Jesus did not literally BEAR our sins on himself or in his body
Isaiah 53:4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet WE did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
This is a prophesy about Jesus Christ, and it was made by the prophet Isaiah about 800 years before Jesus was even born. When you read this verse which event do you think it concerns and which prophesy in the New Testament do you believe has come true through this old prophesy? Do you believe it’s Jesus death on the cross – because that’s where he died for the sins of the world? This is only true in part. Jesus did literally bear the cross he was about to be nailed upon – a symbol for getting us cleansed and saved – but if we should go by the Bible text this is actually not what Matthew had in mind with the expression ”he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows”. Believe it or not, but Matthew suggests that this particular prophesy was fulfilled even before the suffering on cross, specifically when Jesus was still living and walked around among people to cast out evil spirits and heal the sick!
Matt 8:16 When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick:17 THAT IT MIGHT BE FULFILLED WHICH WAS SPOKEN BY ESAIAS THE PROPHET, saying, Himself . Isa. 53:4
As you can see, it’s the concept of casting out evil spirits and healing the sick that is considered being the fulfillment by Isaiah 53:4. There is an interesting comparison between Jesus getting people free by casting out demons from them and healing them from illnesses, AND dying as a sin offering for the people of the world in order to make them free from their sins which they are chained by. When Jesus walked around among people and healed them from their illnesses, he did NOT take their sins in his body, and neither did he bear people’s sins in him or on him in any way. He did not even briefly take their illnesses in his body prior to removing them completely, because he simply REMOVED the illnesses without having the sins making a detour in his body before he did so. The Bible is clear that Jesus died to REMOVE THE SINS OF THE WORLD – and naturally not without conditions, or else everyone would be saved.
So when we read in Isaiah 53:4 that Jesus BORE our illnesses, Matthew equals this information with that he REMOVED them and that is the way that Jesus handles our sins. He makes an arrangement to simply have them REMOVED under certain conditions. Jesus only bore our sins symbolically, in the same sense that the the sacrificed animals in the old testament bore the sins of the people. The animals didn’t become sinful (as some of the proponents of the penal substitution believe) but they were simply offered as perfect sin offerings and died FOR the sins of the people. The animals were sweet-smelling, just like the offer of the son before his Father, and if something is labelled as sweet smelling you don’t turn away from it but you fully embrace it. The death of the son was planned long before it happened so it would have been rather cowardly for a Father to turn his back on his son when he needed him the most. Read more about this issue in this article.
John 1:29The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
Hebr. 9:26 For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.—28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.
Eph. 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.
Here are some different translations of Isaiah 53:5:
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. (KJV)
The chastisement FOR our peace was upon Him (NKJV)
Upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace (ESV)
Here are some different translations of Isaiah 53:6 (“to fall” comes closer to the Hebrew):
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. (KJV)
—And Jehovah hath caused to meet on him, The punishment of us all (Young’s literal)
— But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him. (NASB)
Also Peter uses Isaiah’s choice of words and it’s true that Jesus symbolically bore our sins in his body (as in “bearing” the burden/responsibility or similar) and died for us. Jesus body suffered for our sake, so we can say that he symbolically “bore” our sins in his aching body, or “on his shoulders”. He wouldn’t have to suffer had it not been for our sins. Peter doesn’t argue against the interpretation of Matthew:
1 Pet 2:24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.25 For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.
In the same chapter we can read that Jesus “bore” the sins of many, and if this word means “remove” earlier in the chapter – as Matthew claims – then it should mean the same thing here. In Isaiah 53:11-12 the Hebrew words sabal and nasa are translated in the Septuagint with anaphero. ”Is. 53:11 He shall bear (sabal/anaphero) their iniquities”. ”Anaphero” is translated ”remove” in other places, and it makes perfect sense that Jesus REMOVE sins.
Isaiah: 53:11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
God the Father never punished Jesus, and Jesus didn’t take our punishment instead of us or God’s wrath instead of us!
Notice that it says in Is. 53:4 that ”WE did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted”. So in OUR view (not necessarily in God’s view) that is what it appeared to us, and it’s not hard to get this exact picture if we look up to Jesus on the cross to see him hanging there in distress, with much blood, bruises, sweat and with facial expressions revealing excruciating pain for our sake. The soldiers under the cross might even have suggested that God had punished Jesus for making himself equal with Him. God the Father of course has no reason to PUNISH Jesus for doing his exact will by dying for mankind, which was the plan all along! Nevertheless, Jesus suffered greatly on the cross but not because his Father sadistically wanted to harm him but because wicked hands caused the pain. God allowed it to happen because of the aim to have his son offering up his life for us, and this is tied to a high price which includes much suffering, stress and agony. Only in that sense can we say that “it pleased God to bruise him”, even if the Father was not a cause of it. Nowhere in the Bible can we read that Jesus was PUNISHED for our sins, even if it is an oft-mentioned claim.
