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The Atonement

1. What was the cause of the atonement?

The AtonementThe cause of the atonement is seated in the character of God Himself. It points to two things: the love and justice of God. How do we know the love of God as a cause of the atonement? We see this in the most familiar passage in the Bible. Yes! You guessed right.

For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 HCSB)

Yet, there was a penalty due to us for our sins. The justice of God required a payment for this penalty. How do we know the justice of God was a cause of the atonement? This can be verified by yet another very famous passage.

whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed;  (Romans 3:25)

A propitiation is a sacrifice that bears God’s wrath so that God becomes favourably disposed toward us or propitious toward us.

2. Why was the atonement necessary?

Was it at all necessary for God to save any people? In God’s justice, He could have chosen not to send His Son, and could have left us in our sins.

Therefore, the atonement was not absolutely necessary, but, as a “consequence” of God’s decision to save some human beings, the atonement was absolutely necessary.1

Could Jesus have escaped the cross once the decision was made that atonement was to be made? Scripture seems to indicate that Jesus could not have escaped the cross.

And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will." (Matthew 26:39)

From this prayer of Jesus it seems that it was impossible for Jesus to have altered His course. Jesus understood the plan of God’s redemption and so spoke these words:

And He said to them, "O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!  (26)  "Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?"  (Luke 24:25-26)

For the justice of God to have any validity in order to show His righteousness, He had to send Jesus Christ to pay the penalty of our sins. We see this in the passage mentioned above in Rom 3:25-26.

whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed;  (26)  for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:25-26)

We can find further passages that point to the absolute necessity of the atonement (Heb 2:17; 9:23, 25-26).

3. Atonement Theories

3.1 Ransom Theory – Origen (185-254 A.D.)

This theory was held by Origen, who was a theologian from Alexandria and later Ceasarea.

In this theory, Satan as a captor in war, had a right to his captives. In order to release these captives, a ransom had to be paid to Satan. In this theory, Christ died as a ransom paid to Satan.

There is no direct confirmation of this theory in Scripture. This theory also had few supporters through the history of the church. It falsely believes that Satan required a payment instead of God being the One requiring that a payment be made for sin. It totally neglects the demands of God’s justice with respect to sin. Scripture nowhere indicates that we need to make a payment to Satan, yet it repeatedly speaks of a propitiation offered to God the Father for our sins.

3.2 Satisfaction Theory – Anselm (1033-1109 A.D.)

Anselm developed this theory in his book Cur Deus Homo.

This theory held to the idea of Christ’s voluntary fulfilment of man’s obligation to God. God’s honour was injured by sin. In order to restore the honour of God the sinner had to be punished, or a suitable substitute. From the love and mercy of God sprang the provision of His Son to satisfy that which was required. Even though Jesus Christ satisfy all the requirements of the Law in His daily walk on earth it was not enough, because it was a requirement in itself and would not constitute a satisfaction of God’s honour on behalf of sinners. To satisfy this honour Christ died on behalf of sinners.

In objection to this, more than just God’s honour was injured. Anselm fell short of the fact that God required a penalty to be paid for sin. Anselm's view of God’s supreme concern for His outraged honour,

bears more resemblance to a feudal lord of the Middle Ages than to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.2

God’s love is caused to recede totally into the background by Anselm’s stress on the concept of satisfaction.

3.3 Moral Influence theory – Peter Abelard (1079-1142 A.D.)

This theory is perhaps better understood when seen as a reaction to the Satisfaction Theory of Anselm. Anselm used pure logic to argue for his theory on the atonement apart from God’s revelation of God in Christ. Anselm also failed to show God’s love.

Trying to bring correction to Anselm’s theory, Abelard proceeds on the premise that God does not necessarily require the death of Christ as a penalty for sin. The death of Christ was simply God’s way of showing His love for humans and His fellowship in their sufferings. Christ’s death, therefore, simply becomes a demonstration of God’s love for us and stirs up within us a reciprocal love and gratitude. Instead of the death of Christ as a propitiation for our sins, a payment for our sins, this theory sees the death of Christ as a demonstration of the loving heart of God which will freely pardon sinners.

