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Penal Substitution Part 3

2 Corinthians 5:21

(2Co 5:21 NAS)  21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Some would claim this points directly to Christ embodying sin.  In this verse, “sin” is a synecdoche (a word or smaller portion of something that represents a larger thought or idea).  The idea here would be a “sin sacrifice”, not just “sin”.  Although this word in the Greek “hamartia” can mean sin, it also has the meaning of sin-sacrifice.  In Leviticus this idea is used over 50 times where hamartia is used to translate “sin offerings” in the Septuagint.  As one example of this, in Hebrews 10 and verse 8 we see:

(Heb 10:8 NKJ)  8 Previously saying, "Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them" (which are offered according to the law), 9 then He said, "Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God." He takes away the first that He may establish the second.  10 By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

In your bibles the word “offerings” in front of “for sin” may be italicized.  “Offerings for” is not in the Greek.  Those words are inherent in the meaning of the word “hamartia” which is used.  I believe the same idea applies to 2 Corinthians 5:21.

AFTER THE CROSS: When did Jesus take on the role of High Priest?  Directly following his death when He entered the true (not the copy) most holy place (heaven) and offered His blood.

(Heb 7:26 NAS)  26 For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens;


(1Pe 1:18-19 NKJ)  18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.

In all stages of the sacrifice Jesus was confirmed as holy, separate, apart from sinners, unblemished.  How would we come to the conclusion that he took the sin of the world upon Himself?  Furthermore, a quick study into the sacrificial system to which Jesus could be compared shows that the sacrifices were considered to be holy to the Lord.

Isaiah 53:3-6

(Isa 53:4-8 NKJ)  4 Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted.

 5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.

 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

 7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth.

8 He was taken from prison and from judgment, And who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.

Consider each portion of this passage in regards to Christ’s sacrifice:

v.4 - “Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried.”

            - Our griefs and sorrows became His burden (griefs + sorrows)(See Part II of this article “bearing“)

v. 5 - “But He was wounded for our transgressions”

            - Our transgressions caused Christ to suffer (wounds).

v. 5 - “He was bruised for our iniquities”

            - Our iniquities caused Christ to suffer (bruised).

v. 5 - “The chastisement for our peace was upon Him”

            - This one trips up a lot of people.  They often read into this and say instead: “The chastisement for          “US” was upon Him.”  That is not what the passage says.  It says the chastisement for our peace        was upon Him.  This makes sense in that Christ suffered for our peace when in reality it should    have been us suffering eternal fire because of our sin. 

v. 5 - “By His stripes we are healed”

            - Jesus’ agony (including the scourging) heal us.

v.6 - “And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all”

- This is the tough one.  It really does sound like Christ had our sins laid upon Him literally, but we have to dig deeper.  First, the entire passage is repeating one notion:  Christ took suffering upon Himself so that we would not have to suffer the consequences of sin.  I want to make sure it is understood, that does not mean He took upon Himself the suffering DUE TO US, but He did suffer so that we would not have to.  So is it possible to continue with the same idea that Isaiah has portrayed with this final portion?  YES!  In fact, the first part of verse 6 says “All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way”.  Jesus was abandoned by man, even though it was for man that He came.  That is the sense of irony and contrast in the verse.

Turn to Ezekiel chapter 4 where I hope to make this more clear:

(Eze 4:1-6 NKJ) NKJ  Ezekiel 4:1 "You also, son of man, take a clay tablet and lay it before you, and portray on it a city, Jerusalem.

 2 "Lay siege against it, build a siege wall against it, and heap up a mound against it; set camps against it also, and place battering rams against it all around.

 3 "Moreover take for yourself an iron plate, and set it as an iron wall between you and the city. Set your face against it, and it shall be besieged, and you shall lay siege against it. This will be a sign to the house of Israel.

 4 "Lie also on your left side, and lay the iniquity of the house of Israel upon it. According to the number of the days that you lie on it, you shall bear their iniquity.

 5 "For I have laid on you the years of their iniquity, according to the number of the days, three hundred and ninety days; so you shall bear the iniquity of the house of Israel.

 6 "And when you have completed them, lie again on your right side; then you shall bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days. I have laid on you a day for each year.

It uses the same exact language here with Ezekiel that we see in Isaiah 53 about Christ. 

1)  I think it should be obvious to the reader that Ezekiel did not have the sins of the people imputed to himself and receive the punishment for those sins.  I hardly believe lying on his side constitutes the same punishment as the fires of hell.

2)  If Ezekiel was able to receive the sins of Israel imputed to himself, then why would Christ have been necessary?  If that is really what happened here, then MAN could die in the place of his fellow men to provide salvation.

So what idea should we gain after comparing both passages?  Christ took sufferings upon Himself for something we did that HE was not responsible for.  The same applies to Ezekiel here in Ezekiel 4.

Have you at any time found yourself using these phrases?

1) “Christ died in our stead”

2) “Christ died in our place”

3) “Christ was our substitute”

These are all founded in what Martin Luther and others in the Reformation period organized into their religious perspectives, yet these phrases are found nowhere in scripture.