Christ: Our Substitute and our Righteousness (part one)

Christ: Our Substitute, Life, and Righteousness
Part One

Lamentation 1:18 The LORD is righteous; for I have rebelled against his commandment: hear, I pray you, all people, and behold my sorrow: my virgins and my young men are gone into captivity. 19 I called for my lovers, [but] they deceived me: my priests and mine elders gave up the ghost in the city, while they sought their meat to relieve their souls. 20 Behold, O LORD; for I [am] in distress: my bowels are troubled; mine heart is turned within me; for I have grievously rebelled: abroad the sword bereaveth, at home [there is] as death. 21 They have heard that I sigh: [there is] none to comfort me: all mine enemies have heard of my trouble; they are glad that thou hast done [it]: thou wilt bring the day [that] thou hast called, and they shall be like unto me. 22 Let all their wickedness come before thee; and do unto them, as thou hast done unto me for all my transgressions: for my sighs [are] many, and my heart [is] faint.

Psalm 40:12 For innumerable evils have compassed me about: mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart faileth me.

Psalm 38:4 For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me…. 17 For I [am] ready to halt, and my sorrow [is] continually before me. 18 For I will declare mine iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin.

Basic principles of biblical interpretation

When considering difficult subject matter in the Bible, it is always good to consider the following:

  1. Exegesis: The Bible (through (a) word choice; (b) word omission; (c) the immediate context; (d) the greater context; and (e) the definitions of the words in their original languages) is its own inerrant, and fully authoritative, dictionary and commentary.

  2. Hermeneutics: The Bible sets forth perfect truth on several levels, namely: (a) the historic level; (b) the moral level; and (c) the spiritual level (which often encompasses multiple levels of understanding).

  3. First use: Although it is not a universal rule in the Bible, quite often we can determine the primary meaning or intent of a word based upon (a) the first appearance of that word in the Bible, and/or (b) the first appearance of that word in light of a particular subject or object (e.g. the first use of a word as it pertains to an inanimate object may differ from the first use of a word as it pertains to a living being, or to a location. Likewise, the first use of a word as it concerns God, may differ from the first use of a word as it pertains to man or to animals).

  4. Emphasis: The entirety of the Bible concerns some aspect of the person, work, righteousness, and kingdom of God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ (and the Triune Godhead whom He fully represents bodily). The chief focal point of the Bible, and that which brings the highest glory to God, is the redemptive work of Christ on the cross (hence Paul’s determination to “not know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified”).

The Principles in light of the Volume of the Book

Although we should never seek biblical understanding simply for the sake of pride or novelty, if our aim is to come to a greater knowledge of Him, then it behooves us to seek the Lord literally and truly on every page of the Bible. As we seek to find Christ in whatever God ordains for us to read, we should strive to keep an eye out for those passages that pertain to His propitiatory work. We should also try to keep in mind the doctrine of eternal vital union, which is the doctrine of that living oneness that has existed throughout all eternity between the spiritual Head and His Body, which is Christ Jesus and His Church. Lord willing, He will give us fresh morsels of insight concerning the eternal love with which He loved us, in light of that suffering that which He suffered for us. 

Though we have no strength to actually place any limit on God, we can sometimes do so in our own experience whenever we allow our preconceived notions to become paramount over the truth. Many speak of finding the Lord Jesus Christ on every page of the Bible, and stress that the entire Bible pertains to some aspect of His person and work; however, this precept often becomes nothing more than a cliché; especially, when people fail to see Him in passages that are less “tried and tested.” Far too many passages that speak parabolically of the Lord go unnoticed by many, because the passages do not fit the pattern of the more familiar types. The tendency is to gravitate towards the more positive figures, and to steer clear of those that are of a more negative and condemning nature. As we proceed, this point will become more important; especially as it pertains to the doctrine of….


The substitutionary nature of the atonement

In order for the Lord Jesus to have atoned for His elect, he had to have been their Substitute; I trust that no regenerate child of God would dispute this. However, what does it really mean; in what way was He our Substitute? The Bible reveals that He had to have been made sin for us, and that He had to die in our stead enduring the equivalent of eternal damnation for each and every one of us. He had to fully stand where we should have stood (before the Judgment Seat) in order to truly be our propitiation. Thus, whatever grief and sorrow we would have felt under the wrath of God, He felt the equivalent. Whatever pain, torment and agony we would have felt; He felt the equivalent. Through vital union with us (and the love that flows from it), He became us. He became the daughter of Zion whom the Lord hath “covered with a cloud in His anger;” He was the Beauty of Israel “cast down from Heaven unto the earth.” (Lamentations 2:1). The Lord Jesus Christ, Himself, became the king that mourned, and the prince that was clothed with desolation; He was the one, in the stead of His people, who was troubled and that had done to Him after the way of His people; for according to their deserts was He judged (Ezekiel 7:27); He [was] wounded for their transgressions, bruised for their iniquities: the chastisement of their peace [was] upon him; and with His stripes they are healed (Isaiah 53:5).

Understanding the above is crucial to understanding many biblical passages. As we begin to see that the sufferings that the reprobate suffer are the same sufferings that we would have suffered were it not for our Substitute (and thus, they are the same sufferings that the Lord keenly experienced Himself as our Substitute), it becomes clear that many more passages point us to the redemptive work of the Lord than what is commonly believed. When we see verses that pertain to wrath and judgment, before we say “that applies to the reprobate” or “that applies to the end-times church” (both of which often have real application), let us first see that “this is what we deserved by nature,” and thus, “this is what the Lord Jesus Christ endured on our behalf.” From Gethsemane to the cross, He became what we were, stood where we should have stood, and He suffered what we should have suffered. It is in this way that He atoned for us. Perhaps it can be said that in a real sense, being Holy and Righteous God, the Lord Jesus endured worse than we (for whereas we as sinners can never come to see the full filth and vileness of our sin; the Lord Jesus Christ, immaculate and upright in all of His ways, saw the abomination of sin perfectly).

Some will object and say that we have no such liberty to interpret scripture this way. I disagree, seeing that clearly many passages in Isaiah and the Psalms declare these substitutionary truths. I see no reason to artificially limit historic parables to only those passages that are generally accepted as pertaining to the Lord. In fact, as we go on we will see that the Bible is full of language that parabolically points to the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus Christ. We see the levitical sacrifices; we see the scape goat; we understand the brasen serpent and the rock struck; we see many other passages that are commonly known to typify Christ. However, do we see the Book of Lamentations as being the Book of the Cross, as we see Psalm 22 as being the Psalm of the Cross? Can we turn to portions of the major and minor prophets, for instance, and see Christ as our Substitute in the language of God’s holy wrath and judgment? Can we see these things before we see the reprobate in general, or the apostate church in particular?


God hath made him sin for us, who knew no sin!

II Corinthians 5:21 will be my starting point; but before commenting, it may do us well to consider the context of the verse: (please keep in mind that words in [brackets] are not in the original text and that words in italics simply indicate the portions of text that I am trying to emphasize).

