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" A keligion with a sacrifice, and a religion without a sacrifice, differ in the 
whole kind. The first respects the atonement of our past sins, and our daily 
infirmities : it respects God as the judge and avenger of wickedness, as well 
as the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. The other is a kind of 
philosophical institution to train men up in the practice of piety and virtue. 
A religion without a sacrifice is at most but half as much as a religion with a 
sacrifice ; and that half wherein they agree of a quite different nature from each 
other. The practical part of religion is vastly altered by the belief or denial of 
the sacrifice and expiation of Christ's death." — Sherlock's Vindication. 

" si Ton ote de la religion Chretienne la croix de Jesus Christ, c'est a 

dire la satisfaction pour nos peches par sa mort, l'assemblage de tous ses autres 
enseignemens se dissout ; il n'y reste plus ni certitude de verite ni solidite de 
consolation, de sorte que la propitiation de Jesus et l'expiation de nos offenses 
par son sang sont comme la clef de la voute, sur laquelle toutes les autres pieces 
s'ajustent et reposent." — Amyraut, Troisihne Sermon. 


THIS volume, delayed by other engagements much beyond 
my anticipations, is the sequel of the volume which 
appeared in 1868 on the sayings of Jesus in reference to the 
atonement, and completes my undertaking ; the object of which 
was to exhibit the entire New Testament teaching on the 
nature and fruits of Christ's death. I started with the con- 
viction that we cannot attain a full view of the New Testament 
doctrine on the subject, except in a biblico-historical way ; and 
have abstained from the artificial construction to which syste- 
matic theology has recourse, as well as from merely subjective 
combinations. The work is rather biblical than formally dog- 
matic or polemical, and intended to embody positive truth 
according to the setting in which the doctrine is placed in the 
apostolic documents. 

The doctrine of the atonement being a matter of pure 
revelation, all our information as to its nature must be drawn 
simply from the Scriptures ; and the sole inquiry for us is, 
in what, according to the Lord and His apostles, does the 
historic fact of the atonement objectively consist, and what are 
its constituent elements ? The object steadily kept in view 
has been to determine what saith the Scripture — according to 
rigid principles of grammatico-historical interpretation — with- 
out dislocating or wresting, so far as I am aware, a single 
expression from its true significance, and thus to run up 
the matter to authority. Then only do we listen to the 
word of God, and not to the speculations or wisdom of men. 
Nor can I allow that, when we expound Scripture by the laws 


of language, and think over again apostolic thoughts expressed 
in intelligible terms, we have, after all, but our own individual 
conception of Christianity. That modern evasion throws all 
loose, and makes everything uncertain. To affirm that, after the 
most diligent efforts to interpret Scripture, with a psychology 
resting on Christian experience, we have but our individual 
conception of it, is either to call in question that inspired 
book, or to make its statements, given forth in precise terms 
according to the laws of language and the laws of thought, an 
insoluble enigma. On the contrary, I hold that we can think 
the very thoughts of Christ and His apostles. 

The design of this work is mainly to demonstrate, in the 
only way in which this is to be done, the pure biblical doctrine 
of the atonement. But polemical references are by no means 
withheld ; that is, applications, necessarily brief, of ascertained 
truth to germinant errors, especially to those subtle forms of 
error which, in an evangelical guise, and not seldom with 
exegetical appliances, tend wholly to subvert the elements of 
substitution and penal visitation, which constitute the very 
essence of the atonement. It is a remarkable fact that since 
the Eeformation no article has been so much impugned in 
every variety of form. Till recently this was uniformly done 
by a class of men who had forfeited all claim to be regarded 
as either evangelical in sentiment or biblical in doctrine. 
Within recent memory, however, a new phenomenon has pre- 
sented itself to the attention of Christendom — a sort of spiritual 
religion or mystic piety, whose watchword is, spiritual life, 
divine love, and moral redemption, by a great teacher and ideal 
man, and absolute forgiveness, as contrasted with everything 
forensic. It is a Christianity without an atonement ; avoiding, 
whether consciously or unconsciously, the offence of the cross, 
and bearing plain marks of the Eationalistic soil from which 
it sprung ; and it has found a wide response in every Protestant 

The work here presented to the public was suggested by 


this new phenomenon, especially by the somewhat bold attempt 
which it has made to vindicate its claims by an exegetical 
appeal to Scripture. I refer to attempts in this direction by 
Menken/ Stier, 2 Klaiber, 3 and above all by Hofmann 4 of 
Erlangen, who, in the use of a peculiar exegesis, have arrived 
at results diametrically opposed to the views at which the 
entire Christian church in the east and west arrived, during 
eighteen centuries of her history. Schleiermacher, the great 
champion and bulwark of this tendency, from reasons which 
may be easily inferred, did not attempt to base these views on 
exegetical investigation, but on Christian consciousness. This 
phenomenon of a Christianity without an atonement, professedly 
based on an exegetical foundation, seemed to call for such a 
work as the present ; and in the course of it I have thoroughly 
investigated the teaching of the Lord and His apostles. Much 
as I value the creeds of the church, I do not appeal to them 
but to Scripture testimony strictly interpreted. 

How was this object to be best accomplished ? Two modes 
presented themselves, and between them a choice was to be 
made — that of taking up in succession the passages as they 
occur in the apostolic writings, and that of digesting them 
under a variety of topics — chapters, divisions, and sections. 
To avoid the repetitions which seemed certain to be entailed 
upon me by discussing the passages as they lie (in situ) in the 
several books, and giving them such an amount of expansion 
as would be necessary to make the expositions readable by the 
Christian public as well as by erudite men, the second method 
seemed absolutely necessary ; and in point of fact I started 
on that principle. But I soon found it necessary to alter my 
method, for the following reasons. The quotations were neces- 
sarily truncated and fragmentary. Different apostles must 
contribute a portion of thought out of every variety of connec- 

1 See Menken's Schriften, 7 vols., 1858. 

2 Stier, Andeut.fdr glaubiges Schriftverst. zweite Sammlung, Leipz. 1828. 

* Klaiber, die N. T. Lehre von der Siinde und Erlbmng, Stuttgart 1836. 

* Hofmann, der Schrlftbeweis, second edition. 


tion, and it was impossible to refer to the occasion in which 
the words were originally used. The same passage or clause 
which contributed one quota must be recalled for another ex- 
pression or thought not always well adapted to the artificial 
division for which it was assigned. Besides, it became all too 
evident that this must inevitably prove a new form of dogmatic 
theology; and instead of avoiding repetitions, would, though 
in another way, make them tenfold greater. The other method, 
I was satisfied, was the only one to be adopted. Nor was the 
repetition so great as I anticipated j 1 for every text, even when 
there did arise a certain sameness, had so much peculiar to 
itself as to give it a freshness of its own. 

I have appended in the notes a few references to the 
numerous works which I have perused on this great theme, 
and a historical outline at the end. No one has hitherto 
traversed the whole field in this way, though numerous speci- 
men-texts are discussed in dogmatic compends, polemical 
treatises, biblical dogmatics, outlines of Pauline, Petrine, and 
Johannine theology, not to mention commentaries ; and in all 
these not much of value has escaped my notice. 

I have only to add, that personally it has been to me the 
source of the greatest pleasure to pursue these investigations, 
the result of which is now given to others. To Him whose 
atoning death I have laboured to expound from His unerring 
word, I commit the work now finished. May He be pleased 
to accept the offering, and use it for the glory of His name. 

Edinburgh, Oct. 1870. 

1 On this point I may say with Athanasius : IvuV/i yap -xipi tvs s £?«*/«$ <rov 
Biou Xa.XoviJ.iv, "bio, Touro tov a'wroi vouv oia tXhovojv IpfMtvzvofiLtv, /ayi apa ri TapaXiffzuvnv 
Sc^aftiv, xou 'iyxXvf&a yiv/irai as l^ias up'/ixoffi. Kai yap (iiXridv ravroXoyias fttff'piv 
IffotrrniTai, % TrapaXiTipcci <ri tuv ofiiXonrojv ypa-^nvai. (Athan. U6 IllCWncUtOlie, C. 





The Prepaeation op the Apostles, and the Circle of their 

Testimony, ........ 1 

section i. 

The Apostles' Teaching on the Atonement based on that of the Lord 

Jesus, ........ 1 


General View of the Apostles' Testimony to the Atonement, . . 9 


The Apostles' Exposition of the Sacrifices and Temple Services, as Sym- 
bolical and Typical, . . . . . . .25 


The Apostles' References to Prophecy on the Subject of the Atonement, 53 

section v. 
The Testimony to the Atonement in the Acts of the Apostles, . 


The Apostolic Epistles, . . . . • • .100 


The Testimony to the Atonement in the Pauline Epistles, . 106 

section VII. 
The Epistles of Paul on the Righteousness of God, 





The Reconciliation set forth in the Pauline Epistles, . . .126 


The Testimony in the Epistle to the Romans, .... 133 

The Testimony in the First Epistle to the Corinthians, . . . 185 


The Second Epistle to the Corinthians, ..... 209 


The Epistle to the Galatians, ...... 232 

[section xiii. 
The Epistle to the Ephesians, . . . . . .267 

The Epistle to the Philippians, ...... 288 


The Epistle to the Colossians, ...... 296 


The Epistles to the Thessalonians, ..... 308 


The Epistles to Timothy, . . . . . .317 


The Epistle to Titus, ....... 326 


Tiie Testimony to the Atonement contained in the Epistle to 

the Hebrews, ....... 332 

section xix. 
The Epistle to the Hebrews, ...... 332 




The Testimony of the Apostle Peter, . . . .420 

section xx. 
The Epistles of Peter, ....... 420 


The Testimony of the Apostle John, . . . .448 

section xxi. 
The Epistles of John, ....... 448 


The Testimony of John in the Apocalypse, .... 468 


Historical Sketch of the Doctrine of the Atonement, . . 479 

I. Passages Expounded, . . . . • .545 

II. Subjects, 546 

III. Greek "Words specially noticed, ..... 547 





IN the previous volume I examined fully the doctrine of 
the atonement as taught by Christ Himself. I recalled 
the several scenes in which the Christ of God uttered from 
His own consciousness the absolute truth as to the scope, 
nature, and fruits of His vicarious death. I traced in what 
terms, pursuant to the suretyship which He had undertaken, 
He gave expression in different connections to the dedication 
and obedience of His life. How ample His teaching is on this 
particular theme, when it is all collected and classified, we had 
occasion to survey. We took a list of His sayings in their 
number, variety, and fulness, and saw that every benefit con- 
nected with His atonement was referred to by the Lord Him- 
self; nay, certain aspects of the atonement, and especially 
those which relate to its divine side, or exhibit it as redound- 
ing to the glory of God, are with more simplicity and compre- 
hensiveness portrayed by the Lord Himself than by any other 
speaker in any other portion of Scripture. 

In the present volume I purpose to exhibit the doctrine <»!' 
the atonement as taught bv the apostles. This id necessary, 

2 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

in order to give completeness to the New Testament testimony. 
The great peculiarity of their teaching, as compared with the 
other teaching of Scripture, is that they treat it as an accom- 
plished fact ; and this single circumstance accounts for all that 
is distinctive in the statements of the apostles as compared 
with the sayings of the Lord Jesus. They refer to it as an 
eternally valid fact, pregnant with consequences that abide 
for ever. They not only give prominence to all the blessings 
it procured, but delineate the spiritual sentiments, feelings, 
and experience which take their rise from it. They show how 
it colours the history and moulds the life of those who receive 
it, and are saved by it. 

It deserves notice that the views of the apostles, after the 
atonement had become an accomplished fact, underwent the 
most memorable change. Long had they repelled the thought 
of Christ's death, which they clearly enough perceived must be 
the death-blow of all their Jewish dreams and theories. But 
when it actually arrived, and they looked back on the com- 
pleted fact, approved and accepted at His resurrection, they 
were ushered into a new world of thought and feeling. Theirs 
was a transition from a Jewish to a Christian experience ; that 
is, to one where the atonement was a completed transaction 
with saving efficacy. They passed over from prophecy to ful- 
filment, from promise to fact, from anticipation to reality, from 
the Old Testament Church into that of the New Testament, 
from the knowledge of Christ after the flesh to a new mode of 
knowledge (2 Cor. v. 16). To live over again that revolution 
of experience, or to transfer ourselves into it even in idea, is 
impossible ; for none but the immediate followers of the Lord 
could adequately know it. But one point is clear. Faith now 
reposed on fact — divine fact — not only as the embodiment of 
divine thoughts, but as the accomplishment of all the prophetic 
announcements with which those who waited for the consola- 
tion of Israel were familiar. To use a familiar modern phrase, 
we have here the Christian consciousness in its purest form 


— in its normal condition. 1 If we have in the sayings of Jesus 
the consciousness of the God-man or of the Christ, we have in 
the testimony of the apostles what may be called the Chris- 
tian consciousness in its highest perfection. 

But it is in a much higher light than this that the apostles 
must be regarded. Besides uttering the Christian conscious- 
ness, they are the organs of Christ's self-revelation to the 
Church. Their message, intended to be the complement of 
Christ's own teaching, is a revelation addressed to all men, and 
extending to all time. For this function they needed a special 
preparation of their own minds, which may be described as 
twofold : first, oral instruction, imparted directly by Christ's 
own lips subsecpiently to His resurrection ; secondly, a mediate 
and more continuous aid of the Comforter, to enable them to 
apply to all emergencies the truth given to them by their Lord. 
It was this twofold revelation that secured a full coincidence 
between the Lord's teaching and theirs. All that they said or 
wrote for after times w T as thus divine revelation, not less truly 
than if all had been personally spoken by their Lord. He 
undertook, in fact, the responsibility of their official teaching 
(Matt. x. 40). Their testimony was thus in the last degree 
important, both as they were eye-witnesses to matters of fact, 
and as they were organs of a revelation which consisted in the 
application and further development of Christ's teaching on all 
points, as well as on the great doctrine of the atonement. 2 

The memory of Christ's earthly ministry was vividly re- 
called, and fresh instruction communicated, by Him after His 

1 This phrase Christian consciousness, as at first used by ScMeiermacher, 
presupposed living Christianity ; and its expression was found in all the creeds 
of Christendom. On these he based his Glaubenslehre, and not immediately 
on Scripture; and on these he exercised his constructive talent, sometimes 
well, oftener waywardly. The Christian consciousness was surely purest in the 

2 Though we are not defenders of mechanical inspiration, we contend for 
something more than the modern theory, or the Quaker theory ; that is, we 
hold that we have in Scripture unerring revelation as well as the Christian 

4 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

resurrection from the dead ; and to both these points we must 

1. As they had previously occupied a unique relation to 
the Lord, and had seen Him in every variety of scene till He 
finished His work, it was one part of their commission to testify 
orally what they had seen and heard and handled of the Word 
of life (1 John i. 1-4), and also to embody their recollections in 
written records. The importance of such records, as we have 
elsewhere shown, for a just idea of the atonement cannot be 
over-estimated. While the commission was given to all the 
apostles to rehearse what they had seen and heard, some were 
made aware that they had the more special task assigned to 
them of composing a historical narrative of His life which 
should be for all time. So essential a part of apostolic tes- 
timony, in fact, did this element of narration constitute, that 
we cannot conceive of the founding and permanent duration 
of the Christian church without it ; and to aid them, the 
Comforter, the great Eemembrancer, was promised, to recall 
to their minds an accurate outline of what the Lord did and 
taught (John xvi. 13). Acting upon their memory, the Holy 
Ghost resuscitated His express words and deeds, with all their 
circumstances and accessories, so far as this was necessary to 
exhibit His person or to manifest His atoning work. A super- 
natural power, capable of evoking the past from the tablets of 
memory, rendered all things back in their original vividness, 
and fixed them in their minds with a clearness with which a 
stranger could not intermeddle. 

But the fresh instruction which they received from personal 
interviews with the Eedeemer subsequently to the resurrection 
must next be noticed. This oral instruction received from the 
lips of the risen Lord is certain as to the matter of fact, and 
on many grounds was indispensably necessary. Nor was it 
limited to the eleven alone. Paul, too, received it at a later 
day, when he took rank among the apostles as one born out 
of due time. How far the oral instruction of the risen Ee- 


deemer extended, it may be difficult for us to say. Whether 
or not it comprehended all the great articles of divine truth, 
it certainly extended to the atonement (Luke xxiv. 25). This 
was to he the substance and foundation of all their preaching, 
and it was indispensably necessary for them to possess the 
most accurate knowledge of it. One object, therefore, which 
the Lord had in view during those forty days' sojourn with the 
disciples after His resurrection, was to open their understand- 
ings in the course of these personal interviews, to apprehend 
with all possible precision the nature of His death — its neces- 
sity, constituent elements, and efficacy ; against which, in every 
form, they had long entertained the most invincible prejudice. 
He now made all things plain, showing that the Christ must 
have suffered these things. 

How they were introduced into the theology of the Old 
Testament is specially worthy of notice. A due consideration 
of this point serves to bring out one most important fact, viz. 
that Christ's oral expositions are to be taken as the middle 
term, or as the connecting link between the Old Testament 
records on the one hand, and the apostolic commentary on the 
other. In a word, He was Himself the interpreter of Scrip- 
ture, and of His own history, in the course of those oral com- 
munications. In the book of Acts, and in the epistles, we 
find numerous interpretations of the prophecies, as well as of 
the types and sacrifices which owe their origin to this source. 
The evangelist Luke relates, that on the first resurrection- day, 
upon the Emniaus road, in order to instruct the two disciples 
with whom He entered into conversation, the Lord, beginning 
at Moses and all the prophets, expounded in all the Scriptures 
the tilings concerning Himself (Luke xxiv. 27) ; that is, He led 
them to a full survey of the typology and of the prophetical 
system of the Old Testament Scriptures. The same evening 
He reviewed the whole subject not less fully in presence of the 
eleven and other disciples, expounding to them how the Old 
Testament Scriptures received their fulfilment in Himself, and 

G apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

opening all that related to His death and resurrection. It is 
interesting to notice the extent of that never forgotten com- 
mentary, on which the Comforter in all His further revelations 
ever afterwards proceeded. The evangelist mentions that His 
exposition extended to the Law of Moses, to the Peophets, and 
to the Psalms. The allusion to the law of Moses recalls the 
whole range of typical theology — the sacrifices, the priestly 
institute, and the temple services. The allusion to the prophets 
reminds us of the wide field of Messianic prophecy, from the 
first promise in the garden of Eden to the last of the pro- 
phets. The allusion to the Psalms recalls those utterances 
which were put beforehand into the mouth of the suffering- 
Messiah in a series of psalms in which the Lord Jesus found 
Himself. He thus, in all these three divisions of Scripture, 
supplied them with the key which served to unlock what had 
never been so fully understood before in reference to His 
atoning death. 

These invaluable expositions, which may be called in 
modern phrase the Lord's own system of hermeneutics, formed 
the apostles to be interpreters of the Old Testament, directing 
them where and how to find allusions to the suffering Messiah. 
Hence the certainty and precision with which they ever after- 
wards proceeded to expound those holy oracles in all their 
discourses. Although these comments from the lips of the 
Messiah, who thereby showed how He found Himself in the 
Old Testament, have not been preserved to us in a separate 
form, they are doubtless to a large extent wrought into the 
texture of Scripture ; and under the apostles' allusions to the 
Old Testament we may read the Lord's own commentary. 
These expositions, whereby He opened their understandings to 
understand the Scriptures, introduced the apostles into the true 
significance of the Old Testament (Luke xxiv. 44), throwing 
light on the two economies, and thus bringing in the authority 
of Christ to direct them in all their future career. His sanc- 
tion is thus given to the apostolic interpretation of the Jewish 


rites ; and we are warranted to say that we see the Lord's own 
commentary underlying that of the apostles, whether we find 
allusion to the types, or to the prophecies, or to the Psalms, 
in their sermons and epistles. These expositions made the 
apostles acquainted with the doctrine of the atonement, in its 
necessity and scope, in its constituent elements and saving 
results. The apostles received the fullest instruction from 
the lips of their risen Lord ; and on this theme it appears 
that the instruction was subject to none of the reserves which 
checked their curiosity upon another occasion, when they 
would make inquiries as to points bearing on the future of 
His kingdom (Acts i. 7). 

2. It must be further noticed that the apostles' doctrine, as 
set forth in their sermons and epistles, was but an expansion 
or further carrying out of the Lord's own teaching. What the 
apostles added was pre-eminently a testimony to the atone- 
ment as an accomplished fact, and to its efficacy in the rela- 
tions of Christian life. They put the doctrine in its due 
position as the central article of Christianity. They assigned 
it the prominent place which it was henceforth to hold in the 
life of the Christian church. All this followed, but could not 
have preceded, the actual consummation of that redemption- 
work. Their great business was to represent it as finished for 
all time, as possessing an everlasting efficacy, and requiring no 
repetition. They constantly refer to the great truth, that 
Christ died once, and that there is no more sacrifice for sins. 
For the doctrine on the subject of the atonement, however, the 
Lord Himself gave the keynote of all that the apostles sub- 
sequently added. The sayings of Jesus, in fact, contain the 
germ of all that they afterwards developed. So far did the 
Lord supply the outline which the apostles filled up, that I feel 
warranted to affirm the apostles' doctrine on this point was 
always supported by what had been furnished in the Lord's 
own teaching, and was constantly supplied from it. Though 
it may be described as a further development or expansion of 


what was found in germ in the Lord's words, it was in reality 
not so much new truth, as the free and varied application of 
what they had already heard to the several phases of Christian 
experience, and to the germinant errors that arose in the 
different churches. 

The apostles' doctrine on the atonement coincides accord- 
ingly at all points with the teaching of Jesus ; and it was 
unerring revelation. It is the more necessary to advert to this, 
because many misapprehend the apostles' relation to the Lord. 
Thus, some have argued that, to restore Christianity to its 
original simplicity, nothing is more indispensably necessary 
than to abide exclusively by the sayings of Jesus. 1 This they 
advocate, because they assume that the truth has undergone a 
certain transmutation in the apostles' hands. Others, again, 
unduly magnify their mental peculiarities, till they regard them 
not as announcing the same truth with a peculiar type of 
mind, but as actually maintaining differences of doctrine. To 
these opinions, in all their modifications, we must emphatically 
oppose two considerations : (1) Their conscious relation to the 
great Teacher, and (2) His superintending care. On the one 
hand, men imbued as they were with reverence for Jesus, 
whom they worshipped with divine honours, and whom they 
were directed to hear (Matt. xvii. 5), were far too humble and 
self-denied to suppose for a moment that they could add any 
perfection to His doctrine. Far from thinking that they were 
wiser than He, or capable of adding one new ray to His self- 
revelation, they kept themselves within the limits of disciples, 
and merely built on His foundation. On the other hand, as 

1 At the end of last oentuiy a school of Eationalism arose, which sought to 
prove that the apostles accommodated themselves to the prejudices of the age, and 
deviated from the pure and simple teaching of Jesus. Priestley represented the 
same tendency in England. Two important works were written in reply to the 
theory of accommodation by the two Dutch professors Heringa and Lotze. In 
fact, the same theory has often reappeared. It was the Gnostic theory ; it was 
the theory of the late Dr. Baur of Tubingen ; and it still exists to a very large 
extent. On this ground, the attempt was made to explain away the Lord's 
atonement and deity as Pauline additions or corruptions. 


they had a continuous revelation by the Spirit, who brought 
up to them the Lord's own words, and also the Old Testament 
record, as was expedient for the necessities of the churches, 
they were never left without the superintending care and 
guidance of Christ; and there was no disharmony between 
Him and them. Nay, it must be further added, that as 
divinely commissioned men, they had the same authority witli 
their Lord, who fully identified Himself with them. 


The plan to be followed in this volume is furnished to 
our hand by the several books of the New Testament. The 
previous volume, limited to the sayings of Jesus, which we 
classified according to the elements and aspects of the truth 
which they peculiarly unfold, was meant to embrace the testi- 
mony supplied by the evangelists. The present volume, taking 
up the same theme where the Gospels end, is intended to 
unfold the apostles' testimony, and to give a full outline of 
what is contained upon this subject in their epistles to the 
churches. The only practicable mode of doing this is to take 
the several books, and to exhaust in order the testimony they 
contain. To this we have been led by the necessities of the 
case ; for the attempt to reduce the whole to a few heads, by 
taking a fragment from one text and another fragment from 
another, was found to be so dislocating and artificial, as to 
satisfy us that the apostles' doctrine could not be displayed, 
except by taking the several apostles -and their several epistles 
separately. We have thus to notice the testimony of a Peter, 
of a John, and of a Paul, as they refer to the atonement, in 
the order of the epistles given in the common editions of the 
New Testament; for the advantages supposed to be gained 
by following the chronological order of their composition, even 

10 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

if this point could be fully ascertained, would not, we think, 
countervail the inconvenience thereby occasioned to the general 
reader. We shall therefore follow the order of the epistles in 
the English Bible. 

As the apostles interweave, however, many allusions to the 
types of the Mosaic law, and to the Psalms and prophecies of 
the Old Testament, we deem it necessary, without turning 
aside from our definite purpose of exhibiting the apostolic 
testimony, to set forth, at least in outline, the use to which 
those parts of Scripture are turned in the book of Acts and 
in the epistles. We shall prefix, therefore, a chapter on the 
ancient sacrifices, and another on the ancient prophecies, as 
adduced by the epistles. But before entering upon these, it 
will be necessary to give a general view of the apostles' testi- 
mony and preaching. 

1. The apostles insist much on the dignity of the Lord's 
person, and on the connection between the Incarnation and 
Atonement. After Christ's resurrection, we find in the apostles 
a surprising increase of light on the subject of Christ's person, 
as Thomas' testimony proves (John xx. 28). They saw in 
a new manner the effect of the incarnation on His atoning 
work, and they expressed it with wondering delight, as is 
apparent whether we look at the book of Acts or at the 
epistles to the several churches. Thus, they speak of the Jews 
as killing the Prince of life (Acts iii. 15); of crucifying the 
Lord of glory (1 Cor. ii. 9) ; of the Son, the brightness of the 
Father's glory, and the express image of His person, and up- 
holding all things by the word of His power, having by Him- 
self purged our sins (Heb. i. 3). 

The apostles, in all those passages where they describe the 
redemption-work of the Lord, ascribe to the Saviour the pos- 
session of a divine nature, sometimes more directly, at other 
times more by implication. But it is never difficult to appre- 
hend their deep conviction of the presence of His deity in all 
His atoning work. They speak of it as a divine work, imme- 


diately accomplished by God Himself. Nor do they represent 
God as the author of it merely in the sense of originating or 
concerting the plan which the Mediator was commissioned and 
empowered to carry into execution: they speak of a divine 
person as the agent by whom the redemption-work was com- 
pleted, and of His work as closely connected with His divine 
nature, — that is, the work of one who was very God. The 
apostles, under the guidance of the Spirit, apprehended His 
work of obedience during the years He had sojourned with 
them, as infinitely valuable, and His blood as infinitely pre- 
cious, because emanating from the abasement of Him who was 
God over all ; ascribing it not merely to a sinless man, but to 
the Son of God, and thus, in virtue of the union of the natures, 
possessing an all-sufficient value and validity. Their doctrine 
on the subject of Christ's incarnation was, that it took place in 
a historic person, and in one only; and that, according to the 
will of Him that sent Him, He comprehended in Himself a 
body, or a vast multitude. 1 It is everywhere set forth as their 
deepest conviction, that instead of being one among His fellows, 
Jesus was the representative head of a redeemed company, 
who find their propitiation, righteousness, and redemption in 

The apostles' doctrine, too, is to the effect -that the Son of 
God in this great transaction was simply acting as the restorer 
of the lost, for there is no allusion to the incarnation as a natural 
process. They represent the historical appearance of the Son 
of God as conditioned solely by SIN, and there is no warrant 
from anything in their language for giving it a double founda- 
tion. 2 The stupendous fact of man's redemption was an end 
worthy of such a cost, but the incarnation was not necessary 

1 Most of the errors on the atonement have arisen from the habit of reading 
the life of Jesus as the biography of an individual, not as that of the Surety foi 
others— the second Adam. See Luther on Gal. iii. 13 in Latin. 

2 The modern theory of an incarnation irrespective of the fall has 
already noticed in our former volume, Sayings of Jesus (Appendix, sec. 

1 2 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

except on the supposition of redemption from sin. The in- 
carnation and the cross are thus viewed as inseparable, but 
both as means to an end, viz. the vindication of divine justice, 
the expiation of sin, the meritorious obedience to be rendered 
to the law. This is the rationale of the infinite condescension 
displayed in the incarnation and the cross. The apostles make 
no allusion to any other design. When we put together the 
apostolic testimony on this point, there are not a few texts 
which plainly announce that the design of the incarnation was 
only for the' redemption of the lost, and that the atonement 
owes its value to the fact that it was the work of a divine 
person. Thus, it is said that Christ was made of a woman to 
redeem men (Gal. iv. 4) ; that He took part of our flesh and 
blood to destroy death (Heb. ii. 14) ; that He was manifested 
to destroy the works of the devil (1 John iii. 8) ; that He came 
into the world to save sinners (1 Tim. i. 15). To assign a 
different intention to the incarnation, is not only to be wise 
above what is written, but well-nigh a contradiction to the 
explicit statement of what is set forth as the only design 
known to the apostles. 

2. The apostles' change of mind as to the cross, and their 
testimony to Christ crucified. Before we enter into the 
apostolic testimony in detail, two things at the outset demand 
more particular notice : the entire revolution of the apostles' 
own views as to the death, of the cross, and their uniform tes- 
timony to it as their confidence and boast. They first of all 
discerned its significance for themselves ; and then, knowing 
that the atonement is suited to the capacity of every class and 
every age, they gave the utmost prominence to this great article 
in all their preaching. As it is not in my plan to offer reflec- 
tions either of a practical or speculative nature, but to pursue 
an exegetical inquiry in the way that seems to me the best 
suited to convey strictly biblical views of the atonement, it 
seems proper here to refer to both these points. The change 
upon their own minds will lead us to understand the prominent 


place which the apostles gave to this article in all their preach- 
ing. A few remarks illustrative of their state of mind, and of 
the method they pursued, will suffice. 

They were brought to see a peculiar significance in the 
mode of Christ's death, and that something more was to be 
seen in the cross than if He had undergone any other death. 
They comprehended the weighty reasons which rendered it 
expedient and necessary, according to the divine wisdom, that 
the Surety should die by a death which was accursed by God. 
They were persuaded that it contained more than any other 
mode of death ; and accordingly we find them repeatedly 
making mention of the cross, or of the tree, as carrying with it 
a peculiar emphasis. Thus John, in referring to the Lord's 
own words, tells us : " This He said, signifying what death He 
should die" (John xii. 33 ; comp. viii. 28). Peter, again, both 
in his sermons recorded in the book of Acts and in his epistle, 
refers to the tree on which He suffered and bore our sins 
(1 Pet. ii. 24). Paul glories only in the cross of the Lord 
(Gal. vi. 14). They saw that God's terrible curse, on account 
of sin committed in Adam and in their own persons, lay on 
Jesus, and that He was made a curse, of which the cross was 
the symbol rather than the cause. 

The apostles were led either by the promised Comforter, 
the Spirit of truth, or by the Lord's oral teaching in His resur- 
rection interviews, to the conviction that Jesus died an accursed 
death, according to prophecy. This comes out in a passage, 
the point of which it is important to apprehend : " Christ hath 
redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a CUBSE 
for us : for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on 
a tree" (Gal. iii. 13). That quotation from Moses contains an 
intimation of the way in which Messiah was to die. Like the 
passage adduced by our Lord Himself about the lifting up of 
the brazen serpent on a pole, it shows that from the first it was 
intended to be symbolical, prophetical, and typical. We shall 
not enter into the question whether crucifixion was a Roman 

1 4 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

punishment, and not at all a Jewish punishment; 1 for the 
point of the quotation is the suspending of a criminal on a 
tree, whether by a subsequent judicial act after death, or by 
the crucifixion while yet alive. That is the point of resem- 
blance between the two cases. By the Mosaic law, that mode 
of punishment was inflicted upon great criminals, such as 
blasphemers and idolaters, the rebellious and seditious. When 
we compare the passage in Deuteronomy with the doctrine 
which Paul declares in connection with that passage, he plainly 
intends to prove that Christ was the curse-bearer in our room, 
and that this great truth was established by the subjoined sign. 
Christ was made a curse before being suspended on the tree : 
for God made Him to be sin for us (2 Cor. v. 21); and that 
hanging on the tree was but the public testimony 2 to the curse 
endured in our room. The cause of the curse was not the 
hanging on the tree, but the sin with which He was charged ; 
and that mode of punishment exhibited that He was the object 
of God's holy displeasure, not indeed because He was sus- 
pended on the tree, but because He was the sin-bearer ; and 
the punishment of the offences for which that ignominious 
punishment was allotted was then inflicted. Divine wisdom 
appointed that He who bore the sin of the world should be 
exposed as a curse ; for the divine displeasure was thus more 
awfully displayed. 

But why was this peculiar method adopted ? Of all the 

1 Baronius, Lipsius, A. Schultens, and others, warmly and with great learn- 
ing maintained that it is a mere rabbinical shift and evasion to deny that 
this mode of punishment was ever used in the Hebrew republic. The Jewish 
commentators allow only four forms of capital punishment, but deny that 
crucifixion was ever used, or that a living person ever was in any form sus- 
pended on a tree. The opposite view was held by the above-named authorities. 
The opinion that crucifixion was a Roman punishment was always the common 
view, and still is. 

2 The shallow comment, that Christ was made a curse merely in the sense 
that His enemies executed upon Him the cursed death of a malefactor, devised 
by the Socinians and repeated by the Rationalists, has been recently renewed 
by llofmann. But if it was not His enemies, but God, that made Him a curse, 
there is no room for two opinions on the subject (Gal. iii. 13). 


explanations propounded, the simplest is that given by Witsius 
and others, that sin came into the world by the wanton viola- 
tion of the divine will in connection with the forbidden fruit. 
As the fatal sin which diffused the curse over the human race 
was connected with the forbidden tree, God wisely ordained 
that the second Adam should expiate sin by being suspended 
on a tree; and He appointed in the law such a symbol of the 
curse as reminds all men of the origin of the divine curse on 
the w'orld. 1 He would not have the curse removed by any 
other means. This adequately explains the divine wisdom in 
the giving of such a law. And they who had a true know- 
ledge of the way of atonement might find occasion from that 
symbol, as in the parallel case of the lifting up of the brazen 
serpent on the pole, or in the leading up of the sacrifices to the 
altar, to conclude that Messiah should one day be made a 
curse, and hang upon a tree ; but that He should not continue 
long, for He should be taken down on the same day before 
sunset. Whether many apprehended all this in the prophetic 
type, or only a very few, is not the question. We who live in 
the times of accomplishment are taught that such a lesson was 
conveyed by it to us (1 Pet. i. 11, 12). 

The apostles justly regarded the crucifixion as the deepest 
possible humiliation. It was the most ignominious of punish- 
ments, inflicted only on slaves and the lowest of the people ; and 
if free men were at any time subjected to crucifixion for great 
crimes, such as robbery, high treason, or sedition, the sentence 
could not be executed till they were put into the category of 
slaves by degradation. Their liberty was taken from them by 
servile stripes and scourging, as was done to Christ. 2 How- 
ever that crisis in Christ's history perplexed and saddened the 
apostles for a time, they no sooner discerned the deep under- 
lying truth of the symbol than they triumphed and gloried in 

1 See Witsius on the Creed, Ex. xvi. 32. 

2 See Turretin. de Satis/, par. ii. 2G ; Witsius; Biima jus, dt Morte J. C. 
lib. iii. 

1 6 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

the deep abasement to which the Lord of glory had descended 
for them, enduring the cross and despising the shame. Their 
symbol was the cross ; their boast was the cross : they could 
not live without it ; they could not die without it. They set 
forth, wherever they went, that the types of the law had 
received their fulfilment in the cross, and that the Messiah had 
died in such a way that every one must necessarily perceive 
that the curse of the law was fulfilled upon Him in our room 
and stead. 

3. The apostles uniformly testify that the cross was their 
confidence and boast, and lead us to regard the atonement as 
belonging to the main scope of revelation. Thus, when Paul 
describes the purport of his apostolic labours, he says, "We 
preach Christ crucified" (1 Cor. i. 23); and, besides, he calls 
the gospel the preaching of the cross, or more strictly rendered, 
"the word of the cross" (1 Cor. i. 18). We cannot allow that 
this means no more than the preaching of the pure moral 
code which Jesus taught, with only the accessory notion that 
it was confirmed by His death. Nor can the language with 
any greater reason be referred to Christ's example, as sealed by 
martyrdom. Such comments as these, which aim at evading 
the vicarious sacrifice, are a violence to language, and wholly 
inconsistent with the import of the terms. The substance of 
Christianity, and the preaching of it, could not be described 
in such a way, unless the cross of Christ, considered as a 
vicarious satisfaction, constituted its essential element, nay, its 
principal design. We have a further evidence of the same 
thing when the apostle adds, that the cross was a stumbling- 
block to one, and foolishness to another, of the nationalities 
among whom he laboured. Had the cross, however, been 
simply propounded as a confirmation of Christ's doctrine, it 
could not have been an offence. It would rather have tended, 
as in the case of Socrates, to win respect for the teacher and 
for His doctrine, that He had closed His career in attestation 
to His teaching by the endurance of a violent death. 


But the doctrine of the cross, as a propitiation and as a 
way of salvation, was equally in collision with Jewish pride 
and Gentile wisdom. To the Jew it was a stumbling-block, 
partly because it took him up on the ground of a sinner, help- 
less and in need of reconciliation, partly because it summoned 
him to trust in the innocence of a suffering Surety, and not 
in his own righteousness. His expectation of a Messiah as a 
temporal prince was in proportion to his pharisaic self-right- 
eousness, and probably an offshoot from it. He was offended 
at a suffering Messiah, both because it crossed his theory, and 
because it presupposed a guilt which was to be expiated in 
no other way. To the Greek, again, the preaching of the cross 
was foolishness, because it proceeded on the supposition, so 
repugnant to the mere disciple of human wisdom, the specu- 
lative admirer of notions and theories, that salvation was the 
principal design of God, and that this was the scope of Chris- 
tianity when it preached a crucified Christ. The preaching of 
the apostles confronted both these tendencies ; and amid all 
their opposition, far from losing confidence or feeling shame, 
they retreated to the ground that the preaching of the cross 
was the power of God and the wisdom of God to them that 
are called, and that it effected what all the resources of human 
wisdom could not effect (1 Cor. i. 24; Bom. i. 16). 

4. Paul in a variety of ways declares that the atonement 
was the principal topic of his preaching. One of these testi- 
monies is to this effect : " / determined not to know anything 
among yon, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified" (1 Cor. ii. 2). 
No one can doubt what is the import of this statement. When 
he "determined to know nothing among them, save Jesus 
Christ, and Him crucified," the import clearly is, that he 
preached, as his grand topic, the atonement of Christ, in all 
its bearings and fulness of application. The words intimate 
that he made the doctrine of the cross the principal matter 
of preaching; the other truths which he taught being either 
derived from it or connected with it. They were, in a word, 


18 APOSTLES' sayings on the atonement. 

either postulates or corollaries ; and whatever could not be con- 
nected with it, was made very subordinate or omitted. This 
had been done on purpose and from forethought. The apostle 
went to work according to a plan ; and to this his fundamental 
principle he continued faithful in all his subsequent ministry. 

In the same epistle we find another passage where he- 
declares that the gospel which he had preached, which the 
Corinthians had received, and by which they were saved if 
they kept it in memory, was " that Christ died for our sins, 
according to the Scriptures" (1 Cor. xv. 3). Now, can this mean 
that Christ's death was preached as but a dissuasive from sin ? 
Does the apostle say that the death of Christ was preached 
merely as a means to free men from the bondage of moral 
corruption, either by the force of suasion or by the infusion 
of spiritual life ? By no means. Such a comment not only 
fails to exhaust the idea, but misses the proper sense of the 
words, " dying for our sins." That expression, wherever it 
occurs, bears reference to the MEPtiTOKious cause of His 
death. In no case does it refer to future deliverance, but 
always to the expiation of past guilt. This is apparent in a 
passage which combines the two ideas we have now noticed, 
making the expiation of past guilt a means to a further end, — 
a means to future deliverance : " Who gave Himself for our 
sins, that (oTroog) He might deliver us from this present evil 
world" (Gal. i. 4). 

In the Epistle to the Galatians we have the most copious 
evidence of the value which Paul attached to the preaching 
of the atonement. His great object there is to show, that if 
the cross is either obscured or superseded, the gospel is no 
gospel. He pointedly condemns the views of the Judaizing 
teachers, who enforced on the Galatian churches the observ- 
ance of the Mosaic law as necessary to salvation; showing 
that, in reality, it is another gospel where the cross is either 
concealed, or not presented as the sole ground of acceptance. 
These Judaizing zealots were men who, instead of directing 


their undivided attention to the atonement as the exclusive 
ground of salvation, and therefore as the great doctrine of the 
gospel, put circumcision and the rites of the Mosaic law in 
its place (Gal. v. 1-4) ; and the apostle asserts that there is 
no other gospel but where the cross of Christ occupies the 
principal place. They to whom he referred perverted the 
gospel of Christ (Gal. i. 7). Then he declares, in a tone of 
authority as well as of the deepest solemnity, " Though we or 
an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than 
that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed" 
(Gal i. 8) ; a statement which he repeats, partly to show that 
it was no utterance of human passion, partly to recall to 
memory what he seems to have first spoken in the course of 
his personal ministry. Were the atonement not the principal 
matter of the gospel, and the highest exhibition of the united 
wisdom, love, and faithfulness of God, — in a word, the greatest 
act of God in the universe, — that terrible anathema on its 
subverters would seem to us something inexplicable, if not 
intolerable. But the doom is justified by the nature of Christ's 
death, and by the great fact of the atonement. 

The apostle, as he proceeds, takes every opportunity from 
the course of his argument, not only to warn the Galatian 
churches against the perverters of the gospel, but to show 
that the cross formed the burden of his own preaching. Ee 
observes that the men to whom he wrote the epistle were they 
" before whose eyes Jesus Christ had been evidently set forth, 
crucified among them" (Gal. iii. 1) ; in which expression la- 
gives us a brief outline of his preaching. And he winds up 
the epistle by the announcement that, in his official capacity, 
as well as in his individual capacity as a Christian, he would 
not " glory, save in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ" (Gal. 
vi. 14). This one foundation he adduces in opposition to all 
these false grounds,— the rites, the ceremonies, the legal ob- 
servances, on which the others built their confidence. He 
would glory in nothing save in the cross; and all Legalism 

20 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

lie denounces as enmity to " the cross of Christ" (Phil. iii. 18). 
The expression " the cross of Christ" in the sense in which the 
apostle uses it, denotes salvation by the propitiation of the 
cross, or by the dying obedience of a Surety made a curse 
in our room. And when we minutely examine the various 
epistles addressed to the churches, whether composed of Jews 
or Gentiles, we find that the atonement was preached to men 
in all states of mind, as the great message with which the 
apostles were charged, and as ecpially necessary to the estab- 
lished Christian and the anxious inquirer. 

In one memorable passage which I shall subjoin, the 
Apostle Paul remarks that the preaching of the cross was the 
main scope of his ministry, and the very end for which he 
was specially appointed : " Who gave Himself a ransom for 
all, to be testified in due time. Whereunto I am ordained a 
preacher, and an apostle (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie 
not)" (1 Tim. ii. 6, 7). He there declares, with all the solem- 
nity of an oath, that he not only preached the atonement as 
a divinely provided ransom for man's salvation, but that he 
was specially ordained as an apostle and preacher for this very 
service. The cross was thus to him and to all his successors 
the main burden of preaching, without which, indeed, the 
function of preaching would neither have any deep foundation 
nor possess any true significance. 

To this great commission the apostles were to continue 
faithful. We find, accordingly, when we examine the first 
announcements of the gospel in any place, that they prefixed 
the narrative of Christ's humiliation, obedience, and resurrec- 
tion ; that they proclaimed Him as the Christ ; and that they 
coupled with the narrative the message of present forgiveness 
and reconciliation. In preaching such a doctrine, they exposed 
themselves to the loss of reputation, to hardships and peril, 
to persecution and death. But they held on their way, un- 
deterred and undaunted, assured that they were ordained to 
deliver such a message ; and they boldly fulfilled the charge, 


that the great truth, which was unspeakably dear to their own 
souls, might be made known to all nations and to all times. 

5. The sacred writers uniformly put the remission of sins 
in close connection with the death of Christ as its procuring 
cause. Man's standing before God, whether viewed in the light 
of the forgiveness of sins, or in the light of acceptance, is 
always deduced from the death of Christ as the direct cause. 
Of this the Lord Himself gave the first example, when He 
described His blood as shed for many for the remission of sins 
(Matt. xxvi. 28) ; and He commissioned His disciples to go 
everywhere preaching repentance and the forgiveness of sins in 
His name, — that is, to make these points the burden of their 
message, and to put forgiveness through His blood upon the 
foreground, among the very first things to be proclaimed. It 
was not in any circumstances to be kept in reserve, as if it 
could be viewed — as is the tendency in our day to view it — 
in the mere subordinate light of an adjunct to the possession 
of the spiritual life. We may warrantably infer that, as they 
preached this everywhere as their special message in all the 
world, or to every creature, they were not neglectful to point 
out, after their Lord's example, the direct causal connection 
between the forgiveness which they announced and the atoning 
blood which had been shed for this end. Wherever the apostles 
went, we find them faithful to this commission (Acts ii. 38, 
x. 43, xiii. 38). That the same peculiarity was a feature of 
their teaching in the several churches, will appear from a few 
passages in their epistles. 

Eph. i. 7 : " In whom we have redemption through His blood, 
the forgiveness of sins." — The apostle in the last clause, which 
gives additional explanation, more fully defines the nature 
of redemption as an objective benefit; for the words cannot 
be interpreted of the uprooting of sin within. They who so 
explain the two terms are wide of the mark. It is objective 
benefits to which the apostle refers, and not an inner state of 
the heart. The forgiveness is the remission of punishment due 

22 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

to us for sin, and put in direct connection with the blood of 
Christ alone as its meritorious cause. 

2 Cor. v. 1 9 : " God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto 
Himself, not imputing their trespasses tinto them" — The recon- 
ciliation is connected with the non-imputing of sin, another ex- 
pression for forgiveness or the remission of punishment. The 
connection between two things here stated is to be carefully 
noted : God, in the great scheme of reconciliation, is described 
as not imputing sin ; while Christ, in the capacity of surety, is 
described as made sin, or bearing the imputation of sin (ver. 21). 
Thus the imputation of sin to Him, and its non-imputation to 
us, stand in close causal connection. The substitution of the 
Son of God is thus the ground and the explanation of our for- 

Eom. iii. 25 : "To declare His righteousness for [better, on 
account of] the remission of sins that are past." — I adduce this 
passage as conveying, when rightly understood, a most emphatic 
illustration of the connection between Christ's dying obedience 
and the remission of sins. The righteousness of God there 
mentioned means, as will be proved below, according to the 
common Pauline usage, the righteousness divinely provided for 
the justification of sinners ; and the reason assigned for its 
actual manifestation in the fulness of time is, that sins had, 
during ages of forbearance prior to the coming of Christ, been 
remitted on the ground of an atonement yet to come. The 
atonement, or, as it is there called, the righteousness of God, was 
ushered in by reason of, or on account of (5/a with ac), the 
pardon which had been extended to multitudes in the former 
ages. We thus see the inseparable connection between the 
atoning obedience of Christ and the remission of sins, — between 
the actual bringing in of the atonement and the previous forgive- 
ness accorded to Old Testament believers. The clause shows 
the direct connection between Christ's work and pardon. This 
is the only sense that can be grammatically put upon the words, 
and they show that without atonement there could have been 


no remission of sins. That the saints before the coming of 
Christ frequently speak of pardon as a present experience, and 
extol the sweetness of the privilege, no one can doubt (Ps. 
xxxii. 1 ; Mic. vii. 1 8) ; for the atonement, from its retrospective 
character as the great fact in the world's history, was a sufficient 
ground for dispensing pardon in the proper sense of the word, 
being already before the divine mind as a reality. Objectively, 
there was no difference as to the participation of actual pardon 
before and after the atonement, though in point of inner liberty, 
or the subjective realization of it, there could not but be a cer- 
tain difference between men eagerly looking forward to the 
great coming fact, and their laying hold of it as already accom- 
plished. In that respect something was awanting (Heb. xi. 
40). But the point which this text illustrates, and for which I 
have adduced it, is the inseparable link between forgiveness 
and atonement : it is a causal connection — an immediate con- 
nection without any further addition. 

Eom. viii. 34 : " Who is he that condemncth ? it is Christ that 
died." — The argument there would not hold, unless merited con- 
demnation were directly removed from us by the death of Christ, 
without another cause in operation. Now forgiveness is exemp- 
tion from condemnation, and it is ascribed exclusively to Christ's 
death. The death of Christ alone is thus the direct and im- 
mediate cause of pardon. 

This will help us to understand the significance of the 
biblical terms by which forgiveness is described. They are 
numerous, whether we look at the Old Testament or at the 
New; and they presuppose atonement, as a few instances will 


Eom. iv. 7: "Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, 
and whose sins are covered:' " Blessed is fh e man to whom the Lord 
will not impute sin" (Ps. xxxii. 1, 2).— There are two phrases 
which are here alternated, as interchangeable expressions with 
the commonly used term " forgiveness." The first, that of cover- 
ing sins, intimates that they are covered from the Judge's eye, 

24 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

so that if they are sought for, they are not to be found. This 
figurative expression is thought to be taken from the blood- 
sprinkled mercy-seat or covering of the ark which covered the 
tables of the law, and therefore the curse due to the people 
for their sins, though we need not be too curious to settle 
this point when no materials are at hand. The meaning is, that 
sins, as covered from the Judge, no more cry for vengeance, 
and there must be something to cover them ; while the second 
phrase, the non-imputation of sin, denotes that it is not charged 
to our account, — that is, that our persons are no longer sub- 
jected to merited punishment (2 Sam. xix. 19 ; Lev. vii. 18). 

Heb. x. 17: " And their sins and iniquities will I remember 
no more." — This expression describes the perfection of the for- 
giveness when Christ's one sacrifice was offered. A judge no 
more remembers sins when he does not remember them judi- 
cially, or when he ceases to act against them ; and the language 
means that, on the ground of Christ's death, God remembers 
sin no more. 

Col. ii. 13: " You, being dead in your sins, hath He quickened 
with Kim, having forgiven you all trespasses." This passage dis- 
tinctly shows that the idea attached to forgiveness involved 
deliverance from punishment: for the apostle says first that 
they were by sin subjected to death and punishment, and that 
the quickening in which they rejoiced was a consequence of 
forgiveness ; which again was owing to the atonement of the 
cross, or to the blotting out of the handwriting of ordinances 
by nailing it to the cross. 

The most frequently used expression in the Old Testament 
to denote forgiveness, is literally to bear sin * (Mic. vii. 1 8 ; 
Ex. xxxiv. 7; Num. xiv. 18; Josh. xxiv. 19). It appears not 
improbable that this phrase, so frequently used to describe 
pardon in the Old Testament, was borrowed from the sacrifices, 
perhaps from the scape-goat, led away by the hand of a fit 
man, and let go in the wilderness (Lev. xvi. 21). The iniquity 
1 See our former volume, Sayings of Jesus, sec. xiii. 1. 


of the people was borne by these two goats, used on the day 
of atonement, being first expiated by the one, and then borne 
away by the other. And as the two were intended to convey 
but one idea, and are a mutual complement of each other, they 
gave a symbolical representation of the mode of taking away 
sin and merited punishment. 1 The unrighteousness of the 
covenant people w T as removed from the eyes of the Judge, and 
no more suitable expression could be employed to intimate the 
remission of sin. But however the expression is explained — 
and various explanations will continue to be given — it cer- 
tainly implies to remit or forgive sin, so that it is no more 

Thus, according to apostolic teaching, the acceptance of the 
sinner and the pardon of his sins — that is, the positive and 
negative side of the new relation into which we are admitted — 
is immediately connected with the cross. The one is called 
justification, and the other forgiveness; but they are both 
forensic terms, having reference to our personal relation to 
the moral Governor and Judge; and they are immediately 
connected with the cross, or with the atonement which vindi- 
cates the divine law. This assumes that in other respects no 
duty is left undone ; that there is no sin of omission as well 
as no sin of commission : for these two sides of the question 
are the complement of each other — correlative truths ; the one 
presupposing the other. And the person may be described 
either by the negative or positive side of the sentence. 


In this section I purpose to consider the apostles' elucida- 
tion of the atonement from the ancient sacrifices. The plan 
we are pursuing leads us into this field under the guidance 

1 See Prof. Lotze's explanation of the phrase over de Vergeiing, p. 20. 

26 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

of apostles ; and as they lead the way, we do not place our- 
selves, therefore, under any arbitrary human theories. Nor 
have we any occasion to fall in with the attempt to stand 
merely on the ground which the reading of the Old Testament 
supplies to our own minds, apart from the apostolic commen- 
tary; a presumptuous attempt which has invariably failed. 
We survey the sacrificial economy with the light which the 
apostles reflect upon it ; and where they stop short, there we 
also stop. 

On the subject of sacrifice, there have been before the church 
two artificially constructed systems. The typical system, run 
out into a labyrinth of detail; and the symbolical system, 
which finds higher truth in all the multiplied ceremonies 
appointed for the sacrifices. And to neither scheme does it 
seem safe to surrender ourselves fully, since both err by over- 
doing. It must be allowed that there is an amount of truth 
in both, and that neither element is to be rejected. But on 
either scheme, unless we have controlling landmarks, we may 
soon get beyond divine ideas, and lose ourselves in human 
fancies and ingenious analogies. 

That which was called the typical theology was much in 
favour a century ago. It had engaged the ingenuity of 
Cocceius, Witsius, Vitringa, and Lampe; and in the hands 
of these eminent men, and of others who followed them, much 
precious truth was brought forth as the carrying out of apos- 
tolical ideas ; but it was carried to such an extreme, that it 
sunk in course of time under its own weight. It soon came to 
be out of keeping with the great purpose of exegesis, the object 
of which is to exhibit the substance of revelation in its origin, 
progress, and proper import; and a reaction was the conse- 
quence on the part of all men of spiritual insight and taste- 
It was overdone, and the mind made the natural and necessary 
effort to regain its equilibrium. 

The modern school differs from the former, by fixing atten- 
tion rather on the symbolical meaning of the sacrifices. This 


system has for its object to find out the spiritual ideas under- 
lying them. The symbol is with these writers the tangible 
substratum to exhibit a higher truth, or to illustrate God's 
method of dealing with sin and sinning men. There is im- 
portant truth in this view, especially as it unfolds a useful 
mode of instruction in reference to God the moral Governor, 
to the guilt and defilement of sin, and to the method of 
expiation. But it must be added that many writers in this 
school go as far in the indulgence of a restless fancy as did 
the typical school. This may fully be affirmed of the arti- 
ficial system propounded by Bahr in a direction opposed to 
the vicarious sacrifice. But the opposite system advocated by 
Kurtz, Hengstenberg, Keil, and Kliefoth, 1 while powerfully 
maintaining the vicarious character of the sacrifices, and start- 
ing from apostolical expositions, errs in like manner in not a 
few respects by overdoing. The Mosaic law, with its precepts 
and prohibitions, threats and penalties, is correctly portrayed 
as uniting into a system the great ideas of divine holiness, of 
the evil of sin, and the necessity of expiation, which were all 
symbolically taught by sacrifice. But it cannot be denied that 
the minute details are overdone. If it was a labyrinth of type 
a century ago, it has in more recent times become a labyrinth 
of symbol ; and to neither system in detail can we commit 
ourselves, more especially when we reflect that the same mode 
of interpretation, if applied to the parables, a similar method 
of instruction, would throw obscurity, not light, over those 
simple ideas which they are intended to elucidate. 

I shall here collect into a few particulars the general doc- 
trine of sacrifice, and keep the whole within due limits. 

1 See Bahr, Symbolikdcs mos. Cultus ; Kurtz, das mosaische Opfer ; Hengsten- 
berg, Opfer der H. S. 1858 ; Kliefoth, ursprilngliche OotteMknst. ordnung, 1858 ; 
Keil, Opfer des A. B. (Zeitschrift fur die gesammte Lutherische Theologie, 
1856-7). Besides these, Philippi's Kirchliche Glaubenslehre, iv. 1863, and 
Doedes' articles (Jaarboeken voor Wetenschapp. Theol. 1846), deserve attenl ion. 
The reader will find in English an able discussion of the whole subject in Dr. 
Fairbairn's Typology, and also in Arch. Magee on the Atonement, and Dr. 
Pye Smith's Priesthood and Sacrifice, not to mention many popular expositions. 

28 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

1. They were a mode of instruction on the way of ap- 
proaching God, and were peculiarly suited to the human 
mind struggling with a sense of guilt ; and they have fur- 
nished to the church of all times a vocabulary or nomen- 
clature, without which men could not with sufficient precision 
have been able to hold intercourse with each other on the 
subject of the atonement. It deserves special notice, that 
prophecy and sacrifices are always found together, and throw 
light upon each other ; and that they run in parallel lines 
through the entire Old Testament economy. Nay, the sacri- 
fices may be, regarded as a sort of prophecy, or a guarantee 
to which the veracity of God was pledged; for the shadow 
must one day become a reality. But it was furthermore 
necessary that the great fact to which they pointed should 
be distinctly announced in prophecy, and hence we find both 
together from the time of the first promise (Gen. iii. 15). If, 
indeed, the reality had not been appointed to appear, the 
shadow or rude outline which was presented to the mind by 
the sacrifices would never have been exhibited. 

To apprehend the sacrifices aright, they must also be con- 
sidered as sacraments. The terms sacrifice and sacrament 
formally differ indeed in this respect, that sacrifice denotes 
rather what is given to God, while sacrament points out what 
God gives to us. But while this is not to be denied, they may 
meet in one and the same thing ; and the sacramental character 
of sacrifices may be discerned very clearly in the whole ante- 
diluvian and patriarchal periods, when they were signs and 
seals to believing men, as sacraments are to us now. 1 This, 
of course, takes for granted the divine origin of sacrifices, of 
which, it appears to me, there is very little room for doubt. 
But whatever view may be held on the primeval origin of 
sacrifices, there cannot be two opinions as to the fact that they 
had an expressly divine appointment in Israel ; for even they 
who are of opinion that men, in the exercise of their own 
1 See Witsius to this effect, de Econom. Feed. lib. iv. c. 7. 7. 


reason, fell upon the device of offering animal sacrifices as a 
method of acceptable worship, acknowledge that upon the Jews 
they were divinely enjoined, with many explicit directions in 
detail. But the evidence for their divine appointment in 
primeval times seems cprite conclusive, as a few words will 

The sacrifice of Abel is so described as to show that it must 
have been offered in compliance with divine appointment, and 
that it was not a mere will- worship (Col. ii. 23). It is said to 
have been acceptable to God — more acceptable than Cain's 
(Heb. xi. 4), because it was offered in faith — and to have been 
received with a divine testimony of approval, which we may 
suppose was given by the descent of consuming fire from 
heaven upon the sacrifice, in the same way as was vouchsafed 
on several later occasions (2 Chron. vii. 2). But that solemn 
testimony of acceptance would only have terrified the offerer, 
had he himself invented this mode of worship. The lightning 
shooting round the altar and consuming the victim, would have 
conveyed the impression of an angry God ; and how could they 
have apprehended by this means that they were reconciled ? 
How could they have known without some divine revelation 
that this consuming fire was a token of divine acceptance ? 
When we consider that revelation began at the fall, and that 
God spoke with man, and conveyed His mind to him in the 
most condescending and paternal way, as appears from the 
Mosaic narrative of those times, we cannot suppose that the 
divine goodness and wisdom abandoned him to the caprice of 
his own mind in the matter and mode of worship. For this is 
at the best but wdll-worship and the commandment of man 
(Matt. xv. 9). 

But, besides, w^e do not see that in the ordinary way of 
acquiring ideas there was anything to lead men to that mode 
of worship as peculiarly acceptable, or calculated to please God. 
The first mention of sacrifice does not convey the impression 
that it was a new invention in the time of Abel, but rather 

30 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

that it was a wonted mode of worship ; and we may suppose 
it derived from Adam's custom. The two brothers were not 
likely to fall upon the device at one and the same time, or to 
show more inventiveness than- Adam. That Adam, however 
conscious of a good intention, would be very slow to rely 
upon his own reason and judgment in the institution of divine 
worship, may be safely argued from the painful remembrance 
of what he had brought on himself and the world by the 
plausibilities of that which had seemed good, and pleasant, and 
desirable (Gen. iii. 6). But the sacrifice of a slain animal does 
not, apart from the divine thought deposited in it, seem 
peculiarly fitted to edify the mind, or to awaken filial trust and 
boldness. The conjecture that the first garments of Adam and 
Eve were the skins of animals offered in sacrifice, has not only 
nothing improbable in it, but everything in its favour. They 
would not naturally have fallen on the device of themselves. 
But if the sacrifice was divinely instituted, and if it was the 
channel of an important prophecy as to man's acceptance, this 
was highly natural. I may further add, that the divine origin 
of sacrifice is not a little confirmed by the fact, that before the 
flood the distinction between clean and unclean animals was 
quite familiar : and from this the natural conclusion is, that as 
the flesh of animals was not the common food of men till after 
the flood, this distinction is only to be explained by the divine 
direction as to the sort of animals that were to be used in 
sacrifice (Gen. viii. 20). 

The doubts which have been expressed on the divine insti- 
tution of sacrifice are various. By some they are urged in the 
interest of a theory adverse to the vicarious sacrifice of Christ. 
"With others, who are entitled to the utmost respect as evan- 
gelical divines, the doubt arises from a different cause : it is 
urged that, had they been of divine appointment, Moses would 
not have omitted a matter of such importance. 1 But it must 

1 As to the origin of sacrifice, the generally received opinion is that of Atha- 
nasius and Eusebius (Demonst. Evang. lib. i. c. 10), that they were of divine 


be remembered that Moses comprehends the history of about 
sixteen centuries in six or seven chapters, and seems to record 
the incident of Cain and Abel, where sacrifice is first brought 
under our notice, in the bosom of the primeval genealogy. To 
deduce a doubt from this circumstance is as unwarrantable as 
to question whether Adam had any daughters, because there is 
no mention of them in the Mosaic record. 

2. The sacrifices were symbolical. Though this may be 
affirmed of all the bloody sacrifices from the beginning, it was 
specially true since the giving of the Mosaic law, when sacri- 
fices were distributed into classes, and combined into a firmly 
compacted system, to be kept before the eyes of all Israel. 
The burnt-offering, that belonged to the primeval and patri- 
archal age, was now to be accompanied with many other 
forms of sacrifice; or, we may say, it branched out in the 
new arrangement into various classes or divisions. All the 
bloody sacrifices were atoning. Even those who allege 
that the first sacrifices were nothing but thankofferings, and 
erroneously maintain that all the sacrifices offered in the patri- 
archal times were of this nature, are obliged to admit that at 
the national organization of Israel as a covenant people there 
were sin-offerings destined for the expiation of certain sins. 
The Mosaic law multiplied the sacrifices, and divided them 
into different classes, all meant for different purposes. The 

appointment. So Rivetus (Gen. c. 4), Cloppenburg (torn. i. p. 24, and Select. 
Disj). xviii.), Owen on Hebrews, "Witsius, Heidegger, J. Wessel (de origin. 
Sacrific), Stackhouse, Buddeus, Goodwin in his Moses and Aaron, Quensted 
(Par. iv. 1. 2, Ques. 8). On the other hand, many learned divines have 
thought that they may be referred to the light of nature, or to the sense of 
human wants. Of this opinion were Bellarmin, Grotius, Episcopins, Selden. 
Outram hesitated, and pronounced for neither side in a matter which he 
thought obscure. Mosheim held the former opinion as by far the most probable. 
Spencer (de legibus Hebrceor.), who maintained that sacrifice was not derived 
from divine revelation, but from human reason, and an expression of love to 
God, is followed by Hengstenberg and very many of the German exegetes. 
Oehler (Herzog, Real Enyclopadie, article Opfer) tries to find sonic place lor bo1 h 
elements, likening sacrifice to prayer. As to the divine institution oi the 
Mosaic sacrifices there cannot be two opinions, nor does the evidence for the 
divine origin of primeval sacrifice seem to us doubtiul. 

32 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

design which the bloody sacrifices were meant to serve from 
the first, however, and which they never ceased to serve, was 
to maintain a conviction of man's guilt, and a dependence on 
the forgiving grace of God by an atonement. They clearly 
taught this truth in a symbolic form to the Jewish nation. 
They showed that reconciliation could be effected in no other 
way than by a satisfaction to divine justice. They pointed out 
that the worshippers had in many ways offended God, and 
were worthy of death ; that they were to see in the sacrifices a 
symbol of the inevitable divine punishment which had been 
incurred; and that God made the animal victim serve as a 
pledge that the punishment was borne by a substitute, and 
that on this ground the offerer could again be taken into 
favour. The sacrifices were meant to exhibit the indispensable 
necessity of an atonement by vicarious expiation. 

Whatever variety of opinion prevails on some of the sym- 
bols, there are three conclusions to which all come with perfect 
harmony who have in any manner apprehended the significance 
of the sin-offering. It was, (1) a gracious institution which 
God had appointed as the means by which the offended moral 
Governor could be reconciled; (2) it was vicarious in its 
character; (3) a satisfaction was effected by means of the 
victim's death. 

Here, before proceeding further, it is proper to inquire what 
were the cases for which the Mosaic law appointed sacrifice ? 
The sacrifices were not for moral offences, such as murder, 
adultery, or idolatry, but only for trespasses of a merely cere- 
monial nature ; for involuntary oversights and sins of igno- 
rance ; and for those states of bodily defilement which had 
been pronounced trespasses according to the laws which 
separated Israel from other nations. In a word, they were 
positive and arbitrary laws, for the violation of which positive 
and arbitrary atonements could fully suffice : such as the pro- 
hibition to touch a dead body or to touch a grave ; mere 
offences against theocratic purity, as appears from the rites 


appointed for the sin-offering (Lev. xii. 7, 8; Num. vi. 11). 
The sins for which the sacrifices were available were not, pro- 
perly speaking, moral offences at all ; for these the blood of 
bulls and goats could never take away 1 (Heb. x. 4). They were 
nothing but theocratic trespasses, which could be cancelled and 
absolutely remitted by the same positive authority by which 
the ceremonial rites were instituted. And on the great day of 
atonement the annual sacrifice was offered for the collective 
sins of the entire people during the course of the year, thus re- 
adjusting their relation as the theocratic people (Lev. xvi. 15 ; 
Heb. ix. 1 3). 

Now the design of the Mosaic law was obvious. The sin- 
offering, whether we look at the more public expiation for the 
whole nation on the day of atonement, or at the more private 
expiation for the defilement of the individual, was instituted at 
the same time with the law, and in order to relieve the wor- 
shipper. The positive law and the positive atonement thus 
came into existence together. As God wished to develope 
among the children of Israel the idea of sin, and to make their 
consciences alive to the fact of sin, it was necessary to impose 
a long series of positive and arbitrary laws, which, it is said, 
were given to make the offence abound, or, as it is put in 
another epistle, added because of transgressions (Bom. v. 20 ; 
Gal. iii. 19). These laws, not being based on the moral nature 
of man, were but external, positive, and transitory. They 
might have been of another character, and they have now 

It is not denied that these ceremonial offences might be 
connected in some mysterious way with the effects of sin, or 
with the roots of sin, in man's nature ; but they were properly 

1 I totally dissent from the notion supported by Kurtz, Hengstenberg, Keil, 
Doedes, and others, which connects in some sense with these sacrifices the 
forgiveness of moral offences against God. That is emphatically denied by the 
apostle, as we shall find in the Epistle to the Hebrews (x. 1-4, ix. <J> ; and 
Philippi is warranted to repudiate it in the sternest manner as a superstition. 
The apostle has settled that question for us. 


34 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

external and positive. The sin-offering was appointed to re- 
move them ; and the Mosaic worship found its centre-point 
there. While the covenant which God made with Israel was 
kept unbroken on the part of the worshipper, he could approach 
by the burnt-offering, which was not meant for special sins so 
much as for the general sinfulness attaching to every man. If 
the covenant relation was broken, access was restored and a 
reunion effected by means of the sin-offering — without which, 
indeed, there was no remission — and it always carried expia- 
tion in its train. The Israelite was well aware, when he con- 
tracted ceremonial guilt, that he was out of covenant relation 
to the God of Israel, and sundered from Him who could allow 
no approach to His presence till the trespass was taken away. 
The trespass produced separation between God and him, as 
well as conscious estrangement and fear, and death must neces- 
sarily ensue as the wages of sin. The great thought brought 
out in this symbolical way was, that God could not saceifice 
His holiness to His love. But death having ensued as the 
due punishment for sin in the animal sacrifice, the worshipper 
had a present restoration into covenant fellowship. Here it 
might be proper briefly to refer to the symbolical import of the 
sacrificial actions ; but as the same actions are also typical, we 
may more fitly notice their symbolical and typical elements 
together than apart. 

Meanwhile we must add, that for the transgression of these 
ceremonial laws many calamities were threatened, such as the 
withdrawal of civil and ecclesiastical privileges. The sacrifices 
were provided not for a wanton disobedience to the law, but 
for involuntary trespass or unwitting neglect ; and the offence 
committed was cancelled by the mere fact of the sacrifice con- 
sidered simply as an act done (opus opcratum). In reference 
to the symbolical character of the sacrifices, it may be proper, 
before proceeding further, to obviate a series of misconceptions. 

a. The sin-offerings were not for mere offences against the 
state. They were not offered to man, but to God ; not meant 


to avert civil pains and penalties, but to expiate offences 
against the ceremonial law. Though God was the monarch of 
Israel, or theocratic King, yet a trespass against the sacrificial 
economy was always more than a misdemeanour against the 
state. The Most High was to be obeyed even in the enact- 
ment of arbitrary laws, and the punishment was due from the 
justice and truth of God. And when the worshipper brought 
the sacrifice of atonement, he was purged from all that defiled 
him : he had access to God ; and the courts of the sanctuary 
were again thrown open to him. 

b. Nor were the sacrifices a mere expression of penitence. 
For a defilement having been contracted, it could be removed 
only by sacrifice, and by the sprinkling which was connected 
with sacrifice, — a result following according to the connection 
of cause and effect. Not that repentance was excluded as an 
accompaniment of every approach to Jehovah in the way of 
worship ; but the sacrifice must neither be resolved into a 
mere expression of penitence, nor be viewed as effecting its 
purpose only so far as the penitent, contrite heart went along 
with it. This accompanying penitence could not fitly be said 
to apply to the day of atonement, when the collective sins of 
Israel were annually expiated and fully removed. To prove 
that the sin-offering atoned for sin, or cancelled it, simply 
by the deed done (opere opcrato), we have but to remember 
the mediating priest, and the laying on of the hand of t lie 
worshipper upon the victim's head, as a proof that the guilt 
was transferred vicariously. The effect of these propitiatory 
sacrifices was the remission of the threatened penalty, indepen- 
dently of the contrition and penitence which might in many 
cases, but did not in all cases, and certainly did not on the 
great day of atonement, uniformly and in every instance go 
alonsr with them. 

c. Nor were the sacrifices a mere renewal of homage to the 
theocratic King. Such a notion confounds the things that 
differ, — confounds the sin-offeeing with the feee-will offer- 

36 APOSTLES' SAYINGS on the atonement. 

ing. The former had in it nothing of the character of a friendly 
feast, whether taken in its more public form as offered for the 
sins of the nation, or in its more private form as offered for 
the ceremonial trespasses of an individual (Lev. iv. 3-21) ; but 
was intended to transfer the offerer's guilt to the animal victim 
which was put in his place. The great thought contained in 
all the propitiatory sacrifices was, that the guilt which the 
worshipper had incurred was transferred to the sacrifice ; and 
that by the death of the victim he was set free from merited 
punishment, and fully re-admitted into the divine favour. We 
must dismiss the notion that the sacrifices were but an act of 
homage to an invisible King, or a mere renewal of allegiance 
to Him. 

The symbolical meaning of the sacrifices — that is, the 
higher truth which they conveyed — was precisely what we 
have mentioned. These offerings did not atone for moral 
trespass or spiritual guilt ; and the Epistle to the Hebrews, in 
language the most explicit and unambiguous, denies to them 
any possible efficacy to take away sin, or to purge the con- 
science. They w T ere gifts and sacrifices, says the apostle, 
which could not make the worshipper perfect as pertaining to 
the conscience, and were imposed only till the times of refor- 
mation (Heb. ix. 9, 10). 

But to make their symbolical meaning more apparent, it 
must be added that something was actually done in a lower 
sphere on the occasion of every sacrifice. They not only 
taught a truth, but in a certain lower sphere effected actual 
deliverance, and re-admitted the worshipper to a relation of 
nearness which, but for the sacrifice, would have been denied. 
It was a transaction which not only taught a truth, but actu- 
ally showed that in point of fact remission of guilt was effected. 
With that idea God made His ancient people familiar. And 
however much it may be decried at present as a gross opinion 
or as a popular error, it was stamped on the Old Testament 
church. To make atonement by sacrifice meant, in the Ian- 


guage of Scripture, to avert penalty incurred, and to procure 
remission of sin (Lev. iv. 20). By means of those sacrifices 
threatened punishments were removed, whether consisting in 
national calamities, or in the death of the transgressor, or in 
the withdrawal of civil and ecclesiastical privileges. But the 
true and proper atonement was not, and could not be, through 
these elements of the world. The true atonement was not by, 
with, or under them in any proper sense of the words; fur 
they did not make the worshipper perfect as pertaining to the 
conscience, or remove from him the sense of sin (Heb. ix. 9). 

Against this view, that the sacrifices had a symbolical im- 
port, and actually effected a certain result in a lower sphere, 
it is sometimes urged that they are described as referring more 
to sacred things than to persons, for they are represented as 
making atonement for the sanctuary (Lev. xvi. 1 6). But this 
is easy of explanation. From the fact that, according to divine 
appointment, the holy place and its furniture were to be 
sprinkled with blood, we are by no means to conclude that 
the place demanded the atonement, and not the people. The 
sanctuary was but an emblem of the way in which God in- 
habits His church, or dwells among His people. This was 
made very evident in the old economy ; and as the sins of the 
people tended to make the sanctuary unworthy to continue as 
the dwelling-place of God, the sprinkling of blood applied to 
it was meant to show that God, notwithstanding recurring 
transgressions, would continue to reside in it when He beheld 
the blood of atonement. Thus, it was the people that needed 
reconciliation, while the reference to the sanctuary conveyed 
an emphatic lesson as to the continued inhabitation of God 
among them. That the people needed the reconciliation and 
not the place, is proved by the fact that the ceremony was 
demanded for the transgressions of Israel (Lev. xvi. 16), and 
made atonement for the priests and all the people (ver. 33). 

Thus sacrifices conveyed the most important truth in a 
symbolical form. But their very frequency and repetition 

38 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

argued insufficiency. The daily return of the same round of 
sacrifice proclaimed, as with a voice, their complete insuffi- 
ciency ; which, indeed, many of the more enlightened in 
Israel clearly perceived. Hence we find that David (Ps. xl. 6 
and li. 16), Asaph (Ps. 1. 8), Micah (vi. 6), and Isaiah (i. 11), 
give a clear and striking testimony to the inadequacy of those 
sacrifices to effect in any measure a true and everlasting atone- 
ment for sin. 

3. The sacrifices were from the first typical of the great 
atonement. The relation between the two was the same that 
obtains between shadow and substance, picture and reality ; 
therefore not an accidental harmony, or comparison based upon 
ingenious analogies or far-fetched points of resemblance. The 
connection between the two was in the things themselves, not 
in the mind of the observer ; nay, we may warrantably affirm 
that the language proper to the real atonement for sin was 
thrown back upon the type — not conversely. 

The opposite theory of sacrifice which calls in question their 
typical import, and assigns to them no other function than 
that of teaching some general truths, may here be noticed 
before we proceed to the ritual. They who would overthrow 
the atoning work of Christ in every form, admit that the 
sacrifices taught religious ideas in a general way, but deny 
that they foreshadowed the propitiation for sin that was to 
come, or that they were a prophetic anticipation of it. Here 
all depends on the question : Was the peculiar similarity or 
correspondence which undoubtedly may be traced between the 
ancient sacrifices and the atonement of Christ of divine ap- 
pointment, or was it a merely accidental matter ? Apart from 
express design on God's side, we could not adduce a sufficient 
proof of the typical nature of the sacrifices. That there was 
such a design, however, and that the one adumbrated and was 
intended to adumbrate the other, a few words will suffice to 
show. Here we simply ask, What say the apostles, the great 
interpreters of the old economy according to the mind of 


Christ ? Do they speak of the sacrifices as typical, and fur- 
nishing a prophetical foreshadowing of the atonement ? The 
matter might be decided from the Prophets and Psalms ; but 
the plan we are pursuing leads us to inquire how far the 
typical character of the sacrifices is affirmed in the sayings 
and writings of apostles. It is not the question, how many 
of the Jewish nation rose to such anticipations, nor what ideas 
were entertained by the people generally. The question rather 
is : Did the believing Israelite on good ground come to the 
typical view of the sacrifices ; and especially did the apostles, 
as men taught by Christ orally, and filled with the Spirit, lead 
the Christian church so to view them ? It must be decided 
by apostolic testimony whether the typical character of sacrifice 
is in harmony with the divine appointment and true design of 
sacrifice. And this is not left doubtful to any attentive reader 
of the epistles. 

a. One obvious proof that the sacrifices were typical, and 
meant to be so, may be drawn from the fact that they are 
expressly called shadows ; a more apt designation than any 
other that could be chosen to set forth what we understand by 
their typical character. The term " shadow," intimating as it 
does a certain resemblance to the thing signified, implies that 
what is so named has a dependence on that of which it is the 
rude outline, but no existence apart from the substance. Thus 
the various arrangements as to food and festivals are called a 
" shadow" of things to come (Col. ii. 17). The priests are de- 
scribed as serving unto the pattern and " shadow " of heavenly 
things (Heb. viii. 5). The law is said to have a "shadow" of 
good things to come, and not the very image of the things — 
that is, not the reality or substance (Heb. x. 1). The patterns 
of the heavenly things purified with blood are contrasted with 
the heavenly things themselves (Heb. ix. 23). In a word, the 
shadowy is contrasted with the true in a great variety of points ; 
and the phraseology employed to express the contrast calls up 
before us type and antitype (John vi. 32 ; Heb. ix. 24). 

40 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

b. Another proof is derived from the fact that the death of 
Christ is expressly represented as an offering and a sacrifice 
(Eph. v. 2). He is described as offering Himself (Heb. x. 14). 
We must admit a coincidence between the sacrifices and the 
death of Christ of such a nature as exists between the sign and 
the thing signified, and that this is established by divine design. 
The apostles found this resemblance in the things themselves. 
They teach us to regard the sacrifices as a prophetic fore- 
shadowing of what was future, and the Lord's atoning death as 
the reality of which the sacrifice was the shadow. No one 
gazed so much on the coincidence or correspondence between 
the shadow and the reality as the apostles, intimating that they 
considered the former dispensation as finding its accomplish- 
ment in Christ's death. Without this typical reference, the 
ancient sacrifices would be nothing more than an antiquity. 
To adduce an example, we find it said, " Christ our passover 
is sacrificed for us " (1 Cor. v. 7). Here the coincidence be- 
tween the two appears in every variety of view, historical as 
well as doctrinal. Thus Jesus entered Jerusalem on the day 
when the passover was separated, according to the requirements 
of the Mosaic law for the sacrifice ; and everything proclaims 
an essential connection between it and Him. The passover, 
again, was the foundation of the covenant with Israel, and 
that which separated the church from the world ; and the 
coincidence between the typical and spiritual redemption is 
apparent at a glance. The same thing was displayed in con- 
nection with the annual sin-offering on the great day of atone- 
ment, when the collective sins of the nation were annually 
expiated. Christ's priestly act of sacrifice was the truth or 
substance of that shadow, and its typical character will not be 
called in question by any one who compares the antithesis in 
which the apostle places them (Heb. ix. 7-14). 

c. Another proof of the typical character of the sacrifices is 
furnished by their transitory nature. They merged in the 
reality, which could not have been the case had the institution 


been other than typical. Being but a shadow, they could cease 
when the reality came. The church can now dispense with the 
sacrifices, as she has infinitely more in Christ's atonement than 
the shadowy economy of Israel could ever bestow. It is re- 
placed by a better, and abrogated as insufficient to meet man's 
spiritual wants. The one everlasting sacrifice having been 
offered, the unprofitable outline of it disappears. But this 
could only be because the whole was typical. 

The worshippers under the Mosaic law, priests and people, 
were in constant fear. It was an economy given with terrible 
accompaniments, and gendered to bondage (Heb. xii. 18). They 
were subject to numerous rules and duties, the violation of 
which in the least degree entailed guilt, defilement, and danger. 
Sometimes a trespass was followed by immediate death at the 
hand of God ; at other times, if the offence was one to be atoned 
for, the punishment inflicted was separation from the congrega- 
tion, and from the privilege of approach to God. They were 
put far off, and could not draw near ; and to put away what 
separated between the worshipper and God, a propitiatory sacri- 
fice, or, to use the special term, a sin-offering, was indispensably 
necessary ; for without the shedding of blood was no remission 
even for the ceremonial defilement. This mode of governing 
the Israelitish community was a wise arrangement, and suited 
to the numerous laws divinely imppsecl on them. It intimated 
a method by which the worshipper, estranged from God and 
out of covenant standing, could be restored, and come before 
the inflexibly holy and yet merciful God. The penalty as well 
as the distance could be removed only by sacrifice. 

The great thought, therefore, underlying the whole Mosaic 
economy was, that transgression violating the order of the uni- 
verse must be visited with punishment. Death must follow, 
and no regrets could remove the guilt. The offender must die, 
without the possibility of living in fellowship with God, unless 
a sin-offering were presented to God to atone for the trespass, 
and remove it. Necessary punishment must ensue ; and till a 

42 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

sacrifice was offered, the worshipper must necessarily be sepa- 
rated from God, and forbidden to approach Him. The idea 
of substitution prevails in all the sin-offerings. The defiled 
Israelite who had broken the law, or the offending nation, 
offering the sin-offering to put them on a right footing with 
the God of Israel, had a representation or figure of what they 
must have endured had not sacrifice intervened. The sacrifices 
proclaimed the absolute necessity of an atonement for sin, and 
they effected the deliverance by the deed done, not by inward 
feelings or altered conduct on the part of the worshipper. 

But we shall better apprehend the import of sacrifices, and 
their united symbolical and typical significance, if we follow 
step by step the order of the ritual. It must be carefully noted, 
that in the private sin-offerings of the people the priest was 
present at the first three acts, but began his proper function 
only when the blood was to be received for the act of sprink- 
ling. On the great annual day of atonement, however, the 
high priest, the representative of the nation, performed all the 
acts of the sacrifice. The ritual advanced according to the 
following successive steps. 

1. The worshipper who had contracted guilt by any viola- 
tion of the law for which a sin-offering was provided, was 
enjoined to bring a clean animal, without blemish, to the 
tabernacle of the congregation. The animal must be alive, as 
the arrangements involved the taking of its life. The act of 
presentation, as performed by a willing offerer, implied the 
voluntary character of the sacrifice. The presentation was to 
be upon the altar, to which, as erected on an elevation, the 
victim was to be brought up, just as the great antitype was 
lifted up upon the cross (1 Pet. ii. 24). To the perfection of 
the sacrifice, however, it was indispensable that the victim 
should be without defect or blemish. This is constantly 
alluded to by the sacred writers (1 Pet. i. 19 ; Heb. ix. 14). 
Now what did this intimate, in a typical point of view, but 
the sinlessness of Jesus, who must be righteous to stand for 


the unrighteous, innocent to stand for the guilty ? Did this 
convey anything further than the thought that the spotless 
holiness of Jesus was necessary as a condition or prerequisite 
for the oblation itself ? It meant more. The holiness of Jesus 
was itself an essential element or ingredient in the atonement, 
considered as a satisfaction to justice, as a fulfilment of the 
law. One essential part 1 of the sacrifice was the perfect holi- 
ness and sinless purity of the Lord, who through the Eternal 
Spirit offered Himself without spot to God (Heb. ix. 14). 

2. The next act of the ritual was the laying on of the 
hand upon the victim's head. This symbolically intimated 
the communication of that which was ours, and therefore the 
transfer of our guilt, to the substitute, and it was accompanied 
on the day of atonement with the confession of sins (Lev. xvi. 
21). This conclusively shows what was the meaning of the 
act, and this is not to be overthrown by fanciful theories. 
Thus Bahr, opposed in principle to the vicarious sacrifice, will 
have the action mean no more than this, that the animal 
belonged to the offerer, or that it was his property. Kurtz, 
again, will have it mean the devoting of the animal to death, 
forgetting that there must be a reason why it was visited with 
death. That reason is the imputation of sin, or the arrange- 
ment by which it was made sin, or made incorporated guilt. 
The laying on of the hand, at one time for one end and at 
another time for another, was a common action, meaning 
generally the communicating of something from one party to 
another. In the case before us it meant that the offerer put 
himself in a relation to the victim, or into a peculiar connec- 
tion with it, so as to communicate to it his own guilt, or the 
nation's guilt, according to the private or public nature of the 
sacrifice ; and after this ceremony the animal suffered death for 
the sin. The punishment followed, and this determines its 

1 See an interesting argument from this fact for the whole ohedience of 
Christ, that is, for His active as well as passive obedience in justification, in 
reply to Sibrandus Lubbertus, who demanded a proof of it from the sacrifices, 
in Walrus, Opera, torn. ii. p. 420. 

44 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

meaning. Though this is the only act of the ritual not 
expressly named in the New Testament, it comes before us 
under other turns of phrase. Thus, when Jesus was numbered 
with transgressors (Mark xv. 26), when He was sent in the 
likeness of sinful flesh (Bom. viii. 3), and made sin (2 Cor. 
v. 21), we have that which was denoted by this ritual act. 

3. The next act was the immolation — the animal's death. 
The symbolical import of this is, that death is the wages of sin, 
and that sin and death stand related as cause and consequence. 
But further, the animal must die by the hand of the wor- 
shipper, and for an obvious reason. His was the sin laid upon 
the victim — his the death ; and hence none but he who laid 
his hand on the animal's head was to kill it. In this part of 
the sacrificial ritual there was, on many grounds, a deep sig- 
nificance ; and not least is the circumstance that there was a 
marked correspondence between this fact and the mode in 
which the Saviour died. The Lord was not to meet His death 
in any other way but by violence. The sinner's hand was to 
be the instrument of inflicting the death, even as the sinner's 
guilt was the meritorious cause, and the only assignable cause, 
why death could come to Him at all. Still further, the death 
was penal. This is to be strictly maintained; as the notion 
that the death was only in order to obtain the blood, or a mere 
means to an end, and without further significance, would 
perplex and unsettle the entire ritual. The death in itself was 
punitive, or the wages of sin. If not, what could the blood 
have accomplished ? But on the principle that the imputation 
of guilt was signified by the laying on of hands, death followed 
as the necessary effect ; for the worshipper owed death, and the 
infliction of it was penal. 

This excludes the subjective theory, which has been con- 
trived by the opponents of the vicarious satisfaction to explain 
the death of the victim. Thus Bahr, with those who follow in 
his tendency, will have it mean that the self-seeking life of 
man dies, and is replaced by a spiritual life devoted to God. 


According to this notion, the death of the animal, in its sym- 
bolical meaning, teaches the mortification of sin, or that self 
must be sacrificed. On every ground this exposition is un- 
tenable. Not to mention that it is out of keeping with the 
ritual, according to which the animal died and continued dead, ' 
it takes for granted that a guilty man can, without any repara- 
tion, dedicate himself to God. But that cannot be, as he has 
no power to dispose of a forfeited life ; and without atonement, 
or covering for his soul, he cannot be dedicated to God. There 
is no possibility of this without expiation, for death is the 
wages of sin. 

4. The next act in the sacrificial ritual was the sprinkling 
of the blood. At this point the priest's activity commenced. 
He had been, up to this step in the ritual, present as a spectator, 
but he now steps in to take part in it. It was he who received 
the flowing blood of the animal, and who put it on the horns, 
or highest point, of the altar, and who poured it out at the 
bottom (Lev. iv. 25-34) ; an action which intimated that the 
meeting-place between God and His people was from top to 
bottom covered with blood, that the sins of the people were 
covered by an atonement, and that the worshippers were no 
more exposed to His frown. The blood received by the priest, 
and made his own, is regarded as the vicariously shed blood of 
the priest. Thus, in the ritual, we consider not the victim 
alone, but also the priest, without whom the sacrifice could not 
be duly offered ; and the action of receiving the blood had a 
peculiar significance. It signified that he made the blood his 
own. But besides the ablutions, vestments and other typical 
sanctifications shadowed forth the holiness and righteousness of 
the Antitype. What was done upon the victim was supposed 
to have been done upon the priest, who now became a party to 
the action. He appropriated the blood, which now passed for 
his own blood : for the priest's action began here. 

The ritual advanced gradually till it reached this act of 
sprinkling, where we find sin expiated and divine wrath pro- 

46 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

pitiated. But from the necessary imperfection of types, the 
idea was exhibited broken into parts, and in succession. The 
blood was brought to God, and made to cover sin. The 
sprinkling, whether performed at the horns of the altar or in 
the holy of holies, the meeting-place between God and His 
people, figured forth that the sin of the individual, or of the 
nation, though piled up as an heap, was now covered, and all 
cause of separation removed. Death had intervened ; and the 
blood that had passed through death was now most holy, and 
had atoning power wherever it was sprinkled (Heb. xiii. 12). 
The sacrifice, regarded as a propitiation, culminated in the 
sprinkling of the blood, which is to be viewed as an element in 
the objective atonement, and not, as is too much the case, as the 
application of redemption. This appears on various grounds. 
Thus the priest's action began with the receiving of the blood 
for the act of sprinkling ; and the priest's act, as typical 
mediator, being essential to propitiatory sacrifices, nothing more 
conclusively proved that the objective atonement consisted in 
the sprinkling. This still further appears when we consider 
the Antitype, and the point of the ritual at which the great 
High Priest sprinkled the meixyv-seat. 

5. The last act of the sacrificial ritual consisted in the 
bukning of the victim. This is not properly a separate 
element, but only another side of the propitiation, though made 
distinct, owing to the imperfection of the type. We are not, 
however, to destroy the unity of the idea by sundering it from 
the other. The two things demanding explanation here are 
the fire and the sweet-smelling savour (Heb. xiii. 11 ; Eph. 
v. 2). As to the first, it was the holy fire which fell from 
heaven on Aaron's first sacrifice, and was never to be extin- 
guished (Lev. v. 6, 7). Only the sacrifice which was consumed 
by this fire, and rose to heaven as a sweet-smelling savour, was 
really acceptable. As a type, this fire has been variously 
explained. Thus Michaelis viewed it as typical of eternal 
punishment after death. Oehler regards it as denoting the 


divine holiness. Philippi takes it as the divine love, the 
unquenchable love of the Son of God. If it were fitting to 
consider this type as exhibiting any of the divine attributes, 
it would be necessary to combine the two latter opinions as 
equally essential to the atonement, and make it an emblem 
of God in the unity of His perfections. But a different ex- 
planation commends itself to my mind, and the rather because 
the fire was given to produce a further result (ver. 12), that 
sweet-smelling savour which is the positive element in the 
sacrifice. It seems to me rather to denote the Holy Ghost, 
whose agency and operations are in several passages set forth 
by this emblem (Matt. iii. 11 ; Acts ii. 3 ; Luke xii. 49), and 
through whom we are expressly told the Lord Jesus offered 
Himself without spot to God (Heb. ix. 14). When we see 
Him stedfastly setting His face to go to Jerusalem, fully bent 
on His high work, we see the fire * of the sacrifice already 
kindled, and the Eternal Spirit prompting Him and strengthen- 
ing Him to consummate the work, by imbuing His soul with 
a zeal and ardour, a love and obedience, which never allowed 
His mind to cool till the sacrifice was consumed. As to the 
second point, the sweet-smeUing savour, this figured forth the 
acceptable service, the perfect obedience of the Lord in the 
light of winning the divine favour. As the expiation of wrath 
was the negative side, so the sinless obedience is the positive. 
They are two aspects of one great deed, by which sin was 
expiated and divine favour won ; incomplete when separate, 
all-sufficient when combined. The blood-sprinkling refers to 
vicarious suffering ; the burning, with its sweet - smelling 
savour, refers to the vicarious fulfilling of the law. 

There are yet two points to which we would briefly refer 

1 This interpretation was given by the Greek exegetes, Chrysostom, (Ecu- 
menius, Theophylact, in commenting on the words, ' ' who through the Eternal 
Spirit offered Himself" (Heb. ix. 14). The same explanation is thus given by 
Witsius, on the Creed, Exercit. xxiii. sec. 22 : "Mysticus ignis qui est Spiritus 
Sanctus, sanctificans victimam et gratam prsestans Deo. De sacro igne ccelitus 
delapso, vide Lev. ix. 23, 24." 

48 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

in thus tracing the correspondence between the type and the 
Antitype, viz. (1) the action of the high priest in sprinkling 
the mercy-seat, and (2) the change effected by the typical ritual 
generally upon the relation of the worshippers to the God of 
Israel. We do not anticipate the separate texts which will 
come under our notice in discussing the Epistle to the Hebrews, 
but would lay a foundation for the expositions which will after- 
wards be necessary when we treat of the apostolic testimony, 
which largely takes a tincture from the ancient worship. 

