In Matthew 26:28, Jesus says, “For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Does this mean that the blood of Jesus had to be shed so that He could buy forgiveness of sins for us from God?
Let’s see … what is the best way to answer this question? … Let me try this:
But I bet you want a better explanation …
I know that there are several verses in the Bible that some use to argue for the idea that Jesus had to shed His blood to purchase forgiveness of sins from God, but when carefully studied in their contexts, none of these Bible passages are teaching this idea.
God has always forgiven all people of all their sins simply because this is who God is. He did not need to be paid off or bought before He could forgive us. (That wouldn’t be forgiveness anyway…. you can either forgive a debt or be repaid, but not both.)
Matthew 26:28 is one of the passages that sometimes is quoted in defense of this idea that Jesus paid for our sins with His blood.
During the Last Supper on the night before His arrest, trial, and crucifixion, Jesus shared the Passover Meal with His disciples and imbued new symbolism into the bread and wine.
He said that the bread represented His body broken for them and the wine represented His blood shed for them. He then said that these things point to the new covenant in His blood, which is for the forgiveness of sins.
Some seem to assume through this description of events that Jesus was teaching His disciples that His blood would purchase the New Covenant and the forgiveness of sins from God.
But there are two keys which provide a better understanding of this text. A careful look at the context and what the rest of the New Testament teaches about the New Covenant and forgiveness reveals something different.
Let us briefly consider both concepts and how they relate to Matthew 26:28.
Matthew 26:28 and the New Covenant
Jesus was not teaching that His blood was the purchase price for forgiveness and the New Covenant, but that His blood was the sign of such things.
In reference the New Covenant, the blood of Jesus signaled that this New Covenant was now in effect. In essence, Jesus died to inaugurate or enact the New Covenant.
It is important to think of the New Covenant, not as a new system of laws and regulations to keep, but instead as a Last Will & Testament. And indeed, the term Jesus uses here does have this idea in view. Jesus is not sharing a new legal Contract, but new legal Will.
When we think of the Covenant as a “Last Will & Testament” rather than as a legal contract (as the Greek words used seem to indicate), it becomes clear that a Last Will & Testament is not put into effect as long as the one who made it still lives (cf. Hebrews 9:15-17).
For a Last Will & Testament to be enacted, the one who made it must die. Yet since this is God’s Last Will & Testament, and since God cannot die, it was impossible for the Will to come into effect unless God became human and died as a human, which is what He did in Jesus Christ.
So when Jesus speaks of His blood representing the New Covenant, He is pointing out the fact that the New Covenant which had been promised through the Old Testament prophets (cf. Jeremiah 31:31-34) would now be put into effect because the one who made this Last Will & Testament was now here and was about to die.
All of this is explained in more detail in Hebrews 9–10.
So when we understand that Jesus is talking a Last Will instead of a legal contract in Matthew 26:28, we then understand that the blood of Jesus was for the purpose of enacting the legal terms of this new Last Will & Testament. The death of Jesus was not needed to buy forgiveness, but to enact a new Will.
But what about the statement in Matthew 26:28 about the forgiveness of sins? Doesn’t that prove that Jesus did, in fact, die to purchase forgiveness of sins from God?
Matthew 26:28 and the Forgiveness of Sins
When it comes to the forgiveness that Jesus mentions in Matthew 26:28, it is critical to recognize that there are two types of forgiveness in the Bible.
There is charizomai forgiveness and aphēsis forgiveness. Charizomai forgiveness is based on the free grace (charis) of God and is freely extended to all people throughout all time for all sins, with no strings or conditions attached.
Aphēsis forgiveness, however, does have conditions, such as repentance and turning from sin. But aphēsis forgiveness has nothing to with our standing with God or what He thinks about us. Aphēsis forgiveness is not about our relationship with God.
Instead, aphēsis forgiveness is about our relationship with sin. Aphēsis forgiveness is only about one thing, and that is whether or not we are addicted to sin or break free from sin. This is why a better English translation for aphēsis is “release” or “remission.”
Aphēsis forgiveness is not about getting forgiveness from God, but is instead about breaking free from the addictive and destructive power of sin in our lives.