This theory is contrary to the many passages of Scripture proclaiming Christ’s death for sin as a propitiation for it. It fails to recognise the objective nature of the atonement in that God was also affected by the atonement. God was made propitious toward the sinner. In order for us to subjectively appropriate the atonement, this objective fact of the atonement must be realised.

3.4 Example Theory – Faustus Socinus (1539-1604 A.D.)

Socinus argued that the ground of forgiveness must be either the grace of God or the merits of Christ. He argued that the ground of forgiveness is the grace of God, because God forgives freely. Socinus held that since the guilt of sin was personal, there was no possibility of substitution in penal matters. Christ’s death simply was an example of how we should live in our trust and obedience to God. Reconciliation with God was accomplished through Christ’s death by producing motivation to man to repent and turn to God. Whereas the Moral Influence Theory teaches that Christ loved us, the Example Theory teaches that Christ showed us how to live as an example. The death of Christ is merely that of a martyr.

This view is made up of several heresies condemned by the early church. It is based on a revival of pelagianism with its belief in the inherent goodness and spiritual ability of man, on the moral influence theory of the atonement with its emphasis on the exemplary life of Christ, on the Scotist doctrine of an arbitrary will of God, and on the old adoptionist doctrine, making Christ as to His human nature a Son of God by adoption.3

In objection to this theory, it does not take into account the many passages in Scripture that focus on the death of Christ as a payment of sin. Neither does it take into account the fact that Christ actually bore our sins or that He was the propitiation for our sins. Based on these objections alone, this theory must be rejected.

This theory, then, teaches that man can save himself by merely following an example. It does not show how our sin or guilt can be removed. Why not? It does not teach that Christ paid for the penalty of our sins.

3.5 Governmental Theory – Hugo Grotius (1853-1645 A.D.)

The Socinian attack on Calvinistic orthodoxy provoked a counterattack, strangely enough from the Arminian Hugo Grotius.4

According to this Dutch theologian, God did not really have to require a payment for sin. God

could have set aside the requirement and simply forgiven sins without the payment of a penalty.5

The purpose of Christ’s death was simply the manifestation of divine justice, a demonstration that God’s laws were broken. God is seen as a moral ruler of the universe, and that when laws are broken, some kind of penalty would be needed. In other words, Christ did not die to pay for our sins, but to show that a payment was necessary if God’s laws were broken.

This theory does not deal adequately with the many passages of Scripture that deal with Christ bearing our sins on the cross. Neither does it handle those passages that deal with the fact that God laid on Christ the iniquity of us all. This theory also makes no provision for Christ dying specifically for our sins, or of Christ being made the propitiation for our sins. The atonement is not seen as an objective satisfaction of God’s justice, but merely an influence to us in order for us to come to the conclusion that God has laws that we must keep. It therefore teaches that God had already decided to forgive our sins without really demanding a payment for our sins, and the punishment of Christ was simply a demonstration of God’s moral character. What does this mean, then? Christ did not actually earn our forgiveness. Due to this teaching, the value of the redemptive work of Christ is greatly diminished.

To say that God can forgive sins without requiring any penalty (in spite of the fact that throughout Scripture sin always requires the payment of a penalty) is seriously to underestimate the absolute character of the justice of God.6

A more modern adherent and greatly followed preacher was Charles Finney.

Natural theology can teach:…3. Consequently that no atonement could be needed to satisfy any implacable spirit in the divine mind; that He was sufficiently and infinitely disposed to extend pardon to the penitent, if this could be wisely, benevolently, and safely done. …7. Natural theology is abundantly competent to show, that God could not be just to His own intelligence, just to His character, and hence just to the universe, in dispensing with the execution of divine law, except upon the condition of providing a substitute of such a nature as to reveal fully, and impress as deeply, the lessons that would be taught by the execution, as the execution itself would do.7

Thiessen, himself an Arminian wrote:

This theory is the usual Arminian view of the atonement.8 [Emphasis mine]

3.6 Penal Substitutionary Theory – Calvin (1509-1564 A.D.)

The atonement

indicates that Christ, in his death, was offered to the Father as a propitiatory victim ; that, expiation being made by his sacrifice, we might cease to tremble at the divine wrath.9

In order to read more clearly what Calvin taught on this subject, read Book 2 of his Institutes of the Christian Religion to be found everywhere on the World Wide Web.

