall call his name Emmanuel ,”[see Isaiah 7:14] which is interpreted “God with us.” 24 Joseph arose from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took her as his wife…1

John the Baptist

3 1 In those days, John the Baptist came near the wilderness of Judea, declaring, 2 “Repent for the kingdom of heaven draws near.” 3 This is the one spoken of by Isaiah the prophet when he said,
“A voice shouting in the wilderness, prepare the way of the Lord, make his pathways straight.”  [see Isaiah 40:3 …Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region around Jordan went to him, 6 and they were baptized by him in the Jordan River, professing their sins.2

Jesus Begins His Ministry in Galilee

413 And he left Naza­reth and came to reside in Capernaum near the lake in the region of Zebulon and Naphtali 14 so that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, 15 “ The land of Zebulon and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, near the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles, 16 the people residing in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death a light has dawned .” [see Isaiah 9:1 17 After those things, Jesus began to declare, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”3

Jesus Heals the Sick as the Lords Servant

8 14 And Jesus came to Peter’s house and saw his mother-in-law cast down with fever. 15 And he took her hand, and the fever left her, and she began to minister to him. 16 When evening came, they brought to him many under the power of demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word, and he healed all those who were ill, 17 that the word of the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled, saying, “ He took away our weaknesses and bore our sicknesses.”[see Isaiah 53.4] 4

12 15 Jesus…departed from that place. And a large crowd followed him, and he healed all of them. 16 And he admonished them that they would not make him manifest 17 so that the words of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, 18 “ Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved who delights my soul, I will place my Spirit on him, and judgment to the nations will he declare . 19 He will not strive or shout out, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets . 20 He will not break a shaken reed, or extinguish a smoldering flax plant, until he establishes judgment to victory . 21 And in his name shall the nations hope.”[see Isaiah 42:1-4] 5

Jesus Teaches in Parables

13 13 For this reason I speak to them in parables, so that seeing they see not, and hearing they hear not, nor do they understand. 14 The prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled in them when he said, ‘ Hearing you will hear but you will not understand, and seeing you will see but not perceive . 15 The heart of this people grew fat, and their ears heavy, and they closed their eyes so that they would not see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand in their heart and turn that I might heal them.’[see Isaiah 6:9-10] 6

Jesus Calls Out the Scribes and Pharisees for Vain Worship

15 6 …Therefore, you violate the word of God because of your precepts. 7 Hypocrites, Isaiah rightly prophesied of you, saying, 8 ‘ This people honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; 9 in vain they honor me, teaching things that are the precepts of men .’”[see Isaiah 29:13] 7

Jesus Cleanses the Temple

21 12 Then Jesus entered the temple, and he threw out all the sellers and buyers in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of the dove sellers. 13 And he said to them, “It is written, ‘ My house will be called a house of prayer ,’ but you have made it ‘ a den of robbers .’” [see Isaiah 56:7] 8

In many of these chapters, it is actually the Savior quoting Isaiah and not Matthew using the prophet. But the interesting thing is that “since Jesus Christ and Jehovah, the Lord God of the Old Testament, are, in fact, the same person, when Jesus quoted the words of the prophets He was often actually quoting Himself! The Savior quoted from the writings of Jeremiah, Daniel, Zechariah, Hosea, and Malachi. He was especially fond of using the words of the prophet Isaiah.”9

Gospel of Mark (King James Version)

When it comes to Gospel authors, Mark is the briefest. He skips Jesus birth, gets Him baptized and moves quickly through His ministry to get to the tomb and His resurrection. But like others, he cites Isaiah.

John the Baptist Prepares the Way

1As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my amessenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
The avoice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. [see Isaiah 40:3]
John did baptize in the wilderness, and apreach the bbaptism of crepentance for the dremission of sins.