II Corinthians 5:16 Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we [him] no more. 17 Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 18 And all things [are] of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech [you] by us: we pray [you] in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. 21 For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

I. A new creation:

We see in the above passage that if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature (literally, ktisis, a new: original formation, establishing, building, creation). It is a new original formation because the new man now exists. This is the new man that we are to put on, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness (Ephesians 4:24). This is the same new man that we have put on, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him (Colossians 3:10). We see then, that the new man is created in righteousness, and that it is after the image of Him that created him. When God strengthens His people, He strengthens them with might by his Spirit in this inner man, and fills them with all of the fulness of Him (Ephesians 3:16-19). It is in this new man, or inner man, that a believer delights in the law of God.

However, many would maintain that the new man is “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” We see language that declares “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ (Galatians 3:27).” We also read “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to [fulfil] the lusts [thereof] (Romans 13:14); and Job 29:14 states “I put on righteousness, and it clothed me: my judgment was as a robe and a diadem” and can anyone doubt that the righteousness he put on was the LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS (Jeremiah 23:6)?

When we begin to understand the reality of the vital union between the Lord and His people (and the fact that the new man is both the soul of the sinner made eternally alive in Christ, and it is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself as He makes us alive in Him and through Him, sustaining us by His Spirit), we begin to see just how inseparable we are from the Lord. Where He is, we are; what He is, we are. He is in us, and we are in Him. I believe that this is what the Lord meant when He told Martha “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live” (John 11:25). The resurrection isn’t just something that will happen later; it is Christ. Our life is Christ. We read in Colossians 3:4 “When Christ, [who is] our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.” There is no eternal life outside of the Lord; there is eternal death and eternal destruction, but there is no eternal life unless we are yoked to Him. Believers do not have eternal lives (plural); they have eternal life (singular) because they are all partakers of the one Life, which is the one LORD who is their life. 

We are so united with the Lord, so one with Him, that earthly words and terms will never suffice to adequately describe just what we are in Him (and what the Triune Godhead is in us). When it comes to salvation, what is legal in the Bible is always based upon that which is actual; there are no false constructs in the Bible concerning these matters. Whereas the elect sinner was previously dead, he is now alive and has an incorruptible seed in Him that cannot sin and can only bring forth good fruit. He now has a soul qualified to enter into Heaven, not based solely upon a legal righteousness, but also upon an actual. Wherever there is eternal life, with the Lord Jesus as the source of that life,  there is (and must be) real righteousness. Just as one living isn’t just legally alive (but truly), the one who is righteous isn’t just legally righteous (but actually). Union with God makes it actual; but the finished work of Christ establishes the legal (and it is the legal that declares God to be Just in making us truly righteous). The regenerate soul that enters into Heaven upon the death of the body is both perfectly and actually righteous. Yet that regenerate soul is no more perfectly and actually righteous than it was when it was yoked to that unregenerate body. So long as that soul has the Spirit of Christ abiding in it, and the Lord and the Father abiding in it as well, that person is righteous. Consider the following passages:

  • Romans 5:17 For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) 18 Therefore as by the offence of one [judgment came] upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one [the free gift came] upon all men unto justification of life. 20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: 21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

  • Romans 8:10 And if Christ [be] in you, the body [is] dead because of sin; but the Spirit [is] life because of righteousness.

We read in I Corinthians 12:12 “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.” Did you catch the significance of this? This passage states that the body of Christ is Christ. Just as the human body is one, having many members, so Christ is one. One. He is one in Himself, but He is one with us. He is one with the Father and we are one with the Father. He is one with the Spirit and we are one with the Spirit. Some may object and say, you are making the elect body God! Am I? Does this oneness make us God? Are we now a fourth “person” in the Trinity (as if a Quadrinity now exists)? Of course not, never; we do not become God in any sense; yet we indeed become partakers of the divine nature (II Peter 1:4).

It is in light of these precepts that God, through the Apostle John, commands us to let no man deceive us: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as God is righteous (I John 3:7). That even as (G2531 kathos), means just that – even as. Now if the Lord Jesus is only legally righteous, then we are even as Him, only legally righteous. But if the Lord Jesus Christ is actually righteous, then we are even as Him, actually righteous. We are reckoned to be what we are: justified, without sin, and incapable of sinning in our inner man (I John 3:9). Romans 5:19 declares “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” Thus, if mankind became actual sinners (actually sinful) via the disobedience of the one man, the first Adam, then elect sinners must cease to be actual sinners and thus become actually righteous by the obedience of the Second Adam, which is Christ – not forensically only, but actually and truly. 

The sentence above may not subjectively harmonize with our everyday experience; however, how we perceive things via our subjective experiences is not the basis of that which is real; our perceptions do not constitute reality. Reality is defined by the eternal purpose of God and the finished work of the Lord. Christ atoning for us, and putting away our sins forever…. that is what is real, even right here and right now. However, these precepts must never be confused with the false doctrines of Wesleyan progressive sanctification and sinless perfection in the body. The Apostle John states “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us (I John 1:8-10). The Christian will obtain victory over sins, but as He grows in grace (and learns more of the Lord and His perfection) he has a greater felt sense of his own sinful inclination and failures. In his experience he cries along with the Apostle “O wretched man that I am!”

Yet, in light of what God has done for us, we should also declare “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.” It is the sin that dwelleth in us that causes us to sin; it is our sin, but it does not stem from the new man. Moreover, though it is our sin, and we commit them; they are already gone. Dr. Tobias Crisp put it this way “It is true, the Lord leaves the sins that believers act, legible still, though crossed: as when a man hath crossed his book, one may read every particular sum, or debt, that was formerly written; and though he may read them, yet it doth not follow that they are debts, for the crossing of it take away the nature of the debt; God crossed the score when Christ died, and then it was no more debt; all our sins, and debt, were then finished.” God leaves our acts of transgression visible for us to see and feel (so that we give all of the credit and glory to Him), but it cannot be charged to us because the debt incurred was already paid and satisfied by our Surety. Moreover, God also looks upon us and sees no sin because, as we read above, that new man is created in righteousness and cannot sin. As a result, we have a righteousness that exceeds [the righteousness] of the scribes and Pharisees (without which, we would not be able to enter into the kingdom of heaven – Matthew 5:20); our righteousness is the LORD Himself. If we were not truly and actually righteous in and through the LORD our righteousness, then we could not enter Heaven, for “….there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth, neither [whatsoever] worketh abomination, or [maketh] a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life (Revelation 21:27).”