Since man fell into sin by disobedience, Christ has paid the penalty, which we had incurred, by obedience in the sinner’s stead.

According to this theory, the atonement is objective in nature. The primary impression of the atonement is made on the person to whom the atonement is made. The offending party is in view here… God! The atonement was intended to make propitiation to God and to reconcile Him to sinners. Even though the sinner is also seen as reconciled to God, this reconciliation is only of secondary nature to the reconciliation of God to men. We can see this objective nature of the atonement by looking at the passages speaking of propitiation to God (Rom 3:25; Heb 2:17; 1 Jn 2:2; 4:10).

According to this theory, the atonement is also vicarious of nature. In dealing with our sins, there are only two ways of atoning for them. In personal atonement we would have to suffer eternally the penalty assigned our transgressions. In vicarious atonement we have someone who have dealt with our sin vicariously, in our stead.

Dr. Shedd calls attention to the following points of difference in this case: (1) Personal atonement is provided by the offending party; vicarious atonement by the offended party. (2) Personal atonement would have excluded the element of mercy; vicarious atonement represents the highest form of mercy. (3) Personal atonement would have been forever in the making and hence could not result in redemption; vicarious atonement leads to reconciliation and life everlasting.10

The fact that the atonement is of a vicarious nature is well attested to in Scripture.

(6)  All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him. (12) Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, And He will divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:6, 12)

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

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us--for it is written, "CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE"--  (Galatians 3:13)

so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him. (Hebrews 9:28)

and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. (1 Peter 2:24)

This theory is regarded as the Biblical view of the atonement.

SUMMARY OF MAJOR THEORIES OF THE ATONEMENT11
Theory
Original Exponent
Written Source
Main Idea
More Recent Exponents
Ransom
Origen
Commentary on Matthew
Ransom paid to the devil
Word-of-Faith teachers:
Kenneth Hagin,
Kenneth Copeland,
Jerry Savelle, etc
Satisfaction
Anselm
Cur Deus Homo?
Satisfaction rendered to God’s justice

Moral Influence
Abelard
Commentary of Romans
An answering love securing redemption
Schleiermacher
Ritschl
Bushnell
Example
Socinus
De Jesu Christo Servatore
An imitation of Christ’s teaching and example bringing redemption
Altizer
Governmental
Grotius
Defense of the Catholic Faith on the Satisfaction of Christ Against Faustus Socinus
Manifestation not satisfaction of divine justice
Daniel Whitby,
Samuel Clarke,
Richard Watson,
J. McLeod Campbell,
H. R. Mackintosh,
Charles G. Finney.
Dramatic
Aulen
Christus Victor
Victory of Christ over evil powers
Karl Heim,
J.S. Whale.
Penal Substitutionary
Calvin
Institutes of the Christian Religion
Penal substitution rendering God propitious toward the sinner
Charles Hodge,
W.G.T. Shedd,
L. Berkhof,
A.H. Strong,
B.R.W. Dale,
James Denny,
P.T. Forsyth,
K. Barth.

4. What was the nature of the atonement?

Did the atonement start and end on the cross? Or was there more to it? If that was all there was to it, then perhaps the Word-of-Faith movement would be right when they utter these types of statements:

"Do you think that the punishment for our sin was to die on a cross? If that were the case, the two thieves could have paid our price. No, the punishment was to go into hell itself and to serve time in hell separated from God"12

No! There are two aspects to Christ’s work. They are normally identified as (1) His Active Obedience. This is Christ’s obedience for us. He obeyed the law in our stead, since we have found it impossible. I call it Christ’s work in His life. (2) His Passive Obedience. This is Christ’s suffering for us. He suffered and died in our stead paying the penalty of our sins. I call it Christ’s work in His Death. Grudem brings our attention to the fact that

in both of these categories the primary emphasis and the primary influence of Christ’s work of redemption is not on us, but on God the Father.13

4.1 Christ’s work in His Life

Due to the human nature in Christ, He had to fulfil the necessities of active obedience.

