In Deutero-Isaiah, four passages are known as ‘Servant Songs’: Isa. 42: 1–4; 49: 1–6; 50: 4–9; 52: 13–53: 12 and have sometimes been regarded as by a different author from the rest of the book, into which they were inserted later. The theme is of the undeserved suffering of the servant up to death itself as the means of taking away the nation's sins. Controversy surrounds the identity of the servant. Was he an individual or a group? One view is that he might have been Jeremiah. Or does he represent the whole people of Israel, or the faithful remnant of the nation? The picture of a sinless, persecuted man (Isa. 53), who died on behalf of others, has always been a particular focus of commentary, but with the other passages the Servant presents a composite figure who embodies the prophet's hope of a future national redemption.
The first Christians saw in the Servant Songs a prophecy of their Messiah. His suffering and death they believed were in accordance with those scriptures and were not arbitrary or unanticipated (Luke 22: 37; Mark 14: 24). In particular, Isa. 53 is used by Paul to explain Christ's atoning work (Phil. 2: 6 ff. ) and early reported sermons also rely on the Servant Songs for the OT evidence that the Messiah was, in the providence of God, to be a suffering servant figure (Acts 3: 13, 26; cf. 1 Pet. 2: 21 ff.; 3: 18).