If you are addicted to a certain type or pattern of sin in your life, God has 100% forgiven you for this sin. This is charizomai forgiveness. But God’s charizomai forgiveness doesn’t help you much in breaking free from sin. For this, you need to repent, confess, and take steps to turn away from this sin, and start following God instead. When you do this, you will gain aphēsis, release, from the power of sin in your life.
So what kind of forgiveness is Jesus talking about in Matthew 26:28? It is aphēsis, release. This is why many Bible translations use the word “remission” here instead of “forgiveness.”
Jesus is not talking about how He is going to get God to forgive our sins. No, Jesus is talking about how His life and death, about how His shed blood, is going to help us break free from the power of sin in our lives.
Jesus is telling His disciples that through His blood, that is, through His violent death as a sacrificial scapegoat, they will gain deliverance and release from the sin that has enslaved humanity since the foundation of the world.
And this is exactly what happened. The violent death of Jesus on the cross exposed the lie of scapegoating and sacrificial violence for what it was. Those who see this lie are then able to live their lives in freedom from it.
How to Understand Matthew 26:28
So Jesus’ words at the Last Supper closely mirror what we have seen about blood in Genesis 4:10 and Hebrews 12:24 above. The murder of Abel by Cain represents the fratricidal, murderous violence upon which all human civilization is built. In unveiling this sin, the author of Hebrews compared the word spoken by the blood of Abel with the Old Covenant, and then contrasts this with the word spoken by the blood of Jesus and the New Covenant.
Whereas the Old Covenant and the blood of Abel was concerned with sacrifice, vengeance, and retaliation, the New Covenant based upon the blood of Jesus speaks of grace, mercy, and forgiveness.
And this is what Jesus says to His disciples during their Last Supper.
He brings them to the table and says, “I’m going to inaugurate a New Covenant, a new way of doing things, a new Last Will & Testament. And it’s going to be put into effect through my death. And when you see what I am revealing through my death, you will gain release from the addictive and destructive power of sin that has enslaved humanity since the foundation of the world.”
Do you see? There is no mention in here of buying forgiveness from God. Quite the opposite in fact. Jesus is not saying, “I am going to die so God can forgive you.”
No, Jesus is saying, “I’m going to die so that you can learn that God has ALWAYS forgiven you, and my death will show you how to live in a similar way toward others. My death is going to show you how to extend unconditional love and free forgiveness toward others, as God has always extended toward you. And when you live this way, you will break free from the sin of violent, bloody, sacrificial scapegoating that has plagued humanity since the very beginning.”
So do you see?
The Old Covenant, the Mosaic Covenant, enslaved us to sin, and thus, to sacrificial and scapegoating violence.
But the New Covenant in Jesus, introduced to us and inaugurated for us through His own violent death on the cross, shows that we are completely forgiven and have always been forgiven, and that there is nothing for which God will not forgive us.
The New Covenant enacted through the death of Jesus which brings release from our bondage to sin.
Therefore, we too can forgive. Rather than lash out in violence against those who wrong us, we can, like God, simply extend love and forgiveness.
By seeing God’s loving, forgiving, non-retaliatory character through the death of Jesus, we are shown the way to live in loving, forgiving, non-retaliatory community with other people. Observing the Lord’s Supper serves as a reminder of the way we are to live with one another.
In the Last Supper, Jesus used the cup of wine to symbolize how He was making a new Last Will & Testament with humanity. This time, the Testament will be put into effect by His own blood.
When we see Him do this, it is then that our eyes are opened to the truth about sin. What we see in the death of Jesus helps us finally break free from the destructive power of sin that has plagued humanity since the foundation of the world.
This is how the death of Jesus reveals our sin to us, and releases us from the bondage of sin in our lives.
Jesus did not buy forgiveness of sins for us from God, but instead revealed that God has always loved and only forgiven, and we can live this way as well.
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Anthony Hendriks says
Not sure bro. I will read again and digest. Check this verse: “I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.” John 8:24
It just came to me as I read your article. I’m sure there are lots more that cast doubt on your conclusion. You don’t talk about those who outright reject the message Jesus brought. I believe Jesus died for all, but I also believe we have a part in our salvation outside of Charizomai.
What ya think?
So we have to do our works?
Consider that we may be asking questions that were given to us via filters that limit how we understand concepts like eternity.