II. Not imputing their trespasses.

In II Corinthians 5:19, we see that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them. We know this to be the world of the elect; those out of every class, position, race, and ethnicity that have been given to Christ by the Father (all of whom will come to Him by the effectual working of His grace, and they will in no wise be cast out). God, as both the author of the holy law and as the Judge over it, does legally justify His people and declare them to be just, righteous and without sin. The people of God are justified from eternity past in the sovereign purpose, will, and election of God. Likewise, the people of God are justified at the cross in light of the finished work of Christ on the cross. Finally, the people of God are justified upon regeneration and conversion when they experientially become aware of their life and righteousness via the effectual working of the Holy Spirit. Thus, there is no possibility of any sin being  legally reckoned to them; the Apostle Paul declares “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth (Romans 8:33).”

However, we also know that were it not for the propitiatory work of the Lord, the trespasses of the elect would be imputed to them. Why? Because they actually sinned. God imputes sin to people not solely because they sinned in Adam (who is our legal and federal head and our representative after the flesh), but because both the elect and the reprobate were actually sinners in light of the sinful acts that they committed. When Adam fell, we fell with him; but that fall had a real consequence in that as with Adam, we too became actual sinners. As a result of these actual sins, God justly imputes the trespasses of the reprobate to them, even as he justly imputed the trespasses of the elect to the Lord Jesus Christ. This is no mere deeming or supposition; as we read above, Christ is one body and the Lord Jesus had sin imputed to Him because His body sinned. Through that vital union, and in light of His finished work, His righteousness became our righteousness, just as our sins became His sins. Now ask yourself, if God imputes the reprobates’ sins to them based on actuality and not just legal reckonings, does God then turn around and not impute the elect’s sins to them based on legal reckonings only, or does he not impute their sins to them based upon the fact that the elect are now actually righteous and that their sins have already been put away forever (Hebrews 9:26)? The Lord Jesus, in being made sin, has made an end to sins (Daniels 9:24); as far as the east is from the west, [so] far hath he removed our transgressions from us (Psalm 103:12).” God cannot impute them to His people because there is nothing to impute – they are actually without sin in that new man; and their bodies too, will be without sin when He returns to gather us up in the last day. 

Some may object and say “you are teaching both imputed and imparted righteousness;” my answer to that is “yes I am.” The Lord imputes His righteousness to me based upon that righteousness that He established on the cross. However, He gives (imparts via union) Himself to me, through His Spirit, as the Triune Godhead abides in me and I in Him (the same holds true for all of the regenerate elect).

III. For He hath made Him [to be] sin for us.

God the Father made (“poieo’d”) the Lord Jesus sin for us. For a more detailed study of poieo, please click on the following: Word Study – Poieo (Made); for now, I will simply maintain that in the one hundred sixteen (116)  instances wherein poieo is used in the aorist, active, indicative form (the same form found in the portion of II Corinthians 5:21 pertaining to the Lord being made sin), poieo is never used in a legal sense. As I have stated elsewhere, I am using the common secular definition of legal, or legally, since the word is never found in Scripture. The definition of legal (or legally) is that which is, or that which describes, something: (a) of, relating to, or by law; (b) having a formal status derived from law often without a basis in actual fact; (c) recognized or made effective by a court of law; (d) recognized or enforced by law rather than by equity; and (e) created by the constructions of the law <a legal fiction> — these are the literal definitions of “legal” and “legally” as defined by several dictionary sources (they are not my own definitions). Thus, when people object to the terms “merely legal” and “legal fiction” they are missing a vital aspect of what “legally” really and truly means.

So we we must ask the question of whether poieo is ever used in a strictly legal sense as to the transfer of sin (i.e. the laying on, bearing, making to meet, etc.), but in a real and actual sense only as it pertains to the punishment received for the sins that were treated as if they were really transferred? We will address the issue of transfer later, but regarding poieo I reiterate that it is not a mere supposition, pretending, or deeming; instead, it is always used to describe that which is literally and truly (1) made (often in a creative sense); (2) wrought; (c) brought forth; (d) performed; and (e) done (often in light of the former definitions). In fact, quite often it pertains to the working of mighty works (miracles); consider the following passages:

  • Matthew 19:4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made <4160> (5656) [them] male and female (see also Mark 10:6).
  • Matthew 21:13 And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made <4160> (5656) it a den of thieves (see also Mark 11:7, Luke 19:46).
  • John 2:10,11 And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now. 11 This beginning of miracles did <4160> (5656) Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.
  • John 4:46 So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee, where he made <4160> (5656) the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum.
  • John 7:23 If a man on the sabbath day receive circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken; are ye angry at me, because I have made <4160> (5656) a man every whit whole on the sabbath day?
  • Acts 2:22 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did <4160> (5656) by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know

I heard an objection wherein it was argued that three (3) out of the one hundred sixteen (116) instances of poieo (in the form at issue), meant to declare and not to make/perform/work/etc. The instances mentioned were found in John 19:7; Acts 2:36; and Galatians 3:13. Although I do not believe the argument to be true, I would maintain that even if declared was solely in view, the three instances do not mean to declare that which really isn’t, but to declare that which really is. For instance, concerning:

  1. John 19:7 – the Jews really and truly believed that Jesus was making Himself to be something that they deemed He was not — the Son of God;
  2. Acts 2:36 – though God the Son was eternally both Lord and Christ; in His humanity, through His obedience, suffering, death, and resurrection – He was made to be what He was purposed to be from eternity past. Some may counter that this is essentially declaring; however, I would maintain that this is no more of a mere declaring than the example that we have in Hebrews 5:7-9 wherein we read “Who in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto Him that was able to save Him from death, and was heard in that He feared; 8 Though He were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which He suffered; 9 And being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him.” In both passages, no simple declaration was in view, but rather a making and declaring based upon that which he actually suffered, performed, and became experientially.
  3. Galatians 3:13 – the Lord Jesus Christ was indeed made a curse for us; he wasn’t simply declared to be a curse as if He really wasn’t but someone (God or man) just pretended that He was. If He was declared to be a curse, it must only be because He was made a curse. Vine’s Expository Dictionary has this to say on the matter:

    katara: kata, “down,” intensive, and ara (G685 prayer/cursing), denotes an “execration, imprecation, curse,” uttered out of malevolence, Jas 3:10; 2Pet 2:14; or pronounced by God in His righteous judgment, as upon a land doomed to barrenness, Heb 6:8; upon those who seek for justification by obedience, in part or completely, to the Law, Gal 3:10, Gal 3:13; in this 13th verse it is used concretely of Christ, as having “become a curse” for us, i.e., by voluntarily undergoing on the Cross the appointed penalty of the “curse.” He thus was identified, on our behalf, with the doom of sin.

In light of the above, I maintain that even in these three passages in dispute, the totality of the usage (all 116 instances) pertains to that which was made, done, wrought, performed, in reality — there is nothing legal (as in an artificial construct, or legal fiction) in this word at all; neither as it pertains to the lexiconic definition, nor as it pertains to the word usage in the New Testament. So what does that leave us with? It leaves us with the fact that the Lord Jesus was actually made sin, and not just legally with only the effects or result being real. He was really made sin. However, this raises the question: how was Christ made sin? What does it mean to be made sin?