The active obedience of Christ was necessary to make His passive obedience acceptable to God, that is, to make it an object of God’s good pleasure. It is only on account of it that God’s estimate of the sufferings of Christ differs from His estimate of the sufferings of the lost. Moreover, if Christ had not rendered active obedience, the human nature of Christ itself would have fallen short of the just demands of God, and He would not have been able to atone for others.14

It is through the obedience of Christ that we are made righteous.

For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.  (Romans 5:19)

To simply have emphasised that Christ had to die and pay the penalty for our sins does not adequately explain why Christ did more than just die for us. He became our righteousness before God. Before John the Baptist baptised Jesus, the Lord said to the Baptist

But Jesus answering said to him, "Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he permitted Him.  (Matthew 3:15)

Jesus had to walk a life of perfection to learn obedience just as we should, so that in His humanity He would be found worthy to make atonement.

In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety.  (8)  Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.  (9)  And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation, (Hebrews 5:7-9)

4.2 Christ’s work in His death

4.2.1 Daily suffering

Having obeyed the law perfectly all His life on our behalf, He also took on Himself the sufferings necessary to pay the penalty for our sins. Apart from the fact that Christ suffered and died for us on the cross, He also suffered in life as our representative (Mt 4:1-11; Heb 5:8. The sufferings of Christ

were judicially laid upon Him as our representative, and were therefore really penal sufferings. The redemptive value of these sufferings results from the following facts: They were borne by a divine person who, only in virtue of His deity, could bear the penalty through to the end and thus obtain freedom from it.15

The person and sufferings of Christ’s were of infinite value, and could therefore satisfy the justice of God, in order to pay the price for our sins. There are several passages in which Christ’s work in His death stands out prominently: Isa 53:6; Rom 4:25; 1 Pet 2:24; 3:28; 1 Jn 2:2.

and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.  (1 Peter 2:24)

4.2.2 Physical suffering

The physical pain of death on a cross must have been absolutely horrendous. However, it is popular for preachers to claim that Jesus endured more physical pain than any human being has ever suffered. This is an unfounded claim as Scripture itself never makes that claim.

4.2.3 Suffering under the weight of sin

Apart from bearing the physical pain of the cross, Christ also endured the pain of bearing sin. We know the burden of carrying guilt when we have sinned, and the weight that this carries. At that moment we have a feeling of separation from all that is good and pure and godly. We certainly feel a separation from God! Imagine what that must have felt like for Jesus, the perfect, sinless, holy, Son of God, when He had to carry the weight of the sin of those who would someday be saved, on Himself.

Scripture is clear on this matter… our sins were put on Christ.

All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him. (Isaiah 53:6)

Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, And He will divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:12)

The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and *said, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!"  (John 1:29)

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us--for it is written, "CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE"--  (Galatians 3:13)

so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him. (Hebrews 9:28)

and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.  (1 Peter 2:24)

4.2.4 Suffering from abandonment

During His life on earth, all that Christ did was to pour His love on His disciples. In turn, they all abandoned Him in His greatest hour of need! (Mt 26:56). And this, right after He asked His disciples to wait and watch while He went praying! (Mk 14:34)

Finally, while hanging on the cross, He uttered those heart-wrenching words

About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?" that is, "MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?"  (Matthew 27:46)

Jesus uttered these words as a prophetic fulfilment of Psalm 22:1. Did God abandon the psalmist? No! When reading this prophetic psalm we find that the psalmist was merely expressing how he felt in his time of distress. When we read verses 9-11, 19-24 we realise that at the same time the psalmist felt abandoned, he also knew who is help comes from. He certainly was not abandoned. Jesus on the cross merely expressed the same feelings as the psalmist did. God never abandoned Christ on the cross. Rather, God turned His back to what was on Jesus, namely sin. Jesus was man's sin-bearer, but He was not polluted with man's sin-nature.

4.2.5 Suffering under the Wrath of God

Jesus alone bore the guilt of our sins, and as a result, God the Father poured out the fury of His wrath on Jesus.