Dustin Plummer says
I see what your saying Jeremy but some Christian’s think that the new covenant abolishes the laws of Moses and the prophets to the point they no longer have to celebrate the Lord’s holy days. But it don’t say that in Mathew 5:17-18 so why do the so called Christian’s not celebrate these holy days? Instead we celebrate pagan holidays like Christmas and Easter. Hebrews 13:8-9 says yeshua is the same yesterday today and tomorrow shouldnt we be more like yeshua and celebrate these holy days that he celebrated every year? Or go with the masses and say that was ancient Israel and what yeshua says in Mathew 5:17 is a bunch of bolony and don’t apply to today’s world? Cause if yeshua was here today I believe he would follow the laws of Moses and the prophets and still do the holy days of ancient Israel.
Redeeming God with Jeremy Myers says
1. Why choose the Israelite Holy Days out of all the law? If you are going to try to obey the law, you need to try to obey all of it.
2. You know that the law was only give about 1500 years before Jesus … which means that none of the forefathers observed these holy days. God may not change, but holidays, culture, and traditions sure do.
3. The Mosaic Law was for the Israelite people. I am not Israelite.
Derek Reddekopp says
Thank you Jeremy for your teachings, I definitely can benefit from them and I believe I have come to a fuller understanding of what the blood of Christ did do and did not do ( His blood was for the inauguration of the New Covenant, which is an unconditional covenant that is totally dependent on what God does and not what I do). Although I have difficulty with some of your comments.
The Feasts of the Lord are not Jewish, they are God’s appointed times, and if they are HIS appointed times and we have joined ourselves to the God of Israel then that would mean that His feast days are for all His children. Anyway, I look forward to future teachings (I just recently came across your material online.) Blessings.
You know the real Israelites were a Indo European nation don’t you? Look at the Eastern hemisphere map of 1000 b.c
Dustin Plummer says
I see what your saying. I’m not saying pick and choose either if yeshua honered all of these laws and holy days and thought them don’t we as followers of yeshua have to live by his example which means we need to follow the ten commandments and do the Lord’s holy days? Like I said earlier Hebrews 13:8-9 says the Messiah yeshua is the same yesterday today and tomorrow which means all he taught. And you can say your not Israelite but you know where we hail from originally. Example you can be German Egyptian Russian but if you truly follow the lord you know we hail from the Jews which would make us Israelite just watered down through the century’s you can’t be a follower of yeshua if you don’t listen to his teachings or doing the Lord’s holy days or following the law of Moses. You realize 10 tribes of Israel are scattered through all the earth which makes every one of us Israeli just cause we live in America in 2018 doesnt mean it’s not true Lucifer would like us to believe we are different nation’s never Israeli he wins when you don’t look at things as a whole cause then your only getting part of the picture. You can be scooled on the bible and theology of scripture or what not but it don’t mean your going into the Lord’s kindom unless you follow the laws of the lord and holy days are one of them yeshua practiced these and taught his disciples these things and in return they taught other nations these things
If, as you say, everyone of us is Israelite, why does God talk about gentiles. You will find ( in Ephesians 2: 11-19) that gentiles were excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
Re: Dustin’s assertions concerning the observance of the law
I’d like to comment on what you are saying here because there are many who are returning to the Jewish law. There are some teachers teaching such things who have risen to prominence and there is even a magazine called “Restoration” (I think) representing this movement.
First I want to summarize your position and reasoning so that I can properly address it:
Jesus (Yeshua) observed the Jewish holidays (Holy Days) and festivals.
Jesus told His disciples to follow Him and live by His example.
Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever (He would observe the Jewish holiday calendar if He were still on earth.
Therefore, we should observe them today.
Now that seems like solid reasoning, but there are a few things that cause it to break down and throw off your conclusion.
Why did Jesus observe the Jewish festivals and holidays? Or perhaps more to the point, did Jesus observe the Jewish holy calendar as an example for his followers? Or did He do it for a different reason or reasons?
I submit to you that He did it for different reasons. For the purpose of brevity, He primarily did it to fulfill the law.
Dustin, you brought up Matt. 5:17,18. So what we are really discussing is the meaning of these verses. Your interpretation goes something like this: Jesus is saying that He came to keep the law and to be an example for us in keeping the law. So you are saying that Jesus affirms the law and teaches us to do the same.
