Can you think of a book with two major divisions and 66 smaller parts? The first division contains 39 parts and the second has 27. The second division begins with “a voice in the wilderness” and ends with “new heavens and earth.” In the middle it tells of an innocent man who dies for the sins of others. The Bible? Yes — but also the Book of Isaiah, one of the three Old Testament books most quoted by New Testament authors (the other two are Deuteronomy and Psalms).
Of all New Testament writers, Luke pays most attention to Isaiah. Dr. Luke was the only New Testament author who was not a Jew, and he learned his theology from Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles. Paul’s call and commission from the Risen Christ came in words quoted from Isaiah (Isa. 42:6-7; 49:6). Paul’s apostolic preaching to Gentiles reflected Isaiah’s passages (Acts 17:23-27). His epistles to Gentiles are full of themes from Isaiah.
Luke structures the Book of Acts along Isaiah’s lines. It begins with the word of the Lord “going forth from Jerusalem” (Isa. 2; Acts 2) and ends with people from the nations sending riches to Jerusalem in a great Gentile contribution (Isa. 60; Acts 24:17). When Luke shows how far the gospel reaches to save, he uses the conversion of a foreigner who was also a eunuch — a man with two strikes against him in Jewish thinking, but with both characteristics foretold by Isaiah (Isa. 56:3-8; Acts 8). Luke’s Gospel and Acts both resound from first to last with themes from Isaiah 40-66 — joy and rejoicing, Jerusalem, praise, the Holy Spirit, salvation.
As people saved from among the nations, all of us non-Jews can look to Isaiah and see ourselves in prophecy. Any believer who will take the time to read Isaiah chapters 40-66 will be overwhelmed with the majesty and scope of God’s design to rescue sinners around the world. Isaiah foretold it, Paul implemented it and Luke reports it. And — praise God — we are part of its grand fulfillment!