IV. Numbered with the transgressors.

Wherever the Greek word for impute (logizomai) is used in the Bible, it always pertains to a reckoning, deeming, accounting, calculating of that which is real and actual. However, when we consider that logizomai is never used in the Bible to describe how the Lord Jesus was made sin (nor any other word meaning to impute), we must accept the fact that this is an inference drawn by men. In other words, nowhere in Scripture does it teach that the Lord Jesus who knew no sin was reckoned to be made sin. I understand that there are many who believe that this was the only way that the Lord was made sin; but nowhere, not in a single verse, do we ever read that the Lord Jesus had sin “imputed to Him.”

However, some point to Mark 15:28 and similar verses wherein we read “And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, And he was numbered (logizomai) with the transgressors.” Those who hold to a strictly legal account of imputation would argue that being numbered with the transgressors is proof that only a legal reckoning is in view (since the Lord Jesus was not an actual transgressor but only legally deemed to be so). Let’s consider this; the word transgressor is anomos and literally means without law (and is translated as such, along with wicked and transgressor). However, if Christ was actually made sin, and actually bore the sin of His people, then being completely in their stead — he was the transgressor and without (i.e. found outside) the law. He was not the transgressor through His own actions, abstainings, or inclinations; yet, he was made a transgressor when he bore the sins of His people. He was reckoned to be what His people really were (and thus what He was really made in their stead). Jesus had the sins of His people legally reckoned (imputed) to him only because He was first made sin in His bearing of those sins.

We read in Isaiah 53:12 “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 (8738) with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” In this passage, we find that manah (Strong’s H4487) is used regarding Christ being numbered with the transgressors. I suggest that everyone reading look up the twenty-seven (27) instances of manah in the Bible and judge whether this is a word that is legal in definition or usage. The word is effectively appointed, and means numbered or counted only in regards to that which is actually numbered and counted (citizens, horses, armies, days of life, hair, etc.). Thus, it is indeed an artificial “reckoning” or “deeming” to suppose that being numbered with the transgressors means that the Lord Jesus wasn’t truly a transgressor in His people’s stead, even though He was utterly, truly, and eternally without any sin, spot, or blemish of His own. This is a mystery, but to deny it is to deny what God has clearly set forth in the language He chose to use, and in the context in which He chose to use it.

V. Made to meet

The above still does not answer the question of how the Lord Jesus was made sin. To gain further insight, I will turn to the Hebrew word paga’ to get a bit of a glimpse into the matter. In Isaiah 53:6, we read “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid (paga’ / made to meet / H6293) on him the iniquity of us all.” For a full study of the word paga’ please click on the following: Word Study – Paga‘ (laid / made to meet); for now, I maintain that paga’ is never translated as a legal term (though the passages in which it is used may have both legal and actual ramifications – just as salvation has both legal and actual ramifications). Paga’ is used concerning physical borders, entreating/interceding on behalf of others, and falling upon others (as if to kill). As the study suggests, this word means to strike, or to fall upon, and literally means to have real impact. Since entreat and intercede clearly are not in view when it comes to what the sins actually did to Him, the literal definitions, and the contextual usage, clearly evidences the fact that our sins must have (a) arrived at His location or met Him (Genesis 28:11; 32:1, I Samuel 10:5); (b) struck or smote Him (Numbers 35:19); and (d) fell upon Him (so as to kill Him – Exodus 5:3; Judges 8:21; I Kings 2:31,32).

As I stated in the word study, Strong’s Concordance, and other lexiconic sources include in the definition of paga’ the following: “to impinge (by accident or violence), come between, reach, run upon.” According to Merriam Webster, impinge is defined as: 1) to strike or dash especially with a sharp collision; 2) to have an effect : make an impression; and 3) to encroach, infringe. The Gesenius’s Lexicon states that it essentially means to strike upon, push upon, to rush on (especially with the purpose to slay), to light upon, to reach. Clearly none of this is merely legal; nor can we say that it refers to only the result of the sin (i.e. the punishment) and not the sin itself. Thus, in whatever way the Lord Jesus was made sin, He was made it in a way where sin actually impinged, or encroached upon Him. If anyone finds this interpretation unsatisfactory, they must take issue with the Bible and not with me, because this is the actual meaning of the term, and the actual usage of it, in Scripture.

I would like to clarify one point; I wrote above that “….entreat and intercede clearly are not in view when it comes to what the sins actually did to Him…;” however, please consider Isaiah 53:12 “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 (paga’ / H6293) for the transgressors.” Although entreat and intercede do not describe how the Lord was made sin, it is clearly the same Hebrew word (paga’) that we find in Isaiah 53:12. This reinforces the fact that for intercession for transgressions to have any real effect, at some point, the transgressions must be laid upon (made to meet on), and borne by, the One interceding. So we see that the intercession for transgressors cannot be separated from the literal/actual bearing, meeting, or laying on of sins.

VI. Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree

The above section ties-in with the following two passages:

  • Hebrews 9:28 So Christ was once offered to bear <399> ( 5629) the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

  • I Peter 2:24 Who his own self bare <399> (5656) 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.

The Greek word for to bear/bare in these two New Testament passages is anaphero (G399); these passages are the only two instances of the word where the two verb forms at issue (G5629 and G5656) exist. For a full study of the word anaphero please click on the following: Word Study – anaphero (to bear); for now, I will simply restate that whereas the context in which this word is used has legal and actual ramifications, it is not a legal word in and of itself. In fact, every time it is used, it is used to in reference to something truly, actually, and physically done. Whether it be leading people to a place, carrying Oneself up, or offering a sacrifice, it is all something actually and truly done — without need for artificial constructs and/or legal fictions.

Though many today would deny any actual bearing of sin (seeking instead to limit the bearing to something purely metaphorical or fictional), this erroneous interpretation simply will not stand. Anaphero has to do with a literal carrying up, bearing up, and placing on one’s self anything as a load to be carried. Men like John Gill, Tobias Crisp, Joseph Hussey, Gilbert Beebe, William Rushton, and numerous Strict Baptists and Primitive Baptists, believed that imputation (as used by many in their day) consisted of a literal transfer and bearing of sin in the Lord’s body. Though I state this only for the purpose of historic context, and to show the diversity of views on this matter, Martin Luther, and C.H. Spurgeon also held to this view (Martin Luther with far more controversial language used than most). This isn’t to say that all back then were in agreement; the works of John Owen, John Brine, and others evidence the fact that many denied a literal transfer. The point is that amongst faithful Christians, disagreements over the interpretation of the passages at issue existed. The following link will take you to the category on my site that supports these assertions:

As another proof of a literal bearing, notice the emphasis in Hebrews 9:28 – Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many, and yet it states that He will return without sin. Now, this term without clearly evidences that He had sin (i.e. the sin of His people, and their sins only; not any of His own). Note the verse does not say “So Christ was once offered to bear [the punishment of] sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without [the punishment of sins] sin unto salvation.” The Lord Jesus literally carried the sins of His people, and thus literally endured the resulting punishment for them. If the Lord only had it by legal reckoning, there would be no need to say that He will “return without sin” (because He would have been without sin in the first place if He was only artificially deemed to be sin – and not really made sin.).