However, the fuller context continues through verse 20. Therein is the key to understanding what Jesus is truly teaching. Compare verse 19 to verse 17. Jesus says in 17 that he came to fulfill the law. But he doesn’t use the same word for other people. In verse 19 he refers to others as doing the law, not fulfilling the law.
In other words, only Jesus could fulfill the law- i.e. keep it completely and accomplish its perfect end. Verse 20 brings the point home. One must be more righteous than the scribes and Pharisees to enter the kingdom of heaven (i.e. gain eternal life).
That meaning may escape us today, but it hit home with Jesus’ hearers. The question in their minds would have been “how can we be more righteous than the religious leaders?” That is precisely Jesus’ point. They needed a righteousness beyond humanity. They needed His righteousness because only He can completely fulfill the law. The purpose of the Sermon on the Mount isn’t to tell us that we can or should keep the law, but to show us that we cannot possibly do it! His message is one of preparing us for the Gospel. He is showing us the need for a greater righteousness- His righteousness.
Now, let me ask another question. What is the purpose of the Jewish Holy Calendar? Succinctly put, it was a reminder to the Jews of God’s work and presence in their midst and a continuous prophetic message pointing to the coming of Messiah.
Let’s take the Passover Feast as an example. Passover was first practiced the evening before God delivered the Jews from Egypt. They were then commanded to observe it annually as a reminder of God’s Deliverance. At the same time, there is the hidden, not-so-hidden prophetic meaning that Messiah would one day deliver them from sin. I avoid further detail because there is plenty of good teaching on this topic.
So, the prophetic purpose of the Jewish calendar is complete. Jesus has come and accomplished redemption. He has also given us the Holy Spirit to dwell within and guide us and made us a new people who are now aliens and strangers on earth and citizens of heaven. What would be the continued purpose of observing the Jewish calendar? Nothing other than mere sentiment!
Now, let me turn to Hebrews 3:8- “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” What does that mean? You are assuming it means He always acts in the same way. What it really means is that His character remains the same. The theological term is “immutability.” So it refers to His “being” not His “doing.”
Graham Cooke used to say (and perhaps he still does, but I haven’t heard him in a while!) that you can always be sure of who God is but you can never be sure of what God does. Trying to be sure of what He is doing results in dead religion because we expect Him to do what we think He ought to do.
If you read the Bible through, this truth is shown time and again. Sure there are certain patterns, but God’s activity among men is nothing but boring and predictable. Moses got in trouble because he struck the rock the second time. God had told him to speak to the rock this time. Why? Because He doesn’t do things the same way and because we would have a tendency to try and get a desired result without His guidance and presence.
Think about the miracles Jesus performed. Did He always do things the same way? Absolutely not! There are distinctions in each miracle. You cannot come up with a formula.
I hope you get the point. Hebrews 13:8 doesn’t mean that Jesus always acts in the same way. He will always act consistently with His character, but He is creative enough to do that in different ways!
So wrapping things up here, your premises (or assumptions) are incorrect therefore your conclusion is also. There is no basis for the idea that Believers have any obligation to observe the Jewish Holy Calendar.
On a closing note, the earlier church did struggle somewhat with the question of freedom from the Law. The first church counsel convened in Acts 15 to discuss this problem. Some Jewish believers (known as the Judaizers) were trying to require Gentile converts to be circumcised and observe the law of Moses. After deliberating, the church leaders concluded that it was not necessary for Gentile believers to be circumcised or observe the law except for a few things abstain from meat sacrificed to idols, abstain from sexual immorality, abstain from things strangled, and abstain from blood.
Paul strongly opposed the Judaizers and the letter to the Galatians is basically an apologetic to counter the influence of them to the church in Galatia. Paul strongly rebukes them for allowing themselves to be enslaved again by the law.
If you are struggling with whether we are still under the law (required to observe it), read Romans 3-8 and Galatians 2-4. Continue to read them over and over until it sinks in that those in Christ are free from the law forever!
* Correction of a typo/mistatement: I meant to say “God’s activity among men is ANYTHING but boring and predictable.” Sorry!