(1.) In directing attention to the sprinkling of the mercy- 
seat, it must be noticed that the tabernacle had two divisions, of 
which the one, termed the holy place, was allotted to the daily 
ministrations of the priests ; while the other, termed the holiest 
of all, was entered only by the high priest once a year, not 
without blood (Heb. ix. 6, 7). The arrangement corresponded 
to the time then present, a period of imperfect atonement. 
Why the holy of holies continued shut, and was opened on the 
day of atonement only, when the high priest entered within 
the veil, is explained by the inefhcacy of those sacrifices, which 
could not perfectly atone for sin (Heb. ix. 7-9). But what 
was the typical significance of that entrance, and what was 
the time when the great Antitype, the truth of that shadow, 
must be regarded as sprinkling the mercy-seat ? When did 
the true High Priest enter within the veil? Was it at His 
death ? or was it, as is commonly thought, when He ascended 
and sat down on the right hand of God? This is a most 
important question ; and it is the more necessary to settle it, 
because, as we shall find in the Epistle to the Hebrews, one 
of the subtlest modes of evading the vicarious satisfaction is 
to transfer the atoning element to heaven, and to withdraw 
it from the finished work on the cross : and many, swayed by 
exegetical reasons, think that countenance is given to that 
opinion by the allusions in the Epistle to the Hebrews (Heb. 
ix. 24-26). The prevalent notion, that the entrance of the 
high priest into the holy of holies found its truth in Christ's 


triumphal entrance into heaven, may have some show of pro- 
bability, but it is burdened by insuperable difficulties. To 
suppose, as we must do in that case, that Christ's priestly 
action began in heaven, — that is, that He sprinkled the mercy- 
seat, and completed the atonement only when He entered on 
the mediatorial exaltation or reward, — seems to confound every- 
thing. It does violence, we think, to all analogy between type 
and antitype. The resurrection of Jesus coinciding with the 
return of the high priest from the holiest of all, was designed 
to be an evidence that divine wrath was removed, and for- 
giveness obtained. The confusion of idea to which I have 
referred as very prevalent, arises from not sufficiently distin- 
guishing between the high priest, properly so called, and the 
High Priest after the order of Melchizedek, or the Eoyal 
Priest on His mediatorial throne. A few words will suffice 
to prove that He entered within the veil and sprinkled the 
mercy-seat at the moment when He commended His spirit 
into His Father's hand. This is the most natural interpreta- 
tion ; and this corresponds to the ceremonies on the great day 
of atonement, to which express allusion is made in the Epistle 
to the Hebrews 1 (Heb. ix. 11-14). 

a. The typical entrance within the veil took place imme- 
diately after the victim's death; the body being carried without 
the camp to be burned in a public place, and the blood being 
carried into the holiest of all to be sprinkled on the covering 
of the ark, as the propitiatory or mercy-seat. These closely 
connected acts in the ritual were so related, that the burning 
followed last in order. And as we know from the apostle 
that that typical action coincided with Christ's sacrifice with- 
out the gates of Jerusalem (Heb. xiii. 11), it would reverse 

1 As this will come before us in the Epistle to the Hebrews, I shall then refer 
to the literature of the subject, and to the hints and discussions in reference to it 
by Witsius, Honert, A. Schultens, and Lotze. They all assert this view in the 
strongest terms. Its truth seems evident on its own merits, apart from its im- 
portance as an argument against the Socinian denial of Christ's priesthood and 
sacrifice on earth. 


50 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

the entire sacrificial system to interpret the sprinkling of the 
mercy-seat of what was done by Him forty days after His 
resurrection, when He ascended to heaven. Not only so : the 
apostle argues, too, in a way that excludes such a comment, 
saying, " Nor yet that He should offer Himself often, as the 
high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood 
of others ; for then must He often have suffered since the 
foundation of the world" (Heb. ix. 25, 26). On the supposi- 
tion that Christ went into the holy of holies at the triumphant 
ascension to heaven, the apostle would not have so reasoned ; 
for the statement is, that if Christ had often entered, He must 
have often suffered, — a consequence that would not follow on 
the supposition we impugn. Had He so pleased, there was 
nothing to prevent Him from repeating His entry, or of renew- 
ing His triumph before the inhabitants of heaven. But it 
follows on the supposition that our High Priest entered at the 
moment He poured out His blood upon the cross. The Jewish 
high priest entered in with the still reeking blood of atone- 
ment, and sprinkled the mercy-seat ; and our great High Priest 
entered when He died, claiming the opening of heaven for 
Himself and all His seed, for He still acted as the High Priest 
when soul and body were separated. The resurrection, in the 
first instance a testimony that all was done that justice re- 
quired, was properly a reward. 

b. The truth of this interpretation appears, too, from the fear 
and solicitude of the people while the high priest was within 
the veil. The ceremony of the annual atonement was accom- 
panied with a dread on the part of the congregation, lest the 
Holy One might not be reconciled, and lest the priest and 
people should be consumed. While that is out of keeping 
with the idea that the ascension is meant, it is parallel to the 
disciples' state of mind during those heavy hours which inter- 
vened between the Lord's death and resurrection. They con- 
tinued in suspense and doubt, dejection and dread. 

c. The other ceremonies of the day of atonement all point in 


the same direction. Thus, when the high priest entered into 
the holiest of all, the atonement was not yet completed, for this 
was procured or won by the sprinkling of blood on the propitia- 
tory or mercy-seat. This far more naturally figures forth Christ's 
violent death, or the separation of His soul and body, than His 
triumphal entry into heaven. The other accessories prove the 
same thing. Thus, the high priest laid aside his golden orna- 
ments, the stately robes he usually wore, and entered in linen 
raiment, pure, but devoid of ornament and pomp (Lev. xvi. 4) ; 
an attire which was designed to indicate lowly abasement, not 
triumph or glory. 

d. Another fact not less significant may be noticed : the 
veil of the temple was, at the moment of Christ's death, rent 
from the top to the bottom. That memorable fact in the 
sphere of the supernatural was intended for a purpose worthy 
of such an interposition from the hand of God. It was the 
great typical arrangement in which all the rest culminated, 
and on which all leant. Jesus had cried, "It is finished;" 
and this miraculous event put a divine imprimatur on it. It 
took place in the sphere of fact, and we may warrantably hold 
that then the true High Priest entered the true holiest of all 
with His own blood. At that moment the true sprinkling of 
the mercy-seat took place : the wrath of God was fully propi- 
tiated ; the reality of the shadows had come. I do not refer 
to the other things adumbrated. I only advert to the circum- 
stance that we have here a most remarkable answer to the 
question, When did the High Priest sprinkle the mercy-seat ? 
(compare Heb. x. 20.) 

(2.) We come now to the great change effected by the sacri- 
fices on the worshipper's relation. The allusions to the Mosaic 
worship in this respect are numerous and varied, the entire 
New Testament being pervaded by sacrificial phraseology of 
this nature. 

a. For the clearer exhibition of this, let it be noticed that 
the expressions " coming to God " and " drawing nigh to God " 

52 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

denote the attitude of these worshippers (Heb. iv. 16, x. I). 1 
The first result effected by sacrifice on the relation of the wor- 
shipper was the removal of the divine anger incurred by tres- 
pass. When we consult the Mosaic worship, we find that the 
sin-offering averted a divine penalty. Jehovah sat as Judge to 
visit the sins of the people : by means of sacrifice He reinstated 
them in His favour. That was the fundamental thought taught 
by means of outward ceremonies of positive institutions, and it 
disciplined and trained the mind for what was spiritual. Laws 
manifold and burdensome left the transgressor nothing to ex- 
pect but threatened punishment, if sin was not expiated by 
sacrifice. Jehovah showed mercy only by maintaining invio- 
late His holiness, rectitude, and authority. The sacrifices were 
intended to impress this truth on every heart. Thus the idea 
presented to us by the entire worship of the old economy 
was, that without shedding of blood is no remission (Heb. 
ix. 22). 

b. Another class of expressions comprehends typical allusions 
which represent men's sins as a defilement, taint, or stain, by 
means of which the Israelite was excluded from the sanctuary, 
and from fellowship with those who trode the courts of the 
Lord : he was obliged to live apart. Only when the defilement 
was removed by the blood of sacrifice, or by a sprinkling with 
the water of separation, which presupposed a sacrifice (Num. 
xix. 13), could he be re-admitted to the services and fellowship 
of the people of God. 

Various terms are employed to represent this restoration to 
privilege, such as these : to sprinkle, to purge or purify, to 
cleanse, to wash, to sanctify (1 Pet. i. 2 ; Heb. x. 2 ; Tit. ii. 14 ; 
1 Cor. vi. 11; Heb. ii. 11). If an Israelite became unclean by 
touching a dead body, he could not approach the sanctuary till 
sprinkled according to the peculiar ritual divinely appointed 

1 The apostle designates Christian worshippers by a name descriptive of their 
approach on the ground of sacrifice : robs *povip%of/.ivovs (Heb. x. 1), or \yybs %■» 
ru, alfiUTi (Eph. ii. 13). 


for his case. Then only could he be restored, and partake 
of privileges. On the day of atonement, the entire nation, on 
account of sin separating between God and them, stood aloof 
from the tabernacle of the congregation (Lev. xvi. 17), and were 
re-admitted only when the blood of atonement had sprinkled 
the mercy-seat. They obtained anew their forfeited privileges. 
The whole nation of Israel, purified or sanctified, was then 
holy. A single worshipper was also holy when the defilement 
which shut him out from the congregation was removed by 
sprinkling : he was now recognised as holy. Those two words 
sanctify and purify involve each other, and intimate not so 
much inward renovation, as a free approach to God, and an un- 
challenged standing before Him. This phraseology will come 
before us in the numerous texts which we shall have occasion 
to examine. 

It only remains to notice one thing further. The apostles 
put in a strong light the insufficiency and unprofitableness of 
the Mosaic rites, while they bring out their symbolical and 
typical meaning. They are described as weak and beggarly 
elements (Gal. iv. 9) ; they could not effect the pardon of sin, 
or perfect the conscience (Heb. x. 1-3) ; and they merged, as 
only a type could merge, when the truth of all appeared — when 
the Messiah came. The Jews were then discharged from their 
burdensome ceremonial. 


As we found it necessary to consider the apostles' treat- 
ment of the types, it is not less necessary to take up their 
references to prophecy. And we enter the field of prophecy, as 
it bears on the sufferings of the Messiah and the effects of His 
death, in the same way, that is, only so far as the apostles 
point out the way and determine the reference. 

54 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

Many rales might be laid down for deciding on the Mes- 
sianic references ; but these we do not need to consider. Thus, 
if the substance of a prophecy is of such a nature that it cannot 
competently be applied to any other illustrious person, but 
can be fitly applied to the Messiah, we must understand it as 
referring directly to Him. The descriptions of suffering, for 
example, which pervade many parts of the ancient prophecies, 
and of the Psalms, are so peculiar and unique, that while they 
are proper in Christ's mouth (Ps. xxii. 1, lxix. 1), as a divine 
person stooping to vicarious punishment, and are to us in that 
light awakening and affecting in the utmost degree, they would 
be simply incongruous and absurd if spoken by any merely 
human being. Human sympathy would be outraged, and 
inevitably regard them as utterances which no man ever in- 
dulged in, and which no literature ever attempted in the case 
of mere men like ourselves. The minute description of any 
other man's sorrows, sufferings, and death would be intolerable, 
and viewed as either misplaced, or as making an exaction on 
human attention which mankind must resent. But in Christ 
all this is in keeping, whether we find the description in pro- 
phecy or history, in the Psalms which foretold His experience, 
or in the history of His utterances unveiled by the Gospels. 

But another rule might be laid down in reference to the 
prophetic statements which describe the Messiah as divine. 
Wherever Jehovah, God of Israel, is set forth in the exercise 
of royal or judicial functions, as the Bridegroom of the church, 
or the Shepherd of the sheep ; wherever theophanies occur, 
wherever allusions are made to His ransom, or to His power as 
a conqueror mighty to save (Isa. lxiii. 1) ; the allusion in all 
such cases is to the Messiah : and the apostles, in a natural and 
unforced way, adduce these passages as Messianic 1 (Heb. i. 8-14). 
Another fact deserves notice. The prophets take occasion to 
speak of the Messiah in connection with events and personages 

1 Delitzsch well illustrates these Messianic allusions, Commentar zum Hebraer- 
br. 1857, p. 28. 


of their times, and especially with the oppressions, captivity, 
or threatened ruin to which the nation was often exposed, 
partly because they lived, as we do, on His incarnation ; 
partly because promises of His coming, of His birth by a 
virgin (Isa, vii. 14), of His being a great light to a people 
sitting in darkness, of His birthplace, contained a guarantee 
that the nation was not to perish, and might comfort herself in 
these prospects. There was also advancing light. In the first 
period there was only a promise that humanity should get 
deliverance from the evil consequences which the tempter had 
caused (Gen. iii. 15). That was doubtless known to Abraham 
by tradition, but new light dawned with the promise that in 
his seed all the families of the earth should be blessed ; and 
thus Christology constantly became amplified. 

As we survey the prophecies of the atonement only with 
the aid of apostolic allusion and quotation, it is not necessary 
to discuss the question whether the Messianic element existed 
in the Old Testament church, and whether men waited for 
redemption in Israel, as Simeon was found waiting when He- 
came. Paul declared that he preached none other things than 
those which the prophets and Moses said shoidd come, that 
Christ should suffer and rise from the dead (Acts xxvi. 22). 
The apostles put prophecy on an equal footing with their own 
authority as eye-witnesses, and never ceased to take heed to it. 
The prophecies on the atonement were so explicit, that they 
did little more than adduce, expound, and apply them. We 
limit our inquiry to passages descriptive of the atonement ; and 
even from these, to curtail their number, we select only those 
which are rather doctrinal than historical in their character. 
This narrows the range to those more explicit allusions which 
portray the humiliation of the Messiah in our room. 

Nor shall I discuss the question whether the quotations are 
correctly applied ; for I assume that that point is definitely 
settled by the authority of inspired men, and that they are not 
literary accommodations, such as are often made to give point 

56 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

to an idea by apt illustrations from poetry. They are direct 
predictions in every case, giving the scope of the various pro- 
phecies. I have nothing in common with the method of expo- 
sition too common at present, that interprets the Old Testament 
otherwise than the apostles did, and enters the field without 
their guidance, and irrespective of their authority. It is one 
thing when the expositor, confiding in the apostles' inspiration, 
reverently selects a view-point in the prophet's age in order to 
add to his faith knowledge. That is only exegetical fidelity ; 
for he believes, and wishes to know. But it is another thing, 
and cannot be sufficiently reprobated, when the interpreter 
fosters a state of mind that will not be controlled by apostolical 
authority, and claims to have better hermeneutics, and greater 
skill in interpretation, than apostles. I will be no party to the 
presumption which that involves. To one standing within the 
pale of revelation, and deferring to inspired men, that exposi- 
tion is foreclosed. 

The quotations take for granted, that from Adam downward 
the person and atonement of Messiah were revealed in new 
aspects, and with greater definiteness, from age to age. The 
promise as to the seed of the woman was the all-important point 
to which the saints, through long intervening periods, looked 
forward as the hope of humanity ; and as the church needed 
encouragement in dejection, or light in darkness, prophets were 
from time to time raised up to repeat assurances of His advent 
(Mic. v. 2 ; Zech. ix. 9) ; and many points were foretold con- 
nected with His manifestation, all containing new encourage- 

To these prophecies the apostles refer as divine oracles, not 
as guesses of truth. They do not quote them as if the words 
contained nothing but dim anticipations of an ideal righteous 
man, whose appearance might perchance one day prove a reality. 
To them Messianic revelations •were the most certain of verities 
— divine oracles, thoughts of God conveyed to man, predictions 
emanating from the Holy Ghost. The hope of the Messiah was 


never extinguished ; nor, while the order of prophets lasted, was 
the announcement ever obscure as to His advent as the seed 
of Abraham (Gen. xxii. 18), the son of David (Ps. cxxxii. 11): 
for that was the great fact with which all history travailed, 
and with which all the saints were acquainted — the centre- 
point of religious life, as it is to us now. In Anna we see the 
anticipation with which the most simple minds were filled — 
the sun to which every believing eye was turned. 

Particular prophecies of a later time may be regarded as 
expanding earlier prophecies. The primeval gospel promised 
victory over Satan, and the removal of death, the doom brought 
on the world by yielding to the tempter. For a time this was 
sufficient, because it announced redemption from the enemy, 
and restoration to divine favour. Clearer intimations were next 
made to the patriarchs, till in David and Isaiah the outline of 
the atonement and the sufferings of Messiah is so clear that 
we seem to be reading history. The design and nature of His 
sufferings were explicitly declared. So necessary was this for 
the ancient believers, and for the church of after times, that 
without this outline they who lived before the advent could 
not have had correct ideas of the atonement, and we who live 
after it would have wanted the necessary criterion for deciding 
whether Jesus of Nazareth was He to whom prophecy referred. 

The purpose we have in view in this section will be best 
served if we limit the inquiry to a few particular predictions 
which expressly set forth the doctrine of the atonement. We 
shall therefore first take up the references to those Messianic 
psalms which describe the atonement in its nature and fruits. 
I will not discuss the question how far the Messianic ele- 
ment pervades the book of Psalms, nor how far we are to 
extend this recognition beyond those which Christ and His 
apostles have indicated; for the plan we are pursuing leads 
us to accept the latter without question on the authority of 
apostles. But when parts of a psalm are quoted by inspired 
men as Messianic, we see no reason to question the Messianic 

58 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

character of the entire psalm, if it betrays no obvious marks of 
a colloquy or change of speakers. Another thing deserves 
notice. These psalms enter into details of suffering experi- 
ence, and adduce facts of a historical nature which would be 
anomalous in any other setting, but are significant in connec- 
tion with that extraordinary Person whose fortunes, even to the 
minutest details, were worthy of being foretold. Those psalms, 
read with the apostles' commentary, are in the last degree 
important, as placing Christ's redemption-work in the most 
striking light, and bringing out its essential elements. 

Of the Messianic psalms adduced by the apostles, some are 
put in connection with the atonement by the inspired commen- 
tator, though they do not in so many words contain express 
reference to the Lord's vicarious death. Thus, in one psalm 
written to describe the dominion of the second Adam over the 
works of God, the apostolic commentary bases the mediatorial 
kingdom on His being made a little lower than the angels, and 
suffering death (Ps. viii. 5 ; Heb. ii. 9). In another psalm we 
are taught that the Messiah would burst the bands of death ; 
and His resurrection is put as a reward, in connection with the 
obedience and humiliation of the Holy One (Ps. xvi. 8 ; Acts 
ii. 25). In another psalm, the throne of the mediatorial King 
is described as based upon a work of holy obedience during a 
previous period, when He was approved as one who loved 
righteousness and hated iniquity (Ps. xlv. 7 ; Heb. i. 8, 9). 
Some, indeed, explain these words as referring to the love of 
righteousness and hatred of iniquity which are now displayed 
in the administration of His kingdom. But the order of the 
thought and the logical particle, lead us to refer the terms 
to the spotless righteousness which the Christ evinced in 
His life and death, and which was rewarded with the crown 
of glory and honour. The word which connects the work 
with the reward — viz. the word therefore 1 — can have no 

1 liu. tovto can only mean because of this. It cannot have the final sense, in 
tumjinem. See Noldius on the Hebrew phrase so used nearly 150 times. 


meaning but to announce that the exaltation was the reward 
of the obedience : " Therefore God hath anointed Thee with the 
oil of gladness above Thy fellows." In another psalm, where 
the Lord's ascension is described, the words " Thou hast ascended 
up on high" are interpreted as presupposing that He descended 
first into the lower parts of the earth (Ps. lxviii. 1 8 ; Eph. iv. 
8, 9). We see that all these Messianic psalms, according to 
the commentary of inspired apostles, presuppose and involve 
the atonement. They take for granted that the cross was the 
foundation of His mediatorial throne — that the abasement pre- 
ceded the reward. In these psalms we come to the atonement 
in a less direct way. We shall limit our attention, therefore, 
to those which directly define the nature of the atonement, 
and select two for particular consideration. 

1. Among the prophetic psalms which bring out the essen- 
tial elements of the atonement, one of the most important is 
the fortieth Psalm, as quoted in the Epistle to the Hebrews : 
" When He cometh into the world, He saith, Sacrifice and 
offering Thou wonkiest not, but a body hast Thou prepared me : 
in burnt- offerings and sacrifices for sin Thou hast had no plea- 
sure : then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is 
written of me) to do Thy will, God ; yea, Thy law is within 
my heart" (Ps. xl. 6; Heb. x. 5-7). The question, Who is the 
speaker ? is not answered by saying that David, the writer, 
speaks in the first person as an individual. This is settled by 
the authority of the apostle, who introduces Christ as uttering 
the words when He came into the world ; and no difficulties of 
interpretation, no critical reasons, can be suffered to unsettle 
this decision. But that leaves room for another inquiry : May 
not David have uttered these words in some lower sense, in the 
typical character which he bore ? Now it may be conceded, 
that without sufficient reasons we are not to deny all allusion 
to himself on the part of the writer. But when the words are 
not only put into the lips of the Messiah by an inspired 
apostle, but are palpably out of keeping with anything that 

60 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

David did, or ever could do, we are amply warranted to ascribe 
them to another speaker ; and the fact that David was a 
prophet, and a type of the Messiah, enables us to apprehend 
that he might consciously merge the type in the antitype in 
certain portions of a psalm, or through an entire psalm. As 
there was nothing in David's history to which this language 
could possibly refer, we may apply the principle which Peter 
adduced in the book of Acts to determine the Messianic 
reference of another psalm (Acts ii. 29, 30) as follows : — To 
nothing in David's life could these words have applied: he 
must therefore have spoken them as a prophet, seeing himself 
in his greater offspring, or, more correctly still, have spoken 
them as from the lips of Him that was to come. Dropping the 
type in the antitype, David was in all such cases, from the 
beginning to the end of the psalm, little else than the medium 
of communication, or the amanuensis, though he does not for- 
mally announce in whose name he is speaking, or whose words 
they are. There is no trace whatever of any change of speaker, 
and therefore the whole must be taken as the connected dis- 
course of the same person throughout the psalm. 

The only thing fitted to raise a doubt is the complaint that 
his iniquities took hold upon him (ver. 12); but that difficulty 
entirely vanishes when we consider that the Messiah, as the 
surety and substitute of His people, could in this way fitly 
speak of the sins of His people, as they were imputed or 
charged to His account : He made them His. If God made 
Him to be sin for us, and if He was our sin in God's judgment 
and account, while still the beloved Son, He could be all this 
too in His own judgment as the surety. That was but the sub- 
jective recognition of an objective fact; and in so speaking, the 
Messiah only describes Himself as the true sin-offering or tres- 
pass-offering, 1 which, as we shall immediately see, is the principal 
thought of the passage. If we can call Him our righteousness 

1 See the celebrated Lampe's Geheimniss des Gnadenbunds, iii. 15. 2, where 
this is well elucidated. 


(Jer. xxiii. 6), why may not He for a similar reason call Him- 
self our sin ? Hence it is not necessary to suppose, as some 
have done, a change of speakers where this allusion begins (ver. 
12). Besides, that would be a violent break in the train of 
thought and in the connection of the two verses, as indicated by 
the logical particle for linking them together (vers. 11 and 12). 

Plainly, the psalm has two divisions, of which the first 
describes in vivid language the speaker's deliverance from a 
horrible pit and miry clay. Then the effect of this is repre- 
sented as tending to make many fear and trust in Jehovah ; 
that is, to repent and be converted from heathenism, or from 
false religions to the worship of the true God (vers. 1-5). The 
second division, which is emphatically marked by the words 
Then said I (ver. 7), contrasts the absolute weakness and insuffi- 
ciency of the Mosaic sacrifices with the Messiah's obedience and 
atoning work. That these words cannot be David's, appears at 
first sight from the fact that the speaker adduces His own obe- 
dience or finished work in contrast with the animal sacrifices, 
which are described as not pleasing to God, and as of no value 
except as types of what should come. This obedience to the 
Father's will and to the divine law on the part of the great 
speaker was destined to usher in a new economy (Heb. x. 9) ; 
and hence the words cannot in any sense, or with any applica- 
tion, be referred to David. 

But let us limit our attention to the words of the quotation. 
First, there is an enumeration of the several Mosaic sacri- 
fices, which are distributed into the bloody and the unbloody. 
That classification is indicated in the original by the terms here 
rendered " sacrifice and offering." Then follow the chief bloody 
sacrifices, which are further classified under these terms:— 
" Burnt-offering and sin-offering Thou dost not require ;" or, as 
it is rendered by the apostle, " In burnt- offerings and sacrifices 
for sin Thou hast had no pleasure." The meaning unquestion- 
ably is, that in the appointment of those sacrifices a further 
purpose was to be served, and that they were appointed to 

62 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

continue but for a time, and then to take end. Mere pictures 
of something infinitely more important which was to come — 
pledges and testimonies to what was yet future — they were 
destined to cease as things of little value, or as things in which 
God had no pleasure on their own account. But on David and 
on Israel they were binding till legitimately displaced by the 

Now, in contrast with the total insufficiency of the Mosaic 
sacrifices, the speaker in the psalm says, "Mine ears hast 
Thou opened." Many commentators explain this phrase by 
the provision in the law to meet the case of the Hebrew 
servant choosing to remain in voluntary servitude rather 
than accept his freedom, as he might do at the seventh 
year of release ; and this comment affords a very competent 
sense. Others explain it as denoting that the ear was purged 
by God of all impediment, so as promptly to know and do God's 
will. A third class take the expression cars as a synecdoche 
for the whole body, denoting that the ear was prompt to listeu, 
and the entire body prompt to obey. I see no cause to deviate 
from the idea of the Hebrew servant (Ex. xxi. 5) ; for one 
common mode of announcing Christ was to represent Him as 
the servant of God by way of eminence — the perfect servant, 
the chosen servant, the righteous servant (Tsa. xlii. 1, liii. 11). 
Thus, in the psalm under our consideration, Messiah describes 
Himself as coming to serve — coming in the humanity He had 
assumed, to fulfil the law in the meanest servant-form. It is 
no objection to the allusion already noticed, that according to 
the law, only the right ear of the Hebrew servant was pierced, 
whereas the plural number occurs in the psalm ; for this may 
imply a greater perfection in the antitype than in the type. 
But in reproducing the phrase for the New Testament church, 
the apostle abandons the Hebrew allusion, and gives us the 
same idea under another guise. He translates it, "A body 
hast Thou prepared me." Writing with the same authority and 
the same spirit of inspiration, the sacred writer is content to 


reproduce the thought in a different form, giving us the sense. 
He intimates that a body was prepared, in which all the prompt 
obedience and perfect service we have referred to were to be 
carried out to their utmost perfection. 

The next words put beforehand into the mouth of the 
Redeemer as He came into the world were as follows : " Lo, 
I am come (in the volume of the book it is written of me) to do 
Thy will, God." In the psalm there is somewhat greater 
fulness in the expression : " I delight to do Thy will, my God : 
yea, Thy law is toithin my heart." The verses, in the connection 
in which they stand, show the inadequacy of sacrifices to meet 
the divine claims, and announce that Messiah was to come as 
the true priest and sacrifice — the substance of all those shadows. 
His obedience in a true humanity is thus placed in direct con- 
trast with the burnt-offering and sin-offering, intimating that 
He came as the great personal moral sacrifice to do what they 
could not do, and to attain the divine design in its utmost per- 
fection and fulness of meaning, such as they never could attain. 
Moreover, when He says, " Lo I come (in the volume of the 
book it is written of me) to do Thy will," the allusion is to the 
Father's decree, or to that eternal covenant or compact to which 
the mission of the Son into the world at every moment bore 
constant reference (John vi. 39). That the words warrant the 
supposition of an agreement or compact between the Father and 
the Son before the actual incarnation, can scarcely be doubtful 
to any one who ponders the words. They mean, " Lo, I come 
to execute what Thou requirest." The volume of the book, 
or the roll, seems to be the Mosaic law containing the refer- 
ences to the shadowy sacrifices, or better, perhaps, the pro- 
mises of Scripture generally, because in all its prophecies as 
well as types it gave a pledge that He should come ; and the 
force of this statement is augmented by the apostle's subsequent 
interpretation of the words, as denoting that the passage bore 
reference to the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all 
(Heb. x. 10). 

64 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

But it is added still more definitely, that He came to do 
God's will, and to fulfil His law. There is a shade of differ- 
ence between the two words here used — Thy will, or good 
pleasure, and Thy law — which is by no means to be over- 
looked. The first term, will, or good pleasure, expresses the 
infinitely loving will of God which led Him to plan our re- 
demption, and it is a comprehensive enough term to embrace 
whatever belongs to the covenant between the Father and the 
Son. It means all God's will in reference to the redemption of 
the human race. When the Messiah, in coming into the world, 
announced that He " delighted " to do God's will, the language 
sets forth the condescending love of Christ, His mingled obe- 
dience and love in our room. As to the term law, it desig- 
nates that which is the transcript of God's nature, and the 
rule of human obedience. To have the law in the heart, is to 
have it written on the heart and engraven on the mind, so as 
to be ever before the memory and active in the soul (Jer. xxxi. 
33). It comprehends all that God demands, and all that 
pleases Him, or the entire service of love which as creatures 
we owe to God. Nor is it necessary to exclude the law of 
sacrifices. When we put together the import of the passage, 
then, it conveys these truths : that God the Father formed the 
plan of redemption here called His will, 1 or good pleasure, and 
that the Son came into the world as the party resolved to 
execute it by His active and passive obedience, and as having 
the law in His heart (Heb. x. 9, 10). 

But, it is asked, why may not David here speak of himself 
as a man arriving at the conviction that the sacrifices did not 
please God ? Does he not, in the passage, seem to contrast 
moral obedience with ritual observances, so as to disparage the 
latter ? That comment by no means exhausts the sense, and 

1 C. G. F. Walch, de ohedientia activa Chrlsti, p. 9, says : " Voluntas ilia 
erat conditio pacti inter patreni filiumque initi. " The apostle uses only one of 
the terms, viz. to fiXnpd. <rov, unless perhaps he intends to combine both in the 
one word. 


it is every way unnatural, not to mention that it runs counter 
to the interpretation given by the inspired apostle. Besides, 
it is not true that God required no animal sacrifices at the 
hand of David as an Israelite ; for God had imposed them, and 
He did not leave this matter to the worshipper's choice. In 
the absolute sense of the terms, they could not be described as 
wholly nugatory, or as not pleasing to God. But as they could 
not usher in any real atonement for sin, they did not correspond, 
in the proper sense of the term, to the divine good pleasure, 
or to the law of God, but only foreshadowed what was to 
come; and it was in this subordinate sense that they were 
depreciated, that is, in comparison of Christ's finished work. 
The language is not absolute, but relative. God required a 
moral obedience and a personal excellence, which were to 
culminate in offering one great personal and moral sacrifice for 
sins, which should have no repetition ; and the Messiah came 
to offer that one sacrifice, the true sacrifice, once for all, and by 
so doing to fulfil the will of God according to the covenant. 

II. The next prophecy to be noticed, and cognate to the 
former, is contained in the 1 1 Oth Psalm : The Lord sivare, 
and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order 
of Melehizedek (Ps. ex. 4; Heb. vii. 21). This is properly a 
coronation-psalm, composed probably on some of those occa- 
sions when the royal seer beheld in vision Messiah's ascension 
to His throne. It is quoted both by our Lord and His apostles 
as Messianic (Matt. xxii. 44; Acts ii. 32; Heb. i. 13). It cer- 
tainly cannot allude to David ; for, as our Lord says, David in 
spirit calls Him Lord. Besides, it is adduced by the apostles 
as the Father's salutation to Messiah at His ascension to the 
right hand. He is further described as a priest (Ps. ex. 4) ; 
for the priesthood was the foundation of the dominion, — the 
cross was the basis of the throne. The titles Prophet, Priest, 
and King, indicating distinct functions performed by the 
Messiah, are never confounded. Hence, when He is repre- 
sented as a sacrificing priest, this language, in David's mouth, 

G6 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

can only mean that He should bring in the great offering or 
sacrifice which was appointed to be the truth of all the sacri- 
ficial laws. It is sometimes alleged by eminent divines, that 
Melchizedek was not a priest properly so called, because it is 
not expressly said that he offered sacrifice, but merely that he 
blessed Abraham. But the brief notice given of the historical 
event in Genesis gives no warrant for such a conclusion, and 
the title Priest expressly ascribed to him, we think, refutes it, 
for there was no priest without a sacrifice. 

The great proof of Christ's priesthood is based on this 
passage. The apostle, in the Epistle to the Hebrews, very 
copiously expounds and applies it. Thus, it is quoted, in the 
first place, to show that our Lord did not arrogate to Himself 
the office of the priesthood without a divine call (Heb. v. 6). 
It is next adduced and fully expounded to show His great 
superiority to the Aaronic priesthood (Heb. vii. 1-28). And 
it deserves notice that the apostle, in following out the line of 
thought presented to us in the psalm, describes Melchizedek's 
personal dignity as a type by language derived from the Anti- 
type, and true only of the Antitype, — a peculiarity, in fact, 
applicable not to this case alone, but to all the types and 
shadows. The distinctive qualities of the great Priest and 
great propitiation are reflected back upon the shadow, not 
conversely. And as Melchizedek united in his person regal 
and priestly functions — a combination not permitted to the 
Levitical economy — he was in this respect a memorable type 
of Messiah. 

Our object is not to discuss the disputed questions which 
have been raised in connection with Melchizedek, but to 
elucidate the prophecy in the light of the apostle's commentary. 
We accept the simple and natural exposition which takes the 
narrative in Genesis as the record of a historical event. But 
the significance attaching to it consists less in the history than 
in the typical and prophetical elements belonging to it. These 
seem exclusively to have been before the Psalmist's mind, 


and the apostle's mind, for the latter only developes what the 
Psalmist supplied. That which was concealed, as well as that 
which was expressed, had in an equal degree a typical signifi- 
cance. And this is the singular peculiarity which the Psalmist 
and apostle alike were taught by the Spirit of inspiration to 
trace in the narrative. Some have imagined that Melchizedek 
was a divine person — the Son of God. 1 I take him to have 
been a historical personage, the prince of Salem, a worshipper 
of the true God, who united in himself the double function of 
priest and king. On this supposition the whole significance of 
the type proceeds. The apostle fixes our attention upon the 
import of his name and place of residence, translating them for 
the Christian Hebrews. The fact that he renders them into 
Greek for readers already familiar with their meaning, leads us 
to the conclusion that he expressly intended their import to be 
typical (Heb. vii. 2). The peculiarities mainly insisted upon are 
these : that his descent was not traced in any family register ; 
that he came upon the scene and passed away as if he had 
neither father nor mother, and in this respect was bike Christ, 
who in His earthly nature had no earthly father, and in His 
other nature no mother ; that he seemed to have neither 
beginning of days nor end of life ; and that he was made like 
the Son of God, who was the true antitypical Priest to whom 
the shadow referred. These peculiarities are read off from the 
history of Melchizedek in Genesis, which the Spirit of inspira- 
tion directed Moses to compose in such a way as to let all this 
fully appear, whether Moses was aware of it or not. The 
one great peculiarity which that psalm of David taught the 
Hebrews was, that there was to be another Priest out of the 
Aaronic bne, or the line of any priestly family ; and the other 
point winch the psalm emphatically taught them was, that this 

1 In D'Outrein, de Sendbrief van Paidus aan de Hebreen, this is powerfully 
advocated, and the other opinions are reviewed. See Riehm's admirable work, 
Lehrbegrif des Hebraerbriefes, 1858, p. 192, where all the points are well dis- 
cussed, and the literature inven. 

G 8 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

Priest was to be the first and last of his kind (3-10). But the 
apostle, in applying the quotation, takes it up in its several 
parts, and elucidates it as his text. He unfolds at large the 
divine purpose and the reason for which Messiah was made a 
priest after the order of Melchizedek. Three points are here 
mentioned, which we shall briefly state, in order to pave the 
way for the testimony in which the whole culminates — that 
there is but one priest, and one oblation. 

1. He proves that the mention of another priest in the 
psalm involved the abrogation of the Levitical priesthood 
(11-19). This result is spoken of as necessary: it is regarded 
as a legitimate deduction, the force of which is not to be 
questioned. The appointment of another priest argued that 
the Levitical priesthood had made nothing perfect, and re- 
quired to be replaced by a better. But another consequence 
was involved : the change of the priesthood carried with it the 
change or revocation of the Mosaic law (ver. 12). The reason 
is obvious. The entire ceremonial law presupposed the Aaronic 
priesthood, to which it was adapted, and to which it had refer- 
ence in every one of its arrangements. The alteration of the 
priesthood was the subversion of the law ; for the foundation 
of it was removed with the removal of the priesthood. This 
is the first result that necessarily accompanied the appointment 
of another priest after the order of Melchizedek. The great 
thought is, that the first priesthood was essentially defective, 
and that the entrance of a new priest was coincident with the 
bringing in of a better hope. 

2. As to the word of the oath, another part of the quotation, 
it is next commented on by the apostle (ver. 20). The fact of 
the oath not only points to the immutable decree which God 
made in regard to this priesthood, but argues a new economy 
with better provisions. The Aaronic priesthood, mutable, 
because appointed without an oath, ushered in an imperfect 
or merely typical covenant. The Melchizedek priesthood of 
Christ, unchangeable, because it was appointed with the oath of 


God, ushered in a better covenant (vers. 20-22). The priest- 
hood was in both cases the foundation of the economy ; the 
Sinaitic covenant standing upon the Aaronic priesthood, the 
new covenant standing upon the Melchizedek priesthood of 
Christ. The apostle's reasoning is peculiarly worthy of notice, 
because it is an argument from the less to the greater. The 
logical connection must be apprehended in the following way. 
The two elements of the comparison are marked by the phrase 
how much 1 in one verse (ver. 20), and by the corresponding so 
much of a subsequent verse (ver. 22). The intervening verse is 
merely parenthetical (ver. 21). The argument stands thus: In 
as far as He was made a priest by an oath, by so much is He 
the Mediator of a better covenant. The new covenant, of which 
Christ is the Priest, Surety, or Mediator — for these are nearly 
synonymous terms, though used in their peculiar connection 
with a distinctive shade of meaning — is so much better than 
the Sinaitic covenant, by how much the great High Priest of 
our profession was appointed by an oath ; and the new covenant 
and priesthood are never to be changed, as nothing better can 
replace them. The law made nothing perfect : this covenant 
does so, because it is the introduction of the better hope. 

3. The third point of superiority is deduced from the words, 
a priest for ever (ver. 23). Contrasted with the Aaronic high 
priests, Christ continues in office for ever. The Aaronic high 
priests were many, because they were not suffered to continue 
by reason of death : words which mean that they could not 
continue to officiate, or continue in office, because they were 
ever dying. When it is said, " They truly were many priests," 
the words do not mean that they were many simultaneously, 
but many as holding office successively, because it was ever 
passing from hand to hand. The contrast is between many 
priests, as temporary occupants of the office, or invested with 
it for a time, and the true Priest, invested with the office for 

1 x.u.f oirov (ver. 20) and Kara, roaovrov point to two counterparts, as is now 
admitted by all good exegetes. See Kurtz, Brief an die Hebraer, 1869. 

70 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

ever. And when it is said He has an unchangeable priesthood, 
the phrase may be interpreted in a twofold way, as descriptive of 
what is inviolable, or of that which does not descend to another 
occupant (ver. 24). The apostle deduces a further result from 
the everlasting priesthood, when he connects it with the per- 
fection of the kingdom of God, whether we look at the New 
Testament worshippers individually, or at the church collec- 
tively, in its onward progress to the winding up of all things. 
That eternal priesthood enables Him to save men perfectly, or 
to save them for ever ; that is, to rescue them from sin and all 
its evils (ver. 25). 

The mention of the eternal priesthood next leads the apostle 
by a natural train of thought to that abasement by which it 
was acquired. The power of an endless life, though connected 
with His divine person, is the purchased reward of His atone- 
ment. And this brings him to view the prophecy as a testi- 
mony to the great sacrifice, or satisfaction to divine justice. 
The royalty presupposes the humiliation, the expiation of sin. 
Hence the apostle's commentary advances to the two facts on 
which the atonement rests — the great New Testament priest- 
hood, and His one ever- valid sacrifice (vers. 26-28). Starting 
from the idea of the eternal priest, and with man's necessities 
full in view, the apostle says, For such an high priest became us 
(ver. 26). The use of the causal particle for leads our thoughts 
to the ever-living High Priest, and introduces the further idea 
of a sacrifice as the foundation of that royal priesthood. He 
must offer a sacrifice so complete and meritorious, as to require 
no repetition. The Melchizedek priesthood of Jesus takes for 
granted one saceifice for sin never to be repeated, one atone- 
ment of everlasting validity, needing no supplementary addi- 
tion, and equally applicable to all men and to all stages of the 
history of the kingdom of God. When we inquire more par- 
ticularly on what elements such a sacrifice depends, they are 
unfolded in the following order : — (1) He was a sinless Priest, 
who needed not, like the Jewish high priests, to offer first for 


His own sins, and then for the people's ; for He had no sins 
of His own (ver. 27). (2) He offered only once, one ever-valid 
sacrifice. (3) According to the word of the oath after the law, 
and superseding it, He was not a high priest having infirmity, 
but the Son of God, a divine person, giving to His one obla- 
tion an infinite value, adequate to all our wants and to all 
the claims of God (ver. 28). There was to be but one sacrifice 
for sins. This was the presupposition of the everlasting priest- 
hood, and its basis ; and our great High Priest continues in 
office for ever, because of its inexhaustible and eternal validity. 
That is the apostle's train of reasoning in his memorable com- 
mentary upon the Melchizedek priesthood of Christ. It is 
lucidly developed by him from the 1 1 Oth Psalm, a text which 
is taken up and expounded part by part. He winds up the 
whole by saying, that the foundation of the royal priesthood 
is the one sacrifice of everlasting efficacy. 

III. Of all the prophecies, however, which bring out the 
essential elements of the atonement, the clearest is the fifty- 
third chapter of Isaiah, which deserves to be called the classical 
passage. Prom this chapter we have several quotations. Thus 
Peter quotes the words, who did no sin, neither was guile found 
in His mouth (1 Pet. ii. 22); and another passage is imme- 
diately subjoined, by ivhose stripes ye were healed (ver. 24). 
Isaiah is called the Old Testament evangelist, from the vivid 
descriptions of Messiah's sufferings, atonement, and reward, 
given especially in this section (Isa. lii. 13-liii. 12). These 
verses must be read together ; for the division of the chapter, 
as is generally admitted, is unhappy. The passage proves that 
in the prophet's days, by means of his own teaching and that 
of other prophets, there prevailed, at least among the spiritually- 
minded members of the Israelitish community, a persuasion 
that Messiah should come as a suffering substitute, and that 
His obedience and death should constitute the one cause of 
man's redemption. Among the Jews in the most ancient 
times, it was the uniform opinion that the Messiah was the 

72 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

subject of this prophecy. Only at a later clay, when embar- 
rassed by the constant appeals of the Christians to this chapter, 
as the fullest and most connected explanation of the nature of 
Christ's death, did they invent the theory of a double Messiah 
— one coming in abasement, and the other in glory. As that 
was felt to be a mere artifice or evasion, other commentators 
referred it to a single person, and especially to Josiah. In 
these comments several of our laxer exegetes have followed the 
Jews, proposing to refer the language to Hezekiah or Josiah, 
to Jeremiah or Ezekiel ; while others refer it to the Jewish 
nation before or after the exile. These are all sorry shifts ; 
theories which go to pieces, or are discovered to be preposterous, 
the moment they are actually applied to the chapter, and made 
a key to open it : for was Josiah or Jeremiah bruised for our 
iniquities ? or, applying it to Israel, was Israel healed by their 
stripes ? were they exalted and extolled, or made to see their 
seed after becoming a sacrifice for sin ? Equally preposterous 
is it to refer the language to the state in the third person, 
and to the citizens in the first ; for then we must take all this 
language as applicable to the state. The chapter has only to 
be read in its connection, to see the exclusive reference to the 
Messiah. The repeated quotations in the New Testament — 
no fewer than six in number — by the Lord and His apostles, 
leave not a shadow of doubt that it can refer to no other than 
to Christ (Mark xv. 28; Matt. viii. 17; Acts viii. 32; Eom. 
xv. 21 ; 1 Pet. ii. 22, 24). What can be produced to over- 
throw this conclusion ? To maintain that, on this supposi- 
tion, Isaiah must have intimated that he was about to sketch 
Messiah's sufferings, argues a misconception of prophecy, and 
amounts to a demand that he should narrate history. Read 
in the light of history, applied as a key to the interpretation 
of our Lord's sufferings, the coincidence is marvellous ; showing 
that, seven centuries beforehand, the history of Jesus, with 
the design of His sufferings, were not only foretold, but fore- 
appointed in the thoughts of God. Our design is simply to 


adduce from prophecy, under the guidance of the apostles, a 
testimony to the Eedeemer's satisfaction ; and as this chapter 
contains all the great points connected with the atonement, we 
shall best attain our object, not by a formal exposition of all 
the verses, but by collecting the great essential elements of the 
doctrine as here developed. And in this single chapter we 
have almost all its essential elements exhibited with precision. 

The chapter occurs in a larger section or division, which 
contains a constantly recurring allusion to the Messiah as the 
Servant of the Lord (Isa. xlii. 1-liii. 12). That Messiah is 
meant by that title, is put beyond question by Matthew's quo- 
tation (Matt. xii. 18). The title servant brings before us one 
obedient to God, and supposed to walk by a rule prescribed 
for his direction ; and in this case it points out the servant 
by way of eminence, who thought it not robbery to be equal 
to God, yet put on a servant's form, and was obedient unto 
death. It is what Christ said : " As the Father gave me com- 
mandment, so I do" (John xiv. 31). After referring to Him as 
sprinkling many nations, and receiving the homage of kings, 
the prophet makes a transition from believing Gentiles to 
unbelieving Jews. At the commencement of the fifty-third 
chapter a preacher is introduced, complaining, as we may 
suppose the apostles did at Pentecost, that so few of Israel 
believed the report. Then follows the description of Messiah's 
sufferings. We shall extract a series of views containing a 
full outline of the atonement. 

1. We have a divine estimate of the Servant of the Lord. 
We find, first of all, God's approval of Him, and infinite com- 
placency in Him, before we come to the description of men's 
rejection of Him. What He was in the eye of God, is first 
stated figuratively (ver. 2) ; and then in plain words, in a sub- 
sequent verse (ver. 9), He is described as a tender plant or 
scion from a dry ground, growing up before the face of God : 
for the expression grow up before Him cannot refer, as some 
will have it, to an unbeliever discrediting the report of the 

74 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

gospel. The words describe the Father's estimate, representing 
Christ as growing up from His birth the object of divine com- 
placency, as a fair plant or grateful flower on which God's eye 
rested with delight. The dry ground is not to be interpreted 
of David's fallen house, 1 — an idea imported without warrant 
from another passage (Isa. xi. 1), and giving only a reference 
to the poverty of His condition in the eye of men. The re- 
ference is to humanity in general. On this barren waste, 
where no rain fell, and no nourishment was supplied by the 
soil, this tender and beautiful shoot grew up alone amid a 
desert of scorching sand, and God's eye rested on Him with 
approval and delight. A second passage teaches the same 
truth : He did no violence ; or, as Peter renders it, He did no 
sin, neither was guile found in His mouth (ver. 9 ; 1 Pet. ii. 22). 
The allusion is to His spotless purity in thought, and word, and 
action ; but may also refer to the false charges of treason and 
blasphemy on which He was arraigned. 

By way of contrast, the prophet notices the Jewish esti- 
mate of Christ, or the offence at a suffering Messiah (ver. 3). 
According to their ideas, His sufferings were a punishment 
inflicted on Him as a pretender ; and how was the offence 
removed ? The answer is supplied by the sequel of the chapter, 
and pronounces sentence on all erroneous theories of the atone- 
ment. The offence was not removed by the notion that He 
was a great teacher, a function in which sufferings incur no 
disgrace. Nor was it removed by regarding Him as the founder 
of a rational religion taking the place of a ritual one. The 
connection shows (vers. 4, 5) that it was removed by the dis- 
covery that those sufferings were vicarious in their nature, 
and effected our redemption. But how does the fact that the 
sufferings were vicarious remove the offence of a suffering 
Messiah among Jews or Gentiles ? It takes for granted a 

1 So Bleek and most of the moderns. Nor do the older and profounder 
commentaries of Cloppenburg, Cocceius, Vitringa, do justice to the meaning 
here : their expositions of this expression are all too external. 


knowledge of sin ; and when a surety is discovered by men 
in this state of mind, misconceptions are removed, prejudices 
vanish, the offence ceases, externalism is exploded, and glorying 
in the cross begins. 

2. The Messiah suffers on account of sin as the meritorious 
cause (vers. 4, 5). These verses teach us why He suffered. 
Israel had been taught to regard the corporeal evils or diseases 
with which they were smitten as the penal effects of sin (Deut. 
xxviii. 22). The desolations of the land were its sicknesses, 
while victory w T as its healing. Matthew refers the words of 
the prophet to bodily diseases considered as penal consequences 
of sin (Matt. viii. 17). The commentary of the evangelist so 
far accurately defines the meaning ; for we must understand 
diseases both of mind and body as penal effects of sin. One 
corruption was diffused through mind and body ; and when 
the Physician bore our sin, He equally brought help to both. 
Whether, therefore, we take the words in the more mental 
reference, or in the sense which Matthew puts upon them, the 
allusion is to the penal consequences of sin, which Christ bore 
as a burden. 

The prophet proceeds, in more precise terms, to show that 
sin was the meritorious cause of all Messiah's sufferings : " He 
was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our 
iniquities " (ver. 5). Expressions to this effect are so numerous, 
that no doubt can remain on the mind of an unbiassed reader, 
that in this description we have an innocent sufferer bearing- 
penal consequences due to the sins of others. Equivalent 
expressions occur, such as the following : — " The Lord laid on 
Him," or caused to meet on Him, " the iniquities of us all " 
(ver. 6) : "He shall bear their iniquities" (ver. 11) : "He bare 
the sins of many" (ver. 12). The phrase to bear sin, as we suffi- 
ciently proved elsewhere, means to bear sin as a burden, or to 
bear its punishment. They who will see nothing in this chapter 
of a satisfaction for sin on the part of the Servant of God, 
admit only such sufferings as a faithful witness encounters in 

76 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

declaring his testimony amid the enemies of his message (comp. 
Col. i. 24). According to them, the Servant of the Lord, the 
Mediator of a revelation in word, was brought to death for His 
faithfulness, like the Baptist, in the fulfilment of His prophetical 
career. The latter, though one side of Messiah's sufferings, is 
only what He had in common with His servants ; but it is a 
wholly different suffering to which allusion is made in this 
chapter. The sufferings here described do not belong to the 
discharge of His prophetical office at all : they belong to His 
priestly function ; and the entire chapter is confined to them. 

Some expositors, 1 who take exception to the view that our 
sins were the meritorious cause of the Messiah's sufferings, 
argue that the words in the fourth verse must bear the ren- 
dering : " He was wounded by, or through, our transgressions." 
On linguistic grounds, apart from the connection and the 
nearer parallelism, that rendering is admissible. But it is 
not demanded by the language, as appears from passages 
where the same phraseology is used : " Fools, because of thei» 
transgressions, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted " 
(Ps. cvii. 17); and certainly it is wholly out of harmony with 
the connection. The decision as to the rendering must be 
arrived at by referring to the entire verse and context. The 
next clause confutes that rendering : " The chastisement of our 
peace " (that is, the punishment which procures our peace with 
God) " was upon Him." The words mean, the divine punish- 
ment that we should have borne. Such an interpretation inter- 
feres, too, with the prophet's scope, and contradicts his words ; 
and every unprejudiced reader comes to a different conclusion. 
The rendering, " He was crucified by our frowardness," in the 
sense that the Israelites committed a great sin, is so wide of 
the mark, and does such violence both to the nearer and 
remoter parallelism, as well as to the tenor of the prophet's 
thoughts, that we can only regard it as suggested by the 
warping influence of a theological tendency. 

1 So the old Socinians put it, and so do Bleek and others recently. 


3. The Messiah is described as the substitute of others. 
He was not exposed to suffering indirectly or incidentally, but 
in a direct and immediate way, as our representative. This 
comes out expressly when it is said : The chastisement of our 
•peace (that is, the punishment which procured our peace) was 
upon Him (ver. 5). The language means, according to a familiar 
mode of speech in the sacred books, that the punishment due 
to us was reckoned to His account. We shall not draw illus- 
trations of this usage from common discourse between man and 
man, where it is not uncommon (Gen. xxvii. 13; Juclg. xix. 
20; Matt, xxvii. 25) ; for, in truth, it is competently used only 
when men are considered according to a divine constitution 
which God alone has authority to make. The chapter under 
consideration is so full of substitution, that this idea colours 
its whole contents. In human intercourse we see men acting 
vicariously — that is, taking upon them the obligations of 
others — and we apprehend the idea. And when the Servant 
of the Lord, without sin of His own (ver. 9), suffered for 
His people — when their transgressions were the cause of His 
punishment — when He put Himself under their collective 
sins to atone for them — it is evident that in all this He acted 

This vicarious position is still more evident from two other 
expressions, which may be briefly noticed. The first is : The 
Lord hath laid on Him — that is, caused to meet or converge on 
Him — the iniquities of us all (ver. 6). This passage intimates 
that Messiah came under the consequences of those iniquities 
with which men are chargeable, and bore them in order that 
the flock for which He suffered might escape unhurt, and 
be restored to the Shepherd and Bishop of souls. This 
shows vicarious action. The second expression is even more 
emphatic : His soid shall he an offering for sin (asham) (ver. 
11). The term denotes a trespass-offering, as used of an 
animal sacrifice (Lev. v. 15 ; Ezek. xl. 39 ; 1 Sam. vi. 3) ; and 
the victim was so termed as if it were embodied sin, and must 

78 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

die in the room of the offerer, who was deserving of death 
according to the law. What had for ages been figuratively 
done in legal ceremonies, was to be carried out on the Messiah, 
as the great personal and moral trespass-offering of His church. 
The language signifies that the sins of His people met on Him ; 
that He was made sin, and subjected to the responsibility 
which this entailed, not in a metaphorical sense, or after a 
sort, as the Socinians put it, but really, by proper imputation 
or transfer. He who was the sinless and righteous Servant 
of Jehovah (ver. 11), could have no connection with sin but 
by substitution. If He did not die as a vicarious trespass- 
offering, or as a voluntary sin-bearer, what possible link could 
subsist between His death and the sins of the apostolic age, 
or our sins at this remote distance of time ? The idea of sub- 
stitution is unmistakeable in the entire chapter. 

4. Messiah's sufferings are announced as coining from 
God, and inflicted by a divine hand. To this it is the more 
imperative to advert, because modern thought concedes to 
the sufferings of Christ only the more indirect and external 
sorrows encountered in the prosecution of His prophetical 
office from the ungodly generation to whom He bore the 
divine message. A perusal of this chapter, however, conveys 
the impression that He suffered directly at the hand of God, 
or in the exercise of punitive justice. This is apparent from 
expressions which need no comment. When it is said, " The 
Lord laid on Him the inicpiities of us all " (ver. 6), this does 
not mean that God permitted indignities to be inflicted on 
Him by men without any divine action, but that God caused 
them to descend. This is further taught by the antithesis in 
which the exaction of justice is connected with the affliction 
which He bore. " He was oppressed " — or, more strictly, He 
was demanded in the exercise of a divine exaction — " and 
He was afflicted " (ver. 7). We see on the one side the claim 
of offended justice, and on the other Messiah's agonies in 
responding to that demand. We have two parties in their 


several actions : the Most High, demanding punishment, and 
the Surety bearing it. 

But expressions containing the same idea are multiplied. 
Thus, when it is said, " For the transgression of my people was 
He stricken " (ver. 8), the allusion is to the infliction of punish- 
ment at the hand of God in satisfying the demands of justice. 
Not only so : it is added, It pleased the Lord to hruise Him 
(ver. 10). These memorable words intimate that the Lord not 
only permitted this at the hand of man, but had pleasure or 
delight in it, as it bore on His declarative glory and man's 
salvation. These sufferings, not in themselves, but in their 
scope and consequences, gave satisfaction to the Most High, 
Avho could not otherwise have had delight in it ; and the 
supreme Author of all these sufferings was Jehovah, by whom 
we must here understand God the Judge of all. 

This declaration enables us to meet all the statements of 
a general kind opposed to the infliction of punitive justice or 
wrath in any form. The objection is thus put : The sufferings 
of an innocent person could be of no avail, and could not be 
pleasing to God, or angels, or men. The text obviates this 
objection in proper form, asserting directly the reverse ; and 
we do not require to adduce other recondite grounds to show 
that Jehovah delighted in the atonement of Messiah. It is 
here announced that the Messiah was to bear the punishment 
of sin, as inflicted by the hand of God. With this it is im- 
possible to harmonize the views of the recent theology opposed 
to the vicarious sacrifice, when it allows no suffering but such 
as came from the hand of man in His office as the great 
Teacher. The prophet, as we here perceive, long before His 
coming, foretold the opposite. As to the objection urged by 
the Socinians, that nothing can be more uujust than to punish 
the innocent, a far more difficult problem is, How could the 
Son of God suffer what He did, if He is not allowed to be 
a surety ? "With a full exemption from punishment, on the 
double, ground that He was sinless man and Son of God, how 

80 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

could the moral government of God allow any infliction in the 
mere course of things ? On the supposition of suretyship, all is 
easy ; on the other supposition, all is inexplicable, — nay, such 
an anomaly and incongruity in the moral government of God, 
that we can more easily suppose the annihilation of all things 
than its occurrence. 

5. The fruits or consequences of Messiah's death are next 
mentioned. These are twofold. One class of these has more 
special reference to the mediatorial reward to be conferred on 
Him, viz. the promises that He should see His seed, and 
prolong His days, and divide the spoil with the strong, — 
all included in His reward (vers. 10-12). The other class of 
consequences have special reference to the redemption of His 
people, and to these I limit attention. Isaiah announces the 
work of the Lord Jesus as a priest giving His life a trespass- 
offering for His people, and as the righteous servant justifying 
many ; and to both these effects of His abasement we shall 
briefly refer, by illustrating the two clauses where these allu- 
sions occur. 

The first of these affirms that we have peace by His 
chastisement, and healing by His stripes (ver. 5 ; 1 Pet. ii. 
24). The commentary of Peter, who quotes these last terms, 
leaves no room to doubt that the prophet's words, rightly 
understood, mean that the punishment, which brings peace 
or procures reconciliation with God, was upon Him. This 
proof would fall to the ground, were we obliged to render, 
as some propose, " The instruction of our peace was upon 
Him." But there is no warrant for putting on the words 
this meaning (compare Deut. xi. 2 ; Job v. 1 7 ; Jer. xxx. 
14; Prov. xiii. 24). The word means chastisement, — a signi- 
fication confirmed by the parallelism of the next clause, 
according to the well-known rule of the Hebrews, to repeat 
the thought with a peculiar modification. According to this 
parallelism, the word chastisement in the one clause is re- 
echoed by the word strijies in the other; and the allusion 


in the context is not to instruction, but to vicarious suffer- 
ing and wounds. The thought, as Peter quotes the words, 
is, that the punishment of the Surety was the healing of His 

If language is left to express thought, these words beyond 
doubt connect reconciliation and healing with the sufferings 
of Messiah. As to this peace, it is reconciliation with God, 
the effect of Messiah's suffering. That cannot be explained 
away by those who regard reconciliation as the result of abso- 
lute love, apart from any intervention or atonement. The term 
" healing " designates deliverance from sin, including pardon, 
and every part of spiritual recovery. The stripes by which 
that healing is effected, refer to the scourging inflicted by man's 
hand, and to the far worse stripes inflicted by the hand of God, 
of which the former were but the outward emblem ; for we 
must include, by what is called synecdoche, the entire suffer- 
ings as well as entire obedience of the Lord. The language 
at first sight is paradoxical, and meant to evoke the reflection, 
How can wounds or maladies be healed by stripes 1 How 
can stripes inflicted on one be the healing of another ? The 
phraseology was intended to show that this could not be by 
mere natural effect, or in the ordinary course of things, or by 
mere moral motives. But the moment we recall the idea of 
substitution or exchange of places, all is plain ; for the wounds 
of the vicarious Sufferer bring in their train, by the connection 
of cause and effect, a true healing for every disease. 

The next fruit to which I referred is : " By His knowledge 
shall my righteous Servant justify many" (ver. 11). It is the 
Father who speaks. How Messiah was the righteous servant 
of the Father, will appear when we reflect that His obedience, 
measured by the law, was the bringing in of that everlasting 
righteousness on the ground of which men are pronounced 
righteous at the tribunal of God ; for the import of the word 
"justify" intimates here and everywhere a judicial sentence 
of acquittal and acceptance. But how is that effected by His 

82 apostles' sayings on the atone 

knowledge ? The words can only mean the iv^u fledge by 
which He is known, not the knowledge which He possesses. 
For the chapter refers not to His prophetical, but to His 
priestly office. Men are justified, by the knowledge of Him, 
which is the same as to be justified by faith. 


The book of Acts gives testimony to the atonement in a 
peculiar way : it contributes important aid as to the connec- 
tion between the death of Christ and the remission of sins. 
We see that, in every place to which the apostles brought their 
message, they inculcated neither conditions nor meritorious 
preparations, but preached remission of sins, both among Jews 
and Gentiles, as an immediate gift to all who had susceptible 
minds. They declared in unambiguous terms that it was pro- 
cured by the humiliation and death of the Son of God, and 
given by Him without reference to legal works in any form 
(Acts v. 31). 

Not only so : the book of Acts displays in a historic form 
the results of preaching the atonement, or the important con- 
sequences of inculcating the necessity and practical bearings 
of this great doctrine. Considered in its structure, it seems to 
have been prepared on the principle of showing with what 
success the preaching of the cross was accompanied among all 
classes, whether they were Jews, Samaritans, or Gentiles ; for 
apostolic preaching proclaimed present forgiveness to every 

Here it is necessary to anticipate a difficulty. Some allege 
that the apostles kept silence on the doctrine of the atonement, 
when they might have been expected to speak of it : others, 
not duly considering the scope of the book, find comparatively 
little allusion to the atonement. But two things are forgotten. 


None of the discourses is reported at large ; for the sacred 
writer is content to record the salient points or heads of dis- 
course. And though several outlines of discourses are inter- 
woven with the narrative, they are not given as full reports ; 
but as specimens of their testimony, illustrations of the success 
with which it was crowned, or arguments which Jewish un- 
belief withstood. Moreover, the discourses given in the Acts 
of the Apostles are missionary or evangelistic addresses to 
men in no state of preparation or mood of mind to bear a dog- 
matic elucidation or a full exhibition of the doctrine. For 
the most part, there was not such common ground between the 
hearers and speakers as must be presupposed for a full expo- 
sition. The apostles addressed impatient or hostile hearers ; 
and from the nature of the case, the doctrine could only to a 
limited extent be propounded to men so minded. But one 
thing is clear : remission of sins was presented to the hearers 
in its causal connection with Christ crucified, and preached 
in His name (Acts ii. 38, iii. 18, 19, xiii. 38). From the com- 
plexion of these discourses, the apostles must either have 
started from the great central idea of the Messiah, or brought 
their discourses round to this point. The first method may 
be traced whenever they preached to Jewish audiences (Acts 
ii. 25, 36). 

Let us glance at the testimony of Peter and Paul, the two 
prominent persons in the book of Acts. 

I. On the birthday of the Christian church, when the new 
economy began by a display of supernatural phenomena not 
less evident than was given at the founding of the Sinaitic 
covenant, Peter testified that prophecy was fulfilled (Acts ii. 
36) ; and to the awakened multitude he commended not a 
mere teacher, nor a bare example, but the Messiah, in whom 
the remission of sins was to be found. Underlying the entire 
address, we find the ideas involved in the doctrine of the 
Messiah. The promise of the woman's seed, the conqueror 
over death, the servant of the Lord, the sin-bearing substitute, 

84 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

were thoughts present to his own mind, and by allusion re- 
called to the minds of his hearers. 

This removes a misconception into which many fall. They 
who argue that the apostles, in speaking of the death of Jesus 
to the Jews, merely referred to the fulfilment of prophecy with- 
out involving in the allusion any doctrine of atonement at 
all, omit to notice the' title of the Christ used by these first 
preachers as the official name. This appellation recalled the 
Old Testament prophecies from the first promise downwards, 
and the part which the Messiah was to act for man's salvation. 
Hence, to awaken conscience, the apostles reiterated in Jewish 
ears that Jesus was their Messiah ; that all which was to be 
effected by the Messiah — the atonement of sin and the realiza- 
tion of the types — was accomplished ; and that forgiveness of 
sins as won by His death was preached in His name. Some 
hold that the apostles preached the death of Jesus as a fact, 
decreed in the divine purpose and announced in ancient pro- 
phecies, merely to take away prejudices against a suffering 
Messiah. But we have only to examine these discourses to 
perceive how baseless is this comment. We find the primary 
elements of the doctrine of the atonement, and must expound 
the brief allusions in consistency first with the Lord's sayings, 
and then with the rounded exhibition of the doctrine in the 
epistles addressed to the churches. An analysis of any of 
these discourses proves that the apostles were consistent with 
themselves, and in harmony with their Lord. 

a. To take Peter's sermon on the day of Pentecost by way 
of illustration, we find the atonement exhibited in those aspects 
which may be said to form its constituent elements : (1) Sin- 
less perfection ; then (2) sin-bearing on the part of a God- 
appointed Mediator; followed (3) by the divine acceptance 
of His work. We may notice these in order, remembering 
that in Luke's condensed report we have but the outline of 
what was said. 

1. The apostle refers to Jesus of Nazareth as a man ap- 


proved of God, or accredited by miracles and signs and wonders 
which He did (ver. 22). He represents Him as the seed of 
David, the fruit of his loins according to the flesh (ver. 30) ; 
and then, in the quotation from the sixteenth Psalm, as the 
Holy One of God by eminence — Thy Holy One. He bore this 
appellation because the Father sanctified Him, and because He 
approved Himself as the holy servant of God. Sinless perfec- 
tion comes to light in another expression found in the Messianic 
psalm cited by the apostle : " I have set the Lord always before 
me" (ver. 25) ; which could not be affirmed by David, nor by 
any mortal man : for none but the realized ideal of humanity, 
the perfect Servant of God, could declare that in all positions 
He had, without interruption, set the Lord always before Him. 
But it expressly depicts the obedience of the Messiah in action 
and in suffering — the copy and counterpart of the divine holi- 
ness ; the servant of God breathing loyalty, subjection, and 
confidence to the utmost extent required of a creature in rela- 
tion to the Creator. 

2. He was delivered to punishment by the determinate 
counsel and foreknowledge of God (ver. 23). To understand this 
statement, we must recall the Lord's own saying, " The Son of 
man is delivered into the hands of sinners " (Matt. xxvi. 45), 
and also the prophetic announcements (Zech. xiii. 7; Isa. liii. 10). 
Peter intimates that God subjected Him to death, and that He 
was not properly overcome by His enemies, — that it was the 
will of God, His determinate counsel or plan, that Messiah 
should be delivered as a malefactor into the hands of men, and 
be put to death with the forms of justice. With all the pos- 
sible modes of carrying out this great counsel before the divine 
mind, this peculiar plan had been selected. He might have 
been cut off, had God willed it, by holy hands and a holy 
ministry ; but the Judge of all determined that it should be 
executed by the hands of the wicked and lawless. Or the 
Messiah might have been made the great moral sin-offering of 
the world by the immediate hand of God, without the inter- 

86 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

vention of any human agency to put Him to death. But the 
counsel of God with infinite wisdom appointed otherwise, to 
the church's unspeakable advantage. Not only was the fact 
of Christ's death appointed, but the mode of it. The sinless 
Surety, taking our guilt, and placing Himself at the divine 
tribunal, was to be delivered in the guise of a malefactor into 
the hands of the wicked, and brought forth to be examined, 
sentenced, and condemned by a judicial tribunal, that it might 
be evident that He was innocent, and yet accounted guilty, — 
that is, that the punishment of the guilty passed over to the 
sinless Substitute. Had the transaction been in secret, we 
could not so fully have been assured of this exchange of places. 
The statement here made, that God by a judicial act 
delivered Jesus into the hands of men, gives us a right con- 
ception of His vicarious death. That great transaction was the 
result of divine appointment, and had its validity on that 
account. On the one hand, if the ransom was to possess any 
value, it must be of God, and not against His will ; for without 
divine appointment it could not have served the purpose. The 
judicial sentence by which He became the object of punish- 
ment, and was delivered into the hands of sinners, was carried 
into effect solely on the ground that He was already a sin- 
bearer in our stead by express covenant with the Father. He 
had a full exemption from penal infliction on the ground of 
two absolute securities — His perfect sinlessness, and His re- 
lation as the only begotten Son. He was secured in a perfect 
immunity from suffering of every kind; and He could be 
delivered over to penal visitation only with His own consent, 
and because He could resume His life which He condescended 
to resign. The delivery presupposes sin-bearing by suretyship 
or substitution; for how otherwise could He have been the 
object of punitive justice. ? How else could justice have 
touched Him ? It could not by possibility have reached Him 
except on the ground that our sin was laid on Him as the 
Head and Representative of His people. But God delivered 


Hiui over, as a judge delivers a malefactor to punishment, 
because their guilt was made His own. 

This fact serves to obviate a double objection, — one of 
Jewish origin, another adduced by the modern theology. As 
to the Jewish objection : they to whom Peter primarily ad- 
dressed the words, regarding Jesus as stricken, smitten of God, 
and afflicted, put their objection in this form : Had this man 
been sent of God, according to his own claims, He who com- 
missioned him would have been able to deliver him from 
men's hands. But according to Peter's declaration, based on 
prophecy and on the divine counsel, all this was done by God's 
appointment ; and the infliction was necessary for the divine 
glory and for man's salvation. A second objection is that of 
the modern theology, that Jesus endured sufferings only at the 
hand of man, and not at the hand of God, and that they are 
to be regarded as sufferings encountered in His prophetical 
function, — the same with those which good men always en- 
counter in this sinful world by the uniform law of evil. They 
were inflicted by the hand of God, otherwise men could not have 
put forth their hands to touch Him. The theory we impugn 
represents the moral government of God as leaving all to random 
accident, as if the world were under no law nor control, as if 
everything could have happened to the Son of God which hap- 
pens to sinful men. But the world is not such an unfathered 
and unregulated province as this theory takes for granted. 

As to the mode of His death, Christ was to be tried and 
judged by men. The manner of His death, as well as the 
atoning death itself, were equally appointed in God's counsel 
and outlined in prophecy. Our Surety was accounted guilty, 
while personally sinless ; and however Pilate pronounced Him 
without fault, and acquitted Him, there was another tribunal 
whose sentence was only registered at that earthly tribunal, 
and there, though personally innocent, He was in His capacity 
as Mediator by no means innocent. What He bore was in 
respect of man most unjust, but perfectly just in respect of 


God. It is urged that He could not be the object of punitive 
visitation, for it would be unworthy of a sinless being to be 
treated as a sinner. The answer is obvious : He was not the 
object of divine punishment on His own account, or considered 
in His personal relation to His Father. But He sustained the 
person of sinful men, and bore their sin, as the prophets and 
apostles again and again repeat. The object of the Father's 
delight personally, He was the object of punitive justice as the 
representative of sinners. The question, therefore, comes to 
this : Was sin the proper object of punishment ? Is this an 
innate belief or first principle in natural theology ? The reason 
why it pleased the Lord to bruise Him was, that sin could not 
be discharged without punishment, on account of the insult or 
wrong done to the divine perfections. Thus the infliction was 
just in respect of God, who visited sin with its due recompense 
of reward. When He was arraigned at a human tribunal as a 
rebel and blasphemer, that was but an emblem of what we had 
merited at the hand of God, or of what the Surety actually 
endured in our stead as a satisfaction to divine justice. An 
invisible hand executed in an infinite measure those punish- 
ments of which we see the outward form in the arrest and 
bonds, the stripes and scourging, the condemnation and 
mockery, the shame and casting out of the camp, as well as 
in the expressions which fell from Him amid His desertion. 
What came from man, was but a feeble outline of what came 
from the hand of God. That outward punishment showed the 
chastisement and curse which God Himself was inflicting upon 
the Surety ; for behind the visible tribunal and the visible in- 
fliction was hid something infinitely more formidable which 
He suffered immediately at the hand of God. There were 
visitations and desertions infinitely more severe than any 
stripes that were visible, when He was made to feel the turpi- 
tude and guilt of sin, and to realize His obligation to punish- 
ment, temporal and eternal. But it is not possible to conceive 
what He endured. 


3. We said the apostle mentions the acceptance of Christ's 
work. He says of death, " It was not possible that He should 
be holden of it" (ver. 24) ; and when we consider why this 
was not possible, it is not a full answer to appeal, as is com- 
monly done, to His omnipotence and divine life. The great 
reason was, that His soul had been made an offering for sin, 
a sweet-snielling savour, and that He must be discharged in 
judicial form. Death could reign only where sin was ; it 
could remain only where it had a certain right. A sinner 
whose guilt is undischarged may be held under death; but 
the Holy One of God could not long be held under its power. 
But to illustrate this loosing of the pains of death, the apostle 
quotes from a Messianic psalm containing an allusion to the 
disembodied state and resurrection of the Lord : " Thou wilt 
not leave my soul in hell" (that is, in Hades, the invisible 
world), "nor suffer Thy Holy One to see corruption" (Ps. 
xvi. 10). On comparing the psalm with Peter's commentary, 
we find the Messianic reference vindicated on a principle 
which can be applied to all similar passages (Acts ii. 29). We 
have an announcement that the human soul of the Messiah 
was for a time to be in a disembodied state, but that the body, 
the other element of His humanity, should see no corruption. 
The soul of Christ was to be in a state of separation from the 
body. There may be some difficulty in apprehending the 
Hebrew conception of the invisible world, and whether it was 
represented as a locality or a condition ; but there is no doubt 
that Hades was not simply equivalent to the grave : for an 
allusion is made to the grave in the previous verse, in the 
words, " My flesh also shall rest in hope" (Ps. xvi. 9). The 
soul was to be in the invisible world (shcol, ver. 10). There 
has been a vast variety of expositions on this passage, throwing 
a certain obscurity over a text in itself obvious enough. The 
Komanists represent the Lord's descent to hell, or its suburbs, 
as designed to deliver the spirits of the Old Testament saints. 
The Lutheran divines for a long time regarded the descent to 

90 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

hell as intended to display the Eedeemer's triumph over the 
devils. 1 To avoid these speculations and human fancies, other 
interpreters have gone to an opposite extreme, for which there 
is as little warrant, representing the term soul as if it might 
denote something else than the human soul of the Messiah. 
Some take the clause as containing an allusion to His dead 
body ; others expound it of His person ; others of His physical 
life ; while the term Hades is commonly taken for the grave. 
That is not to interpret words, but to insert opinions. No 
justice is done to the word soul, unless we view it as the im- 
mortal principle of humanity, distinct from the body, and 
capable of existing apart. The Messiah in the passage ex- 
presses His confidence that God would not leave His soul in 
a disembodied state ; which is the consequence of carrying out 
the curse inflicted on sin, and unwelcome to humanity, because 
not the normal state of man. To this separation of the con- 
stituent elements of man's nature the Lord submitted as the 
sin -bearing Surety of His people. And in the psalm He 
virtually says : Thou wilt permit me to come forth as a con- 
queror from the disembodied state into which I entered, 
and from the grave into which I descended, because the guilt 
charged to my account has been deleted, and the necessity of 
wrath removed, by my vicarious oblation. 2 

The desire here expressed for deliverance from Hades, 

1 To enumerate all the shades of opinion among the Lutherans on this point 
would be tedious. A not uncommon view is, that our Lord went to preach to 
the spirits in prison, and they plead the misunderstood text in Peter (1 Pet. 
iii. 19). Aepinus, a Hamburg theologian of the sixteenth century, put the 
extravagant construction on it, that Christ not only endured earthly penalties 
here, but descended into the lower world, there to undergo hell-punishments 
for men's sake ; a notion arguing a very material view of the Lord's substitu- 
tion, and wholly uncountenanced by Scripture. 

2 See a learned note by Beza on this passage, proposing to interpret, Thou 
wilt not leave my body in the grave, which cannot be received. Nor can we, 
with Calvin and Cocceius, understand rhv ^"X™ ?* ov of the animal life, giving us 
the meaning of the state of death. The word ■v^jj must be taken for the soul; 
and the sense will be : Thou wilt not leave my soul in the disembodied state 
which it was necessary for me to endure as the Surety under the curse of the law. 
Albert Schultens conclusively argues for this sense. 


coupled with the apostle's statement that God loosed the pains 
of death, gives us to understand that, till the moment when 
divine justice was declared to be fully satisfied, the human 
soul of the Lord was in an unwelcome condition. And the 
reason is obvious : though there is no ground for thinking that 
there was further anguish or agony to be endured after He 
said, " It is finished," and commended His spirit into His 
Father's hands, yet, so long as the soul was in a disembodied 
state, the two elements of man's nature, separated by death 
and under the consequences of sin, continued to be shut out 
from the full participation of premial life. These pains of 
death were not yet annihilated. But the perfect sacrifice 
satisfied justice, restored our forfeited right to the inheritance, 
and loosed the cords of death. 

From this explanation it appears that the human soul of 
Jesus, though no more under penal suffering, nay, partaking 
of rest, refreshment, and peace in paradise, was, while disem- 
bodied, in an unwelcome position, from which, as the psalm 
indicates, He longed to be delivered, as the lingering conse- 
quences of sin, to this extent, still attaching to the person of 
the God-man ; and therefore it was not fitting that so august 
and glorious a person should long be held captive to the do- 
minion of death, when the completed atonement restored our 
right to life, and put Him, as our representative, in possession 
of it. There was no path out of death but by a satisfaction to 
the divine law, and the endurance of that punishment which 
transgression had incurred. The right to life was first made 
manifest to angels and men, when the Surety was brought from 
the grave by the Judge of all the earth ; that is, justified as 
the Surety (1 Tim. iii. 1G). All who believe on Him, to the 
end of time, perceive in this open recognition of His vicarious 
work the annihilation of their guilt, the putting away of their 
own sins— a fact presupposed in the transaction. The ground 
on which Peter puts the resurrection of Christ is very signifi- 
cant : " God loosed the pains of death, because it was not 

92 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

possible that He should be holden of it" (Acts ii. 24). When 
the apostle affirms that He could not possibly be holden of 
death, the question arises, Why? Was it simply, as some 
have put it, because there was an invincible power of the 
divine life in Him ? or was it, as others put it, because the 
promise given to David must be fulfilled in his seed — because 
prophecy must be accomplished ? These reasons presuppose 
another. The work being finished, the Judge showed that the 
satisfaction was complete ; for the Eedeemer could not abide 
in death, which reigns only in the sphere of unexpiated sin. 
Death can come only upon a sinner, or one subject to guilt. 
The deepest reason why the Lord could not be holden of death, 
was the complete expiation of sin. 

It is not correct to say, as some have done, that we find no 
allusion here to the death of Jesus for the remission of sins, 
or that the doctrine of the Lord's sacrificial death, afterwards 
enforced as the apostle's principal idea, was not yet developed 
in Peter's mind. 1 To say that the expressions are indefinite 
and general, and that nothing is intimated in the general struc- 
ture of these first discourses, or in their siDgle expressions, 
from which we may infer the connection between the death of 
Jesus and the sinner's acceptance, is quite gratuitous. For 
though Peter refers to the atonement in a less direct way than 
in his epistles, it will be found, if we examine their structure, 
that the Messiahship of Jesus, with the implied fact of sin- 
bearing, set forth in Isaiah, was always prominent in these 
addresses. On the foreground we always find the crucified 
Messiah, and the message of forgiveness in close causal con- 
nection with it. 

1 Lechler, in his excellent work, das apostolische Zeitalter, 1857, p. 14, 
thinks that Peter in his discourses nowhere refers to the death of Christ as a 
saving fact. So, too, Schumann, ii. 460. Lutz and Usteri go much further, 
and say that there is no doctrine here as to the causal connection between 
Christ's death and forgiveness. Weiss, der Petrinische Lehrbegrif, p. 258, 
puts this connection in its true light, and concludes : " Damit aber ist Wenig- 
stens indirect angedeutet, dass in dem Tode Christi die objective Ursache der 
Siindenvergebunc liegt." 


I). A similar discourse was afterwards delivered by Peter 
on the occasion of the miracle performed on the impotent man 
at the beautiful gate of the temple (Acts iii. 12). The atone- 
ment, though not very directly introduced, is there referred to 
in its elements. Jesus is (1) called the Holy One and the 
Eighteous (ver. 14) ; titles which must be understood as de- 
scriptive of the Surety of sinners, considered in His sinless 
holiness and perfect righteousness before God, and not as a 
mere declaration of His innocence from the charges on which 
He was condemned. To these (2) we must add another title, 
His seevant Jesus (vers. 13 and 26): for though the earlier 
Protestant interpreters were wont to translate these phrases, 
"His Son Jesus," "Thy hold child Jesus" (Acts iv. 27), as if 
they referred to His divine Sonship, recent interpreters more 
correctly regard it as the translation of the prophet's appella- 
tion, "The Servant of the Lord" 1 (Isa. xlii. 1, lii. 13). That 
this is the true rendering there is no room to doubt, because 
we find it applied in a much inferior sense to David and to the 
people of Israel (Acts iv. 25 ; Luke i. 54). As applied to the 
Lord, it meant that He was the servant of God by way of 
eminence, or in a unique sense, so called because He came 
down from heaven not to do His own will, but the will of Him 
that sent Him, and complied with all the duties and obliga- 
tions which the Father imposed on Him as the surety of 
sinners. The conditions which the Father prescribed were 
promptly fulfilled, in all the various relations which man occu- 
pies to the moral Governor as a creature and as a sinner, to 
the utmost extent a sinless nature could render them, when 
He submitted to vicarious suffering for men's redemption. On 
the Father's side it was a true command, and on the part of the 
Pimhteous Servant it was a true obedience in the room of others. 


1 Nitzsch, Olsliausen, and most recent interpreters, following them, so inter- 
pret tov valla, aurou (ver. 13), and ™» ayiov nalla aov (iv. 27). This will be evi- 
dent to every one on comparing Matthew's rendering of Isa. xlii. 1 by S -ra.7; 
fjLou ov vpiTKra (Matt. xii. 18). 

94 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

His whole life was spent in the service of God for sinners. 
He was the servant of God, not simply in the execution of His 
commission as a prophet, but especially in His fulfilment of 
the office of a surety in our room. Now all this succinctly 
describes the very essence of Christ's atoning work, and we 
cannot allow that Peter in this address says nothing on the 
doctrine of the atonement. When put on his defence before 
the council, the apostle declared that there was salvation in no 
other (iv. 10-12); that this is the one name, to the exclusion 
of every other ; and that redemption stands connected with 
the name of Christ, considered as the Messiah, the abased, the 
crucified, and exalted. 

c. I shall briefly refer to the mode in which the first dis- 
ciples preached Christ. An examination of passages satisfies 
us that by this phrase we are to understand the preaching of 
Christ crucified, with the saving efficacy of His death. One 
interesting passage in confirmation of this view is the descrip- 
tion of Philip's preaching to the eunuch, as given in the book 
of Acts (viii. 29). Commissioned by the Spirit to instruct the 
Abyssinian inquirer, he preached to him Jesus, in connection 
with Isaiah's description of the suffering Surety : he took for 
his text the passage which he found the inquirer wistfully 
perusing, but unable to comprehend (ver. 12), — the account of 
the sufferings of Messiah portrayed by the prophet (Isa. liii. 
7, 8). Plainly a higher hand was guiding both, the one to 
peruse that prediction of the suffering Messiah, the other to 
base his instructions on the passage. Beginning at the same 
scripture, he preached to him Jesus ; in other words, preached 
the vicarious sufferer and the atonement. We may say that 
the one grand topic of Christian instruction during their brief 
interview, when mysteriously brought together and as mys- 
teriously separated, was the cross. Had the atonement not 
formed the theme of that first missionary address which led the 
inquirer to salvation, there was no meaning in referring to the 
passage of Isaiah, no link of connection between the two things. 


II. The second principal person in the book of Acts is the 
Apostle Paul. His testimony to the atonement is so full and 
explicit in his various epistles, that it may seem superfluous to 
adduce a proof of it from his briefly reported sermons in the 
book of Acts. We see, however, that he held one uniform 
doctrine wherever he went ; determined not to know anything 
among the Corinthians but Jesus Christ and Him crucified 
(1 Cor. ii. 2), repudiating with strong feelings of aversion among 
the Galatians the least degree of glorying save in the cross 
(Gal. vi. 14), and always consistent with himself in every place. 
We have a record in the book of Acts of two addresses of a 
missionary character by Paul, — one delivered in the Jewish 
synagogue at Antioch in Pisidia (Acts xiii. 15-41), a second 
delivered to the heathen philosophers of Athens (Acts xvii. 
22-31), — not to mention others spoken before the Jewish autho- 
rities in his own defence. These discourses bring the hearers 
to the cross as the centre-point of his preaching, but by 
different paths. Besides these, we have an address of a different 
nature to the Ephesians assembled at Miletus. 

a. The address to the Jews at Antioch in Pisidia was in its 
form and texture very similar to Peter's sermon on the day of 
Pentecost, for they were both addressed to Jews. The apostle 
describes Jesus as the seed of David and the Son of God 
(ver. 33), and makes an appeal to the fulfilment of prophecy to 
prove that Jesus the Christ died, was buried, and rose again 
from the dead, according to the Scriptures (vers. 30-38). He 
establishes the sinlessness of Jesus, when he shows that they 
found no cause of death in Him (ver. 28). He describes Him 
as raised up to Israel as a Saviour (ver. 23), and then sets forth 


This language deserves attention, as it intimates that forgive- 
ness was preached, not sold nor bartered ; in other words, that 
pardon was proclaimed without conditions or terms, simply on 
the ground of the humiliation to which Jesus submitted on 
earth. He next announces that on the same foundation who- 


ever believes is justified from all things from which he could 
not have been absolved by the law of Moses. We may say 
that the apostle there preaches the righteousness of faith, not 
the righteousness of the law, in the same way as in his various 
epistles. He affirms, in the same manner as in his Epistle to 
the Eomans, that what the law could not do, because it was 
weak through the flesh, was attained through faith in Christ 
(Eom. viii. 3). 

b. In the other missionary discourse delivered to the Gentile 
philosophers of Athens, the apostle proceeded in a different 
way (Acts xviii. 22). He in the first instance went back to 
the principles of natural religion, because in every discussion 
the first requirement is to have some common ground ; and 
the principles of natural theology were the only data, the 
only platform, where they could find common ground. He 
first preaches God as Creator, Upholder, Disposer, and Judge, 
though He was unknown as yet to them — the unknown God. 
He next advanced to the resurrection of Jesus, in connection 
with the announcement of the judgment ; the fact of a judg- 
ment being stated as appointed for a given day, and to be 
carried out by Jesus Christ (Acts xvii. 31). This brought 
the apostle to the cross, or would have brought him, had 
the mockery with which he was assailed not interrupted the 
continuity of the discourse. 

c. Besides these discourses of Paul, which from the occa- 
sion and the hearers were of a missionary character, there 
is a memorable pastoral address to the elders of Ephesus 
assembled at Miletus. Among other topics, the apostle ad- 
verts to the death of Christ as the great ransom-price by 
which He purchased the church, and the foundation of all 
His right of property in the church. Speaking to elders 
long established in the faith, he urges them to diligence by 
the consideration that the church was dear to them as the 
purchased property of Christ — as bought at an infinite cost. 
He speaks of the church as purchased by the Lord with 


His own blood, and won by Him to be His property, thus : 
"Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock 
over which the Holy Ghost has made you overseers, to feed 
the church of God, which Re has purchased with His own 
blood" (Acts xx. 28). Here several points connected with 
the atonement call for exposition. Though there is a variety 
of reading, 1 the whole clause shows that special emphasis is 
laid on the dignity of the person, and on the preciousness of 
the ransom, by which the church was bought. 

1. The church is described as blood-bought .property. That 
price is said to have made the church God's church, or Christ's 
church, in consequence of which the people of God stand in 
the closest and most tender relation to the Lord. They are 
His by right of purchase, analogous to what in ancient times 
was customary when slavery prevailed. The church is called 
God's, or the Lord's, whether we look at the several members 
or at the collective body, not simply because He rules it — for 
in that sense the entire creation might be so called — but by 
reason of purchase, and of the close relation in which He 
stands to it. This comes out in numerous passages, which 
explicitly declare that the redeemed are the Lord's, and not 
their own, by right of purchase (1 Cor. vi. 20; Tit, ii. 14; 
Eev. v. 9 ; Bom. xiv. 8, 9). By that thought the apostle 
stimulated the elders of Ephesus to fidelity, vigilance, and 
care in feeding the members of the church. They had been 
purchased with blood; and since God had bought them with 
the most astonishing price, that consideration was to animate 

1 The reading <rh \xxXntrla.v roZ Kvplov is supported by A, C 1 , D, E, and pre- 
ferred by Griesb., Lach., Tisch. The common reading is supported by B, s, 
and favourably regarded by Scholtz and Alford. A third variety, or combina- 
tion of the two former, is, Kvpiou xa.) 0top, found in C 3 , G, H. See a discussion 
by Doedes (Teyler's Godgeleerd Genootsch. Deel. xxxiv. p. 434) ; also, Meteler- 
Kamp's Dissertatio Theologica de Pauli Oratione Valedictoria, I.e. It seems 
almost impossible to decide, if the decision is to turn solely on external grounds. 
Hence Paul's phraseology elsewhere, the church of God, is thought by some to 
incline the balance in favour of the receptus (see 1 Cor. i. 2, x. 32, xi. 16 and 
22, xv. 9 ; 2 Cor. i. 1 ; Gal. i. 13; 1 Thess. ii. 14 ; 2 Thess. i. 4 ; 1 Tim. iii. 5 
and 15). 


98 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

the elders and overseers of the church to take the most tender 
interest in every member, and to evince the most vigilant care. 

2. The price or ransom was His own blood. Whichever 
noun is the antecedent to which the pronoun refers, the 
allusion is plainly to the personal dignity of Him by whom 
the price was paid. Text critics are more favourably inclined 
than they have been for a century to the common reading, 
" The church of God, which He has purchased with His own 
blood," which, of course, would give an express and formal 
testimony to the value of the atonement, considered in the 
light of Christ's deity. But the other reading, if due weight 
is given to the words, proves the influence of the person upon 
the work of expiation ; and we are plainly taught that we 
cannot make Christ mediator in one nature to the exclusion 
of the other, nor ignore the action and influence of the divine 
nature in His work of atonement. We see that Christ, in His 
redeeming work, was not regarded as mere man, but as God- 
man ; for the blood here mentioned is called God's own, or the 
Lord's own, showing that the humanity to which the blood 
belonged was personally united to Deity — not mere humanity, 
but God assuming humanity; that is, a God-man paid the 
necessary price, and bought us to be His. So great a work 
could have been accomplished only in the flesh of Him in 
whom dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily ; and He 
so possessed humanity, that He could give it for others. In 
every mediatorial act, accordingly, we trace the concurrent 
action of two natures in one person; and hence it is the 
act of the God-man. This is easily perceived in the phrase, 
His oivn blood. 

3. Next let us consider who owns the church. Only a 
divine person can be her proprietor or possessor. This may 
be said to incline the balance still further in favour of the 
reading, "the church of God." Whoever redeems another 
from eternal death, naturally becomes the owner or pro- 
prietor of the party so redeemed. But none can properly 


be possessor of another, his owner or his lord, hut one who 
superadds to the payment of a price the further dignity of 
a nature essentially divine. Eedemption, indeed, is a divine 
act as much as is creation. He who claims us as His property 
must necessarily he divine. 

Thus we find the apostles, in the book of Acts, constantly 
referring in the first instance to the Lord's humiliation as 
the seevant of the Father in the execution of a commis- 
sion given Him to do. We find, too, in connection with this 
— we may say, in causal connection with this — the proclama- 
tion of a present forgiveness of sins, without qualification or 
preparation in any form. The evasion to which some have 
recourse, that in all this the apostles meant to obviate the 
Jewish objection to a suffering Messiah, is often repeated, 
but without warrant. The atonement was not omitted in 
these missionary discourses, as is evident from the references 
to prophecy, and the identification of Jesus with the Messiah, 
which at once recalled the element of sin-bearing (Isa. liii. 5). 
This must be conceded, unless we proceed, on the principle of 
evacuation, to reduce the meaning of terms to a minimum, — a 
mode of interpretation wholly to be repudiated. Neither the 
death of Christ nor the resurrection were preached as bare 
historic facts, but in their meaning and significance. We 
cannot reduce the uniform testimony of the apostles to the 
announcement of mere historic facts, apart from the reason of 
Messiah's sufferings and death, or dissociate the significance 
attaching to the connection of the two. 

We are warranted to conclude, when we take to our aid the 
unambiguous statements of the apostles, that they made the 
death of Christ, considered as an atonement and an eternally 
valid fact, the centre-point of their preaching. How far the 
atonement was expounded in those addresses, in its rationale, 
constituent elements, and effects, it may be difficult to say; 
for their communications were proportioned to the hearers' 
capacity. Many recondite truths connected with the atone- 

100 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

ment, such as the priesthood of Christ, on which the Epistle 
to the Hebrews dilates, the bearing of the atonement on the 
divine moral government, the various results in regard to 
man's relation to his Maker, the number and extent of the 
blessings flowing from it, and the like, were doubtless to some 
extent reserved, till a people were gathered to whom these 
truths could be intelligible. But the remission of sins, and 
the free acceptance of sinners through the death of Christ, 
were unquestionably preached in the very first addresses which 
the apostles delivered (Acts xiii. 38). 

sec. vi. — the apostolic epistles. 

Next to the sayings of Jesus, the most important source 
of information as to the atonement are the apostolic epistles 
addressed to the churches. The apostles kept this truth 
before the mind of their readers, as they did before the mind 
of their hearers. As these epistles were not addressed to 
mankind indiscriminately, but to companies of redeemed men 
gathered together in several places, and are to be read as 
primarily addressed to believers, the numerous explanations 
they contain as to the Lord's atoning death, suffice to prove 
that there is not a spiritual blessing which does not stand in 
immediate or mediate connection with it, not a duty which 
is not enforced by it as a motive. How wide the influence 
of this great article is on doctrine and practice, at once appears 
from the place which it occupies in the epistles. The entire 
range of Scripture truth takes a tincture from it, and its influ- 
ence is felt even where it may not be expressly named. 