Consider also I Peter 2:24 – how can anyone miss that which is so obviously being stressed? Notice that this verse does not state any of the following:

  • Who bare our sins on the tree;
  • Who His own self was legally reckoned to bare our sins on the tree; or
  • Who His own self bare our sins on the tree,

The passage correctly reads, with all the obvious emphasis that should ever be needed, that His own self bare our sins in His own body. This passages is yelling to us, in His own self — not figuratively, not metaphorically, not via some legal fiction or artificial legal construct, not via pretend or make-believe, but in all actuality He carried our sins in His own self. Likewise, after stressing the fact that it was the Lord’s own self, the Spirit of God moves the writer to stress the point even further by stating in His own body. Thus, it is the Lord’s own self and in His own body that He bore our sins. This verse is clear: – in – His – own – body. Now in light of the above, and all that is to follow, we shall see that it is only stubbornness that will try to force a non-literal, non-actual interpretation on these passages. Yet we can still ask, what does it all mean? Is this all that the Bible has to say about the Lord being made sin? Not at all, there is much more to follow.

VII. For innumerable evils have compassed Me about

Psalm 40:12 declares that innumerable evils (ra‘ – H7451) compassed [aphaph <0661> (8804)] the Lord Jesus about. Ra’, or evils, is just that – evils. It is also translated as wickedness, or wicked, and it pertains to sin. Keep this Hebrew word in mind, because it is going to play a major role in rebutting one of the main objections to the position set forth in this article. For now, I just want to emphasize that sin compassed (literally, surrounded) the Lord Jesus about. Is compass a legal term? Hardly; aphaph is not a legal term at all (as all four of the other instances of it, in the same tense and form, evidence). David didn’t think he was “legally reckoned” to have the waves of death compassing him (II Samuel 22:5, Psalm 116:3 ), nor did he think he was “legally reckoned” to have the sorrows of death compassing him (Psalm 18:4). In David’s experience, these things were real and not mere suppositions pertaining to the law. Likewise, Jonah didn’t think he was “legally reckoned” to have the waters compassing him about. Jonah experienced these things via real and actual experience and not via artificial constructs. 

Some may argue that what they experienced was figurative, only a type, one that points to the suffering of the Lord Jesus Christ, and that, only as to the suffering for sin, and not from the suffering from the sin itself. This is erroneous because both apply. Psalm 40:12 clearly states that the evils (wickedness) compassed Christ about. So we see that the sin itself, like water, compassed Him. However, we know that the punishment for the sins (evils/wickednesses) also caused Him to suffer. In Psalm 69:14,15 we read the following “Deliver me out of the mire, and let me not sink: let me be delivered from them that hate me, and out of the deep waters.15 Let not the waterflood overflow me, neither let the deep swallow me up, and let not the pit shut her mouth upon me.” Suffering from the punishment of sin is indeed in view in this passage; we can see this by comparing it to these two portions of Psalm 88 where the fierce wrath of God clearly came upon the Lord Jesus like waves of a great and abysmal flood:

  • Psalm 88:1-8 “O LORD God of my salvation, I have cried day [and] night before thee: 2 Let my prayer come before thee: incline thine ear unto my cry; 3 For my soul is full of troubles: and my life draweth nigh unto the grave. 4 I am counted with them that go down into the pit: I am as a man [that hath] no strength: 5 Free among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave, whom thou rememberest no more: and they are cut off from thy hand. 6 Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the deeps. 7 Thy wrath lieth hard upon me, and thou hast afflicted [me] with all thy waves. Selah. 8 Thou hast put away mine acquaintance far from me; thou hast made me an abomination unto them: [I am] shut up, and I cannot come forth.”

  •  Psalm 88:14-18 “LORD, [why] castest thou off my soul? why hidest thou thy face from me? 15 I [am] afflicted and ready to die from [my] youth up: [while] I suffer thy terrors I am distracted. 16 Thy fierce wrath goeth over me; thy terrors have cut me off. 17 They came round about me daily like water; they compassed me about together. 

John Gill had this to say in his commentary:

“the waters surrounded me unto death (Jonah 2:5).”

In this Jonah was a type of Christ in his afflictions and sorrows, which were so many and heavy, that he is said to be “exceeding sorrowful”, or surrounded with sorrow, “even unto death”, Mat_26:38; see also Psa_69:1; the depth closed me round about; the great deep, the waters of the sea, both when he fell into it, and while in the belly of the fish: thus also Christ his antitype came into deep waters, where there was no standing, and where floods of sin, and of ungodly men, and of divine wrath, overflowed him; see Psalm 18:4;

For innumerable evils have compassed me about (Psalm 40:12),…. Like floods of water all around him; see Psa_18:4; these are the evils of punishment inflicted on him, as the surety and Saviour of his people; such as the sorrows and griefs he bore all his days; the cruel mockings and scourges he endured; his being buffeted and spit upon; his head crowned with thorns, and his hands and feet pierced with nails; insulted by men and devils; crucified between two thieves, and so died the shameful and painful death of the cross; mine iniquities have taken hold upon me; not any committed by him; he was conceived, born, and lived without sin, knew none, nor did he any; but the sins of his people, which were imputed to him, laid upon him, and which he voluntarily took and bore; and which he reckoned as his own and was responsible for them; these, when he hung upon the cross, came upon him from all quarters, and he bore them in his own body upon the tree;

The sorrows of death compassed me, (Psalm 18:4)…. These words and the following, in this verse and Psalm18:5, as they respect David, show the snares that were laid for his life, the danger of death he was in, and the anxiety of mind he was possessed of on account of it; and as they refer to Christ, include all the sorrows of his life to the time of his death, who was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief personally, and bore and carried the sorrows and griefs of all his people; and may chiefly intend his sorrows in the garden, arising from a view of the sins of his people, which he was about to bear upon the cross; and from an apprehension of the wrath of God, and curse of the law, which he was going to sustain for them, when his soul was περιλυπος, encompassed about with sorrow, even unto death, Matthew 26:38;

Note: For more on John Gill’s view of the topic of the Lord Jesus being made sin, please click on the link to view my study titled John Gill’s view of the nature of imputation was not merely legal

I believe that the context (both immediate, and the greater) dictates that Christ suffered both from the sins (as to the weight, guilt, stench, and loathsomeness of them) and for the sins (as to the punishment of them) of His people. We see in Jonah 2:5, that these waters compassed the Lord [even] to the soul. Perhaps this is what is meant in Isaiah 53:10 when it states “Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin (asham – H817).”