Chad Arrasmith says
Dustin Plummer Jesus was a prophet lot Israel and much of what he taught is not Christian Doctrine, but was teaching specific to the people of Israel in the contest of the law.
The law was a school master we are no longer under, also Paul in collosians says it was against us and Jesus took it out of the way nailing it to the cross.
Dustin Plummer says
Says you in a few spots it says teach all nation’s if you don’t believe that I don’t want to hear what you have to say cause it’s not worth listening to. And 2000yrs really ain’t that long ago yeshua himself told his disciples to go teach the nation’s are we not a nation I feel sorry for those of you that have a belief on the bible but don’t listen to what the Lord is trying to tell you
Chad Arrasmith says
Dustin Plummer You do understand context right?
Dustin Plummer says
You probably yeshua was born christmas or rose on Easter
Dustin Plummer says
Do you tell your kids about the Easter Bunny or santa clause when they was kids.
Rick Jones says
You guys sound like a bunch of 6 yr olds arguing over a piece of candy
Grahame Smith says
Jeremy very thought provoking. From the meaning of the Greek words you mention in regards to two types of forgiveness in the bible, its clear you need to know which type of forgiveness is being discussed to be able to see what is really being taught. I have found your writings hard to grapple with as they fly in the face of decades of institutional church traditional teaching that flows out of the reformation where they seem to generally believe in the punitive atonement of Christ position. As you have mentioned before the early church had a different view of the atonement. In my case I have undergone a life changing shift in my view of what Christ achieved for us (thanks to you) and so I agree with what you have proposed as a more accurate view of the atonement coming from scripture. Anthony asks above what about those who reject Christ if God forgives everyone. Then in my view if they dont accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour then they dont receive eternal life with Him. We either follow Christ into eternal life with Him or we dont and we get to spend eternal life separated from Him. Not a nice outcome!
Daniel Joseph Richard says
Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin.
Redeeming God with Jeremy Myers says
Daniel Joseph Richard says
Redeeming God with Jeremy Myers from your perspective but you’re best be careful twisting and reasoning with the scriptures
Whoa! Denying the substitutionary blood atonement aspect of Jesus’ death really runs contrary to the Scriptures and the historical understanding of the Gospel. It is so contrary to the Bible that it could be considered a different gospel.
The “Non-Violent” view of the cross cheapens the death of Jesus, making it less than it really is. While it affirms that Jesus’ death broke the bondage of sin, it diverges from the traditional view in how the bondage of sin was broken.
The traditional view holds that Jesus took the sin of humanity upon Himself and thereby paid the price (satisfied the debt) or in your terms “purchased the forgiveness of sins.” So the freedom from sin comes as a result of the release of the debt of sin.
The “Non-Violent” view holds that Jesus’ death merely initiated a new covenant (grace) that replaced the old one (law). The old covenant was what enslaved men, so when Jesus replaced it, we became free.
The traditional view also recognizes covenant replacement but is more multifaceted. It completely deals with the problem of sin, both its penalty and its power.
The “Non-Violent” view attempts to deal with the power of sin while ignoring the penalty of sin. Its proponents say that there is no penalty because God forgives because that’s who He is and sin is not a big deal to Him.
Some of the problems with the “Non-violent” view are:
1) The Bible is contrary to the universal, unconditional forgiveness of sins just because God forgives.
2) The Bible repudiates that sin is no big deal to God.
3) The power of sin cannot be addressed adequately unless the penalty of sin is also fully addressed.
4) There is a flawed understanding of the purpose of the law and the sacrificial system.
5) The prophecies concerning Jesus are not fully realized.
6) Numerous Bible passages concerning the sacrifice are ignored, misinterpreted, or otherwise glossed over.
Let me give some support for each of these criticisms. I acknowledge that this treatment will be limited (but substantial nonetheless).
1) Hebrews 9:27 says that men die and then face judgment. How can men face eternal judgment if they are forgiven? God could not judge men guilty if He just loves and forgives them for no reason.
In Genesis 6 and 7, God sends a flood to destroy all living things except for Noah, his family, and the representative birds and beasts from every species. God did this because of the extreme wickedness of mankind. By definition, this is punishment of sin. Why did God do this if He has always forgiven sin?