A study of those apostolic documents to which we now 
come, will satisfy every reader that the atonement was, in the 
apostolic scheme of doctrine, viewed as an accomplished fact, 
eternally valid before God, and recpriring no supplementary 
addition. They describe it as finished once for all, without 


the need of repetition. They refer to the fact, that by this 
truth the gospel is distinguished and exalted above all human 
wisdom. With the apostles this is the great fact in the 
world's history, the chief topic, the central truth from which 
they start, and to which they return. All the Pauline epistles, 
with the single exception of the simple Epistle to Philemon — 
a letter to a private individual — make express mention of the 
atonement as the most momentous fact that ever occurred in 
human history, and fraught with the most blessed results. A 
few remarks will show this. 

To prove that the epistles represent the atonement as the 
great fact of revelation, we have only to recall the circumstance 
that it is called another gospel, if man's acceptance is made 
to hinge on anything besides the cross (Gal. i. 7). The apostles 
preached reconciliation as effected by the cross alone, though 
their message was in perpetual collision with Jewish legalism 
and Gentile philosophy (1 Cor. i. 23). That the doctrine of 
the cross belongs to those articles which are to be compre- 
hended in the perpetual teaching of the church, is evident 
from the fact that the apostle urged the Corinthians to keep 
what had been delivered to them on the atonement as the 
principal topic of Christianity (1 Cor. xv. 1-4). The epistles 
show what constitutes the perpetual doctrine of the church ; 
and the place which the atonement occupies in them is abun- 
dant evidence that it must ever be kept in the view of the 
redeemed, if the scope of many exhortations is not to be per- 
verted, and the significance of many motives is not to be mis- 

The atonement is interwoven into the texture of the epistles 
to a remarkable degree ; but we do not find it equally in all. 
It must never be forgotten that they are not treatises, but 
letters written for a definite purpose, and that they do not 
cease to bear the character and impress of that style of com- 
position. They are not exhaustive discussions : only five of the 
apostles have left behind them epistolary documents destined 

102 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

fur the edification of the church, some more full of matter, 
others more brief, but all in some important respects bearing 
upon doctrine and practice, according to the special service 
for which they were destined. The reason of the prominence 
fiven at one time to one truth, and at another time to another, 
can be explained upon the principle that all truth does not 
equally require to be taught at all times. The different epistles 
have their particular scope, and hence we find a certain variety ; 
but all concur to one end. We could not expect every article 
in every epistle. 

To allege, as has been done, from the silence of one or two 
of the smaller epistles, that their writers must have entertained 
a different doctrine, or a system of truth exclusive of the 
vicarious sacrifice of Christ, is a mode of arguing which mis- 
takes their nature. On this principle, it might as well be alleged 
that the writer of more epistles than one must have changed 
his views, if he is not equally explicit on every point in every 
epistle. When the death of Christ has a prominent place in 
almost every epistle, and is seen from every point of the 
Christian system and inner life, these facts may prove how 
fundamental the atonement is. 

An appeal has been made to the fact that there is a silence 
on the point in James and Jude. It used to be stoutly main- 
tained by the class of writers opposed to the vicarious sacrifice, 
that such a view perverted the doctrine of Scripture, by ex- 
pounding metaphorical and figurative language in a literal way, 
and that the atonement was not to be found in the Bible. 
But an impartial examination of Scripture doctrine silenced 
that objection. Next it was argued that two apostles are silent 
on it. The answer is obvious. As to the Epistle of Jude, which 
has been adduced as containing no allusion to the atonement, 
it is not correct so to represent it. Though in his brief epistle 
Jude does not mention in express terms the blood, sufferings, 
or death of Christ, he mentions the mercy of our Lord Jesus 
Christ unto eternal life (ver. 21), — language by which we under- 


stand all that the other apostles have directly taught in refer- 
ence to His sacrifice. Besides, he appeals to the words spoken 
before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ (ver. 17). As to 
the Epistle of James, its scope and teaching are of such a kind, 
that we cannot reasonably expect him to dilate upon funda- 
mental doctrine. It is expressly ethical in its whole cast and 
structure. And it were as much aside from a due conception 
of its scope to look for a discussion of Christian doctrine, as 
it would be to require of a Christian divine, in the midst of 
a moral theme, to turn aside to settle doctrinal questions. The 
epistle has a special aim, from which the writer does not turn 
aside to expatiate on doctrinal topics. 

Our task, in conducting a strict investigation into the teach- 
ing of the various epistles on the doctrine of the atonement, 
is to bring out the apostolic view of the doctrine ; and our 
object is to appeal, on sound principles of interpretation, to the 
true meaning of the apostles' words. There is the greater need 
for this, when we observe that many, under the influence of 
what is styled modern thought, or growing thought, express 
decided dislike to juridical ideas, and will have no other re- 
demption than a moral redemption, and no other view of God 
than that of absolute love. 

After the full classification of the sayings of Jesus in the 
previous volume, it seems to be superfluous to give a further 
construction of the doctrine as an organic whole, or a full 
dogmatic synopsis of the apostolic outline, because this would 
be but a repetition of the same divisions, or at most a distri- 
bution of different texts under the same heads. We deem it 
enough to refer to that classification. A distribution of the 
apostles' sayings in the briefest possible outline might be 
given, however, under theee divisions as follows : The first 
would contain the postulates of the doctrine; the second 
would exhibit its nature and constituent elements ; the third 
would delineate its effects. 

1. Under the postulates would be comprehended the 

104 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

necessity of the atonement (Heb. ii. 10); the harmony of 
justice and love, or the concurrence of wrath against sin, and 
love to the sinning creature (1 John iv. 10) ; the influence 
of Christ's supreme deity in His work (Eom. viii. 3) ; the 
appointment of a mediator, surety, or high priest by a divine 
call (Heb. v. 5), — thus providing for the possibility of sub- 

2. Under the nature or constituent elements, would be 
classified Christ's sinlessness and sin-bearing, according to the 
twofold obligation lying on us (1 Pet. iii. 18; 2 Cor. v. 
21); in other words, the active and passive obedience of the 
Lord, in His undeviating performance of the divine will 
(Heb. x. 9, 10), — thus effecting the one sacrifice for sin (Heb. 
x. 12). 

3. Under the effects would be classified a great number 
of distinctly expressed 1 benefits, referring first to our relative 
position of acceptance or reception into favour, where we 
may enumerate, a. redemption, b. forgiveness, c. reconciliation, 
d. justification, directly flowing from the atonement : next, the 
privilege of approach in worship to a holy God in the capacity 
of a royal priesthood, where we may enumerate the sprinkling 
or purifying, washing, cleansing, or sanctifying of a holy people 
relatively : then the renovation of the nature, or the commu- 
nication of spiritual life subjectively : then the new relation to 
the persons of the Godhead — to Christ, as His blood-bought 
property (1 Cor. vi. 20) ; to the Holy Ghost, as His temple 
(1 Cor. vi. 19); to the Father, as His people and children: 
then the new relationship to angelic beings, and to men of all 
nations : then the victory over Satan, the world, and death : 
then the liberation from an economy of ceremonies (Col. ii. 1 4) : 

1 It is noteworthy that these effects of the atonement are very often 
mentioned by the apostles in a telle clause introduced by 7v«, or more rarely 
h'-rus, and give us a glimpse into Christ's design or aim, or His Father's. 
They are apostolic delineations of Christ's intention, or the scope of His 


then the elevating motives derived from the cross, with various 
other points relating to the efficacy of the sacrifice, and the 
danger of neglecting it. 

But having made as complete a classification as we could 
of the Lord's sayings, it is superfluous to do it a second 




AS Peter is called the apostle of Hope, and John of love, 
Paul may be called the apostle of faith, or more strictly, 
of the righteousness of faith. As a testimony to the atone- 
ment, the epistles of Paul will be found particularly full and 
copious ; for there is not a phase of the doctrine which he does 
not develope and apply. If he did not, like the other apostles, 
enjoy the personal teaching of Jesus in the days of His flesh, 
he was by no means without direct communications from his 
Lord ; for he was taught by the revelation of Jesus Christ 
(Gal. i. 12), and even caught up into paradise to hear un- 
speakable words (2 Cor. xii. 4). Apart from this, he was led 
by the Spirit into the import of the law and the prophets, and 
there found the truth which his nature needed, and which was 
all verified in the Lord's atoning death. He reproduces the 
doctrine in many new lights, from the objective truth opened 
up to him in the Old Testament, and from his own deep ex- 
perimental acquaintance with Christ as the end of the law. 

As to the order of conducting the inquiry, we purpose 
to take the epistles in the order in which they stand in the 
common editions of the Bible. The advantage obtained by 
following the chronological order in which the epistles are 
supposed to have been written — for there is by no means a 


complete uniformity of opinion on their exact order — will not 
compensate for the inconvenience of departing from the well- 
known arrangement. And we abide by it the rather because 
we can discover no trace of any development of Paul's views 
from one stage to another : he was like himself from the 
moment when he died to the law by the reception of Christ 
(Eom. vii. 4, 9). Not that his epistles are all alike; but they 
take their colour from the circumstances and prevalent senti- 
ments in the various churches. 

While the apostle makes use of all the terms employed by 
the other writers, such as redemption, propitiation, peace, and 
the like, descriptive of Christ's sacrificial death, there is one 
peculiar to him, the righteousness of God, which very fre- 
quently occurs. Though announced in the prophets, and in- 
directly alluded to by Peter and John in their use of the 
designation " the Eighteous One," it is specially found in 
Paul, who uses this abstract expression to describe the atone- 
ment in relation to divine law. 

I purpose in this section to consider somewhat fully the 
righteousness of God, and to group together the Pauline doc- 
trine on the subject. Amid the manifold negations of the 
times, it cannot be without its use to give a new grounding to 
this important expression. That a great change has entered in 
the mode of viewing the righteousness of God, compared with 
the general recognition which it received in all the Protestant 
churches, cannot be doubtful to any one who has watched the 
changes of opinion on the subject of the atonement. This was 
long the descriptive name for the material cause of a sinner's 
acceptance with God. The task we impose on ourselves is 
to ascertain the import of the phrase, " the righteousness of 
God," and to define the place which it occupies in the Pauline 
epistles ; and we aim at an objective statement, embodying the 
results of exegetical inquiry, more than a formal discussion of 
the opinions which have appeared on the ecclesiastical field, 
though we cannot omit all notice of recent views fundamentally 

108 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

opposed to the proper meaning of the terms. We wish to go 
direct to the apostles, except where it is indispensably neces- 
sary to refer to recent obscuring theories. The task of repro- 
ducing apostolic doctrine in its true significance and organic 
connections, is becoming an urgent duty ; and the part assigned 
to exegetical theology is to recall, as far as may be, not only 
single phrases, but the general outline of those truths by which 
the apostles, as the chosen organs of Christ's revelation, ex- 
hibited in the church the riches of divine grace as seen in the 
incarnate Word, and unfolded to them after His ascension. 

An occasion for a full inquiry into the righteousness of 
God will be found also in the fact that a large class of minds 
betray a hesitancy which contrasts painfully with the liberty 
and boldness which marked the days of the apostles. This 
attaches to not a few who are truly occupied with the personal 
Eedeemer and the contemplation of the divine Life, but stop 
short of defining the mode in which the eighteousness of 
God stands related to Life in the Pauline scheme of doctrine. 
They evince little interest indeed as to the relation of these 
points to each other, seeking the fellowship of life with Christ 
without distinct ideas as to the indispensable conditions of 
this communion. Under the influence of what can only be 
called a mystic element, limiting the regard to Christ in us, 
and failing to give prominence to Christ for us, they never 
breathe freely the liberty of the gospel. They have fallen 
under a scheme of doctrine which makes no distinction between 
the person and the nature, the standing of the man and the 
renovation of the heart, the objective and the subjective j and 
though correctly regarding the person of Christ as the centre- 
point of Christianity and the fountain of life, they do not know 
how Life stands related to Righteousness — a thought pervading 
the whole Pauline doctrine. 

Our first inquiry must be to ascertain the precise import 
of the righteousness of God in the Pauline epistles, and the 
place it holds in them. A comparison of these epistles with 


one another shows that there are two divisions or classes, with 
their own marked peculiarity, according as the apostle has 
occasion to counteract a Jewish Legalism, or a tendency to an 
incipient Gnosticism, invading the Christian churches while 
he yet lived. To the pharisaic cast of thought, with its attach- 
ment to the works of the law, and the enforcement of legal 
ceremonies as necessary, allusion is made in the Epistles to 
the Galatians, Eomans, and Philippians ; and there the right- 
eousness of God is the central thought. To the oriental theo- 
sophy, with its claim to a higher wisdom, which put notions 
in the place of the personal Eedeemer, allusion is made in the 
Epistles to the Ephesians and Colossians (Col. ii. 8). There 
the personal Christ, and the life found in Him, are the central 
thoughts. But even there life is viewed as subsequent to, 
and dependent on, the atonement. To the former class of the 
Pauline epistles we direct our attention in this section. And 
our purpose is to notice the place which the righteousness 
of God holds in them ; for this phrase, as we shall find, is 
descriptive of the finished work of Christ, as approved at the 
divine tribunal, and the meritorious cause of our acceptance. 

Throughout the doctrinal part of the Epistle to the Romans. 
the righteousness of God, as a descriptive name for the atone- 
ment, is the grand theme. The Epistle to the Qaktians, again, 
is nothing else than an enforcement of the great truth, that 
to the close of the Christian's career, the righteousness of faith 
is the one plea valid before God ; and no second recommenda- 
tion or condition, in the form of works, is of any avail (Gal. 
ii. 21, iii. 21, vi. 5)-. In the Epistles to the Corinthians we 
find the same theme in the same antithesis, with this difference 
only, that other points required attention in this church (1 Cor. 
i. 30 ; 2 Cor. iii. 9). But when the apostle contrasts the two 
economies, the law is called the ministry of condemnation, and 
the gospel the ministry of righteousness. In the Epistle to 
the Philippians we find Paul, when very near the close of his 
career, still counting all things but loss for this righteousness, 

110 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

and far from having outlived this thought, which coloured his 
ideas in prospect of approaching martyrdom (Phil. iii. 9). We 
find allusion to the righteousness of God also in the pastoral 
epistles (Tit. iii. 5-7). 

Having seen how prevalent is the reference to the right- 
eousness of God in the Pauline epistles, we have next to con- 
sider in what it consists. And here it will be necessary to 
obviate some misconceptions. 

1. The phrase cannot be held to refer to the divine attri- 
bute of righteousness. Divine justice, reflected in the law, is 
indeed the rule or standard on which, in a definite sense, the 
righteousness of God is measured ; but this righteousness is not 
the divine attribute itself. The expression is uniformly intro- 
duced in Scripture as descriptive of what is due from man, or 
as the ethical response on man's side to a divine claim. It is 
a name for that which Adam should have rendered, and not 
a divine perfection. Some faint colour seems to be lent to the 
idea that it may be the divine attribute by the apparent con- 
nection — though it is but apparent — between the two state- 
ments in two successive verses : " The righteousness of God is 
revealed in the gospel ;" and, " The wrath of God is revealed 
from heaven against all ungodliness" (Eom. i. 17, 18). But 
the two statements, though placed in close juxtaposition, and 
apparently connected by a causal particle (yap), belong to 
two wholly different economies, and have nothing in common. 
The tacit thought is : All alike need the provision of the gospel, 
and must repair to it ; for they have nothing to expect but a 
revelation of wrath on their own account. The mode of ex- 
pounding this phrase by allusion to the divine attribute was 
in reality overcome at the Eeformation. Luther tells us that, 
having long had a desire to understand the Epistle to the 
Piomans, he was always stopped by the expression " the right- 
eousness of God," which he understood as the divine attribute ; 
but after long meditations, and spending days and nights in 
these thoughts, the nature of that righteousness which justifies 


us was discovered to him ; upon which he felt himself born 
anew, and the whole Scriptures become quite a different thing. 
It is evident, indeed, that there can be no allusion to the divine 
attribute of justice, because this would furnish the idea of an 
incensed God, which is the purport of the law ; whereas the 
provision is one of grace, displaying a reconciling and justify- 
ing God, which is the essence of the gospel. Besides, such an 
acceptation as that which we oppose would not adapt itself to 
the general phraseology of Scripture. Thus, in the memorable 
passage which represents Christ as made sin that we might be 
made the righteousness of God, it is evident that in no sense 
of the terms, and with no propriety of language, could it be 
said of the Christian that he is made the attribute of right- 
eousness (2 Cor. v. 21). The fact, too, that it is commonly put 
in antithesis to our own righteousness (Phil. iii. 9), determines 
the significance of the expression to be something different 
from the divine attribute. The only part which the divine 
justice acts in this matter is, that it furnishes the rule or 
standard by which it is tried. When this righteousness is 
called a gift (Eom. v. 17), and said to be of God, or divinely 
provided, in contrast with that which is of the law and our 
own (Phil. iii. 9), the idea is, that for those who have no right- 
eousness of their own this is the gracious provision of God. 

Attempts have been made, however, to explain the phrase 
in a mystic way, by referring it to Christ's essential righteous- 
ness as a divine person. This notion, propounded by Osiander, 
and restored by some men of mystic tendencies, separates the 
one indivisible work of Christ into two parts, allowing pardon 
to be procured by Christ's atoning blood, but maintaining that 
righteousness is the communication of Christ's essential attri- 
bute. That argues a complete misconception of Christ's medi- 
atorial work, which was meant to bring in what was due from 
man as a creature, and has everything in common with what 
the first man should have produced. The essential righteous- 
ness belongs to God as God, and to the Son of God as a divine 


person. But the righteousness of which the apostle speaks is 
that which was required from man as man, and which a Me- 
diator, as our substitute, brought in to meet our wants ; and 
though this could be brought in only by a God-man, uniting 
the two natures in one person, the whole is properly a created, 
not an uncreated, a human, not a divine righteousness. The 
supreme Lawgiver did not demand the essential righteousness 
of God, but what was proper to a creature made in the likeness 
and image of God. And it consists in action, not in the mere 
possession of a perfect nature. Adam had the pure nature, but 
failed in rendering the righteousness. But neither is it mere 
outward action or outward deed, but a perfect nature acting 
itself out, or approving itself to the Lawgiver by a compliance 
with the law in the sphere of tried obedience. 1 

"We have only to examine the language of Scripture to see 
that the righteousness of God of which Paul so often speaks is 
not His essential righteousness : for God does not demand from 
man His own essential righteousness, but that which is com- 
petent to a creature ; and the righteousness of created beings 
corresponds to the thought of God and the will of God, from 
whom they derive their origin. The creature's destiny is to 
bear the impress of the divine perfections in its sphere. Such 
would have been Adam's righteousness had it been verified 
(v. 1 2) ; that which the creature owes to the Creator, not that 
which the Creator Himself possesses. This will appear from 
the general phraseology of Scripture (Rom. x. 3). 

2. Another opinion, much more common than the former, 
is that the righteousness of God denotes an inward righteous- 
ness, on the ground of which, whether it is already perfect or 
not, God pronounces men righteous by. a judicial sentence. 
This is the interpretation given by Neander, Olshausen, and 
others ; and it is still accepted by not a few believing men in 
various churches, though not to the same extent as formerly. 

1 See Thomasius' aWe discussion on the views of Osiander in his two Uni- 
versity Lectures, de obedientla Christi activa, Erlangen 1846. 


Lipsius, 1 in his treatise on the Pauline view of justification, 
contends that the word never refers merely to an objective 
relation, but always to an inward condition as well, sometimes 
delineated in its principle, and sometimes in its future perfec- 
tion. We must do these writers the justice to state, that by this 
they do not mean a justification by works. While they interpret 
it as the inner righteousness which God works, and represent 
it as so pleasing to God, that on account of it He pronounces 
men righteous, though not yet completely perfect, they avoid 
the abyss of legalism, and lay stress on the faith which unites 
us to the person of Christ as the Life. This view has every- 
thing in common with the doctrine of Augustine and the 
Jansenists on the same subject ; drawing a distinction between 
a man's own righteousness (Phil. iii. 9), as undertaken in the 
exercise of his unaided powers, and that which is " of God," 
interpreted as meaning produced by divine grace. This, they 
think, is the import of the expression "the righteousness of 

But the antithesis between our own righteousness and that 
which is called the righteousness of God is different. It is 
between that which is subjective (our own) and that which is 
objective (God's). The opinion Ave are controverting, though 
different from legalism, and speaking of salvation by faith, is 
at variance with the Pauline doctrine, as will appear by two 
considerations. (1.) The objective relation expressed by the 
term stands out in bold relief when we consider the peculiar 
antithesis between Christ made sin for us, and believers made 
the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor. v. 21). These words 
intimate that, in the same sense in which Christ was made 
sin — that is, objectively and by imputation — in that sense are 
His people made the righteousness of God. Nor is the sense 
different in another passage, Avhere the apostle contrasts the 
going about to establish a personal righteousness, and sub- 
mitting to the righteousness of God (Eoin. x. 3) ; or when he 

1 Die Paulinische Rechtfertigungslehre, von Dr. Lipsius, Leipzig 1853. 


declares that lie wishes to be found in Christ, not having his 
own righteousness, but the righteousness which is of God 
(Phil. iii. 9). It cannot be alleged that the antithesis in the 
latter passage is between works of nature and works of grace, 
works of law and works of faith. (2.) It obliterates the dis- 
tinction between the person and the nature and the standing 
in the first or second Adam, with which the whole Scripture is 
replete. It confounds righteousness and life, which are ever 
carefully distinguished, the one being the way to the other. 
This is conclusive against the interpretation, if we would abide 
by the apostle's use of language, and not efface his express 

3. Another opinion is, that faith itself is counted as the 
Eighteousness. There are various modifications of this opinion ; 
but none of them supposes an objective righteousness of God 
that has been wrought out, and then revealed in the gospel ; 
and in almost every case it throws the mind back on itself in 
a neonomian tendency. 

a. To begin with that phase of it which is simply Ar- 
minian, or that has everything in common with Arminianism, 
the act of faith is made this righteousness. The answer is 
obvious : Faith, in that case, is transformed into a new law, 
whereas we are accepted without works of law. Besides, 
this theory assumes that God accepts an imperfect title for a 
perfect, by accommodating His right to man's inability; an 
interpretation which, if carried out to the full, is derogatory to 
the divine law, and fitted to explode the whole redemption- 
work of Christ. If the divine law can be relaxed by God's 
receding from His rights, why may He not recede to a yet 
larger degree, and wholly supersede the necessity of the incar- 
nation and atonement ? The inflexible strictness and immut- 
able claims of the divine law are takeu for granted by the 
atonement. This view was advocated by Tittmann, 1 who 

1 See his treatise, cle obedientia Christi ex apostoli Pauli sententia, appended 
to his Synonyms (p. 311). Nitzseli, in his jjrutestantische Beantwortumj tier 


remarks that Scripture does not teach that the righteousness 
of Christ is imputed to men, but that faith is counted for 
righteousness. Though this has some colour from the ex- 
pression, "Faith is counted for righteousness," it loses this 
when the phrase is properly rendered. It should be rendered, 
"Faith is counted unto righteousness," expressing the result, 
and lends no countenance to the notion that a substitute is 
accepted for a perfect righteousness. The righteousness of 
God is made ours through faith as the means of reception 
(Eom. iii. 22). But, on the other theory, how can the sen- 
tence of the Judge have a sufficient ground? A method of 
acceptance, without a real righteousness which can be measured 
on the divine claims, neither meets the requirements of God's 
justice nor satisfies an awakened conscience. 

b. A modification of the same view, decidedly in a nec- 
nomian tendency, though of a subtle nature, is proposed by an 
ingenious opponent of the vicarious sacrifice. It is alleged 
that Christianity makes known the absolute forgiveness of sin 
without atonement as its procuring cause, and that the belief 
of this offer is considered as righteousness. Faith is thus 
supposed to be God-pleasing conduct, and accepted as right- 
eousness. When a man renders this obedience, his conduct 
is pleasing in God's sight, and reckoned for righteousness. 1 
Apart from other considerations, this theory supposes not a 
real, but a merely putative righteousness ; and thus the foun- 
dation of acceptance is completely undermined. 

4. Another opinion prevalent, is to the effect that the 
righteousness of God denotes the state of being justified. Not 
to mention names in the last age, this view was held by Stuart 
of Andover, and Wieseler 2 on Galatians. The latter makes it 

Symbolik Dr. Molder, p. 139, adopts the same conclusion, and commends Titt- 
niann's Essay. 

1 See Hofmann's ScliriftbeweU, i. p. 649. This perverts the idea of faith. 
Instead of making faith simply receptive, he makes it conduct, or verkalten, 
getting a reward ! 

2 Commentar iiler den Brief an die Gedater, von Dr. Karl Wieseler, 1859. He 

116 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

the state into which the justified are brought, or the condition 
of possessing justification. This view, though certainly nearer 
the truth than the others already mentioned, is faulty : first, 
because it is not the precise interpretation of the term right- 
eousness ; and next, because it transposes the order of biblical 
doctrines. Righteousness is represented in the Pauline scheme 
of doctrine as the basis, or material cause, of the sentence 
of justification, not conversely. So far, indeed, is this view 
correct, that it makes allusion to our relation Godward, not 
to moral conduct ; but it fails to bring out the substantive 
character of the righteousness, as consisting in tried obedience. 
The term righteousness, as we shall see, does not in any passage 
mean the state of justification. If the state of justification does 
not proceed on an underlying righteousness as its basis, we are 
lost in the mists of uncertainty. The divine rectitude insists, 
and cannot but insist, on a true fulfilment of the divine law, 
and acquits on no other ground than on the presentation of an 
actual obedience. But, on this theory, what is assumed as the 
material cause of justification ? No one can be justified, in the 
government of a righteous God, by a connivance at defects, or 
by being accounted what he is not by a mere make-believe. 
Scripture everywhere shows that God demands a real, substan- 
tive righteousness. 

These are all baseless theories, and lead to the notion of an 
acceptilation, that is, to the reputing of one to be what he is 
not. A complete righteousness, objectively brought in, on these 
theories, exists no longer. If so, faith wants its security, and 
rests on no corresponding reality. We must now ascertain 
the precise meaning of the phrase against these modern com- 
ments, which to a large extent declare that faith is taken 
for the righteousness, without any underlying reality. They 

says, p. 177: "The act by which God 1tx.a.m the sinner Paul calls Sucxlcotri; 
(Rom. iv. 25, v. 18), and the state of possessing this liKaiuins of God he calls 
"htx.'<rC)in &iov, which therefore, like the SixaioZo-tlai, conies from faith (Rom. i. 
17)," etc. This is a complete confusion of ideas. 


may be in keeping with modern notions as to Christ's atone- 
ment ; but our aim is to investigate the biblical import of 
the expression. Having canvassed the subject negatively, it 
remains that we investigate it positively from the apostle's 

1. An analysis of the apostle's language suffices to show 
that this righteousness is an actually accomplished fact ; not 
less a historical reality than sin, and as productive of results, 
but in an opposite direction. These two terms throw light on 
each other. That this righteousness is the finished work of 
Christ, considered from the view-point of the divine approval, 
may be proved from the fact that it is presented to us as the 
great subject-matter of the gospel. It is said to be revealed 
(Eom. i. 1 7), and the righteousness must exist if it is revealed. 
The same thing may be argued from the title given to the 
gospel as the ministry of righteousness (2 Cor. iii. 19) : for 
how could an economy be instituted to proclaim what did not 
exist ? When it is called the gift of righteousness (Eom. v. 17), 
and described as a provision unto all and upon all them that 
believe (Eom. iii. 22), we must conclude that it exists. 

That the righteousness of God is an actual reality, is proved 
by the twofold parallel which the apostle draws between sin 
and righteousness, and between the death which is the result 
of the one, and the life which is the equally certain result of 
the other (Eom. i. 1 8— iii. 18, and Eom. v. 12-18). If we con- 
sider these counterparts, we shall find that the apostle places 
sin and righteousness in marked antithesis. In entering on 
the description of the prevalence of sin, he not only displays 
the wants of mankind, but exhibits the two great counterparts 
of sin and righteousness as ecpial realities, — the one as the 
world's ruin, the other as its restoration. The one is a com- 
pleted fact as well as the other. They are the only two great 
events or facts in the world's history, and they confront each 

At this point we may consider the peculiar shade of mean- 

1 1 8 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

ing which the phrase acquires when put iu connection with 
God. Why is it designated God's righteousness, or the 
righteousness of God ? Modern interpreters generally under- 
stand that it is so called because God was its author, as Christ 
is also called the Lamb of God because God was the provider 
of the Lamb. We regard it as only a briefer expression of what 
is more fully described as the righteousness which is of God 
(Phil. iii. 9). The fact that the phrase is contrasted with our 
own righteousness leads us to conclude that it means the 
righteousness of which God is the author. The interpretation 
long given by the Lutheran divines, that it denotes a righteous- 
ness valid before God, is more a paraphrase 1 than a translation, 
though a legitimate inference : for the righteousness will be 
valid at God's tribunal, if He was its author. But that is 
rather a secondary idea involved in the other. 

2. The manifestation of this righteousness as a historic 
fact is next noticed : " Now the righteousness of God without 
the law is manifested" (Bom. iii. 21). This refers to its mani- 
festation as a historic fact in the incarnation and finished work 
of Christ. The allusion is not so much to its revelation in the 
gospel, as to the bringing in of the righteousness once for all 
by Christ's manifestation in the flesh. The language used by 
the apostle shows that it is coincident with the person of 
Christ, and found in Him. It is one of those terms — and they 
are various — descriptive of the obedience of Christ in the mani- 
foldness of its aspects and effects. The personal Bedeemer 
crucified is Himself the manifestation of the righteousness of 
God; and though it was completed with His finished work 
when He expired, and is not capable of addition, it is not to 

1 Luther's rendering of 'htx.a.iotrvvn Qiov is, Gerechtigkeit die ror Gott gilt, or in 
the Latin form, justitia quce valet apud Deum; and Calvin goes in the same 
direction, though admitting the force of the rendering, justitia quae a Deo nobis 
donatur. Eecent expositors pretty unanimously concur in viewing the phrase 
as an instance of the genitivus auctoris, and regard this as the strict gram- 
matical construction. Fritzsche, in his exact philological commentary, tries to 
vindicate Luther's rendering, hut without success. The appeal to Jas. i. 20 is 
not in point. 


be denied that His living through death was necessary to the 
perpetuity of this righteousness of God. It was valid at death, 
hut it is found in the person of the Lord (1 John ii. 2). It is 
no transitory, past, or putative righteousness, hut one actually 
in the world, and the only great reality in it ; a righteousness 
for man, because the Lord Jesus, as very man, brought it into 
Humanity. And when the Judge beholds His Son clothed 
with our humanity, and presenting the righteousness of God, 
then follows the re-adjustment of man's relation to his Maker, 
the reunion of God and man. 

But the apostle is careful to notice that this righteousness 
was witnessed by the law and the prophets (Rom. iii. 21). 
First, as to the law, the sacrifices had special reference to it ; 
and whether we look at the temple or at its services, at its 
priesthood, or the sacrificial blood that flowed in streams from 
age to age, we find a testimony to this righteousness. The 
law, too, in its moral aspect held up a lofty standard, which 
found no corresponding reality in any human heart, but 
pointed forward to Him who should one clay come, saying, 
" Thy law is within my heart" (Ps. xl). It testified in both its 
elements adumbrating good things to come, and pointing out, 
at least when Israel was in their normal condition, the re- 
adjusted relation of man to his Maker. As to the prophets, 
moreover, their expressions as to this righteousness are often as 
precise as Paul's own words (Isa. xlv. 24, liv. 17, xlvi. 13). The 
apostle alludes to the testimony of the law and the prophets, 
to make it evident that this righteousness of God was no new, 
unheard-of doctrine, with which the church had no acquaint- 
ance in past ages ; and in receiving it, men did not depart from 
Moses and the prophets, but embraced what had before been 
announced. It was no abrupt phenomenon, for which there 
had not been a preparation ; for the Old Testament, in all its 
parts, bore testimony to the righteousness of God. 

3. The standard of this righteousness is divine justice and 
the law of God. Emhteousness in a creature is measured by 

120 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

the standard of justice. There, is a manifestation of justice in 
demanding the satisfaction, and then in preparing and accept- 
ing this righteousness of God : " That He might be just, and the 
justifier" (Rom. iii. 26). 

But specially, the law is the standard of the righteousness ; 
that is, the law considered as a definite expression of the 
justice of God. The idea of righteousness in a creature im- 
plies conformity to law : law is the sphere of righteousness, the 
element in which it moves. These two terms, law and right- 
eousness, are correlatives, and suppose each other. To unfold 
the principle of law to which this righteousness of God goes 
back, we find the apostle delineating both sides, — the law con- 
sidered in its violation, and then in its positive demand with 
its promise of life. The transgressor of the law was under its 
curse, and the Surety came under it (Gal. iii. 10). Again, it 
enforced its unalterable claim to do and live (Rom. x. 5), and 
Christ was made under it (Gal. iv. 4), and so became its end 
(Eom. x. 4). Thus He obtained its reward of debt, not only 
for Himself, but for all whom He represented. A comparison 
of numerous passages where the work of Christ is mentioned, 
leads us to the conclusion that the phrase "righteousness of 
God," wherever it occurs, involves a subjection to law as the 
rule of ethical rectitude. The law, as the transcript of God's 
nature, and the mould in which man's nature was formed, is 
immutable; and far from losing its authority by human in- 
ability, it ceased not to claim all that it ever claimed. The 
law to which the Lord subjected Himself, moreover, was the 
law as violated. The two aspects in which the apostle 
presents the law, not only to the Jews, who were dispensation- 
ally under it, but to the Gentiles, who were not, are these: (1) 
That it urges its inflexible claims to sinless obedience as the 
only way to life (Gal. iii. 12); and (2) that it comes armed 
with the curse incurred by its violation (Gal. iii. 10-13). That 
is the twofold demand of the law made upon every man. That 
is apostolic doctrine, however much at variance with modern 


theories, which all too superficially limit it to Israel ; as if the 
law, in its true character, were not a republication of the 
primeval and eternal law, binding on man as man. The Lord 
was made under it in both respects for the production of this 
everlasting righteousness ; and accordingly the work of Christ 
is described in its relation to the law. Thus, it is said that 
He was made under the law, and that the righteousness of the 
law is fulfilled in us (Eom. viii. 4) ; that Christ is the end of 
the law unto righteousness to every one that believeth (Eom. 
x. 4), — an expression presupposing the fulfilment which the 
law demanded, and could not but demand, till its end was 
reached. The additional words, " the end of the law unto 
righteousness" leave us in no doubt that the realization of the 
law and its end are found in Christ. 

4. As another constituent element of this righteousness, it 
must be added that it owed its origin to a God-man. It was 
a work to the production of which the twofold nature of the 
Eedeemer was necessary. We have to trace the influence of 
Christ's deity in the bringing in of the everlasting righteous- 
ness (Dan. ix. 24). Though purely human in its essential 
character, it is the result of the concurrent action of both 
natures, and therefore of infinite value and eternal validity; 
and as He was under no obligation on His own account to 
obey, or to be under the law, or to be incarnate, His obedience 
is capable of being given away. Hence the constant reference 
to the divine Sonship when the fulfilment of the law is de- 
scribed (Gal. iv. 4 ; Eom. viii. 3). Without personal obligation 
of any kind, the Son of God, in assuming humanity, entered 
into all those duties which man was bound to discharge, — 
into the burdensome duties of an Israelite, and into manifold 
temptations and trials which His position as the sin-bearing 
substitute entailed. In short, He united a sinless humanity 
to Himself, that, by entering into every part of our obligation 
as creatures and sinners, He might bring in an everlasting 
righteousness. Till the law received its satisfaction in the 

122 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

twofold respect already mentioned — that is, by obedience to 
precept and penalty — the Supreme Judge could take none 
into favour. 

But this obedience of the God-man was ONE and indivisible. 
Though possessing a twofold aspect, it was one finished work. 
As man is under precept and penalty because he is the creature 
of God under the eternal law of obedience, and a sinner under 
condemnation, the surety obedience of the Lord must satisfy 
the law in both respects. Many expositors incorrectly sunder 
the two, or fix attention on the one to the exclusion of the 
other. Others acknowledge both, but unhappily make the two 
elements separately meritorious, losing sight of the link that 
binds Christ's deeds and sufferings together as one vicarious 
obedience. The latter class of divines ascribe forgiveness to 
the sufferings, and the right to everlasting life to the active 
obedience, — an unhappy separation, though countenanced by 
eminent names, and by no means to be vindicated. As it 
is the work of one Christ, it is one atoning obedience ; and 
though we may, and must, distinguish the elements of which 
it consists, we may not disjoin them, for the two elements 
concur to form one obedience. That they cannot be separated 
appears from many considerations, and especially from this, 
that in every action there was a humiliation, and in every 
suffering an exercise of obedience. They both pervade every 
event in that wondrous life. They were not in exercise at 
different times, in different actions, and in successive hours : 
they meet in the same action and at the same time, over the 
entire life of Jesus, from the first moment of His humiliation 
to the last. 

This atoning obedience extended over the entire life of the 
Lord, and was not limited to the few hours on the cross. It 
w r as but the verification of His sinless nature in various scenes 
of action and agony allotted to Him, but formed one obedience 
from first to last. That the element of obedience pervaded 
His entire life, and went into all His sufferings, sufficiently 


appears from numerous texts, which I shall not expound in 
this place (Eom. v. 19 ; Phil. ii. 8; Heb. v. 8). If we call up 
before our minds the usual division of human duty, according 
to the different relations which man occupies to God, him- 
self, and his fellows, He learned obedience in them all ; and 
with the augmented trials, as they thickened and deepened, 
His obedience was also augmented, — that is, was capable of 
increase, though always perfect. The spontaneous surrender 
of His life in such a substitution as that which He consented 
to occupy, called for an obedience that bore Him up amid in- 
conceivable difficulties ; and from the greatness of His person, 
it had a dignity and value which entitle it to be called infinite. 
The humanity He wore was made by Him an instrument which 
He used for the great purpose of bringing in the righteousness 
of God ; or, to put the matter in a personal, concrete form, 
Christ Himself is the righteousness of God. The Son of God 
made flesh, and obedient in life and death, is our righteous- 
ness before God. Scripture knows of only one righteousness 
uniting God and men, and the world has never seen another. 

5. It remains to be added, that the righteousness of God 
was in OUR stead as well as for our benefit. It is the more 
necessary to establish the vicarious nature of this righteousness, 
because not a few in every community are ready to admit the 
vicarious suffering who are not willing to allow the vicarious 
obedience in the whole extent of human obligation ; that is, 
they divide the two parts of the law, the penalty and precept, 
into two portions, regarding the vicarious suffering as alone 
capable of imputation. But the vicarious character attaching 
to the one obedience of the Lord is as plainly taught as the 
fact that it is a substantive reality ; and when the apostle says, 
« We are made the righteousness of God in Him " (2 Cor. v. 
21), he intimates that believers in Christ come to a realization 
of the fact that it was rendered in their room, and that they 
are one with Him in the whole transaction. The obedience 
of Christ realizes the lofty ideal or goal set before the human 

124 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

race ; and on this account it is the greatest event in the 
world's history. He was acting for His people, and they 
were representatively in Him. The entrance of Christ's sin- 
less humanity, with the law in His heart, became the central 
point of all time, to which previous ages looked forward, and 
after ages look back. He was the living law, the personal 
law, — an event with a far more important bearing than any 
other that ever occurred. It was the world's new creation. It 
is made ours not less truly than if we ourselves had rendered 
it, in consequence of the legal oneness formed between 
us and Him. Not that in the Lord's experience the personal 
was merged in the official, for He had not, and could not 
have, any of those feelings which stand connected with per- 
sonal guilt. He was always fully conscious of inward sin- 
lessness when the sin-bearer and curse-bearer in our stead ; 
and in like manner the redeemed, amid all the security of 
imputed righteousness, never cease to cherish personally the 
feelings of conscious unworthiness and deep abasement. That 
the vicarious character of the whole may appear, it is only 
necessary to recall the words, " By the obedience of one shall 
many be made righteous " (Eom. v. 19). 

As an objection to this mode of interpreting the righteous- 
ness of faith, it is commonly urged that the apostle nowhere 
uses the theological expression " the righteousness of Christ." 
But when we examine the terms in which it is expressed, the 
vicarious character of the righteousness is made the more evi- 
dent. Christ Himself is our righteousness. The incarnate 
Son, dying in our room, the realized ideal of what man was 
made to be, is made of God unto us righteousness (1 Cor. i. 
30), in such a sense that we are said to be made the righteous- 
ness of God in Him. This is more remarkable : we are made 
all that Christ was ; He is the Lord our righteousness (Jer. 
xxiii. G), and we are made the righteousness of God in Him 
(2 Cor. v. 21). 

Having noticed what are the elements of this righteousness, 


and proved that it is but another name for the Lord's atoning 
obedience, it remains for us to add, with all brevity, the way 
by which it is appropriated, and its immediate as well as 
ulterior consequences. 

6. The relation of faith to the righteousness of God is, that 
faith is the hand by which it is received. The righteousness 
is in another person, in such a sense that it is merely received 
as a gift, irrespective of moral worth on the part of the receiver. 
Why is such a gift given to faith, and to no other mental act ? 
Partly because faith is the only way by which the soul goes 
out to rely on an object beyond itself, partly because faith is 
the most self-emptying act of the mind. By its very nature, 
it negatives everything but that righteousness which it receives. 
Faith is the receptive organ by which we lay hold of the right- 
eousness ; while the gospel, or word of God, is the medium of 
revealing it (Eom. i. 17). It is unto all and upon all them 
THAT BELIEVE (Eom. iii. 22). 

7. The immediate effect of receiving the righteousness of 
God is the sentence of absolution, called the justification of our 
persons ; for it must be kept in mind that the man is justified, 
and not his works, — the person, not the nature. This sen- 
tence is complete at once, and capable of no addition ; and it 
has a twofold side, — the absolving of the man from any charge 
of guilt, and the pronouncing of him absolutely righteous, 
because in the possession of this righteousness of God. 

8. A further point demanding notice, is the relation in 
which the righteousness of God stands to life. This all-im- 
portant point is very much the theological question of the age ; 
for the relation between these two things is much misappre- 
hended. • The relation of this righteousness to the divine life 
which Christ came down from heaven to restore in a dead 
world, is the leading thought with all the apostles, as well as 
with the Lord Himself, and it is brought out with great pro- 
minence in the Pauline epistles (Gal. ii. 20; Eom. viii. 10). 
The relation between the two is simply this : righteousness 

126 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

is the peice, and life is the reward. It is a relation inti- 
mated in the law, which was ordained to life, but was found 
to be unto death (Bom. vii. 10). The man who should do what 
it enjoined was to receive life in return (Rom. x. 5). Modern 
theology, at least of the German type, and as far as it is modi- 
fied from that quarter, evinces little interest about the relation 
in which the two points, righteousness and life, stand to each 
other. But a misapprehension here disorganizes the whole 
gospel. And the mystic theology which merely seeks com- 
munion with God, and life in Him, through the incarnation, 
has no adequate idea of the conditions on which life is con- 
ferred. They seek to delineate the life as an absolute donation 
apart from righteousness, or an atoning sacrifice as its ground. 
They speak of Christ in us, not of Christ for us. There is 
no life, however, but through a vicarious death. The important 
question of the age, and of all ages, is, How does life reach 
us ? and the answer is, By a vicarious fulfilment of the law in 
precept and penalty ; in other words, by an atonement. 


I deem it necessary to notice this aspect of the atonement 
separately, though it comes before us in various texts. If the 
righteousness of God is the positive side of the Pauline doc- 
trine of the atonement, reconciliation by the death of Christ is 
its negative side. This term is not, like many others bearing 
on the atonement, borrowed from the sacrificial ritual ; for no 
connection can be traced between the two. It does not, as a 
term, recall either the priesthood or the sacrifices. Rather, we 
may say, the expression is taken from common life, and refers 
to a state of things where two parties, disunited by a quarrel 
or some cause of offence, are made friends by the adequate 
removal of the estrangement. This phase of the doctrine is 


peculiarly Pauline ; and after the consideration given to the 
righteousness of God, it is the more needful to bring it out, 
because reconciliation proceeds on the fact of sin, and presup- 
poses the displeasure and moral aversion of God to the sinner. 

1. Eeconciliation, denoting a new relation toward God, 
presupposes a state of alienation between God and man ; that 
is, an alienation which was mutual. It was not exclusively 
on man's side, nor was it brought to a termination by a change 
of moral disposition on the part of man. It was mutual 
estrangement : on man's side by sin and enmity (Eom. viii. 7) ; 
on God's side by the wide gulf of separation which sin inevi- 
tably makes (Isa. lix. 2), and by the wrath which cometh upon 
the children of disobedience (Eph. v. 6). There was mutual 
hostility, in the proper sense of the word, between God and 
man : we, on the one side, were alienated and enemies in our 
minds by wicked works (Col. i. 21) ; and God, on the other side, 
was provoked to anger, and under the necessity of visiting man 
as the object of His wrath (Eom. v. 9). 

2. The change of relation implied in the term reconcilia- 
tion was effected by the atonement, the great fact intervening 
between divine wrath and the objects over whom the wrath 
impended. This is the objective ground of reconciliation, as 
the special word rendered atonement in one passage properly 
means (Eom. v. 11) ; it is the divinely provided fact which is 
received from God, and the ground of the new relation or 
favourable disposition of God toward us. It must be observed 
that we are said to be reconciled to God by the death of His 
Son as a divine person (Eom. v. 10), or reconciled in the body 
of His flesh through death (Col. i. 22). And the apostle's 
words, which further announce that we are saved from wrath 
through Christ, plainly intimate that reconciliation, in the 
proper sense, is by the work of Christ, not by our change of 
disposition (Eom. v. 9). The favour of God is won for us by 
the blood of Christ, otherwise we should have been given up 
to condemnation. 

128 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

3. The apostle represents the reconciliation as originating 
with God, who took the first step to bring it about. And this 
leads me to notice a marked difference between the two words 
propitiation and reconciliation. The former is applied to 
Christ as the great sacrifice, and the priest of His own sacrifice ; 
the latter is applied to God as the originator of the recon- 
ciliation. 1 The Father is the Reconciler in the proper sense, 
for the benefit emanates from His love; and the mode by 
which it was accomplished was the non-imputing of our tres- 
passes on the part of God, who was not a mere passive 
spectator, but an active party in all the reconciliation (2 Cor. 
v. 19). His love reconciled us, and His anger was pacified. 
The great fact interposed between His holy anger and our 
sin was the atoning work of Christ, provided in the exercise 
of compassion and love. The Lord's atonement effected the 
removal of these sins ; by which means the anger of God was 
brought to an end. That is the apostle's doctrine, as will be 
evident from several texts which will come before us. 

On the contrary, it is argued by the interpreters who have 
come under the influence of Socinianizing opinions, that the 
idea of reconciliation does not involve a new relation toward 
God, or restoration to divine favour. It is held that recon- 
ciliation does not indicate any change on God's side, but only 
a termination of enmity on man's side ; that God is never 
called man's enemy ; and that the New Testament never speaks 
of the reconciliation of God to man, but from the other side of 
the relation, of the reconciliation of man to God. The whole 
opposition to the doctrine is based on this mistaken view of 
the phraseology. Though Scripture describes reconciliation 
from our side, this can readily be explained. The reconcilia- 
tion is a divine fact, originating in the love of God ; but from 
its nature it presupposes a displeasure not to be averted but 
by satisfaction or atonement. The mere fact that reconcilia- 

1 See Moras' Epitome, p. 103, and Dissertationes, ii. p. 98 ; Storr, Brief an 
die Hebraer, p. 407. 


tion is not absolute, but by the death of His Son (Rom. v. 10), 
proves that love is not the only element in the transaction, 
but^that a new relation must be formed, or a transition effected 
from wrath to favour. This, too, is the uniform expression in 
the language of common life, which describes reconciliation 
from the side of the offending party. Thus, an offending sub- 
ject is said to be reconciled to the prince or superior, whose 
displeasure had been incurred. That is the uniform phraseo- 
logy. But the nature of the case involves a restoration to 
divine favour : for what is wanting in the case of those who 
were without reconciliation, and what is conferred by those 
who receive it, but the full removal of estrangement caused by 
some offence ? And what do they possess who are reconciled 
to God, but the remission of sins, the removal of guilt, the 
restoration to a new relation, consisting in the participation of 
divine favour ? There is a new relation on God's side, that of 
friendship consequent on forgiveness. 1 

But, it is asked, is not God immutable, the absolute Love ? 
and how can He at once be regarded as loving and hating, as 
disposed to visit us with love, and yet estranged by our conduct 
to such a degree, that He cannot but treat us as under His 
wrath ? To this the simple answer is : Scripture affirms both, 
and we must believe both. They well enough consist together, 
when we recall the twofold relation which man occupies to 
God, as a creature and as a sinner. God cherishes love to 
man, whether we think of man merely as he is the creature of 
God, or still further regard him as in a Surety, or in union with 
the beloved Son, according to that eternal covenant by which 
Christ and the redeemed come before God's eye as one. That 
man is an object of displeasure, is not less evident to one who 
knows ought of divine justice ; for sins could not but provoke 
His anger, and bring down punitive visitation in the exercise 
of His moral government. 

Nor is it strange that anger and love, co-exist, when we 

1 See PMlippi's Kirchliche Glanbemlehre, iv. p. 272. 1863. 

1 30 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

duly distinguish according to the twofold relation already 
noticed. We may trace the analogy to a far greater extent 
than is commonly done between God, and man made in the 
image of God. Thus, for example, David loved Absalom as 
his son, and gave strict commands to spare him in the midst 
of that rebellion which, on the highest moral grounds, must 
needs be repressed with stern severity. We see the father, 
and yet the righteous king, subjecting that wayward son to his 
frown on several occasions, because he hated his wickedness, 
and was provoked to deep displeasure. He loved him as his 
son, but as a righteous governor mingled punishment with 
mercy. In the same way, God loves His creatures ; yet He 
cannot but cherish just anger against sin, and against sinners 
because of sin, as will be sufficiently evinced by the everlasting 
punishment striking on all who are out of Christ. And this 
can more easily be conceived, when we reflect that love and 
wrath are in God an eternal, constant will, expressive of His 
nature : love being ever active to do His creatures good, so 
far as it is not obstructed ; wrath being active, to visit sin with 
punitive justice. The atonement is nothing else than a provi- 
sion to effect the removal of those obstructions or impediments 
which stood in the way of the full exercise of grace ; and it 
consists in the satisfaction to justice in every respect. 

Thus God represents things and persons as they really are : 
He does not act in any way at variance with His perfect know- 
ledge of man's double relation as creatures and as sinners. In 
so far as they perverted their rational and moral nature, they 
forfeited His favour, and are guilty before Him ; in so far as 
they are His creatures, they are still the objects of His love. 
But to put them in a new relation, which was possible only by 
effecting the remission of sins, He made them by federal union 
one with His beloved Son, sent into the world to occupy their 
place, and made sin, as if He had become the very cause of the 
alienation. When He treated Him as if He were the greatest 
sinner, or as sin accumulated and personified, we see the reality 


of the representative position which He occupied. And having 
provided the arrangement by which His perfections could be 
vindicated and His honour established, He puts men into a 
new relation — one of friendship and favour — the moment 
they receive the atonement (Rom. v. 11). They are made 
frieuds of enemies. The analogy from the mode of governing 
a human family throws light upon the whole transaction : for 
though we cannot in all respects compare God to man, we 
may infer God's mode of action from the action of man made 
in His likeness ; otherwise we could not in many respects 
know God at all. Can a disobedient son enjoy the favour of 
a parent in the same way as a son who is a pattern of filial 
obedience ? When the displeasure is exchanged for the oppo- 
site by the removal of the offence, then the father restores him 
to favour. But we must meet the objections to this biblical 
representation more in detail. 

a. It is alleged that God is never called the enemy of man, 
or said to be made a friend of an enemy; and consecpuently 
that the term reconciliation does not intimate any change on 
God's side corresponding to a restoration to favour. The 
reasons why God is not called in Scripture our enemy are, 
that God is interested in His creatures on the ground of His 
relation as their Creator ; that He cherishes mercy in His 
heart to the prodigal son ; and that an eternal purpose was 
formed to reconcile them. We are to apprehend equally the 
heart of God and the government of God. Men living in sin 
cannot share in the divine favour; and reception into favour 
is undoubtedly involved in the idea of reconciliation. 

b. It is held that we cannot adduce anything from biblical 
language to prove that reconciliation implies aught on God's 
side involvincr the idea of restoration to His favour. This is 
of easy answer. The apostle connects reconciliation with an 
objective fact ; and one passage may be adduced here as itself 
conclusive 1 (Eom. v. 11). Paul teaches that we who were 

1 See Spener's die Evangdische Qlaubens-Gerechthjkcit, p. 650. 

132 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

enemies were reconciled, — a statement which plainly announces 
two conditions : one a relation of wrath ; another a relation of 
favour, "based upon the great historic fact of Christ's death. 
Not only so : he adds, we have NOW received the atonement ; 
that is, as the term signifies, have now received the objective 
ground of reconciliation ; the meaning of which can only be, 
that we have now received a peculiar relation, or a reception 
into favour unknown before. He is speaking, not of a change 
of disposition on man's side, though that of course immediately 
ensues, but of a fact provided for us in the love of God. The 
term reconciliation may be said to comprehend what is mutual, 
because the alienation was mutual. The passage intimates 
something on God's side that carried in its train a restoration 
to His favour. 

c. It is further pertinaciously argued, that the New Testa- 
ment language contains no such expression as God's reconcilia- 
tion to man. This, as has been already noticed, is not necessary ; 
and the entire gospel is an indubitable proof of this. It is 
nowhere said, in any proclamation of the gospel among Jew 
or Gentile, that they must reconcile God to themselves ; for 
it is God who is always represented, and in the most natural 
way, as reconciling men to Himself by Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 
v. 18-21). But how was this done ? Not by granting absolute 
remission of sins, not by a simple cancelling of the trespasses 
committed by us ; but solely by putting Christ, as a represen- 
tative, in their place to do what they could not have done, 
and by inviting men upon the ground of that atonement to be 
reconciled to Himself in a mediator. The whole transaction 
shows two things — the love of God's heart, and the rectitude 
of His government. All who refuse the atonement are, from 
the necessity of the case, left standing on their own footing as 
sinners, and out of divine favour ; whereas all who receive the 
atonement are reconciled. Every other mode of reconciliation 
is deceptive, unavailing before God, and incapable of affording 
any firm consolation, because it would remain always uncertain 


whether God could accept the reconciliation. But as it origi- 
nates with God, and as God in Christ is the reconciler (2 Cor. 
v. 19), in the exercise of His prevenient grace, we have full 
certainty that it is acceptable. Certainly that which is of God 
must be acceptable to God. 

Thus on mans side nothing further is required, than that 
lie should enter into this relation of reconciliation by accepting 
the atonement as its ground or cause. Nothing was wanting 
on God's side of the transaction ; and the whole language 
bearing on this truth amounts to this, that God turns away 
His anger from, and shows favour to, all those for whom the 
atonement was offered. 

We can thus, on biblical grounds, explode the whole Soci- 
nianizing arguments, which allege that reconciliation consists 
in a change of our hostile will and disposition toward God, 
and in that alone. Such an exposition, owing its origin to a 
foregone conclusion, does not satisfy the texts which put re- 
conciliation in causal connection w T ith the death of Christ 
(Eom. v. 10); with His blood ; with the body of His flesh 
through death (Col. i. 22). That there is a change on man's 
side also is not denied ; for the reconciliation is mutual, as the 
alienation was mutual. But the change on our side is to this 
extent distinguished from the other, that it emanates from 
what God has done. 


The Epistle to the Eomans, written from Corinth before 
Paul's journey to Jerusalem, which ended in his imprisonment 
(Acts xx. 2 ; Eom. xv. 25-xvi. 23), the most connected out- 
line of Christian doctrine given us by the pen of inspiration, 
was intended to place the Christian's relation to God, or the 
article of justification, in its true light, Paul accordingly, in 
various passages, describes the doctrine of the atonement as 
the basis of the whole. The theme or proposition laid down 

134 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

at the beginning, and illustrated in the course of his reasoning, 
is contained in the quotation from Habakkuk, " The just shall 
live by faith," or, more accurately rendered, " The righteous by 
faith shall live" (Eom. i. 17). The three words contained in 
this brief sentence, taken up one by one— Eighteousness, 
Faith, Life — -may be viewed as separate headings to three 
principal sections of the epistle : the first being brought out in 
■ contrast with the great fact of universal sinfulness (Eom. i. 17- 
iii. 27) ; the second extending over the whole fourth chapter 
(iii. 27-iv. 25); and the third, setting forth premial life, fills 
the larger portion of the remaining doctrinal contents (v. 12- 
viii. 39). The apostle is thus led by the scope and structure 
of the epistle to give a full exposition of the atonement at all 
points. These passages will be taken up in order, and we shall 
consider to what they amount. Omitting matter foreign to our 
purpose, let us concentrate attention on passages and state- 
ments which definitely refer to the atonement. 

I. The first passage to be noticed is the following : Being 
justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in 
Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation 
through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for 
[better, on account of] the remission of sins that are past, 
through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time 
His righteousness ; that He might be just, and the justifies of him 
that believeth in Jesus (Eom. iii. 24-26). We have here a com- 
pendious statement of the elements which constitute the great 
article of justification : (1.) The grace of God as the source or 
impelling cause ; (2.) The blood of Christ as the meritorious 
cause or ground on which the sentence proceeds ; (3.) Faith 
as the receptive organ or instrumental cause ; (4.) The harmo- 
nious exhibition of justice and grace as the final cause, or the 
end contemplated by the whole scheme (ver. 26). These different 
points, when combined, comprehend the entire elements of the 
doctrine or great privilege of justification. But we shall single 
out the atonement, as here presented to us, for special consi- 


deration. The passage is difficult from its condensation, but 
we hope to make it clear by a few comments. 

(1.) We have first to notice the appellations under which 
the death of Christ is described in this passage. Three several 
designations are here applied to it, and it becomes us to dis- 
cover the peculiar shade of meaning attaching to each of the 
terms. One leading thought applicable to them all is, that 
they describe the one work of Christ in different lights, and 
from various points of view ; for they are not to be treated as 
if they set forth three several works of Christ, separately 
meritorious. The redemption-work of Jesus was one, and the 
obedience one, though carried forward in a twofold sphere. As 
the work of Christ has manifold applications, according to the 
relations which man occupies to the captivity in which he is 
held, to divine wrath due to us for sin, or to the law under 
which he was made, it may be described under various names. 
But it is one atoning work, with manifold bearings. 

Of these names the first is, the_re demption that is in 
Christ Jesus. This term, as here used, denotes the objective 
ground in Christ on account of which divine action takes place. 
It describes Him as the cause, or author, of the actual deliver- 
ance. Captivity under an enemy's power is of course presup- 
posed, and also a ransom as the necessary price. Wherever 
the terms redeem or redemption are found in connection with 
the death, blood, or sufferings of Christ, the reference is sacri- 
ficial ; and that supplementary expression contains an allusion 
to the ransom (Gal. iii. 13 ; 1 Pet. i. 19 ; Eev. v. 9). The close 
connection between the notion of a ransom and the allied idea 
of sacrifice is easily understood. But it may further be asked, 
What are we to understand by the phrase here used, " The 
redemption which is in Christ Jesus?" The import is, that 
the ransom is found in His person, that He is personally the 
redemption of His people; for the ransom, or price, of our 
deliverance is found in Christ Himself. The expression cannot 
mean " by whom we have redemption," as some put it, nor " in 


fellowship with whom," as others choose rather to expound it ; 
for the phrase could have the latter sense only if it could fitly 
stand alone, and give a competent meaning, separated from the 
verb (see 2 Cor. xii. 3). The expression, as here used, conveys 
the idea that the ransom, or means of redemption, is objectively 
found in Christ's person — The Crucified, and The Eisen. 1 It 
does nut give the idea that union to His person constitutes 
redemption, however true it is that we share in redemption only 
in this way. The passage means, that He is our meritorious re- 
demption, our infinite ransom, in the objective sense, and that 
He will continue to be so while His living person endures 
(1 Cor. i. 30 ; Eph. i. 7). There the Judge beholds the church's 
redemption, and every time He looks on the person of Christ 
He sees our eternal ransom. 

As to the presupposition implied in the word, it always 
takes for granted a captivity, and involves the payment of a 
ransom for deliverance. Passages may be adduced where the 
word seems used to convey the idea of simple deliverance, the 
accessory notion of a price being less upon the foreground ; but 
it is never wholly awanting. In all cases it will be found that 
this phraseology is never without the idea of an equivalent, 
price, or consideration, whether more latent or more open to 
view, by which a deliverance is gained or a good is won. 
When the death or blood of the Lord is named in the phrase, 
there is no room for doubt that that is added as the ransom. 
The ransom secures deliverance from something, and redeems 
us to belong to another Master (Rev. v. 9 ; 1 Cor. vi. 20). They 
who have the redemption obtain liberation from the curse of 
the law (Gal. iii. 13), from wrath, from death, and him that 
has the power of death (Heb. ii. 14), and a transition to the 
proprietary rights of another owner, to whom they henceforward 

The second term here used is, a propitiation in His blood. 

1 See an exposition of the phrase it Z 'ix'pt* r«v uKoXurpao-iv in Harless' Com- 
mentary on Eplws. (i. 7). 


This expression is variously rendered : by many, as a propi- 
tiatory sacrifice; by an equal number, as the propitiatory or 
blood-sprinkled mercy-seat. In either way, it brings up the 
idea of divine anger appeased by the intervention of an 
economy involving a priesthood and sacrificial blood. Some 
minds will be swayed in the one direction, and others in the 
other. But in either case the sense amounts to this, that the 
blood of Christ pacifies, or propitiates, the justly kindled anger 
of the Most High ; for there is a wrath against sin which finds 
an outlet in the infliction of punitive justice upon the sinner 
himself, if he stands on his own footing, or in the infliction of 
wrath upon the Mediator who comes into our place and under 
our obligations. The language here used, whatever the shade 
of meaning attached to it, involves the idea of appeasing God 
by sacrificial blood. This is self-evident from the whole 
phraseology of Scripture, and it cannot be explained away. 

For various reasons we prefer the rendering propitiatory, 1 
or mercy-seat sprinkled with blood. This was the cover of the 
ark of the covenant, in which the law was deposited, and the 
annual ceremony of sprinkling it with blood was performed on 
the day of atonement. But all the ordinary sacrifices bore 
reference to it, and stood in some relation to it. This was, in 
a word, the centre-point of the entire Old Testament economy ; 
and the whole argument of the Epistle to the Hebrews may 
be said to be echoed in this allusion, or summed up in the 
pregnant clause before us. But, in particular, there is a great 
similarity between the present passage and the statement that 
Christ's death atoned for transgressions under the old covenant 
(Heb. ix. 15). 

1 This is the meaning of '.Xa^piov in the Epistle to the Hebrews (ix. 5) ; 
and the Reformers, Luther, Calvin, and their successors, so expounded it. After- 
wards it came to be regarded as the neuter of an adjective, and as denoting 
a sacrifice, some supplying *%«, others nothing. See a conclusive note by 
Philippi, in his Commentary on Romans, in behalf of the first view— projn- 
tiatory. Though opinion is pretty equally divided, the idea of propitiating God 
comes out in both. 

138 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

The idea is, that Christ is "set forth" to view, or, as some 
will have it, "fore-appointed" 1 from of old to be the reality of 
that blood-sprinkled mercy-seat ; and, to apprehend the force 
of the allusion, we must go back to the symbolical and typical 
meaning. The symbolical import was the following: — The 
ark contained the law, and the ark's covering or propitiatory 
covered its curse, whenever it was sprinkled by the atoning 
blood, as was the case from year to year ; for, as the great day 
of atonement returned, this imposing ceremonial was annually 
repeated to cover sins from God's sight. As to the typical 
signification, it was a prefiguration of Him who was personally 
to pacify the divine wrath, and therefore of that work of 
Christ by which at the appointed time He should at once 
fulfil the law and remove its curse. It deserves to be noticed 
that the phrase here used by the apostle conveys but one idea ; 
and hence, in the grammatical construing, we must read the 
word propitiatory in immediate connection with the words in 
His blood. 2 The idea is one ; and, viewed in this way, we 
must regard the words as meaning, Christ crucified the means 
of pacifying the wrath of God. On this account the mercy- 
seat was considered as God's throne in the midst of His people, 
where He showed Himself gracious, and communed with His 
people (Ps. lxxx. 1). Here, too, rested the symbol of the 
divine presence, the glory of the Lord. We thus reach the 
conclusion that the central point in the old economy fore- 
shadowed the true propitiatory; and thus, in language borrowed 
from the ceremonial institutions,- the apostle shows us that the 
way of propitiation was the same from the beginning. Hence, 
as it is said, " Christ our passover is sacrificed for us ; " so we 
can say, " Christ our propitiatory is erected or set forth for us." 

The third descriptive name for the atonement is the term 

1 Some make TpoihTo fore -appointed (so Chrysost., Diodati, Willet). 

2 The usual phrase is, %-irTis us. We cannot construe -x'httius Iv tZ al/tun, 
for that is abnormal. Some put a comma after vrlmus : others read iXatrrypiov 
iv rZ a'lpart together, giving one thought, viz. blood-sprinkled propitiatory, 
which is better. 


righteousn ess — " to declare His righteousness." The ques- 
tion to be settled, in the first place, is this : Have we here 
the well-known Pauline expression which we have considered 
already — " the righteousness of God ? " Or are we under the 
necessity of regarding it as the divine attribute of righteous- 
ness ? A right view of the connection between the two things 
here put together — the righteousness of God and the remission 
of sins — will satisfy us that we have the well-known Pauline 
phrase. But as many eminent expositors, swayed by the view 
which they take of the connection of the clauses, hold the 
expression to be descriptive of the attribute of justice, we must 
prove that the phrase occurs here in no other sense than in 
other passages where there is no ambiguity. If the apostle has 
used the expression "righteousness of God" throughout the 
context to describe the atoning work of Christ, how can he be 
supposed to alter the meaning of his own phrase within the 
compass of a single sentence ? 

Some argue that the expression must refer to the divine 
attribute of righteousness, as it paves the way, according to 
them, for the reference to retributive justice in the following 
verse (ver. 26). But it is not so : that is a mere semblance of 
argument. Nay, we shoidd rather say that it wants all pro- 
bability, because it would be a repetition, a tautology. But no 
reason can be given for departing from the ordinary meaning 
of the Pauline phrase. We must attach a uniform, consistent 
meaning to the use of terms, and regard it as designating the 
atoning work of the Lord. 

But the righteousness is brought out in a new connection, 
which we must now r endeavour to trace. The apostle had 
proved that between Jew and Gentile there is no difference, 
either in the ruin or in the remedy, and that the righteousness 
was for both alike. But now his thoughts revert to the saints 
of God who lived under the former dispensation, and to the 
retrospective bearing of the atonement as applicable to them 
not less than to those whose lot is cast in gospel times. If the 

140 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

blood-sprinkled mercy-seat was a prefiguration of the atone- 
ment, the finished work of Christ is considered as the accom- 
plished fact, or actual manifestation of the righteousness which 
was required. The apostle therefore refers to the bringing in 
of the righteousness as a historic reality, as he had done in a 
previous verse (ver. 21). 

This leads us to inquire, What is the connection between 
the righteousness of God thus understood, and the remission of 
sins that were past in the forbearance of God ? A correct ap- 
preciation of this will make the meaning plain. Paul plainly 
refers to the time that preceded the atonement, and describes it 
as an economy of forbearance, during which the punishment of 
sin was deferred, and yet the salvation based on the atonement 
extended to many. How could there be this remission of sins 
during that past economy ? The answer is supplied by the 
apostle : It was on the credit of what was ere long to be 
accomplished. That is the connection between the righteous- 
ness of God and the remission of sins here mentioned. There 
were millions who shared in the retrospective character of the 
atonement before Christ came in the flesh. 

The connection of these two things will appear if we cor- 
rectly translate the word that connects them together. The 
language will not bear the rendering given in the authorized 
version — for 1 the remission of sins. The Greek preposition, 
when so construed, never denotes the final cause, or the inten- 
tion and design, for which a thing is done. Neither can it bear 
the rendering by, or through, which others assign to it. It 
uniformly assigns the ground or reason on account of which 
a thing occurred, or an action was performed, denoting on 
account of. In the present case the preposition assigns the 
reason on account of which the past remission of sins for thou- 
sands of years took place, viz. the future atonement, which 

1 The proper force of lid. with the accusative, propter, must be retained, 
denoting the ground or reason on account of which the thing, viz. the va-puri;, 
had been done. 


in Paul's time had become a historic fact. The righteousness 
of God, or the atoning work by which men are saved, has been 
actually manifested in the fulness of time, because the sins of 
millions had in previous ages been passed over and remitted. 
Without the actual bringing in of the everlasting righteousness, 
and merely on the credit of it as about to be, they had received 
forgiveness, and been enrolled among the spirits of the just 
made perfect. But since they had received remission of sins, 
it was absolutely necessary to bring in the expiation as a 
historic fact, or to give it a positive accomplishment. The 
retrospective efficacy of the atonement is made clear. But 
these were but effects or consequences of a cause which could 
not be withheld. 

As to the peculiarities of the remission of sins that was 
proper to the Old Testament, we need not too curiously inquire. 
Some have indulged their fancy and been misled. A class of 
divines, headed by Cocceius, preferred to view the remission 
which belonged to the Old Testament church more as a pass- 
ing over than as a true forgiveness. They asked, How could 
it be a true forgiveness, when the cause was not yet present ? 
And they thought such a distinction warranted by the apostle's 
expressions. But what difference there was between the 
saints of God in the Old and New Testament, was not in the 
objective remission, but in the inward consciousness of pardon 
and liberty. The difference was within. The apostle affirms 
the remission of sins under the former dispensation. And as 
that was possible only by the blood of atonement, since there 
could be no infringement of the divine justice or law, the 
righteousness of God must be actually brought in. Whether 
men regard the remission under the old economy in the light 
of a true forgiveness, which is the preferable view, or in that 
of a pretention, there can be no doubt of the retrospective 
efficacy of the atonement, and of the cancelling of the guilt of 
sin before Christ came in the flesh by means of the atonement. 
The relation of the two economies, then, is as follows : The 

142 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

bringing in of the righteousness was necessary on account of 
the previous remission. The apostle shows that there was a 
causal connection between the righteousness of God and the 
forgiveness of sins in all ages, that the cross was the great 
fact of all time, and that God had respect to it from the be- 
ginning. This is the only sense that the words will exegeti- 
cally bear. Because the forgiveness was already given, there 
must be an actual satisfaction to divine justice, and an actual 
righteousness in the fulness of time. 

Hence the three words which we have expounded— re- 
demption, propitiatory, and righteousness — delineate the atone- 
ment in different points of view ; the first from the view-point 
of man's captivity, the second from the view-point of divine 
wrath against sin, the third from that of the inalienable claims 
of the divine law. And this variety of names to describe the 
same great fact argues that, though the work of the Lord is 
one, it has manifold bearings — as numerous, indeed, as our 

(2.) The design or final cause which God had in view in the 
whole matter of the atonement is next subjoined : that He 
might be just, and the justifier (ver. 2G). The allusion is to the 
concurrence or harmony of these two perfections of God. 
The word just, applied to God, means that He asserts just 
claims and inflicts just punishment. It is a perversion of 
language to interpret the term as if it could mean anything 
else than justice in the ordinary acceptation of the word 
among men made in the image of God. 1 The contrast in 
which it is placed to divine forbearance, and the allusion to 
the propitiatory, allow no doubt as to its import. Justice 
seemed to slumber during that period of forbearance ; now it 
is displayed. 

But this determines the character of the atonement. Such 
language would be unmeaning, if it were not admitted that 
the atonement is in the proper sense of the word a satisfaction 

1 See Section vi. of the former volume, The Sayings of Jesus. 


of divine justice. This single clause, therefore, fully warrants 
the expression in common use, notwithstanding all the objec- 
tions which have been adduced against it as unfitting or un- 
warrantable. And when the apostle adds, " that He might be 
just, and the justified," he alludes to the fact that these two 
apparently conflicting perfections, justice and grace, meet in 
full harmony on the cross: justice suffers no violence, and 
grace has full outlet. 

This enables us to form a right judgment as to all those 
theories which allow only one element in the atonement, and 
reduce all to love. When modern theology commits itself to 
this one-sided theory, it is clearly out of harmony with the 
Pauline theology. As to the attempts which are at present 
made in many quarters to subsume justice under love, they 
are all sorry evasions of biblical ideas. Thus, when it is 
alleged that God must already have been reconciled when He 
gave His Son, and that there could be no further need of satis- 
faction, this is a mere confusion of ideas, — the confounding 
of a moving cause and a meritorious cause ; the former being 
love, the latter the work of the sinless Sin-bearer in our stead. 
Unexpiated sin would for ever have stood in the way of ob- 
taining divine favour, as is sufficiently evinced by hundreds 
of passages. 

The other arguments drawn from the relation of the Father- 
hood of God — the universal Fatherhood, as it is indiscriminately 
called — are equally refuted by this passage. It is rather a rela- 
tion which draws down wrath, and calls for a propitiation. Only 
when sin is expiated can proper Fatherhood begin ; and as to the 
notion which some try to propagate, that sin is rather a disease 
than a crime, the answer is : No man believes, or can believe, 
that the moral Governor is indifferent to human conduct, to 
the moral actions of His creatures ; for this is contradicted by 
man's moral nature as well as by Scripture (Rom. i. 32). 

(II.JA passage of much weight, as deciding on the nature 
of the atonement, is as follows : Who was delivered for [better, 

144 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

on account of] our offences, and was raised again for [better, on 
account of] our justification (Eom. iv. 25). The apostle, after 
discussing the case of Abraham as a ruling instance in proof 
of justification by faith alone, proceeds at the close of the 
chapter to describe faith as it is exercised on its proper object. 
He uses a striking name or title of God when he describes 
Him as the Christ-raiser, and represents faith as exercised on 
God in this capacity; that is, on God as the source of the 
atonement, and the accepter of it at the hands of the Surety. 

The first thing that summons our attention is, that our 
/ _SIN is represented as the cause of Christ's death ; and it is 
the more important to determine with precision in what sense 
this language must he taken, because the consideration of the 
cause of Christ's death is in some quarters much misappre- 
hended, and in other cases much neglected, in the discussion 
of this question. For the most part, men have stopped short 
at the inquiry, What was God's aim and intention in the death 
of Christ ? Bat in endeavouring to apprehend the course of 
God's procedure, we must distinguish between the divine in- 
tention and the cause in operation ; and the present passage 
throws light on the entire question. A strict interpretation 
of the terms here used proves that our offences were the proper 
cause of Christ's death, and that His delivery to crucifixion 
is considered as the punishment of sin. It is not possible in 
words more emphatically to express the idea of a meritorious 
cause, than by joining together our offences and the Lord's 
sufferings by a preposition (hid with ae.) intimating a connec- 
tion of cause and effect. If we are to expound by language, 
and not by foregone conclusions, this is the only meaning that 
the words will bear. As our offences were the meritorious 
cause of Christ's death, it follows that by His delivery He 
paid the penalty. The phrases, to die foe sins, to be de- 
livered for sins, denote that sin was the cause of Christ's 
death, and that the death was the due punishment, 

The language in these two clauses implies Suretyship ; and 


they cannot otherwise be understood. We may enumerate a 
few expressions where the preposition used to intimate causal 
connection occurs in the same construction. Thus, when it 
is said, " Ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake" 
(Matt. x. 22) ; " They withered away, because they had no 
deepness of earth " (Matt. xiii. 5) ; " lecause they had no root " 
(ver. G) ; " when tribulation or persecution ariseth became of 
the word" (ver. 21) ; " for the oath's sake, and them who sat 
at meat with him " (xiv. 9) ; " when they could not come 
nigh Him for the press " (Mark ii. 4) ; " Barabbas, who for a 
certain sedition, and for murder, was cast into prison " (Luke 
xxiii. 19); " Many of the Samaritans believed on Him for the 
saying of the woman" (John iv. 39) ; "for fear of the Jews" 
(xix. 38) ; "for which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on 
the children of disobedience" (Eph. v. 6) ; — in these instances, 
and in others too numerous to name, the import is a causal 
connection, or a statement of cause and effect. When it is 
said that Jesus was delivered for our offences, the words bring 
out the connection between our offences and His sufferings, 
and prove that it is a causal connection, on the ground of 
substitution. There must have been a relation formed between 
Him and us, of such a kind that He and His people were 
federally one, representatively one, legally one in the eye 
of God. But for such a covenant relation, our sins could 
not by possibility have affected Him, nor brought Him to the 

But we have next to consider what is meant by His being 
delivere d. This was the effect or consequence, of which our 
offences were the cause. These sins had the effect of handing 
over the Surety to the penal consequences which overtook 
Him from the hand of God and from the hand of man. This 
will be best illustrated from the ordinary style of speech. 
Thus, when a man is said to suffer for his crimes, no one 
doubts what the meaning is ; and in like manner, when an 
innocent person suffers for our sins, or is delivered for our 


146 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

offences, this means that he bears the punishment, though the 
sin was not personally his, but assumed by a voluntary act. 
How was Christ delivered ? The word means, that in visiting 
the Surety with the punishment due to us for sin, the Judge 
of all saw fit to deliver Him into the hand of sinners. Behind 
each part of the judicial action, traced in the arrest, trial, and 
crucifixion of the Lord, we see what was going forward at the 
divine tribunal. The human bar was the exponent, so to speak, 
or the visible counterpart, of the divine bar. The divine ap- 
pointment appears in it all ; for nought but this could make 
Christ's death a ransom, or give it efficacy for man's salvation. 
Pilate's bar, therefore, was the bar of God where Jesus was 
exculpated and condemned : exculpated on the ground of per- 
sonal innocence, condemned as occupying the position of the 
sin-bearing Surety. 

He was judicially delivered into the hand of men. It 
' was not in a tumult of the people, nor in a secret corner, that 
the Lord was to be cut off, but after an examination and in- 
quiry with all the forms of law. In fulfilment of prophecy 
(Isa. liii. 8), He was placed before Pilate as our Surety, having 
no personal guilt, but condemned for our guilt, that it might 
not be charged against us. And all that befell Him, however 
unjust as regards men, was justly inflicted at the hand of God, 
who, besides what meets our eye, sent invisible strokes and 
penal inflictions to an inconceivable degree. The whole scene 
is easy of explanation on the principle of substitution. The 
Surety, offering to satisfy in our room, was brought before a 
human bar, in which God, as it were, erected His tribunal 
before Him, — arranging the transaction in such a way that all 
mankind might, to the end of time, perceive that the Judge 
found Him innocent, and yet pronounced His condemnation. 
He on His part promptly and cordially submitted to suffering, 
in obedience to His Father, who had given that power to Pilate 
in reference to the Son of God. 

The last clause of the verse brings out that Jesus was 


raised again on accoonx-OE- our justifigatioil. The preposi- 
tion (hicc with, ace.) must have the same import 1 and be trans- 
lated in the same way in both clauses. Though this is not 
done by commentators, nothing can justify us in attaching a 
different sense to the same word in two contrasted clauses : 
whatever it means in the one, it must mean in the other. It 
is here taught that the sins of believers caused the death of 
the Lord, and that the impetration of a righteousness which 
could be applied as the sole foundation of justification, and 
was actually accepted on the behalf of all to whom it was to 
be applied, was the cause of Christ's resurrection from the 
dead. Had one jot or tittle been awanting in His surety- work, 
the resurrection of Jesus could not have taken place. 

But before passing from this text, it is necessary to obviate 
the misapprehensions 2 of its meaning that have been taken up 
in various quarters. 

The language cannot mean that Christ was delivered to 
death that He might abolish sins. There are two forms of this 
mode of exposition : a lower one, to the effect that we might be 
withdrawn from evil by the argument or motive furnished by 
the turpitude of sin in condemning so much excellence ; and a 
higher one, to the effect that the Risen One imparts a new life to 
abolish inward corruption. But the answer to both comments 
is, that the language cannot bear that final sense. It always 
denotes ON account OF , intimating the cause or reason on 
account of which a thing has taken place ; and from this mean- 

1 The general consent with which exegetes allow §;« to have a final or telic 
force in this verse and some others (e.g. John vi. 57 ; Rom. iii. 25 ; Gal. iv. 13) 
cannot be vindicated. A difficulty is not to be solved by changing the meaning 
of words. Biiurt, beshouwende Godgeleerdhelt, § 1100, and Klinkenberg, de 
Bijbel Verklaerd, 1791, are the only writers known to me who retain the proper 
force of §<« in the second clause. 

2 A stronger word than misapprehensions might be used, for every conjec- 
ture lias been tried to evade the simple sense of S;a t« ■7rapa.vrupa.7a. by ex- 
positors opposed to substitution. The words will bear no other meaning than 
this, that our sins were the cause, the meritorious cause, of His death ; and we 
cannot but see suretyship here. 

148 apostles' sayings ox the atonement. 

ing we cannot deviate. To bring out the notion of abolishing 
future sin, other words must have been used, and some addi- 
tional clause to make this sense apparent. The allusion is not 
to future, but to past and present sin. 

A second mistranslation is, that He was delivered by men's 
sins, or by wicked hands. But human malice and crime are 
never indicated in this way, as will appear by a comparison of 
other passages (Acts ii. 23). 

A third theory is to the effect that the sufferings of Christ 
were intended to remove the groundless fear of punishment. 
But such an exposition has no warrant from the terms here 
used ; for it is not said that Christ was delivered because of our 
fears, but because of our sins. And as to the notion itself, it is 
enough to say that redemption can never be a deliverance from 
baseless fear, and an assurance of divine favour ; for how could 
that harmonize with the stern menaces connected with im- 
penitence and unbelief ? It is a mischievous delusion that God 
does not punish sin. 

The words mean that Christ sustained our punishment, and 
was delivered to condemnation, human and divine, in conse- 
quence of our offences, which were charged to Him, and 
spontaneously borne on the ground of a union between us and 
Him. But it is proper to add, as showing the foregone con- 
clusions with which many come to the interpretation of this 
passage, that even if it were affirmed in the plainest and most 
unambiguous language that sin was the cause of Christ's suffer- 
ings, and that His death was the proper punishment inflicted on 
Him for human sin, the opponents of the vicarious satisfaction, 
by their own avowal, would turn away the point of the evi- 
dence. Socinus says expressly: Though the thing were said, 
not once, but many times, he would not believe it ; for the thing 
cannot be, inasmuch as the doctrine contended for is contrary 
to reason. Hence their whole aim is to discover any other 
possible meaning. To meet that rationalistic mode of treat- 
ing Scripture, there is only one way. We must plainly tell 


such disputants either to stand within the pale of Eevelation, 
and be bound by its announcements, or stand outside its borders 
altogether. It will not do to accept a Eevelation, and' then 
reject the doctrines they dislike, — to take it, and yet refuse it, 
according to their arbitrary caprice. They cannot be allowed 
thus to expound the contents of the divine word. They must 
take it or go without it, for they cannot be allowed to argue on 
the sgeotic's ground when they please. 

(IIL) Another passage on the atonement follows after a few 
verses : For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ 
died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous one will one 
die ; yet 'peradventure for a good man some would even dare to 
die. But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we 
were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now 
justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. 
For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the 
death of His Son ; much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved 
by His life (Bom. v. G-10). The apostle, having described the 
fruits of justification, — peace with God, access, standing in 
grace, and the hope of glory, — proceeds to show that the 
Christian's hope is not disappointed. Two a fortiori arguments 
are used, both introduced by a much more, and drawn, the one 
from the two states of the man, and the other from the two 
states of Christ. From the two states of the man he argues, 
that if we were justified when sinners, much more shall we be 
saved from wrath when made friends (ver. 9). From the two 
states of Christ he argues, that if our reconciliation was effected 
by the death of God's Son as a thing vast, arduous, and 
wonderful, much more, as if no further legal difficulty were to 
be encountered, shall we be saved by His life (ver. 10). As the 
force of these arguments can be seen only by comparison with 
the guilt of our natural condition, he uses four descriptive 
terms to exhibit this. We were without strength, that is, 
unable to comply with any duty or command (ver. 6) ; ungodly, 
that is, without God, and violating duty at every turn (ver. 8) ; 

150 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

sinners, that is, held under the bonds of guilt, and by nature 
attached to sin; enemies (ver. 10), that is, either passively 
objects of God's displeasure, as some take it, or actively ene- 
mies of God in our disposition ; which latter is the preferable 
view. 1 These four designations are mentioned with a view 
to commend the freeness and greatness of the divine love. 

We limit our attention to the question of the atonement as 
developed in this passage. When Christ is represented as 
dying for the ungodly (ver. 6), the question is, Are we to 
regard 2 this as a transaction in our stead, or merely for our 
benefit ? Undoubtedly the former. And, to impress the idea 
of Christ's vicarious position, the apostle borrows an illustra- 
tion from common life. Thus : Scarcely for a righteous man 
will one die : I say righteous, for 3 perhaps for a good man — 
that is, a great benefactor — some one would even dare to die. 
But in the world's history it was never heard of, that one died 
for an enemy. Now the commendation of divine love is, that 
Christ died for enemies and sinners. The apostle, in supplying 
this illustration, intimates that we are to reason from the one 
to the other ; and if Christ's death is to be taken in the sense 
in which the death of one for another is here portrayed, the 
obvious meaning is, that one gives his life in the room of 
another. The death of Christ, far transcending every example 
of human love, which hardly ever dreamt of laying down one's 
life for a friend, was a display of love for enemies. The terms, 
and the entire character of the transaction as here described, 
allow us to form no other conclusion than that the death of 
Christ was vicarious. We have an unmistakeable description 
of the character of Christ's death, and of what the church must 
hold it to have been. No one, certainly, can understand this 

1 s£fy»; oWs; : these words refer to man's disposition. The great truth, that 
Christ's death ended God's hostility to us, is quite consistent with this. 

2 See a valuable note in Meyer's Commentary on the import of vsts/j and 
rtpi, and his reference to passages. 

3 The yap in the second clause of ver. 7 is not to be rendered yet ; it leans 
on the tacit thought which we have brought out. 


language in the sense that He suffered to give us an example 
of virtue. The illustration and reasoning show that the allu- 
sion is to a vicarious death. 

From the Lord's vicarious death two important conse- 
quences are derived, and it is considered as standing in close 
causal connection with them both. 

1. The apostle declares that we are justified by His blood 
(ver. 9). This expression means, not only His bloody death, 
but His wdiole sinless obedience, culminating in that bloody 
sacrifice. It is a synecdoche ; and the apostle intimates that 
the sole cause of justification is the atonement, not our virtue, 
not our amendments, not the termination of our enmity already 
mentioned, not even our faith, however important this is as the 
instrument of reception. By that atoning blood sin is deleted 
as if it had never been, and the man is accepted. The apostle 
in this passage is content to put cause and effect together, 
without explaining how the result was brought about, because 
this had already been done in express terms. Now, when we 
are said to be justified by His blood, the expression intimates 
that we are not only discharged from deserved punishment, but 
personally accepted. The death of Christ is put in causal con- 
nection with the justification of our persons ; but this could 
not have been unless it were a vicarious death, and a vicarious 
obedience accepted by Him who pronounces the acquittal. The 
apostle deduces, too, an important inference. He assumes that 
Christ's death put sinners on a new footing, a new standing 
before God ; in a word, that it rectified their relation. And 
then he argues : " If justified as sinners by His blood, much 
more shall we as friends be saved from wrath through Him." 
This is an argument from the stronger reason. 

2. The apostle next declares that we are reconciled to 
God by the death of His Son (ver. 10). This is a phrase 
alternated with being justified. The term reconciliation, as we 
have seen, presupposes alienation, displeasure, or enmity on the 
part of the moral Governor of the world, and intimates that He 

152 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

lias cemented with us a new relation of friendship. That the 
change is caused by the death of Christ, is here expressly 
stated. In the language of Paul, where we chiefly find the 
use of this expression, God is never said to be reconciled : we 
are said to be reconciled to God. And the reason is, that in 
ordinary language the action of reconciliation is described from 
the side of the offending party. A prince is not said to be 
reconciled to an offending subject, though it is he who lays 
aside his displeasure : the subject is said to be reconciled to 
him, because the transaction takes its designation from the 
party offending. The atonement was interposed by God be- 
tween His righteous wrath and us men in such a way as to put 
humanity on a new and friendly relationship to God. When 
the apostle affirms that we are reconciled to God by the death 
of His Son, he means that the death of Christ removed all the 
impediments on God's side, so that His just anger was averted, 
and His free favour turned toward us. 

Many interpret reconciliation as if it meant that there 
never was estrangement on God's side, but only on man's side ; 
and, consequently, that it is completed the moment we lay 
aside our aversion, and by a course of repentance and loyal 
obedience show ourselves well affected towards God. That 
is not the apostle's meaning, as is proved by the slightest 
examination of his words. He sets forth the vicarious nature 
of Christ's death, and deduces reconciliation from it by the 
connection of cause and consequence, alternating the words 
keconcile and justify as phrases descriptive of the same change 
of relation. If justification is a judicial act of God implying a 
change of relation on His side as well as on ours, reconciliation 
implies the same, as appears from the words : " If we, being 
enemies, were reconciled to God by the death of His Son." 
The emphasis of the clause lies on the words being enemies, 
and it affirms that we were reconciled when enemies. If so, 
it is self-evident that reconciliation to God does not consist 
merely in laying aside ouk enmity. For how, on such a theory, 


could we be said to be reconciled to God when we weee 


On the contrary, reconciliation is caused by something 
objective (ver. 12) — by the death of God's Son. The apostle 
teaches that the vicarious death of Christ was the ground of 
restoration to the divine favour. The argument in this second 
case, altogether like the former, takes for granted that, in con- 
sequence of Christ's death, we passed into a new relationship 
to God — one of favour. It is as follows : If such a change of 
relation took place in virtue of Christ's death, if we were re- 
conciled to God by the death of His Son, much more shall we, 
being admitted into friendship, be saved by His life. This is 
an argument a fortiori, based on the two states of Christ, taken 
in connection with the new relation in which we stand. And 
the apostle could not have argued in this way, if there had 
been nothing objective effected by the death of Christ. 

The words mean that we were taken into the new relation- 
ship, or restored to favour, by the death of God's Son. The 
apostle thus connects cause and consequence, without defining 
in what way and by what steps the result was won. He de- 
clares that God Himself was the author of reconciliation by 
the death of His Son, and that we receive it in the free exercise 
of His grace. He does not base his reasoning, however, on the 
moral change effected : he does not say, If God loved us when 
we had no spiritual affection toward Him, how much more 
will He save us when we have amended our disposition and 
changed our sentiments towards Him ! That would not be in 
keeping with the train or scope of his reasoning. He fixes 
his eye on the altered objective relation effected by the death 
of Christ. But when God stands related to us as a Father, and 
not as an offended Judge, then an inward change ensues : con- 
fidence and delight in Him must be the consequence, the im- 
mediate fruit, of reconciliation. Hence, glorying is mentioned 
as the result of receiving the objective atonement ; and the 
apostle declares : " We also joy [better, glory] in God through 

154 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

* our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the 
atonement" 1 (ver. 11). 

To this, however, it is urged as an objection, that such a 
mode of viewing reconciliation makes us at once enemies and 
friends ; and it is said, Can we regard God as both hating and 
loving us ; as evincing displeasure, and concerting the means 
of taking us into favour ? This difficulty vanishes when we 
come to see that love and wrath well enough consist together, 
because men are presented to His view both as the creatures 
of His hand, and as sinners, yet the objects of His grace. 
He had wrath and enmity against their sin, according to 
His holy nature and the inalienable claims of justice ; but 
He had love to His creatures, and a disposition to do them 
good. And the atonement, as an arrangement interposed be- 
tween divine wrath on the one hand, and the sinful human 
race on the other, was the removal of all the impediments 
that stood in the way of the divine love. The text shows 
that free love provided the atonement, but that men were 


(ivy Another memorable passage on the atonement is the 
section in the fifth chapter, which institutes a comparison 
between the disobedience of the first man and the obedience 
of the second man (vers. 12-19). From this section two verses 
may specially be selected, as giving a forcible illustration of 
the satisfaction of Christ : Therefore, as by the offence of one 
judgment came upon [better, it is to] all men to condemnation ; 
even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon [better, 
it is to] all men to justification of life. For as by one man's dis- 
obedience many were made sinners; so by the obedience of one shall 
many be made righteous (Rom. v. 18, 19). The principal point 
to which the apostle directs attention, and which met him at 
this part of his argument, was, How could the satisfaction of 

1 The word xaTuWay* is the objective fact of the atonement considered as 
effecting reconciliation, and received as a gift. Christ's act is said to reconcile. 


one man avail for many ? And he shows that it is not sur- 
prising to find the entire ground of our redemption in the 
work of one, when we go back to the original constitution 
given to the human family : for we are saved upon the same 
principle, and by a constitution altogether similar. Without 
anticipating the result, let us analyse the passage. 

In drawing the parallel between the two representative 
men in whom the whole human race is found respectively, 
Paul says : " By one man sin entered into the world, and deatli 
by sin" (ver. 12). To forestall mistakes, we must observe 
that this language does not mean by one man as created, but 
by one man as sinning. That this is the import of the ex- 
pression, is proved by the frequent repetition of the same 
words: by one that sinned (ver. 16); by one man's offence 
(ver. 17); by one man's disobedience (ver. 19). The apostle 
does not mean that sin entered in consequence of some flaw 
or defect in the primeval constitution of man's nature, as if 
he were but earthly or carnal when he came from the Creator's 
hand. 1 The words before us mean, one man as he committed sin. 

Another point that must be correctly apprehended in order 
to obtain a right view of the whole is, What is the import of 
sin here described as entering ? The answer is, that it refers 
to Adam's sinning act. This is evident from the language 
which the apostle holds all through the section, and which is 
frequently alternated with other terms of similar import. This 
terrible phenomenon — sin personified through this and the two 
following chapters as a potentate, tyrant, or power — is described 
as entering into the world, where it was before unknown. It 
had a commencement in the world, and subordinated all to its 
sway. But while Adam's first sin is specially meant, as is 
clear from all the various antitheses in which it here stands to 
the atoning work of Christ, we are not of course to dissever it 
from the sinful nature to which it adheres. 

1 Usteri, in his Pauline Doctrine, reproduces the Schleiermacher theology to 
this effect ; but it has no support in Paul nor in any text of Scripture. 

