Does Isaiah 53:8 imply that Jesus was celibate?
I have a question regarding the translation of Isaiah 53:8 and whether or not Jesus had children. The only reference that I’ve found to Jesus never having children is in Isaiah 53:8; however the only translation that indicates such is the 1984 NIV, all other translations render it differently making no reference as to if Jesus would have descendants. Commentaries also do not address this topic on this particular passage and instead focus on the aspects and impact of Jesus becoming the sacrifice for our sins. I know that prophets, priests, and Rabbis were allowed to marry and have children, however scriptures do not indicate if Jesus did or did not have descendants. One would intuitively assume that because scriptures don’t mention something like this then Jesus did not have children. I know that this is a very nuanced subject and in my opinion really doesn’t take away the significance of Jesus dying for our sins and then raising from dead, thereby overcoming the law of death so that we may follow in his example of overcoming the penalty for sin. Is this a church tradition to attribute Jesus as a man of celibacy? When did this sentiment begin? Are there greater implications to Jesus having or not having children? Thank you for your time, effort, and concern.
The translation of Isaiah 53:8 is not particularly necessary to the question of whether Jesus had any children. The fact is that Jesus was never married and he never had any children, and this fact does not depend on Isaiah 53. There is absolutely not the slightest shred of evidence that he was either married or a parent. We can assume that Jesus died a virgin. There is not a serious scholar alive (or dead for that matter) who would have the audacity to propose that Jesus was secretly married or secretly had some children. There are two reasons for this. 1. There is no evidence whatsoever that this happened. 2. The external facts about Jesus and his movement make this idea untenable.
We can be sure that this was not the case because his closest associates–specifically his mother, his brothers and his apostles–all agreed that he was not married and did not have children. If he had, then a cover-up and a conspiracy of massive proportions would have been required to keep the information suppressed. Given the lives and the sacrifices and the obvious faith that Mary, the brothers of Jesus and all his close associates had in Jesus, no serios person will propose that there was a conspiracy and cover-up of some sort of scandal surrounding Jesus. Even his enemies did not make such a charge, as they would have been laughed at for such a ludicrous slander.
In the book of John, Jesus asked the people, "Can any of you prove me guilty of sin?" The crowd, including his intimate friends were silent. All knew that Jesus was innocent of sin. We know he was not married. Your point that it would not have been sinful for Jesus to be married is correct. However, the evidence is conclusive that he was not married. Given that he knew he would be killed, Jesus surely would not have married. Therefore, we can assume that he was a virgin, as outside of marriage, sex is a sin.
For this reason, I do not think it really matters what the Hebrew of Isaiah 53:8 says about the ‘descendants" of Jesus. Having said that, I believe that no matter what translation you use, most will agree that Isaiah 53 is implying that Jesus was cut off and had no descendents. By the way, Hebrews chapter 7 compares Jesus to Melchizedek, noting that both had no descendents. So, there is another passage in the Bible which implies that Jesus had no children. The Hebrew writer makes it plain that Jesus had no children. Yes, it is correct that it is a church tradition that Jesus had no children and was celibate. This "tradition" goes back to his mother, his brothers, his apostles and all the church from the very beginning. Like I said, given Hebrews 7, it is not only a church tradition, it is also a biblical claim that Jesus had no descendants. I believe that to serious students the question of the celibacy of Jesus is settled.