God sent judgment upon Israel and Judah numerous times and eventually both nations were taken away into captivity. Scripture clearly attributes this as a result of sin.
In Acts 5, Ananias and Sapphira are struck dead for the sin of lying to the Holy Spirit. This is a bit beyond “discipline” even after Jesus died on the Cross.
These are just a few examples. Scripture makes it clear that there is punishment now and later for sin and that God is the initiator of such punishment. This stands in stark contrast to the teaching that God always forgives everyone.
2) The Bible consistently maintains that sin is a big deal to God. The above passages bear this out. Consider also:
Genesis 3- Adam and Eve are expelled from the garden because of sin. That’s a bit drastic if sin is no big deal.
Romans 6:23- “For the wages of sin is death. . .” Death is pretty serious.
3) The reality of sin and its effects is a major theme of the Bible. If you deny this, you are basically missing the point. Sin is the reason we need redemption. Sin is the reason God became incarnate. Sin is why Jesus died, not just to deal with our hangups with sin but to deal completely with it from both God’s side and man’s side.
The penalty of sin deals with justice which is basically God’s side of sin. If sin goes unpunished, justice remains unsatisfied. That would mean that if sin is not punished, God would not be truly just.
Romans 3:21-26 makes it clear that Jesus indeed paid the penalty for our sin by being the blood sacrifice for our atonement. The language Paul uses evokes the mercy seat of the ark of the covenant- the Holy of Holies. Jesus’ blood was the final blood to be applied to the mercy seat. That is why the veil was torn. That is why Jesus cried “It is finished.” The original language means “paid in full” or “satisfied” clearly pointing to the penalty of sin being paid.
4) The law did not enslave us to sin as the “non-violent” view suggests. The law was to restrain sin and remind men that they could not be perfect in themselves. In short, the law is to point us to the necessity of Christ.
We were enslaved to sin the moment we fell (partook of the tree in disobedience to God). This again points to the seriousness of sin. Sin is not primarily wronging men but wronging God. Sin is disobedience and rebellion against God. That is why sin existed prior to the giving of the Mosaic law and continued after the end of the Old Covenant. Anyone who is not in Christ is a slave to sin. Only those who are in Christ are free from sin (John 8, Romans 8).
Just as the law was to point to Christ so was the sacrificial system (which is essentially a part of the law). Hebrews makes it clear that the sacrifices never were adequate to cover sin. Nevertheless, they gave the people a picture of the seriousness of sin. They foreshadowed Christ Jesus, the future perfect priest who would offer a perfect sacrifice of himself (Hebrews 9 & 10, see esp. 9.28 and 10.11-12).
So, the New Covenant is not contrary to or in contradiction of the Old Covenant. Rather, it is the fulfillment of it. Essentially, the Old prophesied the New and looks forward to it.
5) Old Testament prophecy points to Christ as savior from sin. Isaiah 53 provides a hauntingly picture of the Messiah’s crucifixion hundreds of years prior. Verse 5 makes it clear that he would be wounded for transgressions and bruised for iniquities. Verse 6 describes humanity as sheep gone astray and that our iniquities are laid upon Him. Verse 7 continues that He is led as a lamb to the slaughter. This is unmistakably blood sacrifice language- the Messiah would be the lamb who who pay the price for our sin.
The last prophet of the Old Covenant, John the Baptist, announces Jesus to be the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29).
6) I have already given several verses showing the sin-bearing nature of Jesus’ cross, I just want to point out again Romans 3:25 &26: God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. God presented Christ as sacrificial atonement through His blood!
That is clearly payment for sin made for us. Why? To demonstrate His righteousness, to be just and Justifier. Yes, justification matters. Why? because sin matters, because God is just. He does not just let sin go. This verse says He suspended punishment for sin before the cross. Why? Because He himself was going to deal with it on the cross. But it has to be dealt with. It cannot be permanently overlooked because that is a violation of justice. On the cross justice was served because full payment was made for sin by the blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away our sin.
Any theology of the cross that denies this is inadequate. The problem of sin must be dealt with from God’s side (justice) and from our side (justification/forgiveness). As the “Non-Violent” view fails to deal with sin from both sides, it fails to encompass all aspects of the work of Christ on the Cross. Therefore, it fails to be a viable explanation or a adequate rendering of Gospel.