156 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

The next term is death, represented as the penal conse- 
quence of sin. Temporal death is, beyond all doubt, compre- 
hended in the apostle's words ; for he elsewhere says, that in 
Adam all die (1 Cor. xv. 22). On the other hand, the limita- 
tion of the meaning to temporal death is quite unwarrantable, 
when the contrast obviously leads us to the most extensive 
signification. This is confirmed by the language of the New 
Testament generally, and by the Pauline phraseology particu- 
larly (Eom. i. 32, vi. 21). The term death must be taken 
here, and in the Mosaic narrative, in the widest sense, com- 
prehending all that misery which flows from our estrangement 
from God — the antithesis of divine life. 

Next, the apostle draws a parallel between the two repre- 
sentative men as follows : As by one man sin entered into the 
world, and death by sin ; so by one man righteousness entered 
into the world, and life by righteousness. Such would have 
been the two counterpart members, had the parallel been for- 
mally completed at the point where the comparison began 
(ver. 13). But the latter member is withheld, and we have 
only a compensation for it in the words, the figure of Him 
that was to come 1 (ver. 14). The full parallel is resumed, and 
at length completed, further down in the context (ver. 18). But 
before advancing to that verse, which fills up the parallel (ver. 
18), the apostle states some points of disparity, in which there 
is a much more, a preponderance, again and again rej>eated, 
as found on the side of Christ. It is a much more of potency 
in the causes in operation (ver. 15), and a much more also in 
the results produced in connection with such causes (vers. 
16, 17). Having stated the general resemblance, and certain 

1 Calvin well says on this clause : Hcec partlcula poslta est vice altering 
inembri. "We cannot suppose the sense suspended hy the long parenthesis be- 
tween the uevif) of ver. 12 and the ovru of ver. 18, more especially as the apostle 
introduces points of dissimilarity as well as points of correspondence. Plainly, 
the comparison must be completed before the points of dissimilarity begin (at 
ver. 15). The best exegetes find the counterpart member to aWsp, as we have 
done, in twos tou piwovro;. (See an essay by Dr. Schmid, Tubiwjer Zeitschrift, 


points of dissimilarity, the apostle returns to the broad out- 
lines of the parallel, and gives full and formal expression to it 
(ver. 18) ; and the words indicate a conclusion drawn from the 
whole previous statement. 

But we forbear further commentary, as we have adduced 
the passage only as a striking exhibition and proof of the 
atonement. The apostle is anticipating the objection, How 
could the obedience of one avail for millions ? — a difficulty that 
must be met. The current notion among the Jews of old, and 
among self-righteous men at all times, is : If our own virtue 
and works of the law do not pass for righteousness, how can 
another man's avail, and especially how can it avail for count- 
less numbers ? The apostle's reply is, that this is ^readily 
understood when men take into account the peculiar constitu- 
tion under which the Creator saw meet at first to place the 
human family. The principle on which we are saved is the 
same as was originally set before mankind. The way of justi- 
fication by the obedience of another stands on a similar footing 
to the way in which we fell : the principle is that of one for 
many. As by the trespass or offence of one it is to all men to 
condemnation, so by the righteousness of one — in other words, 
by the approved and accepted obedience of one — it is to all 
men to justification of life. Here two things are comprehended 
as standing in connection with the atonement: (1) the justifi- 
cation of the man, that is, of the person in his relative standing ; 
(2) the restoration of the nature by the donation of life. The 
former paves the way for the latter. The life is premial life, 
and follows as the consequence of righteousness, but is com- 
prehensive both of spiritual and eternal life. This life follows 
as the reward of righteousness, according to the principle set 
forth in the law : " This do, and thou shalt live." 

The second of the verses above quoted grounds the former 
by furnishing additional explanation. The two clauses of the 
one (ver. 18) may be connected with the two clauses of the 
other respectively (ver. 19); and the grounding particle for 

158 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

links them together in this way : " Therefore, as by the offence 
of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation, — for by 
one man's disobedience many were made sinners, — even so by 
the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto 
justification of life ; for by the obedience of one shall many 
be made righteous." What is the obedience of one, by which 
many are made or constituted righteous ? This may easily be 
perceived from the counterpart disobedience by which many 
are made sinners. It is not enough to say that the death of 
Christ is so called because on His part it was a proper act of 
love. Nor will it suffice to say that the atonement is So called 
because suffering was imposed by the Father's command, and 
responded to on Christ's part by an act of obedience. These 
views make no room for the element of active obedience, as 
not less necessary than the suffering. The words are plainly 
descriptive of the entire obedience of Christ, active and passive. 
This is evident from the fact that by means of it many are 
constituted righteous, which can only be by the double element ; 
and it is further evident from the disobedience of Adam in the 
opposite member. For if Adam's trespass contains two parts, — 
an obligation violated and a guilt incurred, — and if the second 
man must enter into both, since the divine justice could not 
permit either to be relaxed or modified by one jot or tittle, it 
follows that in that obedience of one man, which makes many 
righteous, we must comprehend both these elements. His obedi- 
ence thus included all that was required of man in innocence, 
and all that was justly incurred by man in his state of guilt. 
\J This great transaction was not by accident. The obedience 
of one for many, and as making many righteous, was the true 
and intended effect of Christ's incarnation — the great compen- 
sation set over against the fall of Adam. It is the result of a 
constitution expressly parallel to that under which man was 
made, and, like it, of a positive and sovereign character ; and 
it is here said to be the principle of one for many. Scripture 
thus puts the disobedience of Adam in express antithesis to 


the obedience of Christ. It speaks as if there had been but 
two men in the world into whose obedience or disobedience 
their entire seed enters. And indeed there have been but two 
representative men, and under the one or the other we are all 
comprehended. A comparison of the two, such as is here in- 
stituted, greatly conduces to the correct apprehension of the 
constitution which it pleased God, in the exercise of sovereign 
dominion, to give to the human race. These two truths shed 
reciprocal light on each other, and are set over against each 
other. Tor this there may be many reasons ; but one reason, 
besides the vivid contrast, undoubtedly is to furnish the only 
analogy which can be produced. Nor can I forbear to say that 
it would have contributed not a little to the clearer under- 
standing of the whole subject, had the Scripture method on 
this great theme been universally followed. Had the atone- 
ment and the fall been more put in this contrast, the light shed 
by this means on both would have been steadier and clearer, 
and many a prejudice would have been removed. Many who 
have doubts of the one, would have had their difficulties over- 
borne or removed by the evidence of the other. 

To all the cavils of human reason the answer is easy. It 
does not fall to us to justify that constitution given to the first 
man, and renewed in the second man. Nor does it become us 
too curiously to inquire into the reasons of such an appoint- 
ment, when we call to mind that the sovereign will of God, 
holy, wise, just, and good, is reason enough. To give reasons, 
argues a pretension to knowledge which is not given to us. 
Let it suffice that it pleased God to constitute man in a public 
head, who was made in the image of God, and summoned to 
the test of obedience in the full maturity of all his powers, in 
the possession of a sinless nature, and with a full knowledge, 
doubtless, of his representative position. The constitution 
given to man differed from that which was given to angels, 
who must have been placed on their own individual footing, 
from the fact that they partly stood and partly fell. 

1G0 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

More than anything else, this original constitution given to 
man throws light on the atonement. We are redeemed in the 
same way : the obedience of one is the righteousness of many. 
This calls for a twofold submission on our part — asubmission 
to the divine sovereignty which gave the constitution to 
which we have referred, and a sub mission to the divine wq pjl, 
which here emphatically proclaims it as a certain truth. We 
must accept both. Thus sin enters by the first man, and 
spreads through the race, and death by sin. On the contrary, 
righteousness, or the atonement, enters by the second man, and 
is unto all and upon all them that believe ; and life is by 
righteousness. This is the Pauline parallel; and I have only 
to add that it would have been well if human writers, in their 
discussions on the subject, had been content to receive this 
divine constitution on God's authority as a truth, and with 
the heart-loyalty due to His sovereign dominion. The whole 
matter has been complicated and perplexed by laborious 
attempts to commend it to the natural reason of men ; all of 
them sorry efforts to make men believers by reason, whereas 
faith must stand, not in the wisdom of man, but in the 
authority of God. 

The testimony of this passage is conclusive as to the great 
fact that the atoning obedience of Christ puts us into the 
category of righteous ones, for so the words signify. 1 It was 
the obedience of the Son of God, however ; for not only are we 
here to recall the primeval constitution, but also the divine 
dignity of the Surety. Not that He obeyed in the divine 
nature, but He who did obey was a divine person — the Son of 
God ; and it must never be forgotten that He took our nature 
as a workman takes a tool or instrument to accomplish a 
certain end. This obedience to the law in all its parts He 

1 xantrrullvitriM, rendered in the English version were made, is stronger than 
the Greek word warrants : it means, "were put into the class or category of" 
sinners, and into the category of righteous ones. How ? By the representative 
action of one for many. 


required not for Himself, but wrought it out for us, that it 
might at once have infinite value, and be made an absolute 

(^Vy Another passage of great importance on the atonement 
is the section in the sixth chapter, which sets forth the con- 
scious relation which the apostle says he occupied to Christ in 
His death : What shall we say then 1 Shall we continue in sin, 
that grace may abound ? God forbid. Hoiu shall we, that are 
dead [better, that died~\ to sin, live any longer therein 1 Know 
ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were 
baptized into His death 1 that like as Christ was raised tip from 
the dead by the glory of the Father, even so wc also should walk 
in newness of life. For if we have been planted together [better, 
co-planted] in the likeness of His death, ive shall be also in the 
likeness of [better, we shall at the same time belong to~\ His 
resurrection : knowing this, that our old man is crucified with 
Him [better, co-crucified], that the body of sin might be de- 
stroyed, that henceforth we shoidd not serve sin. For he that is 
dead is freed [better, is justified] from sin. Now, if ive be dead 
with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him (Eom. 
vi. 1-8). This memorable passage must be clearly understood, 
because the same language recurs in many of the Pauline 
epistles. We have therefore to inquire whether the expres- 
sions represent the death of Christ as vicarious, or whether 
they are to be explained according to a mystical interpretation, 
without reference to the idea of substitution. 

To understand what is meant by jdyin^^ith_ Christ, we 
must apprehend the connection. The apostle, after describing 
our standing in the second Adam (v. 12-19), had added, that 
where sin abounded, grace much more abounded. Perceiving 
the objection that would be made to such a view of grace, 
the apostle says, " Shall we continue in sin, that grace may 
abound ?" and rejects the imputation with abhorrence. Not 
content with this, he proceeds to prove that this perversion 
could not ensue, for a reason which touches the deep elements 



of God's moral government, and renders it impossible. What 
is the reason he assigns ? It is not the influence of a new 
class of motives which he brings out at the end of the chapter, 
but a solid ground in law. He argues from a fact — the great 
objective change of relation intimated by dying with Christ. 

We have to inquire, then, what is intimated by those ex- 
pressions on which he lays the greatest stress of his argument 
(ver. 1 2) : dying with Christ, and dying to sin, buried with 
Christ, co-crucified and co-planted 1 with Him. One text 
will serve as a key to the meaning, viz., " We thus judge, that 
if one died for all, then all died," for so the words must be 
translated (2 Cur. v. 14). There the apostle, it is obvious, uses 
these two expressions interchangeably : He died for all, and 
all died in Him. He describes the same thing from two differ- 
ent points of view. The first of the two describes the vicarious 
death of Christ as an objective fact; the second sets forth the 
same great transaction, in terms which intimate that we too 
are said to have done it. Thus we may either say, Christ 
died for us ; or say, we died in Him. We may equally affirm 
He was crucified for us, or we were co -crucified with Him. 
This alternating phraseology, duly observed, makes all plain. 
But it must be fully apprehended that we have not two acts 
presented to us by the expression, — one on Christ's side, and 
another on ours, that is, an experience on our side parallel 
to His. We have but one public representative, corporate 
act performed by the Son of God, in which we share as 
truly as if we had accomplished that atonement ourselves. 

The mistakes committed in the interpretation of this 
chapter of the epistle — and they have come down from ancient 
times — are mainly due to the fact that the ideas of the fifth, 
chapter have not been carried into the sixth. If we carry 
the thought supplied by the representative character of the 
two Adams from the one chapter into the other, the diffi- 
culty vanishes. Nay, the very same form of expression is 

1 The preposition in composition retains its force in fwiratpti/nv, rvnffravpafa, etc. 


found in the fifth chapter in the statement : " By one man sin 
entered into the world, and death by sin ; and so death passed 
upon all men, for that all sinned" (Rom. v. 12). The mean- 
ing is, all men sinned in the first man's act of sin ; for that 
public act was representative, and common to all his offspring. 
There have been, in fact, but two men in the world, with the 
two families of which they are the heads; there have been 
but two public representatives. The idea of Christ's Surety- 
ship, and the representation of His atonement as the act of 
one for many, run through the entire section, with only this 
peculiarity or difference as compared with other passages, that 
here we are described as doing what our representative did ; 
that is, the one corporate act is described from our share in 
the transaction. But let us notice the expressions. 

It is said we d ied to ._siN.,(ver. 2). As this phrase is 
very much misunderstood, its meaning must be ascertained. 
It frequently occurs in the Pauline epistles in different forms, 
and uniformly alludes not to an inward deliverance from sin, 
but to the Christian's objective relation, or to his personal 
standing before God in the vicarious work of Christ ; it means 
that we are legally dead to sin in Christ. 1 This is rendered 
quite certain by two other expressions occurring in the section. 
The first of these passages applies the same language to the 
Lord Himself ; for He is said to have died to sin once (ver. 
10). Now the only sense in which the Sinless One can be 
regarded as dying to sin, is that of dying to its guilt, or to the 
condemning power which goes along with sin, and which must 
run its course, wherever sin has been committed. He died to 
the guilt or criminality of sin, when it was laid on Him ; cer- 

1 This mode of interpretation indicated by J. Alting in his Commentary, is 
comparatively recent, and lias mainly been advocated by recent Dutch divines, 
Klinkenberg, Heringa, Vinke. Haldane, in his Commentary on Romans, main- 
tains it ; but it is not yet admitted by the Germans. The old view advocated 
by the Reformers and Puritans, failed by making the whole too much a sub- 
jective experience, or an inward renovation. The origin of the misinterpretation 
must be traced to the separation of the sixth chapter from the fifth, as if a wholly 
new subject began at Rom. vi. 1. 

1G4 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

tainly He did not die to its indwelling power. The second of 
these passages shows that this dying was the ground or meri- 
torious cause of our justification : " He that is dead has been 
justified (not freed, as it is unhappily rendered in the English 
version) from sin" (ver. 7). The justification of the Christian 
is thus based on his co-dying with Christ ; that is, we are said 
to have died when Christ died, and to have done what Christ 
did. The words undoubtedly mean a co-dying with Christ in 
that one corporate representative deed ; that is, they mean that 
we were one with Christ in His obedience unto death, as we 
were one with Adam in his disobedience. Christ's death to 
sin belongs to us, and is as much ours as if we had borne the 
penalty. And the justification by which our persons are for- 
given and accepted, has no other foundation. It is note- 
worthy that the fifth chapter, from which this idea is carried 
over, describes all this in the third person ; whereas the sixth 
chapter describes it in the first person, and from our own share 
in it. 

It is also said in this section, that our old man is crucified^ 
or co-crucified, with Him. The entire section of which this is 
a part, is to be regarded not as hortatory, but as the simple 
statement of fact ; it does not set forth anything done by us, 
but something done on our account, or for our sake, by a Surety, 
in whose performance we participate. But, it may be asked, 
may we not hold with the great body of expositors, from the 
Reformation downwards, that these varied expressions designate 
two separate classes of actions, — one done by Christ, and a 
similar or parallel one by us, — and that the phraseology must be 
taken in two different senses as used respecting Christ, and as 
used respecting us ? No ; the expressions are not to be taken 
in a proper sense as applied to Christ, and in a figurative sense 
as applied to us. The acts are not two, but one, described 
from two different points of view. There is not one crucifixion 
on the part of Christ, and a second, parallel and similar but 
different, crucifixion on the part of His people. There is but 


one corporate act, as we noticed in the previous chapter, — the 
act of one for many. 1 

But what is the old_ man that is said to be co-crucified with K 
the Lord ? Does not this refer to mward corruption ? Though 
commentators have long expounded it in this way with a sort of 
common consent, such an explanation is untenable, as it would 
make the expression synonymous with the next clause, and 
thus not only yield a bald tautology, but give an instance of 
inept reasoning ; for the one clause is made the ground or con- 
dition of the other. The old man is crucified, in order that 
the body of sin, or sin within us as an organic body, might be 
destroyed. Now there must be a difference between the two 
clauses, as the former is in order to attain the latter. The old 
man said to be crucified with Christ, is therefore our old per- 
sonality, or Adamic standing, which is terminated that we 
may have a new relationship to God in the crucified Surety ; a 
privilege which lays the foundation also for the destruction 
of inherent corruption. But these two (ver. 12) — person_ and 
nature— are not to be confounded ; nor will the apostle's reason- 
ing admit any comment which confounds them. 2 

But, to bring the matter more fully home to the mind of 
his readers, the apostle says we were baptized into His 
death (ver. 3). The Lord, in the historic outline of His death, 
is presented to us as laden with sin, and satisfying divine 
justice; and baptism, as a symbolical representation, exhibits 
our connection with Him, or participation in that great cor- 
porate act which was in the room of all His people. We are 
supposed to have done what He did, and to have undergone 
what He underwent, to satisfy divine justice. The symbol 

1 The notion of two acts, similar but separate, has led commentators ami 
practical writers into a labyrinth of mysticism, which cannot be put into intelli- 
gible words. See the modern German exegetes as examples. 

2 The want of this distinction is the source of most of the modern theological 
confusion. The Reformers drew the line between justification and sanctification. 
Later divines called the two the relative and real, the forensic and inherent. 
But whatever name is used for the objective and subjective, we must maintain 
this distinction, or confound everything. 

1G6 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

of baptism showed this, and the apostle recalls the fact that 
it was a baptism into His death, an emblem of oneness 
with Christ, or fellowship with Him in His death to sin (ver. 

But when it is said that we were _co-planted wi th Him in 
Tin: likeness of His death, it may be asked, does not this seem 
to run counter to all that has been said as to the one corporate 
representative act of Christ ? If mention is made of the like- 
ness of His death, does not this seem to intimate two acts, — one 
on Christ's side, and one on ours 1 Does not this take away 
our attention from the objective act of substitution, to some- 
thing more mystical in human experience analogous to the 
work of Christ ? By no means. It is one act and one atone- 
ment in the room of sinners to which all these terms refer. 
And the expression, " in the likeness of His death," seems to be 
an allusion to baptism as an emblem, likeness, or symbolical 
representation. 1 The connection of the two verses, we think, 
proves this. 

But another thought to be noticed is, that the oneness with 
Jesus in His death, or the co-dying with Him, secured the 
ulterior end of life. The death was the price of the life. 
The one was the cause, the other was the unfailing reward or 
consequence. We must put these two in juxtaposition. 

First, then, all the above-named expressions, and others 
similar to them, point to a discharge from a hard master. That 
master is sin, which is described through these two chapters 
as a mighty potence, or tyrant, that entered into the world 
by one man, and reigned over the human race. This is more 
than a personification, more than a figure of speech, for the 
apostle is struggling to express a relation where human analo- 
gies break down. He has no term by which to describe it 
but the power of a potentate, or of a master, over his slave. 
By death this yoke is broken, according to the language of Job : 

1 J. Alting, in his valuable Commentary, proposes this exposition on Rom. 
vi. 5. 


" There the wicked cease from troubling ; and the servant is 
free from his master" (Job iii. 19). The apostle declares that 
not only was the death of Christ a substitution in our room, 
but that, in consequence of its being a definite and express 
substitution, we may be said to have done what He did. And, 
in virtue of our oneness with Him, we are discharged from 
sin as a master. 

But jrn^^ECTJRES_LiFEj for thisdife is the fruit, effect, or 
reward consequent on the former. 'If the Christian died with 
Christ, he will also live with Him, by a bond as sure as that 
which obtains between antecedent and consequent, between 
Christ's own death and resurrection. (/If we died with Him, 
we believe that we shall also live with Him (ver. 8). But if 
that is so, — if Christians live with Christ as surely as they died 
with Him, — it follows that their life can no longer be devoted 
to sin, but to God, as was the life of Christ. They have fellow- 
ship with the Lord in His resurrection-life, a participation of 
the same holy life that the Lord lives in heaven, and cannot, 
therefore, surrender themselves to a course of sin. 

Now this is the grand answer to the current cavil or objec- 
tion to the doctrines of grace mentioned at the beginning of 
the chapter. The apostle, in refutation of it, appeals to the 
deepest principles in the moral government of God. He proves 
that Christ's vicarious death, for the satisfaction of divine 
justice, and for the annihilation of sin, opens a way for the 
entrance of a new reign of life. He makes it indubitably 
evident that Christ's own resurrection-life, which comes in to 
renovate and transform humanity, renders a life of sin, or a 
continuance in sin, impossible. Motives may go far ; and 
they, too, are called into exercise. But this is a sphere im- 
mensely elevated above the power of mere motives. The 
life of Christ enters to renew mankind, and to secure 

(ViyA further testimony, of much weight on the doctrine of 
the atonement, is as follows : For ivhat the law could not do, in 

1GS apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

tit at it was weak through the flesh, God, sending His own Son in 
the likeness of sinful flesh [better, in the likeness of the flesh of 
sin}, and for sin [better, as a sin-offering} condemned sin in the 
flesh ; that the righteousness of the law might he fulfilled in us, 
who vjalk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit (Bom. viii. 3). 
The apostle had stated at the commencement of the chapter, 
that, notwithstanding the indwelling sin which still adheres to 
us, and which he described in the previous chapter (vii. 15-25), 
there is no condemnation to the Christian ; and then he sub- 
joins the text under our notice as the ground of the non- 
condemnation, and of the deliverance from the law of sin and 
death. The passage amounts to this, that there is NO condem- 
nation, because sin has been condemned in Christ's flesh, 1 
and the approved fulfilment of the law is laid to our account. 
Tne following elements of the atonement come to light in this 
passage : — 

1. The source of the atonement is traced to God the Father 
having a Son to send. The language emphatically declares 
that the whole atonement owed its origin to God as its source, 
and that it must be read off from the act of the Father as 
sending His Son to offer it. It emanated from God as its 
fountain ; for it could not have been extorted from Him had 
He not spontaneously devised and executed it. And as He 
was the source from whom it came, so was He the authority 
by whom it was accepted as a complete satisfaction. What 
was prepared by God, must of necessity be acceptable to 

2. The person by whom the redemption- work was finished, 
was the eternal Son, His own Son, His proper Son. This 
title indicates not only filiation, but true and proper Godhead ; 
for He is the Son of God in a unique sense, not by adoption, 
not by incarnation, not by resurrection, but by an eternal act 
of generation, in consequence of which He is designated the 

The two expressions, oLVtv Kardxpifix and xxrixptvi rhv a/xapriccv, must be seen 


only-begotten Son. And the influence of the divine nature of 
the Lord on His whole atoning work is not obscurely indicated: 
it was the work of a divine person, and owed to this its bound- 
less value and dignity. Thus the Lord Jesus, in his redemp- 
tion-work, cannot be regarded as mere man, but as God-man, in 
whom both natures concurred at every step to the production 
of a joint result. The work is thus one, because the person is 
one. It was the deity of God's Son that gave His redemption- 
work a value which is altogether infinite ; and, thus viewed, we 
find that it not only emanated from God, but was consummated 
by the workmanship of Him who was God. 

3. The Son of God was sent in the likeness of sinful 
flesh ; that is, of the flesh 1 of sin. This expression must be 
carefully investigated, lest we should either err by overstate- 
ment, or come short of its meaning by defect of statement. It' 
goes very deep, but we must be careful to fathom it. One 
thing is self-evident : the language must be understood as 
affirming the true incarnation of the Son of God, and as ascrib- 
ing to Him a real humanity, in contrast with every Docetic or 
phantom theory of His becoming man. And further, the union 
of Godhead and manhood in the one person of the eternal Son 
carried with it this consequence, that it must needs be sinless 
humanity, inasmuch as the Son of God could not have united 
to Himself anything sinful. By the operation of the Holy 
Ghost, His humanity, which never for an instant existed apart 
'from the divine person of the Son, was generated pure ; like 
sinful flesh indeed, but not sinful flesh. And this was secured 
by the fact, that though He took His flesh from Adam through 
the Virgin, He never was in Adam's covenant, but the second 
Adam, the restorer. He was a kinsman-Eedeemer, to be within 
the pale of our humanity ; but He neither derived any taint 
of mind or body by transmission from Adam, nor contracted 
any guilt for which He was personally responsible. 

1 sv ofioiufturi trccpxo; apaprias \ Oil which ClirySOStom SayS, olTs yap apupriuXov 

170 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

The import of the expression we are considering is not 
exhausted, however, by the idea of a bare incarnation, or His 
becoming man. That, of course, lies at the foundation of the 
whole ; but there is a further thought, which cannot be ex- 
cluded. The statement that He was sent in the likeness of 
sinful flesh, implies that between Him and other men no per- 
ceptible difference could be traced ; that as to personal appear- 
ance, in weakness and exhaustion, in infirmity and weariness, 
in sorrow and mortality, He was in all respects made like unto 
His brethren. The language intimates that He entered into 
the human family poor and despised, hungry and thirsty, 
subject to the ordinary toils of labour in an earthly calling, 
and to the fatigue consequent upon it ; a man of sorrows, and 
acquainted with grief ; not exempt from the fear of death nor 
from actual mortality. In short, He came within the circle of 
humanity, and into all that this entailed, so far as it could be 
experienced by One who was at once sinless man and the 
beloved Son of God. But several observations are here neces- 
sary to put this matter in its proper light, which is rarely, if 
ever, expounded with all the fulness and precision which are 

a. We are not to consider the Lord as assuming this like- 
ness to the flesh of sin in a mere arbitrary way, and without 
sufficient cause. It is not enough to say that He assumed this 
likeness to fallen humanity for no reason at all, or merely for 
the purpose of being like His brethren. Though His partici- 
pation in our nature, in its sufferings and temptations, qualified 
Him to sympathize with us, and fitted Him to be a merciful 
and faithful High Priest (Heb. ii. 1 7), we are not warranted to 
conclude that this was all the reason for which He was sent 
in the likeness of sinful flesh. He was found in fashion as a 
man, and in the likeness of a sinful man, so that no difference 
could be discovered between His flesh, which was sinless, and 
that of other men, who are sinful. 

h. We are not to regard the Lord as deriving those sinless 


infirmities by transmission from Adam or from His mother 
by the necessity of nature. They were by no means an in- 
evitable accompaniment of the incarnation, or of wearing our 
humanity. Mortality, which some suppose to be all that is 
meant by the phrase under consideration, was not a necessary 
adjunct of assuming our humanity, any more than were the 
heaviness and agony, the sorrows and fainting, the tears, trials, 
and temptations, by which He was made like unto His brethren. 
They could not come upon Him in any other way than sin 
came upon Him. They came upon Him, not as a personal 
legacy by derivation or transmission from the first man, or from 
the fact of His entering into our world, but simply on the 
ground of His voluntary Suretyship. They were in His case 
the consequences and effects of sin, but of sin not His own, 
and merely borne by imputation. In other words, He was the 
curse-bearer because He was the sin-bearer. 

c. We cannot regard sin as attaching to the earthly life of 
Christ. A certain class of crude divines, who know neither 
what they say nor whereof they affirm, have of late been assert- 
ing a modification of Irvingism, to the effect that sin belongs, 
so to speak, to that life in which Christ knew no sin, and that 
He has " done with sin in having done with the life to which 
sin belonged." 1 The great error of Irving, who maintained 
that our Lord assumed fallen flesh, was precisely similar. 
But from this it would follow that the mortality and sorrows, 
the temptations and trials to which He was subjected, fell 
upon Him by the necessity of nature, not by substitution or 
voluntary Suretyship. That supposition subverts the very 
principle of substitution, which takes for granted that a sinless 
person, with a complete exemption from sin and all its conse- 
quences, spontaneously entered into the position and responsi- 

1 In this crude style do many Plymouthists express themselves (see Darby's 
Girdle of Truth, p. 298 ; and M'Intosh, Synopsis, iii. p. 454) ; not apprehend- 
ing that if Christ was personally in Adam's covenant, He could not have heen 
a Mediator for others ; for He would not have been without personal guilt and 

172 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

bilities of the sinner. The crude theory to which we have 
referred, is contradicted by the entire provisions and arrange- 
ments of the incarnation. The Lord Jesus never was in Adam's 
covenant, but came as the second Adam, the counterpart of 
the first ; and His entrance into humanity by the supernatural 
conception, was meant to obviate the imputation of Adam's 
first sin, as well as the transmission of any of its consequences 
by the necessity of nature. He was peksonally exempt, both 
as the incarnate Son and as the- second man, from all the guilt, 
as well as from all the consequences connected with the guilt, 
of the first Adam. He was within the human family as a 
kinsman-Redeemer, and not outside its pale ; but that was all 
which His incarnation as such, or simply considered, properly 
involved. To suppose that sin, or any of its consequences, 
attached to the person of the Lord by the fact of assuming our 
humanity or entering into human life, is a lamentable confusion 
of idea. It perplexes and disorganizes everything ; it confounds 
things that differ. 

The personal and the official in the life of Jesus must 
always be distinguished. These can never be merged in each 
other, without the most mischievous and fatal issues. The 
personal relation is one thing, the official is another. The 
former brings Christ before us as a divine person, and calls 
attention to a sinless humanity, — that is, to a humanity ac- 
cording to its idea or normal condition ; and if the mediation 
on which He entered had not involved the propitiation for 
sin as well as the obedience originally devolved on man as 
man, the Lord Jesus would doubtless have appeared in a 
noble humanity, in the same humanity, at least, as that which 
Adam possessed before the fall. But this could not be on 
account of the problem to be solved. At present, all I wish is 
to show that, in our conceptions, the personal must be dis- 
tinguished from the official. The personal relation of Jesus 
possessed a full immunity from the imputation of guilt, and 
from inherent taint in every form. The personal underlies the 


official ; and if we should suppose that sin attached in any 
sense to the person of the Lord, or to the human life in which 
He came, He would have been incapacitated for His work of 
mediation and vicarious obedience. There could have been no 
substitution in our room and stead. 

This will enable us to understand the words, " in the like- 
ness of sinful flesh." The expression points to the effects of 
which sin was the cause, but sin not His own. The conse- 
quences resulting from the imputation of sin to Jesus were 
such, that He was in all points made like the brethren, or sent 
in the lijkeness of the flesh of sin ; that is, subject to suffering 
and mortality, as if there had been no difference between man- 
kind and Him. And when we call to mind what we have 
elsewhere proved, that He was the sin-bearer from the moment 
of assuming our humanity, we have at hand a ready explana- 
tion of the otherwise inexplicable fact, that He came among 
men as if He were one of them, exposed to sorrow and tempta- 
tion, suffering and death. His human nature never existed 
apart from personal union to the Son of God, nor apart from 
sin-bearing; and hence He appeared in the likeness of the 
flesh of sin, not by a mere arbitrary assimilation to us men, 
but because He bore in His own body the weight of imputed 
sin ; a fact which gave rise by legitimate consequence to such 

The apostle states that God, in preparing a body for Christ, 
sent Him in a humanity, not such as it was in a state of 
integrity, when it was beautiful and glorious, but in a form 
such as it now is, viz., as bearing the sad marks of sin. Thus 
no perceptible difference appeared between His nature and 
ours, not because precisely the same flesh was transmitted to 
Him that goes down from Adam to his posterity, but because 
He took upon Him, by voluntary Suretyship, that load of im- 
puted guilt, which carried in its penal consequences all that 
He endured of abasement and heaviness, temptation, suffering, 
and mortality. It was still, however, officially assumed, not 

174 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

personally inherited. It was sin not His own ; and it was a 
humiliation and a cruel crucifixion to which He submitted, not 
because He must, but because He was pleased so to do. In 
a word, He was so like the flesh of sin when found in fashion 
as a man, so tempted in all points like as we are, that no 
difference was perceptible to any eye. That humanity so 
abased, and suffering from the effects of sin, must have been 
a vast humiliation for such a person, may easily be supposed. 
Yet God sent His Son to wear humanity in such a form ; and 
the reason of all this is immediately subjoined, as we have next 
to notice. • 

4. The words, for sin, or, more correctly, sin-offering, 
connected with the words on which we have been commenting, 
convey this meaning, that He came in the likeness of sinful 
flesh because He was a sin-offering or a sin-bearer. The first 
Adam, ushered into a world without sin, was provided with a 
nobler body. The second Adam, immensely greater than he, 
came among men from another sphere, and showed Himself in 
the likeness of the flesh of sin, in meanness and abasement. 
Some limit the likeness of sinful flesh to this, that He was 
subject to suffering and death. But while these elements are 
unquestionably included as important ingredients, they are not 
all, nor do they exhaust the apostolic idea. 

The expression, for sin, is by some regarded as denoting 
that Christ was cruelly put to death, or treated with sinful 
malice and insult. But such a comment cannot be made even 
exegetically plausible ; the words will not bear it. Another 
comment is to the effect that He was sent on account of sin, 
as the cause which weighed with God to send Him. The 
meaning, on this supposition, will be, that God intended to 
punish sin by means of Christ ; and but for such a design, it 
might have been thought that He was visited with suffering 
without sufficient cause. This is a tenable comment. But of 
all the interpretations, by far the most natural is the mode of 
construing which refers the words to the sin-offering, or to an 


atoning sacrifice. In confirmation of this, we find the phrase 
so used in the Epistle to the Hebrews 1 (Heb. x. 6), and in the 
Septuagint version of Isaiah, where Christ's soul is said to be 
given as an offering for sin (Isa. liii. 10), as well as in many 
other places in the same version (Lev. iv. 35, v. 6, vi. 17). 
The sense will be as follows : — By such a sacrifice for sin, the 
sacrifice of His own body, though He owed nothing, and was 
under no liability, He condemned sin in the flesh. As Christ 
is elsewhere directly and by implication called a sacrifice, I do 
not see that there ought to be any doubt whether this is the 
meaning of the Pauline expression. Besides, on this expla- 
nation, everything will be found to fall into proper order in 
the structure of the sentence, without any ellipsis or any word 
to be supplied : it will be construed with what precedes, not 
with what follows. The only objection that can be made to 
this interpretation is, that the passage does not make mention 
of Christ's death, but of His mission. But there can be no 
objection on that ground : for we often find similar phrases in 
connection with the propitiation of Christ, the sending being 
for the sake of the death, and comprehending it (1 John iv. 
9-10). We hold, then, that the expression denotes a propi- 
tiatory sacrifice, a sin-offering.' 

5. But it is added, that by this means God condemned sin 
in the flesh. To apprehend the meaning of this phrase, it 
must be noticed that sin is still personified, as it was in the 
three previous chapters. The apostle speaks of sin entering 
into the world, and reigning over the human family as a 
potence, monarch, or cruel master (Bom. v. 12, 17), and as 
exercising an authority, from which we are legitimately rescued 
only by a death to sin (Bona. vi. 2). The reason of this peculiar 
phraseology may be, that a distinction can be drawn between 

1 Uipi apaprix;, sin-offering. Origen interpreted it piacular sacrifice. The 
great Lutheran divines, for a time, also took this view of the phrase here, — 
Melancthon, Chemnitz {Ex. Cone. Trid. i. 141), Balduin, Spener {die Evan- 
gelische Glaubens-gerechtigkeit, p. 600). 

176 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

the man and the sin which enslaves him ; God condemning the 
man, not as His workmanship, but as he has sin. Sin destroys 
the person, and being therefore much like a person, is capable 
of being personified. From the passage where he first spoke 
of its entrance (v. 12), up to this point, the apostle has been 
personifying sin ; and hence we have no warrant to take the 
word sin in any other acceptation in the passage before us. 
We must still regard sin in this passage as the potentate that 
has held the human family under his power. But when Christ 
was sent by the Father to engage with this enemy, He over- 
came him, judged, and condemned him. 

But we have next to notice how God condemned sin. The 
same personification as was before used, is still continued. 
Sin is spoken of as a person judged at a higher tribunal, and 
righteously condemned. In consequence of this, he has no 
further claim to those over whom he had previously tyrannized, 
for they are now set free. No other signification can be attached 
to the word condemned but such as is identical with the mean- 
ing of the word in the first clause of the chapter ; for the no- 
condemnation which believers enjoy, is based on the condem- 
nation of sin, which was accomplished in the flesh of Christ. 

The question, indeed, as to the flesh, in which sin is said 
to have been condemned, is variously answered by different 
interpreters. But the connection decides that the allusion is 
to the human flesh assumed by Christ ; that is, to the same 
person of whom he had said that He was sent in the likeness 
of sinful flesh. The apostle plainly refers to the flesh of Christ, 
and intimates that God condemned sin on Him as the sinless 
sin-offering. He satisfied the divine claims, partly by His 
perfect obedience, — that is, by what the Son of God, as sent 
into the world, rendered in our room, — partly by bearing the 
curse of the law, — in a word, by sinless sin-beaeing ; which 
may be taken as the descriptive formula for the atonement. 
And in consequence of this vicarious work, sin was condemned 
in His flesh, and lost its power over us. 


But there are two ways in which this allusion to the 
condemnation of sin has been expounded. Some less accu- 
rately explain the expression in a more subjective sense, viz. of 
abolishing, or eradicating sin. 1 That cannot be accepted as the 
meaning of the word, which has always a judicial idea. Hence, 
others more happily take the term in its proper meaning, as 
denoting that God judicially condemned sin in the flesh of 
Christ, when He offered Himself as a sin-offering. The term, 
wherever we find it, intimates a judicial sentence (Rom. ii. 1, 
v. 1 8). In short, it is a condemnation that frees us from con- 
demnation, the sentence being executed on our Surety (Gal. 
iii. 13; 1 Pet. ii. 24). The language denotes that Jesus was 
visited with penal suffering, because He appeared before God 
only in the guise of our accumulated sin ; not therefore as a 
private individual, but as a representative, sinless in Himself, 
but sin-covered, loved as the Son, but condemned as the sin- 
bearer, in virtue of that federal union between Him and His 
people, which lay at the foundation of the whole. Thus God 
condemned sin in His flesh, and in consequence of this there is 
no condemnation to us. 

The apostle furthermore states all this as a result which 
the law could do nothing to effect. And as to the philological 
construing of the sentence, the first part of the verse may be 
fitly placed in apposition with the whole statement, in the 
following simple way : " A thing impossible 2 for the law, in 
that it was weak through the flesh." 

6. The last point to be mentioned is, that Christ was made 
the sin-offering, and condemned sin in the flesh, for this further 

1 This subjective exposition, proposed by the Socinians, has latterly found 
support from many evangelical divines ; but it cannot be vindicated, because 
xarixpivi has a forensic meaning, and no example can be adduced to prove that 
it means to abolish, apart from a judicial sentence. 

2 There are three modes of construing the sentence. Luther resolved it, 
What the law could not do, God did ; "Winer makes it an anakolouthon ; Fritzsche, 
followed by Philippi, makes to a^uvxrov rou v'opov, as apposition to the whole sen- 
tence, thus : a thing [or, the thing] impossible for the law. The last is the simplest, 
and most natural. 


178 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 


filled in us. That is so like another expression of the same 
apostle, that the two passages may fitly be compared for mutual 
elucidation (2 Cor. v. 21). This expression cannot be referred 
to any inward work of renovation ; for no work or attainment of 
ours can with any propriety of language be designated a " fulfil- 
ling of the righteousness of the law." The words, " the righteous- 
ness of the law," are descriptive of Christ's obedience as the work 
of one for many (Eom. v. 1 8). This result is delineated as the 
end contemplated by Christ's incarnation and atonement, and in- 
timates that as He was made a sin-offering, so are we regarded as 
fulfillers of the law. The one was with a view to the other (I'm). 
And when the righteousness of the law is said to be fulfilled in 
us, the meaning is that it belongs to us, and is applied to us in 
consequence of that union by which Christ abides in us, and we 
in Him, 1 It is fulfilled in us, as if we had done it all ourselves. 
VIIJ Another passage on the atonement is to this effect : 
If Goabe for us, who can be against us ? He that spared not 
His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not 
with Him also freely give us all things ? Who shall lay anything 
to the charge of God's elect ? It is God that justifeth ; wlio is 
he that condemneth ? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is 
risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh 
intercession for us (Rom. viii. 31-34). Here the apostle ex- 
tols the privileges _ of those who are completely freed from 
condemnation by the atonement. And when we analyze these 
triumphant questions, which follow each other in rapid suc- 
cession, we perceive that the atonement is a real transaction, 
furnishing the fullest security for real persons. Beholding 
enemies and opposition on every side, the apostle confidently 
defies them, on the ground that God is for us (ver. 31). But 
that challenge is based upon another statement which connects 
the Christian's safety with the atonement (ver. 32). 

1 This is the exposition of the Lest Lutheran divines of the post-Reformation 
age — Calovius, Spener, and others ; of Jacomb, Brown of Wamphray, etc. 


Before entering on the explanation of the clauses, it is 
necessary to define the import of the words, His own Son. 
These words carry with them the idea of a proper Son, of a 
Son according to divine relationship prior to His incarnation ; 
and every one who reads the words without prepossession, and 
with a simple desire to find out the meaning of the writer, is 
naturally led to refer them to the divine Sonship. The apostle's 
expression is intended to bring out two things : on the one 
hand, the strong love-relation which the Father occupied to 
the person of the Mediator ; and, on the other hand, the infinite 
dignity and value attaching to whatever was done by the Son 
of His love. Furthermore, to apprehend the thought here 
brought before us, and how the Son is said to be delivered, it 
must be noted that we cannot suppose the three divine persons 
in the Godhead without any natural order of being, of willing, 
and of working ; for the Father is said to have given the Son, 
and evinced His infinite love by giving Him. We cannot 
suppose that the second person assumed our nature merely by 
compact or agreement, without any relation of natural order ; 
for such a notion' would be out of harmony with the entire 
language of Scripture, which always represents the Father as 
sending His Son, or the first person as giving the second. 1 The 
love to sinners discovered in redemption is thus seen in its first 
origin in the Father. 

Next, the scope of the apostle's argument, and the nature 
of it, must be distinctly traced. It is an argument from the 
greater to the less ; the same style of reasoning of which we 
have already had some striking examples in this epistle (Bom. 
v. 9, 10). The argument is, that He who gave the greater, will 
certainly give the less ; that He whose love surmounts the 
greatest difficulties, will not be baffled by what comparatively 
is much less arduous. And He amplifies the infinite love of 
God to make the cogency of the reasoning the stronger and 
more forcible. When God gave His Son foe us, the expression 
1 See Vitringa's Latin and Dutcli replies to Eoellius on Christ's Sonship. 

180 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

undoubtedly means that He gave Him for our good, for our 
advantage. But the inquiry still remains : In what sense, and 
with what peculiar force, are we to understand that the death 
of Christ was for our good ? Was it so by example, doctrine, 
or instruction ? or was it because He died a vicarious death 
when we should have died, — a punishment in the place of those 
who must otherwise have perished ? That is a point to be 
decided by other elements and expressions that enter into the 
description of His death ; and they have already been under 
our examination in other passages. The giving up of the Son 
of God, here referred to, certainly does not mean for our benefit, 
in a vague and indefinite sense ; for the inference deduced 
from it, that all things will be conferred along with Christ, 
plainly refers to the idea of substitution. Did not many pious 
men in the Jewish nation give themselves for the good of their 
countrymen ? Were not many prophets and righteous men 
slain ? But of whom was it ever said that their sufferings 
were the means of all other blessings that were conferred on 
others ? On the contrary, the blood of Abel and of all the 
martyrs rather cried for vengeance. But here it is said that 
with Cheist ceucified all good things were conferred. 

In this passage there is first a statement of fact, and then 
an argument founded upon it. It is the statement of fact ex- 
hibiting the source, nature, and scope of the atonement, with 
which we have to do. The great argument practically deduced 
from it, supplies an inexhaustible ground of confidence and 

1. The first thing in the statement of fact is : " God spaked 
not His own Son." This expression occurs several times 1 in 
the New Testament with an allusion to punishment. Thus it 
is said of the Jews, that God spared not the natural branches 
(Eom. xi. 21) ; of the angels that sinned, that God spared them 
not, but cast them down to hell (2 Pet. ii. 4) ; and of the old 
world, that God spared not the old world, but saved Noah 
1 See De Haas, over Romeinen, v. tot. viii. 1793. 


(2 Pet. ii. 5). The expression, as applied to the Son of God, 
means that God did not withhold Him, the constituted surety 
of others, from the abasement and suffering which must needs 
be borne in the execution of His function, but dealt with Him 
according to strict justice. Though essentially a divine person, 
He is here considered as the Son of God assuming our nature 
with the sin and punishment which are properly ours. Hence, 
notwithstanding the infinite and eternal love with which He 
was regarded as the Son, and which never could be lowered or 
withdrawn, God spared Him not. He was at once loved and 
not spared, according to the twofold relation which belonged to 
Him, as the Son of God and as man's surety. There is nothing 
incongruous in this. He was, on the one hand, the object of love 
as the Son of God, and aLso as the sinless fulfiller of the law (John 
x. 17). But, on the other hand, He was the object of punitive 
visitation, and not spared, as the surety and the sin-bearer. 

The words here used seem intended to recall the human 
analogy in the case of Abraham, and certainly suggest that it 
was a sort of violence to the Father-love of God when He 
spared Him not. What does this presuppose ? It assumes 
that He would have spared His Son had He wished to execute 
upon us the punishment we had incurred. He would have 
spared His Son, and removed the cup of suffering from Him, 
had He not purposed to confer upon us all conceivable good. 
But, in love to us, He spared not His own Son. He removed 
not the cup from Him, that it might never be presented to us. 
This scripture connects the Christian's safety under divine pro- 
tection with the fact that God spared not His own Son, — a 
phrase which implies that He spared not the Surety, that He 
might rescue us. 

The second thing in the statement of fact is : " God de- 
livered 1 up His Son." This is not precisely synonymous with 
the former, nor quite the same as the expression, " He gave 

1 See J. Alting on the passage, and his proof that this comprehends a de- 
livering over by God to human violence. 

182 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

His only-begotten Son " (John iii. 16); at least there is a 
shade of difference. In the phrase before us, there is the fur- 
ther idea that the supreme God delivered Him into the hands 
of men, to be treated as if in reality He were the malefactor 
which they represented Him to be. This delivery into the 
hands of sinners has already been explained by us (Acts ii. 23). 
Judas and the high priest, with the council, were concerned 
in it ; but there was a hand above theirs, and there is nothing 
to prevent us seeing a principal and an instrumental cause. 
The unworthy instruments of this delivery only sought to 
gratify their malice ; the just Judge acted righteously. Christ 
was tried and sentenced at a human tribunal, which was but 
the visible foreground of an invisible trial in which the right- 
eous God was judging righteously, for human guilt was laid 
upon the person of the Substitute. For wise reasons, already 
noticed, God arranged the events of the atoning sacrifice in 
such a way that Christ was not to be cut off by the immediate 
hand of God, but by men who were His hand, and only grati- 
fied their malice against the representative of- God. The 
human judge, who in the most unprecedented way absolved 
and yet condemned, declared Him faultless and yet passed 
sentenced against Him, represented in the transaction the 
Judge of all the earth, who regarded Christ in a similar way. 
The human judge could only pass a sentence that would- affect 
His body ; but another sentence from a higher tribunal took 
effect upon His soul, and brought home the wrath of God. 
And under this invisible infliction the Lord experienced agony 
and desertion ; under this He poured forth His complaint, His 
strong crying and tears, and endured that penal death which 
rescues us from the second death. 

A further statement is, that the Son of God was delivered 
up foe us all. As we have already noticed the substitution 
underlying the passage, we do not need to return to this, and 
only further inquire for whom all this was done. They are 
special persons ; but the apostle does not say for all, but for 


US all. And when we ask who they were, the obvious answer 
is, that they were the believing men to whom Paul wrote, and 
who were joined with himself. They are the same persons in 
reference to whom the apostle said, " If God be for us, who 
can be against us ?" They are the same parties who are de- 
scribed all through the epistle, and specially designated in the 
context as the predestinated, the called and justified ; in a 
word, they are the true church of God, for whom Christ died. 
It cannot be said that God is foe all and every one, since 
there are many who are without reconciliation, and have Him 
not as a protector and defender. 1 

JirSu. such is the statement of fact, the argument based upon 
it is in the highest degree important. It is a form of reasoning 
from the greater to the less — from the stupendous act of God 
in delivering up His Son, to the lesser blessings which go along 
with it and are appended to it, — thus : He who gave the greater, 
will not grudge or withhold the less. The passage, too, takes 
for granted that the death of Christ altered our relation, 
making us, of enemies, the friends of God and the objects of 
divine protection. The argument is : He that did all this for 
sinners, will not abandon us when friends ; He who gave the 
greater, will not grudge the less. 

The only point further demanding notice is furnished by 
the striking antithesis : " Who is he that condemneth ? It is 
Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again" (ver. 34). 
This challenge as to its import gives a thought of the same 
kind with what was considered above at the commencement of 
this chapter (Bom. viii. 1, 3). The non-condemnation of the 
elect — that is, of every one for whom Christ died — is here 
affirmed in the most emphatic way by this triumphant chal- 
lenge. The justice of God was satisfied for them ; and the 
challenge is : Who can condemn one for whom He died ? In 
a word, everything concurs to proclaim aloud the vicarious 

1 The explanation of this class of texts is easy, if we consider that the apostle, 
under the us and we, comprehends the redeemed church of Christ. 

184 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

death of Christ for our redemption, and none can condemn 

then* ^ 

\VIIIy Other allusions to the atonement, though more in- 
direct and less express in statement, occur in the Epistle to 
the Eomans. Thus the apostle refers to the connection between 
the purchase of a people and Christ's dominion over them 
when he says, " For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and 
revived, that He might be Lord both of the dead and living" 
(Bom. xiv. 9). The special reference of the atonement, too, 
comes to light emphatically in the descriptive name for a 
Christian — " one for whom Christ died" 1 (Eom. xiv. 15). An- 
other passage may be noticed, containing a quotation from a 
Messianic psalm : " The reproaches of them that reproached 
Thee fell upon me " (Eom. xv. 4 ; Ps. lxix. 9). The words 
contain an allusion to the atonement, from which the ethical 
precept is enforced, as in many other passages (2 Cor. viii. 9). 
It is not enough to say with some that the words describe 
Christ as deeply affected, from the zeal animating Him, with 
reproaches cast upon God ; nor to say that, from the intimate 
fellowship between Him and the Father, He endured all that 
was cast on the Father. Nor do the words set forth the pun- 
ishment of blasphemers pronounced on Christ. They rather 
intimate that sins, bringing dishonour upon God, were in their 
guilt laid 2 on the Lord Jesus, or so imputed to Him that He 
bore them in His own body, as if He were guilty and men 
were innocent. Hence He did not please Himself; and from 
this the apostle enforces conformity to His example (comp. 
1 Pet. iii. 18). 

1 We shall consider this title of a Christian helow, when we come to 1 Cor. 
viii. 11. 

2 Bengel, who apprehends this passage more profoundly than other com- 
mentators, thus expounds it. See also Hofmanni demonstrate, I.e. 



During Paul's three years' residence at Ephesus, he learned 
that doctrinal and practical corruptions, calling for prompt 
correction, had crept into the recently founded church of 
Corinth, and he sent from Ephesus (1 Cor. xvi. 8) his first 
epistle, containing a solemn warning, and a call for the im- 
mediate exercise of discipline (1 Cor. v. 1-5). Peculiar cor- 
rections of various kinds were needed to bring hack the 
disciples to their true position; and in dealing with these 
abuses, the apostle takes occasion to exhibit the bearings of 
the atonement in a great variety of lights applicable to their 
religious condition. He places these corruptions one by one 
in the light of Christ's redemption- work, and refutes them 
from that central truth. 

( I. JWhen party-spirit and undue attachment to the in- 
dividual peculiarities or gifts of human teachers were to be 
corrected, the apostle exhibits the absurdity and self-contra- 
diction of indulging this spirit in the following way: Was 
Paul crucified for you ? or were ye baptized in the name of Paid 1 
(1 Cor. i. 13.) He shows the Corinthians that this was a 
tendency at once incongruous and misplaced in Christianity, 
because they did not owe their redemption to the ministers by 
whom they believed; that only One was the true master; 
and that His unique authority, to which too much deference 
could never be paid, was based on His redemption-work. 
Nothing more convincingly shows that the atonement was 
in its nature different from a martyr's testimony, and from 
all mere example or instruction, however this might be con- 
firmed by exposure to peril, or by actually sealing the testi- 
mony with blood. 

The phraseology here used, shows that the meaning con- 
veyed by the expression, Christ was crucified for us, is, that 

18G apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

He satisfied divine justice in our stead. As an illustration, the 
apostle spoke of one man dying for another who was a righteous 
or good man (Bom. v. 7). Yet, when Christ is said to have 
been crucified for us, the meaning is, that He by substitution 
bore our sins, and brought in eternal redemption. This ques- 
tion, Was Paul ceucified for you ? contrasting Paul's work 
with Christ's, shows that Christ's death was for a wholly dif- 
ferent end than can be competently applied to one man's act 
for another. We may be required to put life to hazard for 
the brethren, and to fill up what is behind of the sufferings of 
Christ (2 Tim. ii. 10 ; Col. i. 24) ; but in what sense ? Not as 
dying for their sins, but to confirm the truth of the gospel, and 
edify the church by a spectacle of stedfastness and constancy ; 
for the Christian rather suffers, than exposes the church to 
danger. But between sufferings belonging to confessors for the 
truth, and vicarious sufferings as a propitiation for sins, there 
is a world-wide distinction. 1 There may be a certain similarity, 
but no identity, no equality. The expression, "crucified for 
us," intimates something unique and incommunicable, belonging 
to the work performed by Him who was the one Mediator 
between God and man. That substitution was competent to 
Him alone : He redeemed us from eternal death, and the curse 
of the law. When believers suffer in Christ's cause, this is a 
filling up of what is behind of His buffetings from the hand of 
man, or the fury of Satan stirring up human instruments against 
those who are engaged in spreading His cause. But the ques- 
tion, "Was Paul crucified for you ?" intimates by contrast, that 
as to His atoning work, Christ's sufferings were unique, vica- 
rious^and incommunicable. 

(iLJ The apostle places in the light of the atonement another 
aberration of the Corinthian church, — the undue admiration of 

1 Turretin, de Satlsfactione Christi, p. 97, says happily against Socinus, who 
expounds the phrase as simply denoting that Christ's position was only that of 
priority: " Paulus non negat tan turn prioritatem ordinis aut gradus, sed rem 
ipsam tollit tanquarn alienarn et soli Redemptori . . . propriam." 


human eloquence, or the wisdom of words : For Christ sent me 
not to baptize, but to preach the gospel : not with wisdom of words, 
lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the 
preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness ; but unto 
us who are saved it is the power of God (1 Cor. i. 17, 18). Two 
points are here brought out in connection with the atonement : 
the simplicity which Paul used in preaching it ; and the fact 
that the preaching of it is the power of God. 

(1.) The reason for simplicity and abstaining from the 
wisdom of words was, lest the cross of Christ should be made 
of none effect. Paul neither gratified the Greek passion for 
eloquence, nor threw into his preaching any powerful rhetoric 
at his command, and of which these epistles contain several 
striking examples (1 Cor. xv.) ; and this he did, lest the gospel 
should lose its power, lest men should turn their attention from 
the cross to the words in which it was presented. He did not 
call in the aid of human philosophy, or the wisdom of words, to 
make an impression for the gospel, well aware that foreign 
matter or rhetorical refinement was only subversive of its 
efficacy, and that it was sufficiently powerful of itself to bring 
conviction and peace to a human conscience. He abstained 
from the wisdom of words, lest men should undervalue it, as if 
it had not power to touch a human heart, but needed eloquence 
to induce men to receive it. The honour woidd thus be given 
to the art, and not to the matter. 1 

(2.) The preaching of the oross was the power of God. 
This remarkable statement is put alongside of another — that it 
is to them that perish foolishness. The wise among the Corin- 
thians — that is, philosophic minds attached to some of the 
famous schools of philosophy — held it was folly to represent 
the Son of God as dying on the cross ; while to the Jews the 
cross was an offence, because it was, as they thought, incom- 
patible with the pictures of the Messiah's everlasting reign 
given in the prophets. Paul declares, notwithstanding all this 
1 See Mosheim's Erklarung of the two epistles to the Corinthians. 

188 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

Gentile and Jewish resistance, that he was determined to know 
nothing and to preach nothing but a suffering Messiah, exalted 
indeed to universal dominion, but whose kingdom was based 
upon His cross. 

The preaching of the cross was called the power of God, 
because the announcement of Christ's atoning death, in its 
full outline, brought divine power upon the scene, the re- 
newing of man's nature, the restoration of the divine image 
once possessed in paradise. The power here mentioned refers 
not to miraculous accompaniments of the gospel, nor to the 
omnipotence which brought about the fact of the atonement, 
but to the power of God displayed in converting and regene- 
rating men where the cross was preached. The gospel con- 
tinues to be the power of God as the instrument by which 
men dead in sin are raised to spiritual life. An almighty, 
supernatural power goes along with the word ; but with what 
word, with what message ? With the preaching of that cross, 
which was, and still is, to so many foolishness. This result 
is found to follow wherever preaching is connected with the 


as the provision of divine love for the guilty. 1 But only that 
gospel is the power of God which proclaims that the cross 
was the propitiation for sin, the sole ground of pardon. The 
proclamation of these great facts continues to produce, as it has 
always done, transforming results, which are referred to the 
pow T er of God ; for God inhabits that word which is based on 
the incarnation and the cross. It is the habitation of His 
pow T er, — it is, as it were, His chariot ; all the attributes of God 
surround it and adorn it (Heb. iv. 1 2) ; but let anything else 
be substituted for the cross, and preaching is denuded of its 
efficacy, and stripped of this power. 

1 Compare Rom. i. 17, where the gospel is called Su'va^*/; Siou ; and Heb. iv. 
12, where the various attributes of God are connected with God's word. This 
fact, that the word and divine power are united together, is one of the most 
signal proofs that the atonement is accepted and ever valid, for it brings God's 
present power upon the scene. 


TIT. Another passage in the same context, to correct the 
same state of mind, is as follows : But of Him are ye in Christ 
Jesus, who of God is [better, was] made unto us wisdom, and 
righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption (1 Cor. i. 30). 
The whole section in which these words are found, has Christ 
crucified for its theme. It is primarily intended to guard the 
Corinthians from the undue love of human eloquence ; it shows 
that men partake of Christ, not by the wisdom of words, but 
by the gift of God. Four terms are used to describe what 
the Christ as crucified becomes to His people, — viz., wisdom, 
righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. The distri- 
bution of them has often been too artificial and out of harmony 
with the context. Thus many regarded them as descriptive of 
the threefold office of Christ; wisdom being referred to His 
prophetical office, righteousness to the priestly office, and the 
two others to the kingly office. 1 That classification — a most 
unhappy one — proceeds on a mistake of the meaning. The 
apostle, throughout the context, is describing Christ crucified : 
he had called Him, a few verses before, the power of God, and 
the wisdom of God (1 Cor. i.,24); and in the verses immedi- 
ately after this passage he declares the determination on which 
he had acted, — to know nothing among them save Jesus 
Christ, and Him crucified (1 Cor. ii. 2). Certainly, Christ 
crucified is the theme to which the four terms refer, and this 
suffices without more formal distribution. 2 The entire passage 

1 See the numerous Latin, Dutch, and German expositions of the Heidel- 
berg Catechism, where this text is quoted, question 18. They adopt almost 
universally this distribution. 

2 Cocceius and his followers suppose that the words are put in a reversed 
order ; that redemption, though placed last, is the first in order, or the source ; 
and that from this flows next in order, the regenerating and sanctifying faith by 
which we axe justified, till we arrive at the wisdom of God. That is more subtle 
than natural. L. Bos supposes a parenthesis, thus : (who was made wisdom 
to us of God ;) and takes the three words, righteousness, sanctification, and re- 
demption, as designations of Christians, instead of saying, fully righteous, holy, 
and redeemed. Others have given different distributions. See Meyer's note, 
though defective, and Prof. A. Butler's sermon on this text. 

190 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

thus refers to the priestly office of Christ, or to the benefits 
derived from His cross. 

(1.) Christ was made 1 to us wisdom. The meaning is, that 
He was the objective wisdom, in whom are hid all the trea- 
sures of wisdom and knowledge ; and that He was so, as the 
Christ crucified. First the constitution of His person, and next 
His finished work, peculiarly adapted to meet the wants of 
man, and to harmonize the attributes of God in man's redemp- 
tion, discover unsearchable wisdom. Christ crucified was the 
objective wisdom of God ; and the apostle, in dilating on the 
theme, felt that, though it was disrelished by those who boasted 
of Greek culture, and an offence to the Jew, he was speaking 
wisdom among them that were perfect. 

(2.) Christ was made to us righteousness. The previous 
elucidation of this term enables us to dispense with many 
remarks. Two things were necessary. On the one hand, we 
needed to be saved from the guilt of violating the divine law, 
and from treason against the Divine Majesty ; and the right- 
eousness indispensably necessary was found in the second 
Adam, who subjected Himself to our guilt, and transferred it 
to His innocent head. He made it His own by suretyship, 
confessing it in the name of all for whom He appeared, ac- 
counting for it to divine justice, submitting to the penalty, and 
drinking to the dregs the bitter cup filled with the curse of a 
broken law. We equally needed, on the other hand, His active 
obedience, which fulfilled the divine law, and brought in an 
everduring righteousness. And the Lord Jesus did both foe 
us. He transferred our sins to Himself as if they were His 
own, and laid His merits to our account, as if we had rendered 
all His meritorious obedience in our own person. And to make 
all this available to countless millions, who were to stand in 
Him as mediator, surety, and kinsman, He was at once very 
man and very God. 

1 The English version, in rendering kytYvH as a present, has rather obscured 
the allusion to Christ crucified as the theme. 


(3.) Christ was made to us sanctification. This term is 
closely connected with the former by two Greek particles, 1 
which show that it is of the same nature, class, and order with 
the former. Hence it is evident that we must take the term in 
the only sense in which it can apply to Christ crucified, in the 
objective acceptation, for that which Christ has been made to 
us on the ground of His atoning sacrifice, viz. the introducer 
of sinners to God, the foundation of priestly privilege, the 
Author of their worship and boldness of approach. The same 
thought is brought out in the Lord's words, when He announced 
that He sanctified Himself for the sake of His disciples that 
they might be sanctified (John xvii. 1 9) ; and in the Epistle to 
the Hebrews, where it is said, "Both He that sanctifieth and 
they who are sanctified are all of one" (Heb. ii. 11). We must 
go back to the Jewish worshippers, and the severe prohibition 
against coining before God if not purified according to the pre- 
paration of the sanctuary; for persons defiled were without 
access, and debarred from fellowship with Jehovah and other 
worshippers. But, when sprinkled by the blood of sacrifices, 
they were readmitted to the worship. They were then a holy 
people. The blood of sacrifice was their sole ground of access. 
Even so, by means of the one ever valid sacrifice of Calvary, 
sinners excluded on account of sin have access in worship 
and boldness to approach a holy God. In that sense Christ 
crucified was made of God to us sanctification. 

(4.) Christ was made of God to us redemption. The term 
is to be taken here in the strict sense, denoting that Christ 
was our objective redemption, who has bought us with a price. 
It means that He was, in His own person, our Piedeemer and 
redemption. We shall not enlarge on this word, as it occurs 
again and again in different connections. It may here suffice 
to say that Christ is viewed as the objective ground of our 

1 The particles ts xa) always unite things as related classes, and the em- 
phasis is thrown on the first. (See Hartung on the Particles, and Hofinann's 

Schriftbeiueis ; Passow by Rost, and Hand on ti.) 

192 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

deliverance from captivity by a valid ransom, and that His 
active and passive obedience redeemed His people from the 
penal consequences of their sins. Though many expositors 
prefer to take this term in the wide sense as referring to final 
deliverance at the resurrection, that is out of keeping with the 
context, which refers to Christ crucified. Besides, that accep- 
tation requires some other terms to warrant it (Eom. viii. 23 ; 
EpKiy. 30). 

(rV.JThe church is directed to purge out the leaven of sin 
by the consideration that Christ, our passover, was an atoning 
sacrifice : Christ our passover is sacrificed for us : therefore let 
lis keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of 
malice and wickedness; hut with the unleavened oread of sincerity 
and truth (1 Cor. v. 7, 8). The whole matter is put in an Old 
Testament guise : the New Testament times are compared with 
the passover feast, the Eedeemer with the paschal lamb, the 
purification of the houses from every particle of leaven with 
the outward and inward holiness of the Christian church. 
The entire New Testament age, or, more strictly, the entire 
life of a Christian, is to be nothing else than a keeping of the 
feast of redemption, in the same way as the passover was the 
feast of deliverance from Egypt. Christ is presented to us as 
the antitype of the paschal lamb, and all is traced to His 
vicarious sacrifice. In noticing this peculiar phrase, sacri- 
ficed foe, us, it is to be observed that we have not only a 
distinct allusion to the fact that Christ was sacrificed in the 
only sense in which a victim could be offered, — that is, as a 
perfect lamb, and by divine appointment, — but that it was a 
transaction which, from the nature of the case, involved substi- 
tution. 1 When it was for us, the import is, that it was for 
our benefit, but only so because, according to the nature of the 
transaction, it was in our room and stead. Christ, by His 

1 Turretin, cle Satlsfactione Christi (p. 198), says happily: "Si mactari et 
offerri debuit victima super altari, nonne et ipse pro nobis WiHn et peccata super 
lignum tulit ?" (1 Pet. ii. 24 ; 1 Cor. v. 7.) 


death, was our deliverance, the true Paschal Lamb slain for 
us; an expression never used of any merely human teacher 
or benefactor. If applied to a Paul or Peter, who bore much 
and suffered much for the church, it would be felt to be in 
the highest degree incongruous and absurd. It can be used 
only of a sin-bearing substitute. 

The apostle's words plainly take for granted that the pass- 
over was a proper sacrifice, and hence it is called the sacrifice 
of the Lord's passover (Ex. xii. 27). It was not a mere 
symbol of deliverance from Egypt, though connected with 
their captivity and freedom, but pointed to something special : 
it lay at the foundation of the separate standing of Israel and 
of their economy. The sprinkling of the blood on the lintels 
and door-posts preserved their first-born from the destroying 
angel on that night of woe to Egypt. The lamb was the sin- 
bearer; the worshipper, confessing guilt, and acknowledging 
that no personal innocence of his exempted him from the 
merited infliction of that divine wrath which the adjoining 
families experienced, ascribed all to divine grace and to the 
divinely-appointed passover. It must specially be noticed 
that paschal blood effected the church's separation from the 
world, and made Israel a kingdom of priests. The passover 
was the foundation-sacrifice which set apart the nation for 
God, and made them a holy people. It was the passover that 
drew a clear line of demarcation between the church and the 
world, — the one being under God's protection, while the other 
was left under divine wrath. And from age to age it was 
this sacrifice of the Lord's passover that kept up the distinc- 
tion between Israel and the Gentiles, the church and the 
world. Israel by this means became a peculiar people, a holy 
nation. They came out and were separate, much in the same 
way, though with a marked complexional or national variety, 
as the church of God still stands apart from the world and 
was redeemed for this end. 

But what were the later celebrations of the passover— the 


194 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

repetitions of it in subsequent times ? Were they merely com- 
memorative ? They were much more. 1 The subsequent repe- 
titions of the passover were also sacrificial, and not a mere 
memorial, as appears from the language used respecting it as 
a standing institution in Israel (Ex. xxxiv. 25). The offering 
of it as the Lord's sacrifice, and the taking of the blood to the 
altar, prove it not to have been a mere commemoration of a 
past fact in Egypt. Its annual effect was to continue what 
had been begun — to keep Israel what they had been appointed 
to be, the people of God. The repetition only repeated His 
redeeming act. God was considered as sparing Israel anew 
from the avenging angel, redeeming them from bondage, and 
renewing their fellowship with Himself, till the true Passover 
came that accomplished the types, and terminated them for 
ever. The annual celebration of the passover preserved Israel 
to be the people of God, for the first paschal sacrifice was 
only the first of the series. We may illustrate the first and 
the subsequent passovers by the analogy of creation and 
preservation. The latter is a work of God no less than the 
former, the continuation of what was once begun, but not 
less requiring the present agency of God. And so important 
was the passover to Israel, the covenant people, that it not 
only made them a separate, peculiar, and holy nation, but 
gave significance to all the other sin-offerings. No Jew might 
neglect it, and no stranger had a part in it. 

From this realization of the type in Christ crucified the 
apostle deduces two things, to which we shall but advert. 

1. The Christian church in general, and every individual 
believer, are exhorted to keep the feast (ver. 8), and to keep 
it, not once a year, but constantly. Our entire life is to be 
the keeping of a redemption festival, the reality of which the 
deliverance from Egypt was but a type. All our life, nay, the 
entire period of the Christian church on earth, must be festival 

1 See Hengstenberg's excellent exposition on the passover in his work on 
Sacrifice, and also on John i. 29 ; also Kliefotli. 


days, — days of pleasantness and joy, because of the magnitude 
of those blessings which the atonement conferred on us; for 
the Son of God was sacrificed that we might keep the feast 
perpetually, and with festive joy. 1 

2. They ought to purge out the old leaven (ver. 7), that is, 
have no old leaven of malice and wickedness in the celebra- 
tion of the feast (ver. 8). The apostle interprets the meaning 
of this arrangement, and exhorts the Corinthian church to the 
observance of it : to labour for sincerity and unfeigned purity, 
external and internal, to evince their redemption and separa- 
tion from the world by a holy and blameless life. The image 
is peculiarly adapted to the matter which the apostle was 
enforcing — the holiness, internal and external, of the New 
Testament church. 

(V.) Some licentious practices had crept into the Corinthian 
churcn demanding immediate correction ; and it deserves notice 
that the apostle puts them in the light of Christ's atonement, 
exposing their hatefulness as inconsistent with the position of 
redeemed men : What ! know ye not that your body is the temple 
of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye 
are not your own ? For yc are [better, ivcre~] bought 2 with a price : 
therefore glorify God in your body (1 Cor. vi. 19, 20). Three 
things are contained in this memorable passage, which is of 
the greatest value on the doctrine of the atonement : (1) The 
privilege that Christians are the temple of the Holy Ghost, 
and not unoccupied; (2) they are bought to be another's, 
and are not their own ; (3) the fact of being bought supplies 
the most powerful motive for glorifying God. These three 
apostolic thoughts are thus put together as an argument : A 
Christian may not surrender himself to impurity, for this reason, 
that he has become the property of a new master, and is more- 
over under the influence of a new motive, prompting him to 

1 See Calvin's admirable Commentary ; also Mosheim's. 

2 Here again the English version is unhappy in its use of a present tense for 


196 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

dedicate his life to a holy service. As our task, however, is to 
develope the doctrine of the atonement, we limit our attention 
to the scope at which we aim. 

The apostle, in setting forth that we are not our own, an- 
nounces that we are bought, and bought with a price (rtf/jfj). 
Though we do not expressly find here the terms ransom and 
redemption, beyond question the same thought is presented to 
our minds. The several apostles, as we shall see, with the most 
perfect uniformity of teaching, compare our deliverance from 
guilt to a slave's deliverance from bondage by the payment of a 
costly price. The underlying thought is captivity, or a state of 
slavery, under which we are viewed as held ; and five distinct 
ideas are unfolded in the apostles' phraseology wherever they 
touch this theme, — viz. the captive, the holder of the captive, the 
Eedeemer, the price, the receiver of the price. But it is asked, 
Why was it not an absolute deliverance, when divine love was 
engaged in this great transaction ? Why did not the God of 
love simply pronounce our liberation, without a ransom ? No 
absolute deliverance of this nature is ever alluded to in Scrip- 
ture. Nor was a liberation possible without a price or ransom, 
in consequence of the fact of sin, against which all the divine 
perfections were arrayed. The unspotted holiness, the inflexible 
justice and faithfulness of God, as well as the inviolable authority 
of His law, rendered the liberation of guilty men without a 
ransom simply impossible. 

When mention is made of a price, and of Christians as 
bought with a price, the terms plainly enough display the 
nature, intention, and scope of Christ's death (comp. Apoc. v. 9). 
The Lord's delivery to death was the price by which we were 
bought. The allusion is to the well-known prevalent custom 
of classical times, with which the apostle was familiar, by 
which, on the payment of a price, a slave passed out of the 
hands of one master into the service of another. The apostle 
applies the same style to the Christian's deliverance, or redemp- 
tion from one service to another. He does not here speak of 


purchased blessings, but of purchased men. In like manner 
Paul speaks of the church purchased with the blood of Christ 
(Acts xx. 28). As to the price paid, it is elsewhere sufficiently 
described, when it is represented as the act of Christ, who 
gave His life a ransom for many, who gave Himself a ransom 
for all to be testified in due time (Matt. xx. 28 ; 1 Tim. ii. 6). 
If the death of Christ, or His obedience unto death, was the 
price, it must be added that the party bought or purchased 
are Christians, who in virtue of the ransom pass into another 
service, and become the property of another owner : " Ye are 
not your own." 

To invalidate this conclusion, various evasions have been 
proposed by those who object to the doctrine of Christ's sub- 
stitution. Thus, the Socinians were wont to allege that the 
expression meant no more than absolute deliverance, without 
the intervention of any price or ransom. And to give the 
greater colour to this theory, it was alleged that the words mean 
no more than that we serve Christ, without taking any ac- 
count of the fact that once we were not Christ's servants. 1 In 
a word, they will admit only the metaphorical use of the term. 
But they cannot prove this. When a word occurs in a proper 
and in a metaphorical sense, it is obvious that in each case 
we have to consider which signification is the most natural 
and admissible. But primarily we must take a term in its 
proper sense, till we are required on good grounds to admit the 
figurative sense. Even were we to concede an occasional use 
of the metaphorical sense of this term by inspired men, it 
would not follow that in all the passages commonly adduced 
for redemption by ransom, we are to call in the metaphorical 
meaning. Besides, there are appended terms which decide 
the question. We do not argue merely from the words, TO 
redeem, to buy, but take in as further proof the subjoined 
terms, " ransom," " the precious blood of Christ," and the like, 
which amply prove, if anything can, that the deliverance was 

1 That is all that Crellius will see in it. 

198 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

not simple or absolute, but on the ground of a payment made 
in our room and stead. In a word, our opinion as to the fact 
of its being a true and proper redemption is confirmed by texts 
like the present, which make mention of a price. 

In the present instance we have not merely the word 
bought, but also the additional idea of a price. Not only so : 
the apostle's mode of reasoning from the ransom is of such a 
nature as to prove that it was no figurative or metaphorical 
buying to which he referred. These two clauses, " And ye are 
not your own, for ye were bought with a price," are so linked 
together, that the latter is adduced as the ground or cause of 
the former. A price had been paid ; and as the reason why 
we are not our own is that we were bought with a price, 
nothing could more convincingly prove that this is no figura- 
tive buying, no metaphorical ransom. On the contrary, the 
ransom or price paid for us makes us another's property, and 
not our own. To insist on the metaphorical sense in such a 
passage, even though it were philologically admissible else- 
where, would make Paul reason absurdly. 

On this text we must take notice of a new and strange 
comment offered by certain modern writers, who, with many 
evangelical sentiments, unhappily deny Christ's satisfaction, 
or accounting to divine justice in our stead. Admitting the 
biblical terms ransom and price, they expound them as some- 
thing not given to God with a view to the satisfaction of His 
law and justice, but graciously conferred on man, the poor, the 
naked, and the destitute, from the eternal riches of divine mercy. 1 
That theory is propounded by those who will see nothing but 
love and moral redemption in the atonement ; but it is little 
better than a fallacious use of Scripture terms, denuding them of 
their significance. With them, redemption means not deliver- 
ance from guilt and wrath, but liberation from self-will, and a 
life of self; and this text is made to mean that Christ gave His 

1 So Klaiber, die N. T. Lehre von der Siinde und Erlosung, 1836, p. 456 ; 
and also R. Stier. 


precious life merely to liberate us from selfishness, that is, to do 
a work in us, but not for us. It confounds person and nature, 
the objective and the subjective, the standing of the man rela- 
tively and the inner condition of the heart, and is inconsistent 
with the language of the text, whether we take account of the 
words or the reasoning. The apostle affirms that we are not 
our own, because a price was paid, that we might become the 
property of another, as in ancient times a slave became another's 
property by right of purchase. And it is nothing but an abuse 
of terms to reduce this to the idea of deliverance from self-will 
or self-love. 

The meaning of the passage will be evident from the fol- 
lowing outline. It presupposes captivity : it takes for granted 
that in our natural condition we were sold under sin, exposed 
to the curse, subject to Satan, according to the just judgment 
of God, and that a ransom was necessary and fully paid ; not, 
indeed, to Satan, who was but the executioner of God's justice, 
but to God, our original owner, and the fountain of justice, to 
whom we are by this means legitimately restored. Though 
God condones all sin to us, exacting no price at our hands, 
deliverance from captivity was not without an adequate price 
paid by a Mediator in our stead. We thus pass into the 
ownership of Him by whom we are redeemed. This, of course, 
assumes the divine dignity of the Eedeemer ; for redemption, 
to be His property, is competent only to one who is divine. 
The redeemed of the Lord, once slaves under a hard tyrant, 
become the possession of Him who paid their ransom-price. 

The practical deduction from this is, that Christians have 
no warrant or right to use their bodies as they please, because 
they are the property of Christ, and their members the members 
of Christ. They may not abuse their bodies, because they are 
not their own, but His who bought them ; and are therefore to 
live according to the will and pleasure of Him by whom they 
were redeemed. The argument is irresistible. Bought at an 
infinite price from the hand of their enemies, they belong 

200 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

rightfully to Hiin who paid their ransom-price ; and hence the 
apostle adds the exhortation to glorify God. It may here be 
added, that we have a twofold security for holiness, objective and 
subjective — a new proprietorship, and a new motive ; and there- 
fore that it is a calumny when the adversaries of grace assert that 
redemption by an atonement opens a door to licentiousness. 1 

iVl) Another abuse which had crept into the Corinthian 
church, was such an undue exercise of Christian liberty as put 
a stumbling-block in the way of brethren ; and it is exposed 
and corrected by being placed in the light of the atonement : 
And through thy knowledge shall the weak orother perish, for 
ivhom Christ died? (1 Cor. viii. 11.) The same admonition on 
the same subject we found in another epistle (Eom. xiv. 15). 
The question was as to the eating of things offered in sacrifice 
to idols, or eating what the Jewish Christians deemed defiling. 
The freer Gentile Christians felt themselves at liberty to par- 
take without restraint ; but evils arose from their reckless use 
of liberty. They grieved and hurt the consciences of their 
weaker brethren, by inducing them to take a liberty in which 
their conscience did not allow them. Hence the apostle's 
reproving challenge. 

Here we shall consider the peculiar designation by which 
a Christian is named, and the ethical principle based upon it. 

1. The designation of a Christian is, one foe whom Chkist 
died. This expression occurs in the proper sense, or in an 
acceptation appropriate to the thing. The sense in which 
Christ died for a redeemed man is unique. Though the ex- 
pression may, in a certain sense, be used to denote what one 
man does for his fellow-men with a view to be serviceable, 
especially in propagating the Christian religion, and in founding 
the Christian church (Acts xv. 26 ; 2 Cor. xii. 15), still that is 
only in a very modified sense. It cannot be denied by any 
one acquainted with Scripture phraseology, that it was never 
said of any mortal man who made himself useful to others by 
1 See Arnold's Latin refutation of the Eacovian Catechism. 


toils or endurance, imprisonment, danger, or death, borne for 
their good, that he suffered or died for them to the extent that 
Christ is said to have suffered and died for His people. We 
cannot understand the phrase, as applied to Christ, in the sense 
that He suffered to give us an example, nor in the vague sense 
that He suffered by exposing Himself to danger which might 
or might not actually strike Him. He spontaneously put 
Himself in our room and stead, to bear sin and encounter cer- 
tain death as the due punishment of those whose place He 
occupied. When the apostle reasons on the supposition of 
what may take place in common life, — that one may by possi- 
bility suffer for another in a lower sense, — he gives us to 
understand how he uses the preposition (Bom. v. 7). As Christ 
Himself puts the matter, the most important part of the task 
committed to Him consisted in this, that He laid down His 
life for the sheep ; and He connects with this the additional 
explanation, that He was neither constrained by inevitable 
necessity, nor mastered by His enemies' power. He laid down 
His life of His own proper motion, as one having power to 
do so, and at His Father's command ; proceeding, as this com- 
mand did, on the supposition that He had power to lay it clown 
(John x. 1 8). A Christian is thus one for whom Christ died. 

2. The apostle next adduces a motive for the well-regu- 
lated exercise of Christian liberty from the atoning death of 
Christ. Christian duty in general is enforced by considera- 
tions derived from the cross. But the special duty here re- 
ferred to — that of abstaining to offend or vex a Christian 
brother by unduly standing upon the right of exercising Chris- 
tian liberty— is inculcated by the constraining motive derived 
from the death of Christ. The consideration of the costly 
price by which Christ redeemed any Christian brother in par- 
ticular, furnishes a specially cogent motive to limit Christian 
liberty. He who puts another's spiritual welfare to hazard 
by such a course, knows not the value of the ransom; and 
the apostle exposes the selfish disregard of a brother's wel- 

202 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

fare by the contrast furnished by the love of Christ, and by 
the value which the Lord put upon him. It is as if he said : 
Christ died for that brother, and put such value on him, that 
He did not grudge His abasement and agony to win him ; and 
will you not limit your liberty in such trivial things as meats 
and drinks, to rescue him from danger to which he will other- 
wise be exposed ? The antithesis between Christ's redeeming 
love and the selfish disregard of a brother, implied in such a 
course, is put in the most pointed way. 

Before leaving this passage, it is necessary to obviate an 
Arminian comment. From the expressions here used, a false 
conclusion has been drawn as to the extent of Christ's death, 
and the security of those for whom He died. That is a false 
deduction springing from a wrong idea of the word " destroy," 
which does not here denote eternal destruction. It often means 
to hurt, to injure — the opposite of that which tends to the use 
of edifying. The apostle does not mean that one man destroys 
another ; for that is not competent to man, and is the sole 
prerogative of God, who can destroy soul and body. But one 
brother may put a stumbling-block in another's way, and by 
this means mar his peace, defile his conscience, and occasion 
weakness, trouble, and sorrow. The apostle does not mean 
actual perdition, as if any for whom the Saviour offered Him- 
self a surety could finally be destroyed. How could they 
perish finally, when Christ had offered Himself an eternally 
valid sacrifice, expiating their sin, and satisfying all the claims 
of the law in their room and stead ? (John vi. 39.) They are 
kept not only by power, but by the security furnished by 
divine justice itself, to the salvation ready to be revealed. 

The motive here supplied is, in an ethical point of view, 
of the strongest and most cogent. The apostle wishes to point 
out to those uncharitable asserters of liberty, that he whom 
they respected so little was not so viewed by Christ, but was 
so tenderly loved that the Lord had not disdained to die for 
him. He speaks of those who were made Christian brethren 


by that atoning death, and shows that, from the infinite price 
paid, we may estimate the value to be set on them. Hence 
the point of the admonition, not to offend them. 

VII. The apostle, while correcting another abuse, in con- 
nection with the Lord's Supper, which had also crept into the 
Corinthian church, takes occasion to expound the meaning of 
the institution. He points out that it was a memorial of the 
Lord's death, and that they who celebrate it show the Lord's 
death till He come (1 Cor. xi. 23-27). He records the event 
as he had received it from the Lord Himself; for though 
some suppose the words mean that Paul received the account 
of the institution from the disciples who were present, that is 
plainly an inadequate commentary on the words. The terms 
imply, beyond doubt, a special communication, given by the 
Lord Himself, that Paul, in founding the churches, might act 
with as much confidence and as certain knowledge as the other 
apostles. When he adduces the very words of Christ uttered 
at the institution of the Supper, they are carefully distinguished 
from his own. Among other things peculiar to the Pauline 
account of the Supper, may be noticed the words, " This do 
in remembrance of me." The verb may be either in the in- 
dicative or imperative mood, but far more fitly in the latter, 
expressive of command. These words are given twice, nearly 
in the same form, first at the distribution of the bread, next at 
the giving of the cup ; and Luke, as was to be expected from 
Paul's companion, also records flie words in the same way. 

But what did the Lord mean, when He bade the first dis- 
ciples do this in remembrance of Him ? The opponents of 
the atonement considered as a vicarious sacrifice, say the words 
merely direct us to remember His salutary doctrine, or His 
example, or His great commandment to love our fellow -men. 
That Paul apprehended the words in a different way, is evident 
from the comment which he gives : he affirms that we show 
forth, not His doctrines, not His example, but His death as 
an atoning sacrifice for sin (ver. 26). 

204 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

Without dwelling on the sacramental elements and actions, 
let it suffice to say that they point to the one sacrifice of the 
cross. Thus, when the bread was given, He said, " This is 
my body," — alluding to His entire humanity, in respect of the 
obedience which He rendered to His Father in the room of 
sinners. When the wine was given, He said, " This cup is the 
new covenant in my blood," — alluding to the blood of sacrifice, 
by means of which the new covenant was formed. Though 
the former may be said to bring before the mind His whole 
suffering obedience generally, we cannot fail to see that the 
Supper came in room of the passover, and recalled the eating 
of the passover. But besides, a new covenant was to come in 
room of the Sinaitic covenant, and the Lord deemed it fitting 
to give an emblem of the blood of sacrifice, by means of which 
those heretofore aliens could be taken into a new covenant, as 
a holy people, and sit as guests, without danger or dread, at 
the Lord's table. They, in a word, by that sacrificial blood 
entered into a new covenant-standing, no longer shadowy or 
capable of dissolution, but perfect and inviolable. 1 

All this is recalled to memory by the constant celebration 
of the Supper, intended to be a perpetual institution and fre- 
quently repeated. The disciples commemorated His death, 
not as a thing indifferent, not as a historic incident having no 
direct bearing on present interests and experience, not as a 
mere confirmation of His doctrine, but as a true atonement. 
They were to have a memorM of Christ crucified, and His 
redeeming love, brought home to them by means of emblems 
vividly recalling to them the nature of His sacrifice, and fur- 
nishing food for the understanding and the heart. When they 
were directed to show His death till He come, — that is, when 
the death of Christ was made the ground of festive com- 
memoration, — we see what an important and unique design 
lay at the foundation of His sufferings and death. These could 

1 See our previous volume, Sayings of Jesus on the Atonement, on Matt. 
xxvi. 28, where this connection is expounded at large. 


be no other than vicarious — the actions of a substitute and 

The Lord's Supper, thus replete with significance, has 
maintained its ground in the church amid all the revolutions 
of time. The Lord did not leave it to the apostles to institute 
it after His departure, but regarded it as so important, that 
by His own authority, while yet present, He instituted it in 
the most solemn manner on the night of His betrayal, imme- 
diately before going out to the garden. The bread and wine, 
selected as emblems of His body and blood, were designed 
to imbue His disciples with the persuasion, (1) that His 
body was the true paschal sacrifice; and (2) that His blood 
was the true sacrificial blood by which the new covenant was 
constituted, more perfect by far than the covenant at Sinai. 
The elements were signs of a reality, — pledges in hand, that as 
surely as they took the sign, they by faith received the thing 
signified; for they were seals and pledges as well as signs. 
The covenant is founded simply on the blood shed for many, 
for the remission of sins, without any other element, whether 
in the form of intervening merit, or moral improvement, or 
services to be performed, as the procuring cause. The cup of 
thanksgiving was thus the participation of the blood of Christ, 
and the bread the participation of the body of Christ (1 Cor. 
x. 16). 

The sacrament of the Supper loudly proclaims this great 
truth to all time, and all ages must hear it. Till the Lord 
come, His atoning death must be proclaimed with festive joy 
at the Supper, as often as it is deemed proper to celebrate it. 
Of how great importance must that truth be which Jesus so 
vividly portrayed, and the perpetual memory of which He 
so carefully secured ! This shows what a rank and place be- 
long to the atonement. It is the principal thing in the gospel ; 
nay, it is the gospel. Take it out of the gospel, and it ceases 
to be the gospel. 

VIII. In proceeding to correct another error, which had 

206 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

reference to the resurrection of the body, the apostle takes 
occasion to describe the gospel which he preached, and to 
which he continued faithful : For I delivered unto you first of 
all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our 
sins according to the Scriptures ; and that He was buried, and 
that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures 
(1 Cor. xv. 3, 4). Paul had received the gospel which he 
preached, not from men, but by particular revelation from the 
Lord ; and it was all based on the cross. The gospel which he 
had preached from the beginning, which the Corinthians had 
received, and by which they were saved if they continued 
faithful to it, was to the effect that Christ died for our sins 
according to the Scriptures, and that He rose again according 
to the Scriptures. Can this mean that Christ died for our 
sins merely in the sense of a moral redemption — that is, as 
freeing us from moral corruption ? No. The words mean, 
that our sins causally put Him to death. But we must more 
narrowly consider the phraseology. 

All depends on the proper import of the expression, dying 
foe. our sins. The Greek preposition here used is sometimes 
found in connection with persons who are the proper object 
of Christ's atonement (Luke xxii. 19 ; 1 Cor. v. 7 ; Eom. viii. 
32; John x. 11 ; Eom. v. 6, 7); and in such a connection the 
expression has the signification of expiation for the good of 
another, or for his benefit, always presupposing a vicarious 
atonement. The preposition is also used to denote men's 
advantage in connection with the final cause, or the end 
designed (John vi. 51). But when construed with sins, as 
here, the expression can only mean that His death was the 
deserved punishment. We could not from the preposition 
alone draw the conclusion that the death of Christ was the 
consequence of our sins, or the punishment of our guilt, were 
there no further particulars in the passage to lead us to that 
thought. But when mention is made, as in the passage under 
consideration, of suffering and death, the meaning unquestion- 


ably is, that our sins were the procuring cause of the suffer- 
ing. The words, beyond doubt, refer to our sins as the meri- 
torious cause of Christ's death ; and the thought expressed is, 
that the death of Christ was the punishment of sin. Though 
the preposition of itself has various shades, according to the 
connection in which it stands, certain it is, that when the 
death of Christ is put in connection with our sins, the strict 
meaning can only be, that these sins were the cause of His 
death, and that the sufferings were the punishment of our 

This will be more evident if we take in another phrase 
connected with His resurrection : " If Christ be not raised, 
your faith is vain: ye are yet in your sins" (1 Cor. xv. 17). 
The reason of this connection is not obscure, if we apprehend 
the suretyship involved in Christ's death; that He was a 
public person, or Eepresentative of His people both in His 
death and in His resurrection ; that He died for our sins, in 
the sense that He, by imputation or transfer, took them upon 
Himself, making them His own, and submitting to the conse- 
quences they entailed. If Christ had remained in death, it 
would have been an argument that those sins laid on Him, 
and spontaneously borne, had not been expiated by His death. 
Had Christ not risen, we should not have been set free from 
former sins : they would still have been put to our account. 
The argument of the apostle amounts to this, that the scope 
of the atonement, with its validity and efficacy, would all 
have been neutralized, if the Surety, who went down to death 
under the sins of His people, had not risen: we should yet 
be in our sins. When He rose, therefore, it was undeniable 
evidence that our sins had been expiated by His death (com- 
pare Eom. iv. 25). 

What objection is propounded to all this by the Socinian 
party ? It amounts on philological grounds to this, that the 
Greek preposition denotes, not the meritorious cause, but the 
final cause, — that is, that Christ died to remove future sin. But 

208 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

that is not to expound words, but to deposit foreign thoughts 
in the record ; and our function as interpreters is to evolve the 
meaning of language, not to adapt it to our preconceived ideas. 
It is one thing to say that Christ died for sins which have 
already been committed, and the guilt of which must be borne, 
and another thing to say that He died to abolish future sins. 
The former idea is in Paul's words : the latter cannot be put 
into them without altering the record. The expression can 
mean nothing but the guilt of sin considered as the meri- 
torious cause, or impelling cause, of the Lord's death. Grotius 
has well proved that the preposition, thus used, denotes the 
impelling cause 1 (see Eom. xv. 9; Eph. v. 20). When it is 
said, then, that Christ died for our sins, it means that He bore 
their punishment. 

The Socinians will have some words supplied or understood 
— a device that cannot be endured. To show, however, that 
it is not simply a matter of interpretation with them, but a 
foregone conclusion, it may be mentioned that Socinus ex- 
plicitly declared, that were the doctrine of vicarious sin-bearing, 
and the punishment of one for the sins of another, mentioned 
not once, but many times, in Scripture, he would not believe 
it, because it could not be. That open declaration is candid 
at least ; but it is an appeal to reason, not to revelation, and 
an admission that Scripture is not made the ultimate judge, 
but only to be interpreted as seems best suited to confirm or 
dress out a preconceived hypothesis. 

But taking the divine word as the ultimate authority, we 
may affirm that no language could more precisely express a 
meritorious cause than the words of the text. When our sins 
are connected with Christ's sufferings and death, the words 
bring out cause and effect. The words can be taken in no 
other sense than in that of the impelling or meritorious cause 
of the effect described. They mean that our sins — that is, the 

1 See the admirable discussion of the prepositions S*a, trspt, v-xip, when con- 
strued with apctprta, in the first chapter of his work, de Satisfaction Christi. 


guilt contracted by us — caused the suffering and death of the 
Lord ; and words cannot more accurately express the idea. 


The second epistle, written a short time after the first — at 
least after such an interval as enabled Titus to go to Corinth 
and to return to Paul — is somewhat different in tone, and 
alludes to the good effect produced by the admonitions which 
had been addressed to the Corinthian church. Titus had been 
sent to learn the impression made by the first epistle, and re- 
ported that some of the abuses had been corrected. The party 
divisions, however, were not suppressed ; and Paul was under 
the necessity of continuing personal explanations, and also 
vindicating his authority against those who depreciated his 
commission, in comparison with that of the other apostles who 
had been trained in the Lord's society in the days of His flesh. 
The apostle, in the midst of these personal allusions, takes 
occasion to interweave several references to the atonement ; 
and to these testimonies we must now come. 