Jesus did not die “instead of us” because if that were true then WE wouldn’t have to die, which we know is not true. Jesus died for ALL but he clearly didn’t die instead of ALL because then ALL would be free from the risk of ever having to die. But we are all going to die physically, and some of those people who Jesus died for will also die spiritually. (The KJV Bible offers a good translation when it comes to the Greek word ”huper”, because it’s translated with “for” when it comes to the atonement on the cross and not “instead of”.) Neither did Jesus die “in our place”. Was our place ever supposed to be on the cross? Of course not. And if Jesus death on the cross means that he took the punishment “instead of us”, then those people who Jesus died for (every single one) would be forever free from any punishment no matter how they lived their lives. We would all be born saved and our sins would be forgiven before they were even committed because Jesus has already paid for them and he has taken the punishment for those sins on himself and “instead of us”. Clearly that will turn into an unbiblical theology. If anyone does something “instead of” someone else, then it doesn’t make sense that BOTH still end up doing the task in question. If a prisoner at war is told that he must be executed, and someone else steps forward and makes an offer to take this punishment in the other person’s stead (instead of him) and the offer is accepted, then it doesn’t make sense if BOTH will be executed!
Right terminology please!
Maybe you feel that it’s splitting hairs to even discuss if it’s better to say “instead of” or “for“, but it’s helpful to sort this out to get a better understanding of these things in order to not risk ending up with false doctrines. It’s not a salvation matter BUT false terms can be the reason why much heresy is creeping into our churches, and one false doctrine can easily lead to another false doctrine. That’s also exact what has happened in many of our churches today, and we have various degrees of gnosticism among us without even being aware of it.
Let’s say that you’ve been guilty of speeding way too fast in your car, and a police man stops you and writes you a ticket. Your kind FRIEND then offers to pay for it and he does so right away! Wouldn’t you be quite surprised if you still received a reminder in your mailbox, to pay for this exact ticket that is supposed to have been PAID IN FULL! Was the ticket paid in full or not? Did Jesus pay for our sins or not? PAID IS PAID! IF Jesus paid for our sins (which the Bible doesn’t say), then you should be completely off the hook, and no one has any right to demand anything else from you since Jesus paid for your sins – which means that your sins should have been paid for and forgiven before you even committed them. We know that this is not the case though, and that’s why it’s better to phrase ourselves in a more Biblical way. IF you insist on using the word “pay” (I wouldn’t advise it, and it’s better to say “Jesus died FOR our sins“, then it’s better to say:
Jesus paid a big price for us, since he gave his own life
Jesus paid for our sins
The punishment that we deserve is an eternity in Hell, is it not? Did Jesus take that punishment upon himself and instead of us? Of course not. Neither does God the Father have a need to pour out wrath on someone for no reason, and naturally he wouldn’t even think about pouring out wrath on his son who was obedient unto death. If Jesus “satisfied God’s wrath” or “took God’s wrath on himself and instead of us“, then none of us would have to risk being affected by God’s wrath even if we sinned all day long. If Jesus took this wrath on himself, then we shouldn’t have to do this as well, but the Biblical truth is that God will show wrath on those who refuse to believe and/or those who do evil and that includes also christians. This means Jesus didn’t satisfy God’s wrath.
John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
Romans 2:5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God
Romans 13:4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
Ephesians 5:6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath ofGod upon the children of disobedience.
It’s a huge difference between these two claims (the first being the best):
“Jesus died as a sin offering for all mankind (a high price), and by doing so enabled whosoever to be saved on the condition that they believe and repent”
“Jesus paid for our SINS on the cross and died instead of us and in our place. He also took our punishment instead of us and satisfied God’s wrath”
As we can see below, our sins are not actually removed until we REPENT. It’s also interesting to see that also Luke (or rather Peter who Luke is talking about) connects the power to heal the sick with the majestic power which derives from Jesus sin offering on the cross and faith in him.
Acts 3:11 And as the lame man which was healed held Peter and John, all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon’s, greatly wondering.12 And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?13 The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go.14 But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you;15 And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses.16 And his name through faith in his name HATH MADE THIS MAN STRONG, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this PERFECT SOUNDNESS in the presence of you all.17 And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers.18 But those things, which God before had shewed BY THE MOUTH OF ALL HIS PROPHETS, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.19 REPENT ye therefore, and be converted, THAT YOUR SINS MAY BE BLOTTED OUT, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
If we would evangelize to others by saying:
”Good news! Jesus took your place on the cross, he took your punishment instead of you , he took the wrath of God instead of you, your sins are fully PAID and forgiven, it’s finished and there is nothing you can do, etc”
then the people who are listening (believers or non-believers) might think:
”Well, that’s good. Then I was born saved and I won’t risk losing my salvation no matter how I choose to live my life because all my sins were paid for and forgiven even before I commit them. No one can require to get paid for an invoice or a debt twice. Paid is paid! And Jesus took my punishment instead of me on the cross, and that means that I don’t have to fear for any future punishments because JESUS took those punishments on himself. Jesus did it all and I can relax and I can afford to do nothing!.”
Jesus is said to be the ”propitiation” for our sins and this English word is originally from latin and means “favorable, gracious, kind” or “render favorable.” This latin word is used to translate the Greek word hilasterion which is used 22 times in the Septuagint. Hilasterion is used in the Septuagint to translate the Hebrew term for ”covering” or ”mercy-seat“, which is the cover of the Ark where the blood from offerings was placed to give ”atonement” for the sins of the people.
2 Cor. 5:21 For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin
The above can also be translated as “to be a SIN OFFERING for us”, just like the below verse indicates.
Hebrews 10:8 — saying above, Sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt offerings and [sacrifices] for sin thou wouldst not, neither hadst pleasure therein.
It is not uncommon to translate the original word for ”sin” as ”sin offering” and the same is true in Hebrews 10:6-8 which is a quotation from Psalm 40:6. In this Psalm the Septuagint (a Greek translation of the Hebrew text) also does not have the word ”sacrifice” in the text.
Read more in this blog article