Jeremy Myers says
Whoa! You’re making some strong accusations there. And this is a very long comment …. so I’m not going to try to reply to any specific part of it.
But look … your long comment reveals that you have simply failed to properly understand what the non-violent view of the atonement teaches. All of the texts you cite and the arguments you provide against the non-violent atonement have good answers and explanations.
You are generally right. Here are a couple of additional thoughts:
1. The blood of Jesus instituted a blood covenant that was superior to the Mosaic covenant. If you research “Middle East blood covenants” you will see what I mean. We are invited to join into this covenant, but as with all covenants, there are terms. A marriage covenant makes both parties promise to restrict themselves to the other. The blood covenant of Jesus makes us promise to submit to His leadership, which includes going beyond the minimal moral law and strive to observe the spirit of the law, which is superior.
2. “For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” The Greek actually says “…INTO the remission (or forgiveness) of sins.” Abiding by the blood covenant terms leads us to agree to reject a sinful life and thereby receive God’s gracious. This does not mean we become sinless, but we do live separate (the meaning of “holy”) from the world around us because we have a different spirit – holy spirit instead of an unholy spirit.
Good example….ive also thought it caused man to see the evil in their hearts thank you wish I could afford your study..
Slappy McGhee says
Very good article.
Jesus died because they killed him.
They killed him because he dared to challenge the Jewish system of sacrificing an innocent animal to erase a sin THEY committed. He showed them that forgiveness comes by forgiving others, and no sacrifice is needed or wanted by his father.
God DID so love the world that he sent his son. God sent him to show the Jews the “Way” so they could take it to the world. But they rejected him and made an example of him. That’s it.
Don Weber says
Thank you for this article. I’ve been on a journey for about 2 years to understand the cross and your article has helped answer many of the questions I’ve had. I still feel like I have a long way to go but I’ve always been very comfortable with wrestling with the truth.
How would you fit 2 Corinthians 5:21 into your understanding of Jesus’s death?
The typical PSA proponent reads this verse as if it says something like this, “For our sake God put our sin on Christ, so that from him we would have the righteousness of God transferred to our account.”
This reading and understanding is incorrect for the following reasons:
1. The verse says, “…so that IN him we might become the righteousness of God”, not “from him”. To be “in” Christ is a Greek way of saying, “in his group”, or “on his team”, or “linked to him”. The Greek word “in” has to do with our identification with Christ, not about something being passed from him to us. “In” is a word that involves association, not a transfer.
2. Righteousness is a virtue like love, patience, gentleness, etc. Virtues cannot be transferred. I cannot transfer some of my patience or love to you. Right living is also virtuous living. Righteousness is not something that can be transferred or delegated. Neither can wickedness. This passage says nothing about the righteousness of God or of Jesus actually being transferred to us. It is by being “in” Christ that we can have God’s righteousness, which is about following Christ, living and behaving as he did. Righteousness is what we do because we are associated with Christ. It is not delegated to us.
3. The Greek the phrase “we would have the righteousness of God” is actually “that we might be becoming the righteousness of God.” This is about our transitioning from a condition of unrighteousness toward righteousness. Becoming righteous is not a status or a position or a transfer, or a declaration, but a movement, a transition from somewhere to somewhere. So, properly understood, this phrase has nothing to do with God transferring righteousness to us, but of us transitioning from our unrighteousness behavior toward godly, righteous behavior.
4. The greater context of verse 21 is also problematic because it is about Christ reconciling us to God. If we claim that verse 21 teaches that God transfers Christ’s righteousness to us, we would have a false or reverse reconciliation. The context pleads with us to be reconciled TO God. It is US being reconciled TO Him, not Him being reconciled to us. We have offended God. We must stop offending Him if reconciliation is going to occur. If somehow some external righteousness is transferred to us, and this is called reconciliation in total disregard of our actually ceasing to offend, then God is being bribed or blinded by Christ, and no genuine reconciliation has occurred. The plea of Paul is that WE be reconciled TO God, not for God to be reconciled to us, and the first step in a process of reconciliation is to stop offending. Until the offenses cease, there can be no genuine reconciliation. So to read this passage with the idea that we are not required to stop offending, and that reconciliation occurs due to an imparting of righteousness from a third party destroys the very intent of the passage, which is that we be reconciled TO God. If a transfer of righteousness is occurring without us ceasing to offend, then it must be that God is reconciled to us, which is reconciliation in reverse, if you can even imagine such a thing!