Rom 3:25 says that Jesus was put forward as a propitiation by his blood (ESV). The word propitiation means “a sacrifice that bears God’s wrath to the end and in so doing changes God’s wrath toward us into favor.16 We see this so clearly as follows:

Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation,  (19)  namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. (2 Cor. 5:18-19)

John Walvoord says:

As a Biblical doctrine, propitiation embodies the concept that the death of Christ fully satisfied the demands of a righteous God in respect to judgment upon the sinner.17

There are other passages that use the word propitiation to explain the work Christ has done:

Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. ( Hebrews 2:17)

and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world. (1 John 2:2)

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10)

The verb to propitiate (ιλασκομαι - hilaskomai) and the noun form propitiation (ιλασμος - hilasmos) respectively mean “propitiate, conciliate… expiate” and “expiation, propitiation… sin-offering.18 The English meaning of propitiation is “appease, gain favour of19 and the English meaning of expiate is “pay penalty for… make amends for.20 Propitiation in these passages have the meaning of a sacrifice that turns the wrath of God away. In this way God is made propitious or favourable toward us. What are these verses saying in simple terms? Jesus bore God’s wrath against sin!

4.3 Aspects of the Atonement

There are four Biblical terms used in theology to describe the atonement: sacrifice, propitiation, reconciliation and redemption. The work of the atonement was a complex event and has several effects on us, and so can be viewed from these aspects mentioned above.

Christ's saving work

A FOURFOLD PICTURE OF CHRIST’S SAVING WORK21

4.3.1 Sacrifice

Jesus paid the penalty of death that we deserved because of our sin, by being a sacrifice for us.

Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. (Hebrews 9:26)

The whole New Testament speaks of Christ’s death in terms of sacrifice. The writer to the Hebrews, especially, writes in terms of Christ being our High Priest with the primary function of the high priest being that of offering sacrifice (Heb 5:1; 8:3). In the act of offering a sacrifice as High Priest, He offered “to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” (Hebrews 9:26 ESV) The sacrifice of Christ (1) was a singular sacrifice in contrast with the sacrifices of the Levitical system which had to be repeatedly offered (Heb 9:25); (2) has permanent effects such as having “perfected for all time those who are being sanctified” (Hebrews 10:14 ESV); (3) “is distinctive because it alone has the inherent quality to atone for men’s sins; animal sacrifices could only do so symbolically as anticipation of Christ’s work (10:4);”22 (4) opens up unlimited access to the presence of God for all His people and not just for the priests (Heb 10:19-22); (5) was an active obedience and not as a passive victim as the animals in the Old Testament were (Heb 10:5-10; Jn 10:17, 18).

4.3.2 Propitiation

We have already dealt with propitiation under the section Suffering under the wrath of God.

Some results of propitiation are that (1) God is justified in forgiving sin on the basis of the death of Christ who paid the price in full; (2) God is justified in imputing righteousness to the sinner, hence the sinner is justified; (3) God is justified in pouring out His blessings or complete grace upon the believer, the object of His grace.

Propitiation can be represented as follows:

Propitiation

DIAGRAMMATICAL REPRESENTATION OF PROPITIATION23

4.3.3 Reconciliation

We were separated from God due to sin. In order to overcome this separation from God, we needed to be reconciled to God. However, God’s justice could not allow us to be reconciled to Him apart from a payment for our sin. Enter Jesus, stage right!

Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation,  (19)  namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. (2 Cor. 5:18-19)

Even though God was the One wronged, He was also the One who took that utmost important first step toward reconciliation. Our reconciliation is all from God “who through Christ reconciled us to himself.” It was before we were saved that we were reconciled to God, while we were still enemies of God, not after we accepted Him! (Rom 5:10, 11) It was through the cross of Christ that we have peace with God, and were reconciled to Him (Eph 2:14-16; Col 1:20-22). Reconciliation (1) occurred before we were saved, while enemies of God (Rom 5:10); (2) came through the death of Christ (Rom 5:10-11); (3) is all from God without any help from us (2 Cor 5:18); (4) entrusts “to us the message of reconciliation” (2 Cor 5:19); (5) brings peace with God (Eph 2:14; Col 1:20); (6) creates “in himself one new man in place of the two[Jews and Gentiles], so making peace,” (Eph 2:15); (7) presents us “holy and blameless and above reproach before him,” (Col 1:22).