Jesus Teaches in Parables

4 11 …Unto you it is given to know the amystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in bparables:
12 That seeing they may see, and not aperceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be bforgiven them.’[see Isaiah 6:9-10]

Worship in Vain

7He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, “This people ahonoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.” [see Isaiah 29:13]

Tortures of Hell

946 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched…

48 Where their aworm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. [see Isaiah 66:24] 

Jesus Cleanses the Temple

1117 And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, “My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? “but ye have made it a den of thieves.” [see Isaiah 56:7]

In Death, Christ is Numbered with Transgressors


27 And with him they crucify two athieves; the one on his right hand, and the other on his left.
28 And the scripture was afulfilled, which saith, “And he was numbered with the transgressors.”  [see Isaiah 53:12]

Gospel of Luke (Joseph Smith New Translation of the Bible)

Luke, of course, records one of the best of all the Isaiah quotes as described above in the synagogue at Nazareth, when Jesus said that He fulfilled the words of Isaiah 61. But Luke also uses Isaiah seven times in other verses.

Simeon Blesses Jesus

28 Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, 29 Lord, now lettest thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word; 30 For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, 31 Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; 32 A light to lighten the Gentiles, [Isaiah 42:6, 49:6and the glory of thy people Israel.

John the Baptist Prepares the Way

32 Now in this same year, the word of God came unto John, the son of Zacharias, in the wilderness. 3 And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. 4 As it is written in the book of the prophet Esaias; and these are the words, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, and make his paths straight. [see Isaiah 40:3] 5 For behold, and lo, he shall come, as it is written in the book of the prophets …

Jesus Announces His Divine Sonship in Nazareth

417 And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, 18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor, he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and the recovering of sight to the blind; to set at liberty them that are bruised; 19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. [see Isaiah 61:1-220 And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and he sat down. 21 And the eyes of all those who were in the synagogue, were fastened on him, And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears

Jesus Teaches in Parables

89 And when he had said these things, he cried, He who hath ears to hear, let him hear. And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be? 10 And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God; but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.’[see Isaiah 6:9-10]

Jesus Cleanses the Temple

1944 And he went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought, 45 Saying unto them, It is written, My house is a house of prayer [see Isaiah 56:7]but ye have made it a den of thieves. 46 And he taught daily in the temple. 

Christ is Numbered with Transgressors


37 For I say unto you, That this is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors;  [see Isaiah 53:12] for the things concerning me have an end.

Gospel of John (New Revised Standard Version)

John was one of Jesus’ original Twelve Apostles and was “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (13:2319:2620:221:7,20,24). John probably wrote his Gospel later than the other three but developed his words to explain certain doctrines more clearly. He included Isaiah’s words just four times.

John the Baptist Prepares the Way

122 Then they said to him, “Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 23
He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, “Make straight the way of the Lord,’ ” as the prophet Isaiah said. [see Isaiah 40:3]

All Shall Be Taught of God

645 It is written in the prophets, “And they shall all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. [see Isaiah 54:13]

Despite His Miracles, They Will Not Believe

1237 Although he had performed so many signs in their presence, they did not believe in him. 38 This was to fulfill the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “Lord, who has believed our message, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” [see Isaiah 53:139 And so they could not believe, because Isaiah also said, 40 “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, so that they might not look with their eyes, and understand with their heart and turn— and I would heal them.” ’[see Isaiah 6:9-10] 41 Isaiah said this because he saw his glory and spoke about him. 

We can see that the Gospel authors and Christ himself all used Isaiah words. It was all part of their gospel knowledge; his words lived in the hearts of those who themselves were authoring holy writ. Together they quoted Isaiah 25 times, but he is quoted at least 27 more times in the New Testament. Among those quoting him, Paul is his chief disciple, calling upon his word some twenty times in his various epistles. Peter uses him as an authority in seven instances.

In Part 2 to this series, we will look at the other apostles’ use of Isaiah. Look for it in an upcoming newsletter. Not subscribed yet, then leave us this info and we will take care of that.


1–8 Thomas Wayment, The New Testament: A New Translation for Latter-day Saints, Kindle Edition.
9 Thomas F. Olmstead, The Savior’s Use of the Old Testament,  Ensign, July 2002


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