5. Now let’s focus on the phrase “to be sin for us”. Sin is an action that takes place in time, and therefore cannot be transferred to another time or another actor, nor can something or someone become literal sin. Sin is not an object or substance that can be moved or transferred, bought or sold. Some may say that Christ became legally sin in our place. This idea would mean that Christ merely accepted a temporary legal label called “sin”. But a mere label called “sin” does nothing at all to motivate us to live righteously, and the verse flatly states that “…he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Simply having Jesus become temporarily labeled as a legal sinner provides no motivation of any significance that would move us toward righteous living.
6. Using verse 21 as transferring Christ’s righteousness is a denial of being made a new creature in verse 17. Transferred righteousness is a fiction, a legal position, and has no immediate bearing on our behavior. Being labeled “legally righteous” does not make us new, where old things have passed away. We would merely have a new legal status called “the righteousness of Christ”. This is functionally equivalent to putting lipstick on a pig – where we are the pig. It makes a mockery of us actually becoming new, and discards God’s demand that we stop sinning and become righteous.
Now that we have examined what the verse does not say, what then is it saying? “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
First of all, the words “to be” in the phrase “to be sin” is not in the Greek. Without these words the text says “…he made him sin…”. In what sense was Jesus made sin for our sake? I think that this is a reference to what sin looks like, the agony, the cruelty, the wickedness, all put on public display, “…so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” We see the innocent Son of God tortured, suffering and dying, and knowing that it is because of our collective sinful actions and attitudes. Our sin, our unrighteousness, is the cause of this atrocity. We should reflect on this and be horrified that our sins led to this unrighteousness, and then flee from our unrighteousness and toward God’s righteousness. The very Son of God was nailed to a cruel cross because of our sin. What a shame. May we flee from all sin so that his suffering will not be in vain. If we do this and become a follower of Christ, we will have as the text says, the righteousness of God and reconciliation with God through Jesus Christ. This fits the context perfectly and fulfills its author’s intent.
In conclusion for 2 Corinthians 5:21, I again must point to the fact that there is no Penal Substitution here, no transfer of the righteousness of Jesus to our account, nothing about Jesus taking our punishment or God forgiving us because Jesus paid for our sins with his blood. Paul is stating that the ugliness of sin was put on display by the death of Jesus so that those who follow Jesus will choose to live according to God’s definition of righteousness. Jesus gave himself for us to free us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for God’s righteous living.
In him (Jesus Christ) we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace
Kevin George says
The word redemption is the word that means freedom. When something was under the control of one, another comes and redeems, frees, from that control (via payment or otherwise), but the point is the freedom, not the payment. The same for most uses of the word “redeem”, like “redeeming the time…”. There is no literal payment by someone to someone who collects the payment. It is a release from bondage to sin.
The word “aphesin”, translated “forgiveness”, actually means “release”. So, Ephesians 1:7 is actually saying “In him we have freedom through his blood [covenant], the release of sins.” It is us, by God’s grace, releasing the sinful life of addiction to sin due to entering into the blood covenant of Jesus Christ, which requires us to stop sinning.
LR PuffinStuff says
… without the shedding of blood, there can be no forgiveness of sins.
Janice Owens says
It says in the law. You left that part out
Dark Storm Cloud9 says
I’ve been struggling with the concept that Jesus Christ’s death forgives our sins, and truth be told I just can NOT see it or connect the dots. Your article did show me a different perspective though, and I thank you for your insightful words.
Janice Owens says
Jesus never mentioned before passover that His blood would be shed for sin. He was kidnapped, beaten, and murdered because they were jealous and hated Him. He came to live and not be murdered. Nor was He sacrificed by God or humans. God hates sacrifices: Hoses 6:6 For I desire mercy and not sacrifice. How much more human sacrifices. God hates the shedding of innocent blood. Proverbs 6:16. Man has put to much of his own thoughts into Jesus death. The book of Acts never says Jesus shed His blood for sins. We are to look at and follow how He lived.