(Ljln referring to activity and labour in the discharge of 
his office, the apostle declares that he was constrained by his 
Lord's atoning love : For the love of Christ constraineth us ; 
oeeause we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead 
[better, then all died, or the all died] : and that He died for 
all, that they who live sliould not henceforth live unto themselves, 
hut unto Him who died for them, and rose again (2 Cor. v. 1 4, 1 5). 
The intense activity and zeal to which the apostle alluded in 
the previous verses are traced tp_ their source — the redeeming 
love of Christ. And this leads him to dwell on the nature of 
the atonement, which is aright apprehended, according to the 
meaning of this passage, only when we duly discover the pro- 
minent place to be assigned to substitution. This is seen in 

the clause " one died for all," even when we render the Greek 


210 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

preposition (t^rsp) for the benefit of. The idea of substitu- 
tion, or exchange of places, underlies the thought, as we have 
noticed already (Eom. v. 7). Besides, substitution or vicarious- 
ness conies to light, beyond all question, in the logical deduc- 
tion, then the all died ; x for if all for whom the Lord died 
are regarded as dying in His death, no doubt can exist as to 
the fact of substitution : it is taken for granted as an undoubted 
reality. The apostle speaks of us men exposed to* death on 
our own account, and worthy of condemnation ; and to rescue 
us, a Surety or Deliverer steps forward, in the exercise of 
boundless love, and dies in our stead. The language involves 
substitution, and can be understood only on the supposition 
that one dies in another's room. It is not the case of a hero 
exposing himself to danger or death for the benefit of his 
countrymen, nor the case of a friend dying for the benefit of 
a friend, which the apostle tells us (Eom. v. 7) may perad- 
venture occur in the world's history. None of these cases 
comes up to what is indicated here ; for in such a case it would 
never be affirmed that they for whom the death was under- 
gone died in Him. We have to understand, in Christ's case, 
federal unity and substitution. 

1. What does the apostle mean by the word(DlEjas thus 
applied to us ? And how are we said to have died in the 
Lord's death ? One thing is self-evident : the apostle does not 
use it in the first clause literally, and in the next clause meta- 
phorically ; for, on such a supposition, the deduction made by 
the apostle would not hold, and the expression would be un- 
meaning. He has before his eye the case of sinners doomed 
to death, for whom a Surety offered Himself vicariously ; and 
only in such a case can they for whom the Surety interposed 

1 Beza correctly lays stress on the article ol before wavrsj : "Illi omnes 
mortui sunt." Our authorized version is always unhappy in its rendering of 
uirUavov, were dead ; for the meaning is, all died. This is admitted by all the 
modern exegetes of note, though they too exclusively limit it to the subjective 
realization in the faith of the individual (so Meyer). Plainly it is here re- 
ferred to as an objective fact. 


be said to have satisfied the law or borne the penalty. We 
take the word in the two clauses in precisely the same sense. 
It is the same phraseology, with the same import, which we 
found in the Epistle to the Eomans, as descriptive of the one 
representative act of Christ ; which for the most part is set 
forth as rendered for us, but in a considerable number of pas- 
sages is also spoken of as if we had personally done it (Bom. 
vi. 2). And the manner in which the two phrases are here 
alternated is worthy of notice. We may either say that Christ 
died for us, or that we died with Him. And the logical 
form of the verse explains the principle on which that alter- 
nating phraseology proceeds : " If one died for all, then the 
all died." From this it is plain that we must take the word 
die, applied to Christ in the one clause, and applied to His 
people in the other clause, not only in the same sense, but as 
referring to the same act. The death here mentioned is not 
twofold, but numerically one ; for we are not to regard Christ 
as performing one act, and ourselves as performing another 
parallel and similar to His. When we look at the general 
tenor of the apostle's doctrine, we find, on the one hand, that 
death is represented as the wages of sin ; and, on the other, 
we see the great Surety undergoing the penalty in our room : 
and we are said to have died in Him, because His act was 
representatively our act. The atoning death of the Lord, 
on the ground of federal unity and substitution, was also our 
act ; that is, was accepted as OUR act in Him. _^ 

2. The next inquiry has reference to the (life into which 
the Christian enters, and to the connection between the life 
and the death He died. What was meant by the apostle when 
speaking of them who live, or of the living ones, as the ex- 
pression literally means (ver. 15) ? No one who apprehends 
the Pauline phraseology as to the believer's dying with Christ, 
or crucifixion with Christ, can doubt that the life winch follows 
is premial life, subsequent to the meritorious obedience which 
was rendered. It is life following a perfect fulfilment of the 

212 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

divine law, and regarded as its reward. Very generally, ex- 
positors take this life as referring to the term of our human 
existence, or the natural life. But that is wide of the mark. 
The connection between the atonement and the life immedi- 
ately subjoined, points, we think, to a causal connection, and 
thus leaves no doubt that the allusion is to spiritual or eternal 
life, which is elsewhere described as hid with Christ in God 
(Col. iii. 3). The living ones are such as enter into premial 
life, because the Surety fulfilled the law, and expiated sin in 
His death. 

But it is intimated that this life is a dedicated life, not 
a life of self-seeking, after the flesh, or in the prosecution of 
what tends to our own profit, honour, or gratification. This 
life was secured by Christ's death, and promoted by His resur- 
rection : for the concluding clause of the verses above quoted 
shows that Christ died foe us, and that He rose again. And 
it is not said that He rose for us, but that He died for us ; 
for there is a certain difference of meaning. The resurrection 
comes within the sphere of reward, and enabled Him to diffuse 
His life through His own people, redeemed to be His — for He 
underwent death with this express end in view, that He might 
win a people as His property — and replenish them with the 
divine life which He procured for them, and dispenses accord- 
ing to their needs. He thus induces them to live not to them- 
selves, but to Him. 

To return to the expression one died for all : no doubt 
can be entertained, either from the nature of the transaction, 
or from the logical inference already mentioned, that the 
phrase denotes the exchange or substitution of one for another. 
But we have still further to consider in what sense Christ is 
said to have died for all. Plainly, the allusion in the present 
case is of equal extent in both clauses. The all for whom He 
died are the same parties, and no other, 1 who are next said 

1 In the discussions on the extent of the atonement, this has been triumph- 
antly proved by Owen, Death of Death, vol. x. p. 350 ; Honert, de gratia Dei 


to have died in Him ; that is, all who are regarded as expiating 
sin, and fulfilling the law in Him — the same men to whom 
the redemption is applied, and no wider circle, at "least in the 
passage under consideration. 

It may not be unfitting, before leaving this passage, to refer 
to two expositions of such expressions which cannot be ac- 
cepted, and yet are widely diffused, — the Arminian or Lutheran 
comment, and the Amyraldist comment. 

a. As to the Arminian tenet, it is to this effect : that Christ 
in a certain respect offered Himself a sacrifice sufficiently for 
all, and for every man in the same sense. They leave it 
uncertain whether they interpret the preposition as denoting 
for the good of all, or in the room of all. They main- 
tain that it was for all alike, without distinction and without 
exception. Taking hold of the wider or more general aspects 
in which some texts appear to present the atonement to the 
mind, they conclude that Christ was priest and victim for all 
mankind without exception, whether they believe or not, 
whether they are saved or not ; that the sacrifice of Christ was 
not only infinitely precious, but offered with such a purpose 
both on the Father's side and on the Son's side, that it should 
be for all and every man. That this is an unscriptural com- 
ment, is evident from the fact that an accepted sacrifice obtained 
the remission of sins. And Christ dispenses to all for whom 
He died — that is, to all who become His people — the reward 
of His obedience, remission, regeneration, and final glory. The 
clear inference from such a comment would be universalism, 
or universal salvation, which the Scriptures emphatically re- 
pudiate. It will not do to distinguish between the purchase 
and the application of redemption, so as to affirm that they 

non universali, p. 571 ; Jac. Trigland, de Volunt. Dei et grat. univ. p. 282 ; 
Turret, torn. ii. loc. 14, qu. 14, sec. 36. So long as men incorrectly translate 
a*itavo* were dead, as in the English version, they readily argue that the spiritual 
death of men is universal, and that the death of Christ is equally so. But when 
they correctly render, in the second clause, then they all died, that argument 
has no foundation. 

214 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

are not of equal extent ; for that amounts to disjunction and 
separation, vitiating the nature of the atonement as a vicarious 

b. The Amyralclist theory, or that of the double reference, 
acknowledges a true substitution in the eoom and stead of 
those who were given to Christ, and whose sins He actually 
bore, but asserts, moreover, that He died for the advantage 
of the rest, though not in their stead. 1 In a word, this theory 
maintains a double reference ; that is, that He died in the 
room of some, and for the good of the rest. According to this 
exposition, the biblical phrase, to die for men, has not a uni- 
form sense, but a different meaning in different passages. This 
we can by no means concede ; for Christ is never said to die 
for men in any other sense than in the sense of substitution 
or exchange of places. He really entered into our place, and 
by so doing incurred our doom and responsibility; and we 
as truly enter into His place, and partake of His merits and 
reward. And a different mode of viewing the transaction is 
not to be found in Scripture. 

That many who are not believers derive great advantages 
from Christ's atonement, is not denied. They enjoy an economy 
of forbearance, are freed from the pernicious errors and defile- 
ments of idolatry, and live among the people of God. But 
these blessings, manifold and various, do not warrant us to say 
that the Lord died for men in a double way, or with a double 
reference ; that is, for some vicariously, and for others to give 
them only a temporary advantage. He died as a representative 
and surety ; and whatever their representative Head did, they 
are regarded as having done, as this text proves. He not only 
died for them all, but they all died in Him. 

II. Another important passage, defining the nature of the 
atonement, occurs a few verses afterwards in the same chapter : 
And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to Himself by 

1 This theory is equally unbiblical and inconsistent, — a makeshift or accom- 
modation scheme between two other opinions. 


Jesus Christ, and hath given to its the ministry of reconciliation ; 
to wit, that God ivas in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself 
[better, God was reconciling the world unto Himself in Christ], 
not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed 
unto us the word of reconciliation (2 Cor. v. 18, 19). The apostle 
had mentioned that the new creature emanates from God, and 
then assigned as its ground the atoning work of Christ. We 
have first to notice the principal cause of the reconciliation: 
" all is of God, who hath reconciled us." The allusion is to 
the Father, to whom the Saviour was wont to refer all that He 
did. We have to consider God as offended and provoked by 
sin, and yet providing the reconciliation by which they who 
had incurred His displeasure are restored to His favour. The 
term reconciliation, as we have elsewhere shown, implies 
that in ourselves we were exposed to divine wrath, and that 
a divine provision brought it to an end. 

There is no force in the current objection, that God could 
not entertain anger or hostility, when He so loved us, that He 
sent His only-begotten Son to usher in the reconciliation. 
Scripture affirms both ; and, as we have already proved, they 
can well consist together. That sins provoke the holy God, in 
the exercise of His moral government, to righteous anger, is 
an axiom or first principle with every one who has acquired 
a rudimentary knowledge of God ; for all men know that He 
is no indifferent spectator of the moral actions of His creatures 
(Eom. i. 32). He claims the exercise of vengeance as His 
peculiar attribute, which He will have left in His own hand ; and 
He declares that He will repay (Eom. xii. 19). But He ceases 
not to love His creatures as His workmanship ; and He loves 
them with a supperadded love, when, viewing the elect in His 
Son, He loves them with the same love with which He loves His 
Son. In Christ the wrath of God is appeased, but not by a re- 
laxation of justice or a reduction of His claims. He cannot but 
bear just anger against sin, and against the sinner on account 
of sin, as is sufficiently proved by actual punishments inflicted. 

216 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

The apostle intends to bring out the proper nature of re- 
conciliation, as is plain from the fact that he expressly mentions 
that God hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ. This 
shows, as an analysis of the language suffices to prove, that 
in effecting the reconciliation, God exercised His mercy not 
absolutely, and irrespective of a mediator ; for participation in 
divine favour depends on the work of a Surety, whom God 
appointed as the way of access or channel by which His favour 
could be obtained. This is evident by a comparison of passages 
in the New Testament, where allusion is made to reconcilia- 
tion as a transition from wrath to favour, from hostility to 
friendship, from alienation to restored fellowship. That is 
the uniform import of the term; and however much mutual 
reconciliation is involved in the nature of the case, the term 
principally means reconciliation on the part of Him whose 
anger was incurred, and who could renew a friendly inter- 
course only on the ground of a satisfaction. 

But it is argued by those who allow anger in God, only in 
the case of those who remain at last impenitent till the day of 
grace is past, that reconciliation means our favourable disposi- 
tion toward God. They put this view on several grounds, all 
which are equally baseless. Thus, they assert (1) that God is 
never called man's enemy ; an argument as absurd as it would 
be to argue against punishment, on the ground that a human 
state or judicial tribunal is never called the enemy of the citi- 
zens, when the question is whether the authority of the law is 
to be executed against transgressors : for a human tribunal is 
but a reflection of the divine, and based on the same eternal 
principles of justice. They ass.ert (2) that, in biblical lan- 
guage, reconciliation never indicates that anything is necessary 
on God's side before our reception into favour. 1 That, too, is 

1 Ritschl of Gottingen, in his de ira Dei, pp. 13-20, utterly misapprehends 
the doctrine, when he maintains that the doctrine of the wrath of God has 
nothing to do with the atonement. See a much better exposition by Weber, 
vom Zorne Gottes, p. 290. But even he stops short of the full biblical doctrine 
on the ira Dei. 


contrary to the words before us : " who hath reconciled us to 
Himself by Jesus Christ." And the same thing appears in 
the Epistle to the Romans, where, as we already pointed out, 
it is affirmed that we were reconciled to God by the death of 
His Son (Rom. v. 10). But (3) another assertion, as baseless 
as the two former, is, that we cannot suppose such a thing as 
the appeasing or pacifying of God's anger, because we nowhere 
read in the New Testament of God's reconciliation to man. 
But we have already proved that the term, as used in Scrip- 
ture, is not equivalent to our being well affected toward God, 
and imbued with a friendly disposition toward God, but 
means that we are secured from His wrath (Rom. v. 9), and 
can count on His favour and benefits (Rom. v. 1). In a word, 
it is God's favour toward us, not our favourable disposition 
toward God. 1 

This leads me to the use of the term, and to the definition 
of it. The party whose affection has been won cannot be 
determined from the nominative to the verb, nor from the 
accusative case which follows the verb, but is ascertained 
from the connection and the known position of the parties. 
The restored favour of the offended party has an influence on 
the other : they each come into a new position. Warrant ably 
we may either say that a person is reconciled to us, or that 
we are reconciled to him. When the verb is found in the 
passive, it either means to give up a quarrel on our side 
(1 Cor. vii. 11), or to induce another to abate his anger and 
terminate his just resentment against us (Matt. v. 24). In 
the latter passage, the words, " Be reconciled to thy brother," 
do not mean, Be well disposed to thy brother— for that, in the 
case adduced by the Lord, could have been done in the temple 
—but, Leave thy gift; go and induce thy brother, who has just 
cause of resentment against thee, to return to a friendly disposi- 
tion toward you. And this required a visit to the offended party. 

i See a fine note of Calvin in his commentary on this passage, putting the 
grace of God and the anger of God in striking juxtaposition. 

218 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

In this sense the word occurs wherever allusion is made to 
man's reconciliation to God. It does not mean our subjective 
reconciliation to God, "but God's objective reconciliation to 
us ; and one of the most conclusive proofs of this occurs in a 
passage already noticed : "We joy in God, through our Lord 
Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement," 
or reconciliation (Bom. v. 1 1). There it is said to have been 
received. An inward act of man is done, or performed; it 
cannot be received : but there it is affirmed that we received 
it. That the allusion is to the appeasing of God's anger, 
clearly appears from the words which refer to Christ's death 
as the meritorious cause of effecting peace (Eom. v. 1 0). 

In the great transaction of reconciling sinners, God is an 
active party: He reconciles us to Himself by Jesus Christ. 
And what comes in between the love of God and His holy 
anger ? Only one thing — the atonement — which harmonizes 
both in our reconciliation to God. God Himself provided the 
atonement as the means of reconciliation, and on this sole 
ground of intercourse He receives us to favour. Not that men 
laid clown their opposition and sued for peace. The principal 
cause is God, who provided reconciliation. Then, as to the pro- 
curing cause, Christ by His atonement meritoriously won the 
favour of God for those who, but for this, would for ever have 
been given up to divine wrath and condemnation. Eeconcilia- 
tion, then, is simply the removal of the separation and enmity 
between God and the world. But we must notice the language 
more minutely. 

As to the method of construing the second of the two 
verses (ver. 19), three modes are proposed, for reasons which 
demand attention. 

a. Some take the expression, " God was in Christ reconcil- 
ing the world," as an allusion to Christ's divine nature. 1 Paul 
is thus regarded as teaching that the Eecleemer was not 

1 This was for a time the received exposition in the Lutheran Church. See 
Wolfii curce. 


merely the instrument which God made use of in the work 
of redemption, but that He was also God Himself. Certainly 
reasons may be urged in behalf of this view from the struc- 
ture of the language. Thus, it may be said, two representa- 
tions are given in succession, which we may warrantably 
suppose are somewhat varied, and not a mere tautology. In 
the first, God is described as the author of the reconciliation, 
and Christ as the instrument by whom it was accomplished : 
" All things are of God, who hath reconciled us to Himself by 
Jesus Christ." And in the second it is said: "God was in 
Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself." Now, it is argued 
that, to avoid the fiat repetition of one and the same thing, it 
is better to view the clause as referring to the higher nature 
of Christ. This interpretation considered the Eedeemer not 
as a mere instrument, but as a divine person, capable of so 
great a work, and giving it a boundless value. 

b. Another mode of construing is as follows: "God in 
Christ was reconciling the world." This is the mode of re- 
solving the words generally received at present by the most 
eminent philological expounders. 1 This view is maintained 
chiefly because the following clause more precisely defines in 
what way the atonement was effected. The two points, then, 
are as follows : 1. A non-imputation of sin to us so far as the 
matter bears upon our relation toward God ; 2. The atoning 
act considered as emanating not from man, but from God, or 
as God's own act in inward unity and fellowship with Christ. 
Undoubtedly this interpretation can be rendered highly pro- 
bable, and gives a satisfactory sense. 

c. Another mode seems to me even preferable, according 
to the translation above given : God ivas reconciling the world 
%mto Himself in Christ. This does not construe the words IN 
Christ with the activity of the divine nature in the Lord 
Himself, nor with the Father's activity in providing the atone- 
ment, but in connection with the new relation into which 

1 h Ku.ra.-Ki.aaw are thus taken together as a sort of emphatic imperfect. 

220 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

mankind were brought, as they stood in Christ. The meaning 
will then be : God reconciled them in Christ, as He regarded 
them in Him, and comprehended them in union with His Son, 
according to His covenant and purpose. This seems to me the 
shade of meaning that properly belongs to the passage. 

With regard to the other terms, are we to understand the 
word world as descriptive of the human family ? In this 
general sense the word frequently occurs in the style of Paul 
and the other apostles (Eom. iii. 19 ; 1 Cor. i. 21). It is often 
used to indicate the unbelieving world, as contradistinguished 
from the church of Gqd, because the great majority still con- 
tinues alienated from the life of God. Here it does not mean 
the world of believers — a sense in which, so far as I know, it 
does not occur — but the world of mankind as one day standing 
out to view, including Jews and Gentiles alike. 1 From this, 
however, it by no means follows that all were actually reconciled. 
Our mode of construing IN Christ proves the opposite. And 
this is further confirmed by the clause which runs parallel with 
it : " not imputing their trespasses unto them." Thus the apostle 
speaks of an accomplished fact, finished once for all. But one 
or two points may still be separately noticed. 

1. We are said to be reconciled in Christ; an expression 
which at first sight seems to be equivalent to the phrase by 
Christ, which occurs in the previous verse. But they do not 
coincide. The present phrase denotes something more: for 
the apostle's language is precise, representing Christ not only 
as the meritorious cause of reconciliation, which the phrase of 
the previous verse in such a connection usually means, but as 
the objective reconciliation. As in Him we have the objec- 
tive redemption (Eph. i. 7), so in Him we have the objective 
reconciliation; much in the same way as He is said to be 
made of God unto us righteousness and sanctification (1 Cor. 

1 Charnock (vol. ii. p. 212, folio edit.) says, strikingly: "God imputed a 
world of sins to Him, because He undertook for that world God had created by 


i. 30), or as He is called our peace (Eph. ii. 14). The apostle 
changes the preposition on purpose. 

2. The reconciliation was effected by not imputing to us 
our trespasses (ver. 19). Opinion varies, indeed, as to the way 
in which the participial clause is to be resolved : some regard- 
ing the non-imputation of sin as the cause 1 of reconciliation ; 
others, less correctly, considering it as the effect. The latter 
is a mistaken view, and is opposed to the usage of a parti- 
cipial clause. Paul affirms that God reconciles the world by 
not imputing to men their trespasses. And the reconciliation, 
as to its mode, is effected in this twofold way: (1) by not im- 
puting sin to us, and (2) by Christ becoming the sin-bearer 
(ver. 21) ; that is, the world is reconciled because sin was laid 
on Christ, and not imputed to us. 

3. God is said to place those to whom sin is not imputed 
in a state of reconciliation to Himself. That means, that the 
atonement restores men to their right relation to law and 
order; or, more definitely, to a friendly fellowship with a 
personal God. It is the removal of hostility. As redemption 
is a redemption to God in the sense that we are liberated 
from captivity to belong to God (Eev. v. 9 ; 1 Cor. vi. 19), so 
reconciliation is a reconciliation to God in the sense that we 
are restored to God so as to be His friends ; and the reconcilia- 
tion supposes something mutual : for a mutual relation of this 
nature is essential to the thing, though not properly in the 

Only one thing remains to be noticed. The words, " Be 
reconciled to God," which Paul adds as the burden of all 
preaching (v. 20), are equivalent to "Eeceive the atonement." 

III. Another passage, subjoined to the former, and closely 
connected with it, points out most emphatically tlie_mode_of_ 
the ato nement : For He hath made Him to he sin for us who 
knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in 

1 Thus Calvin well puts it. On linguistic grounds, too, this is required by 
the relation of the participle to the verb. See Winer, § 45. 

222 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

Him (2 Cor. v. 21). The verse, connected by the grounding 
particle foe with the previous passage descriptive of the 
message of reconciliation, assigns the ground on which that 
message rests. That is the force of the particle for ; and the 
import is, that God made an exchange between us and Christ, 
of such a nature that He, the sinless, was treated as if He 
were the sinner — nay, as sin itself — that we might be made 
the righteousness of God. 

Two statements are thus brought together, and lie near 
each other : J,he non-imputation of sin to those who are recon- 
ciled (ver. 19), and the fact that Christ was made sin. And 
these two statements involve each other. The reason or 
ground on which the non- imputation of sin proceeds, is the 
fact that Christ was made sin 1 (ver. 21). That is involved in 
"the message of reconciliation. But these two points just 
mentioned, and lying at the foundation of preaching, incon- 
trovertibly show that the end of Christ's coming was not to 
proclaim absolute forgiveness, but to usher in an expiation, or a 
work of atonement, on the ground of which that proclamation 
of forgiveness might be made. The connection between the 
atonement and the message, " Be reconciled to God," is thus 
clearly brought out. Apart from the atonement, preaching 
would have no foundation, would have no message to proclaim, 
and would be denuded of all the force accompanying it. 

In exhibiting the contents of this pregnant text, I shall 
endeavour, with all brevity, to bring out its import under a 
few heads. 

1. The source of the whole atonement is traced to God, 
who is said to have made Christ what the text describes^ 
And the expression raises our thoughts to that agreement, or 
covenant, according to which the Father appointed His own 
Son to assume our human nature and bear our guilt. 

2. But a further idea, that _o^_sinlessness, is brought out 

1 The connection between the fih Xoyitypivo; ufiaprlav, and Christ being made 
apaprlcc, has been generally noticed in former and recent times. See Charnock 


in the words, who knew no sin. The expression is intended 
to show that the sinless perfection of Jesus — that is, His 
innocence and perfect obedience to the divine law — was the 
foundation or presupposition of the entire work of expiation. 
But in whose account was He judged sinless ? The Greek 
phrase, which has a peculiar force attaching to it, which must 
accurately be ascertained, contains an answer to that question. 
The peculiar phrase, who knew no sin, is called by philo- 
logists the subjective negation, because wherever it is used it 
denotes a negative estimate or judgment formed in the mind 
of some party. And when we ask, By whom was the judg- 
ment formed in this case ? the conclusion to which we must 
come is, that it either expresses Christ's own conscious esti- 
mate — and the subjective negation will, on this supposition, 
set forth His own consciousness of perfect sinlessness — or 
else that it expresses the Father's judgment formed of Him at 
the divine tribunal. One thing is very evident : the terms and 
context do not allow us to refer the phraseology to a mere 
ordinary human estimate of Jesus. Most naturally, the party 
whose judgment is introduced, and who regarded Him as sin- 
less, is the same that was represented as making Him to be 
sin for us — viz. God. 1 If we take this acceptation, as the 
strict import of the Greek phrase leads us most naturally to 
do, then Jesus was esteemed or judged by God as completely 
faultless, and as never having had one feeling at variance with 
the divine will and law. He did no sin. But the relation of 
the two connected clauses is of such a kind as makes it clear 
that sinlessness is equivalent to perfect obedience, for the 
negative side implies the positive mode of putting it. He 
was thus exempt from every fault, whether of omission or of 
commission. And the ultimate aim of God in all this, was 

and Owen, passim; Weber, p. 296. Vinke, Leer van Jesus en de Apostel. aang. 
Zijn Lijden, p. 357. 

1 Winer, in his Grammar, says of pit yvivra, § 55, 5 : "Gelit aut die Vor- 
stellung dessen der ihn zur xpaprla, niaclit, zuriick." 

224 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

not only to qualify Him for undertaking the task of sin- 
bearing, but also to pave the way for bringing in a vicarious 
righteousness. The statement therefore is, that He who was 
sinless in God's account — and only one immaculately perfect 
in every part of positive obedience could be so — was made 

3. This sinless one, judged in God's account as one who 
knew no sin, is next described as having been ma de sin. The 
first inquiry is, What does this properly mean ? 

a. Many deem it best to take it as simply equivalent to a 
sin-offering; and, indeed, the Septuagint several times uses the 
original word to denote this sacrifice : for the sin-offering was 
regarded as incorporated sin or embodied guilt, viewed objec- 
tively and apart. Such an exposition affords a competent 
enough sense, and does not in fact alter the meaning. 1 But it 
deserves notice, in the first place, that throughout this entire 
passage the apostle makes no use of sacrificial language ; and 
the term reconciliation is allowed on all hands to be taken 
from ordinary life, and not from the sacrificial ritual. Then 
it is evident that the apostle draws a contrast between two 
things, — between the personal sinlessness of Jesus, and His 
official position as made sin for us, — and that this contrast is 
lost by the sacrificial reference. But there is a further anti- 
thesis not less strong. Christ is represented as made sin for 
us, in the same way in which we are made the righteousness 
of God ; that is, by a judicial act on the part of God, the moral 
Governor and Judge. This is unfavourable to our accepting 
the idea of a sin-offering. It would be quite unsuitable in the 
second clause, which affirms that we are made the righteous- 
ness of God, and therefore it cannot be admitted in the first. 
But for the connection, and the twofold antithesis now men- 
tioned, the rendering " sin-offering " would be unobjectionable. 

1 The phrase is not arsp) aaapriai (Rom. viii. 3). Though this view has been 
held by eminent men, and been very common for three centuries, it must give 
place to the view that we have the abstract noun for the concrete. 


The double antithesis seems to demand the abstract term sin, 
as correctly rendered in the English authorized version. 

b. Much less appropriate is another interpretation, made 
Him a SINNER. Many excellent writers have explained the 
phrase in this way, 1 but it is plainly inappropriate. In the 
first place, no instance of that usage occurs in Scripture. Then 
there is a want of due precision evinced in the way of distin- 
guishing things that differ by the propounders of this inter- 
pretation. If, indeed, care was taken to distinguish between 
the personal and the official, there would not be the same 
objection to the word. But the term sinner is in all lan- 
guages too much associated with the idea of personal demerit 
to be applied to Christ, and is out of keeping with the constant 
reference to His perfect innocence, and to His suffering as the 
just for the unjust, the holy for the unholy. The two ideas, 
always put together throughout the entire Scriptures in the 
delineation of the atonement — viz. sinlessness and sin-bear- 
ing, or personal perfection and official liability to divine wrath 
— and which are repeated here, must ever be kept apart both 
in form and substance. It is therefore a mistake to make the 
term sin equivalent to sinner in the passage before us. 

c. We abide by the abstract term ^SIN, 2 which, we may 
notice, is here used by the apostle with a peculiar force. What 
does it convey to Christian minds ? It affords this sense — 
that Christ was made the sin of His people by the imputation 
of their guilt to Him ; for the sin not imputed to those who 

1 The Socinians expounded it in the sense that Christ was so reputed, 
"pro peccatore ab hominibus habitum." Grotius exposed this, de Satlifac- 
tione, p. 24. Then many sound divines, down to the Dutch writers at the 
beginning of this century, rendered a./j.apria, by the concrete term sinner, 
raising their regard to God's tribunal. But that is harsh. See Witsius' beau- 
tiful chapter in his Irenicum (ch. ii.), in which he shows against Crisp and 
his followers, that they had carried their phraseology much too far: they 
appealed to Luther's strong language, but went far beyond him. Chauncey, 
Neonomianism Unmasked, 1692, admirably holds the balance between extremes. 

2 upapr'i*, as an abstract noun, is without the article, which is common 
(1 John ii. 2, iv. 10). See Winer's Grammar, p. 109. See Doedes' exposition 
of this text, in his second article on the Atonement, Jaarboeken, 1846, p. 341. 


226 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

are reconciled (ver. 1 9) is, as we had occasion to notice already, 
here said to be imputed to Christ, and in such a sense that He 
could be described as made sin. The words, strictly considered, 
therefore mean, that by God's appointment He was made sin, 
not in mere semblance, but in reality, not before men, but 
before God, on the great foundation of a federal unity between 
Him and His people. He was, as it were, the embodiment of 
sin or incorporated guilt ; and we may well affirm that never 
was so much sin accumulated upon a single head. He was 
not made sin in a vague, indefinite, abstract way ; but the very 
sins of which we are painfully conscious in the moment of 
conviction — that is, our own sins of nature and life — were laid 
on Him, or transferred from our head to His. He bore their 
burden ; and this rendered it possible to visit Him with the 
recompense due to sin, and with its necessary punishment, 
which would otherwise have been impossible. 

The true import of this memorable clause, then — which, 
along with some other texts, has always been considered as of 
paramount moment for determining the true nature of the 
atonement — is thus rendered apparent. It means that, by God's 
appointment, Christ was made the sins of all His people, and 
that He made them His as much as if He had been divinely 
constituted sin in the abstract, or as sin embodied ; that they 
were transferred to His person by what is usually designated 
imputation, and charged to His account. 1 That was effected 
in such a way as clearly displayed the distinction between His 
personal and representative standing before God. While He 
was personally the object of the Father's everlasting love and 
complacency, He was officially guilty in our guilt. The paternal 
and the governmental on the part of God may easily be dis- 
tinguished and viewed apart. He never was the object of the 
Father's loathing or aversion, even when forsaken. He never 
was, what the sinner inevitably is, abhorred, or abominable ; 

1 See Charnock, vol. ii. p. 684 ; and especially Turretin, de Satisfactione, 
p. 117, where we have a luminous discussion against one-sided tendencies. 


because a distinction could always be made between the only 
begotten Son, the righteous Servant, and the sin-bearing Sub- 

How He was made sin, will appear from the following 
description. While here among men — that is, from the in- 
carnation to the cross — He was, by a divine act, made the 
sin-bearer in room of His people ; and there never was a mo- 
ment, from the assumption of our nature to the death on the 
tree, when He did not bear our sins and appear guilty as the 
surety of His church. Nor was He guilty before men, but 
before God. And furthermore, it must specially be noticed 
that this was not legal fiction, but divine fact. A second con- 
sideration, necessary to the full comprehension of this great 
transaction, is, that it was not by any infusion within, but by 
objective imputation. And it carried with it consequences of 
a punitive character not less real and heavy than if the sin 
had been His own. He made it His own by His voluntary 

Here it seems necessary to take notice of the evasion to 
which the opponents of the vicarious satisfaction usually have 
recourse. The objections are singularly similar, if not the 
same in words, whether we have regard to former or recent 
times. These passages are all explained away by the writers 
to whom we allude, as if they referred only to indignities en- 
dured at the hands of men. They reduce the statement made 
by the apostle in this verse to this, that the Lord received 
from the hands of men a treatment which wore the appearance 
of, and might have been construed as if it were, the treatment 
given to a sinner. But is there any indication that the words 
express mere semblance or appearance ? The text does not 
affirm that He was reputed among men to be a sinner. It 
affirms that He was made sin ; that God made Him so : and 
that plainly goes much further than to imply that He wore in 
man's esteem the appearance of being a criminal or a sinner. 
Plainly the allusion is not to what He received at the hands 

228 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

of man, or was reputed in man's judgment, but to what was 
laid on Him by God. By no construction of language can the 
words be made to denote afflictive treatment at the hands of 
men ; for that would make Christ occupy no other than a 
martyr's place. The superadded words, " made sin for us," 
sufficiently explode that commentary ; for the injurious treat- 
ment to which Jesus was subjected could never, without sub- 
stitution, have been described as undergone foe us. Who 
will affirm that the fact of men entertaining ill thoughts of 
Christ, and treating Him as if He were a sinner, could make 
Him stand " for us," or make Him reputed by God as made 
sin foe us, in any true acceptation of the terms ? 

The import of the passage, then, amounts to this : Christ, 
the sinless One, the realized ideal of humanity, the embodi- 
ment of the divine law, wrapped Himself in His people's sin, 
and was constituted sin, by His Father's act and by His own, 
in such a manner that at the bar of God He was no longer 
innocent. Eather He was made the concentrated sin of the 
redeemed church, because found among sinners, federally united 
to them, and charged at the bar of God with all their sins. 

This sin-bearing capacity of Jesus proceeds on several pre- 
suppositions, — a community of nature, and a federal relation 
between the Surety and those in whose behalf His work was 
undertaken. Without these no basis could have existed 
either for imputation or punishment ; for penal suffering has its 
formal ground in guilt. So true is this, that it would be an 
anomaly, an incongruity, a moral impossibility, in the divine 
government to punish without guilt. Nay, it would be a 
subversion of justice. The scope of this entire statement, 
therefore, is, that the Lord Jesus was in the divine judgment 
regarded in no other light than as a surety ; and that, being 
made sin according to the divine constitution, He was charged 
with guilt not less really than if it had been all His own. 
The entire life of Christ on earth, as delineated by the evan- 
gelists and described by the apostles, is indeed set forth as the 


brightest exhibition of sinless perfection. But they add an- 
other feature — that of sin-bearing. The expression, the sinless 
sin-beaker, may be said aptly to describe His earthly career. 
Certainly they who look merely at His innocence mistake the 
gospel, if they do not overthrow it. He was not a sinless in- 
dividual, as one of many, but a sinless Sukety or Mediator 
in our stead. And the text further states, that to exempt us 
from the guilt of sin — or, in other words, that sin might no 
more be imputed to us — the sinless One was "made sin for 
us." This is, in theological nomenclature, correctly enough 
termed the imputation of sin to Christ. 

4. The end for which Christ was made sin was, that we 


apostle again uses the abstract term, as in the previous clause. 
We need not dwell on the phrase " the righteousness of God," 
which we already expounded at large. Let it suffice to say 
that here the one clause of this verse explains the other. We 
are made the righteousness of God in the same way in which 
Christ was made sin. The antithesis of the two clauses is in 
the highest degree important. They are both objective ; they 
are both by imputation, not by infusion. We are, through 
Christ's vicarious obedience, made the righteousness of God. 
And this is found only in Him objectively, and as we are 
united to Him by a living faith. 1 

(iv) Another passage in the same epistle, containing the 
same allusion to the exchange of places, is as follows : For ye 
know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was 
rich, yet for our sokes He became poor, that ye through His 
poverty might be rich (2 Cor. viii. 9). The apostle's design was 
to enforce liberality toward the poor saints for whom he was 
making a contribution among the Gentile churches ; and he 
presents to the mind of the Corinthians the most constraining 
motive — : the Lord's abasement to poverty for our sakes.. There 

1 See the chapter on the Counter-imputations of Sin and Righteousness, 
p. 198, in Rev. H. Martin's excellent work on the Atonement. Nisbet, 1870. 

230 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

are three points to which the passage refers, and to which we 
shall make a brief allusion. 

1. The clause "though He was rich" refers to His divine 
pre~existence, or to that which He possessed as the Creator 
and owner of all. In the form of God eternally rich, exempt 
from any want, and not needing even the external universe to 
fill up a blank or to complete His personal happiness, He lived 
in the eternal fellowship of His Father before the world was. 
We may say, that before the outward universe was called into 
being by His fiat, and when it existed only by possibility in 
Him, He was infinitely blessed in Himself ; and the world was 
made to be an object on which His boundless fulness was to 
be lavished, but not to fill up an unsatisfied want in Him, 
personally considered. 

2. He became poor in the exercise of grace to us. This 
refers to earthly abasement, to which He spontaneously came 
down for man's sake ; and it is affirmed of the whole person 
of the God-man, on the principle that we speak of Him in the 
concrete by either of His natures. 1 The allusion is to the in- 
carnate state of the Lord, when He became what He was not ; 
for there was no change, and there could be none, upon His 
deity. But as He entered into a new sphere, and a new form 
of activity, Paul has in his eye the whole abased poor life of 
Christ ; and the statement is, that as He lived on earth without 
property, goods, or comforts, such as other men enjoy, and had 
not where to lay His head, it was all for our sakes. 

This was done not simply as a preliminary to His arrest 
and crucifixion — though the apostle says that, had they known 
Him, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory (1 Cor. 
ii. 8) — but as the penal consequence of sin all through life ; 
for He was at once the sin-bearer and the curse-bearer 
at every stage of His career. Hence it was that He took 
poverty as He took other parts of our curse ; and the design 
was to free us from the penal consequences of sin. 

1 See Zanchius, torn. iii. de Filii Dei Incarnatione, p. 278. 


3. Itwas for our sakes ; that is, for the good of the Corin- 
thians, and all Christians generally. The meaning appears 
from the last passage expounded by us. The Lord made an 
exchange of places with us. The atoning element, though 
commonly ascribed to the death of Christ, or to His blood 
sacrificially viewed, takes in His entire sin-bearing life, and 
His continuous abasement as the substitute of His people. 
But it may be asked, Why is such emphasis here laid upon 
His poverty ? The subject suggested it to the apostle's mind, 
and the whole is placed in a strong antithesis. We do not 
need to view the separate parts of His suffering obedience as 
separately meritorious, as if it served a good purpose to ascribe, 
as some have done, pardon to His death, and acceptance to His 
active obedience. That serves no purpose but to complicate 
the matter, and divide into fragments the one work of the 
Lord. The whole obedience together is meritorious ; but it 
may be seen in many lights, as a compensation or exchange. 
It is competent, doubtless, on the warrant of such a passage, to 
hold that the whole atoning obedience is applied in its unity 
at every point, and with a phase adapted to every actual want 
of the human heart. But that is rather the application of the 
vicarious work to the details of human necessity ; and in this 
way we may fitly affirm that He was abased to atone for pride, 
poor to expiate the guilt of covetousness, hungry and thirsty 
on account of that intemperate indulgence which has in all 
ages conquered men from the eating of the forbidden fruit to 
this hour. 1 In the same manner, we may affirm that He was 
abased that we might be exalted, a servant to set us free, 
troubled that we might be comforted, tempted that we might 
conquer, dishonoured that we may be glorified, and scourged 
that by His stripes we might be healed. The entire abase- 
ment of Christ, in the unity of His obedience, was for us ; and 

1 See Polanus, Syntagma Theologice, p. 1237. This exchange of places and 
experience is specially brought out by Anselm, Meditations concerning Redemp- 
tion; by Luther and Gerhard ; and by Calvin, Com. in harmoniam Matthm. 

232 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

we do not need to seek a separate atoning element in every 
little detail. 

As to our becoming eich in consequence of Christ's work, 
that is His reward as purchased for us. It is not earthly 
riches, indeed; for this was neither the design of His atone- 
ment, nor the actual result, but the whole riches of His in- 
heritance and kingdom. 


This epistle furnishes a testimony to the atonement the 
more striking, because, contrasted with a legal tendency, set- 
ting it off like a foil. The apostle had twice visited Galatia 
(Gal. iv. 13 ; Acts xvi. 6, xviii. 23), and refers to his preaching 
of the atonement there when he says that Christ Jesus had 
been evidently set forth before their eyes as crucified (Gal. 
iii. 1). But within a short time after his last visit, a perilous 
corruption of doctrine had been introduced, through the artful 
representation of zealots for the law, who had succeeded in 
bringing over the Galatians to the opinion that the observance 
of Jewish rites was' necessary to their acceptance with God. 

The apostle's aim in the epistle was to counteract this legal 
spirit. It was not a question as to a few indifferent rites with 
which the Jews were familiar, and which they were not pre- 
pared as yet to abandon, but a question as to acceptance with 
God; for these ceremonies were considered as necessary for 
acquiring righteousness. In exposing this error, the apostle 
brought the Galatians to the atonement as the sole ground of 
man's acceptance, and one to which no addition coidd be 
made ; and the whole argument went to prove, that they who 
substituted another ground of acceptance overthrew the foun- 
dation of Christianity. Hence his repeated appeals to the 
atonement at all the turns of his argument. In the very 
salutation with which the epistle opens, he interweaves an 


allusion to the death of Christ as the one foundation of accept- 
ance and redemption. 

I. The first passage on the atonement is as follows: Who 
gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this 
present evil ivorld (Gal. l_4). How much the apostle's mind 
was possessed with this great truth, appears from the fact that 
he starts with it, and intimates through the entire epistle that 
nothing besides Christ crucified can stand as the foundation of 
a 'sinner's acceptance. 1 Three points maybe noticed on this 

1. The self-oblation of the Lord Jesus : who gave Himself. 
The expression occurs elsewhere, to intimate that He willingly 
offered Himself (1 Tim. ii. 6; Tit. i. 14; Matt. xx. 28). The 
phrase which our Lord employs is of the same import : " I lay 
down my life" (John x. 17). Christ was not seized by the 
hand of violence, but spontaneously offered Himself ; a line of 
thought followed out in the Epistle to the Hebrews. Not 
only did the Father provide the sacrifice, and deliver Him up 
to death for us all (Bom. viii. 32) : the Lord Jesus gave Him- 
self by a priestly act. The phrase indicates Christ's spon- 
taneous priestly action in His death. 2 This peculiar mode of 
describing the atonement indicates that He was the priest of 
His own sacrifice — the sacrificer and the victim in one. 

2. The apostle's language affirms still more definitely, that 
He gave Himself for our sins. The object was to lead the 
Galatians into deeper views of the scope of Christ's atoning 
death, and to rescue them from any hankering after legal 
ceremonies that made the death of Christ superfluous. The 
expression indicates that there was a relation between Christ's 
death and the sins of men ; that our sins made it necessary as 

1 This verse exhibits the sum and substance of the^epistle, and the purport 
of the gospel. 

2 rod YtwH iavTov. In many passages, the giving of Christ, always to be 
taken sacrificially, is ascribed to the Father exhibiting His covenant love. 
Here it is described as Christ's own priestly act in compliance with the Father's 

234 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

the procuring and meritorious cause of His death. The reason 
why He gave Himself is here assigned. The same represen- 
tation is given in many passages, whether we turn to the 
ancient prophecies (Isa. liii. 5), or to the statements explana- 
tory of Christ's death in the epistles (Eom. iv. 25 ; 1 Cor. xv. 
3; 1 Pet. iii. 18). Between the Lord's priestly oblation and 
our sins there was a relation so peculiar, that our sins and His 
death stood connected as cause and consequence. These sins 
were the cause of His death. 1 

It is necessary to bring out the import of this phraseology, 
because many explain it away. The expression cannot mean 
that He was cut off by human violence sinfully exercised. 
Such a comment cannot be engrafted on the clause : it is 
descriptive of the Lord's giving Himself by a spontaneous 
sacrifice. They were actual sins, which did not first exist or 
come to light when Christ was violently put to death. Nor 
were the sins limited to that age, or to violent men in Jeru- 
salem; for the apostle, comprehending himself and the Ga- 
latians, who had nothing to do with these acts of violence, 
says, " who gave Himself foe our sins." Nor do such phrases 
allude to the putting away of sin by future amendment; for 
this very thing, as we shall see, is subjoined as the scope con- 
templated by the sacrifice. To make the clause under our 
consideration of the same import with the final clause, after- 
wards to be noticed, would be a flat tautology. Not only so : 
it would fasten on Paul's reasoning the absurdity of making 
the means and the end, the cause and effect, identical. 

The expression means that He gave Himself on account of 
sin ; that His death stood in the same relation to sin as death 
uniformly does, — that is, that death was in His case, too, the 
wages of sin. And the consequence is as follows : If the Lord 
died for our sins, they whom He represented do not require to 
die for their own sins. If, in the moral government of God, 
our sins were the cause of Christ's death, there can be no 

1 See Matthies' ErMarung, and Windischniann here on vtpi and uv-ip. 


second exaction of the penal consequences from us personally. 
The result of a comparison of these phrases is, that Christ 
occupied a vicarious position; that He died on our account 
and for our benefit, but only so because He was our substitute 
at the tribunal of God. 

3. All this was done, that He might deliver us feom this 
pre sent evil WOELD. The final particle (6tu$) brings before 
us the divine purpose, or Christ's own aim in dying for our 
sins — that ethical and sanctifying result to which we already 
alluded. The fruits intended by the death of Christ are very 
various — as numerous, indeed, as the effects of sin ; some bear- 
ing on the acceptance of our persons, others on the renovation 
of our natures : and the death of Christ stands in causal con- 
nection with both. But it deserves notice, that when life and 
renewing are referred to as the results of His atonement, the 
acceptance of the person is always presupposed ; that is, the 
person is accepted, and then the nature is sanctified. Though 
the atonement stands in causal connection with both, the per- 
sonal standing is first rectified, as the immediate result of the 
Lord's death. 1 

This passage shows that, besides the acceptance of the 
man, as the immediate effect of the Lord's death, a second 
effect is by no means to be overlooked. Most expositors view 
the clause as referring to the ethical design of the death of 
Christ ; but it is not the ethical effect in the form of motive, 
but new spiritual life, or renewing in the spirit of our mind. 
This is procured by the death of Christ, as well as the pardon 
of guilt ; and that, too, not on the mere ground of moral influ- 
ence, but on a ground immeasurably deeper — on that of the 
divine rectitude — and according to the deepest principles of 
the moral government of God. It is the more necessary to 

1 The telle particle JW is meant to show the sanctifying result contemplated 
by Christ's atoning death, according to His own and His Father's purpose. 
And on this it is the more necessary to lay emphasis, as the Schleiermacher 
theology and the advocates of a moral redemption represent the vicarious sacri- 
fice as outward and cold. 

236 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

lay emphasis on this, that we may meet the cavil, all too 
current, that the doctrine of substitution is cold, external, and 
disconnected from spiritual life and ethical results. 

II. Another passage, descriptive of the relation between 
Christ and His people in His atoning work, is as follows : I 
am crucified with Christ ; nevertheless [better, and~\ I live ; yet 
not I, hut Christ liveth in me ; and the life which I now live in 
the fiesh I live by the faith of the Son of God [better, in faith 
which is upon the Son of God~\, who loved me, and gave Himself 
for mc. I do not frustrate the grace of God ; for if righteousness 
come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain [better, died without 
a cause - ] (Gal. ii. 20, 21). The context forms part of that reproof 
addressed to Peter for his vacillation and timidity. Peter did 
not as an apostle teach amiss ; but his concessions to the zealots, 
in ceasing to eat with the Gentiles, encouraged them. Paul 
accordingly exposed the dangerous principle. He shows that 
its real meaning implied that a Christian was not complete in 
the atoning death of Christ, but needed something more ; that, 
according to the Judaizing party, men in Christ, and depend- 
ing on nothing beyond His finished work, had so imperfect a 
ground of acceptance, that they could be viewed only as sin- 
ners, or such as were without a full title (ver. 1 7) ; that they 
made Christ only what Moses had been — a minister of sin and 
condemnation (ver. 17); in a word, that all who sought right- 
eousness by something supplementary to Christ, avowed that 
He was not a perfect Saviour. 1 He adds that, in the first in- 

1 These memorable words of Paul are expounded, for the most part, in a 
far too superficial way ; and this must be so, if we do not take in the element 
of Christ's substitution. The apostle argues, that to make anything supple- 
mentary to Christ's work, is to represent Him as an imperfect Saviour, as a 
mere Moses or minister of an imperfect dispensation. To superadd anything to 
Christ's work, is to subvert His priestly sacrifice, and make His economy like 
the Sinaitic economy, and Himself a "minister of sin." Melancthon (Apolog. 
Confess. Art. 3) happily says : " Paulus ait, si justificatus in Christo opus 
habet ut postea alibi queerat justitiam, tribui Christo quod sit minister peccati 
id est, quod non plene justificet." See, too, the old Lutheran commentators, 
especially Brentius and Hunnius, who apprehend the words more profoundly 
than the moderns. 


stance, they had sought to be accepted in Christ without the 
works of the law, believing on Christ as all their title ; but 
that now they built again what they had destroyed. By seek- 
ing a title through works, they did not stand on the atone- 
ment as the sole ground of acceptance, but viewed themselves 
as imperfect and guilty if they had not something in addition 
to the work of Christ. The apostle adds, that by the law he 
died to the law (ver. 1 9) ; and the statement can only mean, 
that the death to the law was grounded on his being crucified 
with Christ. The following points here demand notice : — 

1. "We are said to be crucified with Christ, because, when 
one died for all, it was the same as if all died. This expres- 
sion belongs to justification from sin, or to our partaking of 
the merit of Christ's death, and does not mean the putting 
away of sin by inward renovation ; for if that were indicated 
by our being crucified with Christ, what would then be meant 
by our resurrection with Him ? When the apostle speaks of 
dying with Christ, or of being crucified with Him, he does not 
"first use it literally, and then metaphorically ; nor describe two 
different acts, resembling each other — one in Christ's personal 
experience, and one in ours, some way similar. What is there 
in us that can bear a comparison with the bitter death of the 
cross, or be designated by the name ? But it consists with 
reason and the nature of the thing to designate our partnership 
with Christ, or participation in His sufferings, by this phrase ; 
because, when Christ was crucified in our room and stead, it 
was in the divine account the same as if we ourselves had been 
crucified for sin. The compound verb co-crucified intimates 
the partnership of many in the Lord's action ; and the addi- 
tional words, with Christ, imply that it was accomplished in 
Him, or along with Him. 

A wholly unique relation subsisted between Christ and 
His people — a relation which can be apprehended only when 
we call to mind the original constitution given to the human 
family, according to which one acted for many ; for in the same 

238 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

manner one representative man — a God-man — died for His 
church, and obeyed in stead of many (2 Cor. v. 1 4 ; Eom. v. 
12-18). This expression, and the principle on which it is 
based, have already been elucidated. Hence God the Father 
viewed the entire redeemed church as if it were hanging with 
Him — that is, in Him — upon the cross ; for the action of the 
Surety was regarded as the act of those whom He represented. 

The apostle presupposes, too, what he afterwards brings out, 
that the curse of the law was executed on Christ crucified ; 
that His crucifixion comprehended His sufferings, as well as 
all that positive fulfilment of the law by which He became 
obedient unto death. And when Paul here says that we are 
crucified with Christ, the sense is : We are viewed as suffering 
what He suffered, and as doing what He did. And thus, in 
virtue of His finished work, we enter into His federal reward. 

2. The apostle no sooner mentions his co-crucifixion with 
Christ, than he subjoins, according to his wont, an allusion to 
the risen life, or premial life. The two are commonly put 
together, because it is life considered as the reward of fulfilling 
the law (Gal. iii. 1 2) ; and the meritorious cause of this life is 
Christ crucified for all whom He represented — the cause of 
life by His atonement. Had the Son of God not interposed, 
in the capacity of surety, offering Himself to fulfil the pre- 
cepts and satisfy the penalty of the divine law in our room, 
this premial life could never have been bestowed on fallen 
men. But the death and life are put together, on the principle 
that they must be conjoined in our case not less than in the 
experience of the Lord Himself; because we were one with 
Him in both conditions — in Him when suffering, and then as 
sharing in His reward. 

As we had occasion already to refer to this resurrection- 
life, it is unnecessary to do more in this place than to point 
out its inseparable connection with the Lord's atoning death. 
It may suffice to say, that the fountain of this life is God, and 
that union to the Lord by the possession of the Spirit sustains 


it, as natural life is sustained by the union of soul and body. 
The apostle in this passage connects it so closely with Christ's 
own life, that he puts it as if it were a reproduction, or con- 
tinued manifestation, of the life of Christ. It differs from the 
creation-life, or what may be called the primeval Adamic life, 
in this respect, that it is secured for ever on the ground of 
justice ; a premial life — a life of confirmation after a period of 
probation has been successfully fulfilled — a life immutable, to 
be forfeited no more. This eternal life evinces its presence 
in the same way as natural life, by the operations, exercises, 
or activity of its spiritual faculties ; and they who possess it 
hear the voice of the Son of God (John v. 25), understand the 
word (1 Cor. ii. 10-14), taste that the Lord is gracious (1 Pet. 
ii. 3), see with enlightened eyes (Eph. i. 18), and will to do 
good, though not always effecting what they would (Eom. vii. 
19). In a word, they live as members of Christ, the ever- 
living Head, to such a degree, that they say, "Not I, but 
Christ liveth in me," that is, with a federal unity, but a distinct 

3. Next follows a delineation of the life of faith, that is, 
of life as exercised in faith upon its proper object. Speaking 
of life in its activity here below, the apostle says that it pre- 
eminently displays itself in faith on the Eedeemer, as loving 
His people with a special love, and giving Himself for them 
by a special atonement. Obviously, that is not the language 
of faith for attaining justification, but the language of a man 
already justified, and glorying in a sense of acceptance and the 
experience of grace. The spiritual life of a Christian finds its 
activity on the same object to which the anxious inquirer first 
came for pardon, with this difference, that it is now accepted 
in its special destination : " who loved me, and gave Himself 
for me." This exhaustless theme has been summed up in three 
pregnant terms — talis, tanta, tantillis} 

a. The Eedeemer is described as ihe Son of God; and we 
1 Hooker, of New England, uses this formula with much effect. 

240 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

see from this, that the expiation of sin is not the work of a 
mere man, but the work of the God-man, as He is designated 
in connection with His atonement, by a relation peculiar to 
His divine nature. The error of the Church of Eome consisted 
in ascribing the atonement too exclusively to the action of the 
human nature, and in limiting the mediatorial activity to this 
side of His person. But the sacerdotal sacrifice was the action 
of the person, and hence we read that they crucified the Lord 
of glory (1 Cor. ii. 8). The terrible suffering was not expe- 
rienced by the divine nature, and took effect on the humanity. 
But it -was the Son of God who atoned. The God-man suffered ; 
and the sacrifice consisted in this, that it was the spontaneous 
act of one more worthy than any creature, and offering what 
was His own, — an oblation of more value than a whole world 
of sinners. 

b. As to the love of the Son of God, to which reference is 
also made, it is described in the past tense, because it cul- 
minated upon the cross. That was displayed by the greatness 
of His person, the meanness and unworthiness of the objects 
toward whom it was exercised, and the inconceivable abase- 
ment and suffering to which He descended. It was self- 
moving, and uncaused by ought without Himself. It was love 
self-originated : He loved us, because He would love us ; and 
whether we look at His person and offices, or at the fact that 
it was exercised to a people given Him by the Father, we find 
much to excite reflection. It was the love of a God-man, at once 
divine and human, — the love of one who interposed between 
two disunited parties to reconcile them, who had compassion 
on the ignorant as a priest, and discharged their obligations as 
a surety. 

c. The apostle adds, He gave Himself foe-mk. This 
conveys a sacrificial idea, whether God is described as giving 
His Son, or the Son is described as giving Himself. When we 
inquire what He gave, the answer contained in the apostle's 
statement is : He gave not some, nor all, the riches of creation, 


but Himself, — an oblation beyond comparison greater than all 
the works of His hands. 

d. The love and sacrifice are equally described in their 
special destination; and the conclusion to be drawn is, that 
the atonement was provided for a definite class given in the 
Father's gift, and specially represented by the Son in the 
mediatorial capacity in which He condescended to act the 
part of a substitute and surety. The language would be abso- 
lutely unmeaning if this were not intended. A special love 
and definite atonement cannot be explained away, if words are 
to be interpreted in their natural sense. 

The apostle does not speak of the first exercise of faith, or 
the faith of adherence cleaving to the general declarations of 
divine love ; that is, the faith by which we are accepted. The 
apostle's words refer to what is special, and presuppose assur- 
ance. They describe faith on Christ as exercising a special 
love to us, and offering a special atonement for us, taken from 
the general mass of men. This appropriation of faith animated 
Paul through life, and is imbibed by all true Christians sub- 
sequently to the acceptance of their person ; though faith first 
clings to the general invitations indiscriminately addressed to 
the hearers of the gospel. 

4. Next follows a syllogistic argument to prove that 
Christ's death was superfluous, — a thing for which there was 
no occasion, if righteousness is connected in any measure with 
the observance of the law (ver. 21). The dispute was not 
whether men could be saved by the law without Christ, but 
whether the law was necessary by way of supplement; and 
the question which the apostle decides in the affirmative is, 
whether justifying righteousness is to be found in the atoning 
death of Christ alone. Both parties admitted the sacrificial 
death of the Lord. But the apostle maintained that the Lord's 
death was the truth of all the types of the law, the exclusive 
ground of acceptance, and the ever-valid righteousness before 
God. In Paul's phraseology, Christ's death comprehends all 

242 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

He did and suffered. The argument, put in syllogistic form, 
is as follows •} If righteousness come by the law, Christ died 
without cause. But Christ did not die without cause ; there- 
fore righteousness is not by the law. 

Such is the syllogism; and if the argument has any 
cogency, or language any significance, oue kighteousness, or 
title to eternal life, is found exclusively in the atoning death 
of Christ. Attention is principally to be fixed on the minor 
proposition ; and in expounding it, it must be noticed that the 
word rendered in vain, may be taken either as defining the 
cause or the effect, but in the present case as defining the 
cause thus : He died without occasion, or gratuitously, and with- 
out necessity, as the word is elsewhere used (John xv. 25). 2 
But no one with adequate views of divine wisdom, or know- 
ledge of the prophecies respecting the Messiah, will affirm that 
His mission, at so great a cost, was without a cause, or super- 
fluous ; for God would not allow His only Son to be abased and 
suffer a malefactor's death without a cause. But there was no 
fit or adequate cause for His atoning work, unless kighteous- 
ness come by His death, and by no other channel. If the 
law could have accomplished ought, the apostle says that 
righteousness and life would both have been by the law (Gal. 
iii. 21 ; Eom. viii. 3). 

The apostle's argument, if we would correctly apprehend it, 
is as follows : Either Christ died without an adequate occasion, 
or the fruit as well as the definite design of His death was to 
usher in an ever-valid title, or righteousness. This is the 
positive side of the atonement, considered as a deed. It pre- 
supposes the negative side, or the atonement as the carrying 
out of the penalty of death originally pronounced against sin. 
All must die, and God can have no intercourse with sinners 

1 il yap S/« vipov lixaiotritn, apa., etc. — a syllogism of much weight — proves 
indubitably that our righteousness and Christ's death are coincident, and that 
nothing else enters in. 

2 The meaning of S^sav is not in vain, as Grotius, Piscator, and Theophylact 
render it, but gratuitously, or without a reason. 


till the cause of separation is taken out of the way, and death 
endured as the wages of sin. No other cause can be assigned 
for the Lord's death and the sufferings through which He 
passed. His death was indispensably necessary, and inflexibly 
demanded, if a righteousness was to be brought in. 

The reason is obvious : Had the law been able to contribute 
any aid in this respect, the Son of God, of whom the apostle 
has been speaking, would not have come. The Lawgiver 
would have erected a covenant of works, or been content 
with the Sinai covenant, and so have dispensed with a new 
covenant and a new mediator. But as the law availed not, as 
it only witnessed to a righteousness which it could not intro- 
duce (Eom. iii. 21), the mission of Christ to this world, His 
incarnation and death, had for their object to bring in the 
everlasting righteousness which could not otherwise have been 
attained. But for this, there was no assignable cause for the 
Lord's death, which is here viewed as the culmination of His 
obedience: our sole righteousness is found in His obedience 
unto death. 

What other cause can be named which does not either pro- 
ceed upon a humanitarian conception of His person, or carry 
its own refutation with it ? According to the Socinians, there 
was no necessity for Christ's death, such as the apostle assumes 
to be conceded upon all sides, even by those whose additions 
tended to undermine it. Why did He die according to the 
text? Not to seal and confirm the truth of His doctrine; 
for His doctrine was confirmed by miracles: not to teach 
us that we enter heaven by suffering, or to give us an ex- 
ample how to die ; for martyrs could have done that without 
an incarnation : not to present to us, for the sustaining of our 
hope, a specimen of immortality and resurrection; for the 
word could hold forth that': but to bring in a justifying 
righteousness ; and on any other supposition, He died without 

a cause. 

111. We have next a passage descriptive of Christ made a 

244 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

curse for us ; and of all the texts bearing on the atonement, there 
is none more decisive as to its nature : Christ hath redeemed us 
from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us : for it is 
written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree : that the 
blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus 
Christ (Gal. iii. 13). The context shows, that far from obtain- 
ing righteousness, the Galatians, by placing themselves on a 
legal footing (ver. 10), brought themselves under the curse. 
This is not the Levitical law, because it proposes life to those 
who fulfil it (ver. 12), and pronounces a curse on non-fulfil- 
ment (ver. 13). The apostle's object is to bring out that the 
law awards a curse, not a reward, to those who place them- 
selves on a footing of law ; and this is contrasted with eternal 
life, the promised reward. For the correct apprehension of the 
atonement in its essential elements, we must strictly define 
this curse. It is the divine sentence pronounced upon trans- 
gressors, comprehending in it the loss of God as its chief 
ingredient, separation from Him (Isa. lix. 2), and whatever 
positive infliction is further included. The Old Testament 
phraseology, from which the language is derived, takes in all 
that doom and shame which are the consequences of violating 
the divine law (Gen. iii. 17-19 ; Deut. xxvii. 14-26). 

The text may be compared with another, to which it bears 
a strong resemblance, where Christ is said to have been made 
sin (2 Cor. v. 21). The abstract noun in both passages de- 
mands notice ; for an abstract noun describes Christ as the 
sin-bearer, and an abstract noun describes Him as the curse- 
bearer. The Hebrews were wont to take nouns in the abstract 
instead of adjectives, when they wished to intimate that a 
thing was done in the highest conceivable measure or degree. 
The expression made sin foe us is more emphatic and full 
of meaning than if Paul had said, made Him a sinnee. It 
avoids, moreover, the misconception to which the latter term 
would have given rise, and allows us, according to the design 
of the passage, to distinguish between the personal and the 


official. In like manner, the expression being made a curse 
FOR us is more emphatic and significant than if he had said, 
being made accursed ; while it enables us to distinguish 
between personal relation and official suretyship. The simi- 
larity between the two passages is obvious ; and the difference 
is, that the former describes the imputation of sin, while the 
latter sets forth the actual doom or infliction. The former 
describes the relation of sin to punishment, the latter the 
punishment itself. 1 

In this passage four points demand notice, and we shall 
advert to them as briefly as is compatible with the importance 
of so conclusive a passage : 1. What is the curse of the law ? 
2. The liberation from it ; whether absolute, or by price. 3. 
The mode by which the redemption was effected : the ransom. 
4. The blessing on the Gentiles in room of the curse. 

1. The curse of the law does not mean temporal and 
civil punishments inflicted on Israel for the transgression of 
the judicial or ceremonial law. To interpret the expression in 
that way, is wholly to misapprehend its meaning. That there 
were such visitations, cannot be questioned by any one who 
has acquired a knowledge of the old dispensation (Deut. xxviii. 
15 ff.). These were evidences or proofs by which the people 
were trained to apprehend the divine wrath against the trans- 
gressors of His commandments ; but it is a far deeper thought 
that is before the apostle's mind. 2 As the context indubitably 
proves, the contrast is between wrath and blessing, between 
condemnation and justification. Besides, the Galatians to whom 
he wrote were Gentiles, not Jews ; and it would have had no 
appropriateness, to bring before them an allusion to the dis- 
pensational peculiarities of Israel. The term curse, here used, 
comprehends the penal sanction of the moral law, and takes 
for granted that mankind generally, having the work of the 
law written on their hearts, and a law to themselves (Eom. 

1 See Cameron, Opera, p. 518 ; Lechler, das apostolische Zeitalter, p. 75. 

2 See Balduin's Latin Commentary on Paul's Epistles. 


ii. 14), were not less liable to the curse than the Jews: they 
were both equally under the curse. 

2. From that curse Christ redeemed us, or, more strictly, 
bought us out. The word is a compound verb, denoting to 
buy out from one condition to transfer us into another. 1 The 
question here arises, In what way, absolutely or by price ? 
Plainly it is not an absolute deliverance, but one which is the 
result of purchase. No terms could more explicitly declare 
this ; for the price or ransom is immediately subjoined, as in 
many other passages where reference is made to redemption 
(compare 1 Cor. vi. 20 ; 1 Pet. i. 18, 19). It was a true and 
real curse to which we were subjected : it is a true and real 
redemption into which we are ushered ; and the price, too, by 
which it was effected — the intervention of the cross, or Christ 
made a curse for us — was a true and real price. The curse lay 
on Jew and Gentile equally ; and the ransom which liberated 
us was the transfer of punishment, and an exchange of places 
between us and Christ. We could not have been redeemed 
from this obligation to the curse, involving as it did a refer- 
ence to God as Lawgiver and Judge, had the cross been an 
expedient of an arbitrary nature, having nothing in common 
with the burden of the curse. That this is a commutation of 
persons, or deliverance by substitution, cannot be mistaken 
or denied. 

3. The price or ransom paid for us was nothing else but the 
personal Eedeemer, the Son of God condescending to be made A 
cukse for us ; a thought so vast and unfathomable, that though 
our minds grow familiar with the phraseology, we are for ever 
incapable of comprehending or fully surveying it. The ransom 
which liberated us was not His divine doctrine, nor His bright 
example of holiness left us to follow ; for that would but throw 
humanity back upon its own resources, and could never be 
disjoined from dependence on works, or inner holiness. - The 

1 ilnyopaffiv. The verb denotes to obtain by price, and the compound verb 
refers to the misery out of which we were ransomed (Quenstedt). 


apostle thinks of the ransom in a far other way : he identifies 
it with the Lord's abasement and ignominious death as a vica- 
rious satisfaction. He affirms that the price by which He 
discharged us from temporal and eternal penalty was His being 
made a curse for us by entering into our position before God. 
That is the meaning of the participial clause (compare 2 Cor. 
v. 19) : He was made the accumulated curse of His people, as 
if it were embodied in Him. God treated the sin-bearer as if 
He had been the sinner : that is, what the law awarded to us 
was visited upon Him ; and by that substitution our redemp- 
tion was secured. 1 

This curse culminated in the wrath of God. And here I 
must take occasion to expose the unbiblical theory prevalent 
in a certain school of theologians at present, that the element 
of wrath did not enter into the atonement, and that Christ was 
in no sense the object of the wrath- of God. It suffices to 
explode such a notion to direct attention to this single phrase, 
which conveys the opposite thought : Were not men under the 
wrath of God when they were under the curse ? (Gal. iii. 1 ; 
Eph. ii. 3.) And when Christ was made a curse, was He 
not, in an official respect, of necessity the object of divine wrath ? 
The term used in the text has only to be alternated with the 
equivalent term, to convince any mind that the theory in ques- 
tion is no better than a neutralizing evasion, if not a contra- 
diction, of Scripture. That curse was the penal sanction of the 
law with which we were burdened, and from which we must 
needs be redeemed ; and the words will bear no other comment. 

1 It would be tedious to refer to all the discussions on the import of this 
passage. The expositions are numerous, because it is decisive as to the nature 
of the atonement, and every one is summoned to examine it. Against the 
Socinians, see Arnold, Calovius, Hoornbeek, Turretin, Quenstedt, Oeder, Pictet, 
Stapfer. See the remarks of Owen on the Socinian views (vols. ix. x.), and 
Hurrion on the Necessity of the Atonement ; Seiler and Tissel on the atonement, 
both of the Grotian school ; and more recently Lotze, Keiser, and Vinke. The 
discussions of Weber, vom Zorne Gottes ; Keil (see above, p. 27) ; Thomasius 
(vol. iii. p. 73) ; Philippi, in the course of the discussions excited by Hofmann, 
deserve perusal. 

248 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

This transfer of punishment from us to Him is convincingly- 
established by the context and by the structure of the sentence ; 
and there is not room for two opinions on the subject. That 
curse was manifested in the infliction of death in its full extent 
of meaning, according to the primeval sentence on our race 
(Gal. iii. 3-19). It consisted especially in the privation of God, 
and in the desertion, which extorted from Him many agonizing 
complaints ; for the worst ingredient of the curse is the loss of 
God, or the absence and complete withdrawal of God from a 
human soul, made to be His habitation. That, in fact, is the 
bitterest element of eternal death ; and through it the Surety was 
constrained to pass when made a curse for us. None but a divine 
person, indeed, was equal to the endurance ; and none but a divine 
person could have engaged his heart to appear before God to 
encounter the curse (Jer. xxx. 21). A God-man was required to 
bear it, to reverse it, and transform it into a blessing (ver. 14). 
We must notice, before proceeding further, the quotation 
from the Mosaic law. Paul adduces it to ground what had 
been said, and to prove that death by crucifixion was not 
only painful and ignominious, but expressive of a divine curse : 
" For it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree " 
(Deut. xxi. 22, 23). To understand this quotation grounding 
the previous statement, it is necessary to consider whether the 
particular law to which the apostle refers was intended to be 
symbolical, typical, and prophetical in its import. Exposi- 
tors, following the uniform testimony of rabbinical writers, are 
mostly of opinion that crucifixion, or the affixing of a living 
person by nails to a tree, and thus leaving him to expire by 
a slow and painful death, was a Gentile mode of punishment 
common among the Eomans, but never in use among the 
Jewish people, while their institutions remained entire; and 
that the Mosaic law, in referring to the suspending of a criminal 
on a tree, had reference not to a living man, but to a dead 
body thus exposed to view till sunset, — after which the body 
was to be buried, not remaining all night upon the tree. On 


the other hand, Lipsius, Baronius, 1 and above all, Albert 
Schultens, contend with great learning that there is no good 
ground for the conclusion, that death by crucifixion was not in 
use in the times of the Hebrew commonwealth; and that the 
rabbinical writers in this instance, as in many others that 
might be named, discover a determination to wrest from the 
Christians such a remarkable type or typical prophecy of the 
crucified Messiah. Without entering into this controversy, 
let it suffice to say, that between hanging on a tree as described 
in the Mosaic law, and death by crucifixion, an obvious point 
of similarity exists, which no one can mistake. But besides the 
suspension, — the point of resemblance, — such a mode of death 
was not only ignominious in the sight of men, but meant to 
appear accursed in the sight of God : for the terms of the law 
are express to this effect. God, in His divine purpose, willed 
it to be so. As it was a positive appointment, it is not neces- 
sary to search for deejDer reasons, least of all for fanciful 
analogies ; though the opinion expressed by many eminent 
divines, that this mode of death recalled the manner in which 
sin entered into the world, and by which the curse was diffused 
over the human race, is not unwarrantable. Our first parents 
sinned by the forbidden tree, and God, it is thought, willed 
that the reversal of the curse by the second Adam should be 
by hanging on a tree, that it might suggest the origin of the 
curse. Whatever ground may exist for this opinion, it was 
according to the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of 
God that the curse should be expiated in no other way but 
by crucifixion or hanging on a tree. 

But as to the special point, how the person hanging on a tree 
was accursed, there can be no doubt. It was a symbol, type, or 
prophecy. They who were thus punished were not accursed 
because they were hanged on a tree— a shallow comment which 
reduces it to nothing— but conversely, were hanged on a tree 
because they were accursed. It is necessary to lay stress on 

1 Casaubon replied to Baronius. 

250 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

this, to forestall the notion that Paul, by applying this language 
to Christ, means nothing more than that there was an outward 
exposure and shame attaching to that mode of death. That 
is far from the apostle's meaning, and far from a right con- 
ception of the symbol. He was not made a curse by the mere 
fact that He hung on a tree; but conversely, He was sus- 
pended there because He was made a curse for us; and the 
mode of punishment was first instituted to represent the idea 
now stated. 

The Lawgiver, when He proclaimed that law by Moses, in- 
tended it to be typical as well as symbolical, or more strictly 
a typical prophecy. It figured forth a great idea, which had 
only to be apprehended by the first preachers of Christianity, 
and has only to be apprehended still, to impel men under 
the most constraining motive to boast of the cross, to admire 
the cross, and to commend the cross as the power of God and 
wisdom of God. In the eyes of men, crucifixion was in the 
highest degree ignominious, — a servile punishment inflicted on 
the lowest scum of the people, when they expiated their crimes 
by death. On freemen it was never inflicted till they were 
degraded from their rank, and classified with slaves ; and then 
it was awarded only for the worst crimes committed against 
civil order and law, property, religion, and government. The 
stigma attaching to such a death, accordingly, was the same as 
now attaches to one who expiates great crimes upon the gallows. 
This was the Gentile conception of such a death. But accord- 
ing to the Jewish law, it carried with it the further brand of 
being accursed in the sight of God ; and the fact of dying such 
a death was doubtless one principal ground why the nation 
esteemed Christ stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. The 
law made such a death emphatically an accursed one ; and 
were they not to view it in that light ? Accordingly, the 
common name for Jesus among the Jews to the present day, 
the hanged one, sufficiently shows how they think themselves 
entitled to regard the crucifixion. 


In giving such a law by Moses, God meant it to be a 
typical prophecy, as well as symbolical of curse-bearing. In 
the same way, the lifting up of the brazen serpent on the pole 
was meant in the divine purpose to adumbrate the crucifixion, 
whether many or few saw beyond the figure to the Antitype. 
Among the forms of punishment mentioned in the law, that 
of hanging on a tree was pronounced accursed, because it 
figured forth the cross, and announced that the Messiah should 
one day hang upon a tree. The question is not, how many 
could decipher the symbol and the typical prophecy ? but, was 
that in the divine intention ? And the apostle's quotation of 
the passage in this connection is decisive in the affirmative. 
Both the symbol and the type are equally emphatic. The 
cross was the expression of an idea, — a sort of fact-painting, 
an evidence or exhibition that the person suspended on it was 
already accursed, or a curse in the sight of God. Not that the 
tree was the cause of the curse ; for the accursed one was sus- 
pended on the tree. This was an outstanding public testimony 
to a fact, and in this case a testimony that the Lord was bur- 
dened with the world's curse, and weighed down under its 
overwhelming load. 1 

4. The curse-bearing payed the way for the blessing (ver. 
14). These two are directly contrasted, and the one is in order 
to the other. The curse under which we laboured was removed, 
that the blessing might be imparted. The curse laid on the 
Lord opened the channel of communication for the reception 
of the blessing; out of that redemption from the curse of 
the law, flows the blessing which comes upon the Gentiles 
(ver. 14). 

To all this exposition three objections are commonly urged 
by those who impugn the atonement as a substitution and 
satisfaction. And we must advert to them, though they are 
easy of refutation to any one who apprehends the sin-bearing 
office of the Lord. The same objections were propounded by 

1 See Turretin, de Satisfactione, p. 107. 

252 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

the first Sociiiians three centuries ago, and they are repro- 
duced and repeated by modern writers, with little change of 

(1.) It is objected that the apostle, in speaking of liberation 
from the curse of the law, had respect only to the Jews. This 
is groundless. Paul refers to men, of whatever nation, who 
were under the curse of the law, or under the wrath of God, 
revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteous- 
ness of men (Rom. i. 18). What is the apostle's object in the 
Epistle to the Eomans but to prove this ? But, to confine our- 
selves to the text before us, he aims to show that they who are 
redeemed share in the blessing, and that curse-bearing on the 
part of Christ was with a view to the blessing which comes 
on the Gentiles also (ver. 1 4). When the apostle says, " He 
hath redeemed us," nothing can warrant us to conclude, with 
Socinians and many modern exegetes, that he has in his eye 
Jews more than Gentiles. No antithesis of nationality is 
intended when the apostle says, " He hath redeemed us from 
the curse of the law, that the blessing of Abraham might come 
on the Gentiles." When the apostle, writing to Gentiles, names 
himself as comprehended in the class of those who are sharers 
in redemption, the terms us, or we, or our, can never be ap- 
plied to Jews alone. We do not find a single case where the 
apostle, after his conversion, puts himself into the category of 
the Jews, except where he alludes to his past ; for his nation- 
ality, his Judaism, his former course, are all absorbed in the 
new relation. And every supposed classification of himself 
among the Jews should be otherwise explained. We do not 
hesitate to lay down this canon. Besides, the most rudimentary 
inquirer into the scope of the epistles is aware that they were 
written to Christ's disciples, to redeemed men, or such as 
professed to be so. Wherever the apostle, then, makes use of 
this style of language, including himself in the class of men 
to whom he speaks of doctrine, privilege, or duty, he writes 
to Christ's disciples as such, but neither to Jews nor Gen- 


tiles apart. Moreover, the Galatians to whom he wrote were 
Gentiles. 1 

It is a low comment of the Kationalists, that we are re- 
deemed from the yoke of the Mosaic law. With that shallow 
interpretation many satisfy themselves, — supposing Paul to say 
that, so long as he was a Jew, he was subject to the Mosaic 
law, from which he was now redeemed ; or, as others expound 
it, exposed to the constant risk of falling under the terrible 
penalties of the law, but was now free. In refutation of this 
comment, it may suffice to say that, however applicable in 
other connections, it is here out of place ; for the passage does 
not affirm that Christ redeemed us from all obedience to the 
law, or from all relation to the law, but from its curse. The 
language is definite : it refers to the condemning sentence or 
punishment awarded by the law, whether we have regard to 
what is temporal or eternal. The meaning is, that Christ 
bought us out or redeemed us from the penalty ; the language 
having reference to the custom of redeeming a captive or slave 
by rausom. The figure was peculiarly appropriate. 

(2.) A second objection by the opponents of vicarious satis- 
faction is, that Christ is not said to have borne the same cuese, 
the same elements of penal visitation, under which those lie 
who are burdened with the curse of the law. They hold that 
it was different in kind ; and, in a word, that so far as Christ 
was concerned, it had not the nature of a curse, and contained 
nothing of penal infliction at the hand of God. They allow 
that He bore the suffering of the cross as inflicted by the hand 
of man, but admit no deeper element of punitive infliction at 
the hand of God. Their shallow comment is reduced to this, 
that, according to the law, the mode of death by crucifixion 
had a certain brand or stigma attached to it, not as an exponent 
of a deeper idea, but simply as a name among men or in com- 
mon estimation. Thus the mere name or fact of the crucifixion 

1 See Stillingfleet's Sermons on Christ's Satisfaction, and Th. Goodwin (t. 
p. 188). 

254 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

is, according to them, all the curse. In support of this view, 
it has been ingeniously argued in modern times 1 that the 
apostle does not say of Christ, " being made this cuese," which, 
it is allowed, would mean the curse of the law ; and they allege 
that since it is said, " being made A curse for us," the inter- 
pretation which explains the clause of substitution and penal 
suffering must fall to the ground. 

The question whether our curse was removed from us and 
laid on Christ, must be dealt with in a different way. We 
cannot but resent this interpretation as unfair — as an exegetical 
violence which the structure of the sentence will not endure. 
It is a deliberate attempt to explain away the simple and 
natural relation of the clauses. The apostle did not need to 
say, " being made this cuese for us." Nay, it might have been 
liable to misapprehension, more especially as the quotation 
from the Mosaic law was to be immediately subjoined. But 
the Holy Ghost knows how to use the most appropriate words, 
and to put them in the clearest setting. First, mention is 
made of the curse of the law awarded to transgressors ; next, 
it is announced that we were liberated or discharged from that 
curse ; thirdly, putting cause and effect together, the apostle 
affirms that such a result was brought about by Christ becom- 
ing a curse for us. Words cannot more explicitly teach that 
He was made oue cuese, and that the means of redemption 
was Christ's intervention as a curse-bearer. That is convinc- 
ingly brought out in the passage ; and we may affirm, in the 
words of Dr. South, who in one of his sallies remarks upon this 
text : " Scripture must be crucified as well as Christ, to give 
any other tolerable sense of the expressions." 

But might it not be Paul's intention to say that Christ 
suffered what made Him appeae as accuesed ? Might he not 
mean that Christ was represented to men as a curse, appearing 

1 See Hofmann's Schriftbeweis : he argues from the text in this way. Keil's 
reply to Hofmann (Zeitschrift fur die gesammte Lutherische Theologie, 1857, 
p. 452) is most conclusive. 


as if He were so, or so reputed in men's esteem ? No : the 
statement would then be no longer an objective one. We are 
not so to weaken or reduce the import of the expressions. They 
set forth a eeal and not a seeming connection between sin- 
bearing and curse-bearing. All the menace, or penal sanction 
of the law was discharged on the Lord as. our substitute. And 
the passage brings out what Christ was in God's account and 
by God's appointment, not what He was in man's repute, and 
as He was treated by the hands of men. The absence of the 
definite article, or of the demonstrative pronoun this, does not 
warrant us to think of any other curse, or any modification or 
alteration of the specific curse incurred by us, and necessarily 
inflicted for the violation of the divine law. It is not to be 
rendered nor interpreted A cuese like that which is pro- 
nounced by the law upon transgressors, and conveying merely 
the idea of similarity or resemblance. That were but another 
form of the metaphorical or figurative theory of the atonement, 
with which the Socinianizing opponents of substitution and 
satisfaction rest content. But we cannot stop short there. 
The entire connection proves that it is the veky curse of the 
broken law, the very infliction impending over us, and struck 
by God's own hand, to which Paul refers. We are not to take 
the words as meaning that His enemies executed Him by a 
malefactor's death ; for it was God Himself, and not His ene- 
mies, that made Him a curse. 

(3.) The third objection is, that Christ could not be said to 
be a curse for us in the sense of undergoing the very penalty 
in our stead, because it was eternal death, — a doom which 
they allege He could not undergo, as He must rise again. 
That objection could not be propounded but by men who 
neither recognised the divine person of the Lord, nor appre- 
hended the infinite value of His sufferings. But in point of 
dignity and value, the penal sufferings of such a person, though 
limited in duration, were equivalent to eternal punishment; 
for His divine nature had an influence on His sufferings, and 

256 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

put Him in a position such as no mere man could ever occupy. 
We find, accordingly, that Scripture in many passages fixes 
attention on His personal dignity, and deduces from it the 
unspeakable value of His sufferings (Acts xx. 28 ; 1 Cor. ii. 8 ; 
1 John i. 7). Finite creatures could give no satisfaction, how- 
ever lasting the duration of their sufferings ; whereas the divine 
dignity of the Eedeemer counterbalanced the duration of the 
curse. In intensive merit, it was thus a full equivalent to 
eternal death. And we may add that the endless punishment 
of the sinner would not be necessary, were he adequate to en- 
dure infinite wrath in combination with the other conditions 
which a satisfaction presupposes. 

Christ's whole career was marked by vicarious curse-bear- 
ing ; and we have to notice what it involved. Properly con- 
sidered, the entire life of the Lord, from the manger to the 
cross, or rather to the grave, was a course of sinless curse- 
bearing, because a course of sin-bearing. He was visited with 
the penal consequences of sin, with its curse and wages, from 
the day when He entered into humanity by incarnation. Al- 
ready we have proved at large that Christ, through His entire 
earthly history, was conscious of occupying the position of a 
sin-bearing substitute ; and where sin was, there too the curse 
was, its inevitable accompaniment. The term curse expresses 
the penal sanction of the law ; and when Christ is so desig- 
nated, the import is, that the curse, following the violation of 
the law, was executed on Him. It has therefore everything 
in common with condemnation and wrath. We must, how- 
ever, distinguish several things when we speak of Christ made 
a curse in our room and stead, lest no definite or correct idea 
should be formed of the language. 

a. We must distinguish between the personal and the official 
in this mysterious transaction. Inconsiderate and revolting 
phraseology has been sometimes here employed by certain ill- 
balanced minds. God certainly did not view the Eedeemer 
as the sinner must needs be viewed, when the latter comes 


under the full infliction of the divine curse. He did not regard 
Him personally in any other light than as His beloved Son, 
on whom He looked with infinite complacency, as at once His 
righteous Servant and His only Son. But as the surety of 
His people, the Lord descended into the lowest abyss of that 
curse which we had incurred, and tasted death, the penalty of 
sin, that we might never taste of it. 

b. Nor was it only in His death that He was made a curse 
for us, though it culminated upon the cross ; for the curse of 
God, the penal sanction of the divine law, was expressed in 
Christ's life as well as in His death. The outline or tenor of 
the curse, sketched in Genesis in the narrative of the fall and 
its doom, may be read off in every particular from the earthly 
history of the Lord. The labour, sorrow, and death denounced 
on man in that primeval curse, may be seen in Christ in every 
variety of form in which they could possibly attach to the 
incarnate Son. In toil and grief, in frailty and fainting, in 
hunger and thirst, in want and weariness, in bearing the like- 
ness of sinful flesh, we can trace this curse-bearing — the un- 
failing attendant of sin-bearing. His earthly career was, in 
fact, pervaded by it at every step. Though He saw no corrup- 
tion, either living or dead — for sickness or disease could not, 
as a personal quality, attach to the sinless One — He knew by 
sympathy, and in some mysterious way, too, by the miraculous 
healing of disease, what that part of the curse comprehended. 
His death was a curse-bearing death, involving all the elements 
of the second or eternal death, $p far as the privative sense, 
the loss of God, is concerned — that heaviest part of a God- 
inflicted curse. Such a death alone could be an adequate 
equivalent for the curse of the law due to transgressors. 

c. It is evidently identical with the curse awarded to the 
violators of the law. There is only one divine curse, and it is 
ours, but transferred to a Substitute who was exempt from it 
on every ground, whether we think of His divine dignity or 
sinless perfection. Whether, therefore, we consider the struc- 

258 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

ture of tliis passage, or the nature of the transaction itself, we 
find a full proof that it was vicarious curse-bearing ; and all 
the efforts made by the opponents of substitution to wrest this 
passage from the church — and no means have been left unused 
— are utterly futile. They are a complete failure if we abide 
by Scripture, grammatically expounded, as our sole court of 
appeal. The words can convey no other meaning but this, 
that the Lord Jesus underwent the penalty we had merited, 
and was treated as an accursed person in our stead, and so 
freed us from the curse by vicariously bearing it. 

IV. Another passage, parallel to the former, but with an 
extension of the idea, is as follows : When the fulness of the 
time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made 
under the law, to redeem them that are under the law, that we 
might receive the adoption of sons (Gal. iv. 4). Redemption 
from the curse of the law was the scope of the former passage ; 
redemption from the law itself, considered in its covenant form, 
or as the condition of life, is the scope of this. 

1. The fulness of time, at which the atonement was accom- 
plished, is here noticed. It may suffice to say, that though 
we cannot enumerate all the elements that entered into that 
fulness, some are on the surface. A fact so stupendous was not 
to be ushered in as an abrupt phenomenon, without a pre- 
paratory economy of type and prophecy, by means of which a 
circle of ideas and a peculiar phraseology might be formed to 
bring it home to men's minds, both before the incarnation and 
after it. A sufficient reason must also appear why such a 
provision was necessary; and this necessity required to be 
historically displayed in the failure of human schemes. Not 
only art and education, culture and civilisation, but divine law 
itself, must be tried. They were tried, and found inadequate 
to meet the case. 

2. The sending forth of the Son of God is next mentioned 
as the presupposition or foundation of the ransom. The ex- 
pressions here used unambiguously affirm that the Son existed 


as a divine person with God, and very God, before He came 
to be made of woman. He was sent, in the exercise of love, 
by the first person of the Godhead; and no one interpreting 
words as they stand, can permit himself to reduce them to 
the tame, flat sense that Jesus was but a man. Here He is 
marked out as divine. His mission, and the possession of the 
divine nature, were not precisely the ransom, but the presup- 
position of the ransom, giving it infinite value, and rendering 
it applicable to the wants of millions. But no ingredient of 
the penal sanction of the law, or of the positive obedience, 
could be dispensed with on that account. It was of necessity 
the work of a God-man, but true human suffering and obedience. 
3. The next gradation as here stated was, that Christ was 
made OF woman. It might pass without challenge on philo- 
logical grounds, were we to translate the clause born of 
woman ; though it cannot be disguised that the latter is pre- 
ferred by many, in the interest of an erroneous tendency, viz. 
that they may escape from the doctrine of the supernatural 
conception of Jesus. The true rendering is, made of woman ; 
and the language implies, that as the Son He had another 
mode of existence, but became something that He was not. 
The divine side of Christ's person has been already noticed : 
here Paul teaches with equal clearness His true humanity. 
The incarnation of the Lord is here presented to us as a divine 
fact, the deed of God the Father; elsewhere it is spoken of 
as the Eedeemer's own act (2 Cor. viii. 9). By naming a 
human mother from whom the Lord derived His human 
nature, the apostle plainly meant to announce His true and 
perfect humanity, but in terms which fully coincide with the 
acknowledged fact of His being virgin-born. Christ's deriva- 
tion of humanity from Adam through His mother is no small 
or unimportant matter in connection with His atonement: 
for His fraternity, as our kinsman Eedeemer, absolutely 
depends upon the fact that He derived His humanity from 
the substance of His mother; and without this He would 

260 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

neither possess the natural nor legal union with His people, 
which must lie at the foundation of His representative cha- 
racter. To be our Goel or redeeming kinsman, the humanity 
with which He was invested could neither be brought from 
heaven, nor be immediately created by the Godhead, but 
derived, as ours is, from a human mother ; with this difference, 
that the Lord's humanity never existed in Adam's covenant, 
to entail either guilt or taint upon Him personally. He must 
be within the pale of mankind, yet its second man, or second 
representative ; personally exempt from every charge and from 
every defilement descending from the first man, but freely 
assuming guilt by a federal engagement in our stead. In a 
word, He took of man all that needed redemption, a true 
body and a reasonable soul, without any personal obligation 
devolving on Him by mere necessity of nature ; for what obliga- 
tion or responsibility could attach to the God-man, that is, to 
humanity assumed into personal union with the Eternal Son ? 
His was real humanity, but sinless, — a body incorruptible, and 
a reasonable soul without a taint of imperfection; and this 
woman-born or virgin-born Eedeemer, with no personal respon- 
sibilities derived from the first Adam, spontaneously engaged 
to assume them by consenting to be the second Adam. 

4. The next thing mentioned in the text, and a further 
step, is: made under the law. This clause affirms that 
Christ was made under the law for the sake of those who were 
under the law, and therefore not on His own account or from 
any personal obligation. Had He been personally subject to 
it, then His obedience could only have availed to His personal 
release or discharge. But there was this difference between 
Christ and us, that we were born under the law by the con- 
dition of creaturehood, while He was spontaneously made 
under it for the ends of suretyship. 

This clause demands special notice on another ground. It 
is affirmed in certain quarters, and especially by those who 
do not admit the evidence for Christ's active obedience, that 


the apostle does not here name the ransom, but leaves it to 
be sought in the previous passage relating to the curse (Gal. iii. 
13). That is by no means the case; and an analysis of the 
words may convince any one that the ransom or equivalent 
is as definitely named as in the other passage. The statement 
that Christ was made a curse refers to His passive obedience ; 
this statement, that He was made under the law, refers to His 
active as well as suffering obedience, or to the fulfilling of the 
law in action and suffering. The pkice of redemption is there- 
fore named, and it is nothing but His incarnation and subjec- 
tion to the law. The opinion that reconciliation and redemption 
are effected by the death of Christ, to the exclusion of His 
active obedience, is thus in collision with this passage, and with 
many other parts of Scripture (Eom. v. 19). When Christ was 
made under the law, it was with a view to that meritorious 
obedience by which we are accounted righteous, and treated as 
righteous. 1 

The active obedience considered as our ransom, or a con- 
stituent element of the ransom, has encountered many futile 
objections. Thus some oppose it on the general ground that 
the law was not applicable to non-Jews, but confined to Israel. 
But however some portions of the law might be limited to 
Israel, the moral law, adapted to man as man, and the re- 
flection of the divine nature, was but a republication of the 
law of nature. It is preposterous to speak of this element, 
the core and essence of the whole, as limited to Jews, when 

1 The opponents of Christ's active obedience considered as vicarious in- 
variably shut their eyes to this fact. They call it an ecclesiastical concep- 
tion, like Meyer ; or adduce, like Piscator and his followers, grounds to prove 
that Christ owed active obedience on His own account ; or make faith a right- 
eousness by acceptation, like the Arrninians. But the fact is proved by this 
and similar texts, that Christ's subjection to the law was for our redemption. 
All the great Lutheran divines of the Reformation age maintained without ex- 
ception, that Christ owed no obedience on His own account, and their reasoning 
cannot be refuted ; for the law was not given to the human nature in the person 
of the Son, till He spontaneously put Himself under it. See, too, in the 
Reformed Chinch, Calvin, Danams, Parens, Amesius, Maccovius, who are of the 
same opinion. 

262 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

it was not arbitrary, but eternal, and must needs receive its ful- 
filment as the condition of life (Gal. iii. 12). The obedience 
to it was necessary alike for Gentiles and for Jews. 