VIII. Thou shalt make His soul sin/guilty/guiltiness

Notice that I crossed out the words “an offering for;” I did this because asham, which means “trespass offering,” also means sin or guilt. It is from the root word asham (of the same spelling virtually) which in the AV/KJV, is translated guilty fourteen times, desolate six times, offend six times, and trespass four times. So in Isaiah 53:10, we can translate the passage as follows “Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul guilt/guilty/guiltiness/sin/trespass.” So the impinging (paga’), and encompassing (aphaph) of sin, is what made (poeio) the Lord guilty even unto being sin, trespass, and a curse Himself. If there are any doubts about whether asham (as found in Isaiah 53:10, not just the root word) really means sin, guilt, etc., consider the following passages:

  • Genesis 26:10 And Abimelech said, What [is] this thou hast done unto us? one of the people might lightly have lien with thy wife, and thou shouldest have brought guiltiness <0817> upon us.

  • Psalm 68:21 But God shall wound the head of his enemies, [and] the hairy scalp of such an one as goeth on still in his trespasses <0817>.

  • Proverbs 14:9 Fools make a mock at sin <0817>: but among the righteous [there is] favour.

  • Jeremiah 51:5 For Israel [hath] not [been] forsaken, nor Judah of his God, of the LORD of hosts; though their land was filled with sin <0817> against the Holy One of Israel.

If the Lord Jesus didn’t become guilt, sin, guiltiness, through actual (not just legal) imputation, then He could not experience guilt – and guilt is a principle aspect of suffering in Hell. As I have stated before, to deny that the Lord Jesus experienced this guilt is to deny that He suffered the equivalent of eternal damnation on behalf of His people. It is to maintain that He didn’t suffer something we would have and thus, He was not truly in our stead.

IX. Mine iniquities have taken hold upon me

Concerning the Lord, we read in Psalm 40:12 that “For innumerable evils have compassed me about: mine iniquities have taken hold upon me.” The sins of His people, which the Lord willingly took upon Himself became His sins. Thus, He could say mine iniquities…. Note that the verse states that these iniquities have taken hold upon Him. I believe this also sheds light on how the Lord was made sin. The words “have taken hold upon me” are translated from the Hebrew primitive root word nasag (H5381 ). In the AV/KJV, this word is also translated overtake (23x), hold (5x) get (6x, 3x in conjunction with a different word), attain (2x), reach (2x), layeth (1x), etc. The word literally means to reach, overtake, and/or to take hold upon — it is not a legal term in any of the thirteen (13) instances wherein the word is found in this form. It is a word that simply means what it literally says, whether actually, or figuratively, but never legally. This isn’t to say that the term is not used in a legal setting (e.g. in various places in the book of the law called Leviticus), but within that setting, the usage is always that which is actual. Consider the following passages:  

  • Leviticus 25:25 If thy brother be waxen poor, and hath sold away some of his possession, and if any of his kin come to redeem it, then shall he redeem that which his brother sold. 26 And if the man have none to redeem it, and himself be able <05381> (8689) to redeem it; [literally, “his own hand has reached out, or attained <05381> (8689) and he has enough for [its] redemption”]. 

  • Leviticus 26:3 If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them; 4 Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. 5 And your threshing shall reach <05381> (8689) unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time: and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely.

  • Deuteronomy 28:15 But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake <05381> (8689) thee:… 45 Moreover all these curses shall come upon thee, and shall pursue thee, and overtake <05381> (8689) thee, till thou be destroyed; because thou hearkenedst not unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which he commanded thee:

  • II Samuel 15:14 And David said unto all his servants that were with him at Jerusalem, Arise, and let us flee; for we shall not else escape from Absalom: make speed to depart, lest he overtake <05381> (8689) us suddenly, and bring evil upon us, and smite the city with the edge of the sword.

  • Zechariah 1:6 But my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not take hold <05381> (8689) of your fathers? and they returned and said, Like as the LORD of hosts thought to do unto us, according to our ways, and according to our doings, so hath he dealt with us.

We must remember that although His iniquities took hold of Him, He never succumbed to them (in that He never sinned Himself in thought, word, or deed). He could honestly say “I was also upright before [Jehovah], and I kept myself from mine iniquity (Psalm 18:23).” Christ, who had our iniquity and was made sin, kept Himself from our sin and iniquity because He never did any wrong. But this truth does not minimize the weight and reality of the fact that the Lord truly took upon Himself our sins. The passages below evidence this fact:

  • Psalm 31:9 Have mercy upon me, O LORD, for I am in trouble: mine eye is consumed with grief, [yea,] my soul and my belly. 10 For my life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing: my strength faileth because of mine iniquity, and my bones are consumed. 11 I was a reproach among all mine enemies, but especially among my neighbours, and a fear to mine acquaintance: they that did see me without fled from me. 

  • Psalm 32:1 [A Psalm] of David, Maschil. Blessed [is he whose] transgression [is] forgiven, [whose] sin [is] covered. 2 Blessed [is] the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit [there is] no guile. 3 When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. 4 For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah. 5 I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.

  • Psalm 38:1 A Psalm of David, to bring to remembrance. O LORD, rebuke me not in thy wrath: neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure. 2 For thine arrows stick fast in me, and thy hand presseth me sore. 3 [There is] no soundness in my flesh because of thine anger; neither [is there any] rest in my bones because of my sin. 4 For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me. 5 My wounds stink [and] are corrupt because of my foolishness. 6 I am troubled; I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long. 7 For my loins are filled with a loathsome [disease]: and [there is] no soundness in my flesh. 8 I am feeble and sore broken: I have roared by reason of the disquietness of my heart….17 For I [am] ready to halt, and my sorrow [is] continually before me. 18 For I will declare mine iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin. 

  • Psalm 51:1 Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin [is] ever before me. 4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done [this] evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, [and] be clear when thou judgest. 5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity (note: please see commentary below on this section of the passage); and in sin did my mother conceive me. 6 Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden [part] thou shalt make me to know wisdom. 7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. 8 Make me to hear joy and gladness; [that] the bones [which] thou hast broken may rejoice. 9 Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. 11 Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. 12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me [with thy] free spirit.

  • Psalm 69:1 Save me, O God; for the waters are come in unto [my] soul. 2 I sink in deep mire, where [there is] no standing: I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me. 3 I am weary of my crying: my throat is dried: mine eyes fail while I wait for my God. 4 They that hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of mine head: they that would destroy me, being mine enemies wrongfully, are mighty: then I restored that which I took not away. 5 O God, thou knowest my foolishness (‘ivveleth / H200 / folly in the sense of perversity in light of ‘eviyl, the root from which it derives); and my sins (‘ashmah / H819 / trespasses, guiltiness, guilt, offenses, wrong-doings) are not hid from thee. 6 Let not them that wait on thee, O Lord GOD of hosts, be ashamed for my sake: let not those that seek thee be confounded for my sake, O God of Israel. 7 Because for thy sake I have borne reproach; shame hath covered my face. 8 I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother’s children. 9 For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up; and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me.

