Our glorious gospel teaches “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3). Christians know the first phrase well. But how many have given a second thought to the phrase, “according to the Scriptures”? Which Scriptures? Since 1 Corinthians is one of the earliest books of the New Testament to be written, Paul was undoubtedly referring to Old Testament Scriptures. He was saying it had been prophesied that Jesus would die for our sins.
Psalms 22 and 69 are powerful predictions of the deep suffering the Messiah would endure. However, they offer no information regarding the purpose of that suffering. Daniel 9 predicts a great work “to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity” (Daniel 9:24). In addition, verse 26 predicts that “Messiah shall be cut off.” But Daniel 9 does not directly connect salvation with Messiah’s death.
The text that really puts it all together is that great Messianic chapter, Isaiah 53: “He was wounded for our transgressions… the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all… he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter… he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken… you shall make his soul an offering for sin… shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities… he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (verses 5-12).
Is any New Testament text plainer? Surely above all, Paul must have had in mind Isaiah 53 when he penned, “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.” Great prophecy! Great reality!