It is further alleged by modern exegetes, that the expression 
made under the law means no more than to be born a Jew. 
That is by no means the idea which the apostle expresses, 
nor does such an interpretation reach the meaning. Christ's 
mission and subjection to the law were in order to redeem us : 
the one was the way to the other, as appears from the final 
particle, which connects the last clause of the one verse (ver. 4) 
with the first clause of the following verse (ver. 5). We cannot 
translate " born a Jew," 1 because the relation of the means to 
the design would be absolutely imperceptible ; whereas the 
apostle, by the repetition of the same words, intends to make 
it plain. Moreover, it must be noticed, that if we translate 
the words " born a Jew" in the one verse (ver. 4), we must, on 
all grounds of consistency, translate the same words in the 
same way in the next verse (ver. 5). And what sense would 
be conveyed by the clauses thus rendered, " born a Jew, to 
redeem them that were born Jews," — as if He came only to 
redeem the Jews ? Nor does the absurdity end there. The 
next clause, also expressive of design, and introduced by a final 
particle, introduces a wider reference when it says, " that we 
might receive the adoption of sons." All this is natural and 
obvious, when we apprehend that redemption by Christ's 
atonement and obedience paves the way to the further blessing 
of adoption. But on the other mode of interpretation, the 
sequence of thought would be as follows : Christ was born a 
Jew, to redeem them that were born Jews, that we (the Gentile 
Galatians as well as Paul) might receive the adoption of sons. 
The redemption of the Jews is made the cause of the adoption 
of the Gentiles. That is so absurd, that it needs no remark. 
But all is plain and significant when we take the words as 

1 Meyer, Bishop Ellicott, and others, unhappily expound the words in this 
superficial way. 


already expounded, and remember that the essential elements 
of the law were written on the conscience of the Gentiles 
(Eom. ii. 15). 

In the Pauline epistles, where the expression under the 
law several times occurs, it is always equivalent to being 
subject to the law (Eom. iii. 19, vi. 14, 15 ; Gal. iv. 21, v. 18; 
1 Cor. ix. 20). In all these passages the expression has one 
uniform sense : it denotes subjection to the law, with the ac- 
cessory idea that it has something burdensome and oppressive. 
These several passages are not to be mingled and confounded. 
But one thing is evident : it is not a mere circumlocution for 
a Jew. The meaning is, that God sent His Son, made under 
the law, for the redemption of those who were under the law 
in all its breadth of meaning. Now Jews and Gentiles were 
equally under the law, as the condition of life, by the fact of 
creaturehood (Eom. ii. 14, iii. 9). 

Two things are comprehended. The first is, that the Lord 
Jesus, when made under the law for our deliverance, must 
have fulfilled all its claims, according to the terms. And as 
we were bound, according to essential human relations, to the 
strictest obedience on the one hand, and to the endurance of 
the curse on the other — that is, to the precept and the penalty 
— the apostle affirms that both were fulfilled by Christ in our 
room (Gal. iii. 10, 12). That is the fulfilment of the law in 
the full sense of the term. The second point is, that whatever 
Christ rendered in this capacity was done as our substitute, 
and for the benefit of those who were under the law. The 
objection of those who impugn the element of active obedience 
as part of the Lord's atoning work is, that Christ was under 
obligation as man to obey for Himself, like every rational 
creature. The answer to this, as it was uniformly given by 
the Lutheran, and also by the best Eeformed divines, on the 
ground of such passages as the present, was, that humanity 
was assumed by the Son of God into the unity of His person, 
to be an instrument or organ in His work ; that it existed only 

264 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

in the person of the Son, and never apart from Him ; that the 
law as such had no competent authority over the Son of God, 
who was Himself the lawgiver ; that His human nature, also 
called the Son of God, was not under the law, but exempt from 
it in any covenant form ; and therefore that He was made 
under the law, not because He had a human nature, but be- 
cause He willed to be under it, to finish a work of obedience 
which might be given away to those who had none. This was 
meritorious obedience, and given to us as a donation. 

5. The fruit or benefit derived from Christ's subjection to 
the law is our redemption and, at a second remove, our adop- 
tion. The two final clauses, 1 which refer to these two blessings 
as the fruit of Christ's ransom, may be co-ordinate, as some 
view them, or subordinated in this sense, that one paves the 
way for the other. Both clauses, however, refer without dis- 
tinction to Jews and Gentiles. By the obedience of Christ 
both are equally redeemed : then follows the blessing of adop- 
tion, of which the further result is the sending forth of the 
Spirit of adoption into our hearts (ver. 6). 

V.; The apostle strikingly utters his view of the atonement, 
when, he declares, in contrast to the errorists, who adhered to 
rites, ceremonies, and legal observances : God forbid that I 
should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by lohom 
[better, by whicli\ the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the 
world (Gal. vi. 14). From the fulness of his heart, as a man 
and apostle, he declares his attachment to the cross, that is, 
to Christ crucified as the only ground of acceptance, discarding 
all supplementary additions with holy zeal. He elsewhere 
affirms that boasting is excluded (Bom. iii. 2 7) ; but legal boast- 
ing is displaced, that glorying in the Lord, or glorying in Christ 
crucified, may begin (see 1 Cor. i. 30). Only two things de- 
mand notice here as bearing on our theme. 

1 The first "»« clause in ver. 5 shows that redemption was aimed at as the 
immediate effect of Christ's subjection to the law ; the second "m clause in the 
verse may be co-ordinated with the former (as Meyer views it), or be taken as 
a further end contemplated and subordinated to the first. 


1 . The cross, vieAved as a propitiatory sacrifice, is described 
as the sole ground of a Christian's boast or glorying. The 
antithesis in which the words occur repudiates every other 
plea but the finished work of the cross, but also implies that 
there is a boasting in which the Christian can never go too far 
or indulge too frequently. He gloried in the cross as the ex- 
piation of sin, the fulfilment of the law, the cause of reconcilia- 
tion, the ransom of the church, the propitiation for our sins, 
and the sacrificial blood which brings us near and keeps us 
near to God in worship. 

2. The fruit of the atonement is a twofold crucifixion. The 
relative clause, commencing with by whom, may either refer 
to the personal Saviour, according to the rendering of the 
English version, or to the cross, by which this result is gained. 
These two clauses denote the dissolution of relations between 
Paul and the world, effected by the cross. The first clause, 
the would is ceucified to me, means that it became to him 
unwelcome, distasteful, undesirable, like a crucified person. 
It was nailed to the cross, whether we suppose the allusion is 
to the world's attractions or to its legal righteousness. In both 
respects it was crucified, and influenced him as little as a dead 
man or dead thing could do. But it is added, I am crucified 
to the world. That clause is commonly interpreted, The 
world has cast me out, as no object of its favour, and as alien 
to it. 1 The two clauses will thus set forth respectively Paul's 
estimate of the world, and the world's estimate of him. This 
is the usual interpretation of the clauses, and amounts to this : 
that Paul looked on the world, from the view -point of the 
cross, as an object that no more commended itself to him ; and 
that the world, conversely, accounted him as worthy of contempt, 
because he so strenuously commended and enforced the one 
grand object of a sinner's confidence, — namely, Christ crucified, 
to the Jews a stumbling-block, and to the Greeks foolishness. 

1 See Seidel and Struensee in their Commentaries on Galatians. De Wette 
makes the two clauses the same in meaning. 

266 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

The latter part of this commentary does not seem so ap- 
propriate or adapted to the apostle's design. His object was 
not so much to describe what the world thought of him, as 
how he stood affected to the world. The second clause, and I 
TO the woeld, seems rather to intimate that, by the poten- 
tiality inherent in the cross, in so far as it rectified his relation 
toward God, and brought in new life to his soul, he was dead 
to the world. If the former clause affirmed that the world, 
as surveyed from the cross in which he gloried, was as a dead 
and crucified object in his esteem, the present clause will rather 
set forth that his heart was dead to it. 1 Another object had 
so won his heart, that his tastes, desires, and sympathies were, 
as it were, dead within him, so far as the world was concerned. 
He drew no confidence from the legal rites, which were but 
elements of the world in his esteem (Gal. iv. 3), and had no 
hankering or looking behind in reference to its allurements 
and attractions. He did not dally with the world, or maintain 
any relations with it, when he saw how alien it was to the 
aims and aspirations of one who gloried in Christ crucified, 
and who was himself crucified with his Lord (Gal. ii. 20). This 
latter thought, that the apostle was crucified with Christ, and 
therefore one who no longer sought his life in the world (Col. 
ii. 20), will enable us to apprehend the force of the expression. 
It is this : Paul was personally dead to the world, because by 
the cross he was the property of another, — one of the peculiar 
people or heritage that Christ had won by His atoning blood. 
Paul felt that he was objectively crucified with Christ, and 
his inner feelings corresponded to the change. He no more 
sought that world, nor lived for it, than a dead man is attracted 
by its honours, pleasures, or emoluments ; and it was the cross 
that made the great revolution. 

1 See Albert Schultens' Dutch exposition of the Heidelberg Catechism. See 
also Dr. Owen on this passage. 



The Epistle to the Ephesians and the Epistle to the Colos- 
sians have a close affinity to each other, as developing the 
Pauline Christology. 1 They put the atonement in contrast 
with an incipient Gnosticism, which substituted ideas or mere 
speculative knowledge for the realities of Christ's work. In 
some epistles, as in that to the Eomans, Paul appears as the 
expounder of divine truth in its wide connections. In others 
— as in the Epistles to the Corinthians, Timothy, and Titus — 
he appears as the pastor, issuing counsels, admonitions, and 
directions. In these Epistles to the Ephesians and Colossians 
there is a certain reference to the oriental speculations then 
beginning to thrust themselves on the notice of the Christian 
church ; and Paul, in displaying his knowledge in the mystery 
of Christ (Eph. iii. 4), appears more as the prophet giving 
abundant fulness of spiritual revelations. The principal thought 
of these epistles is the personal Christ, the medium of divine 
communications, Head over all things to the church, uniting 
Jew and Gentile under Himself as their one Head, and the 
link connecting all things with God and with one another. 
On these points we have striking revelations, nowhere else so 
fully imparted. 

Allusions to the atonement run through the Epistle to the 
Ephesians, even where no express statements are given as to 
its nature. Thus, in the reference to Christ's love, we cannot 
fail to see an underlying allusion to His atonement (Eph. iii. 18). 
When the thought is brought in, " Now, that He ascended, 
what is it but that He also descended first into the lower parts 
of the earth ?" we have an allusion to His atonement as the 
foundation of His throne (Eph. iv. 9). When mutual forgive- 
ness is enforced by the consideration that God for Christ's sake 

1 See Lange, Geschkhte der Kirche, in reply to Barn's remarks on Ephesians 
and Colossians. 

268 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

hath forgiven us, that forgiveness is connected with the work 
of Christ (iv. 32). But omitting passages which assume the 
atonement rather than express it, we shall confine ourselves to 
those which are definite. 

I. The first passage on the subject of the atonement is thus 
expressed : In whom we have redemption through His blood, the 
forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace (Eph. i. 7). 
The apostle celebrates God's praise for spiritual blessings, for 
election in Christ, and for all contemplated by election (Eph. 
i. 3). When we analyze the structure of the sentence, he does 
not say by whom, 1 as he usually does, to denote the meritorious 
cause, but in whom. The words in Christ sometimes mean 
union, when the words have an independent position, and can 
be taken apart {2 Cor. xii. 2). Here, however, the expression 
in whom denotes in His person objectively, as the surety or 
ground of our salvation. For Christ is a public person, and 
we have redemption in a way similar and parallel to the con- 
demnation which we have in Adam. In a word, redemption 
is set forth objectively in Christ's person, who of God is made 
to us redemption (1 Cor. i. 30). All the expressions coincide 
with this interpretation ; for it is not said that we acquire re- 
demption, but that we HAVE it in Him (s-^ofjueu). The testimony 
of this passage may be taken up in the following points : — 

1. The apostle not only mentions the redemption, but sub- 
joins the ransom, viz. the blood of Him who had just been 
called the Beloved. This establishes the reality of both. The 
language is not a metaphor or similitude, according to the 
Socinian comment ; it means that we are redeemed by blood 
as a ransom. The original term denotes deliverance by a price ; 
and the obvious sense is, that we are redeemed from a real 
captivity, by a real, not a figurative ransom. The theory of a 
metaphor makes but a metaphorical salvation. 

1 See Harless' Commentary on Ephesians, on the formula here used, h £ ; 
and also Stier's remarks on the same phrase, Auslegung ties Briefes an die 
Epheser, 1848. 


As to the features of the doctrine as set forth by these 
expressions. The first and fundamental idea is, that man as 
a sinner has fallen under punitive justice, which holds him 
captive. The second thought is, that the ransom is Christ's 
vicarious death, or His blood considered as the reality of the 
ancient sacrifices, and procuring the full redemption which 
they but figured forth. He gave Himself a ransom to redeem 
His people (Matt. xx. 28; 1 Cor. vi. 20; 1 Tim. ii. G) ; and 
this He effected by becoming their curse (Gal. iii. 1 3). A third 
idea is, that God, to whose justice the price was paid, secured 
the discharge or liberation of the captive. As the law was an 
institution for the maintenance of which justice watched, this 
decides a question more frequently adduced for polemical pur- 
poses than for any other object : To whom was the ransom 
paid — to God or to Satan ? The answer is, Satan had nothing 
to do with it, being the mere jailor, nay, criminal himself. The 
ransom was paid to the punitive justice of God. The state- 
ment then is, that the personal Christ is of God made to us 
redemption, and that we have redemption in Him. 

2. Forgiveness of sin is subjoined in an apposition-clause, 
as a convertible term. The redemption consists essentially in 
forgiveness ; and the latter, in its grammatical connection, sets 
forth more precisely the import of the former. They are here 
adduced as equivalent and convertible. It is evident, in the 
first place, that a' direct causal connection is affirmed between 
the blood of Christ and forgiveness of sins. The passage does 
not state that Christ's mission was to reveal an absolute for- 
giveness, and to seal His testimony by His death as a martyr. 
The two things are put in such connection, that the forgiveness 
can only be viewed as the direct and immediate result of the 
atoning death, as the blood of sacrifice in the old economy 
was the direct cause of forgiveness to the Jewish worshipper. 
Christ's blood alone, without any addition of ours, or works of 
law, had the effect of winning forgiveness or exemption from 

270 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

But how are redemption and forgiveness made convertible 
terms ? Might we not rather expect to hear that the re- 
demptive act of Christ was the cause of forgiveness ? Un- 
doubtedly a connection of cause and effect is affirmed in the 
verse, as we have already noticed. But there is a sense in 
which the redemption of the one clause, and the forgiveness 
which explains it in the next clause, have an objective reality 
for us in Christ as a public person ; and this is the point of the 
expression. As was noticed above, there was a non-imputa- 
tion of sin to us at the time when Christ was made sin for 
us (2 Cor. v. 19-21), and the two things went hand in hand. 
That non-imputation of sin to us was not a mere subsequent 
result of Christ's sacrifice, but in some sense an essential ele- 
ment of the Lord's redemptive act. It had an application to 
all for whom He died, and whose person He representatively 

3. The passage further shows the consistency between 
Christ's atoning blood, the price of pardon, and the exercise 
of free grace. 1 Though it has been much urged that one of 
these elements must of necessity exclude the other, both are 
here affirmed, and perfectly consistent. Though not found 
together in human transactions, they are found in the moral 
government of God ; for the divine administration differs from 
that of man in this respect, that God's rights are inalienable. 
He could not recede from His rights even when He purposed 
to redeem and pardon, but vindicated them to the full ; and 
this single text meets all cavils against the consistency of 
these two things — complete satisfaction and free grace. While 
pardon, therefore, is to us a gratuitous gift, it was procured by 
the payment of a price. 

II. Another testimony, having reference to the effect of 
Christ's death in reconciling Jew and Gentile to each other, 
because reconciling both to God, is contained in the next 

1 This passage is conclusive against Locke and others, who represent the 
ransom and the exercise of grace as incompatible. 


chapter : But now, in Christ Jesus, ye who sometimes [better, 
once] were far off are now made nigh by [better, in] the blood 
of Christ. For He is our peace, who hath made both one, and 
hath broken doivn the middle wall of partition between us ; having 
abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments 
contained in ordinances ; for to make in Himself of twain one 
new man, so making peace ; and that He might reconcile both 
unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby 
[or, in Himself] (Eph. ii. 13-16). Throughout this chapter the 
apostle brings under our notice a twofold alienation and a two- 
fold reconciliation, with a sketch of the method by which the 
disunion was brought to an end. On the one hand, there was 
from their birth a deep alienation of mankind from God (vers. 
3, 12), along with a division between Jews and Gentiles. On 
the other hand, the apostle refers to the historic fact of Christ's 
atonement as a divinely instituted method by which men, dis- 
united by mutual hostility, meet in a higher unity, and become 
one new man (ver. 15), one city of God (ver. 19), one temple 
or habitation of God (ver. 21). I shall endeavour, with all 
brevity, to set forth the testimony here given to the atonement 
in its nature and effects, omitting such points as do not directly 
bear upon the theme which engages our attention. 

1. As to the nature of the atonement, the number and 
variety of expressions here used to connect it with Christ's 
person are full of significance, apart from the immediate occa- 
sion which called them forth. But the reason why such phrases 
are so copiously employed may probably be deduced from the 
fact, that the Gnostic speculations, the oppositions of science 
falsely so called, as the apostle elsewhere styles them, looked 
upon matter, and therefore upon our Lord's organized human 
body, with disfavour, and formed presumptuous theories of the 
divine nature and absolute Godhead apart from the person of 
the one Mediator between God and man. The apostle shows 
that reconciliation was effected by an outward fact in the body 
of Christ's flesh through death ; whereas the Docetism to which 

272 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

we have referred denied the corporeity of Christ, or ascribed 
to Him a phantom-body. "We may enumerate a few of the 
expressions which the apostle uses, and are full of meaning, 
apart from any connection with their origin. 

Thus the apostle connects the atonement with the personal 
Eedeemer when he declares, in the first place, " He is our 
peace," and describes the Lord as " slaying the enmity in Him- 
self." Secondly, he shows that the atonement was connected 
with a true humanity or corporeity, endowed with a capacity 
of suffering and obedience, when he says, " that He might 
reconcile both in one body : " for the allusion is to the pro- 
curing of redemption, not to its application ; and it is more 
natural to expound the phrase of Christ's human body, than 
of His body the church. Thirdly, when the enmity is said to 
be abolished " in His flesh," the language refers, as in other 
passages, to the condition of abasement and penal curse-bearing, 
to which the atoning Lord spontaneously subjected Himself. 
Fourthly, when it is said, " that He might reconcile both 
through the cross," the meaning is that the curse, of which 
the cross was the exponent, was borne and exhausted on the 
tree. Fifthly, the blood of Christ, the cause of bringing us 
near to God, is described as sacrificial blood (ver. 13). All 
these descriptive terms serve to prove that the atonement was 
the surrender of Himself to God in a true humanity. 

But a further idea here is, that Christ stood as a public 
person — as one for many. The representative character of 
the transaction cannot be mistaken ; for the redeemed church 
is here considered as found in Him who, according to covenant, 
bore their persons and occupied their place, and, as a respon- 
sible surety, represented them before God. He sustained their 
persons in His own body on the cross ; that is, He, as a public 
person, in one body, sustained, through life and in death, the 
responsibilities of those who are described as His church. In 
His one humanity, He represented all who had been given 
Him, and reconciled them on the cross. Thus all is run up to 


the person of Christ. The whole person atoned, — the humanity 
suffering, the deity giving it worth ; the action being that of 
the God-man. The entire person acted in the atonement as in 
every mediatorial act, — the humanity being obedient, and the 
deity giving infinite value to all He did. 

2. As to the fruits of the atonement, of which several are 
mentioned in these verses, the first in order is nearness to 
God in the blood of Christ (ver. 13). It is by no means 
necessary to alter the force of the preposition : for the same 
expression is used by our Lord at the institution of the Supper, 
"This is the new covenant in my blood" (1 Cor. xi. 25); inti- 
mating that Christ's atoning blood was the element, sphere, or 
medium in which the new covenant was formed, and in which, 
as it is here put, they who were far off are made nigh. The 
language refers to sacrificial blood, which put men in covenant 
with God. Thus Israel at Sinai was by the sprinkling of blood 
made the people of God, near to Him, and from year to year 
preserved in covenant by the blood sprinkled on the mercy-seat. 
The expression " far from God," or " far off," was a phrase in 
common use to designate the Gentiles (Isa. xlix. 1 ; Acts ii. 39) ; 
and the statement is, that the blood of atonement made those 
nigh who were far off, or put them in covenant relation to God, 
as members of a spiritual society of which Christ is the head. 

3. As another fruit of the atonement, the title ouk peace 
is ascribed to Christ (ver. 14). Some interpret this as mean- 
ing the cause of our peace, or our peacemaker, which gives a 
competent sense. More precisely, however, the title refers to 
Christ as our peace or reconciliation objectively considered, 
and with regard to our relation toward God ; the present verse 
being a grounding statement, with the causal particle for, to 
show the foundation of our nearness. The primary import, 
according to the analogy of numerous passages, is, that Christ 
is objectively our peace, 1 as He is also called our righteousness 

1 So Zanchius in his Commentary on Epheslans. See Harless' remarks, 
Commentar iiber den Brief P anil an die Ephesler, 1858. 


274 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

and redemption (1 Cor. i. 30). But while He is pre-eminently 
our peace toward God, He is also the ground and foundation 
of peace in every other relation ; as, for instance, "between man 
and man. 

4. As another fruit of the atonement, an end was put to 
the Jewish law, considered as a partition-wall between Jew 
and Gentile. The law was so called, either, as many think, 
from the wall or fence in the temple which shut out the 
Gentiles from the access which the Jewish worshippers enjoyed ; 
or, as others think, from the fence by which one city or territory 
was walled off from another. The ceremonial law given to 
Israel as a separate people, and of positive appointment, was 
capable of being removed when its purpose was served ; being 
destined to continue only till the reality or true sacrifice which 
it foreshadowed should appear. Accordingly the cross, in which 
the law found its accomplishment, put a period to the cere- 
monies. They were not simply revoked, but fulfilled : the 
atonement of the cross terminated the ceremonies, the law of 
commandments contained in ordinances, for ever. 

5. The atonement made Jew and Gentile one (ver. 15). 
Previously the Jews regarded the Gentiles as unclean, and the 
Gentiles on their side retaliated by every mark of contumely, 
branding the Jews as the common enemies of the human race. 
By means of the cross, they who previously were sundered met 
in a higher unity, on a platform above and beyond the causes 
of division ; and as they stood on the same level of reconcilia- 
tion, they became one new, man in Christ (ver. 15), who re- 
conciled them in one body by the cross (ver. 16). The atone- 
ment terminated the alienation, placing men on a footing of 
equality before the throne of God ; and this was effected really, 
not typically, by the cross, which gave to all nationalities the 
position of a people near to God, and made Jews and Gentiles 

6. The explicit biblical expression for the effect of the 
atonement is reconciliation in all relations, as expressed in 


these words : " That He might reconcile both unto God in one 
body by the cross, having slain the enmity in Himself" (ver. 
16). This full description may be taken up in four points of 

a. Who are the parties reconciled ? The answer is, God 
on the one side ; and the twofold nationality, that is, Jews and 
Gentiles, on the other. Nothing can be more explicit than this 
declaration that Christ's coming was intended to reconcile two 
parties, — the one party being God, and the other party mankind ; 
and the obvious presupposition is, that beforehand disunion 
existed between God and man. Now, according to Scripture, re- 
conciliation was effected by the removal of sin, so far as it was 
the cause of arming divine indignation against us. It is often 
said, that from the very nature of God as love, with friendly 
sentiments toward men, it becomes us to think of reconcilia- 
tion only on man's side. That is by no means the case ; for 
God's procedure and mood of mind in a relative point of view 
have undergone a change in consecpience of a great historical 
transaction, as is manifest from the fact that it is not simply 
said, " God has reconciled us," but, " God has reconciled us to 
Himself by Jesus Christ" (2 Cor. v. 18). The two things 
there combined are, that the world was reconciled to Himself, 
and that this was effected by the historic fact of the atone- 
ment ; and reconciliation to Himself implies that anger and 
punitive justice were removed by the atonement. The same 
thing is expressed in the verse under consideration. The acting 
party is Christ, who is said to reconcile both unto God. And 
when it is added that this was accomplished, not by an absolute 
pardon, but in one body and by the cross, we have the same 
allusion to the great historic fact of the atonement, as the 
ground on which the reconciliation was effected. 

h. In whom was the reconciliation brought about ? In one 
body, that is, in Christ's body. Some prefer to expound this 
expression of the church, but it is every way better to explain 
it of the Lord's own body, because it is similar to the parallel 

276 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

passage in Colossians (Col. i. 22); and the allusion is plainly 
limited to the way of pkocuring reconciliation, not to the way 
of applying it. The reconciliation was effected in one historic 
person, in one second man, the counterpart of the first man ; 
and the church was reconciled in one for many, and therefore 
not by works of law or personal deeds which we have done. 1 

c. By what was the reconciliation accomplished ? By the 
cross, — a great fact in the world's history, and the culminating 
point of Christ's obedience unto death. The question raised is, 
Was the cross an objective fact for God as well as for us men ? 
Did it reconcile the church to God, as it weighed with God, or 
merely as it moves the human heart ? The phrase shows that 
reconciliation rests on Christ's work, and consequently on a 
fact ; and this objective fact was reconciling, not as it moved 
the human heart, or ushered in a new conduct on man's part, 
but as it introduced a new relation or standing in which men 
were placed before God. 

d. By what method was the reconciliation accomplished ? 
The answer is, Having slain the enmity in His cross, or 
in Himself; for the difference between the two modes of 
rendering the phrase is so small in point of meaning, that we 
may equally affirm, He slew the enmity in His cross, or, He 
slew the enmity in Himself as crucified. What enmity ? Not 
the alienation between Jews and Gentiles, to which reference 
had been made in the previous verse, for it would be a mere 
tautology to repeat it here. Eather we must understand the 
expression as alluding to the mutual enmity between God and 
man extinguished by the cross. 

As one passage personifying sin speaks of condemning it in 
Christ's flesh (Roin. viii. 3), so the enmity personified in the 
present passage is said to be slain ; and the question is raised, 
How ? During the days of His flesh, the Lord, by taking on 

1 The commentators are pretty equally divided in opinion, whether this 
phrase is to be taken for Christ's human body, that is, His incarnate person, or 
for His body the church. 1 decidedly prefer the former. 


Him the sins of His people, as the cause of disunion and 
enmity, suffered Himself to be treated as an object of divine 
wrath, though in reality His beloved Son. On His person, the 
object of eternal love, the sin of man and the wrath of God 
came into collision as never had been seen since the world 
began. The Lord experienced both to the utmost, and by so 
doing annihilated the enmity for all whom He represented. 
Whether we look at the one body of the Lord, or at His 
activity, we see the sphere, the locality, the medium of recon- 

The substance of this testimony may be thus summed up. 
The Lord Jesus reconciled Jews and Gentiles to each other, not 
because He brought a good disposition to the disunited parties, 
but because He procured for both free access to God (ver. 1 8) : 
He reconciled both to God by His cross. Did the atonement 
turn toward men the favour of God, or was it but a manifesta- 
tion of an already existing relation of love ? Scripture uni- 
formly declares, that while the provision emanated from the 
love of the Father's heart, the atonement was the great historic 
fact by which the enmity between God and man was objec- 
tively removed, and men made the objects of favour. Then 
only was a friendly relation actually cemented. 

III. Another passage is descriptive of the death of Christ 
as a sacrifice, and enables us to trace His priestly action in 
offering it : Walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath 
given [better, delivered] Himself an offering and a sacrifice to 
God for a sweet-smelling savour [or, a sweet-smelling savour to 
God] (Eph. v. 2). In the context the apostle inculcates mutual 
forgiveness from the example of God (Eph. iv. 32), and then 
mutual love from that illustrious instance of love which the 
Lord Jesus gave in His atoning death, represented as the offer- 
ing of a sacrifice. Though the idea of sacrifice is nowhere 
fully exhibited except in the Epistle to the Hebrews, the 
expositor would do violence to the import of language were 
he to deny that we have here an allusion to a priestly offering. 

278 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

That Christ was a priest on earth, and offered an oblation 
before His ascension to His Father, appears from this easy 
analysis of the text : — Who offered ? Christ. What did He 
offer ? Not' something external, not the blood of others, but 
Himself. For whom did He offer ? For us. And in what 
manner was it accomplished ? As an offering and sacrifice. 
From these questions, furnishing a simple analysis of the pas- 
sage, we may warrantably collect that Christ offered Himself 
as the one true, ever-valid sacrifice to which the shadows of the 
former economy pointed. Nor is it necessary to supply any 
ellipsis in order to complete the sense ; for the apostle's words 
explicitly affirm, in the form here presented to us, that the 
sacrifice was not something apart from the personal Christ, 
not some action to be imitated, but Christ delivering Himself 
for us. 

Which class of the sacrifices was before the apostle's mind ? 
Without doubt, the propitiatory sacrifices, and not the thank- 
offerings. When we look at the two terms, it is thought by 
some that the first denotes an offering or sacrifice in general, 
and that the second, subjoined as elucidating the first, denotes 
a bloody sacrifice of a propitiatory character. Others roundly 
affirm, much in the same way as did the Socinians of a former 
age, that the apostle had not the idea of an expiatory sacrifice 1 
before his mind. Partly from the terms descriptive of the 
sacrifice, partly because of the additional phrase, " for a sweet- 
smelling savour," they argue that the apostle refers to the 
free-will offerings ; and the entire passage, thus interpreted, 
conveys nothing beyond the thought that Christ left us an 
example. But while he represents the riches of Christ's love 
for our imitation, he had also before his mind the idea of an 
atoning sacrifice. 

1. With regard to the terms here used, the first of the two, 
rendered offering, may denote a free-will offering presented to 

1 Ruckert on the passage, and Usteri (Paulin Lehrbegriff), make it an allu- 
sion to a free-will offering, not to a propitiatory sacrifice at all. 


God in token of gratitude and homage, but is also descriptive 
of propitiatory sacrifices, as will appear from a few passages. 
Thus, in the Epistle to the Hebrews the term is used in the 
phrase, " Where forgiveness of these is, there is no more offering 
for sin" (Vp^o-popa) (Heb. x. 18). In like manner, the writer 
avails himself of the same word when he represents the death 
of Christ as the one offering which perfected for ever them 
that are sanctified (Heb. x. 14). There is no question, then, as 
to the application of the term to propitiatory sacrifices; 1 and 
as to the second word, " an offering and sacrifice" (dvcrictv), 
nothing warrants us to limit the idea underlying it to a free- 
will gift, as the apostle several times uses it for a propitiatory 
sacrifice. Passages in the Epistle to the Hebrews put this 
usage beyond all doubt ; as, for example, " who needeth not 
daily, as those high priests, to offee up sacrifice first for his 
own sins, and then for the people's" (Heb. vii. 27). And many 
other passages might be adduced (Heb. v. 1, viii. 3, ix. 9, 23, 
26, x. 5, 11, 26). 

2. The additional phrase, " for a sweet-smelling savour," has 
been adduced as an argument against the application of the 
terms to propitiatory sacrifices, because free-will offerings are 
often represented as a sweet-smelling savour to God ; but we 
have only to examine the ritual, to be convinced that the 
expression was also applied to atoning sacrifices. It is the 
expression used in Genesis in connection with the burnt- 
offerings which Noah offered when he came out of the ark, — 
"The Lord smelled a sweet savour" (Gen. viii. 21); and it 
is used of the burnt-offering on which the worshipper was to 
put his hand (Lev. i. 4, 9). Nor was it limited to the burnt- 
offering, though frequently mentioned in that connection in the 
sacrificial ritual (Lev. i. 13, 17); for the expression is also 
employed in reference to the sin-offering, whether brought to 
expiate the offences of the individual worshipper (Lev. iv. 31), 
or offered annually for the collective sins of the nation on the 
1 See Vinke, Leer van Jesus en de Apostel, p. 371. 1837. 

280 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

great day of atonement (Lev. xvi. 25). In the last-mentioned 
text, the burning of the fat upon the altar was with a view to 
produce the sweet-smelling savour. 

A further question is, whether the language refers to the 
burnt-offering or the sin-offering. It may without violence 
be referred to either : for the argument of Alting, Witsius, and 
Deyling, against the possibility of referring the passage to the 
sin-offering, on the ground that the sin-offering is never repre- 
sented as a sacrifice of a sweet-smelling savour, rests on a 
mistake. Thus 1 Witsius maintains that only those sacrifices 
are said to be of a sweet-smelliiig savour to which the addition 
of oil and frankincense could be made (Lev. ii. 2-9), and that 
these additions could not be made to the sin-offering (Lev. v. 
11). That is not true in point of fact, as has already been 
proved from Leviticus (Lev. iv. 31, xvi. 25) ; and there is no- 
thing in the allusion to a sacrifice of sweet-smelling savour 
that decides the question either way, as it is applied both to 
the burnt-offering and to the sin-offering. In that respect 
there was no difference. But the complexion of the language 
inclines us, if it is duly considered, to refer the terms rather 
to the burnt-offering than to the sin-offering; for when the 
New Testament writer more specifically refers to the sin- 
offering, the additional words, for sin, are commonly sub- 
joined (Eom. viii. 3; Heb. x. 18, 26). The conclusion to 
which we are disposed to come is, that these terms, descriptive 
of the Lord's sacrifice, do not so naturally express the specific 
idea of the sin-offering, inasmuch as that additional formula 
is neither appended nor indicated by the context. 

The apostle seems to refer to the burnt-offering when he 
affirms that Christ loved us, and delivered Himself for us. 
This is confirmed by the fact that he emphatically alludes to 
the love of the Offerer, and to the oblation or sacrifice con- 

1 See Witsius, Miscell. i. 410 ; Deyling, Observat. ss. i. 186 ; also Reland, 
Antiq. p. 310. Eiickert and Harless maintain the same reference to the sin- 


sidered as an action done. Had the apostle been alluding to 
the sin-offering, the idea of sin would in some way have been 
prominent. Hence the words comprehend His entire earthly- 
activity, as one uninterrupted continuous sacrifice from first 
to last, reaching its culmination in His cross. The typical 
burnt-offering figured forth the dedication of the entire man, 
with all His powers and faculties, or the perfect fulfilling of 
the Father's will, and sanctifying of Himself for our sakes 
(John xvii. 19), only accomplished when He said, " It is 
finished." The dedication of the Lord during His earthly 
career, till the obedience reached its climax on the cross, was 
adumbrated by the burnt-offering as a sacrifice of sweet-smell- 
ing savour. 1 The type found its truth in the Lord's holy life 
and obedience unto death; and therein He gave the New 
Testament accomplishment to the Old Testament shadow. 

This fact, that the death of Christ, as an atoning sacrifice, 
was fragrant and well-pleasing to God, proves two things — 
that the cross was not only a propitiation of divine wrath, 
but an acceptable obedience. Not only did it appease divine 
wrath, it also converted God's relation into one of favour. It 
was merit as well as expiation. The passage is so expressed 
as to show that the Lord's death was an infinitely acceptable 
deed ; that sinlessness and sin-bearing were combined in His 
sacrifice in such way, that while punishment was expiated, the 
divine claims were all satisfied, and that sin did not in any 
sense attach to the personal human life of Jesus of Nazareth. 
The sacrifice was well-pleasing, because without blemish and 
defect. Personally perfect, but officially the object of the 
divine wrath by reason of sin-bearing, the Lord, by His 
vicarious life and death, offered a sacrifice of a sweet-smelling 
savour, — that is, acceptable to God in the utmost conceivable 
degree. The cross displays wrath appeased, death endured, 
punitive justice vindicated, but does not stop there, according 

1 See Keil's excellent discussion of this passage in this direction, Zeitschrift 
far die gesammte Lutherische Theologie, iii. Heft, 1857. 

282 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

to the too common representation of the atonement even by 
its advocates. It was also a law-magnifying obedience, the 
fulfilment of the condition under which man was originally 
placed, the purchase of life, the title to the inheritance ; and 
the acceptableness of the Lord's atoning sacrifice was typified 
by the fragrance or sweet-smelling savour of the old burnt- 
offering (Lev. xvi. 17). 

Some points may be established by this text against the 
long-repeated cavils and objections of the Socinianizing party. 
To these we shall advert. 

1. This passage proves that Christ's death was coincident 
with His sacrifice. When the opponents of the atonement 
alleged, as they were wont to do, that the death of Christ did 
not belong to His sacrifice, but preceded it, and that the 
sacrifice was His action in heaven, their representation did 
not satisfy the apostle's testimony, which distinctly affirms 
that He offered Himself a sacrifice, and that He was a sacrifice 
when He delivered Himself. But if He was a true sacrifice on 
earth, He was also a true priest on earth, offering the oblation. 
We cannot transfer the sacrifice and priesthood to heaven, 
without flatly contradicting the apostle, or asserting that 
Christ's earthly work was but fragmentary, and to be com- 
pleted in heaven. Let them show that Christ twice offered 
Himself, and that it was but an imperfect sacrifice He offered 
on earth, or reconcile their position with the explicit declara- 
tion that He was once offered to bear the sins of many (Heb. 
ix. 28). 

2. There is no discrepancy between this statement and the 
doctrine of sacrifice contained in the Epistle to the Hebrews. 
The Socinians, accustomed to maintain that the Epistle to the 
Hebrews describes only a sacrifice offered in heaven, after the 
death of the cross was accomplished, allowed that the same 
representation was not given by all the sacred writers. And 
the answer to this is, that the Spirit of truth is no spirit of 
contradiction, or of yea and nay. 


3. The same parties, by a violence of construction, would 
evade the evidence of this passage by reading the words, 


from the verb gave, or delivered. Rending it from the con- 
struction which belongs to it, they read it as an illustration, 
or commendation, or exclamation: thus, "What a sacrifice was 
that to God !" That is not to interpret language, but to twist 
it to the reader's purpose and preconceived ideas. There is no 
warrant but in their own fancy for such a mode of punctua- 
tion. Of necessity, we must construe the verb gave with the 
word sacrifice : " who gave Himself an offering and sacrifice." 
The passage announces that He delivered Himself, and points 
out the way by which it was done — by sacrifice. 

4. A fourth objection, emanating from the same parties, 
is to the effect that the word delivered (TGcpzhooz&v iccvrov) is 
not the term commonly found in the Old Testament ritual to 
denote the presentation of the victim. But the reason is 
obvious : the animal victim was presented on the altar be- 
cause it was passive, and did not spontaneously offer itself, 
whereas the Lord Jesus willingly offered Himself. And here 
it is important to remark, that the sacrifice, properly so called, 
was not the act of giving or delivering, but the thing itself 
delivered : that was the acceptable sacrifice. This will be 
evident from a comparison of the passages which speak of 
money contributions, or of gifts, communicated as an accept- 
able sacrifice (Phil. iv. 18; Heb. xiii. 16). In these instances, 
it was not the act of sending or communicating, but the thing 
sent or imparted, that constituted the sacrifice. And in the 
case before us, it was not the act of delivering, but Christ 
Himself delivered, that was the acceptable sacrifice. 

In fine, this passage proves that the delivery of Christ as 
a sacrifice for us much more than compensated for the wrong 
done, and removed the wrath that had been armed against us : 
it won for us divine favour. The death of Jesus not only 
satisfied divine justice, but altered God's attitude, or, as we 

284 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

would say in human relations, His mood of mind, to those 
who previously had been objects of His just displeasure. The 
effect of Noah's sacrifice, the words of which seem here to be 
recalled, was, that " God smelled a sweet savour, and said in 
His heart, I will not again curse the ground any more" (Gen. 
viii. 21) ; and, in like manner, the sacrifice of Christ awakened 
favour in God's heart, because it magnified the divine law in 
the most signal way. The purpose for which the apostle 
adduced this allusion to the atonement was, that we might 
cherish love like Christ. Not that the Ephesians could follow 
Christ in such a work as His, which was unique in its nature, 
and to be shared with none ; but we are exhorted to cultivate 
love in general, after the example of our atoning Lord. 

IV. Another passage, describing the church as the special 
object of the atonement, and the Lord's death as containing in 
it the meritorious element of its own application, is as follows : 
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, 
and gave Himself [better, delivered Himself] for it ; that He 
might sanctify and cleanse it [better, sanctify it, cleansing it] 
with the washing of water by the word (Eph. v. 25-27). The 
apostle, while exhorting the Ephesians to the practice of con- 
jugal duties, adduces the love of Christ in His relation to the 
church as the great example, and takes occasion, as the apostles 
usually do while enforcing moral duties by His example, to 
expatiate on His meritorious abasement and death. The testi- 
mony here given to the atonement may be noticed in a few 
obvious particulars. 

1. The love which the apostle was led by His theme to 
delineate, is that of the great Bridegroom to the church. It is 
not a vague, indefinite affection, but special love ; that is, a 
love to real persons, chosen from eternity, and redeemed in 
time, to be called and put among the children. He did not 
love the church purified, but for the sake of purifying it, and 
with an affection so intensely active, that His endeavours never 
cooled till He had redeemed His church, or bought her to be 


His; and the love which purchased the church at the most 
costly price (Acts xx. 28), is as unchanging and inseparable as 
it is great (Eom. viii. 35). 

2. The love already mentioned is next described as prompt- 
ing Him to deliver Himself for the church. Two parties are 
mentioned — Christ on the one hand, and the church on the 
other ; and as death confronted us, the Lord became the 
substitute in such a sense that He delivered Himself, first 
into the hands of punitive justice at the bar of God, and then 
into the hands of men, by whom, according to the determinate 
counsel and foreknowledge of God, the sentence was carried 
into effect. The expression delivered naturally recalls the 
Lord's own saying, that He was delivered into the hands of 
men as an offering and a sacrifice to God. 1 This is the uni- 
form meaning of the term, whether applied to the Father's 
action in giving up the Son, or to the Son's action in giving 
up Himself. And we have the historic fact in the Lord's 
action in Gethsemane, as we have the doctrinal delineation of 
its significance here. His giving of Himself was, in point of 
fact, the sacrifice for the purchase of the church, His bride. 
He offered Himself for the church when He gave Himself 
spontaneously into the hand of God, permitting Himself to be 
seized and bound, tried and mocked, sentenced and buffeted, at 
the hand of those whom God appointed to execute His pur- 
pose. It was no vague, uncertain, and accidental transaction, 
but one according to special covenant and sponsion for the 
good of that elect company, the church of redeemed men, who 
were given Him by name and bought with a price. It was a 
transaction so definite, that it procured the redemption of the 
church, and carried with it the meritorious element of its own 
imputation and application. He could not lose one for whom 
He died: the holy rectitude of the divine moral government 
absolutely forbade that. His death was the spontaneous sur- 
render of Himself, when He could have warded off all His 

1 See "Weber, Vom Zorne Gottcs ; also Harless' commentary on the passage. 

286 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

enemies' attacks against His life ; for He had power to lay it 
down, and power to take it up again. And what did He give 
as the sacrifice ? Not an external thing, not something nor all 
things possessed by Him, but Himself, His infinitely precious 
person. And for whom ? For His church, that it might be His 
blood-bought property, and so belong to the great Bridegroom. 

3. The end contemplated by the Lord's death was, that He 
might sanctify the church. This is plainly proved by the 
particle of design which introduces the clause (7m). As to 
sanctification here, we must determine whether it means dedi- 
cation to God on the ground of atonement, or inward progres- 
sive purity. The former view must be accepted wherever 
holiness is immediately connected with the death of Christ. 
The passage has in it a conjugal reference; and the primary 
meaning is, that the church was set apart, or consecrated, to 
Him as His bride, — the uniform meaning of the term when 
connected with the atonement. This is the use of the word 
whenever mention is made of the Levitical worship and of 
sacrifices, which sanctified to the purifying of the flesh (Heb. 
ix. 13). 1 We are admitted into fellowship with God by means 
of Christ's atonement. Whether sufficient ground exists for 
Michaelis' remark, that the high priest in Israel was called 
the bridegroom of his people, is doubtful (Lev. xxi. 4). If 
well founded, we should fully understand why the sacred 
writers so frequently employ this figure. 

Two terms are here used, so nearly synonymous, that it is 
difficult to define the precise shade of difference between them, 
when they describe the effect of Christ's atoning blood. I 
refer to the two verbs sanctify and cleanse, common to all 
the apostles. It may be proper first to define the relation be- 
tween the two clauses, considered separately, according to the 
translation which we gave above : " That He might sanctify 
it, cleansing it with the washing of water by the word." We 
regard the participle (Ku&agiaocg) as expressing simultaneous 
1 See above, on the Levitical sacrifices, at p. 52. 


action ; for this is necessary to the sense, and there is no 
necessity for translating the participle as intimating previous 
action/ introductory to the action of the verb. They coincide 
in time, and the participial clause conveys an explanation of a 
peculiar nature, which it is possible, we think, to apprehend. 
The first clause seems more especially to denote the objective 
standing of the worshipper, and his near approach to a holy 
God by the blood of atonement ; whereas the participial clause 
seems to refer to the subjective consciousness or felt experience 
of the same privilege (Heb. ix. 1 4) ; or, as Winer puts it, the 
cleansing may denote something negative, and the word 
sanctify something positive. 

To understand this language, we must carry with us the 
import of the Jewish worship. The terms on which we are 
commenting refer to the removal of defilements, which excluded 
the worshipper from coming into the presence of a holy God, 
and prevented him from intercourse with his fellow-citizens. 
When the uncleanness was removed by sacrificial blood, or in 
the use of sprinkling according to the law, the excluded person 
was restored to the enjoyment of all the privileges secured to 
the people of God. In a word, he was holy, or sanctified. 
With regard to the cleansing- added in the participial clause, 
it is so allied to the former, that the one may be said to in- 
clude the other ; and the thought will be, that by means of the 
cleansing, washing, or sprinkling of Christ's blood — for all 
these expressions, borrowed from the sacrificial ritual, are em- 
ployed with little if any difference of meaning — sinners, pre- 
viously excluded from access to a holy God by sin, are restored 
to fellowship, and consciously nigh (Eph. ii. 13). When it is said 
that Christ gave Himself for the church, that He might sanctify 
it, the meaning is, that He gave Himself to deliver us from 
estrangement, the consequence of sin, and to reinstate us men, 
once far off by sin, in the favour, friendship, and fellowship of 
a holy God. 

1 See Winer's Grammar on aorist participles. 

288 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

4. The passage furthermore brings out the special love 
of the Bedeemer, and the efficacy of His atoning blood. His 
redeeming love was specially directed to the church as its 
proper object ; for the language is so definite and precise as to 
leave no doubt that His love finds out all those to whom it is 
exercised. 1 Nor can the efficacious character of His redemp- 
tion-work be called in question, if we do justice to the terms 
of the present passage, and others similar ; for either we must 
assert that the atonement was efficacious to all for whom it 
was destined, or concede that Christ has been largely disap- 
pointed of His design. The two clauses of these verses, con- 
nected together by a final particle (Jvoc), exhibit the scope or 
design from which the Saviour acted in His whole redemption- 
work. The first of the verses (ver. 25) is so connected with 
the following, that they declare the end for which He acted, 
and the means of attaining it ; and no one with reverent con- 
ceptions of the Father's commission or the Son's finished work, 
will admit that He failed of His purpose. It was an atone- 
ment that satisfied all the claims of God. And whether we 
look at the divine appointment, or at the intrinsic merit of the 
redemption, the work was of such a kind as to carry with it 
the ground of its own imputation and application. He will 
not lose one for whom He died ; for He gave Himself for the 
church, a surety fulfilling every condition. 

SEC. XIV. — the epistle to the philippians. 

This epistle was written on the occasion of receiving a 
money contribution sent to the apostle, then a prisoner in 
Eome. The Philippians had formerly sent once and again 
to his necessity, and after an interval their care of him 
flourished again (Phil. iv. 10, 15). To relieve their anxiety 

1 See Ames' Coronis ad Collatlonem Hagiensem, 1650 ; and Antlsynodalia 


about himself, he enters into details as to his history, taking 
occasion to warn them against the Judaizing party, which 
sought access to all the new planted churches, and exhorting 
them to mutual concord, joy in the Lord, and preparation 
for the Lord's coming. The scope of the epistle is rather 
practical than doctrinal. Hence the atonement is less re- 
ferred to than in many other epistles. There are some less 
direct allusions, as when the apostle designates certain men 
enemies of the cross of Christ (Phil. iii. 18). This shows 
the place which the atonement occupies ; for the Judaizers 
were dangerous, because they subverted salvation by the 
cross. The apostle, now very near his crown, says, too, that 
he counted all things but loss to win Christ, and to be 
found in Him, not having his own righteousness (Phil. iii. 8) ; 
proving that to the last he clung, as at the beginning, to the 
atonement or righteousness of God. 

The only text in this epistle to which we shall direct 
special attention is the following : — Let this mind be in you, 
which was also in Christ Jesus : ivho, Icing [better, existing] 
in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with 
God; but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him 
[better, emptied Himself, taking] the form of a servant, and 
was made [being made] in the likeness of men; and being 
found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself and be- 
came obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Where- 
fore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a 
name which is above every name (Phil. ii. 5-9). The apostle, 
exhorting the Philippians to mutual concord, and bidding 
them esteem others better than themselves, passes over, in 
the most natural way, to Christ's example as displayed in 
His entire humiliation on earth. Is it true, as some allege, 
that Paul gives no outline of redemption here, but limits 
himself to the history of Christ as it furnishes an example ? 
That is not admissible here, nor in other parallel passages 
which bring out Christ's abasement. The atonement is often put 


290 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

in the bosom of what is properly an ethical context (Eph. v. 2, 
v. 25 ; 1 Pet. iii. 18). Besides, the connection between the 
humiliation and exaltation of Christ indubitably points to the 
atonement and its reward (ver. 9). 

1. The first thing to be determined is, whether the mention 
of Christ existing in the form of God refers to His divine pre- 
existence — to a state anterior to the incarnation ? This must 
be affirmed if we interpret by the force of terms ; and this 
was the general interpretation among the Fathers and the 
divines of the Eeformed Church. 1 Though many Lutheran 
expositors, after Luther's example, laboured with all inge- 
nuity to refer the terms to the incarnate Christ, — sometimes 
appealing to the name " Christ Jesus " occurring immediately 
before, sometimes asserting that the ethical precept of humility 
which is enforced did not require any allusion to the pre- 
incarnate state, — the comment cannot be made even plausible. 
The apostle obviously describes Christ in His divine glory, 
and then in the state of abasement. The expression, being or 
existing (vTTcip-fcav) in the form of God, can be expounded 
only of divine existence with the manifestation of divine glory. 
There is no need for debating whether the form of God is 
an expression denoting essence or nature ; for the whole phrase 
taken together, who being or existing in the form of God, 
leaves no room for doubt that we must here unite the attri- 
butes and their manifestation. 2 We cannot reduce the expres- 
sion to the mere accidents of the divine ; for there is a reference 
to subsistence, and a thing does not exist in its accidents. We 
may fitly alternate this phrase, therefore, with another, which 
fully covers it : " who, being the brightness of His glory, and 
express image of His person " (Heb. i. 3). 

Another clause, equally significant, as exhibiting the con- 

1 The Fathers appeal to this text against the Arians and Sabellians, and the 
post-Reformation divines against the Unitarians. 

2 See a valuable patristic discussion on the meaning of /j.of><pr> in Zanchius 
on Fhilippians ; also Maestricht's full exposition in his Theoretlco-practica 
Tlieoloyia, lib. v. cap. 9. 


sciousness or sentiments of the only begotten Son in those 
relations which subsisted between Him and the Father, is 
subjoined : who thought it not kobbeky to be equal with 
God. This announces what the Lord frequently declared in 
His own words, that, without arrogating what was not His 
own by divine right, He was conscious of entire equality 
with God, and that He thought this sentiment no transgres- 
sion of His limits, nor invasion of another's rights. As to 
the mode of rendering adopted by many expositors in the 
last age, " who did not regard His equality with God as an 
object of solicitous desire," or " who did not esteem it an 
object to be caught at to be on a parity with God," 1 it has 
ceased to have much interest, for it is a conjectural mean- 
ing put upon the term bobbery. It is contrary to the ety- 
mology of the word, which denotes the act of seizing ; and 
it loses the emphasis of the clause, which, as descriptive of 
conscious equality with God, was meant to show spontaneous 
abasement in the light of that divine relation of which He 
was fully aware. The former clause is an objective delinea- 
tion of the divine dignity of the Son of God, while this clause 
is a subjective delineation of the same thing. 

2. A second question to be determined is, Are we to as- 
sume two different gradations of humiliation, — one indicated 
by the words, He emptied Himself (ver. 7), as we rendered 
them ; and another indicated by the terms, He humbled 
Himself (ver. 8) : that is, Have we two parts of the abase- 
ment of Jesus, — one more particularly referring to the incar- 
nation, the other more expressly alluding to the sufferings 
which led Him to the cross ? That mode of exposition, 

1 I may specially refer to Dr. Pye Smith's discussion in favour of this render- 
ing of kf-xayp'oi in his Scripture Testimony, vol. ii. pp. 365-406, as he gives 
the literature up to his day. See, too, Stuart's Letters to Channing. Meyer's 
note, however, is conclusive against that sense of a^ay^'o;. Raehiger, Christo- 
logia Paulina, p. 77 (1852), contends for the passive sense of the word, against 
Meyer, and also Usteri, p. 309. (See also Tholuck's disputatio on this text, 

292 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

adopted by many, conveys the idea of a first and second 
humiliation : the first consisting in the abasement which led 
Him to become man; the second consisting in subjecting 
Himself to the death of the cross. We should thus have 
two gradations of humiliation delineated objectively; and the 
two verbs, He emptied Himself, and He humbled Himself, 
taken with the participial clauses which severally belong to 
them, the hinges of these two gradations. I have never been 
satisfied that this has been made good by any ingenuity of ar- 
rangement that has ever been applied to the passage. Another 
view is to apply to the historic life of Christ the same dis- 
tinction which could be applied to His pre-historic life in the 
previous clauses. We should, on this principle, take the one 
as an objective delineation of the condition into which His 
condescending love brought Him down (ver. 7) ; and the other 
as descriptive of the conscious aim or subjective feeling with 
which He entered into that sphere (ver. 8). This latter view, 
we think, has much to recommend it on the ground of simpli- 
city. The passage, thus viewed, has a remarkable resemblance 
to the parallel passage, in which Christ is represented as a son, 
yet learning obedience by the things He suffered (Heb. v. 8, 9). 
This interpretation fits in, too, most aptly to that lowliness of 
mind, for the enforcement of which the Lord's example was 
adduced. 1 We shall so expound it. 

a. The objective condition of abasement, then, is thus ex- 
pressed : " But He emptied Himself, taking the form of a 
servant, beino- made in the likeness of men." Of what did 
He empty Himself? He was emptied by becoming another, 
not by ceasing to be what He was ; that is, He became man, 
whereas He was God ; a servant, though He was a Lord ; of 
rich, poor ; of glorious, abased ; of omnipotent, weak ; of omni- 
present, limited ; not by ceasing to be what He was, but by 
becoming what He was not. As to the expressions which 

1 See some excellent comments in this direction by Lecliler, Apostolisches 
Zeltalter, 1S57, p. 58. 


follow in the participial clauses, they are highly significant, 
whether we take them as co-ordinate or subordinate. 

The first clause, which says that He took the form of a 
servant, sets forth spontaneous abasement as contrasted with 
the sin of Adam. Humiliation came in to expiate usurpation. 
If the first man aspired to be as God, the second man, who by 
inherent right was above all service, descended to a servant's 
position that He might expiate their sin who sought to be 
more than was appointed for them. 1 The expression " taking 
the form of a servant" is not synonymous with human nature 
simply, but takes in the further idea of an abased condition. 
The second participial clause, in which it is said that He was 
made in the likeness of men, lends no countenance to anything 
bordering on Docetic theories, as if He were a phantom form. 
On the contrary, the clause affirms that, while He is neither 
a mere man nor a sinful man, He was very man, with a true 
humanity in all respects like our own ; nay, made in the 
likeness of men in the most abased form — the consequence 
of that sin -bearing and curse-bearing career through which 
He passed from His birth (see Bom. viii. 3). When it is 
added that He was found in fashion as a man — a clause sub- 
joined partly to resume the two previous clauses, partly to 
prepare for the outline of obedience given in the following 
statement — the meaning is, that externally, in discourse and 
action, in behaviour and mode of life, He was found in fashion 
as a man. 

b. The obedience of Jesus — that is, His subjective disposi- 
tion in the given sphere already mentioned — is thus described : 
" He humbled Himself, and became obedient to death, even 
the death of the cross." The meaning seems to be, that in this 
condition He subjected Himself to the service which the sphere 
imposed upon Him ; that He neither assumed any of the glory 
that properly belonged to Him, nor disdained to move in the 

1 See Ernesti, Studien und Kritiken, 1848 (pp. 858-924), elucidating the 
from Gen. ii. 

294 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

restraints, reproach, and pain which were its necessary accom- 
paniments ; and that He adapted Himself, as the meek and 
lowly One, to His position. The same expression is applied 
by Luke to denote inward sentiment or disposition : " He that 
humbleth himself shall be exalted" (Luke xiv. 11). He filled 
up with humility and obedience His allotted sphere, that is, 
the position of a servant, with all its obligations, as He had 
spontaneously assumed it (Matt. xx. 28). The obedience men- 
tioned in this clause has express relation to the form of a 
servant mentioned in the previous verse. They are counter- 
parts ; the one the outward condition, the other the animating 
spirit corresponding to it. The form of a servant may be dis- 
tinguished from the obedience of the servant, but they cannot 
be separated ; as the outward and the inward, — the sphere, and 
the spirit pervading it. 

3. We next notice the features of the obedience ; and the 
first question is, To whom was the obedience rendered ? Not 
to the Eomans or Jews, as some have put it, but primarily to 
God, sustaining the character of Lawgiver and Judge. But 
the capacity in which He obeyed comes out in connection with 
His person. When this divine person took the form of a ser- 
vant, the language signifies that He took it into the unity of 
His person ; and consequently, as the creator and preserver 
of His own humanity, He could not but be its master. This 
decides on the nature of His obedience. It was not personally 
necessary from any obligations devolving upon Him, but solely 
undertaken for others, and meant to be laid to their account, 
according to the covenant by which He acted 1 as the Lord's 
servant (Isa. xlii. 1). He disdained not to stoop to the curse 
as our sin -bearing surety, sinlessly obedient at every step 
(Matt. xx. 28). 

Of this obedience the first prerequisite was, that it should 

1 See an excellent elucidation of this text by Th. Hall, Norton regis pastore, 
de activa Christi obedientia, p. 180, Frankf. 1658. Also Walch, de obedientia 
Christi activa, 1755, p. 16 ; and the old Lutheran divines. 


be voluntary ; and this is the point affirmed. A double act was 
necessary in this transaction : one on God's side, who, as the 
world's ruler, and as the party to be reconciled, appointed the 
sacrifice ; for without His authority the whole atoning 'work 
of Christ would have been without a basis : the other on the 
side of Christ, whose vicarious obedience could be rendered 
only by free choice. The very notion of involuntary suffering, 
or inevitable suffering, in a world where all was disordered, 
had no application to Him j 1 for no one could take His life 
from Him, or inflict suffering without His consent. 

But His abasement is first described as obedience, then 
as obedience unto death, and then as the death of the cross. 
The obedience was one from His birth to His death, though 
consisting of two several parts or elements ; in other words, an 
active and passive obedience, as it is commonly called, or an 
obedience previous to His sufferings, and during them. 2 No 
one will exclude the suffering part of the obedience who ponders 
the words unto death, that is, as far as death inclusive ; and no 
one will exclude the active obedience, or that of His life, if he 
does justice to this expression, which describes obedience ex- 
tending to the borders of death, and running through it. Christ 
is represented as complying with the will of a superior, as 
descending to death natural and eternal, and as undergoing the 
ignominious cross, an emblem of the curse, that we might go 
free (Gal. iii. 13). The apostle comprehends the whole obe- 
dience of life and death : for he does not say that He was 
obedient in death, as if nothing more were imposed upon Him 
than to die. He united the obedience of life and death as 
equally vicarious. 

4. Next follows the reward expressed in the words, " Where- 
fore God hath highly exalted Him" (ver. 9). The particle 
wherefore is not a consecutive particle, but causal, denning 

1 This is the vpZrov -^soSss of the modern theology on Christ's sufferings. 
See, e. g. , Robertson of Brighton. 

1 See Hall's treatise mentioned above. 

296 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

the relation of causality ; and here it is the relation between 
work and reward. It was at one time made a theological 
question: Did Christ win a reward for Himself by His obe- 
dience, or was He wholly born for us when He was sent on 
His divine commission and died for us ? Calvin took up the 
notion, that Christ merited nothing for Himself; but it has 
always been felt that we cannot do justice to this text unless 
we maintain that by His atoning sacrifice Christ merited the 
fulfilment of the conditional promise of the law : " Do this, and 
thou shalt live." 1 We must hold that He merited the reward 
for His people, and therefore for Himself as the surety-head 
of His people ; and He received a name above every name, 
which seems to be, as Zanchius puts it, that of Son of God, 
though he was Son from eternity 2 (Heb. i. 5). And adoration 
must be paid to Him by all intelligences in heaven, and on 
earth, and under the earth (ver. 10). 


This epistle puts the atonement in a peculiar light. It 
contains what the other epistles set forth as to the direct 
connection of the death of Christ with forgiveness, redemption, 
and reconciliation ; but it introduces a new thought — the bear- 
ing of the atonement on other orders of being. The occasion 
of it explains this peculiarity. This epistle, written during 
Paul's imprisonment, about the same time with the Epistle to 
the Ephesians, had as its chief design to bring out the positive 
doctrine of Christ's person. Therefore it is a Christological 
epistle in its main contents. Various allusions are made to an 

1 See H. Alting's Problemata Theologica, where he discusses this point, 
p. 176. Calvin, Danseus, Pareus, took the negative, in opposition to the scho- 
lastics ; Zanchius, Piscator, and F. Junius held the affirmative. 

2 "Secundum utramque naturam dedisse hoc nomen ; hoc est toti mundo 
patefecisse quod totus iste Jesus crucifixus est filius Dei unigenitus. " — Zanchi. 
in loc. 


erratic philosophy threatening to spoil the Colossians in many- 
ways, to a worshipping of angels, an intruding into the unseen 
world, and an asceticism according to the commandments of 
men (Col. ii. 1 8) ; plain marks of an incipient Gnosticism, with 
its theory of emanations. The doctrine of angels, or of a spirit- 
world, was opposed to the sole mediation of Christ, and intro- 
duced an intermediate order of beings between God and man. 
Paul puts the relation of angels to Christ in its true light, 
showing how they stood to the Son of God both in creation 
and redemption ; and that the work of creation was effected 
by the same person who was the cause of redemption (Col. i. 
15, 16). As the first-born of every creature, or, more strictly, 
the first-begotten before every creature, all things are said to 
have been created IN Him, by Him, and to Him ; the allusion 
being to the fact that the world owed its origin to Him, and 
was constituted in Him. The apostle, in short, reverts to the 
origin of all things, and their standing in the Son, and then 
directs attention to a new point — the union under one common 
Head of redeemed men and elect angels (i. 20). By proving 
that Christ is the one uniting bond of both, he supplanted the 
Gnostic theories ; for there was no place for dependence on a 
spirit-world or other mediators. We shall omit passages the 
same in terms with texts in the Epistle to the Ephesians (Col. 
i. 14, iii. 13), but must consider two passages which, while dis- 
playing the effect of the atonement on men, also set forth its 
effect on other orders of being. 

I. The first is as follows : It pleased the Father that in Him 
should all fulness divell : and, having made peace through the 
blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself ; 
by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth or things in 
heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated, and enemies in 
your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled in the 
body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and unblame- 
able, and unreproveable in His sight (Col. i. 19-22). The apostle 
opens up a view of the atonement as embracing angelic intelli- 

298 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

gences as well as men. In the Epistle to the Ephesians the 
atonement was exhibited as uniting Jews and Gentiles in one 
family. Here its effect is seen in bringing together into one 
family and under one Head the entire universe of spiritual 
beings in earth and heaven. 

To obviate the difficulty that suggests itself on this point, 
it may be proper to make one or two preliminary remarks. 
Besides the union which the creatures celestial and terrestrial 
enjoyed with their Creator in their normal state, they had a 
relation to each other as fellow-citizens in one vast city of God, 
however different in federal constitution, capacity, or service. 
Man's sin dissolved this union in both respects, separating us 
from God, and from those who once were fellow-citizens, but 
who, like loyal subjects at the outbreak of a rebellion, could 
henceforth have no relations with the rebels. The unfallen 
angels took part with God, and respected the sovereign rights 
of God. When man's relation to God was broken, his relation 
to the heavenly hosts was also terminated ; and he had as little 
access to their society as to that of their God, to whom they 
remained loyal. God's will was no longer done in earth as it 
was in heaven, and the union of men and angels under one 
Monarch was at an end. 

This must be taken into account, when we think of the 
atonement as restoring the relations of the fellow-citizens, 
because restoring the throne-rights of God. So wide was the 
effect of the propitiation, that all intelligences and relations in 
the empire of God felt its manifold fruits. The abasement of 
such a person — the Creator and bond of the universe, accord- 
ing to the divine idea — was so meritorious, that it not only 
brought back a peaceful union to this world, but restored the 
universe to friendly relations, by bringing all into a new 
relation to God in Christ. It may be difficult to set forth the 
relation of the atonement to the angelic world. And hence 
many, swayed by the unduly pressed parallelism of the Epistle 
to the Ephesians, explain these words either of the union of 


the Jewish church with the Gentile, or of departed saints in 
heaven and redeemed men on earth, — but without any colour 
or warrant. The best interpreters, the Greek Fathers, Calvin, 
Bengel, and all in every age who have cast the most penetrat- 
ing glance into Scripture, expound the passage of the recon- 
ciliation of rational intelligences in earth and heaven. 1 And 
notwithstanding the dogmatic difficulty suggested to every 
mind by the fact that angelic beings were never at enmity 
with God, this is the correct view. In one sense, the efficacy 
of the atonement reaches to them, but in a different way from 
the reconciliation of those alienated by sin. God reconciles 
all things to Himself, celestial and terrestrial, and the angels 
seem to have been confirmed by the Son of God. It is not 
to be affirmed that Christ was the Mediator of angels, for the 
language of Scripture is, that He is the Mediator between God 
and men (1 Tim. ii. 5) ; but He is their Head, the uniting bond 
of the universe, gathered up anew or recapitulated under Him 
(Eph. i. 10). In the remarks of Calvin on this text, two 
reasons are assigned why angels must be reconciled to God : 
first, that they we^re creatures never beyond the hazard of falling 
till confirmed by Christ ; next, that their obedience had not 
such perfection or righteousness as might suffice to a full 
union with God, and therefore needed a reconciler. Whether 
we take in the second element or not — for some may think it 
tantamount to affirming that Christ was the Mediator of angels 
— certainly the work of Christ had an influence felt through 
all heaven. The reconciliation of sinful men stands on the 
foreground ; but it must be added, that the rent caused by sin 
was repaired, and the heavenly hosts united with redeemed 
men under a new Head and by a new bond, in virtue of that 
atoning work which called forth wonder, praise, and joy among 
thrones and dominions, principalities and powers, referred to 

1 See also Zanchius ; Owen, On the Person of Christ, chapter on the recapi- 
tulation of all things ; and Goodwin, On Ej>hesians, ch. i. Ernesti looked with 
disfavour on this interpretation, Neue Theolog. Bibliotheh. 

300 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

in the previous context (ver. 16). But let us look more par- 
ticularly at the terms. 

1. The reconciliation is of God's good pleasure (ver. 19) ; 
that is, is traced up to God's appointment. Though the nomi- 
native to the verb pleased l is not expressed in the original, 
we can supply no other than the term God or Father, as is 
given in the authorized English version ; for in the New Testa- 
ment it is uniformly said, that it pleased the Father to send 
the Son. The Father formed the purpose of reconciling us, 
and wished to be reconciled. Hence He prepared what was 
necessary, and provided for its execution ; the ultimate reason 
being, that God was so pleased. As to the import of recon- 
ciliation, we have had occasion to notice again and again that 
it intimates a restoration of friendship, the appeasing of divine 
anger, and a new relation of favour. Hostility lay on God's 
side as well as man's side, whose rebellion provoked it ; it was 
a mutual estrangement ; and reconciliation is in like manner 
a change in the divine relation and mood of mind toward us, 
as well as a change on our side toward God. 

2. Reconciliation was not absolute, nor without mediation. 
It was by a historic fact in the moral government of God. 
Hence it is said: "having made [better, making] peace 
through the blood of His cross." As to the relation of 
these clauses, we must fix attention on the fact, that the 
scheme of salvation, whether we take account of the incar- 
nation (ver. 19) or of the atonement (ver. 20), emanated from 
the divine good pleasure as the supreme source of all. Next, 
reconciliation intimates the removal of all existing estrange- 
ment between God and the world, taken in its widest sense. 
For we must take the term "reconcile" here, not in a 
new sense, but with a wider extension of meaning, viz. to 
unite by reconciling. 2 That underlying thought cannot be 

1 The natural construction, according to the analogy of other passages, is 
&ios tv&omtitft. 

2 Attempts have heen made to deny the proper force of a.<rt>x.ara.xx«.ff(rii)> 
elsewhere, because of the shade of meaning attaching to it in this connection, 


denied; for the atonement refers only to men in the proper 
acceptation of the term. But the application of the word in 
this connection is appropriate only when we take in the further 
idea of uniting the universe to God, and restoring the disturbed 
harmony. The making of peace referred to in the participial 
clause is specially noteworthy. The past tense in both clauses 
in the original shows that reconciliation and peacemaking were 
contemporaneous, — that they covered each other, and were 
accomplished once for all. (See Winer, Gr. § 45, d) 

The apostle next subjoins the material cause or means by 
which this peacemaking was effected: "by the blood of His 
cross." This was added to show that such a relation was not 
formed without a satisfaction for sins, though it is not more 
particularly mentioned how the Lord's death produced that 
effect. This is obvious from the tenor of Scripture, and from 
the two terms here used, "blood of the ckoss:" the first sug- 
gesting a comparison between the Lord's death and the blood 
of sacrifice, familiar to all acquainted with the Old Testament 
worship ; the second recalling the penal character of the death, 
as that of a curse-bearing substitute. Paul laid such stress on 
these aspects of Christ's death — for he repeats the same, or a 
still more definite allusion, in the two following verses — because 
the Colossian errorists, in their speculative teaching, appear to 
have turned men's minds away from the Lord's curse-bearing 
humiliation to a mystic contemplation, and a spirit-world of 
angelic mediators. 

3. A transition is next made to the case of the Colossians, 
formerly alienated, but now reconciled (Col. i. 20, 21). It is 
not necessary to repeat the explanation already given of the 
word reconcile. Beyond all cjuestion, it is used to intimate 
that men, once at enmity, are now restored to friendly rela- 
tions. As this is the meaning in the reference to the Colos- 

but in vain. That there is a true reconciliation to God on the part of men is 
heyond all question, however men may explain the further allusion to angelic 

302 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

sians, we may affirm that the word has the same signification 
in both verses, coupled by the particle and (vers. 20, 21). But 
we have specially to notice the means by which it was effected : 
" in the body of His flesh through death ;" a remarkable com- 
bination of terms, announcing with singular brevity as many 
constituent elements in the atonement. First, the atonement 
was a great historic fact, or objective reality, accomplished in 
Christ's person once for all during His earthly sojourn ; and the 
circumstance now mentioned is clearly marked, that no one 
might conclude it was effected apart from the person of the 
incarnate Son, described in the previous context, or that it 
stood in any way connected with what He did after His return 
to glory. Again, this pregnant passage alludes to His true cor- 
poreity, — an allusion directed against those Gnostic theories in 
Colosse, which breathed a false spiritualism, and looked un- 
favourably on matter in every form, and therefore on the true 
corporeity of the incarnate Son. Thirdly, the apostle mentions 
the body of His flesh, which, as already mentioned, denotes, 
wherever it occurs in reference to Jesus, 1 that He carried about 
on earth a sin-bearing humanity, and therefore a weak, abased, 
and suffering humanity (see Eom. viii. 3). Last of all, the 
apostle, to complete the outline of the Lord's atoning sacrifice, 
mentioned death the wages of sin. "When we put together all 
these elements, the apostle's testimony here amounts to this, 
that the atonement was consummated historically and once for 
all in the person of the incarnate, abased, and dying Surety; 
and it takes in His life, wound up by His death (vers. 20, 22). 
4. The fruit or effect of the reconciliation is next added : 
" to present you holy, and unblameable, and unreproveable in 
His sight" [better, he/ore Him~\. The importance of this decla- 
ration appears on two grounds. We are taught, in the first 
place, that sanctification does not precede reconciliation, or lay 
the foundation of reconciliation, but follows it. They who put 
sanctification first confound everything, and mistake the rela- 

1 See our remarks above, on Rom. viii. 3. 


tions of things as well as the entire aim and scope of Chris- 
tianity : they can never ward off an all-desolating legalism. 

But while the reconciliation is first in order, a second 
thought of vast importance is, that the atonement gives rise to 
sanctification at the next remove, and stands in causal con- 
nection with it. This passage, and others similar, prove that 
the atonement was the purchase not only of the rectified rela- 
tion in which we stand before God, but of that consecration 
by which we are set apart for God, and also of the inner life 
and renovation by which we are presented faultless before 
Him. Such a passage as this proves that we must connect the 
communications of divine life with the atonement as the pur- 
chase of all. If, in an externalizing way, the atonement is 
dissociated from life and sanctification, or, on the other hand, 
if we regard the divine life as first in order, and independent of 
the blood of the cross, all things are dislocated. Eeconciliation 
is first in order, but the holy and blameless life follows by 
necessary consequence. 

Attempts have been made to make all these predicates, 
holy, unblameable, unreproveable, have reference not to 
outwardly perceptible advances in the divine life, but to the 
relative standing of the Colossians before God ; as the people of 
Israel, after the offered sacrifice on the day of atonement, were 
immediately regarded by God as holy. 1 The words, in His 
sight, or before Him, may, it is alleged, describe an immediate 
relation to God by the death of Christ. That would have been 
by no means an unwarrantable interpretation, had the epithet 
holy stood alone; and we may attach that sense to this 
epithet. But the other epithets refer to the inner sanctification 
of the spirit. The whole clause, indeed, bears so close a re- 
semblance to a parallel one in Ephesians (Eph. v. 27), which 
mentions the presentation of a glorious church, that it seems 
natural to refer both to what is future. 

II. Another text in this epistle, of a very comprehensive 
1 So Dalmer, in his commentary on Colossians, incorrectly. 

304 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

character, puts forgiveness, the blotting out of the handwriting 
that was against us, and victory over Satan, in connection with 
the atonement : And you, being dead in your sins and the un- 
circumcision of your flesh, hath He quickened together with Him, 
having forgiven you all trespasses ; blotting out the handwriting 
of ordinances [better, contained in ordinances, as at Eph. ii. 15] 
that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of 
the way, nailing it to His cross; and having spoiled [or, dis- 
armed'] principalities and powers, He made a show of them 
openly, triumphing over them in it (Col. ii. 13-15). The 
apostle, in the previous context, spoke of Christ as having all 
the fulness of the Godhead (ver. 9), as the Head of all princi- 
pality and power, and as the channel of spiritual life, — views 
fitted to exclude every rival, and to turn away attention from 
lower intelligences. Another point demands notice : the 
apostle first speaks to the Colossians as you (ver. 13), and 
then adopts a style common to him and them, when he says us 
(ver. 14). Some, commenting on the passage, conceive a transi- 
tion from the Gentile section to the Jewish Christian section 
of the church ; and in conformity with this, explain the allusion 
to the handwriting of ordinances as a something that properly 
applied to them. But for this there is no warrant : no trace of 
such a design can be discovered. Nor is it in keeping with 
the apostle's manner when taking in others with himself; for 
in such cases the pronoun we, occurring in the apostolic style, 
expresses the Christian sentiment common to him with others, 
irrespective of nationality. The following points demand 
attention in the structure of this passage, and in the arrange- 
ment of these successive participial clauses, which bring out 
what, in point of order, is previous to the quickening to spiri- 
tual life : — 

1. The acting party, or the nominative in the grammatical 
structure of the sentence, is God, described as quickening, and 
on the ground of forgiveness (ver. 13). Spiritual life is con- 
nected with forgiveness, and presupposes forgiveness : the sins 


of men must be forgiven before life could properly enter. 1 
Forgiveness precedes, and premial life takes for granted that 
obstacles have been removed. Nay, applying the same prin- 
ciple to the Surety, the Lord could not have been quickened 
till we, for whom He died, were virtually and potentially dis- 
charged (see Bom. iv. 25). 

2. Another clause shows that forgiveness presupposes the 
objective fact of blotting out the handwriting of ordinances, 
and nailing it to the cross (ver. 14). Opinions as to the import 
of this handwriting are various. 

a. Thus, in the first place, some refer the expression simply 
to conscience, as containing an indictment against us ; the 
opinion of Luther and Melancthon, and repeated by many with 
the addition of a more objective element — guilt. According 
to this comment, the indictment, or, which is the same thing, 
guilt, was deleted like a bond, and nailed to the cross, when 
God suspended His Son on the accursed tree. In other words, 
Christ was so identified with the handwriting, that He was 
considered as the personal guilt, and His crucifixion as the 
means of its extinction. 2 The cross annulled the bond or hand- 
writing that was against us. From this and other passages 
(Gal. iii. 13; 1 Pet. ii. 24) it appears that He took guilt on 
Himself, and subjected Himself to that to which the hand- 
writing bound us ; that is, He did not subject Himself to what 
was nominal, and procured a nominal discharge, but offered a 
full equivalent. This plainly is the substance of the phrase. 

1). Others more particularly refer the whole to the Mosaic 
law ; and here again interpreters go into two divisions. One 
class refers the phrase to the ceremonial law, arguing that the 
ritual observances were symbols of deserved punishment, or a 
confession of guilt. There might be some reason for this limi- 
tation if there was any ground — which there is not — for the 

1 See Thomasius' remarks, Christi Person unci Werh, iii. p. 109. In a word, 
spiritual life (<rwiZaovroiytri) presupposes (1) pardon, (2) the blotting out of the 
%tipoypuipov, and (3) the triumph over Satan. 

2 See Keii's remarks, Zeltschrift fur Lutherische Theologie, 1857, p. 457. 


30 G apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

supposition that the apostle here distinguished between Jews 
and Gentiles. But since the apostles, in their use of the pro- 
noun we or us in the course of their epistles, only express the 
Christian consciousness, it is better to understand the term hand- 
writing of the Mosaic law generally, 1 that is, of the law as 
a complete whole, consisting of moral and ceremonial elements. 
The cross was meant to be the blotting out of the indictment ; 
and the law, in one important aspect of it, because it was never 
fulfilled, was but the creditor's bond, the indictment, the charge 
which was presented against those who were bound to it, but 
who failed at every point. 

How was the handwriting nailed to the cross when the 
Lord's body, and not the law, was nailed to the cross ? Christ's 
body was no bond ; but as He was made sin, or bore our sins 
on His own body to the tree, all was embodied in Him. 2 The 
handwriting, the curse, the sin of His people, are identified 
with Him ; and the language of exchange can be competently 
applied to Him in the performance of that great work of pro- 
curing our discharge. And why was the bond nailed to the 
cross ? The only answer that can be given is, that it might be 
nullified. Any other interpretation is inadmissible, because out 
of keeping with Paul's design. The meaning of the clause, 
then, may be easily collected : it is simply this, that sin could 
be forgiven only on the one condition that its guilt was ex- 
piated, and that not by the sinner, but by a surety in his stead. 
Hence we elsewhere read, that God condemned sin in Christ's 
flesh (Eom. viii. 3). The key to these deep thoughts is to be 
found in the fact that Christ exchanged places with us ; and as 
the obligations are now discharged, the demands of the law are 
no longer capable of being presented to us, because they were 
discharged by the Surety, who nailed them to His cross, and 
is now far beyond their reach. The sins of Christ's people 

1 Some of the best expositors and divines take the xnpoypaQov for the cere- 
monial law, e.g. Calvin, Turretin, Pictet ; hut it is a one-sided view. 

" See Steiger on the passage. 


were annihilated, extinguished, and blotted out, as if they had 
never been. In short, they are no longer on the Christian, 
because borne by Christ to the tree ; and no longer on Him, 
because they have been so completely expiated, that the deleted 
bond may be seen on His crucified humanity as nailed to His 

3. A third clause, grounded at least in thought by what 
precedes, states that the cross was the victory which God 
celebrated over principalities and powers of darkness (ver. 
15). The acting party in this clause, as in the others al- 
ready noticed, is God ; and the thought is, that by the atone- 
ment of the cross God stripped satanic principalities of their 
dominion, or disarmed them, as a victor does in the hour of 
victory. And as the verb in the original conveys the idea of 
doing an action for Himself, there is a perceptible allusion to 
His glory, and to the interests of His kingdom. They who refer 
the language to Jewish authorities are wide of the mark. Three 
terms are here used — spoiling, showing openly, triumphing ; 
all significant, but describing effects contemporaneous with His 
crucifixion. We do not interpret the clauses as delineating a 
triumph over the powers of darkness during Christ's separate 
or disembodied state, for that comment is excluded by the fact 
that the agent referred to in this verse is God, as in the 
previous clauses. Neither are we to suppose a leading of them 
in triumph through space after His resurrection ; for the terms 
limit the allusion to the expiation effected on the cross. But 
it may be asked, How did the cross effect the results recounted 
in the three several clauses ? I answer : Sin was the ground 
of Satan's dominion, the sphere of his power, and the secret of 
his strength ; and no sooner was the guilt lying on us extin- 
guished, than his throne was undermined, as Jesus Himself 
said (John xii. 31). When the guilt of sin was abolished, 
Satan's dominion over God's people was ended ; for the ground 
of his authority was the law which had been violated, and the 
guilt which had been incurred. This points the way to the 

308 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

right interpretation ; for all the mistakes have arisen from not 
perceiving with sufficient clearness how the triumph could be 
celebrated on His cross. 1 When we reflect that the power of 
Satan was based on sin and guilt, and that but for sin justice 
would not have surrendered mankind into his power, we per- 
ceive that the annihilation of man's guilt annihilated the sway 
of these powers of darkness over all the elect. Though con- 
fident that the shameful death of crucifixion would undermine 
Christ's influence, they found, in the first place, that it over- 
threw their own ; for the cross spoiled or disarmed the Satanic 
powers by destroying sin. Moreover, it put them to shame, 
by making a show of them openly before the universe ; for 
though the men at the cross did not understand the bearings 
of that stupendous fact, holy angels present at His death, as 
they had been present at His birth, took in its vast dimensions. 
Still further, the cross was a scene of triumph on the part 
of God, because Satan's empire received a defeat from which 
there was no recovery : it was on God's part at once a victory 
and a display of all God's attributes, to the irretrievable ruin, 
dismay, and confusion of satanic powers. 

SEC. XVI. — the epistles to the thessalonians. 

These two epistles, the first of the Pauline epistles in order 
of time, were addressed to a church distinguished for brotherly 
love and the eager expectation of the Lord's coming. Cradled 
in persecution, which first caused the apostle abruptly to de- 
part from their city (Acts xvii. 1-10), and then made several 
of their number martyrs (1 Thess. ii. 14, iv. 13), they cherished 
an eager anticipation of the second advent. In consequence 
of supposing it immediately at hand, some of them, however, 
neglected the duties of their worldly calling, — a perversion 
which required a corrective at the hand of Paul. But as a 

1 See Steinhofer on Colossians, and De Moor's Commentarius perjKtuus in 
J. MarcJAi compend., expounding this passage. 


congregation they stood firm in the truth, and did not, like 
some others, need anew to receive doctrinal directions as to 
the sole ground of acceptance. Twice in these epistles Paul 
directly mentions the death of Christ ; and in four passages 
we discern a distinct allusion to the atonement. 

I. Deliverance from the wrath of God is described as se- 
cured by the atonement in two several passages, which we 
shall notice one after the other. 

a. The first of these is thus expressed : Ye turned to God 
from idols, to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His 
Son from hea.ven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, 
which delivered us from the wrath to come [better, who delivers 
us from the coming wrath~] (1 Thess. i. 9, 10). Paul, distinguish- 
ing the Christians from the Gentiles, and also from the Jews, 
names these two features as descriptive of true believers : their 
serving the living and true God, and their waiting for God's 
Son from heaven. Deliverance from wrath, expressed in the 
present tense, because a present as well as a future possession, 
is directly ascribed to Jesus, who is also called the Son of God. 
The death of Jesus is not expressly named, but there is no 
reason to doubt that this thought underlies the statement. 
For, in the first place, the clause " whom He raised from the 
dead" implies both suretyship and the acceptance of His 
finished work ; and, in the second place, the actual deliverance 
is here mentioned as a present and constant privilege, in terms 
which obviously imply that it was won or procured for us by 
His earthly abasement and sacrifice. 

b. A second text, not less express on the same theme, is as 
follows : For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain 
salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us (1 Thess. 
v. 9). The words " who died for us" are linked to the other 
expression, " by our Lord Jesus Christ," according to a well- 
known rule of Greek grammar, that serves to lay emphasis on 
the idea connected by an already well-known relation 1 (quippe 

* Xciptov, tov u.rro6a.toiTOi. 

310 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

qui). The meaning intended to be conveyed is, that the de- 
liverance was based on the ground of Christ's vicarious death, 
and that on this account alone men are not appointed to wrath, 
their deserved doom, but to obtain salvation. The double 
privilege is connected with the Lord's death as the meritorious 
cause. Language demands that interpretation, and will bear 
no other (comp. Eom. v. 9). 

The question of divine wrath is at present the great point 
in debate on the subject of the atonement. It is undermined 
in a great variety of views, and it seems proper, nay, neces- 
sary, to dwell on it somewhat more at large. 1 A few in- 
quiries may here be raised and answered, that we may arrive 
at satisfactory conclusions as to this point — on which, in fact, 
the two schools of theology in our day are divided — whether 
Christ may competently be described as bearing the wrath of 

1. Does a wrath of God exist, and in what does it con- 
sist ? That there is a wrath of God, in respect of sin and 
against sin, is declared so frequently both in the Old and New 
Testament, that they who call the doctrine in question must 
deny the authority of a large portion of revelation. Wrath 
is the displeasure of the personal God, the moral Governor, 
against sin, and the moving cause of that punishment which 
He righteously inflicts. Some, indeed, will have it that the 
anger of God is but another name for punishment, and main- 
tain that the translators of Scripture would have better ex- 
pressed the meaning of the sacred writers had they rendered 
the term in this way ; for they think of it as the cause put for 
the effect. But there is no warrant for that conclusion ; and 
we cannot concede that the term wrath is used to express 

1 The voluminous discussion recently excited in Germany, in connection 
with Hofmann's Schrifibeweis, turns on the point whether Christ bore the 
divine wrath, and whether God has wrath (ipyri). He denies that Christ bore 
any wrath from the hand of God ; and so did Menken, Klaiber, Stier, etc. , not 
to mention the Schleiermacher school, much less advanced in evangelical views. 
See the review of the Hofmann controversy by Weizsiicker, Jahrbiiclier fur 
Deutsche Theologie ; and Kraussold's Theologische Zeitfragen. 


only the punishment of sin, or the effect of God's displeasure 
(Rom. i. 18, ii. 5, iii. 5). It is no mere effect, apart from the in- 
ward affections of a personal God. Were there nothing further 
than an impersonal moral constitution of the world, or had 
God left the world to take its course, indifferent to good or 
evil in His creatures, according to the Epicurean conception of 
providence, one might speak of the results of evil irrespective 
of the moral nature and moral feelings of an intelligent agent. 
But the world is not ruled by fate, nor by one indifferent to 
the moral actions of men, but by the living, personal God, 
who regards all things in relation to Himself and His moral 
government, and who has a holy displeasure at moral evil. 
Without ought of the turbulent emotion found in us, and which 
betrays human weakness, the supreme Lawgiver, from the per- 
fection of His nature, is angey at sin, because it is a violation 
of His authority, and a wrong to His inviolable majesty. Though 
He cannot be injured, as men commonly understand the term 
injury, He may be wronged by the creature's refusal to acknow- 
ledge His divine authority. How can any have such mean 
conceptions of God, as to make Him an indifferent spectator of 
human affairs and conduct involving His own rights ? Can 
He look with equal indifference and equal satisfaction on piety 
and impiety, virtue and vice, wisdom and folly, the morally 
beautiful and the morally disordered ? 

But may not wrath be in some sense reduced to love, or to 
a certain modification of divine love, as has often been asserted, 
and is maintained by a great number of divines in the present 
day ? We answer most emphatically, No. However men may 
perplex their minds in speculating on the divine attributes, by 
reducing them to one in their artificial theories, that conclusion 
to which I have adverted is contrary to the plain teaching of 
Scripture. Wrath is not to be subsumed under love, nor re- 
presented as either love-sorrow or the fire-zeal of love. 1 It is 

1 "While Delitzsch and "Weber come in substance to the view of a real exercise 
of wrath on sinners, and therefore on Christ their substitute, they both have a 

312 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

not the feeling of offended love, nor divine sorrow at the crea- 
ture's froward disobedience. These are poor dreams of the 
human mind speculating on God, without dependence on the 
word of revelation, by which alone we can know Him. It is 
unbiblical to say, that a God who has wrath is not a God who 
loves ; but it is scarcely less so to affirm that God is angry be- 
cause He loves. Consistently carried out, these speculations 
run counter to the forensic idea of satisfaction, and are at 
variance with any due recognition of law, guilt, or punishment. 
The objective reality of divine wrath, on the supposition of sin, 
is an axiom or first principle in natural theology (Eom. i. 32), 
as well as in the theology of revelation. All speculations of an 
opposite character ignore the fact and criminality of sin. 

Wrath, in biblical phraseology, therefore, is an essential 
mood of the divine mind in respect of sin; and were we to 
deny the objective reality of divine wrath, we should be com- 
pelled to weaken and dilute the meaning of all Scripture. The 
passages in which the term weath occurs amount to many 
hundreds, many of which are so definite, that they, beyond all 
doubt or controversy, bring before us what is essential to the 
divine nature. Thus, when God sweaks in His weath, that 
is, swears by that essential attribute of His nature which leads 
Him to hate and punish sin, no doubt can be entertained that 
this is a quality or property of God (Ps. xcv. 11). It is a per- 
fection having its root in the moral excellence of the living 
God : it is proportioned to men's conduct : and, in a word, it is 
inseparable from the idea which we form, and must form, of 
the activity of a personal God in regard to moral evil (Heb. iii. 
11; Eom. ix. 22). 1 

Nor is it unworthy of God to represent Him by a phrase- 
philosophy on the subject, drawn from a peculiar view of the attributes, which 
leads them to speak of divine wrath as an anger of love. See Delitzsch's preface 
to Weber's work, Vom Zome Gottes. Philippi, Thomasius, and Keil are much 
more pronounced. 

1 See this admirably established by Bartholomai in an article in the Jahr- 
bucherfur Deutsche Theologie. See, too, Van Voorst on punitive justice (Dutch). 


ology borrowed from human feelings: for this is no mere 
anthropomorphism, but a delineation of His real displeasure 
at sin. Hatred, in like manner, or a real aversion to sinners 
surrendering themselves to sinful courses, is ascribed to God ; 
and it is not represented as a figure of speech : it is an amiable 
moral excellency (Eom. ix. 13 ; Eev. ii. 15). And there is no 
reason to repudiate this biblical idea — because it has its 
analogue in man — or to call the wrath of God a mere anthropo- 
morphism ; for the Bible always speaks of God's attributes in 
words borrowed from human qualities, which indeed, with the 
due distinctions drawn between the Creator and creatures made 
in His image, are common to both. "What sort of excellence 
would it be in man, to be morally indifferent, and to have 
neither aversion nor anger at sin ? In a word, the idea of 
divine wrath prompting retribution for moral disobedience, is 
involved in our very idea of God as a personal God and moral 
governor : it is inseparable from the fact of sin ; it is presup- 
posed in the atonement ; and it must be carried with us into 
any conception which is formed of future retribution. 

2. Now the great question on which the atonement may 
be said to depend is, Did Christ bear this wrath of God, the 
chief element of which is the privation of God ? As this is 
affirmed or denied — and opinion in modern times has very 
much come to be divided into two schools upon the point — 
the real doctrine of the atonement is either maintained or 
denied. The objective reality of Christ's atoning work is 
found to consist in the propitiation of the divine wrath. That 
is evident from these plain texts of Scripture in Thessalonians, 
and from the statements that He was made sin (1 Cor. v. 21) ; 
that He was made a curse for us (Gal. iii. 13) ; and that we are 
saved from wrath through Him (Eom. v. 9). 1 This point is 
undoubted from the evidence of texts, and it is equally certain 
from the fact of substitution considered as a real transaction. 

1 Schott of Erlaugen (Bomerbrief) follows Hofmann in the exposition of such 

314 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

Either the Lord entered vicariously into our position, responsi- 
bility, and guilt, or He did not. If He did — as all the texts 
bearing upon the atonement abundantly evince — then He en- 
dured divine wrath, that is, the divine desertion, as the Me- 
diator between God and man, subjecting Himself to all that 
had devolved upon humanity as the curse of sin. His substi- 
tution was not, indeed, identity. He could therefore be the 
object of the divine wrath in our place, while still the beloved 
Son and the sinless man. He was made sin while sinlessly 
perfect and accepted : He was made a curse while yet the 
faultless servant : He was the object of true punishment, and 
of all that goes to constitute true wrath, as He stood in our 
place to bear what was due to us for sin, while in Himself 
the Son of His love (Col. i. 13), and the approved and accepted 
second Adam, and never more the object of His approval than 
when He offered Himself for others (John x. 17). We draw 
the distinction between the personal and the official. 

It only remains to add, that He who comes to Christ, and 
is found in Him, shall never see wrath. The whole divine 
wrath is legitimately removed by Christ, for Christ's work of 
atonement can never be thought of without the wrath of God. 
Our deliverance, too, is a present deliverance from wrath in- 
curred : for there is no truth in the representation that divine 
wrath belongs to eschatology alone/ and is only for the re- 
jectors of Christ. 