Concerning Psalm 51, which contains some of the same language as the other passages, I dare to say that on a spiritual level this applies to the Lord as well. Some may vehemently object, and accuse of all manner of blasphemy, due (in particular) to verse 5 “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.”

I want to be very clear that the Lord Jesus Christ was not shapen in iniquity upon His incarnation; He was and is the Lamb without spot or blemish. However, that word shapen in the Hebrew is chuwl (H02342) and according to the Brown, Driver, Briggs, Gesenius Lexicon used by the Strong’s Concordance, in the pulal verb tense at issue, chuwl literally means (get this): “1c1) to be made to writhe, be made to bear.” The Mickelson lexicon likewise defines it as: “1. (properly) to twist or whirl (in a circular or spiral manner), i.e. (specifically) to dance, to writhe in pain (especially of parturition) or fear; 2. (figuratively) to wait, to pervert.” Thus, the Lord Jesus was made to writhe (as in agony) in iniquity as He was made to bear that iniquity. However, even though this is the literal definition of the word, in the AV/KJV the pulal verb form for chuwl is never translated as to writhe, or to bear; it is most often translated in the sense of being brought forth (and thus in Psalm 51, it appears to be used in the same sense of being brought forth (or made) as poeio in II Corinthians 5:21). What is really interesting is that there are only three other verses that use the Pulal form of this word and each point us to the Lord Jesus Christ (albeit in a seemingly unrelated way). Consider the three verses (with context):

  • Job 15:5 For thy mouth uttereth thine iniquity, and thou choosest the tongue of the crafty. 6 Thine own mouth condemneth thee, and not I: yea, thine own lips testify against thee. 7 [Art] thou the first man [that] was born? or wast thou made <02342> (8797) before the hills? 8 Hast thou heard the secret of God? and dost thou restrain wisdom to thyself? 9 What knowest thou, that we know not? [what] understandest thou, which [is] not in us? 

Compared with…

  • Proverbs 8:12 I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions. 13 The fear of the LORD [is] to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate. 14 Counsel [is] mine, and sound wisdom: I [am] understanding; I have strength. 22 The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. 23 I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. 24 When [there were] no depths, I was brought forth <02342> (8797); when [there were] no fountains abounding with water. 25 Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth <02342> (8797) 26 While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. 27 When he prepared the Heavens, I [was] there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth: 28 When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep: 29 When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth: 30 Then I was by him, [as] one brought up [with him]: and I was daily [his] delight, rejoicing always before him; 31 Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights [were] with the sons of men.

I don’t fully understand the above text or their full import, but clearly the Lord Jesus is in view in Proverbs 8:1-36 for the saints are in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption. Christ Jesus, in light of His perfectly divine attributes, is wisdom. Moreover, when we carefully compare Proverbs 8:21-31 with Job 5:5-9, we see some very similar language. What is declared as truth in Proverbs 8, is portrayed in Job 15 as a negative charge against Job. I believe Job here is a picture of Christ and Eliphaz the Temanite is portraying the accuser. This would then tie-in with Psalm 51 as a picture of the Lord being accused, fully under judgment, and bearing the iniquity and punishment of His people. In the AV/KJV, when we look at chuwl in the other verb forms, we see that it is translated as some variation of the words sorrow, pain, fear, grief, travail, and tremble. This again points to what the Lord endured as He suffered from both the punishment of our sins, and from our sins themselves.

Going back to Psalm 51:5 (“in sin did my mother conceive me”), we see that spiritually, the Lord’s mother consists of all of the elect; we conceived Him and brought Him forth in our sin (i.e. in the sense that, because of our sins, it was necessary that the Lord be conceived and brought forth into this world, albeit Himself without spot or blemish). Concerning the elect as His mother, consider:

  • We see this in Matthew 12:49,50 in that Jesus: “…stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in Heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.”

  • We see this also in Jeremiah 31:22 wherein we read “How long wilt thou go about, O thou backsliding daughter? for the LORD hath created a new thing in the earth, A woman shall compass a man;” and why we read in Genesis 3:15 “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel;”

  • Finally, we see this in Revelation 12:1-17 ” And there appeared a great wonder in Heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: 2 And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered…. and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and [to] his throne…. 13 And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man [child]…”

The Lord Jesus was the Man compassed by a woman (in His humanity, in His necessary conception from her, in His oneness with her via vital union, and in having her sins compassed about Him on the cross). The woman is all of those for whom He came to die, and live again (that they may die and live again with Him and in Him via that vital union – though not in their own person or experience). The elect church is the one who was with child, travailing in birth, pained to be delivered, and who had Satan ready and waiting to devour her child as soon as He was born. The Lord Jesus was the one conceived and brought forth to rule the nations, and He was the one caught up unto God, and to His throne, in light of His finished work. Christ was washed throughly from His iniquity, and cleansed from His sin (Psalm 51:2 – which was our own) when He drank of the cup of God’s fury (Isaiah 51:17 -22) and was baptized with the fiery baptism with which He was baptized (Matthew 20:22,23). It was through the shedding of His own sacrificial blood (as typified by the hyssop), as He fully endured the wrath of God, that He was purged from our sins and had all of His iniquities (which were formerly ours) blotted out (v7).

When the Lord did as the Father commanded, fulfilling all that He was sent to do; when Christ declared triumphantly it is finished, He knew that the Father would be just to put away all those sins forever – not finding any of them in Him (it is in this sense that God is said to create a clean heart in Him and to renew a right spirit within Him (v10); He who was made sin, now ceased to be sin because all Had been accomplished to the utmost). By finishing the work, and enduring all that the Father poured out upon Him, Christ delivered Himself (and the Father delivered Him judicially and actually) from bloodguiltiness (v14). Though He felt as one utterly forsaken of God (Psalm 22:1; Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34), He was restored to that felt sense of communion and to that felt joy of salvation (v12). He was no longer as one cast away from the Father’s presence or as one who had the Holy Spirit taken from Him (v11). He was utterly free from our sins and thus He had freed us from our sins. As a result of what He accomplished, He could teach transgressors the Father’s ways; and sinners would be converted unto Him (v13).

X. Surely He hath borne our griefs, [for] the LORD hath put Him to grief

Isaiah 53:4 declares “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.” Please note the surely; surely doesn’t mean “through legal fiction or artificial legal constructs.” Surely means surely; and what is it that Jesus surely did? He surely has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. I believe this also points to how our Blessed Savior was made sin.