4.3.4 Redemption

As sinners we are in bondage to sin and Satan, and in need of redemption. Someone needs to provide us with that redemption.

In redemption a purchase is made or a ransom is paid. Ransom is the payment of a price to secure a release. A  ransom has been paid that released us from the bondage of the Law:

(13)  Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us--for it is written, "CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE"-- … (25) But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.  (26) For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:13, 25-26)

We are no longer under the Law for our acceptance before God. The chains of the Law have been broken.

In regard to redemption from sin, we have redemption from (1) guilt, giving justification (Rom 3:24) and forgiveness of sin (Eph 1:7; Col 1:14; Heb 9:15); (2) the power of sin, bringing deliverance from its defiling nature (Tit 2:14) and its attempts to merit salvation (1 Pet 1:18); (3) the presence of sin, the glorification of our bodies (Rom 8:23).

Jesus gave His life as a ransom:

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. (Mark 10:45)

just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. (Matthew 20:28)

who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time. (1 Tim. 2:6)

5. Conclusion

In this study we have come to the conclusion that the Biblical position of the atonement is that of the Penal Substitutionary Theory of Calvin.

Concerning the extent (answers the question: Who did Christ die for?) of the atonement, which is outside the scope of this study, I recommend the following:

  • Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, pp392-399.
  • Charles M. Horne, Salvation, Chapter 3, pp41-46.
  • Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, Chapter 27, pp594-603.
  • John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book 2.
  • Loraine Boettner, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, Chapter 12, pp150-161.
  • James R. White, The Potter’s Freedom, Chapter 11, pp251-280.
  • J. Barton Payne, The Theology of the Older Testament, Chapter 14, pp177-194, Chapter 19, pp246-257.

Some differing views:

  • John F. Walvoord, Jesus Christ Our Lord, Chapter 9, pp186-190.
  • James Arminius, The Works of Arminius, Volume 2, Article 12, pp9-10.

Footnotes

[1] Grudem, Wayne, SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, ZondervanPublishingHouse, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1994, p569.
[2] Horne, Charles M., Salvation, Moody Press, Illinois, Chicago, Ninth Printing, 1980, p26. A quote by Horne of Robert H. Culpepper, Interpreting the Atonement, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1966, p85.
[3] Ibid., p27-28.
[4] Ibid., p28.
[5] Grudem, p582.
[6] Grudem, p586.
[7] Finney, Charles Grandison, Finney’s Systematic Theology, Bethany House Publishers, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1994, p212-213.
[8] Thiessen, Henry C., Lectures in Systematic Theology, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Reprinted, December 1983, p233.
[9] Calvin, John, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Translated by Henry Beveridge, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1989, Book 2, Chapter 16, Section 6, p439.
[10] Berkhof, Louis, Systematic Theology, Fourth Revised and Enlarged Edition, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1996, p375-376.
[11] Horne, p32.
[12]  Frederick K.C. Price, Ever Increasing Faith Messenger, June 1990, p. 7
[13] Grudem, p570.
[14] Berkhof, p380.
[15] Ibid., p381.
[16] Grudem, p575.
[17] Walvoord, John, Jesus Christ Our Lord, Moody Press, Chicago, Illinois, Thirteenth Printing, 1982, p171.
[18] A GREEK-ENGLISH LEXICON OF THE NEW TESTAMENT and Other Early Christian Literature, A translation of the fourth revised and augmented edition of WALTER BAUER’s Griechisch-Deutsches Worterbuch zu den Schriften des Neuen Testaments und der ubrigen urchristlichen Literatur by WILLIAM F. ARNDT and F. WILBUR GINGRICH, SECOND EDITION, REVISED AND AUGMENTED BY F. WILBUR GINGRICH AND FREDERICK W. DANKER FROM WALTER BAUER’S FIFTH EDITION, 1958, THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO PRESS, CHICAGO AND LONDON, 1979. BAGD comes from Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich, Danker, p375.
[19] COLLINS POCKET REFERENCE English Dictionary, HarperCollins Publishers, Glasgow, Great Britain, Latest Reprint, 1992.
[20] COLLINS, p172.
[21] Horne, p34.
[22] Horne, p35.
[23] Horne, p37.
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