II. A second text, referring to the disarming of death and 
the removal of its sting by the atonement, is as follows : For if 
%oe believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also ivho 
sleep in Jesus [better, sleep through Jesus'] will God bring with 
Him (1 Thess. iv. 14). The passage was designed to comfort 
Christians mourning the loss of fellow-Christians ; and in doing 

1 Ritschl, in his Latin tractate de ira Dei, 1859, adopts the eschatological 
view of wrath. He transfers all wrath to the future, making it light ouly on 
the despisers of salvation ; but he will not allow it in connection with past and 
present sin, or with the atonement. On the other side, see Harless on rixva 
Qvirii Ipyris (Eph. ii. 3), and also Philippi. 


this, Paul points to the relation in which they stood to Jesus. 
Sometimes the words sleeping through Jesus have been 
viewed as referring to the case of martyrs suffering for the 
cause of Christ. But that mode of expression is quite unlike 
the ordinary language of Scripture in speaking of suffering for 
Christ. The apostle intends to present to the Thessalonians 
a certain argument based on the atonement, thus : If we believe 
that Jesus died for His people's sins, and rose again, then certain 
results or effects are referred to as standing connected both 
with His death and resurrection. First, as to the effect derived 
from His death, they sleep through Jesus : then, as to His 
resurrection, which means that He rose as the first-fruits of 
them who sleep, God will bring His people with Him. 

The object we have in view leads us to examine only the 
first of the two expressions, them that sleep through Jesus ; 
for we must construe the words in this manner. The mode 
of construing which certain interpreters adopt, of connecting 
through Jesus with the verb shall bring, labours under the 
intolerable defect of virtually repeating the same thing a 
second time : thus, " God will bring them through Jesus with 
Him." 1 But we next inquire what is specially intimated by 
the terms, "them that sleep through Jesus ?" This has often 
been interpreted as intimating that believers retain in death 
the union with Christ which they enjoy. Though that idea 
underlies the terms, and cannot be separated from the clause, 
a much closer connection with the atonement may be discerned 
in the argumentative form with which the verse begins. Plainly, 
the allusion is to something effected through Jesus, or by the 
death of Christ, as the medium of redemption. It means that 
death is to the Christian no longer a penalty, but a falling 
asleep ; and this belongs to the Christian's death in whatever 
form it may come, and with whatever accompaniments. The 
expression " sleep in Jesus," as it is put elsewhere (1 Cor. xv. 
18; Eev. xiv. 13), or through Jesus, as it is put here, has 

1 o @ios roh; xoipritUvrct; §/« rau 'Itia-od &%U trui auTu. 

316 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

reference to the body, not to the disembodied soul, which is 
understood to be with the Lord : it means that death is not 
accompanied with the curse, but deprived of its sting (1 Cor. 
xv. 56), and that the redeemed will rise out of it as from a 
sleep. The comfort which the apostle suggests, and the founda- 
tion of our confidence in the prospect of death, is the vicarious 
death of Jesus, His suretyship for His people. 

III. Another passage in this epistle brings out in a striking 
way the life hid with Christ in God, as a further fruit of the 
atonement : Who died for us, that, lohcther we wake or sleep, we 
should live together with Him (1 Thess. v. 10). The immediately 
previous verse, as already noticed, had stated that Christians 
are not appointed to wrath, but to obtain salvation, that is, 
are appointed to acceptance on the ground of Christ's atoning 
sacrifice. The primary fruit of the atonement, undoubtedly, 
is the reconciliation of the man, the acceptance of his person. 
Though that is the direct and immediate consequence, of the 
Lord's death, it is followed by another ; and this second result 
is the renovation of the nature as well as the rectification of 
the personal relation. These two, person and nature, though 
both affected by the atonement — the one 'immediately, the 
other mediately — are not to be confounded together, nor 
opposed to each other. In reality, subordinates neither con- 
flict with each other nor exclude each other. Christ died, in 
the first place, to deliver us from wrath (1 Thess. v. 9) : He 
died, too, to make us partakers of His life (ver. 10). 

The final clause brings out what the Lord expressly planned 
and intended by His propitiatory death : " That (jvoc) we might 
live together with Him." In the expression, live together 
with Him, the thought is, that the life of the church collective, 
and of individual Christians singly, is so hid with Christ, and 
bound up with Him, that they are never for a moment 
sundered from Him, either in their earthly life or in their 
disembodied state. It is a general statement of which there 
are elsewhere many echoes or expressions (Col. iii. 3; Eom. 


xiv. 9). Several thoughts may be said to be contained in the 
expression, as follows : He bought them to be His possession, 
or purchased flock ; He died to be their Lord ; and He aimed, 
by so dying, to give them a life like His own — a life together 
with Him. As to the expressions, whether we wake ok 
sleep, they are very variously interpreted. But we have no 
doubt that they refer to the Christian's life in the body, and to 
the Christian's life in the separate state (see 1 Thess. iv. 14). 
They are not here used figuratively for moral or spiritual con- 
ditions, as in the earlier section of the chapter, where waking 
and sleeping must be so understood (1 Thess. v. 6-8). The 
whole terms of this clause have generally, but needlessly, been 
limited to the time of the second advent, as if they merely 
intimated that at that moment the saints should live together 
with Christ, whether they were alive or fallen asleep. But 
there is no need for this limitation : they apply to all times : 
all this is as true now as it will be then. 


The three epistles next in order, from their scope com- 
monly called pastoral epistles, do not contain many testimonies 
to the atonement. As to the first epistle, it appears that on 
one occasion Paul left Timothy in Ephesus, to consolidate the 
doctrine of the large congregation there, when he went into 
Macedonia (1 Tim. i. 3). He hoped to return shortly, but 
despatched this epistle to his fellow-labourer, to direct him 
how to act in the house of God, the church of the living God 
(iii. 15). There were erratic tendencies already appearing in 
Ephesus, as we explained above in noticing the epistle to that 
church : a teaching of the law (i. 7), and a science falsely so 
called (vi. 20) ; in opposition to which Paul points out the 
way of salvation by grace (i. 14-17), and the Lord's manifesta- 
tion in the flesh,— obvious allusions to the incarnation and 
atonement (iii. 16). 

318 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

The second Epistle to Timothy was plainly written when 
Paul was on the verge of martyrdom (2 Tim. iv. 6), containing 
parting words of direction to his son in the faith, whose pre- 
sence he requests in a time of trial. Allusions to the atone- 
ment are to be found in this epistle — obvious enough to any 
one reading for personal satisfaction, though not such as 
we would adduce to a gainsayer. Thus Paul speaks of the 
epiphany, or first advent of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who 
abolished death (2 Tim. i. 10). Again, the apostle uses lan- 
guage of which we have had many similar specimens already : 
" If we be dead with Him [better, died], we shall also live 
with Him" (Bom. vi. 1-12 ; 2 Cor. v. 14). 

The only text to be particularly expounded is the following : 
For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the 
man Christ Jesus; who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be 
testified [literally, the testimony] in due time. Whereunto I am 
ordained a preacher (1 Tim. ii. 5-7). The apostle began with 
directions as to the church assemblies, directing that Christians 
in their worship should pray for all men, for kings and all in 
authority ; that is, for all ranks, conditions, and classes of men. 
The apostle was thus led by a natural transition to speak of 
the unity of God, and the one mediator between God and man. 

1. As to this designation of Christ, it must be remembered 
that a mediator is one who comes between two contending 
parties to remove the cause of contention, and restore them to 
friendship. In this case, a mediator was one who stepped in 
between God as an offended Judge, and men as guilty sinners 
(vers. 3 and 4), to pacify God, and restore men to favour. In 
this sense, Jesus is called a mediator between God and men ; 
that is, men needing to be saved (ver. 4). And this mediator 
is not a mere teacher, not a moral, reformer, not a mediator of 
intercession, but of reconciliation, who removes the cause of 
quarrel by making reparation for the wrong (see 1 John ii. 1,2). 
That is the meaning in the text before us, as indubitably 
appears from the appended participial clause in the Greek, 


which states that He was mediator, as He gave Himself a 
ransom for all. 1 The words are so definite, that they will not 
permit us to explain them, as saying that He became a mediator 
when He ascended ; for the participial clause (relative clause 
in the English version) means that He was a mediator in 
giving Himself a ransom. He did not give Himself, and then 
become a mediator: He was a mediator on earth when He 
died and gave Himself. 

Christ was a mediator, not as He acted the part of a mes- 
senger, or made known the divine will, but as He ushered in 
redemption. The nature of the office presupposed the inability 
of the sinner, and was distinctly announced in many passages 
(Jer. xxx. 21), The mediator must possess true humanity and 
true Godhead in one person ; and the reason is obvious. He 
must be true man, according to the obligations of those 
whom He represented before God, with a compassion for the 
erring (Heb. iv. 15), and a nature holy and undefiled, to obey 
and suffer (Heb. vii. 26). He must be true God, not only to 
sustain the humanity, but to give His work a value ecpiivalent 
to everlasting punishment, and make His obedience adequate 
to the wants of millions. Deity and humanity were united in 
one person for a work to which each nature contributed its 
part, with a concurrent action at every step. The theory that 
makes the Lord mediator in one nature, whether in the divine, 
as Osiander held, or in the human, as the Church of Borne and 
Stancarus put it, never commended itself to scriptural divines. 

But if so, why does the apostle designate Christ the 
man Christ Jesus ? In many passages he describes Christ 
as a divine person ; but in this passage, when speaking 
of the mediator, he appends the designation man, because 
he is about to speak of His sufferings and death. Another 
reason was, that among the Ephesians a certain inclination 
began to discover itself toward the Gnostic errors which 
sought the root of all evil in matter or corporeity, and 

* fiitrtryii o oov; tecvrov oivtiXvTjiov. 

320 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

thus naturally led them to the notion that our Lord had 
but a phantom body — a semblance of manhood. Paul there- 
fore calls Him the man Christ Jesus. The Apostle John, 
too, at a later time referred to those who denied that 
Jesus Christ was come in the flesh (1 John iv. 2, 3). 
They undermined the death of the Son of God, and, with 
the death, the atonement as a satisfaction to justice. These 
theories are here exploded, first by the designation man, de- 
scriptive of the Lord's person; then by the names Chkist 
Jesus, which prove that He was the Christ, the unique 
man. This is brought out when He is represented as one 
mediator between God and man ; that is, one who inter- 
posed between two divided parties, and occupied the singular 
relation in the universe of mediating between God and the 
human family of all time. While very man, He was thus 
unique man, having no equal nor parallel. 

2. But it is added, He gave Himself a eansom foe all, 
meaning that the surrender of His life was the price or 
ransom by which He obtained men's deliverance from cap- 
tivity. Every expression and word here has a deep signifi- 
cance, and they are nearly a repetition of Christ's own 
saying (Matt. xx. 28). The phrase He gave Himself has 
much force, indicating boundless love to us, and obedience 
to His Father ; in a word, priestly action, the reality of the 
typical worship. He gave Himself, according to the divine 
decree, spontaneously or freely. 

3. The word eansom denotes the price by which one is 
discharged from captivity, with the further thought, as it 
occurs here, that the Deliverer encounters something similar 
to the evil impending over him who is delivered, or such 
a ransom as is made by something given in exchange for 
another. 1 But are there in this transaction the criteria of a 

1 See Grotius, de Satisfactione ; Hoombeck; Calovius ; Quenstedt; Stapfer; 
De Witte, Voldoening ; Moslieim's Commentary on Timothy ; Muntinghe, 
Gescldedeniss, vol. ix. note 96 ; and Weber, Vom Zome 


real ransom, and all its constituent elements ? Yes. 1. We 
have captives to be redeemed, — men whose guilt or liability 
to bondage too plainly appears from the fact that they are 
under sin (Eom. iii. 9), under the curse of the law (Gal. iii. 
13), in bondage to death, and to the fear of death (Heb. ii. 
14). 2. The Eedeemer is here called the mediator, by whom 
the price was paid. That Christ is so represented, there is 
no doubt (Eom. xi. 26; Gal. iii. 13). 3. The ransom is an- 
nounced in the most unmistakeable terms by our Lord else- 
where (Matt. xx. 28), and by the apostle in this text, as 
consisting in the priestly action of giving Himself in our 
room. 4. The party receiving the ransom is God, considered 
as Lawgiver, Euler, and Judge, whose property we were by 
creation-right, and whose property we become anew by re- 
demption-right (Eev. v. 9). When we put these elements 
together, — the captive, the Eedeemer, the ransom, the party 
who held the sinner till he received the necessary equiva- 
lent to the inflexible claims of His law, and who then takes 
them into a new endearing relation as His purchased pro- 
perty, — we have all the elements of a real transaction. It 
was not metaphorical, but real. 

Against the above-mentioned outline of this great fact 
the most determined opposition has always been evinced by 
all who stand opposed to our Lord's vicarious life and suf- 
ferings. They challenge the doctrine on the ground of reason 
and rectitude; to which the reply is, that we abide by the 
authority of the divine word. Sometimes they venture to 
assert that no passage of Scripture can be adduced where 
it is said that Christ suffered all in our room and stead ; 
and they interpret the words for us as intimating merely 
that He suffered for our good. 1 No one acquainted with 
the Greek language, and taking into account the composi- 
tion of the word here used {uvrikvrpov), will assert that it 
does not naturally and competently convey the idea of a 
1 Stapfer, in his Polemical Theology, admirably meets this challenge. 


322 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

ransom in the room of others. It cannot be conceded, that 
to give Himself to death for others means no more than to die 
in some vague, indefinite way for one's good. On the contrary, 
the clause contains a double evidence for vicarious atonement. 
We had, by the transgression of the divine law, become bound 
to punishment, and must on account of guilt have for ever 
passed into the captivity of Satan, death, and hell, had not 
Christ acted the part of mediator, as described in the text. 
But when one is cast into prison for his sins, and another 
redeems him from it by repairing the wrong and meeting his 
obligations, this was not only for his good merely, but also in 
his stead. 

One principal argument against the death of Christ, viewed 
as a ransom from captivity, is to the effect that no party can 
be pointed out to whom the ransom could be paid. The answer 
to that objection is obvious to any one who rises to the primary 
source of authority — law and obligation. The ransom or satis- 
faction was paid to God (Eph. v. 2). In commercial matters, 
and cases involving payment in money, we may hold one style 
of language, with all its correlative terms and notions. In 
criminal law another style of thought is necessary : we rise to 
the fountain of justice. In the great transaction of satisfying 
God's punitive justice, and vindicating the divine majesty and 
the authoritative claims of law, we are brought directly to God 
Himself, as moral Governor and personal God, having rights 
from which He cannot recede, because they are inalienable. 
As sinners, men are guilty before God (Ps. li. 4 ; Eom. iii. 1 9) ; 
and hence the ransom must be primarily viewed as offered to 
Him, and accepted by Him (Be v. v. 9). 

According to the crude opinion of some of the Fathers, 
the atonement was too much considered in relation to Satan. 
Some, following Origen, imagined that the ransom was paid 
to him because, in the loose mode of thinking which they per- 
mit ted themselves to entertain, it was alleged that Satan had 
acquired a rightful claim to fallen humanity, such as God Him- 


self must respect. That groundless notion, though it kept its 
place for a time, never carried general consent. It was at 
variance with the Christian sentiment ; and the difficulties 
connected with the idea of offering a ransom to Satan, for a 
conquest sinfully acquired, were always felt by judicious divines 
of all centuries. They who perceived the necessity of a dif- 
ferent mode of statement in the early centuries, connected the 
atonement with the original menace against sin, and represented 
it as a satisfaction to the divine veracity. 1 

Satan's relation to men held captive under his dominion 
was but subordinate. Sinful men were indeed in bondage to 
Satan, but his power was founded simply on the guilt of that 
sin in which he involved them, or on the right of conquest 
which he had effected. He was but the jailor, having no power 
over his captives except by God's authority, who left them 
under a just doom — under sin, death, and hell. But, in the 
proper acceptation of terms, men are guilty to God : against 
Him, and Him only, was sin committed (Ps. li. 4). The party 
to whom the ransom was paid is evident. When we look at 
the analogy of human law — that is, at man made in the image 
of God, and acting out his views of right and wrong in a sphere 
closely resembling the divine procedure — a satisfaction for 
the infraction of the law is never made to the inferior officer, 
but to the Supreme Majesty, the fountain of authority. To the 
jailor or executioner it falls merely to carry out the sentence 
of imprisonment or death upon the criminal. In this great 
transaction of which we treat, the ransom was not paid to the 
inferior officer, but to the fountain of authority — the Judge of 
all. The ransom or satisfaction was paid to God ; for there 
was none besides Him or beyond Him. And His sovereign 
plan was to discharge the captives only on receiving the ransom 
of His Son's obedience and death. 

One consideration, too much omitted in theories of the 
atonement, will put this matter in its true light. We must 

1 Athanasius speaks in this way— a recoil from Oiigen's theory. 

324 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

distinguish between sin itself, and the consequences, temporal 
and eternal, corporeal and mental, inevitably flowing from it 
by the connection of cause and effect. The redemption-work 
of Christ cannot be viewed merely in relation to the conse- 
quences of sin, but in relation to sin itself. And we consider 
it in a biblical way only when we study it with a full recog- 
nition of the fact that infinite guilt renders an infinite satisfac- 
tion necessary, nay, absolutely indispensable. 

Two things remain to be noticed : first, the sense in which 
we are to take the apostle's words, a ransom foe all ; secondly, 
how we are to apprehend Paul's testimony in connection with it. 

a. As to the expression " a ransom foe all," the meaning 
may be collected from the context. It is not all men numeri- 
cally, but all conditions, ranks, classes, and nationalities, with- 
out distinction. This is so evident, that if we follow the rule 
of interpreting by the context, no doubt can remain on any 
mind. At the commencement of the chapter the apostle men- 
tioned all men; and immediately adds, as an explanation of 
this use of the expression, " kings and all in authority," — a 
superfluous addition, if we apprehend the terms as denoting- 
absolute universality. When the apostle directs Christians to 
pray for all men, the allusion is to be understood as pointing- 
out ranks, conditions, and classes of men. This is evident, 
partly because they did not know all men numerically ; partly 
because, among men in the wide sense, there are some for whom 
we are not to pray, viz. those who have sinned unto death 
(1 John v. 16). That the allusion is not to all men numeri- 
cally, may be proved, too, from the announcement that God 
will have all men to be saved (ver. 1 4), which refers to ranks 
and conditions, not to individuals ; for God's will would be 
effectual on all men, if the other meaning were intended. Still 
further to show the sense in which Paul uses the expression 
all men, we may notice his mode of describing locality : " I 
will that men pray everywhere," literally, in every place (ver. 8) ; 
which clearly means wheeevee they may be. 


This examination of the immediate context makes it evi- 
dent how we are to understand the expression " a ransom foii 
all." We cannot put a different sense upon the terms than 
the apostle employs throughout the context ; that is, all ranks, 
conditions, and classes of men. 1 He died for men of all con- 
ditions, high or low ; for all nationalities, Jew and Gentile 
equally. But the text does not affirm that He gave Himself 
for all men numerically. The allusion is to all classes indis- 
criminately — the elect of every rank, and tribe, and people. 
More particularly, the all for whom He gave Himself a ran- 
som, were they for whom He acted as a mediator in atonement 
and intercession ; the all of whom it is said, God will have 
all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth 
(ver. 4) ; the class undoubtedly coincident and identical with 
the elect ; the all for whom the ransom was offered — and it 
is never ineffectual or inoperative ; the all who are ushered 
into actual liberty, because their sins were borne, their guilt 
expiated, their curse reversed, and of whom* not one shall finally 
be lost, but all shall be raised up at the last day (John vi. 39). 
The passage was introduced in connection with prayer, and as 
a motive to prayer. 

b. The second thing is, how we are to apprehend Paul's 
testimony : " To be testified in due time, to which I was ap- 
pointed a preacher and an apostle." 2 The connection between 
the ransom and the testimony, between the atonement and the 
preaching of it, is most explicit, both here and elsewhere. 
The preaching is a testimony to the ransom, or to the cross : 
that is, the atonement was accomplished, and an office was 
instituted specially charged with the proclamation of this 

1 See Augustine, who expounds the passage in this way : also the anti- 
Arminian writers — Ames, Coronis and Antwynodalia Scripta ; Trigland ; Tur- 
retin ; Honert, de Gratia ; Brakel ; De Moor's Perpetuus Commentaries in 

2 to paer-jpiov is in apposition to the previous statement of Christ's media- 
torial work of expiation. Then the words us S WMvv denote the destination of 
his office as a preacher. 

326 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

great theme ; and preaching has no other foundation or war- 
rant, power or influence. In this passage, with the solemnity 
of an oath, Paul declares that this was the scope of his mini- 
stry. After speaking of the Eedeemer, who gave Himself a 
ransom for all, to be testified in clue time, he adds, " to which 
I was appointed a preacher." Paul, therefore, not only 
preached this truth of the vicarious sacrifice, but was called 
and commissioned to do so: his office was for this very 
end. To give the greater confirmation to what he said, he 
added — doubtless with his eye upon those who undervalued 
that great theme, the burden of his ministry — " I speak the 
truth in Christ, and lie not." 


This pastoral epistle, in many respects like the Epistles to 
Timothy, but more condensed, was meant to direct Titus in a 
difficult service in the island of Crete, where Paul had re- 
cently laboured : churches were to be organized and supplied 
with elders, and Titus was left behind to set in order what 
was wanting. The epistle served as his credentials, and as a 
rule for his guidance. Though it is difficult to fix the date, as 
the missionary tour to which reference is made is not else- 
where recorded, it bears on its front the immediate purpose 
for which it was composed ; viz. to direct Titus, and give a 
code of rules for all time as to the qualifications of elders, 
and the mode of enforcing doctrine and duty. After stating 
duties incumbent on every age, sex, and condition, the apostle 
ascends to divine grace as the constraining motive (Tit. ii. 11), 
referring also to the glorious appearing of our great God and 
Saviour. From this he passes over to the atonement. The 
last chapter contains an outline of justification, which doubt- 
less refers to the previous sketch of the expiatory sufferings of 
the Lord. 


The single passage on the atonement demanding notice is 
this : Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from 
all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a 'peculiar people, zealous 
of good works (Tit. ii. 14). Almost every word in this preg- 
nant passage is significant. 

1. The relative pronoun who has for its antecedent the 
double title applied to Christ in connection with His second 
advent : " our great God and Saviour." Undoubtedly the allu- 
sion is to one and the same person ; and every one reading 
the passage for the first time, in the original, naturally comes 
to this conclusion. 1 It is the glorious appearing of one 
person : the article is common to both titles ; and the p'erson 
so described is further pointed out as the same who gave 
Himself for us. What is intimated by connecting the atone- 
ment with His deity ? It shows the close connection that 
obtains between them. The true Godhead of Christ was the 
element which gave infinite value to His sufferings. His 
atonement, though confined to a brief period, became at the 
divine tribunal a ransom, or an equivalent, adequate to the 
wants of millions, because the abasement of such a person 
had inestimable worth in God's sight. When He died, it was 
as if all died ; and the sacrifice was so valuable as well as 
acceptable, that instead of the curse which had been merited, 
the richest blessings were bestowed. 

2. The simple affirmation, who gave Himself for us, 
indicates two things — priestly action and vicarious sacrifice. 
As to the priestly action, we see that He gave Himself sjwn- 

1 The Fathers, who felt the nicer shades of the Greek language more sensibly 
than modern scholars, take toZ piyuXov ©sou x.a) tnurtipos npuv as our great God 
and Saviour : so Matthies and Mack among moderns. Of course Socinianism 
opposed this ; and as it could be rendered otherwise, it was not urged as it 
might have been by modern exegetes. See remarks in favour of this render- 
ing by Kambach and Ernesti, Neue Theol. Bibliothek, though the latter will 
not press it in controversy. But three arguments for it are conclusive : (1) 
the Witpavna, which is proper to the second advent alone ; (2) the common 
article ; (3) the relative h referring to one person. Winer does not allow this ; 
but he lived in no Trinitarian atmosphere. 

328 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

taneously ; for the language is really sacrificial, borrowed from 
the Levitical worship. That defective typical economy, in- 
deed, could not unite what were found in Christ — priest and 
victim. It is noteworthy that the Father, in many passages, 
is said to have given His Son ; but when Christ is here and 
elsewhere described as giving Himself, we have priestly action 
exhibiting boundless love and voluntary obedience, and then 
a suffering victim, — in His soul forfeiting the joy which was 
properly His own, and in His body enduring the agony and 
shame allotted to a public criminal. As to the vicarious 
character of the action, this comes out in the words foe us, 
implying that when we should have been given up to the 
wrath of God, the Surety permitted our sins to be charged to 
Him. The same thing appears from other words of the sen- 
tence, which plainly imply that we were in all iniquity, and 
far from being God's property. 1 "We cannot read the words 
without the impression that they indicate substitution, or the 
action of one going into another's place. 

3. This brings us to the twofold aim or design which the 
Eedeemer had in view when He gave Himself for us. These 
final particles expressive of intention (i'm) give us a glimpse 
into the Eedeemer's heart, and discover to us the purpose 
which He cherished. 

a. The first of the two ends here mentioned is : " that He 
might redeem us from all iniquity." The verb redeem (hvrpw- 
ariTcii), derived from the word denoting ransom, signifies a 
buying from captivity by the payment of a price. This is 
the primary signification of the word; and that this meaning 
attaches to it here is clear, because the price is expressed in 
the phrase, " who gave Himself for us." Wherever the price 
is named, it is impossible to admit a metaphorical use of the 

That there are cases where the word is used in the meta- 

1 The riftuv and cairns avowees, put together, imply that they were uvopoi for 
whom He gave Himself. 


phorical sense, may be admitted ; but in such a usage the 
primary sense is presupposed. The strange argument used 
by the opponents of the Lord's ransom is, that we are to take 
the term in all cases in its secondary or figurative sense ; that 
is, as intimating deliverance absolutely conferred, and not on 
the ground of a ransom. In short, they would have the meta- 
phorical sense the uniform usage. That is simply inadmissible 
when the ransom or price is expressly named. When redemp- 
tion is named in connection with the incarnation, the blood, 
the death of Christ, it is absurd to say that we must take the 
word eedeem for absolute deliverance. How does the matter 
stand ? A word primarily denoting deliverance by price is 
found along with the mention of ransom-price. It is impossible 
in such a case to say that this is the figurative or secondary 
signification : for that is contradicted by the words appended, 
indicating the ground on which the deliverance is effected. In 
short, we have cause and effect together in too many cases to 
allow the least shade of doubt as to the causal connection be- 
tween Christ's blood as the ransom-price and the redemption 
(1 Pet. i. 18 ; Rev. v. 9 ; Gal. iii. 13). 

The question is not, whether the term " redemption" may 
be taken in the general sense of deliverance, but whether, 
when connected with the blood of Christ, it can be so taken. 
The words so placed naturally suggest the ransom-price on the 
ground of which redemption is effected. It is asked, Is not the 
word used for absolute deliverance in the case of the national 
deliverance of Israel from Egypt and Babylon (Mic. vi. 4), and 
in the case of corporeal deliverance where nothing touches the 
element of justice ? (Heb. xi. 35.) It may seem so. But even 
in such cases, according to the laws of language, more or less of 
the idea of compensation will be found (Eph. v. 16). Wherever 
allusion is made to the work of Christ, however, as the ransom 
which is taken into account, and which of necessity intervenes, 
the word occurs in its strictly philological import. The modern 
opponents of Christ's propitiatory death, after the example of 

330 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

the old Socinian, maintain that even in this case the word is 
to be accepted as denoting absolute deliverance ; but they argue 
from foregone conclusions, without regard to the thought before 

What does the apostle mean by all iniquity ? When he 
says all, he excludes nothing: he comprehends sin, original 
and actual, and announces that we are redeemed from the 
penalty and guilt of all sin, considered as transgression of the 
divine law. The meaning is, that Christ redeemed us from 
sin, considered as guilt and entailing the curse of the law. Our 
great God and Saviour transferred the curse to Himself. Free 
from personal guilt, He entered into the place of the guilty, 
and transferred their guilt to Himself, that we, in virtue of His 
sufferings, might be pronounced free of further obligation. • His 
sufferings had the quality of a compensation, price, or ransom 
paid for a captive ; and this bloody ransom dissolved all con- 
nection between sin and our obligation to punishment, giving 
a right to liberty. 

b. The second thing contemplated by the Lord in His 
death, was to purify to Himself a peculiar people. The 
two clauses, introduced by the same final particle (Jw), contain 
two different thoughts. The benefits expressed are equally 
connected with the cross. The idea conveyed by the term 
purify is sacrificial. There are no fewer than six cognate 
terms — viz. purify, sanctify, sprinkle, sanctify, wash, 
cleanse — used by the apostles to point out the effect 
produced by sacrifice on those who were defiled by sin. The 
general sense attaching to them is this, that sinners, ex- 
cluded by sin from a holy God, are freed from impurity and 
readmitted to fellowship with God by blood. That is the 
meaning of the term purify in the passage now under con- 

The counterpart of these things — redemption and purifica- 
tion — we find in Israel's typical history. Redemption from 
Egypt was followed by the Sinaitic covenant, where the same 


people were taken into a new standing, as a kingdom of priests, 
to be a peculiar people to Himself 1 (Deut. vii. 6). There is 
little doubt that Paul had his eye on that fact, and on the 
passages descriptive of it (Ex. xix. 5, 6). Christ's people, re- 
deemed by the true paschal lamb, and then admitted to a new 
covenant, are a true counterpart of the figurative covenant 
people. The apostle finely alludes to the redemption from 
Egypt, and then to the entering into covenant with God at 
Sinai as a people sprinkled with blood, and henceforth near to 
Israel's holy God (Ex. xxiv. 8). The design of that redemption 
was the consecration or setting apart of the nation to be a 
people near to Him; and the immediate effect of Christ's 
redemption is to separate a people from the world, for holy 
service, or for priestly worship. And the designations here 
applied to them are striking. They are called A peculiar 
people, which means His own people, with the accessory idea 
of being a peculiar treasure, precious, and kept with care 2 
(Deut. xiv. 2, xxvi. 18). They are His treasure, held to be 
most precious. 

Next, the additional designation, zealous of good works, 
assumes that they are partakers of the spirit of holiness (Eom. 
i. 4), and of the sanctifi cation of the Spirit (1 Pet. i. 2). This 
comprehends the sober, righteous, and godly life already men- 
tioned (ver. 12), as becomes men inhabited by the Spirit of 
God. They bear fruit, and zealously labour to bear it, as the 
end of their redemption, and as is worthy of a dedicated 

1 See Vitringa's posthumous commentary on Titus (Dutch). 

2 See Witsius' interpretation of rtpiovnot, and the references which he makes 
to the literature on it (de Fcedere, pp. 358, 410). 



WE arrange the testimony of the Epistle to the Hebrews 
under a separate chapter, because we deem it best to 
leave the inquiry open, whether the epistle is of Pauline origin. 
The difficult and much canvassed question as to the author- 
ship of the epistle we leave untouched, whatever weight may 
attach to the arguments adduced by many eminent expositors 
for the opinion that it must be assigned to another writer than 
Paul — to Apollos, Barnabas, or Luke. This much is admitted 
on all sides, that it breathes the spirit of Paul, and corre- 
sponds with his well-known mode of putting truth. If it did 
not emanate direct from Paul, which we for our part have 
never seen cause to doubt, it emanated from one of his com- 
panions, as the statements on the person, offices, and sufferings 
of Christ, and on the effects of His atonement, are identical 
with what we find in Paul; with this difference, that we have 
a new nomenclature borrowed from the priesthood. 


As supplying materials for defining the doctrine of the 
atonement, this epistle is perhaps the most important of all, 
not excepting those to the Eomans and Galatians. It has 
this peculiarity, that it brings out the doctrine under figures 
or types borrowed from the Jewish worship. The epistle 
brings before us a typical and preparatory institution, having 


a spiritual element under that which appealed to the senses, a 
heavenly underlying the earthly, an eternal under the transitory. 
The typical worship lost its standing significance with Christ's 
coming in the flesh, but the comparison was most important. 

This epistle was manifestly written while the temple ser- 
vices were still standing, and to a class of Jewish Christians 
who were in the habit of attending them. From several causes, 
the Christian Jews in Palestine were exposed to the danger of 
falling away from the faith, and the writer arms them to resist 
the temptation, and hold fast their profession. One danger 
arose from the persecutions to which they were exposed ; a 
second was owing to the attractions of an imposing ritual, and 
to the perpetual depreciation of Christianity, as compared with 
Judaism, which they were obliged to hear. The epistle accord- 
ingly sets forth the superiority of Christianity to Judaism in 
every respect, and especially in its priesthood. It sets forth 
the insufficiency of the old economy by a comparison of the 
two, and shows that Christianity had far greater and enduring 
blessings. 1 Against Christianity the common Jewish objec- 
tion was, that the life of its founder terminated in an igno- 
minious death ; and the apostle shows that this was the way 
of bringing many sons to glory (Heb. ii. 10). 

If we would apprehend the scope of the epistle, and its 
reasoning, it must be borne in mind that the demonstration 
is based on ideas current among those to whom it was written, 
as to the function of the high priest, and the nature of the 
sacrifices. The epistle gives us a continuous parallel between 
the shadow and the substance. Christ is not compared to every 
Jewish priest accomplishing the service of God in the daily 
ministration, but to the high priest in his call, his qualifica- 
tions, and peculiar ministry, as he entered the holiest of all 

1 The literature on the Epistle to the Hebrews is very ample, and recently 
has been largely augmented. I may refer to Eiehm's Lehrbegriff des Hebrder- 
briefes; Ebrard's, Delitzsch's, and Kurtz's commentaries ; Thiersch's academical 
prelection ; Reuss' translation and abridged outline ; Van den Ham (Latin) ; 
Wieseler, etc. 

334 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

on the great day of atonement ; the object being to prove that 
the new economy is in all respects superior. To put this in 
the clearest light, the epistle runs a parallel between the 
peculiarities of the two dispensations. In what sense is the 
title High Priest applied to Christ ? 

1. Many divines, especially during the three last genera- 
tions, have maintained that the doctrine of the threefold office 
of Christ is without warrant ; that the titles Prophet, Priest, 
and King, heretofore understood as descriptive of distinct works 
of Christ, express but one and the same thing under a variety 
of nomenclature. That attempt to obliterate distinctions 
founded in the nature of things, as well as in the marked 
peculiarities of the old economy, is quite unwarrantable. The 
titles are never confounded as terms of the same import. They 
are not only distinct, but indicate a different work on the part 
of the Saviour. When Christ is represented as a prophet, He 
is compared to Moses ; as a priest, He is compared to Aaron. 
The arguments used by eminent men, like Ernesti, Tittmann, 
Doederlein, and Schleiermacher, to efface the distinction, have 
by no means carried conviction. 1 The distinction is one that 
takes for granted a threefold want in humanity to which the 
offices correspond — ignorance, guilt, depravity. And the ar- 
rangements in Israel, as positive institutions before the eyes 
of men, corresponded to this threefold necessity. Thus the 
prophet was commissioned to speak in God's name to men ; 
and Christ was so called, because He announced the way of 
salvation (Acts iii. 22; John iv. 19; John ix. 17). The king 
had authority to rule ; and Christ was so called, because He 
was set over a kingdom, and ruling all for His church (John 
xviii. 37 ; Eph. i. 21). The priest was one who could approach 
God on behalf of man; and Christ was so called, because, 

1 This theory, to which Ernesti, Tittmann, and Doederlein unhappily lent 
their influence, is scarcely a legitimate growth of Protestantism, and more akin 
to Socinianism. A good refutation of it is furnished by Lotze in his Hooge- 
priesterschap van J. C. 1800. See also an admirable discussion of the point by 
Key. Edward Irving, and Halyburton in his Man's Recovery. 


according to the Father's appointment, He underwent death to 
atone for sin. The priesthood of Christ was the foundation of 
His other offices ; without which, indeed, the other two offices 
could not possibly have existed. They presuppose the priest- 
hood, and proceed upon it. When Christ is called a priest for 
ever, the expression does not mean that He perpetually offers 
sacrifice, but that His sacrifice, once offered, has perpetual 
efficacy, value, and validity. There are many objections, how- 
ever, which it may here be proper to obviate. 

a. Thus, it is alleged that the term priest may be under- 
stood as denoting minister ; and attempts have been made to 
establish this from the etymology of the Hebrew word (2 Sam. 
iii. 18, xx. 26). But in this case all does not depend on 
etymology, but on the acceptation in which the word is found. 
And when Christ is compared to the Aaronic high priest, there 
cannot be room for two opinions that the term is appropriated 
to a function which contains the two elements of oblation and 

b. But it is argued, that when Jesus is compared with the 
Jewish high priest, this is on account of the disparity between 
the two ; and that where a correspondence is intimated, the 
terms " blood " and " sacrifice " are metaphorically used. There 
is no warrant for this ; on the contrary, we cannot read the 
fifth chapter (Heb. v. 4-7) without discovering a regular com- 
parison between Aaron and Christ. The apostle's discussion 
of Christ's priesthood was as much fitted as it was intended 
to convince the Jewish Christians held under the spell of the 
ancient stately ritual, that Christ's priesthood was immensely 
superior. But that object could not have been attained unless 
he also established that it was similar and parallel — the truth 
of the shadow. 

c. It is further argued, that when Paul represents Jesus as 
a high priest, he contemplates Him not in His state of humilia- 
tion, but in His present glorified state, as the procurer and dis- 
penser of salvation. That Jesus was a high priest in the days 

336 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

of His flesh, and offered the required sin-offering in His state 
of humiliation, is a point brought out in the Epistle to the 
Hebrews with such convincing evidence, that one must do 
violence to language to escape this conclusion. Thus, He is 
said to be a merciful and faithful High Peiest in things per- 
taining to God, to make atonement — for so the word should 
be rendered 1 — for the sins of the people (Heb. ii. 17). Nay, 
the passage to which an appeal is sometimes made in proof of 
His becoming a priest only on entering the heavenly sanctuary 
after His resurrection (Heb. ix. 12-15), is, when correctly under- 
stood, a speaking proof of the fact that He was already a priest 
when He offered Himself on earth as the atoning sacrifice for 
sins. He is contemplated by the apostle as the High Priest 
after the order of Melchizedek, when He is set forth as dis- 
pensing salvation. 

d. Again, it is argued that we are not to ascribe the im- 
petration or procuring of salvation to the high-priesthood 
alone. To this it is enough to say, that the three offices of 
the Lord were closely connected together, and that we cannot 
in our minds consider one without immediately recalling the 
others ; but we are not on that account to confound them. 
They are to be distinguished : they each designate a separate 
work: they were titles of persons who were known in Israel 
to be invested with different offices, involving different works. 
This threefold distinction must be maintained in all biblical 
dogmatics on the work of Christ ; for it is founded in Scripture, 
and the three designations are expressly named in the divine 
word. Nor are they ever confounded. 

This doctrine of Christ's priesthood and sacrifice is every- 
where admitted on the ground of Scripture evidence, wherever 
men do not argue in the interest of a theory or tendency ad- 
verse to Christ's suretyship and substitution. Prom explicit 
language contained in this epistle, Ave are warranted to con- 
clude that the Lord Jesus was a high priest on earth; that 

* tls to iXccrxso'Hcti rcc; a/tapria;. 


He offered the sacrifice on earth ; and that the exercise of His 
priestly functions in heaven is not to win redemption, but only 
to apply it. Throughout the entire epistle the principal aim is 
to establish this fact, to point out the agreement between type 
and antitype, and to set forth the infinite superiority of Christ 
to the shadowy priesthood of the old economy. Several times 
it is affirmed that He is a priest, and obviously in a real, not in 
a figurative sense (Heb. ii. 17, viii. 1, iv. 14). 

2. At the beginning of his discussion on this subject, the 
apostle intimates that Christ possessed all the necessary quali- 
fications 1 of a priest. These are chiefly the following : — 

(1.) Divine appointment (Heb. v. 5, 6). He did not assume 
it, or take it to Himself, without a divine commission or call. 
The passage which makes Christ similar to Aaron, on this 
ground, that He glorified not Himself to be made an high 
priest, is very emphatic. The quotation of the second Psalm, 
too, reminds us of the divine dignity and excellence of Christ 
as the ground of His everlasting priesthood ; and this discovers 
the force of the allusion to the Son (ver. 8). The meaning is, 
that Jesus had a divine commission ; that He was appointed 
by the Father because He was the Son ; and that He was thus 
possessed of all requisite qualifications for His office. The 
high-priesthood of Christ was based in the divine decree ; and 
He was invested with the dignity by the will and appointment 
of the Father, the fountain of all authority and law. 

(2.) He must be able to sympathize with the condition of 
sinners (Heb. v. 1-8). The Lord, who was rich, having come 
within the circle of human experience, was made a merciful 
and faithful high priest, and qualified by personal experience 
for compassionately guiding our highest interests, as well as 
conducting our cause. The bond of brotherhood, the identity 
of suffering and sorrow, fitted Him to be touched with the feel- 
ing of our infirmities. He was made like unto His brethren 
(Heb. ii. 17) ; He suffered, that He might be in a position to 

1 See Riehm's Lehrbejrif des Heb. 

338 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

succour them that are tempted (Heb. ii. 18) ; He was made in 
all respects like us, with the single exception of personal sinful- 
ness (iv. 15); and He learned obedience by what He suffered 
(v. 8). The design of all this was, that He might be a com- 
passionate and sympathizing high priest. 

(3.) He must lay to heart the interests of His people, 
and maintain the cause of those for whom He acted the part 
of a priest. With this theme the Epistle to the Hebrews 
is occupied ; and the writer proves that Christ during His 
life thus fulfilled the duties of a priest (Heb. v. 7-9). The 
priests were required faithfully to fulfil the task committed to 
them, offering gifts and sacrifices for sins, and interceding 
for the people by prayer ; and in general, they actively pro- 
moted the interests and affairs of the covenant people before 
God. All this the Lord discharged, practising obedience, and 
faithfully executing the charge committed to Him. The obe- 
dience of the Lord consisted in undergoing death for the 
sins of humanity, as the apostle explains it (Heb. x. 5-10); 
and He was made perfect, that is, perfected for the media- 
torial work and the Melchizedek-priesthood, by His acceptance 
and confirmation as the surety. Thus the everlasting High 
Priest, made King and Priest, can evermore promote man's 
cause with God; and all who obey Him are warranted to 
expect eternal salvation from Him, whereas the Levitical 
priesthood advanced the interests of the people only for a 

3. As we noticed the qualifications of the high priest, we 
next consider his ministry on the great day of atonement — the 
culminating point of his service. This is at large explained 
in the Epistle to the Hebrews (Heb. ix. 1-7). Two divisions 
were marked out in the ancient sanctuary : one called the 
holy place, allotted to the daily ministrations of the priests 
as they accomplished the service of God ; the other called the 
holiest of all, into which the high priest alone entered once 
every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself 


and for the errors of the people (ver. 7). The arrangement 
announced that the time then present was a time of imperfect 
atonement ; that the Jewish sacrifices could not fully atone, but 
effected a certain external deliverance from temporal punish- 
ment, and confirmed their religious privileges to the Jewish 
nation. The reason why the holiest of all remained constantly 
shut, and the high priest entered alone for a little time once 
every year, is to be sought in the insufficiency of the Old Tes- 
tament sacrifices. The way was not yet open — that is, open 
without impediment — while the first tabernacle and the Old 
Testament worship still stood (vers. 8, 24). 

The high priest entering on the great day of atonement 
with the blood of sacrifice, and sprinkling it on the mercy-seat 
or covering of the ark, was the representative of the people, 
appearing before God in their name, and presenting blood for 
their atonement. By that solemn act the protection of God 
was sought and secured for the nation ; for the most important 
actions of the Jewish high priest consisted in slaying the 
victim, and carrying the blood into the holy of holies once 
every year. Now the question is raised, Was that entrance 
typical of Christ's entrance into heaven ? That action of 
sprinkling the mercy-seat was undoubtedly atoning ; and many 
too precipitately think we are driven to the conclusion that 
Christ was not a priest on earth, and that His oblation, pro- 
perly so called, commenced in heaven after His ascension. 
The Socinians deny, on doctrinal grounds, the sacrifice on earth, 
transferring it to heaven ; and the principal argument by which 
they maintain that Christ never was a priest on earth, is based 
on a misunderstood text of the epistle (Heb. viii. 4). We 
allow that the death of the victim, taken by itself, and apart 
from the priestly action of bringing in the blood to sprinkle 
the mercy- seat, was not considered as the full act of expia- 

But this leads me to ask, When did Christ, our High 
Priest, enter with His own blood ? It may, we think, be 

340 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

convincingly proved 1 that the entrance of onr High Priest 
to sprinkle the mercy-seat took place at the moment of His 
death ; that no moment of time intervened ; and that the 
rending of the veil indicated His entry. In pouring out His 
blood on the cross, and surrendering His spirit into the 
Father's hands, the Lord must be considered as sprinkling 
the mercy-seat and expiating sin. While His lifeless body 
was hanging on the cross, the mercy-seat was sprinkled ; for 
He was still acting as a high priest, even when the lifeless, 
inanimate body was on the cross and in the tomb. Even 
then the personal union was not dissolved. If the question 
were, whether Christ could be regarded as sprinkling the 
mercy-seat before He bowed His head and gave up the ghost, 
we should certainly deny it. But as the inquiry is, When did 
the true High Priest sprinkle the mercy-seat ? — which was a 
propitiatory act in the course of averting wrath — we must em- 
phatically answer, At the moment of death. His resurrection 
was a reward for service done ; not expiation, not propitiation, 
in any sense of the word. 

This may conclusively be established. The heavenly taber- 
nacle or temple was, so to speak, erected over the ark of the 
covenant. That throne, or mercy-seat, must be viewed as for 
ever wet or moistened with atoning blood, sprinkled once for 
all. The common notion that our Lord's entry into the holiest 
of all with the propitiatory blood corresponds to His triumphal 
entry into heaven, however plausible it may seem to those 
who read the ninth chapter of this epistle in a cursory way, 
is burdened with insoluble difficulties. Without adducing the 
grounds already given at the beginning of this volume, let it 
suffice to say that the entry was immediately subsequent to 
the death of the sacrifice ; that the action was still expiatory ; 
and that all Christ's appearances to the disciples during His 

1 See our remarks at p. 48, on the temple services. Witsius seems to have 
been the first who threw out this exposition ; Schultens and Lotze contend for 
it earnestly. 


forty days' sojourn, were so far from entering into the work 
of expiation, that they presupposed it. His salutations to 
the disciples, announcing peace accomplished and brought in, 
presuppose it. It is incongruous and absurd to hold, then, 
that the sprinkling of the mercy -seat and the purifying of 
the heavenly things (ver. 23) took place only after His ascen- 
sion. We distinguish between the acts of abasement and the 
state of reward on which He entered at His resurrection ; be- 
tween the priesthood as such, and the Melchizedek or royal 

If we want a proof that the atonement was accepted, and 
procured forgiveness of sins, this was proved by the Lord's 
resurrection from the dead, corresponding as it did to the com- 
ing out of the high priest from the holiest of all to give the 
priestly benediction to the people. From what has all that 
confusion to which we have adverted arisen ? Plainly from 
the fact that the expositors we have been refuting did not suf- 
ficiently distinguish the peculiarities connected with the High 
Priest after the order of Melchizedek. He was the Priest 
after the order of Melchizedek when He ascended to His 
mediatorial throne, and that is always distinguished in the 
epistle from His appearing before God with His own blood. 
But it will be asked, Does not the debated text already 
mentioned (Heb. viii. 4) conflict with the above interpreta- 
tion ? By no means. Christ must needs bring His sacrifice 
into the true tabernacle, the reality of the figure ; and if He 
were on earth — that is, if He were a common priest of the 
visible Jewish order — He would be no priest of the true taber- 

4. Points of contrast as well as similarity may be traced in 
the whole analogy here instituted between the Jewish high 
priest and the great High Priest of our profession, and between 
the sacrifices offered by both respectively ; and to these we shall 
refer in a few words. 

(1.) To begin with the contrasted high priests, the law 

342 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

made men high priests who had infirmity, whereas the word of 
the oath made the Son (Heb. ix. 28). The Jewish high priests, 
moreover, were required to offer for their own sins as well as 
for the sins of the people (Heb. v. 3) ; whereas our High Priest 
was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners, and 
needed not but to offer for the sins of others (vii. 27). The 
Jewish high priest could not exercise his ministry in any other 
but a standing attitude, and as became a servant, on the annual 
return of the great day of atonement ; whereas our great High 
Priest, after His one all-perfect sacrifice, sat down on the right 
hand of God, from henceforth expecting till His enemies be 
made His footstool (Heb. x. 11-13). 

(2.) Next, as to the sacrifices offered respectively, the weak- 
ness and unprofitableness of the one stood vividly contrasted 
with the enduring efficacy of the other. The Jewish high 
priest was under the necessity of constantly repeating the same 
sacrifice year by year continually ; whereas the Lord Jesus, by 
one sacrifice needing no repetition, perfectly atoned for sin, and 
brought salvation to all who obey Him (Heb. ix. 25). Another 
point deserving notice is : The Jewish sacrifices effected only 
an external purity and the removal of corporeal punishments, 
but did nothing, and could do nothing, to remove the burden of 
guilt, or still an accusing conscience (Heb. x. 1-3) ; whereas 
the one sacrifice of Christ effectually secured a full deliverance 
from punishment and from an evil conscience (Heb. x. 19-22). 
Nor, from the nature of the case, could the Jewish sacrifices 
accomplish more : for they consisted of the blood of calves and 
goats ; whereas our High Priest offered Himself to God a sin- 
less and perfect sacrifice 1 (Heb. ix. 14). 

(3.) Another point of contrast is, that the Jewish sacrifices 
were only for men then living, and for cases of ceremonial de- 

1 I cannot too strongly object to the position of Hengstenberg, Kurtz, 
Kliefoth, and others, that the sacrifices were, in a certain sense, the means of 
imparting a true forgiveness. See Philippi's refutation of this in his Kirchliche 
Glaubenslehre, iv. pp. 260-290. This borders too closely on the old Socinian 
doctrine to be tolerable. See Calovius' Socinismus jJrofligatus. 


filement, procuring temporary and corporeal deliverance, but 
without any retrospective or prospective influence beyond the 
case for which they were offered; whereas Christ's sacrifice, 
intended for all time, effected the expiation of all sin, whether 
we have respect to those who looked forward to it from the old 
economy, or to those who now look back to it as an accom- 
plished fact (Heb. ix. 26). In a word, the Jewish sacrifices 
were limited in their range, whether we take into account the 
class of men to whom they were applicable, or the nature of 
the trespass for which they could be offered. The offences for 
which they were available were all ceremonial (Heb. ix. 10). 
The sacrifice of Christ, on the contrary, procured the forgive- 
ness of all sins, being divinely adapted to all sins. Besides, it 
gave free access, well-grounded confidence, and liberty ; whereas 
the Jewish sacrifices neither cancelled sin properly so called, 
nor gave boldness of access into the divine presence ; for the 
throne of grace was still unopened to sinners after all that the 
Jewish sacrifices effected. 

One design of the Epistle to the Hebrews was, to point out 
the inseparable connection between the atonement and the 
remission of sins, or the sprinkling of conscience (Heb. ix. 14, 
x. 2, x. 22). The epistle does not deny forgiveness to Old 
Testament saints who lived before the incarnation. It cer- 
tainly denies that efficacy to animal sacrifices, and connects 
the actual redemption which the Old Testament saints received 
with the death of Christ ; for the apostle speaks of the effect 
of the atonement in cancelling sins under the old covenant 
(Heb. ix. 15). A theory was propounded, indeed, by Cocceius 
and his school, to the effect that the privilege enjoyed by the 
Old Testament saints did not amount to full forgiveness, and 
that it was but the condition of non-punishment, as the atone- 
ment had not been offered, and the effect cannot be without 
the cause. There is no warrant for such a supposition in the 
peculiarities of the dispensations. But the apostle declares 
again and again that forgiveness was not by the type, and that 

344 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

the blood of bulls and goats could not take away sins (Heb. x. 
4) or purge the conscience (x. 2). 

The comparison instituted between the Aaronic and Christ's 
priesthood, between the animal sacrifices and the sacrifice of the 
cross, had for its object to convince those Hebrew Christians 
that the Lord Jesus accomplished all that was figured forth 
by the Jewish high priest; that the old economy was de- 
fective (Heb. viii. 8) ; and that the ancient sacrifices could 
not make the worshipper perfect as pertaining to the con- 
science. They were therefore replaced by a better. When 
the epistle was written, the sacrificial rites, the priesthood, 
and the Sinaitic economy itself waxed old, and was ready to 
vanish away (Heb. viii. 13). It was, in fact, superseded and 
abandoned ; and the Hebrew Christians were to see that they 
possessed infinitely more in Christ. No one need be surprised 
at the abrogation of the old economy, when we remember that 
it was but preparatory to the fulfilment, typical or shadowy, 
and inadequate to promote man's highest interests : it was but 
the scaffolding round the building. 

The difference between the two high priests was immense. 
In the former, or superseded economy, the high priest was but 
a sinful mortal man, who offered first for his own sins and then 
for the sins of the people ; and after accomplishing the sacrifice, 
he entered into the earthly tabernacle as a servant. In the 
former economy, too, the perpetually recurring sacrifices could 
effect no remission of sins : they brought no purification or 
pacification to the conscience ; all being external, procuring 
social advantages, but not pleasing God. The everlasting High 
Priest offered Himself for all nations ; a sacrifice that effected 
remission, that pacified the conscience, and required no repeti- 
tion. No one having once confessed the Saviour should enter- 
tain a doubt as to the privilege and duty of holding fast his 

5. Before particularly examining the several texts bearing 
on the atonement, a few remarks seem necessary on the 


peculiar nomenclature and phraseology in the epistle, borrowed 
from the Mosaic worship. The epistle, couched in the Old 
Testament style, assumes that the accomplishment of the types 
had arrived, and that the shadows had been merged in the 
reality. We have forensic terms in the Epistles to the Eomans 
and Galatians ; but in this epistle we have terms which relate 
to worship, and describe the ground of confidence before a 
holy God. The latter stands connected with the former, and 
presupposes the former. Acts of worship, or the priestly ele- 
ment, take for granted the acceptance of the person, and are 
the natural outcome of that state of acceptance before God. 
The germ of all, found in this epistle, may be traced in the 
language of the Mosaic ritual, and also in our Lord's own 
words. Thus we read of coming not to Mount Sinai, but to 
Mount Zion, with the distinctive features of the two economies 
(Heb. xii. 18-24) ; of the blood of the covenant, or, as it is also 
called, the everlasting covenant, recalling the transitory cove- 
nant which had passed away (Heb. x. 29, xiii. 20). The blood 
so often mentioned is sacrificial, as is evident to any one who 
considers the import of the expression, " The blood of sprink- 
ling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel" (Heb. xii. 
24). That sacrificial blood cries for mercy, warranting us to 
come before God's throne with confidence ; and that one pas- 
sage is singly conclusive against current theories adverse to the 
vicarious sacrifice. For if Christ died only a martyr's death, 
as Abel died under the operation of the world's wickedness 
and by the hand of violence, His blood could only cry, like 
Abel's, for vengeance ; whereas it cries with a far other voice. 
The one cried for judgment, the other cries for pardon and 
deliverance because a vicarious atonement. There are some 
terms, however, which demand more particular notice, such as 
the following: 1 — 

a. The apostle uses the words purify or purge in several 

1 The reader may here consult Zecharia's Biblical Theology, Lotze on the 
Priesthood of Jesus Christ, and Riehni's Lehrbegriff. 

346 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

passages (Heb. i. 3, ix. 14, x. 2). To apprehend their meaning, 
it must be borne in mind that they are borrowed from the Old 
Testament worship, and presuppose the relation of a sinner 
stained by defilement and excluded from fellowship, but re- 
admitted into fellowship with God and His people when de- 
livered from the stain. Thus, at the beginning of the epistle, 
we read that the Son, having by Himself purged, that is, 
having made a purification of, OUE sins, sat down on the right 
hand of God (Heb. i. 3) ; language emphatically declaring that 
the atonement was Christ's own personal act, and a completed 
act before He ascended. It is sacrificial language: it points 
out the objective effect of Christ's atonement. It cannot be 
referred to inner renewing, because, as the past participle here 
shows, it was consummated before His ascension. He did not 
merely announce the purification in word; He effected it, as 
the terms of the expression prove, by His sole activity, — that 
is, within the sphere of His own personal action. In other 
words, the apostle declares that Christ effected a purification of 
sin by Himself; or, according to Levitical nomenclature, that 
He was at once priest and victim — priest to offer the sacrifice, 
and victim to bear the sin, here considered as a defilement that 
must be purged away. 

Without entering into an elucidation of the various pas- 
sages in the epistle which mention purification, let it suffice 
to say that this term is sometimes used in a purely objective 
sense. Thus, in the Mosaic worship, the vessels of the sanc- 
tuary, and the tabernacle itself, were purified by sacrifices 
(Heb. ix. 22). In like manner, when the heavenly things 
themselves are said to have been purified by better sacrifices, 
the meaning is, that the Lord's death was a satisfaction to the 
divine justice and holiness, cancelling human sin (ver. 23). 
But there is a subjective side of this same truth : the purging 
of the conscience follows as the certain and necessary conse- 
quence of pardon by Christ's blood. It is the taking away of 
the sense of sin. But how ? The meaning is, that the con- 


science, once purged, no more feels that burdensome and 
oppressive consciousness of sin constantly carried about with 
us, till the mind apprehended the sin-bearing substitute. Not 
that the knowledge of ill-desert is taken away or forgotten, but 
the gnawing burden of uncancelled guilt ceases. This is the 
subjective side. We may say, then, that purification of sins by 
Christ's sacrifice consists objectively in the removal of accumu- 
lated guilt, and subjectively in the purging of conscience. 

b. A second term is sanctify, having the same sacrificial 
reference. We fmd it in our Lord's sayings, and in other 
books of Scripture (John xvii. 19 ; Eph. v. 26), and it is much 
allied to the term pueify ; nay, the one may be said to include 
the other. They agree in this, that sinners defiled by sin, and 
thus disqualified for fellowship with God in any act of worship, 
are restored to nearness and to the service of God as a royal 
priesthood. It is the more necessary to vindicate the sacri- 
ficial reference, or the setting apart of the redeemed as a dedi- 
cated people, because, in the ordinary use of religious terms, 
the idea of sanctification has unduly been limited to renovation 
by the Spirit. The term is borrowed from the Mosaic ritual, 
and the privilege which it indicates is based on the sacrifice of 
the cross. 

It may seem that the two terms purify and sanctify are 
simply coincident, and cover each other at all points, because 
they refer to the temple service, and are equally based on the 
blood of sacrifice. But they have their peculiar shade of 
meaning. The primary meaning of the term sanctify, is to 
set apart to God for a sacred use, to consecrate or dedicate, as 
Israel was separated from other people to serve Jehovah, and 
called holy, as they were set apart by the blood of sacrifice to 
be in covenant, a kingdom of priests ; and as such they dwelt 
apart, the Lord being in the midst of them. But other things, 
such as the altar, the temple, the feast-days, were also said to 
be sanctified, or consecrated things. In short, separation from 
the world and consecration to God, as results brought about by 

348 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

the blood of atonement, is the meaning of the word. Thus 
we understand the words, " Both He that sanctifieth, and they 
who are sanctified, are all of one" (Heb. ii. 11). There is thus 
a negative and positive idea attaching to the term. Hence it 
is wider and more comprehensive than the term pueify, which 
has more the negative signification. The sacrifice of Christ 
was the great redemption-act by which the people of God were 
at once and for ever emancipated from a life of estrangement, 
and brought into fellowship as a holy priesthood (Heb. x. 29). 
Of course, the Spikit of sanctification follows as the natural 
and necessary consequence. 

c. A third term is to make perfect, repeated in a consider- 
able number of passages (Heb. vii. 11, 19, ix. 9, x. 1, x. 14, 
xi. 40, xii. 23). This word forms a marked feature in the 
scheme of thought propounded to us in the Epistle to the 
Hebrews. This is distinctive of the epistle. If the term 
righteousness may be regarded as the distinctive feature of 
the Epistle to the Eomans, and the essential element in the 
forensic aspect of the atonement, the term making perfect 
may be taken as the equally marked feature in the priestly 
element peculiar to the Epistle to the Hebrews. The one 
epistle brings out justification, and the other our priestly 
standing and priestly service ; and the two terms above men- 
tioned are the distinctive feature of each respectively. 

Thus several passages, making special allusion to the in- 
adequacy of the Levitical priesthood and Old Testament sacri- 
fices, affirm that they did not give perfection to the worshipper 
(Heb. vii. 19, x. 1). All was unprofitable in this respect. On 
the contrary, the one sacrifice of Christ had this effect, as it 
was offered once for all, that it perfected for ever them 
that are sanctified (Heb. x. 14). What does that convey? 
It plainly carries with it a negative and positive, an objective 
and subjective idea, as to the priestly relation in which the 
worshippers of the new economy appear before God. 

The primary and proper meaning of the term is to com- 


plete a work; and the idea of perfecting a work, of course, 
varies according to the design or end of the work that has 
been undertaken. In connection with the atonement of Christ, 
it means to attain the end contemplated by the sacrifice; 
and in this peculiar application of the term to make the 
holy priesthood, the peculiar people, perfect for the purposes 
on account of which they were sanctified or set apart (Heb. 
x. 14). That was accomplished once for all by the cross (Heb. 
vii. 19, ix. 9, x. 1-4). The meaning therefore is, that Christ's 
atoning death effected what was necessary to bring us to per- 
fection, or to the goal designed for us as a royal priesthood. 
It removed guilt, and made us, as a priesthood, positively ac- 
ceptable in the sight of a holy God, who not only regards our 
persons in His Son, but considers our services, notwithstand- 
ing all our personal imperfection, as well-pleasing on His Son's 
account. The one offering of Christ puts us into perfect fel- 
lowship with God as a people near to Him. And, subjectively, 
we are made perfect as pertaining to the conscience, and begin 
on earth to serve the living God (Heb. ix. 14). 

We come now to the examination of passages which con- 
tain more particular reference to the atonement. These are 
numerous and various. 

I. One explicit passage as to the nature and necessity of 
Christ's atoning work is thus expressed : But we see Jesus, who 
was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, 
crowned with glory and honour; that He by the grace of God 
might taste death for every one [better, But Him who ivasfor a 
little while made lower than the angels, even Jesus, we see crowned 
with glory and honour on account of the suffering of death, that 
He ly the grace of God might taste death for every owe]. For it 
became Him for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, 
in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their 
salvation perfect through sufferings (Heb. ii. 9, 10). The epistle, 
in meeting the objections to a suffering Messiah, proves from 
prophecy and the divine perfections that Jesus must needs be 

350 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

made lower than the angels, and perfected through sufferings. 
The final clause, that He might taste death, may either lean 
on the statement, He was made lower than the angels, or 
depend, as we have put it, on the previous words, " on account 
of the suffering of death." If we take the latter construction, 
it will mean that the scope of Christ's sufferings was to taste 
death for every one. The final clause will thus bring out the 
fact that the sufferings of Christ were in the divine purpose 
vicarious. The following points must here be noticed : — 

1. The source of the atonement was divine grace: "that 
He by the grace of God (%«p/r/ ®&ov) might taste death." The 
meaning of this clause is, that the grace of God was the reason 
why the Lord tasted death, being the source or origin from 
which salvation emanated. It was grace to us, in whose behalf 
the ransom was provided, but penal infliction so far as Christ 
was officially concerned. This intimates that unmerited grace 
prompted God to give His Son, and to transfer guilt to Him. 
In short, whatever was vicarious was of grace in a special 
sense. A penal death was the effect of justice ; but to admit 
a Surety-substitution was of grace. 

2. The death was vicarious. The expression "to die for 
one" carries with it the notion of substitution, as has already 
been established (Bom. v. 6, 7). Though ingenious arguments 
have been used to evade this conclusion, and though the Greek 
preposition has been forced to speak in favour of the anti- 
substitution theory, all is of no avail so long as the nature of 
the transaction implies the opposite. The sufferings and death 
of the Lord are everywhere represented to us as the sufferings 
of an innocent person in the room of the guilty. To show that 
the Lord's sufferings had a near connection with the doom of 
the guilty, it is said in express terms that He died for the 
ungodly (Eom. v. 6), the just for the unjust (1 Pet. iii. 18). 
Tor whom was this vicarious death undergone ? For every 
one. "What does this imply ? The Greek expositors, for the 
most part, referred the phrase to the entire creation, — extend- 


ing the influence of Christ's death beyond the pale of humanity 
to angelic intelligences. That, however, would be otherwise 
expressed, and would scarcely be in the singular neuter, as 
this interpretation assumes. The limitation must be first to 
humanity, and next to that totality which was given to Christ, 
— the same persons who are designated "the many sons" to 
be brought to glory (ver. 10), and the all who are sanctified 
(ver. 11). This cannot be adduced in favour of the supposed 
universal atonement, as the reference in the context is most 
express to those who were actually to be saved by Christ. 1 

3. This expression, to taste death, is a style of speech 
common to all languages, and found in classical as well . as 
Hebrew writers, in the sense of undergoing the experience of 
a thing (Ps. xxxiv. 9 ; 1 Pet. ii. 3). Here the expression means 
to experience the bitter ingredients of death in their utmost 
intensity. 2 When the Lord is said to have tasted death for 
every one of the many sons whom He was bringing to glory, 
the meaning is, that He experienced what constituted eternal 

"Were there sufficient evidence to warrant the reading with- 
out God, which occurs in some of the Fathers, and is preferred 
by certain modern writers, 3 it would give the idea of death 
without God, or as forsaken by God. It has not, however, 
sufficient warrant. But separation from God in consequence 
of sin constitutes the penal element of death. The sting of 
death is sin (1 Cor. xv. 56) ; and as sin separated between man 
and God (Isa. lix. 2), death in the^proper sense of the term is 
the separation of God from the soul. And in Christ's case we 
see the expression of His feelings under penal death or deser- 
tion by God, when He complained of soul-trouble, agony, and 
exceeding sorrow. We can trace in many portions of the 

1 SeeD'Outrein on Hebrews; and Honert, de gratia universale an particulari. 

2 See Steinhofer on Hebrews. 

3 %&>pU ®ti>v is Origen's reading ; and Thomasius, Christi Person und Werlc, 
iii., looks on it with favour : so do several recent exegetes and editors. But it 
wants outward authority. 

352 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

Lord's historic life how He wrestled with the terrors and bitter- 
ness of penal death, that is, God's withdrawal from the human 
soul created for God, and incapable of finding happiness or 
rest but in Him. This is plainly perceptible in that unfathom- 
able cry, " "Why hast Thou forsaken me ?" To taste death is 
to experience the loss of God, in itself an overwhelming visita- 
tion, apart from positive outward punishment. To the Lord 
Jesus death did not come by accident or permission, or mere 
violence at the hand of man, but as the divine condemnation 
striking the Surety for human guilt. In Gethsemane, where we 
see Him tasting the second death, no human hand was near, and 
all came direct from the hand of God. But His essential filial 
relation was not dissolved, nor the Father's eternal love removed. 

4. The apostle adverts to the fact that Christ was per- 
fected through sufferings, and to the divine fitness in God's 
moral government that it should be so. We shall briefly 
notice both these points (ver. 10). 

a. As to the fact that Christ was perfected through suffer- 
ings, this is represented as the sole way of bringing many sons 
to glory. The older commentators were wont to interpret the 
verb perfected as equivalent to consecrated, and in one pas- 
sage it is so rendered in the English Bible (Heb. vii. 28). The 
inaccuracy, however, is apparent, because Christ was already 
a priest on earth when He offered Himself. The word is, in 
its primary import, to perfect, contrasting commencement 
with consummation, feebleness and maturity. All the pas- 
sages in which the term is applied to Christ, describe Him 
after His humiliation, or finished labour (Heb. ii. 10, v. 9). In 
the present passage it refers to His state of glory, but with a 
certain modification of idea. The two verses we quoted are 
so linked together, that the former (ver. 9), describing the 
Mediator as crowned with glory, is grounded by the latter 1 

1 The force of the grounding yap must by no means be omitted if we would 
correctly apprehend the connection, and yet difference, between reXs/auv and 



(ver. 10), which represents Him as perfected. What can this 
mean, but that Christ was crowned after His finished work, as 
Adam would have been on standing his probation ? It is the 
state of perfection on the ground of accepted obedience, or of 
confirmation as the Head of a new humanity, the second 
Adam; and the title Captain of salvation — that is, cause 
and primary possessor of salvation — is an additional proof 
of this. 

But how does the bringing of many sons to glory stand 
connected with this perfecting of the second Adam, the leader 
of salvation ? The many sons were in and with the Lord 
brought objectively to His perfection. The participle, as here 
used, denotes simultaneous action (ccyccycov), that the many 
sons were brought to glory in and with Him ; for as it is said 
that we sinned in Adam (Eom. v. 12), and were crucified and 
died with Christ (Eom. vi. 6), so we obtained, or won with 
Christ, all that enters into His perfection and glory. He 
objectively introduced us to glory with Himself, and Ave are 
represented as objectively sitting on the throne with Him, 
or sitting in heavenly places (Eph. i. 3, ii. 6). Though some 
regard the participial clause as portraying the Son's action, 
it is better to view it as the Father's action, in bringing many 
sons to glory along with the suffering surety. They were 
given to Him, represented by Him, and introduced at the 
same time with Him, when He reached the goal. 

b. We have also to notice the divine fitness of such a 
method of salvation («rpSTs). It might simply have been said, 
" It became God." But we have a circumlocution full of em- 
phasis, describing God's relation to the universe in terms 
which speak of Him as the ultimate end, as well as the great 
first cause of all things. Why is this introduced ? It is an 
adaptation to the Hebrew Christians, embarrassed by the 
taunts of unbelieving Jews, pointing with scorn to the igno- 
minious execution of Jesus as incompatible with His Messiah- 
ship, according to the glowing terms of prophecy. Prophecy 

354 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

is quoted to establish the fact of His abasement lower than the 
angels. Next, this humiliation is represented as worthy of 
God, and as becoming God. That divine fitness is based on 
God's moral perfections, authority, and law ; and this em- 
phatically shows that there is no salvation without atone- 
ment, and that the expiation does not rest on God's absolute 
dominion or arbitrary good-pleasure. On the one hand, it 
would not have been becoming to abase His Son as a surety 
in our place, and to subject Him to ignominious treatment by 
men, and to the endurance of the second death at the hand of 
God, had salvation been possible in the exercise of absolute 
dominion or by absolute forgiveness. But it became God to 
act thus, since there was no salvation without atonement. As 
it was necessary to vindicate justice and maintain law, to 
punish sin, and assert the inalienable rights of God, it became 
God, or was worthy of God, to perfect the Lord by suffering ; 
for He acts according to His attributes, which, indeed, could 
not be contravened, obscured, or ignored, without denying 
Himself. . 

II. The death of Christ is described as liberating us from 
the power of Satan and the fear of death : Forasmuch then as 
the children are partakers of flesh and Mood, He also Himself 
likewise [or, equally] took part of the same ; that through death 
He might destroy [better, bring to nought] him that had the 
power of death, that is, the devil ; and deliver them who through 
fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage (Heb. ii. 
14, 15). This passage shows that the scope of the incarnation 
and atonement was to deliver the children from the power of 
Satan and the fear of death. A few points here demand con- 

1. When Christ is said to have become partaker of our 
nature, the expression carries with it the idea that He assumed 
humanity, with feelings, affections, and mental constitution 
every way the same as ours; without sin, indeed, — for that 
was no part of human nature in its normal state, — but in 


nothing differing from the likeness of the flesh of sin so far 
as this approximation to us was consistent with sinlessness. 
Though not in Adam's covenant, nor personally subject to its 
responsibilities apart from His spontaneous undertaking, there 
was a divine fitness, or necessity, in putting on humanity like 
ours, — a humanity not mortal by the necessity of its being, but 
mortal 1 because of the free assumption of our guilt and obli- 
gations. He must have a suffering mortal nature for His 
official task. The language not obscurely shows that He 
possessed another mode of existence. Not to recall the proof 
furnished by the previous context, and by the title Son (Heb. 
i. 1-8), the fact that He took our flesh and blood implies His 
possession of a higher nature. A person is introduced mightier 
than the adversary who already overcame the human race and 
held them captive ; for no mortal could vanquish one armed 
with the sting of death and the curse of the law. 

The passage reminds us of the first promise (Gen. iii. 15). 
Nay, there seems to be an express parallel : the terms of the 
one seem to be a paraphrase or exposition of the other. The 
object in both is Satan, who by sin acquired the power of in- 
flicting death on soul and body. The seed of the woman was 
mentioned in the one ; the participator of flesh and blood is 
mentioned in the other. In the one, allusion is made to the 
head of the serpent ; and in the other, to the devil as having 
the power of death. The first promise represents the Lord as 
bruising the serpent; the text before us represents Christ as 
destroying Satan, or bringing him to nought. 2 The one text is 
thus a paraphrase of the other, substituting the language of ful- 
filment for that of prediction. 

2. The meritorious cause of victory, or the weapon used 
by Christ, was His vicarious death. The apostle does not use 
the expression His death ; but from this no argument can be 

1 This is the sense of fanrls, as Athanasins and other fathers used it in refer- 
ence to Christ : and Pearson also. 

2 See the older commentaries on the passage : Steinhofer on Hebrews; Ram- 
Dach's, D'Outrein, etc. 

356 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

drawn against His substitution. The pronoun was not re- 
quired, as the apostle's object was to show that Christ over- 
threw the adversary by turning his weapons against himself, 
defeating him by that death which was the sphere and element 
of his power. How Christ's death was the means of victory 
is not formally expressed, but it can be gathered from other 
parts of the epistle. Two modes of explanation have been 
propounded, — that by the modern theology, a highly objec- 
tionable one, and that given with a general consent in the 

a. The explanation given by the modern theology is, that 
the death of Christ was the termination of that portion of His 
life subject to Satan's power, and was succeeded by an indis- 
soluble life (Heb. vii. 1 G). The theory is, that Christ, the ap- 
pointed source of spiritual life to the human race, sustained the 
utmost enmity of Satan in His death, which, however, formed 
but the transition to a higher life, the commencement of a new 
life to mankind. To this comment the obvious objection is 
that it contradicts the text. It ascribes the victory not to the 
atoning death, but to the resurrection-life of Christ. It does no 
justice to the words through death. 

b. The other comment, currently adopted in the Church 
of all times, is, that Christ through death — that is, through 
death as the expiation of sin — annulled Satan's power. The 
dominion of Satan owed its origin to sin, because offended 
justice adjudged the guilty to a captivity of which Satan was 
but the subordinate executioner or gaoler. In like manner, 
Satan's dominion was overthrown by the expiation of the 
cross, because the satisfaction of justice and the vindication 
of the divine rights effected man's deliverance, and made those 
who were slaves of Satan the property of a new master. 

3. Next we notice the twofold end contemplated by the 
Lord's death, as brought out in the two final clauses, — the 
annulling of Satan's power, and the deliverance of believers 
from the fear of death. 


(1) As to the annulling of Satan's power, this is in plain 
terms announced as the scope of Christ's death, for the cross 
decided the great question who should be the world's Lord. 
The final adjudication was then given ; the judicial process as 
to the proprietory right was conclusively determined (John 
xii. 31 ; Col. ii. 15). The word rendered destroy (zarapyzTv) , 
which occurs twenty-five times in Paul's epistles, meaning to 
annul or to make void, intimates that Satan was denuded of 
his authority, not destroyed as to his being. Not without 
reason did Christ suffer death, since the victory to be achieved 
could not be won by mere power. But the cpiestion is raised, 
How had Satan the power of death ? Not in the sense that 
he tempted men to sin, which was followed by death as its 
wages ; not in the sense that Satan is the immediate execu- 
tioner of death, inflicting it as it is a physical evil by his 
hand ; for though this is a received Jewish doctrine, it is 
nowhere affirmed by our Lord or His apostles. 1 The devil is 
said to have had the power of death, as he wielded it to men's 
eternal ruin, and thus obtained entire possession of them. To 
fall under the power of death was to fall under the power of 
Satan, which extends to all who live without Christ, and die in 
sin. By death he gets them into his possession ; and the an- 
nulling of Satan's power by means of death consisted especially 
in this, that such a power was taken away, death being no more 
at the devil's service, nor a weapon at his command against any 
for whom Christ died. 

(2) A further deliverance naturally flowing from the death 
of Christ, and secured by it, is, that Christians are delivered 
from the fear of death. The apostle treats of the fear of death 
connected with an evil conscience, or that sense of the wrath of 
God from which Christians were delivered by the satisfaction 
of Christ ; and it shows how miserable is life when the sting is 
not taken out of death by the blood of atonement. 

This enables us to rebut the comment of the Cocceian 
1 See Riehm's Lehrbegrif, Tholuck and Delitzsch on Hebrews. 

358 apostles' sayings ox the atonement. 

school, and for two centuries repeated in many quarters, that 
this language, describing bondage and the fear of death, is 
properly applicable to Jewish believers living under the Mosaic 
covenant. The words of the apostle, however, have their true 
significance when understood in general of liberation from the 
fear of penal death ; and there is no warrant for limiting the 
terms to Israelites, as they are spoken generally, nor to tem- 
poral death, as they naturally comprehend whatever is included 
in the primeval curse on sin. It is a one-sided theory which 
refers the language to believers under the Old Testament; 1 for 
though they had not the same clear views which the Christian 
economy discloses, we cannot warrantably represent them as 
oppressed by the fear of death, as if still unforgiven and under 
the curse. The apostle, speaking generally, first of a condition 
without Christ, and then of a condition in Christ, affirms that 
through His death is removed whatever is formidable in death. 
The fear which arose from an accusing conscience was removed 
by the Lord's death. 

III. Another passage in the same context thus introduces 
us to the priesthood of Christ : Wherefore in all things it behoved 
Him to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a 
merciful and faithful. High Priest in things pertaining to God, 
to make reconciliation for [better, to atone for, or to make propi- 
tiation for~] the sins of the people (Heb. ii. 17). The principal 
object of the epistle is to enforce the priesthood of Christ, and 
this is the first announcement of it. We may take up this 
testimony in these few points. 

1. It behoved Him to be made like His brethren in order 
to atone for sin. The terms of the passage are so constructed 
as to show beyond dispute that the atonement was the ulterior 
object for which Christ was prepared by this previous discipline. 
The priestly sentiment which prompted the atonement was 
nourished by all the objective elements of His call and unction, 

1 See a full refutation of the Cocceian theory by Leidekker in his Vis Veri- 
tails, and Witsius' De Fcedere. 


and also subjectively developed by the sympathy imbibed 
through life from the personal experience of living amid the 
sufferings and temptations of the human family subjected to 
the captivity of sin and Satan. He entered into this state of 
things, holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners, but 
so surrounded by the atmosphere of darkness and defilement, 
trial and temptations, that the true priestly disposition — com- 
passion and the purpose to deliver mankind — was fostered at 
every step. That undoubtedly is the thought. It refers to 
what went before the atonement, and spurred Him to com- 
plete it. As He learned obedience by suffering (Heb. v. 8), so 
He learned priestly sympathy ; fitted for the priestly action by 
having an identity of nature and temptation, sorrow and trial. 
The mercy and faithfulness thus acquired are everlastingly 
retained on high, but they are here mentioned in their origin 
as preparatory to the sacrifice which pacified God. 

2. Christ was a priest on earth making atonement. The 
strictly grammatical force of the terms intimates 1 that He was 
a priest to atone for sins, or to propitiate God for sins. The 
apostle does not speak of what was done after the ascension, 
but of what was done during the entire period of His earthly 
life ; and the import of the words allows no other interpreta- 
tion. ~No one without a foregone conclusion could deduce from 
this, as the Socinians and others following them have done, 
that the priesthood of Christ commenced only after the ascen- 
sion. While they argue that Christ suffered and died that He 
might be made a priest, who that reads with any attention 
does not see that the apostle affirms a different thing ? It is 

1 The priest ih to Ixarxitriai. See some excellent comments of Streso, in his 
Latin condones on Hebrews, on the preparation of Christ as the priest. Modern 
commentators for the most part surrender this text to those who, in a semi-socini- 
anizing way, transfer Christ's priesthood to heaven, and they are swayed by 
the words iXtripav and -r'ta-Ta;. But these predicates belonged to Him on earth as 
well as in heaven ; and the i!s ** lXuo-x.itr$ai puts it beyond doubt that He was a 
priest in atoning. Neither Turretin nor Quenstedt have done full justice to this 
emphatic phrase, ap^npiv; . . . ils ™ ixuo-xarfai, which is to my mind one of the 
most conclusive proofs of Christ being a priest in His death. 

3G0 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

not said that He was made like His brethren that He might 
be made a priest, but that He might be a merciful and faithful 1 
High Priest; for the experience of our sorrows, temptations, 
and sufferings formed Him to sympathy, and prompted Him 
to pursue His atoning work. The entire language of the New 
Testament writers proceeds on the supposition that Christ 
acted on earth as a priest. Thus He gave Himself a ransom 
(Matt. xx. 28). He gave Himself for us an offering and a 
sacrifice (Eph. v. 2). The death of Christ is represented as the 
passover sacrifice for us (1 Cor. v. 7). The purification of our 
sins was effected by sacrifice, as a past act before He ascended 
(Heb. i. 3). That Christ acted as a priest during His earthly 
career, and that He once for all consummated the sacrifice on 
the cross, because it required no addition or supplement, is, 
as we shall see, repeatedly affirmed in this epistle. 

The confusion in the mind of those who call this in ques- 
tion may be traced to the way in which they interpret the 
types on the great day of atonement, and especially the import 
of carrying the blood into the holy of holies, as already ex- 
plained. We only add here, that the action in the holy of 
holies depended for its efficacy not on the bare fact of the 
priest appearing before God, but on his presenting the blood 
of sacrifice offered for the sins of the people. Some colour 
might have existed for the theory of a priesthood begun in 
heaven, and a sacrifice in heaven, had the priest been directed 
merely to present himself in the holiest of all without any 
further provision for expiating sin ; but we have only to 
recall the action of the Jewish high priest at the door of the 
tabernacle of the congregation (Lev. xvi. 7), to see evidence 
that the blood of sacrifice was indispensably necessary to the 
validity of the priestly action within the vail ; that he could 
not have entered without it ; and that it was presupposed in 
all that was subsequently done. 

1 The old anti-Socinian champions, Calovius, Arnold, Maresius, Hoornbeek, 
(Eder, correctly lay the emphasis here. 


3. The apostle mentions the people : who were they ? 
Since the language of the epistle partakes of a Jewish tincture, 
and the parties to whom it was addressed were Christian Jews, 
are we to hold that those objects of the propitiation designated 
" the people " were men of Jewish descent ? By no means. 
The phraseology is varied, but they are the same persons who 
are called in the context many sons (ver. 10), the seed of 
Abraham (ver. 16), His brethren (ver. 17). By far the most 
natural and appropriate exposition is that which regards them 
as those who form the one family of God, irrespective of 
Jewish or Gentile descent. They are such as have the faith 
of Abraham without reference to nationality. 

4. The last point to be noticed is, that the Lord Jesus, in 
His capacity as our High Priest, propitiated God, or atoned 
for sin. He was the priest of His own sacrifice. The proper 
import of the term here rendered, to make reconciliation, is 
to propitiate, to pacify an offended party, or to turn away 
wrath. This is the uniform use of the term in all the Greek 
poets, historians, and writers generally ; and no classical scholar 
will doubt this. The Greek verb is construed with the accusa- 
tive of the person whose anger is turned away, and it may 
appear anomalous that no person is here named whose wrath 
is pacified. The phrase " to propitiate sin" would be uncouth 
and devoid of meaning. The mode of resolving the phrase 
adopted by all the most eminent philologists who acknowledge 
the laws of language and the authority of usage is, that the 
expression must be used as meaning thai Christ propitiated 
God for our sins. 1 This makes all plain ; and it is according 
to the fixed meaning of the term. The Septuagint translators 

1 The best philological commentators — Grotius, Meyer, Kurtz (so too Philippi 
and Weber) — construe the phrase with a 0eov understood : \'.a6a> (0s«v). Then 
the to.; auapria; is either construed with a supplied *ip), or made the object clause : 
" as to sin." Some have proposed that l\cc<rxi<r$a.i should govern x^aprlsts, but 
it is absurd. Delitzsch, after Hofmann, makes this attempt, and brings in an 
argument from another language ; but Philippi's answer to Delitzsch is conclu- 
sive : Kirchliche Glaubenslehre, iv. pp. 267-278. 

362 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

adapted the term to revealed ideas, but could not change its 

This leads me to notice a theory propounded by certain 
modern writers, to the effect that the Septuagint impressed a 
new meaning upon the word, and that from this source it 
passed over into the New Testament phraseology with an 
altered acceptation. We must deny both positions. The 
Alexandrine translators found terms ready to their hand, 
fixed and settled in their import, and they could not at dis- 
cretion alter them if they wished to be intelligible. That they 
used the word under consideration in the sense of propitiating 
or appeasing an angry party, is evident from their translation 
of the passage where Jacob is said to have appeased Esau 
(Gen. xxxii. 20), and from the text where a wise man is said 
to pacify the king's wrath (Prov. xvi. 14). The term did not 
pass into the Septuagint with an altered meaning ; and hence 
we dismiss as groundless the double theory, that the word 
does not occur in the New Testament in its proper Greek 
significance, and that the apostles needed no classical Greek 
vocabulary, as suitable words for the ideas which they de- 
veloped from the Old Testament were already fixed by the 
peculiar style of the Septuagint. The Septuagint did much 
to fix the usage for the Greek-speaking Jews, but not to alter 
the meaning of Greek terms, which would have defeated the 
end of translation altogether. Hence they who would make 
this phrase mean no more than " to cover sin," and allege that 
it is a Hebrew thought expressed in Greek, are liable to the 
charge of altering the meaning of terms, or of bringing the 
primary or etymological meaning of a word in one language to 
control the fixed usage of another without either warrant or 
probability. That is all the more hazardous when carried out, 
as is generally done in this case, under the spell of a dogmatic 
bias, — that is, to lend countenance to the theory that the Scrip- 
tures do not predicate wrath of God. 

The phrase should have been rendered here, to atone for, 


or to make propitiation for sins. And the noun, used 
several times by John, strictly rendered, denotes "propitia- 
tion" (1 John ii. 2, iv. 10). The expression here used brings 
before us the idea of the great High Priest and the sacrifice, — 
that is, the reality of that sacrifice which was offered for the 
Jewish people on the great day of atonement presupposing 
divine anger on account of the sins of the people, and inti- 
mating that our High Priest, by the intervention of His sacri- 
fice, pacified the wrath of God. The propitiation presupposes 
wrath, and would not have been propitiation without it; it 
would have been but semblance or appearance. Not that 
mankind, as God's workmanship, ceased to be the object of 
divine benevolence and affection ; but the Scriptures abound 
in proofs of a wrath of God, by which He not only stood aloof 
from sin, but was prompted by His holy nature to act against 
it, till a change was effected in our relation toward God, and in 
God's relation toward us, by the great historic fact of atonement. 
The propitiation came in between human sin and divine wrath, 
appeasing that wrath, and winning for us the favour of God. 

It may be noticed that the term here used in the original 
is different from the word elsewhere used by the Apostle Paul 
for reconcile 1 (Eom. v. 10; 2 Cor. v. 18). The difference be- 
tween the two may be described as follows : — The term com- 
monly used for reconcile has no reference to the old law, or 
to the priestly institute ; it is taken from ordinary life, pre- 
supposing the existence of a quarrel or controversy, and inti- 
mating that friendship has been restored by putting the cause 
of quarrel out of the way. The Bible term intimates that 
those hindrances were removed which had obstructed friendly 
union between God and man; but there is no allusion to 
sacrifice as the means by which the reunion was effected. On 
the other hand, the term propitiate here used puts the new 

1 K«T«iXaWei» and \\u.<TKis6a.i must be distinguished : the former is used of 
the Father, the latter of Christ. See Moms' remarks ; also Lotze, Muntinghe, 

364 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

relation cemented in direct cansal connection with the priest- 
hood and sacrifice. It is never applied to God as the acting 
party, bnt to Christ in His high-priestly function. Though 
God is commonly described as the Reconciler, — that is, as the 
author of the remedial economy or scheme of reconciliation 
(2 Cor. v. 18), — He is never said to propitiate, for the obvious 
reason that that would imply a third party. God Himself was 
the party whose anger was to be averted, and whose favourable 
regard was to be restored by the intervention of the priestly 
sacrifice. The difference between the two modes of expression, 
which at first sight seem to have much in common, mainly 
consists in this, that propitiation was the work of a priest 
coming in between man and God ; whereas the act of re- 
conciliation, as affirmed of God, is the more general term, 
setting forth that God not only was the source of the restored 
friendship, but also planned and carried into execution the 
propitiation, or great intermediate provision by which the 
reconciliation was effected. 

"When we sum up the force of this memorable testimony, 
it affirms that Christ made a propitiation for the sins of the 
people, or, as it is also put, His people (Matt. i. 21), not by 
delivering them from intellectual error, not by merely con- 
verting them from evil ways for the future, but by a fact in 
history once for all, having a potentiality for all time. His 
work effected much more than the abolition of the typical 
economy, or the introduction of a new economy of truth con- 
firmed by His death. As the Jewish high priest brought the 
atonement for the people of the old economy once every year, 
so Christ, once for all, satisfied divine justice, and removed the 
penalty of sin by His historic oblation at Jerusalem as Priest 
and Sacrifice in one person. The term propitiate means to 
appease God, or to avert His wrath by sacrifice ; and the pas- 
sage is not to be interpreted of intercession in heaven, though 
that follows and leans on the sacrifice, but of the one propitia- 
tion or atonement of the cross. 


IV. Another passage bearing on the High Priest's suffering 
obedience is in these terms : Who in the days of His flesh, when 
He had offered up [better, taking in the last words of the verse, 
when He had from godly fear offered up~\ prayers and suppli- 
cations, with strong crying and tears, unto Him that was able to 
save Him from death, and was heard (in that He feared), though 
He were a Son [better, though He was the Son], yet learned He 
obedience by the things which He suffered ; and being made per- 
fect, He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them 
that obey Him (Heb. v. 7-9). In the context we have several 
points of comparison between Christ and the Aaronic priest- 
hood : His divine call to the priesthood ; His sympathy learned 
in a career of trial. A divine commission was so necessary for 
one who should act between God and man, that apart from 
other questions bearing on His ability for the task, the sove- 
reign rights of God stood in the way of any one taking the 
office uncalled. The salient points of the passage are these : 

1. The days of His flesh mean the whole time of His 
humiliation, — that period when He came among men as one 
of them, but still the Son of God, whose majesty was hid. As 
applied to Christ, the term flesh intimates that He put on a 
true humanity, but a humanity under the weight of imputed 
guilt, with the curse that followed in its train, — a sinless, but 
sin-bearing humanity. It has everything in common with 
the Lord's own expression, "The Son of Man" (compare Pom. 
viii. 3, 1 Pet. iii. 18). The Lord felt the weakness of the flesh 
in His whole vicarious work, and though personally spotless, 
was, in virtue of taking our place, subjected to all that we 
are heir to. We do not, indeed, find in Him the personal 
consequences of sin, such as sickness and disease, but the 
consequences which could competently fall to the sinless sub- 
stitute ; for He never was in Adam's covenant, but was Himself 
the second Adam. As He took flesh for an official purpose, 
He submitted to the consequences following in the train of 
sin-bearing — hunger and thirst, toil and fatigue in the sweat of 

366 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

His brow, fear and sorrow, persecution and injustice, arrest and 
suffering, wounds and death : this period is called " the days 
of His flesh." 

2. We must examine the phrase "in that He feared." 
Two modes of interpretation have divided commentators : the 
one rendering the term fear of consternation ; the other render- 
ing it the fear of reverence, " piety," or " godliness." 

a. The first interpretation, which renders it the fear of con- 
sternation, or amazement, became current in the Eeformed 
Church under the influence of Calvin, who adduced it as a 
proof of the doctrine that Christ endured in His soul the wrath 
of God for our soul's redemption. The Romanists, who limited 
Christ's sufferings to corporeal pains, exclaimed against this ex- 
position as subversive of His deity, and called it blasphemous. 1 
Beza, in an important note, replete with erudition and sound 
doctrine, on the great truth impugned, endeavours to prove 
that the term means fear in the sense of dread, adducing pas- 
sages from the classics and the New Testament (Acts xxiii. 
16). He declares that he will be hard to persuade that the 
Greek preposition allows the rendering "was heard for His 
reverence," as in the Vulgate. Bellarmine, while discussing 
the doctrinal question of Christ's soul-agony, renewed the 
grammatical as well as doctrinal objections against that ex- 
position; and he was answered by Junius, Ames, Turretin, 2 
and others. On account of the important doctrine which was 
raised, this interpretation came to prevail among Eeformed 
divines. The peculiar and anomalous expression, " was heard 
from fear," as it literally means, was construed to signify the 
terminus from which He was rescued. And they were wont 
to defend this exposition by an appeal to the words of the 
psalm : " Thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns," 
— that is, hast heard and delivered me (Ps. xxii. 21). But that 

1 See an interesting statement of opinions on ano Tns tvkufitias in Fulke's 
Defence of the English Translations of the Bible, p. 322. 

2 F. Junius, A nimadvers. in Bellarm. vol. ii. p. 585. Ames' Bellarm. Ener- 
vatus, torn i. p. 100. Turretin, De Satisfactione, p. 153. 


is artificial, and a supplement put in by the interpreters. The 
passages, indeed, by which they proved that the term denotes 
consternation and amazement, only show that it was used for 
the cautious avoidance of evil, physical or religious, — a sense 
that naturally passes into that of reverence. 

b. The other interpretation, viz. the fear of reverence, is 
every way preferable. As the noun elsewhere means godly 
fear (Heb. xii. 28), and as the adjective is commonly used for 
devout (Luke ii. 25 ; Acts ii. 5, viii. 2), usage, as well as ety- 
mology, is certainly in its favour. Besides, the general consent 
of patristic expositors and the best modern exegetes may be 
mentioned as all in the same direction. There is one point 
urged by Beza and Turretin which has not been satisfactorily 
obviated, — viz., that the Greek preposition here used does not 
commonly mean " by reason of," and that where it is so used, 
as it is in several passages (Matt. xiii. 44; Luke xxi. 26, xxiv. 
41; Acts xii. 14; John xxi. 6), it denotes the inner influence 
or motive by which an agent is actuated. So much does this 
seem to have weighed with Chrysostom, with his delicate 
appreciation of the Greek language, that while retaining the 
sense for which we contend, he strangely ascribed the reverence 
to the Father. The whole difficulty, however, on this score 
vanishes, when, as I have proposed, we construe the godly 
fear with both the preceding participles ; for it then means 
that He poured out prayers in godly fear and was heard : 
" having from godly fear offered up prayers and supplications, 
and being heard." 