A. borne: The Lord hath borne our griefs; that word borne is nasa’ (H05375) and for my full study, please click on the following link: Word Study – Nasa‘ (borne/bear). For now, suffice to say that in the tense at issue (Qal), nasa’ literally means to lift, lift up, bear, bear up, carry, support, sustain, endure, take, take away, carry off, and forgive. In the AV/KJV, the word is most commonly translated as beared up, lifted up, beared, taken, carried, taken/carried away, borne, forgiven. This word is not a legal term, nor should it be interpreted legally. It describes a real bearing, enduring, carrying, taking. This is the same word used later in Isaiah 53 (v.12) where God declared that “He bare (05375) the sin of many.” So this bearing had to do with the actual bearing, or taking upon Himself, both of our griefs and of our sin. This makes total sense because the two things are yoked together: Where there is sin there are griefs; and where there are griefs there are sins.

Nasa’ is the same word translated as pardoneth in Micah 7:18 where we read: “Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by (‘abar: 05674 / 8802) the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy.” God Pardons sin only because the Lord Jesus lifted up, bore, carried and endured our sins until He carried them off, taking them away forever. This evidenced God to be just in both pardoning and forgiving His people. To reinforce this truth, God uses ‘abar (H5674) to declare that He passes by our sins; ‘abar literally means “to pass over or by or through, alienate, bring, carry, do away, take, take away, transgress.”  God indeed passes by our sins in light of the finished work of Christ. However, to emphasize how and why He passes them by, He uses this word that likewise relates to carrying, taking, taking away, and transgressing.

B. griefs: The word griefs is choliy (H2483) and it literally means sickness; in the AV/KJV it is translated as sickness twelve times, disease seven times, grief four times, and sick one time. It derives from the Hebrew primitive root word chalah (H2470), which means (amongst other things) 1) to be or become weak, be or become sick, be or become diseased, be or become grieved, be or become sorry; to make oneself sick; to be made sick; to be made weak, become weak.

Consider the usage of the word choliy.

  • Deuteronomy 7:14 Thou shalt be blessed above all people: there shall not be male or female barren among you, or among your cattle. 15 And the LORD will take away from thee all sickness <02483>, and will put none of the evil diseases of Egypt, which thou knowest, upon thee; but will lay them upon all [them] that hate thee.

  • Deuteronomy 28:58 If thou wilt not observe to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that thou mayest fear this glorious and fearful name, THE LORD THY GOD; 59 Then the LORD will make thy plagues wonderful, and the plagues of thy seed, [even] great plagues, and of long continuance, and sore sicknesses <02483>, and of long continuance. 60 Moreover he will bring upon thee all the diseases of Egypt, which thou wast afraid of; and they shall cleave unto thee. 61 Also every sickness <02483>, and every plague, which [is] not written in the book of this law, them will the LORD bring upon thee, until thou be destroyed.

  • Isaiah 1:4 Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. 5 Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick <02483>, and the whole heart faint. 6 From the sole of the foot even unto the head [there is] no soundness in it; [but] wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.

  • Jeremiah 6:7 As a fountain casteth out her waters, so she casteth out her wickedness: violence and spoil is heard in her; before me continually [is] grief <02483> and wounds.

  • Jeremiah 10:19 Woe is me for my hurt! my wound is grievous: but I said, Truly this [is] a grief <02483>, and I must bear it. 20 My tabernacle is spoiled, and all my cords are broken: my children are gone forth of me, and they [are] not: [there is] none to stretch forth my tent any more, and to set up my curtains. 21 For the pastors are become brutish, and have not sought the LORD: therefore they shall not prosper, and all their flocks shall be scattered.

  • Hosea 5:13 When Ephraim saw his sickness <02483>, and Judah [saw] his wound, then went Ephraim to the Assyrian, and sent to king Jareb: yet could he not heal you, nor cure you of your wound. 14 For I will be unto Ephraim as a lion, and as a young lion to the house of Judah: I, even I, will tear and go away; I will take away, and none shall rescue him. 15 I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early.

We can see clearly that the Lord hath literally and truly borne our griefs. Those griefs are both the sins of the people, and the punishment for those sins. You cannot have one without the other; if the Lord did not literally bear our griefs, then He was not literally punished for our griefs. To turn this into a matter of legal fiction as to the bearing, but not a matter of legal fiction as to the griefs, is to totally disregard the clear wording and intent of God.

C. How did he bear them? Let’s briefly focus on how Christ came to bear our griefs. The how is made known to us; although the Lord did everything and suffered everything willingly, nonetheless it was the LORD (in particular, God the Father) who hath put Him to grief (as we read in verse 10). Put Him to grief there is literally, the LORD hath “made Him sick.” Remember that the word griefs/choliy means sickness and that it derives from the Hebrew primitive root word chalah (H2470), which means (amongst other things) 1) to be or become weak, be or become sick, be or become diseased, be or become grieved, be or become sorry; to make oneself sick; to be made sick; to be made weak, become weak.

In Isaiah 53:10, we see that word chalah (instead of choliy) being used when God made Christ sick (put Him to grief). God is punishing the Lord for sins present, not sins pretended. Consider the other two passages where chalah is used in the Hiphil (08818), Perfect (08816) form.

  • Hosea 7:1 When I would have healed Israel, then the iniquity of Ephraim was discovered, and the wickedness of Samaria: for they commit falsehood; and the thief cometh in, [and] the troop of robbers spoileth without. 2 And they consider not in their hearts [that] I remember all their wickedness: now their own doings have beset them about; they are before my face. 3 They make the king glad with their wickedness, and the princes with their lies. 4 They [are] all adulterers, as an oven heated by the baker, [who] ceaseth from raising after he hath kneaded the dough, until it be leavened. 5 In the day of our king the princes have made [him] sick (02470) (8689) with bottles of wine; he stretched out his hand with scorners. 6 For they have made ready their heart like an oven, whiles they lie in wait: their baker sleepeth all the night; in the morning it burneth as a flaming fire. 7 They are all hot as an oven, and have devoured their judges; all their kings are fallen: [there is] none among them that calleth unto me.

  • Micah 6:9 The LORD’S voice crieth unto the city, and [the man of] wisdom shall see thy name: hear ye the rod, and who hath appointed it. 10 Are there yet the treasures of wickedness in the house of the wicked, and the scant measure [that is] abominable? 11 Shall I count [them] pure with the wicked balances, and with the bag of deceitful weights? 12 For the rich men thereof are full of violence, and the inhabitants thereof have spoken lies, and their tongue [is] deceitful in their mouth. 13 Therefore also will I make [thee] sick <02470> (8689) in smiting thee, in making [thee] desolate because of thy sins. 14 Thou shalt eat, but not be satisfied; and thy casting down [shall be] in the midst of thee; and thou shalt take hold, but shalt not deliver; and [that] which thou deliverest will I give up to the sword. 15 Thou shalt sow, but thou shalt not reap; thou shalt tread the olives, but thou shalt not anoint thee with oil; and sweet wine, but shalt not drink wine. 16 For the statutes of Omri are kept, and all the works of the house of Ahab, and ye walk in their counsels; that I should make thee a desolation, and the inhabitants thereof an hissing: therefore ye shall bear the reproach of my people.

Curt Wildy
Click here for a PDF copy.

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