The Lord and His Blind Servant: Isaiah 42:1-19 and Jesus as the Lord in Acts 9:1-19

In the Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament (eds. Beale and Carson, 2007, p. 575), Marshall stated that the account of Saul’s conversion/call in Acts 9 “shows rather less contact with the OT than might have been expected.” Contrary to Marshall, this paper argues that in Acts 9:1-19, Luke depicts Jesus as the Lord and Saul as his blind servant in ways reminiscent of Yahweh and his blind servant in Isaiah 42:1-19. With Buckwalter (1996, 191), the paper contends that Luke narratively and intertextually “portrays the exalted Jesus in terms strikingly similar to those describing Yahweh in the OT.” Tannehill (1990), Talbert (1995), Keener (2020), Larkin (1995), and Mallen (2008) already pointed out in passing the possible allusion to Isaiah 42 in Acts 9, and so did Beers (2015) who recognized the role of Isaiah 42:1-4 in showing Saul as the Lord’s servant. But none of the scholars above explores the allusion(s) in detail and how they illuminate the identity of Jesus as the Lord who chose Saul as his servant, gave him the Holy Spirit, and sent him to bear his name among the nations. The article will first note the intertextual ties between Isaiah 42:1-19 and Acts 9:1-19, looking at the explicit repetition of shared words and concepts between Isaiah 43-44 and Acts 1 to consider word agreement or “rare concept similarity.” The main discussion shall examine the thematic coherence and essential interpretive links between the two texts and how these contribute to our understanding of Acts 9:1-19 and especially Jesus as the Lord. The concluding section will rehearse the exegetical findings considering scholarly conversations on Lucan Christology.

Key Words: Lord (κύριος), Jesus, Christology, chosen, Blind, Saul, Isaiah, Acts, Luke, Servant, Holy Spirit, nations.

3 thoughts on “The Lord and His Blind Servant: Isaiah 42:1-19 and Jesus as the Lord in Acts 9:1-19”

  1. OT in the NT
    I appreciate the argument of the co-thematic ties between Isaiah and Acts 9. “Intertextual” is used in various ways in biblical studies, so I would like to see some indication of the author’s understanding of this term and how to methodologically analysis intertextual relationships.


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