3. The offering up of agonizing prayers is next mentioned. 
Here we notice at the outset the peculiar expression offering 
up prayers, which a century ago was commonly expomided as 
a sacrificial term, and as meaning that the Lord's priestly 
prayers in some peculiar sense belonged to His sacrifice. 1 
But prayers are not the satisfaction : the sacrifice was Him- 

1 So D'Outrein, Rambach, and many of the okler commentators, without 
cause, expound •x(otriiiy>ia.$. 

368 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

self; and we have never been able to see any force in this 
exposition, whether the idea is taken singly or conjoined. Be- 
sides, to offer prayer was a familiar Jewish phrase. We dis- 
miss this comment as a groundless piece of overdoing. 

These prayers, accompanied with strong crying and tears, 
to Him who was able to save Him from death, imply the 
endurance of penal death. Did He fear the mere corporeal 
suffering which many a martyr has met with fortitude ? Sin- 
less nature no doubt shrinks from death, but it was something 
of a far other cpaality which gave rise to the agony and amaze- 
ment which weighed so heavily on the Son of God, — viz., the 
second death, the full infliction of wrath at the hand of God 
for the sins, not of one man, but of the whole company of the 
elect. The curse of the law under which He spontaneously 
placed Himself struck the soul as well as the body (Gal. iii. 
13). More was comprehended than bodily pain, as might be 
argued from the horror and recoil of the Eedeemer from the cup 
which was to be drunk. Besides, corporeal sufferings would 
not have sufficed for men's redemption, for He redeemed the 
soul as well as the body (1 Cor. vi. 20) : He assumed both soul 
and body ; and He offered both in our room, as was necessary 
to expiate guilt incurred in both and by both. As the sin was 
principally committed by the soul, and the body was used as 
but its instrument, it will not suffice to say that the suffering 
was in the soul merely by sympathy : the converse was rather 

Hence, while the Lord Jesus continued amid all His agony 
the object of divine love as the only-begotten of the Father, 
He endured all the curse, wrath, and infliction justly to be 
awarded to the sin He bore on His own body. Had He not 
experienced that God was angry, not indeed at Himself, but 
at our sins, He could not have been a deliverer ; for there was 
no relaxation of the law, nor could be ; nor was there any re- 
laxation of the penalty. The agony of Christ read of from His 
human life in many scenes before He reached Gethsemane 


and the cross, consisted primarily in the loss of God, — a priva- 
tion which removed from Him the vision of God and the sense 
of His presence : the subject of suffering was the entire human 
nature of the Lord. Not that He ceased to be the beloved 
Son, and actually loved. Not that the Lord, in His own con- 
sciousness, ceased to draw the distinction between His personal 
and official relation to His Father; for His whole language 
virtually avows His innocence and Sonship, and proceeds upon 
the plea that the Father would either remove the cup or up- 
hold Him : there was no despair and no distrust for an instant. 
But though His trust was never for a moment interrupted, nor 
succeeded by despair, He was wholly without that sensible 
enjoyment which commonly flows from trust, and was sub- 
jected to an overwhelming pressure of heaviness and sorrow, 
caused by the divine anger at sin, which the Surety must 
necessarily undergo. Though the Surety was in Himself the 
beloved Son, He was, as the sin-bearer, under the hiding of 
His Father's face when He poured out these prayers with 
strong crying and tears. 

And the apostle adds, He was heard. But the inquiry 
arises, How ? When ? Did He not undergo death ? How was 
He heard, when He appealed to Him who was able to save Him 
from death, and yet was given up to death ? The solution 
is easy. Whatever the Lord absolutely and unconditionally 
asked, was absolutely and unconditionally granted. But what 
He conditionally asked — that is, asked from natural affection, 
or from a sensitive recoil from what seemed to His human 
feelings overwhelming and intolerable, and rather a wish than 
a definite volition — was answered in the way most necessary in 
the circumstances. We are warranted to say, when we com- 
pare this passage with the scene of the soul-trouble and Geth- 
semane, that God heard Him, either by mitigating the terror, 
or by nerving Him to bear it, or by strengthening Him by 
means of the angel. His fear was lest He should sink and 
be swallowed up of death, and He was heard and rescued. 

2 A 

370 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

4. The next statement requiring notice is, that Christ, 
notwithstanding His Sonship, learned obedience by suffering. 
The clause is properly participial, and literally rendered, 
though being the Son : x it takes for granted the divine Son- 
ship as anterior to His obedience, and not the fruit of His 
obedience. The language would otherwise be unmeaning ; for 
it assumes that He who personally was above all obedience, 
was put in the position of learning obedience. This shows 
what was required to the right discharge of that active and 
suffering obedience which must needs be vicariously rendered 
to fulfil the task of Suretyship, and the greatness of Christ's 
redeeming love in obliging Himself to render obedience in the 
midst of such suffering. The following elements constituted 
that obedience : — 

It was developed from a sinless nature, beginning with His 
birth and pervading His life, till He bowed His head upon the 
cross. Though taking flesh from Adam, His humanity was, 
by the overshadowing power of the Holy Ghost, generated 
pure in the act of personal union to the only begotten Son, 
and never existed apart. He was sinless in His nature, and 
in His history ; holy for the unholy, pure to occupy the place 
of the impure ; the realization of the divine law at every mo- 
ment, and in every scene ; the ideal of the law. When He 
learned obedience by suffering, the meaning is, that the obe- 
dience grew in extent, intensity, and force, by the pressure put 
upon it: the hotter the conflict, the more did inward sub- 
mission unfold itself. Not that this argues previous defect, 
for in sinless creaturehood there is progress. Even in that 
which claims to be perfect there are degrees of advancement ; 
and in Christ's case the obedience, always perfect, was not at 
first in its full development. We see in all living things 
growth, progress to maturity. In Gethsemane, and in His 
soul-desertion, His will was never turned aside from the 

1 xai-rtp av u'i'o;. See a good discussion on the proper force of this expres- 
sion, in De Moor's Comment, perpet. i. p. 750. 


straight path of prompt obedience even by superhuman trials, 
but held on its course, still learning obedience. Not suffering 
alone, but obedience in suffering the most overwhelming and 
unparalleled, constituted the second Adam's task. 

5. The reward follows : " Being made perfect, He became 
the author of eternal salvation." The import of perfecting, as 
applied to Christ in this epistle, has already been explained 
(Heb. ii. 10). But we must rescue the expression from the 
superficial gloss that makes it exaltation as contrasted with 
humiliation. The seeming antithesis between the days of His 
flesh and this ulterior stage, may seem at first sight to give 
countenance to that idea ; but there is something deeper in the 
connection, — viz. the link between learning obedience in the 
days of His flesh, and being perfected as the second man for 
the purposes of the mediatorial economy. The language takes 
for granted a period of probation assigned to the second Adam, 
followed by a state of confirmation, or state of mediatorial 
fitness for securing the final welfare of His people : it is the 
reward of an approved obedience. This is the deeper connec- 
tion and the true meaning, as is evident from the fact that the 
perfecting stands related to His being the author of eternal 
salvation, the same link that we noticed above 1 (Heb. ii. 10). 
He was officially perfected for all the ends of His mediatorial 
undertaking. A further proof may be adduced. It was 
through this perfecting of the Surety that we are said to be 
perfected; that is, we are partakers of Him and one with 
Him in His approved obedience and accepted sacrifice (Heb. 
x. 14). 

Thus perfected, Christ became the author of eternal sal- 
vation. The humiliation ended with the weakness, tempta- 
tion, suffering, and death peculiar to the days of His flesh. 
The Representative, acting in the name of a chosen people, 

1 I may refer to Rielim's Lehrberjrlff, and Van den Ham's Dissertatlo Tlieo- 
logica, 1847 ; also to Moras' remarks on the passage. The reference, however, 
to the Mediator as second Adam must he added to give completeness to the view. 

372 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

not only reached the goal, but became the author of eternal 
salvation. This passage has almost everything in common 
with the passage already noticed (Heb. ii. 10): it well-nigh 
repeats it. The chief difference is, that in the former passage 
He is called the captain or leader of salvation, the first in the 
order of possession ; whereas in this passage He is called the 
meritorious cause, the author of salvation. It remains only to 
notice that the salvation is limited to a particular class who 
bear the designation of those who obey Christ. This may 
primarily refer to the obedience of faith, — that is, to the obe- 
dience which is apparent in the very act of believing (Eom. 
i. 5), but also takes in the obedience of life. 

V. The next passage is specially important, as showing that 
the Lord Jesus on earth was at once priest and sacrifice : Such 
an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless [better, such a 
high priest befitted us, — one holy, innocent], undefilecl, separate 
from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; who necdeth 
not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for His 
own sins, and then for the people's : for this He did once, when 
He offered up Himself (Heb. vii. 26, 27). Melchizedek's priest- 
hood, according to the outline in Genesis, is represented in this 
chapter as typical ; next, a passage in the Psalms, written long 
after the institution of the Aaronic priesthood, promised a 
priest of another order (Ps. ex. 4) ; and the apostle argues 
that perfection could not be by the law, because the replacing 
of its priesthood was a plain proof of imperfection. The irre- 
vocable oath was also a proof of a better covenant (Heb. vii. 
20-22). Christ's priesthood was everlasting and unchange- 
able, while the other constantly passed from one dying man to 
another (ver. 24). 

The words have the same meaning as the previous passage, 
which set forth the necessity of the atonement on the ground 
of justice (Heb. ii. 10). The expression such (roiovrog) an 
high priest is referred by some to what precedes (vers. 
1-25) ; but far more naturally it refers, as Ave have rendered 


it, to the following clause, " one holy, harmless, undefiled, and 
separate from sinners," — the same expression that we have 
below (Heb. viii. 1). The various predicates of the Kgh 
priest, immediately subjoined, are by no means to *be inter- 
preted as properties that belonged to Him exclusively after 
His ascension. The first four are descriptive of what He was 
on earth, when brought into contact, during the discharge of 
His office, with sin and sinners ; and only because all this 
belonged to Him on earth, does He continue to be all this in 
heaven. When taken together, they affirm moral perfection in 
all its parts and degrees, describing it negatively as well as 
positively. 1 The epithet holy might seem at first sight to 
intimate the consecration by which He was set apart to God ; 
and the suggestion has been made, May it not recall the title 
" Holiness to the Lord" on the mitre of the Aaronic high 
priest ? But an examination of the Greek word here used at 
once satisfies us that not the holiness of dedication is inti- 
mated, but the holiness of inward conformity to the divine 
will — of moral and religious conduct. The second epithet, 
harmless, or innocent, was understood by the translators of 
the English version, as it is by many modern expositors, as 
intimating that He was, in His intercourse among men, free 
from evil, malice, or injury. But according to its etymology 
it has a more extensive meaning : it means a nature free from 
every taint of evil or original sin. The third epithet, unde- 
filed, signifies that He contracted no defilement amid temp- 
tations which solicited Him on every side, and that, while 
always in contact with sin, He continued sinless, for the infec- 
tion never spread to Him. The fourth epithet, or descriptive 
predicate, separate from sinners, means that He was the true 
Nazarite: His soul was as a star, and dwelt apart. Several 
modern interpreters, following in the wake of the old Socinians, 
who interpreted these predicates of Christ in heaven, suppose 
that it means separated from sinners by His exaltation,— that 

374 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

is, by local distance ; a low and one-sided view. The expres- 
sion means that Christ, while living among sinners, and sup- 
posed to be of the common order of men, was infinitely apart 
from them in nature and character, in thought and deed, in 
words and principles, in motive and conduct. He was among 
them, not of them ; nay, in a moral respect, infinitely separate. 
The fifth predicate, made higher than the heavens, un- 
doubtedly differs from the previous four in this, that it refers 
to His exaltation. The design is to show that our great High 
Priest must needs be made higher than the heavens, infinitely 
exalted above all, in order to bestow as well as win salvation. 
But no one, with any colour of reason, can allege that He was 
then only made a priest, or that He then only performed the 
principal part of the priestly function — the offering of sacrifice. 
The previous predicates of the high priest, as well as the sub- 
sequent verse, indisputably prove that He was acting as a 
priest on earth. And the design of the apostle in naming 
these predicates of our High Priest, was to prove that He was 
infinitely pleasing to God, that He was under no necessity to 
offer sacrifice for Himself, and that His offering had everlasting 

Next follows a comparison between the Jewish high priest 
in the annual sacrifice on the day of atonement, and our great 
High Priest in His sacrifice once offered (ver. 27). There is a 
point of similarity, such as obtains between type and antitype, 
but also a point of disparity, in as far as Christ's sacrifice was 
infinitely superior in validity and value. On the great day of 
atonement the Jewish high priest offered sacrifice first for his 
own sins, and then for the people's. The expression daily, 
applied to the Jewish high priest, has been variously ex- 
pounded ; some referring it to the annual return of the great 
day of atonement, when this part of the ritual was ever re- 
peated ; others referring it to the morning and evening sacrifice. 
As the latter was offered, not for the high priest nor the priests 
in general, but for the people, it is better to understand it as 


intimating that, on every occasion of offering for the sius of the 
people, he offered also for his own sins. 

On the contrary, the sacrifice of Christ was unique. What, 
from the necessity of the case, was always separated in the 
Jewish ritual, was combined in Him. "When He gave His life 
a ransom for many, He was the priest of His own sacrifice — 
priest and sacrifice in one. This is the first time in the course 
of the epistle that we find express mention of Christ as at once 
priest and victim, but it is repeated again and again. This 
distinguishes the sacrifice of Christ from the Old Testament 
sacrifices. They were external to the high priest, the blood 
being foreign to him, or, as it is rendered, the blood of others 
(Heb. ix. 25) : they had no relation to his person, for the two 
were not identified. But Christ offered Himself; and He could 
do so as the Son of God, the possessor of a higher nature, who 
united a humanity to Himself, and was competent to dispose 
of it, as no mere creature could dispose of himself, because 
it had been assumed as an instrument for working out the 
eternal redemption of His people. In this our High Priest 
was absolutely unique. But what is the import of the clause, 
" For this He did once, when He offered up Himself ? " As 
to the demonstrative pronoun this, it cannot refer to both 
the previous clauses, as setting forth that our High Priest 
offered a sacrifice for His own sins and then for the people's. 
It can refer only to the latter, as the strictly grammatical 
import of the singular this properly intimates. Besides, in 
no sense of the terms could Christ be said to offer for 
Himself. The whole predicates above noticed were specially 
adduced to show that no such thing existed, or was possible ; 
and the attempts to maintain the opposite, in the interest of 
overthrowing the vicarious sacrifice in ancient or modern times, 
are reckless assertions bordering upon the impious. 1 

It only remains that we notice that important word once, 

1 Hofmann takes up this Socinian evasion, and asserts that the prayer in 
Gethseniane was in some sense a sacrifice offered for His own weakness. The 

376 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

so often reiterated. The word, as applied to the sacrifice of 
Christ, intimates that this great sacrifice was offered once for 
all, and that it required, and indeed allows, no repetition (Heb. 
ix. 26, x. 10). Thus, as high priest, Christ had something to 
offer : He offered Himself as the perfect high priest, and the 
perfect sin-offering, tasting death for every one in such a way 
that henceforth there was no need of further sacrifice for sin. 1 

Before passing from this text, two questions canvassed by 
theological writers demand an answer: 1. Was the Lord Jesus 
in reality a priest on earth ? and, 2. Was He acting as a priest 
on the cross, and previously ? We answer : The entire epistle 
affirms both, and assumes both. So obvious is this to un- 
biassed readers, that it might seem an extraordinary incon- 
sistency to admit the canonical authority of the epistle, and 
explain away its testimony to both truths. But from the 
days of the first Socinians to our own time, many attempts 
have been made to establish this on two grounds: first, that 
the term priest, as applied to Christ, is metaphorical; next, 
that His priesthood began with His exaltation, and not before. 
These views tend to overthrow the vicarious sacrifice of the 

1. The allegation that Christ is called a priest metapho- 
rically, without being a true and proper priest, is easily an- 
swered, if we admit -that biblical terms and analogies must 
be taken in their natural meaning. When we find a regular 
comparison between Christ's priesthood and the Aaronic high- 
priesthood, in regard to qualifications, the necessary call by 
God, and sympathy to be exercised (Heb. v. 1-7), it is pre- 
posterous to allege that all this is compatible with the sup- 
position of a mere metaphor. 2 When the Messiah is described 

opponents of the vicarious sacrifice are indeed reduced to straits when it comes 
to this ! Christ's sinless nature is incompatible with every shade of such ideas. 

1 See Allinga on the Satisfaction of Christ. 

2 See Stillingfleet on the Sufferings of Christ, and the appended remarks in 
reply to Crellius ; Leslie, agt. Socinianism; and Chapman's Defence, vol. ii. ; also 
Harmsen, Over cle Genozgdcening van J. C, 1806, pp. 315-327. 


as invested with a priesthood according to a peculiar order, 
different from that of Aaron, and superseding it, this estab- 
lishes the same fact. And it further appears, when it is 
announced that every priest was ordained to offer gifts and 
sacrifices, and that this man must have somewhat also to offer 
(Heb. viii. 3). Christ is thus a priest in the real acceptation 
of the term — the truth of what was typical. In a word, He is 
spoken of as a priest when raised up among men (Heb. vii. 
11); when He came out of Judah (ver. 14); during the whole 
period comprehended in the days of His flesh (v. 7) ; during 
His contact with human society, when He was holy, harmless, 
undefiled, and separate from sinners. 

2. The allegation that His priesthood began not on earth, 
but at His ascension, has only to be placed in the light of this 
epistle to be fully refuted. Its entire teaching proves that 
He acted as a priest during His whole humiliation, and that 
His death was a sacrifice (Eph. v. 2 ; Heb. ii. 1 7, v. 7). A few 
arguments may suffice to put this truth in its proper light, 
without anticipating what will come before us in the sequel. 

a. The high priest under the law was not first constituted 
a priest when he entered the holiest of all : he had already, 
in his capacity as high priest, slain the sacrifice, the blood 
of which was carried within the veil. And, in like manner, 
Christ was already a priest when He gave Himself for His 
people. It was not, and could not be, a new sacrifice within 
the veil, when one part, and the principal part of it, was per- 
formed previous to His entry. 

b. The passages which make mention #f Christ's one obla- 
tion, or of His offering Himself once, are conclusive as to the 
fact of His being a priest on earth ; for that word once cannot 
be understood of what is done in heaven. It must refer to 
His death as a historic fact, completed and finished here below. 
It is against all reason to affirm that the sacrifice was offered 
once, if it still continues; for the expression once, or one 
offering, plainly contrasts the completed sacrifice with the 

378 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

continuous intercession which evermore proceeds upon it. Nor 
does the epistle stop there : the analogy instituted between the 
fact that it was appointed to all men once to die, and the one 
atoning death of Christ (ix. 27), leaves us in no doubt that we 
must view that sacrifice as completed on the cross. 

c. The priestly sacrifice which Christ offered is emphati- 
cally described as coincident with the Lord's death. The 
clearest proof of this is furnished in this epistle (Heb. ix. 26), 
when it is noticed that the Lord was under no necessity to 
offer Himself often, like the Jewish high priest, who had to 
offer a new sacrifice with every annual return of the great day 
of atonement, and enter with the blood of others. It declares 
that to offer Himself often would have been equivalent to a 
repeated suffering on the part of Christ; and therefore there 
can be no more conclusive proof that Christ was a priest 1 on 
earth, and that His sacrifice was consummated by His suffering 
during His humiliation. 

VI. We come now to a section of considerable extent, 
treating copiously of the sacrifice of Christ, and of His priestly 
action as the truth of all that was done by the Jewish high 
priest on the great day of atonement (Heb. ix. 10-x. 22). To 
this passage a greater amount of attention is deservedly due, 
because the high priest's entrance into the holiest of all de- 
mands a fresh consideration. A general misapprehension as 
to its meaning has given an appearance of probability to the 
notion of a sacrifice or offering in heaven. 

To bring out the outline of the apostle's thought, let it be 
noticed that the priestly function of Christ falls into two divi- 
sions, the earthly and the heavenly. The priestly function in 
heaven begins with His ascension ; and the apostle lays special 
emphasis upon His work in heaven, for the obvious reason that 
He was refuting the current objection of the Jews at the time 
when the epistle was written — viz. that Christianity, as con- 

1 See Calovius, Socinismus profligatus ; Turretin, de Satisfactlone ; Maresius, 
Hydra Socinianismi, 


trasted with the still standing Jewish worship, had no visibly- 
officiating high priest. The apostle reiterates, in many ways, 
that we have a geeat High Priest, who has passed through 
space into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God (Heb. iv. 1 4) ; 
that the ministration of our High Priest was^ in the true taber- 
nacle (viii. 3) ; that this ministry was preceded by a sacrifice 
of atonement before He ascended; that He offered Himself 
once ; and that this one offering was accomplished in His state 
of abasement here below (Heb. vii. 27, viii. 3, ix. 14, ix. 28, 
x. 14). 

A. At the beginning of the ninth chapter reference is made 
to the two compartments of the ancient tabernacle, and to the 
fact that the high priest entered the holy of holies once a 
year, not without blood. This arrangement, while it lasted, 
intimated a time of imperfect expiation. His entering not 
without blood on the day of atonement is called his offering 
(ver. 7) ; but this did not attain the proper end of sacrifice, 
which is to pacify the conscience (ver. 9). Only by forgive- 
ness was the worshipper made perfect as pertaining to the 
conscience, and into this condition the Jewish rites could not 
transplant him. But Christ being come as an high priest, 
the apostle affirms two things : first, eternal redemption was 
effected by Him as an objective blessing ; next, the purging of 
conscience followed as the subjective consciousness of deliver- 
ance (vers. 12, 14). Both are put in close connection with 
the blood of Christ as the sin-offering, and the apostle reasons 
from the one to the other in a striking way. 

1. As to the eternal redemption, it is here, and everywhere 
else in Scripture, put as the effect of Christ's atoning blood. 
This deserves notice, because the common rendering conveys a 
harsh sense : "having obtained eternal redemption for us" (ver. 
12). The participle with the verb in the past tense denotes 
simultaneous action as well as previous action, and here it is 
plainly simultaneous action. The rendering must be: "He 
entered in by His own blood once into the holy place, obtain- 

380 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

ing eternal redemption." Grammar and doctrine equally de- 
mand this, because the blood of sacrifice is uniformly spoken 
of as the cause of redemption (Eph. i. 7 ; 1 Pet. i. 19 \ Be v. v. 9). 
The participle, tod, in the Greek aorist middle, 1 conveys the 
idea that Christ in His own person, or in and of Himself, 
without aid or instrumentality beyond His person, procured 
this redemption, which is also termed eteknal because pos- 
sessed of everlasting validity. 

But how did His entrance into the holiest of all by His 
own blood secure eternal redemption, and how is the language 
to be understood ? Both inquiries will be satisfied when we 
ascertain the moment at which this entering took place. The 
usual interpretation affirms that it took place at the ascension. 
But that is burdened with insuperable difficulties. We are 
here taught that this entrance on the part of Christ was the 
counterpart or truth of what the high priest performed when 
He carried the blood into the holiest of all to atone for the 
sins of the collective congregation of Israel. Now, if that 
action of the Jewish high priest was atoning or expiatory, it 
plainly had no correspondence to anything done by our great 
Lord in heaven ; for certainly everything atoning, in the proper 
sense of the term, was effected by what was done on earth, 
not by what was done in heaven. But if we carefully examine 
the sacrificial ritual, no doubt can exist that the sprinkling of 
blood in the holiest of all belonged to the expiation objectively 
considered. Atoning efficacy attached to the sprinkling of 
blood on the mercy-seat, and to the pouring out of blood at 
the altar. The text must be understood with reference to this : 
without the shedding of blood [or perhaps better, the outpouring* 
of blood'] is no remission (Heb. ix. 22). Though, from the im- 
perfection of the type, the two elements of priest and sacrifice 

1 Xvrputriv tupxpsvos. (1) The aorist participle, I am fully persuaded, is here 
expressive of contemporaneous action ; and (2) the middle voice implies Christ 
obtained the redemption in and of Himself. (See Winer and the commentators.) 

2,utr'"x.. So De Wette, Tholuck, Doedes, and others; and 1 think 


could not be combined in one, the proper meaning of this 
action was, that the priest was viewed as sprinkling his own 
blood upon the mercy-seat. 

The entrance of our High Priest into the heavenly sanc- 
tuary may be considered as taking place at the moment of 
Christ's death, when He resigned His spirit to God, and His 
blood was poured forth upon the cross : then He appeared be- 
fore His Father and Judge. All the ceremonies on the great 
day of atonement corresponded with this view, for the atone- 
ment for the people of Israel was not consummated till the 
sacrificial blood was sprinkled on the ark of the covenant. 
The figure therefore corresponds with the Lord's entrance into 
heaven immediately after His death, when soul and body were 
sundered, and not with the idea of a triumphant entrance into 
heaven, as it took place at His ascension, with all the jubilee 
belonging to a coronation day. In the type, everything as- 
sumes that the whole was completed on the atonement day. 
And Christ's resurrection on the third clay, equivalent and 
parallel to the return of the high priest from the holy of 
holies, was a proof that He had entered with His own blood, 
and been accepted. The confusion which has arisen on this 
subject is owing to the fact that writers have not duly dis- 
tinguished between the Aaronic priesthood and the Melchi- 
zedek priesthood. 

The explanation above given carries with it an amount of 
evidence and appropriateness which contrast, to its advantage, 
with the other view, which only perplexes all who maintain it. 
When we look at the passage before us, other indications in- 
cline the balance in the same direction. Thus, the words " He 
entered by His own blood" plainly speak of a separation be- 
tween soul and body. They cannot naturally be expounded 
in any other way. And a second expression may be taken as 
decisive, " He entered in once ;" for in all the other passages 
where this word is used in connection with Christ's work, it is 
contrasted with the frequent repetition of the Old Testament 

382 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

sacrifices (vii. 23). It is always used as descriptive of some- 
thing finished or completed, without the possibility of per- 
petuating the action, or of adding to it (1 Pet. iii. 18). The 
expression is used by the apostles to distinguish the atone- 
ment as completed once for all, from the intercession, which 
is continuous; and these two are never to be confounded 
(Heb. ix. 25-27). For the object contemplated, only one 
entry was necessary, not to be repeated ; and this expression, 
therefore, is diametrically opposed to the view that the lan- 
guage of this verse refers to Christ's ascension to intercede : 
for the offering of Himself a sacrifice was completed once 
for all. 

This explanation was first proposed by several eminent 
Dutch divines about the middle of last century, who felt how 
unsatisfactory was the common interpretation; but it never 
received the currency or approval to which it was entitled. 1 
The more it is considered, the more does it commend itself, 
and the more do evidences multiply in its favour. A double 
entry into heaven is indicated in these chapters, — the first at 
the time of Christ's death, the second when He entered with 
His risen body as the Melchizedek priest. Aaron's priesthood 

1 This interpretation, so far as I have heen able to trace its origin and pro- 
gress, seems to have been first propounded by Witsius {de (Economia federum, 
lib. ii. cap. 6, sec. 9). He says: "Monui fusioni sanguinis respondere sepa- 
rationem animse Christi a corpore, qua? est ruptura veli et fractio corporis ; sicut 
illatio animce in caelum ad representandam Deo expiationem morte factam, 
respondet illationi sanguinis in Sanctum sanctorum." Honert, on Heb. ix., 
contends that there is a double entry of Christ into heaven mentioned in this 
chapter, — the first in a disembodied state (vers. 11, 12), the second after His 
resurrection (vers. 24-28). J. Honert, son of the former, in his Collect. Misc. 
S., maintaining the same view, argiies at large that the entrance of the high 
priest on the day of atonement corresponded to the entrance of Christ's soul into 
heaven at the moment of death, and that the Aaronic priesthood shadowed forth 
the priesthood of Christ only up to the day of His resurrection. Albert Schul- 
tens, in his Dutch commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism, and Prof. Lotze, 
over het Hoogepriesterschap van J. C, 1800, earnestly contend for the same 
view. (See our previous explanatory remarks on the sacrifices, p. 49.) De Moor, 
Comment, perpet. , combats this view as if it were maintained only by Honert, but 
admits repeated entrances into the holiest of all on the day of atonement (pars 
iv. p. 238). 


does not seem to have typified anything beyond Christ's re- 

2. The other benefit, subjective in its nature, is the purging 
of conscience, adduced as a proof or evidence of the former 
(vers. 1 3, 1 4). The logical particle foe gives a reason for the 
statement as follows : that which purges the conscience brings 
in eternal redemption. In proof of this, the apostle appeals to 
the types. And no one can evade the force of the statement 
by calling it a mere allusion to ancient rites : for we have an 
express comparison in which the atoning efficacy of Christ's 
death is always presupposed ; and a contrast between the in- 
sufficiency of the Old Testament atonements effecting only an 
outward deliverance, and the all-sufficiency of Christ's atone- 
ment bringing in an everlasting deliverance. 

■ The appeal is to two facts in the lower sphere of the an- 
cient ritual of sacrifice. They effected something there, and a 
comparison is drawn between these merely outward effects and 
the spiritual effects produced by the death of Christ. I shall 
but briefly touch on these types, more especially as they were 
considered in a separate chapter. (1.) The apostle announces 
that the blood of bulls and goats sanctified to the purifying of 
the flesh. That is simply a repetition of what was said in the 
previous verse as to the ritual of the great day of atonement 
(ver. 1 2) : the terms are in reality the same, and the allusion 
the same. The meaning is, that the death of the victims in 
the room of the guilty removed the threatened punishment by 
removing the defilement of the worshipper ; and the Israelites, 
for whom the sacrifice was offered, were now sanctified, that is, 
pure and holy, and entitled to all the ecclesiastical and civil 
privileges of Israel. The apostle mentions (2) that the ashes 
of the eed heifee, preserved for cases of ceremonial defilement, 
effected the same as the former (Num. xix. 1-18). This heifer, 
as well as the sin-offering that was offered on the day of atone- 
ment, was a sin-offering for the entire congregation; and its 
ashes, collected and dissolved in water, and sprinkled on the 

384 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

unclean, gave renewed access to the sanctuary, and to the 
fellowship of God's people. These were of old the great ar- 
rangements for restoring the defiled, so that they escaped death 
from a holy God. 

On the imperfection of the ancient ceremonies this passage 
is most explicit. The apostle shows that they sanctified only 
to the purifying of the flesh, but not to the purging of the 
conscience. This was obvious from the nature of the case. 
The Mosaic law itself was far from ascribing any influence to 
rites and ceremonies in the way of removing moral guilt, 
though this passed current in the pharisaic schools of a later 
day. The law appointed sacrifices only for some involuntary 
states of body, or some inevitable violation of those positive 
laws by which Israel was separated by God from other nations. 
An investigation of the texts referring to these offences clearly 
shows this (Lev. xii. 7; Num. vi. 11, iv. 19; Lev. xv. 15, xiv. 
2). In the case of persons contracting defilement — not to 
mention the sacred utensils, the ark, the tabernacle, the altar, 
which are also spoken of as receiving a purification by atone- 
ment — the defilement was merely ceremonial, and did not of 
itself touch the conscience except in virtue of a positive ap- 
pointment. The person under ceremonial guilt, exposed to 
outward visitations of punishment, and even to death, if expia- 
tion was neglected, was not, properly speaking, morally guilty 
or defiled in conscience. His offence, though shutting him out 
from the sanctuary of the Lord and from the communion of 
His people, was more in the court of ecclesiastical polity than 
in the court of conscience, and carried with it, when punish- 
ment came, nothing beyond what was corporeal and temporal. 
The touching of a dead body, necessary in the event of death, 
or the entering a tent where a dead body was, though bringing 
ceremonial defilement and necessitating cleansing, was diffe- 
rent froin moral trespass. The atonements were of the same 
character, positive and outward in their effects. They did not 
cleanse the conscience, nor even enter into that inner circle 


"bearing upon man's immediate personal relation to God : they 
restored him to the outward sanctuary, and to the outward 
worship with the people. But they did more ; they also taught 
important things. They taught (1) that sacrifices were of grace 
on the part of God ; (2) that they were vicarious ; (3) that they 
were a satisfaction for the sins of the people. The true point 
of comparison on which this verse fixes our attention is, that 
while a certain effect was produced in a lower sphere by the 
ancient sacrifices, an everlasting effect was produced in a 
higher sphere by the blood of Christ ; that they both accom- 
plished the end designed, but that there was a "much more" 
in the latter case as contrasted with the former. This is the 
tcrtium, quid of the comparison. 

What did the sacrifices effect ? They sanctified to the puri- 
fying of the flesh, — that is, cleansed the worshipper ceremo- 
nially ; for it is better to say ceremonially than corporeally, as 
the latter word scarcely demies the result. They could effect 
nothing more, nor was more intended. They did not, and coidd 
not, make the worshipper perfect as pertaining to the con- 
science (Heb. ix. 9) : they could not remove the conscience of 
sin, or the conscious knowledge of sin (x. 2) : they could not 
put away sin as to the objective guilt (x. 4). The Jewish 
sacrifices could do none of these things, and never were in- 
tended to come into that inner circle where man, as a moral 
and responsible creature under a holy spiritual law, has to do 
as a guilty sinner with a righteous and holy God. But they 
were meant to do something in their true sphere : they put 
away ceremonial defilement, temporal punishment, and that 
exclusion from the sanctuary and the fellowship of God's 
people to which ceremonial defilement exposed them. The 
passage before us asserts this. 

It must be noticed further, that the Epistle to the Hebrews 
is peculiarly clear and express on the inadequacy of the sacri- 
fices to take away sins in any sense of the terms (x. 4). The 
opposite opinion, by whomsoever maintained, and with what- 

2 B 

386 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

ever modifications and caveats, is explicitly condemned. The 
question is not, whether sin was remitted to Old Testament 
saints waiting for the Messiah, the consolation of Israel, for 
that is not to be called in question, hut whether these animal 
sacrifices gave remission. And we do not hesitate to say that 
the hare supposition of such a thing is to mistake the magni- 
tude of sin. It would he a heathenish superstition : no en- 
lightened conscience could believe it ; and certainly the Bible 
never required any to suppose that moral guilt was removed by 
the blood of bulls and goats. ISTo modification of the theory 
can make it tolerable in any form. 

On the other side of the comparison, it remains to be 
noticed that there was not only a similarity, but a much 
moee, effected by the blood of Christ. In all such deductions 
throughout the epistle there is a something of agreement, 
and also a something of disparity (Heb. ii. 2, x. 28) ; for the 
superiority of the one dispensation above the other is infinite. 
The blood of Christ, the counterpart of the blood of the Jewish 
sacrifices, purges the consciences, — that is, takes away the 
sense of guilt, or the painful foreboding of merited punish- 
ment. And when we inquire by what means that was effected, 
it appears that it was not by doctrine, but by the blood of 
Christ sacrificially shed to put away the guilt of sin. We have 
thus a correspondence between the two sacrifices, but also A 
much moee in the way of pre-eminence, and the writer argues 
from the effect of the ancient sacrifices in their sphere to the 
greater efficacy of Christ's death. The comparison is important 
for ascertaining the nature and effect of Christ's death ; for the 
point of comparison is this: the animal sacrifice of the old 
economy, substituted for the worshipper, effected something in 
the lower sphere, and the blood of Christ, vicariously shed, 
purifies our conscience from dead works. 

B. The peculiar character of Christ's atoning sacrifice must 
also be considered : How much more shall the blood of Christ, 
who through the Eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to 


God, "purge [better, cleanse] your conscience from dead works, to 
serve the living God 1 (ver. 1 4.) Here several points of moment 
are mentis ed, bearing on the nature of the atonement as well 
as its effects. First, Christ is introduced as the sacrifice, for 
what He offered was Himself ; next, The context, as well as 
language here used, in which He is described as the offerer, 
represents Him as the priest ; thirdly, The object to whom the 
sacrifice was offered was God. Plainly, the Lord is spoken of 
in these words as priest and sacrifice united. 

1. That Christ is the sacrifice, in the true sense of the word, 
is unambiguously affirmed; and this Israelitish style decides 
the peculiar character of His death. It is noteworthy, that in 
all the peculiar arrangements of the Old Testament ritual, 
guilt was not permitted to rest on the individual, but was 
removed by a variety of atonements. The trespass, though 
but an infraction of a positive precept, could not be connived 
at, and the offerers acknowledged their own just desert in the 
death inflicted on the victims. They acknowledged, too, the 
vicarious character of the transaction. By this means, indeed, 
the idea of vicarious satisfaction, and the nomenclature con- 
nected with it, came to be naturalized in the church of God, — a 
palpable fact being necessary to support the idea. The whole 
fifty-third chapter of Isaiah forms properly the transition from 
the typical economy to that of the great moral and personal 
atonement. But, from the imperfection of types, the victim 
used in the old economy could only in a faint degree shadow 
forth the constituent elements of the great sacrifice. Thus the 
true vicarious sacrifice could only be a voluntary one ; for as sin 
arose from the free choice of the sinner, it followed that the 
substitute could only be voluntary, and the sacrifice only such 
as was freely offered, — a feature which could not, from the 
nature of the case, be displayed in animal sacrifices brought 
by constraint to the altar. The free-will offering of Christ 
discovers the love from which all originated. A second defect 
in the old system was, that as there was no community of 

388 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

nature, no essential connection obtained between those for 
whom the sacrifice was offered and the sacrifice itself, in the 
arbitrarily formed relation between man and animal sacrifices. 
A far other connection obtained between Christ and us : first, 
a community of nature, on the ground of which He was a 
kinsman ; and then, a federal or legal union, on the ground of 
which we were brethren (Heb. ii. 17). 

a. Three words are here used to exhibit the greatness of the 
sacrifice, and each of them may be said to add an element of 
value and dignity, — viz. The Christ, without spot, through 
the Eternal Spirit. As to the first, it cannot be questioned 
that the blood of Messiah, or the Christ, has a special em- 
phasis, because He was known to possess the highest dignity 
as the Son of God, the Angel of the Covenant (Mai. iii. 1), 
and the Mighty God (Isa. ix. 6). The apostle means that 
Christ was not only the high priest (ver. 11), but also the 
sacrifice (ver. 14). The blood of the Christ, as the expression 
means, denotes that the long-promised Messiah was sacrifi- 
cially offered, and that His blood was the blood of the divinely 
commissioned God-man ; and no deficiency could be supposed 
to attach, even in idea, to His sacrifice in the room of millions, 
as the infinite merits of the offerer were added to His work. 

b. A second word, " offered without spot," also taken from 
the sacrificial ritual, is meant to bring before us that Christ 
was not only in a negative point of view exempt from every 
conceivable defect, but in a positive point of view the pos- 
sessor of perfect holiness, consisting in love to God and love to 
man, to the full measure of the human capacity. He acted in 
every scene, even when reviled and buffeted, so as never to 
betray what savoured of impatience, reluctance, or want of love 
in any part of His surety-obedience. The question has been 
raised, Was that exemption from defect in the piacular sacri- 
fices a mere condition, a mere prerequisite in the way of pre- 
paration, or an element of the satisfaction, and shadowing forth 
the active obedience of Christ as vicarious not less than His 


death ? The answer must be in the affirmative. The integrity 
and unspotted perfection of the sacrifice were indispensable, not 
as a mere prerequisite, but as an element of the sacrifice, and 
offered with it. Here the apostle not merely adduces the 
blood, but adds the offering of Himself without spot, as equal 
constituents in the sacrifice which purges the conscience. 

c. A third expression, " through the Eternal Spirit," must 
be noticed. This has been interpreted of the divine nature of 
Christ by many, — especially since Beza expounded this, and 
several other texts containing an allusion to the Spirit, in this 
way (Bom. i. 4; 1 Tim. iii. 16 ; 1 Pet. iii. 18). But to that ex- 
position there are insurmountable objections. This introduces 
an arbitrary nomenclature of man's invention. 1 It is more 
appropriate to expound it of the Holy Ghost than of the divine 
nature of the Son : for, in the first place, we have in the 
passage a priest, who is Christ ; then a sacrifice, which is also 
Christ ; then the Eternal Spirit, as the impelling power that 
animated Him from within to respond to the divine com- 
mission. The most eminent Greek exegetes, Witsius and others, 
correctly see in this expression an allusion to the fire by which 
the Levitical sacrifices were offered to God. Of this fire that 
came forth from the Lord, and fell from heaven on the victim, 
a historical account is given us in Scripture (Lev. ix. 23, 24) : it 
was kept by divine appointment burning on the altar, and was 
never to go out (Lev. vi. 12). That sacred fire was a symbol of 
the Holy Ghost, who was often so represented (Acts ii. 3 ; 
Luke xii. 49; Dan. vii. 10); who perpetually fans the flame 
of divine love in the human heart, and renders all sacrifices 
acceptable (Bom. xv. 6). There is no force in the objection 
adduced in many quarters, to the effect that we cannot suppose 
it an allusion to the Holy Ghost, because that would imply 
that the value attaching to the Lord's sacrifice would thus be 
ascribed to the Holy Ghost, whereas it is always ascribed to 

1 It cannot be proved that ™ -rviupx, used personally, ever means aught else 
than the third person of the Trinity. 

390 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

the divine dignity of Christ's person. The answer to this is" 
at hand. The Holy Spirit was the executive of all Christ's 
actions, internal and external; and those actions, peculiarly 
fragrant because of their holy spirituality, derived their worth, 
so far as intrinsic merit was concerned, from the fact that 
they were the actions of the Son. The meaning of the clause 
under consideration is, that the Holy Ghost, filling the Lord's 
humanity with unspeakable compassion, ardent zeal, fortitude, 
energy, and fervent love, impelled Him forward on His atoning 
work, and never suffered His mind to cool till the sacrifice was 

2. Christ was the priestly offerer as well as the sacrifice : 
" He offered Himself." With regard to this expression, it does 
not refer to a mediatorial work performed in heaven, but to 
what was completed once for all during His humiliation here 
on earth, or at the moment of death ; and all the passages 
which make mention of an offering and sacrifice on the part 
of Christ have this sense (Eph. v. 2 ; Heb. vii. 27, viii. 4, ix. 
14, ix. 28, x. 10, x. 12, x. 14). "We may regard the expression 
before us as coincident with the phrase already mentioned, 
" By His own blood He entered in once into the holy place ; " 
that is, if we explain both clauses as pointing to the completed 
act of atonement within the veil. A large class of eminent 
expositors, not Socinian in tendency, but perplexed by an 
erroneous interpretation of the entrance into the holiest of 
all, have given plausibility to the Socinian comment, that 
Christ's sacrifice was, in some modified sense, offered in heaven 
subsequently to His ascension. The Socinian view is unmixed 
error, leading men's minds away from the cross, and setting 
aside the vicarious work of suffering obedience. In the other 
case it amounts to this : that the sacrifice was completed in 
heaven, and that men are in some mystical way pardoned by 
Christ's resurrection-life, and not by His cross ; a theory tend- 
ing, in a subtle though little suspected way, to turn men's 
minds away from the atonement as the doctrine of the cross. 


We deny that the present text, or any text representing Christ's 
death as an offering and sacrifice, can be so expounded. 

The expression He offered Himself, in the historical tense, 
refers not to an action in heaven, but to what was done on the 
cross. The appearing in the presence of God for us is said to 
be NOW, and is expressed by a different word (Heb. ix. 24). 
We have explained what was meant by entering the holy of 
holies, and proved that the slaying of the victim was only one 
element in the sacrifice, requiring to be followed by sprinkling 
the mercy-seat, as completing the expiation and the principal 
act of sacrifice. All this was done in humiliation, and at the 
moment of death, when Christ entered within the veil, still 
a high priest when disembodied. The rending of the veil 
attested the fact. The completion of the atonement was not 
reserved for the ascension to heaven, into which the Lord was 
to enter as His reward, not to complete His atoning work. 
The entire atonement was in humiliation (Lev. xvi. 6, 9 ; 1 
Pet. iii. 18; 2 Cor. v. 21). And in reply to those who allege 
that the cross was but a violence inflicted, the answer is : It 
was a sacrifice, as it was His own voluntary choice (John x. 1 8 ; 
Heb. xii. 2). 

3. The blood of the great sacrifice is next said to cleanse 


As we already found a more objective purification of the wor- 
shipper (Eph. v. 26 ; Tit. ii. 14), so we here find a subjective 
purification of the conscience from dead works. With regard 
to those dead works, so called because they emanated from a 
soul alienated from the life of God, they may be viewed as 
including two different expositions. The commonly received 
interpretation makes them sinful works to be repented of 
(Heb. vi. 1), by which the conscience had been defiled; for 
these made the man unclean, guilty in judgment, and the object 
of divine wrath and condemnation. Modern expositors, for 
the most part, regard those dead works as the outward works 
of the law, by which the Jews, according to their pharisaic 

392 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

errors, expected their justification before God. There is no 
warrantable ground for opposing one of these opinions to the 
other : they ought to be united, on this ground, that they are in 
an equal degree phases or displays of that alienation from the 
life of God, to which the atoning blood is here said to bring 
us back. 

This purifying of the conscience is specially the removal of 
a sense of condemnation, and of the pollution caused by con- 
scious guilt. A distinction must be drawn between that 
cleansing, effected by the blood of sacrifice first taking effect 
upon the person of the worshipper, and then upon his con- 
science, and that further renewing which frees him from the 
inward power of sin. The one is by the cross, the other is by 
the Spirit ; and unquestionably it is the former to which our 
attention is here directed. When conscience is cleansed, the 
painful sense of unpardoned guilt ceases to agonize the mind : 
it no more accuses or brings us into judgment before God's bar. 
Conscience, as a court erected in the human breast, and pro- 
nouncing sentence in accordance with God's law, is pacified by 
nothing which does not pacify the justice of God. The blood 
of Christ does this, and nothing else can ; and for this end it 
is not only laid to our account in the court of heaven, but 
immediately applied to, or sprinkled on, the conscience. 1 The 
blood of Christ, sacrificially offered, cleanses the conscience, 
inasmuch as it conveys the most satisfactory evidence that it 
was adapted to all the ends of divine justice, originating in the 
appointment of God, and fitted to magnify His law. And the 
effects of a purified or cleansed conscience will be seen in the 
boldness of access, the peace, liberty, and hope, which Scripture 
commonly connects with it (Eom. v. 1-3 ; Eph. ii. 18). 

When a man receives the atonement, he has a sensible 
peace and a well-grounded persuasion of exemption from guilt 
and punishment, on the ground that if God had intended to 

1 See the admirable sermon of Fraser of Alness on this text, as found in his 
works, appended to the explication of Eom. vi. and vii. 


visit him with punishment, the Son of God would not have 
been put in a position to he punished in our stead. But a 
further difficulty is presented to the mind. As I cannot say 
that I never sinned, what can unmake that fact as if it had 
never been ? Does not this memory abide as an everlasting- 
stain in my conscience ; and who can undo the past ? Can 
even Omnipotence undo it ? The only answer is : Omnipo- 
tence cannot; but the atonement can. And the explanation, 
as suggested by this passage, is as follows : — A judicial exchange 
of persons has been effected between Christ and sinners, by 
which they truly enter into each other's position. When the 
man accepts this provision, keeping in view the two sides of 
that personal exchange, he says : Sin does not attach to me, 
but to my Substitute, who took it upon Him by an act allowed 
at the divine tribunal. Punishment is not to strike on me, for 
He tasted death for every one of His people : and the good 
which the divine law required in its utmost conceivable perfec- 
tion I have done ; for what the Surety did, I did in Him, and 
His merits are transferred to me with the accompanying boon 
of the divine good pleasure. All this is effected in a way that 
for ever humbles and abases the man ; but that which paci- 
fies God pacifies the human conscience, the vicegerent of God. 
The purging of the conscience 1 is effected when we see that the 
law suffers no wrong, and the divine attributes no indignity. 

This turns aside the Cocceian comment, which refers the 
language to the difference between the two economies. The 
founder of this school, an eminent expositor in many respects, 
adopted the notion that the fathers under the law were not 
in possession of a pacified conscience, which he thought a 
privilege of gospel times. He argued that the effect could 
not exist when the cause did not exist. But the easy answer 
is : The blood of Christ had retrospective as well as prospective 
effects. The apostle does not deny a cleansing of conscience 

1 See an excellent anonymous work, die grosse Lehre vom Gewissen, Leipz. 

394 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

under the law in the case of those who waited for the con-' 
solation of Israel. Contrasting two things, he ascribes to the 
one what he denies to the other. He is not speaking of 
believers under the law and under the gospel, but of Hebrews 
recently converted, who found in the blood of Christ a peace 
vainly expected in the rites and ceremonies of Judaism. He 
speaks of the same men in their previous and present condition. 

4. As to serving the living God, this is the natural and 
necessary result. The defilement of conscience hinders access ; 
the cleansing and perfecting of conscience facilitates access, and 
emboldens the worshipper to draw near. The conscience either 
bars or permits access to God. So long as sins are uncancelled, 
exclusion from fellowship is continued, and the man has a 
defiled or evil conscience. A cleansed conscience, attesting his 
reception into the fellowship of God, enables and emboldens 
him to serve the living God. 

C. The apostle having named the ever-valid sacrifice of 
Christ, is led by a natural transition of thought to refer to the 
new covenant founded on it, and to the Mediator's action in 
regard to it : And for this cause He is the mediator of the new 
testament [better, covenant], that by means of death, for the 
redemption of [better, for redemption fronti] the transgressions 
that were under the first testament [covenant], they which are 
[have been] called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance 
(Heb. ix. 15). This verse begins a section on the subject of the 
covenants, very variously expounded. It would draw us aside 
from our purpose to enter into the conflicting views, though 
they have an interest of their own. The apostle calls Jesus 
Mediator (compare Heb. vii. 22, viii. 6, xii. 24), a designation 
that has everything in common with that of High Priest, — 
intimating one who has come under obligations for another, 
and occupies his place. Each of the terms used — Surety, 
Mediator, Advocate, High Priest — differing as they do from 
each other only by a shade of meaning, brings before us Christ's 
work as a whole, and represents Him as occupied with it on 


earth, and still continuing to be occupied with it in heaven. 
"When Christ is designated the Mediator of the new covenant, 
the expression denotes that He is the founder of a new alliance 
or fellowship between God and sinners, who previously were 
infinitely remote and alienated from each other. 

1. This did not take effect merely upon men then living; 
for His vicarious death extended to transgressions under the 
first covenant, as well as to those who lived subsequently to 
the incarnation. The atonement, adequate to the sins of His 
people in all times, made His sacrifice infinitely superior to the 
shadowy economy it superseded. The apostle draws a contrast 
between the sacrifice on the great annual festival of atonement, 
with its shadowy expiation of ceremonial offering, as an effect 
in the lower sphere, available only for the past year and for 
men then living, and the atonement of Christ, which was for 
all sins of all times, and even for men long dead. His death, 
as is here stated, was an expiation for moral transgressions 
under the first covenant, and which had remained unexpiatecl, 
though remitted in the forbearance of God (Eom. iii. 25). On 
the ground of the previous proof as to the efficacy of Christ's 
sacrifice, the apostle declares that it was retrospective, and 
atoned for transgressions till then unexpiated. Christ's atone- 
ment cannot be conceived of except as a proper expiation, if 
we trace these two elements : it took the place of the Old 
Testament sacrifices, which were undoubtedly atonements in 
their own sphere ; and it accomplished what they, from their 
insufficiency, could not accomplish. When we consider the 
expression, "redemption from the transgressions that were 
under the first covenant," and connect this result with the 
Mediator's death 1 as the meritorious cause, according to the 
express terms of this passage, we are taught that Christ's death 
removed the punishment of those transgressions which previ- 
ously were unatoned for by any sacrifices. That conclusion is 
inevitable : the allusion is to actual sins, or moral trespasses, 

1 Sai/OLTOV yivofiivov US uTo\iiTpco<riv ™» vrapafZao'lCi/v. 

396 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

committed under the old economy. This thought is demanded, 
too, by the connection : a barrier was put by these transgres- 
sions in the way of access to the sanctuary. 

2. This representation decides on the nature of Christ's 
atonement as a vicarious satisfaction. If we place it alongside 
of the theory that makes Christ's death a confirmation of His 
doctrine, what influence on previous ages could the Mediator's 
death by any possibility exercise, considered as the confirma- 
tion of His doctrine ? All that effect must, from the necessity 
of the case, be prospective, not retrospective. But, considered 
as an expiation of transgressions, it could very well influence 
past as well as future ages. If, again, with others, we view the 
death of Christ as fitted only to deliver men from slavish fear, 
we may ask by what figure of speech can the expression here 
used, "redemption from transgressions which Avere under the 
first covenant," be made to signify slavish fear of punishment ? 
It were a violence to language to torture it to such a sense. 

VII. The nature of the atonement is illustrated by the 
comparison between Christ's one sacrifice and the annually 
repeated sacrifice of the Jewish high priest ; and then, again, 
by death, considered as the common lot of men, and the pro- 
pitiatory death of Christ : But now once in the end of the world 
[or, world-ages] hath He appeared, to put aivay sin by the 
sacrifice of Himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to 
die, but after this the jitdgment ; so Clcrist was once offered to 
bear the sins of many : and unto them that look for Him shall 
He appear the second time, without sin unto salvation [better, so 
Christ, being once offered to bear the sins of many, shall appear 
the second time without sin to them who wait for Him unto sal- 
vation'] (Heb. ix. 26-28). The statement is, that Christ once 
appeared, in the end of the ages, to cancel or put away sin. 
How? By the sacrifice of Himself. The expression to put 
away cannot mean to put away the idea of criminality or ill- 
desert ; nor can we refer it to the removal of corruption by His 
doctrine. The apostle speaks of His sacrifice, not of His doc- 


trine. And as He did not offer Himself often, the one sacrifice 
was adequate to cancel the sin committed from the beginning. 
The sufferings of Christ effected this, not as a magnanimous 
display of self-sacrifice, nor as a mere declaration of divine 
love ; for that could only gain its end prospectively, not retro- 
spectively. The simple meaning is, that Christ put away sin 
by the atonement. Though the expression is so general that 
it seems to comprehend the putting away the power of sin, the 
connection and allusion to sacrifice limit the meaning 1 to the 
cancelling of guilt. 

The next comparison between the once inflicted penalty of 
death and the one atonement is equally significant (ver. 27). 
The expression once to die is not to be taken simply for 
the separation of soul and body, but for death penally con- 
sidered ; for of some we read that they went down alive into 
hell (Num. xvi. 30). The apostle speaks of death as the penal 
doom of sin, the word once being the emphatic term ; and the 
analogy between the two things is, that as there is one penal 
death impending over men, so Christ died once to remove 
their penalty. The Surety, adequate as He was to the task 
of assuming our responsibilities, and of entering into our con- 
dition, was thus appointed to die only once. But after death 
followed the judgment. Tw r o things are in the comparison : 
first, man's dying once, having its counterpart in Christ's one 
sacrifice ; then the second advent of the Lord, for the complete 
salvation of the redeemed, in place of judgment. By an appeal 
to man's history, the passage thus convincingly establishes that 
only one sacrifice for sins was necessary, and that Christ's one 
death sufficed for all time. The proof is drawn from the 
consideration that as nothing more was due in the history of 
man, so nothing more was in Christ's obligation. The com- 
parison is based on the suretyship of the Lord, rendering Him- 
self liable to man's obligations. The dying once, and the one 

1 Bleek and Delitzsch, without necessity, make us *&'%rw» apapria; so general 
as to denote also the annihilation of the dominion of sin. 

398 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

offering for sin, are thus put together as counterparts, plainly 
proving substitution, if anything can. Not only so : the one 
sacrifice of Christ, represented as the counterpart of our penal 
death, indisputably proves, against the Socinians, and all who 
fall in with their theory, that Christ's sacrifice was on earth, 
and not in heaven after His ascension. His one offering was 
in death. 

We must now more particularly discuss the import of the 
clause, "so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many" 
(ver. 28). The passage is by universal consent regarded as a 
quotation from Isaiah (Isa. liii. 12), conveying the idea of 
vicarious sin-bearing ; that is, of taking His people's sins on 
Himself, and bearing the consequences to be inflicted on sinful 
humanity in their stead. They who give another turn to the 
expression, and arbitrarily allege that the verb is to be viewed 
as denoting "to take away," are chiefly biassed by doctrinal 
prejudices adverse to vicarious sin-bearing. The assertion has 
been hazarded, that the epistle knows nothing of the formula 
that "He bore our sins," but always speaks of taking them 
away. 1 Others, however, having no objection to the doctrine 
of sin-bearing, encounter a new difficulty, founded on the order 
of events, as follows : The language is, " He was once offered 
to bear sins," which at first sight seems to say that He was 
offered in order to bear sins, and consequently that sin-bearing 
is viewed as succeeding the offering properly so called. Hence 
they think themselves shut up to the rendering, " to take away 
sins ;" for they argue that it cannot be said, " He was once 
offered to bear sins," but conversely. That difficulty, however, 
may easily be obviated. As the oblation is commonly put in 
the Epistle to the Hebrews, it is represented as Christ's own 
act : He is set forth as at once priest and victim ; the obvious 
meaning being, that the sin-bearer offered Himself. Accord- 

1 Thus Reuss rashly expresses himself : l'Epitre ne connait pas la formule 
qu'il a PORTi: nos peches ; elle dit toujours qu'il les a otes (Hist, de la Theol. 
Chret. ii.). 


ingly, we find Him represented as a sacrificing priest offering 
Himself (Heb. ix. 14), and carrying His own blood into the 
holiest of all (ix. 25). But here the expression is used pas- 
sively, describing God's action in the matter, not Christ's 
action as the high priest. And in this use of the phrase it 
embraces all that may be regarded as included in the mission, 
manifestation, and giving up of the Son of God. The phrase 
has thus a larger and wider sense when applied to God. 

The same thing is evident from a comparison of this verse 
with a previous one (ver. 26). The intervening verse (ver. 27) 
does not break the connection : it is only the first member in a 
serious of parallels. There is one parallel between Christ's 
appearing once for all and His one offering : there is another 
between His putting away sin and His bearing sin. A 
marked correspondence obtains, and the words set forth the 
completeness of the atonement as offered once, and needing 
no repetition. The passage assumes that Christ willingly sub- 
mitted to the ordinary penal law appointed to man ; the whole 
clause having reference to the vicarious work of the servant 
of God mentioned in Isaiah (Isa. liii. 12). That the expression 
here used means TO bear sins, may be established by two con- 
clusive arguments, — the one based on the philological import 
of the term, and the other on the context. 

1. The proper import of the expression to bear the sins 
of many, is to bear or carry them up : that is, to the cross, as 
some view it; or to lay them on His own person, as others 
prefer to view it. This is the shade of meaning which the 
verb expresses. 1 The idea of removal does not express the 
primary signification, and no instance, can be adduced from the 

1 See Beza, and Grotius, de Satisfactione, p. 1 i. Afterwards, when Grotius' 
Commentary appeared, it was found that he had changed his interpretation 
into aiiferre, as many moderns render it, viz. Bleek, Lunemann, Hofmann. 
See an admirable discussion on the meaning of uvatpipuv apaprlus by Van Voorst 
in his de Usu Verborum cum Prcepositlonibus Compositorum in N. T. 1818, pp. 
148-166, with a thorough refutation of Grotius' second thoughts. He proves 
that z w f'' aftap-la; and aiiferre would furnish no antithesis such as is plainly 

400 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

usage of language in proof of the meaning " to take away." An 
interpreter, therefore, who knows his function, will abide by 
the laws of language. This fact is decisive as to the import of 
the expression, and may be appealed to by those who maintain 
that the essence of the atonement consists in sinless sin-bearing 
on the part of the appointed Christ, the Son of God. The con- 
stituent element of expiation is sin-bearing, and not the mere 
removal of sin in the future, whether that may be effected by 
instruction or inward reformation. They who persist in assign- 
ing to the verb the signification of taking away, have nothing 
but conjecture in their favour ; and something better must be 
adduced as authority when the question is the meaning of a 
phrase and the aspect of a doctrine. 

2. The same thing is proved by the context. The apostle, 
contrasting the two comings of the Lord, affirms that at His 
first coming He bore the sins of many, while at His second 
advent He will appear without sin. The phrase must mean, 
without vicarious sin-bearing, suggesting that at His first 
coming He was a sin-bearer. It cannot refer to personal sin, 
as He had none, nor to anything approaching to the notion of 
a fallen humanity. But while He was on earth, He was at 
once separate from sinners and made sin. 

The expression " to bear the sins of many " intimates that 
Christ, in a certain sense, sustained the person of sinners. As 
a historic fact, running through all stages of the Lord's earthly 
life, this was the core of the atonement ; and this aspect of it 
is the key to the entire doctrine. Sin-bearing was necessary 
to the propitiation as a presupposition or indispensable pre- 
liminary ; and without it we encounter difficulties which find 
no solution. What light does Scripture throw upon it ? It 
is the well-known Old Testament formula for being guilty, 
whether that may be personal or vicarious ; and in numerous 
passages it conveys the idea of being guilty as contrasted with 
being guiltless (Num. v. 31). It may be personal guilt to 
which allusion is made ; or, where the sins of others are said 


to be borne, it means to incur their guilt, to come under their 
obligation to punishment (Ezek. xviii. 19). 

Between the general undertaking of suretyship and the 
actual infliction of the curse there lay an intermediate arrange- 
ment, by which the Lord Jesus occupied a positive relation to 
our penalty. This was sin-bearing or guilt, rendering it just 
that the moral Governor of the universe should exact the ex- 
piation. That the Lord Jesus assumed sin, and incurred a 
liability to punishment, when He came in the flesh and was 
found in fashion as a man, is to be affirmed on the strict 
interpretation of the language used by the apostles. They 
affirm that He bore sin, and was made sin. Of the two 
expressions just mentioned, sin-bearing has reference to sin 
considered as a heavy burden, while the other means that 
the Lord, personally sinless, was made the embodiment of 
sin, or incorporated sin in an official point of view; for the 
personal and official are to be kept distinct, arid in this 
matter sin-bearing is official, distinguished from what was 
properly personal. However various the nomenclature, no 
biblical phrase more precisely sets forth the essence of the 
atonement than sin-bearing. 

VIII. So important for the apostle's purpose was the differ- 
ence between the annual sacrifice of the Aaronic high priest 
and the one sacrifice of Christ, that an entire section of the 
tenth chapter is devoted to the exposition of it (Heb. x. 1-10). 
And much may be derived from this connected portion to ex- 
plain the proper nature of the atonement. The points of 
similarity have been brought out ; now we have to trace the 
points of contrast. Having proved in the last verses of the 
previous chapter that Christ's sacrifice could not be repeated, 
partly because that would carry with it repeated suffering, 
partly because it would be contrary to the analogy of man's 
own history, which appoints man to die once, — the Substitute 
acting only according to the obligations of the represented, — - 

the apostle, at the tenth chapter, sets forth by contrast the 

2 c 

402 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

sufficiency of Christ's one sacrifice. The imperfection of the 
sacrifices annually offered on the great day of atonement is 
put before us in the first four verses of the chapter. There are 
three distinct grounds mentioned by the apostle which conclu- 
sively prove the inadequacy of those sacrifices, each furnishing 
a point of contrast to the perfection of Christ's sacrifice. 

1. The first contrast is derived from the fact that the 
ancient sacrifices were but a shadow, or rough outline, of good 
things to come, and not the things themselves ; or, as it is here 
expressed, not the very image of the things 1 (ver. 1). It might 
at first sight seem that the apostle contrasts two things which 
in different degrees represent the substance, — a rude sketch 
and a fully painted figure. But it is the shadow contrasted 
with the substance or reality. Now if these priestly sacrifices, 
the culminating points of the ancient worship, were but 
shadows or pictures, they obviously could not put the wor- 
shipper on a right footing with God. They could not perfect 
him, in the sense of justifying his person, and giving him a 
right, as a purified worshipper, to approach the living God. 
We may take in the subjective element of a purged conscience 
as included in the term peefect, as it is commonly employed, 
though it is as natural to take it in the objective sense (comp. 
ver. 14). According to the apostle, those unsubstantial shadows 
could not perfect the worshippers ; that is, could not satisfy the 
justice of God, and atone for sin, which was the great promise 
from the beginning. 

2. A second reason for the inadequacy of the ancient sacri- 
fices is taken from their annual repetition (vers. 2, 3). Whether 
we read the first clause interrogatively or not, the apostle 
emphatically declares, that had they availed to perfect the 
worshippers, that annual iteration would have been needless. 
They would have ceased or been superseded. The ground on 
which this is put is noteworthy: For the worshippers, once 
purged [or, cleansed~\, should have had no more conscience of sins; 

1 See Turretin, de Satlsfactione, p. 239. 


assuming that the purifying from sin has, as its effect, the re- 
moval of a guilty conscience. The perfect participle denotes 
something done once for all, describing the condition of those 
"whose consciences have been purged. The opposite of this was 
the characteristic of the Old Testament worshippers, where no 
provision was made for the acceptance of their persons, but 
only for the cleansing of ceremonial trespasses, soon to become 
as numerous as before. The new covenant accepts the person, 
and perfects him as pertaining to the conscience. The apostle's 
argument is, that had their relation been perfected, an echo of 
it would have been heard subjectively in a pacified conscience. 
The conscience, already mentioned (Heb. ix. 14), is not mere 
consciousness, but consciousness alive to man's relation to God, 
and having God for its object, the consequence of which is a 
charge of guilt while man's relation remains unrectified. The 
worshippers under the law thus had a fresh remembrance of 
sins year by year, having neither personal acceptance nor a 
pacified conscience. 

Here it is necessary to correct a piece of over-doing — a 
theory as to the imperfection of the Old Testament believers. 
From this passage it was argued by the Cocceian school, that if 
there was a conscience of sin, true peace of conscience could 
not be possessed. That by no means follows, as will be appa- 
rent to every one who apprehends the retrospective character 
of the Lord's death. The power to perfect the worshippers is 
denied to the law, and proved by the repetition of the same 
sacrifices, but is not denied to the efficacy of the great sacrifice 
by anticipation applied to believers under the old economy. 1 
So far from detracting from the honour of Christ's sacrifice, 
this exhibits its vast potency, as not only adapted to ages that 
were to run after He came, but also possessing retrospective 
efficacy. A certain difference there was between believers 
under the Old Testament and under the New, — a difference 

1 See Eev. A. Bonar's elucidations of Leviticus ; also Knobel, Com. zu 
Leviticus, 1852; and B. W. Newton's Thoughts on Leviticus, 


neither to be denied nor ignored, but of a peculiar nature. 
They had a conscience of sin, not yet expiated, but one day to 
be fully expiated by the great sacrifice of Messiah. They were 
like us, yet with a shade of difference ; that is, more in degree 
than in kind. They could have, and actually had, peace of 
conscience, as we have. But, according to their historical 
position, they had of necessity a peculiar experience, into 
which we cannot enter. Not the want of acceptance or pardon, 
not the fear that had torment ; but a certain conscience of sin, 
such as we have not, that is, of sin as a something not actually 
atoned for — not yet expiated in fact. Hence, though sin had 
long ago been judicially forgiven, the spirits of the just seem 
to have been made perfect in this subjective sense, when the 
great fact of the atonement arrived (Heb. xi. 40, xii. 23) ; for 
this must have been imparted to them by a knowledge of the 
event, and an experience of its potency. 

3. The third reason assigned for their inadequacy and im- 
perfection is : It is not possible that the blood of bulls and of 
goats should take away sins (ver. 4) ; a reason derived from the 
necessity of the thing, whether we look at the nature of God, 
the nature of man, or the infinite demerit of sin. The atone- 
ment must be offered in man's nature, to satisfy the injured 
rights of God, which the blood of bulls and goats could not 
effect. The apostle pronounces it impossible, because the blood 
of irrational animals bore no proportion to the sins of rational 
beings, which could not be removed by any arbitrary arrange- 
ment. But why could not sins have been taken away by these 
Jewish sacrifices, if, as many allege, God cancels them without 
atonement ? We see the necessity of an adequate satisfaction ; 
for the impossibility is founded in the thing itself, and the 
appeal is to the divine justice and holiness. 1 

Having proved, from the necessity of- the case, the inade- 
quacy of animal sacrifices, the apostle next shows that, in point 

1 An argument is warrantably based on this statement for the absolute 
necessity of a satisfaction by Witsius, de Fcedere, p. 177, Vander Kemp, etc. 


of fact, they were set aside as insufficient (Heb. x. 5-10); and 
a quotation is made from the "book of Psalms, in which this 
was clearly announced (Ps. xl. 6-8). As we have already 
explained this passage, nothing further is necessary than to 
advert to the appended words of the apostle in introducing the 
quotation, and commenting upon it. He plainly considered the 
passage as an utterance of Christ when He came into the 
world : " Wherefore, when He cometh into the world, He saith, 
Sacrifice and offering Thou wouldest not" (ver. 5). The logical 
particle wherefore intimates that, by reason of the imper- 
fection of the Old Testament sacrifices, He came not to offer 
these fruitless sacrifices, but to do the will of God in their 
room. The quotation contrasts the imperfection of animal 
sacrifices with moral obedience and willing service : " Lo, I 
come to do Thy will, God." In animal sacrifices God had 
no pleasure, because, though divinely appointed, they were 
inadequate to be the true sacrifice, which required moral obe- 
dience. This spiritual obedience looked beyond Old Testament 
times, and was realized only when Christ fulfilled the divine 
will. But it is added, there was the removal or taking away 
of the first thing mentioned in the quotation, that is, of animal 
sacrifices, that He might establish the second, that is, the doing 
God's will. The Mosaic worship, with its complicated system 
of sacrifices, was superseded by something better coming in its 
stead. And the apostle appends a commentary, the import of 
which must be brought out in a few particulars : By which will 
[better, in which wilT] we arc sanctified, through the offering of 
the body of Jesus Christ once (Heb. x. 10). 

1. What is meant by the expression, IN which will ? Can 
it intimate the ready will or promptitude of the Messiah to 
respond to 'the divine commission, and to carry it out ? That 
cannot competently be maintained, because the preceding verse 
(ver. 9) expressed the divine will of the Father purposing that 
Christ should be the personal sacrifice. Besides, the will here 
mentioned is distinguished by the terms employed from the 


offering itself. The original word used in the Psalm gives the 
idea of God's good pleasure ; but the apostle renders it Thy 
will (to Qik?i[jja gov), a term wide enough to comprehend the 
agreement or compact between the Father and the Son, and the 
commandment which needed to be performed, that the issue 
might correspond to the will of God. It is not the moral law 
simply, — an idea added in the Psalm, though not quoted by 
the apostle, — but all that was enjoined upon the Surety ; and 
the translation we have given — in which will — brings out 
the sphere or element in which the great sacrifice was offered, 
as well as the sphere in which we are sanctified. 1 

2. The one offering must be noticed. This point the 
apostle repeatedly inculcates in the epistle, in proportion to its 
importance. He will have attention paid to the one historic 
fact of Christ's vicarious obedience and death. The word once 
excludes all repetition of Christ's sacrifice ; for it must be con- ' 
strued, as our translators have done, with the offering of the 
Lord's body (comp. Heb. vii. 23, 24, ix. 24-28). The unity of 
the sacrifice is further mentioned, as we shall see in the subse- 
quent verses. 

3. Christ's sacrifice consists in the offering of His body : 
He is compared and contrasted with the annual sacrifice. The 
term body denotes here His humanity ; for His soul as well as 
His body was offered. This term is contrasted with the bodies 
of animals burned on the altar ; for in the previous verses the 
Psalm was quoted : " A body hast Thou prepared me." More 
necessary is it to examine the force of the expression, " the 
offering of the body of Jesus Christ once," because many — 
with a modification of the Socinian theory, which transfers 
Christ's sacrifice to His ascension to heaven — give but a half- 
hearted adherence to the great truth that the Lord's sacrifice 
was completed on the cross. That scheme of thought is refuted 

1 See Walch, de Obedientia Christi Actlva, p. 8. Sebastian Sclirnid, on 
Hebrews, says here: "Voluntas et lex Dei patris non tan turn decalogus, seu 
lex moralis est ; sed omnis Voluntas Dei circa redemptiouem humani generis." 


by this expression, which can only refer to the cross. It could 
not be in the apostle's mind to affirm that Christ offered His body 
to God at the ascension ; for the only ostensible plea on which 
men advocate an offering in heaven is, that, according to the 
typical economy, the blood was carried into the holiest of all, 
which they groundlessly conclude was done at His ascension. 
But He offered Himself when He bore our sins on His own 
body (1 Pet. ii. 24) ; and the sacrifice was completed at His 
death, and incapable of supplement or repetition. 

4. We are said to be sanctified in this element of God's 
will, and by the one sacrifice of the Lord's body. How the 
worshippers were sanctified by sacrifice, has been noticed above. 
It is a relative, not inherent sanctification; for sacrifice put men 
on a right footing with God, covering their guilt, and calming 
conscience. It is sacrificial phraseology, and not to be inter- 
preted of moral amendment. 

The previous statements, taken from the sacrificial phrase- 
ology, throw a steady light on the true design of Christ's 
obedience unto death. They show that He is the truth of 
those shadows. Though the New Testament writers, accus- 
tomed to the sacrificial style, do not wholly abandon it even 
when no express comparison is made between the sacrifices 
and the death of Christ, it was the very design of this epistle 
to bring out the typical relatiou ; and we have had express 
testimony to the fact that the death of Christ was a sacrifice 
(vii. 27) ; that He offered a better sacrifice (ix. 23); that He 
put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself (ix. 26) ; that His 
sacrificially shed blood purges our consciences from dead works 
(ix. 14) ; and that the offering of His body sanctifies us, in the 
sense of dedicating us as a covenant people to God (x. 10). 
All these passages affirm that the death of Christ was a sacri- 
fice, by which men are separated as a peculiar people for the 
worship of the living God : and it is important to see the thing- 
signified in the symbol, the antitype in the type. If the 
ancient sacrifices, as symbols in the lower sphere, freed the 

408 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

worshipper from merited punishment, because guilt passed 
over to the victim, the death of Christ in like manner, in a 
higher sphere, not only displayed- the punishment due to us 
for sin, hut effected the removal of our punishment. It put us 
in the position of a people near to God, a holy people, as Israel 
were in a typical sense. All this was brought about by sacri- 
fice. The Old Testament sacrifices occupied the place of those 
who brought them, and who saw their sin and punishment 
transferred ; and in the same way the death of Jesus was 
vicarious, because He actually bore His people's punishment, 
and restored them to favour and holy fellowship. Nor does 
this view convey ought unworthy of God. The sacrifices did 
not represent God as moved to mercy by the shedding of 
blood, for they were provided in grace, and argue a gracious 
plan by which all the attributes of God are magnified. 

As to the remaining portion of this connected section, we 
may content ourselves with merely touching the salient points 
(vers. 11-14). The apostle contrasts the action of the Jewish 
high priest with Christ's official action. The Hebrew Chris- 
tians were somewhat troubled by Jewish cavils as to the non- 
repetition of the atonement ; and the apostle, comparing the 
two priesthoods, shows why no repetition of Christ's work was 
necessary or possible. Omitting the proof for the sufficiency 
of Christ's finished work, from the great fact of His resurrec- 
tion, let us notice a threefold antithesis : the first, between 
every priest or high priest daily ministering, and this Man ; 
the second, between the same repeated sacrifices and the one 
sacrifice for sin ; the third, between the insufficiency of the 
one and the all-sufficiency of the other. What a vain parade 
of language, if it were not meant that the atonement is to be 
traced to the death of Christ, in the same way as the Israelites, 
in a lower sphere, ascribed to the priestly sacrifices their de- 
liverances from defilement! 

One point to be determined is : How are we to construe the 
expression for evee in the verse, " But this man, after He had 


offered one sacrifice for sin for ever, sat clown on the right hand 
of God?" (ver. 12.) Opinion is pretty equally divided on the. 
question whether the words for ever are most fitly joined 
with the " one sacrifice," denoting that it was eternally valid ; 
or with the following words, denoting that He sat down for 
ever. On many accounts we greatly prefer the former; and the 
repetition of the same expression further down, He perfected 
for ever (ver. 14), -renders this highly probable, for the one is 
the foundation of the other. Thus, " Christ offered one sacrifice 
for sins for ever," and this fact "perfected for ever" those 
who share in it. 1 The everlasting validity attaching to it was 
due to this, that it was one sacrifice of infinite sufficiency, with 
retrospective as well as prospective influence, and capable of 
rectifying for ever man's relation to God. This text plainly 
calls it "one sacrifice" (ver. 12), and views it as incapable of 
being repeated. It is not represented as perpetually offered in 
heaven. The antithesis between the twct sacrifices and the two 
priesthoods is very emphatic. The one high priest is represented 
as daily ministering, and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, 
which could never take away sins ; the other High Priest offers 
one sacrifice for sins, and then sits down. No one interpreting 
naturally will refer this one sacrifice to anything but the 
finished work on the cross — the ground of His reward. The 
oblation was on earth, and the intercession in heaven; the 
oblation only once, and the intercession perpetual. The parti- 
cipial clause in the first part of the verse is meant to indicate 
antecedent, not simultaneous action (ver. 12); and a similar 
style of expression occurs at the beginning of the epistle (Heb. 
i. 3). 

The apostle is now led to subjoin a further statement of the 
same thing in an aphoristic form: For by one offering (-rpoc^opS) 
He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified (ver. 14). 

1 This is the construing of Theophylact, Luther, Tholuck. The original 
pointing also of the authorized English version was : "This man, after He had 
offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down." 

410 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

This assigns the reason of the previous statement, as is evident 
from the causal or grounding particle for, — a reason based on 
the sufficiency of the sacrifice for all the purposes of man's 
salvation. Because it was so, the Surety sat down on His 
mediatorial throne, waiting for the final victory. As to the 
word offering here used, it is of the same meaning with the 
previous term sacrifice (ver. 12), but more general. The 
same two terms are applied, but in a different order, to the 
death of Christ in another epistle (Eph. v. 2). When the 
apostle says, "by one offering," 1 he plainly alludes to the 
previous expression, " through the offering of the body of Jesus 
Christ once" (ver. 10). As all the terms here used have been 
already considered, two remarks will suffice. 

1. We have another emphatic reference to the one sacrifice. 
The importance of this point was great. It could not be placed 
in too great prominence, as will appear by recalling other 
passages to the same effect (Heb. vii. 27, ix. 26, 28). In this 
passage, after pointing out that the Levitical atonements cul- 
minated in the sin-offering which the high priest offered year 
by year continually, and the repetition of which argued imper- 
fection, he shows that the Lord Jesus, by one offering, or by 
the offering of His body once (ver. 10), perfected for ever them 
that are sanctified. Before passing from this point, it may be 
noticed that the one sacrifice is a point of as great moment 
against Socinians and Bomanists as it was against the ancient 
Jews of the apostle's age : it cannot be put in too great pro- 
minence. It is diametrically opposite to the Socinian notion 
of a sacrifice in heaven, or a perpetual oblation ; for it is one 
thing to offer an oblation, and another to carry on perpetual 
intercession. It is diametrically opposed to all Eomanist or 
semi-Bomanist theories, which argue for a repetition of the 
sacrifice in the Lord's Supper. The Epistle to the Hebrews 
supplies a ready answer to sacerdotal assumptions of this sort. 

■rpoa-^opa, might be construed as the nominative to rsrsXtlaixsv, but not so 


The repetition argues defect and imperfection. Not only so: 
for a renewal of the propitiatory sacrifice the apostle explicitly 
declares there must be fresh abasement on the part of Christ ; 
renewed suffering; the shedding of blood, coupled with an 
accursed death (Heb. ix. 26). The reason of this was, that the 
sin-offering was vicarious. 1 

2. The one offering perfected the saints. This was accom- 
plished objectively when Christ died ; for all the saints were 
represented in their Surety before the divine mind. When the 
one sacrifice is said to perfect them, the meaning is, that it 
effected full remission, a complete expiation ; objectively secur- 
ing personal acceptance, priestly standing, covenant nearness 
as a peculiar people ; and subjectively securing the purging of 
conscience, or the making the worshippers perfect as pertaining 
to the conscience. What effected this ? Not Christ's doctrine 
nor His example, but the offering of His body once. 2 These 
three terms, perfect, sanctify, purge or purify, are terms of 
sacrificial import — relative terms bearing on the standing of 
the worshipper before God. They do not mean moral amend- 

Another point remains to be noticed in this connected 
outline, which compares Christ's official action and that of the 
high priest on the day of atonement: A new and living way 
which He hath consecrated for us through the veil, that is to say, 
His flesh (Heb. x. 19). How could the flesh of Christ be the 
veil which served to shut out the holiest of all from human 
access ? The investigation of this fact opens up a chain of 
important truths. The antitype of the veil is expressly said 
to be the Lord's flesh ; and we have already seen that, when 
the term flesh is so applied, it has the peculiar meaning of 
sin-bearing humanity. Thus we read of the days of His flesh 

1 See the striking discussion of Calovius in his Socinismus profligatus : 
"utrum Christi oblatio jugis sit" (p. 368). 

2 We may compare Heb. ii. 10 : The redeemed were viewed as objectively 
in Christ, and all who are uyio%lft°.voi were objectively reconciled and perfected in 
that one sacrifice. 

412 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

(Heb. v. 7); of knowing Christ after the flesh (2 Cor. v. 1G). 
The sins of His people were by imputation laid on Him so 
long as He sojourned among men ; and therefore His humanity, 
so long as it was uncrucifiecl, was still a proof that the curse 
was not removed, nor sin abolished. By the veil we under- 
stand Christ's flesh burdened with our sins, and laden with all 
the curse which the law threatened against transgressors. 1 • His 
flesh was rent, as the veil was rent, at His death, to open up to 
His people free access into the holiest of all. He entered, 
and they entered with Him, into a state of perfect rest and 
intimate fellowship with God. He entered within the veil at 
the moment the spirit was separated from the body; and 
through means of His surrendered life, we entered into the 
nearest communion with God. This was a new and living 
way, and it was, so to speak, signed and sealed by the historic 
fact of the rending of the temple veil (Matt, xxvii. 5 7). The 
entrance of Christ's soul into heaven, or paradise, at the moment 
of His death, as has been already shown, corresponded with 
the carrying of the blood into the holiest of all. 

Hence we draw near with sprinkled consciences (x. 22). 
Christians are all said to have come to the blood of sprinkling 
(xii. 24). As the blood was the blood of victims, to which the 
guilt of the worshippers had been transferred, the sprinkling of 
it freed the Israelite from punishment and ceremonial defile- 
ment. The sprinkling of Christ's blood cancels all sin, and 
purifies the conscience for ever. 

IX. We come now to a section which delineates the sacri- 
ficial institute and its typical import in a variety of lights : We 
have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat ivho serve the 
tabernacle. For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought 
into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin [or, as a sin-offer- 
ing], are burned without the camp. Wherefore Jesus also, that 

1 See Witsius, de Fcedere, ii. 6. 9 : "Caro Cliristi velum erat, aditum nobis 
intercludens. Quamdiu enim adlmc erat integra, indicium erat nondum aboliti 
neccati, nee sublatse maledictionis." 


He might sanctify the people with [better, through] His own 
blood, suffered without the gate (Heb. xiii. 10-12). The apostle 
draws a comparison between the old and new economy, and 
exhibits the danger of abiding by the shadow. They who 
served the tabernacle are they who adhered to the external 
rites of Judaism, and never penetrated into the inward gospel 
worship which Christianity has introduced. As contrasted 
with this, the apostle says, "We have an altae. A few words 
will suffice to show the meaning. In the arrangements of the 
Mosaic worship there were two altars, — the brazen altar of 
burnt-offering in the court, and the altar of incense in the holy 
place. To the former the apostle's words clearly refer, accord- 
ing to a phraseology current among the Hebrews, of which we 
find an example in Malachi (Mai. i. 7) : the altar is spoken of 
as a table furnished with bread. 

1. A preliminary comment is necessary as to the meaning 
of the first of these verses (ver. 10), and whether it is to be 
taken in connection with the next verses. The altar is de- 
scribed as supplying food, — that is, the flesh of slain victims ; 
and all who ministered in the tabernacle — that is, who were 
officially connected with its services — had a right to eat of it. 
Of some of the sacrifices the Israelites generally, the women 
and children, were allowed to partake; but the reference is 
specially to the priests, who, according to the law, had their 
appropriate portions assigned them from the sacrifices brought 
to the altar. They participated in the thank-offerings, and also 
in the sin-offerings offered by private individuals (Lev. vi. 1G, 
vii. 5). But this was kept within strictly defined limits. 
Thus, no priest could eat of the altar in the case of the burnt- 
offerings : they were wholly to be consumed. Nor could they 
eat of the altar on the occasion of the public sin-offering on 
the day of atonement, to which frequent reference is made in 
this epistle, for no part of it was to be reserved (Lev. xvi. 27). 
All these were indications of imperfect atonement, and that the 
great sacrifice was yet to come. And this fact was significant ; 

414 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

like the entire institutions of the first covenant, an actual pro- 
phecy of the new covenant. 

What altar does the apostle speak of as peculiar to Chris- 
tianity, when he says, We have an altar? The Lutheran 
writers, for the most part, understand the wood of the cross, 
or the tree to which Peter refers (1 Pet. ii. 24). Others, espe- 
cially patristic writers, understand the Lord's Supper ; a view 
which, when once allowed, had a tendency constantly to re- 
ceive new elements, till another priesthood and sacrifice super- 
seded the one priest and one sacrifice. Others say the altar 
means the entire New Testament worship. The altar of which 
the apostle speaks, is plainly that on which the Lord offered 
His sacrifice ; that is, the cross, viewed as the manifestation of 
divine justice and holiness. That is our altar in the court of 
the Lord's house : there God showed Himself reconciled ; there 
the Son of God was offered, and poured out His blood abun- 
dantly. 1 Of this altar Christians eat without reserve, receiving 
the crucified Christ, and having fellowship with Him. On the 
other hand, they who served the tabernacle, that is, they who 
attached themselves to the rites and ceremonies of the old wor- 
ship, when all was abrogated by Christ's atonement, preferring 
the shadow to the substance, could not eat of the Christian's 
altar, and had no right to it. 

2. The apostle finds typical significance in the fact that 
the bodies of the victims offered as a sin-offering were burned 
without the camp. The slain animal was carried without the 
camp, by reason of the defilement with which it was laden, and 
for which it was rejected, or deserted, by God and man; and 
Christ, covered with guilt and defilement, was led without the 
gates of Jerusalem, and suspended on the accursed tree, be- 
tween heaven and earth, as if unworthy of either. The apostle 
is the best expounder of the secret meaning of the ceremonial 
law ; and the meaning of the word wherefore is best eluci- 
dated by this interpretation — viz. that the type might be ful- 
1 See the Dutch commentators, e.g. D'Outrein, Bonnet, etc., on Hebrews. 


filled. 1 That removal of the victims beyond the walls clearly- 
intimated that they were unclean, because the guilt and 
punishment of the people were imputed to them. They were 
considered as polluted with the guilt of the people. Now, 
according to the true meaning of the type, Christ is compared 
to the ancient sacrifices, the sins of the people being imputed 
to Him. He was considered as a sinner, and obliged to bear 
the guilt, the shame, the penalty of others, 2 to suffer without 
the gate, that He might restore men to the favour and friend- 
ship of God. We do not need to insist upon details; but 
taking into account the point of comparison between type and 
antitype, we ask, Can these words by any violence be made to 
mean, as some will have it, that Christ dedicated the Jews to 
Christianity, or brought them from one profession to another ? 
The comparison instituted between Christ and the ancient 
sacrifices, whose bodies were burned without the camp, would 
then be destitute of meaning. 

3. Consider the burning of the sin-offerings, whose blood 
was brought by the high priest into the holy of holies on the 
day of atonement. The connection between the sprinkling of 
the mercy-seat and the burning of the bodies demands atten- 
tion. They were both atoning. The act of burning was after 
the act of carrying the blood into the holiest of all, but how 
long after it may be difficult to ascertain. As the burning 
following the sprinkling of the mercy-seat was a type of 
Christ's suffering without the gate, we may warrantably 
affirm that this is another proof that the entrance into the 
holiest of all stood connected with His death, and not with 
His ascension. This confirms the interpretation already given. 
The burning, identified as it is with Christ's suffering, followed, 
and could not have preceded, the sprinkling of the mercy-seat 
(Lev. xvi. 27, 28). 

1 So Estius, as quoted by Bleek : "ut ille typus V. T. impleretur." 

2 See Albert Schultens' Dutch Commentary on Heidelberg Catechism, i. p. 
217. Bahr labours iu vain to explain away this idea in Studien und Kritiken, 
1849, p. 936. 

416 apostles' sayings ox the atonement. 

We cannot sunder the burning of the bodies of the victims, 
the second part of the sacrificial ritual, from the sprinkling of 
the blood, which was the first part ; for then the unity of the 
whole would be destroyed. That the burning of the sacrifice 
may be correctly apprehended, it must be added that the refer- 
ence is not to inward holiness, but to vicarious obedience in 
suffering. This is indisputably proved by the present passage, 
making it equivalent to the Lord's death without the gate. If 
the sprinkling of blood sets forth the vicarious endurance of 
the penalty, the act of burning fitly brings out that active 
obedience, or positive sinlessness, evinced amid all that was 
to be endured, which was an odour of sweet smell to the 
Holy One of Israel (Eph. v. 1). The union of suffering .and 
sinlessness was a sweet-smelling savour. The imperfection of 
the type, requiring as it did successive acts to bring out what 
in reality was simultaneous, prevents us from clearly perceiv- 
ing these two in their combination. Only one thing more 
must be noticed, viz. the meaning of the fire by which the 
bodies of the victims were consumed. Already it has been 
proved that this was intended to figure forth the Holy Ghost, 
which came down from heaven upon the sacrifice, as the fire 
from heaven often fell, rendering it acceptable and of sweet- 
smelling savour to God (see Heb. ix. 14). The burning was 
vicarious and atoning. 

This enables us to meet the modern objection, that the 
burning of the bodies was not a religious act at all, and had 
nothing whatever to do 1 with atonement. The two things put 
together are thus a mere coincidence, without typical signifi- 
cance. But the answer to all this is obvious : the apostle 
affirms the opposite in terms the most express, for he asserts 
the typical relation between the two things, according to divine 
appointment. A typical relation obtains between the two, and 
they must have the same meaning. On the one hand, the 

1 So Hofmann permits himself to speak. See Keil's admirable reply, ZeAt- 
echriftfur Lutherische Tkeoloyie, 1857, p. 4G3. 


bodies of the beasts slain for burnt-offerings were burned 
without the camp, because they were unclean in consequence 
of the sins of the congregation being laid on them; and on 
the other hand, Christ, the sinless One, accounted guilty, and 
adjudged a criminal by man, was led forth without the gate to 
suffer the penalty of death, according to the terms of the law 
(Lev. xxiv. 14; Num. xv. 35; Deut. xvii. 5). This was ex- 
pulsion from the covenant people. 1 As Caiaphas pronounced 
a proj)hecy without knowing it, so, in condemning Christ to 
a malefactor's death without the gate, they fulfilled, without 
knowing or intending it, the typical import of the burning of 
the bodies of the sin-offerings. According to the divine pur- 
pose, He must suffer as a malefactor without the gate, if He 
was to suffer the penalty of human guilt. This, according to 
the apostle, was the typical significance of that act of burning. 

4. Christ's design was, " that He might sanctify the people 
with His own blood." This is one of those many final clauses, 
introduced by a final particle (jva), which are intended to bring 
out divine purpose, or Christ's own design in connection with 
His death ; and they give us a glimpse into Christ's heart. 
In the present instance, the design contemplated by the Lord 
in His death, is said to have been the sanctification of the 
people — that is, of the people of God, the elect of God. Cast 
out by men, and punished as the surety of the guilty, He was 
all the while, as the sinless sin-bearer, offering a sacrifice so 
acceptable, that He was securing the dedication and separation 
of the people to God. This is the relative sanctification, not 
the inherent : it is that which immediately results from sacri- 
fice. The great day of atonement did*this for Israel in a lower 
sphere, cancelling the sins of the year, and setting apart the 
people anew. The blood of Christ did it in the higher sphere 
for all sins, and for ever. 

X. The last passage referring to the atonement is the me- 
morable prayer in which the apostle commends the Hebrew 

1 So Blihr happily describes it. 
2 D 

418 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

Christians to God: Now the God of peace, that brought again 
from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, 
through [literally, m] the blood of the everlasting covenant, make 
you perfect in every good work to do His will (Heb. xiii. 20). 
This passage recapitulates in the form of prayer the contents 
of the entire epistle, which was specially intended to set forth 
the nature of Christ's priesthood, and the new covenant of 
which He is the mediator. 

1. A particular title of God, referring to the new relation 
in which He stands to mankind on the ground of the atone- 
ment, is presented in the invocation, " the God of peace." This 
designation, intimating reconciliation with God, 1 implies that 
hostility has ceased. When we trace the history of our race, 
we find that the friendship which man made with Satan caused 
enmity with God, and that the first proclamation of the gospel 
in Paradise, foretelling enmity between the serpent and the 
woman, included a way of peace with God. The ancient types 
and sacrifices, though inadequate to give this peace, prefigured 
it till Christ came. The invocation is addressed to the God 
of peace, once angry, but whose anger is turned away by the 
atonement, which appeased Him ; for in vain would blessings 
be sought from an angry Judge without the means of recon- 
ciliation. But the prayer is offered without fear to a pacified 
God, who looks not at human amendments or repentance, at 
human sorrow, humiliation, or gifts presented to Him on the part 
of those whose personal standing was that of rebels and crimi- 
nals, but at the sinless life and vicarious sufferings of His Son. 

2. The next clause, referring to the resurrection of our Lord, 
shows that by this fact God is proved to be the God of peace. 
The resurrection is here ascribed to the Father, because in our 
redemption He was the source of the great provision, sending 
the Son and receiving the satisfaction from His hands. The first 

The phrase « Bio; *■?$ ilpfaw cannot refer to peace between Christians them- 
selves. Though De Wette, Lunemann, and Delitzsch so expound it, it is plainly 


proof of being pacified was given by openly releasing or dis- 
charging the Surety on the morning of His resurrection. The 
apostle deduces the argument that God is reconciled, and His 
anger turned away, from the historic fact of the resurrection, 
which proved, if anything could, that He is " the God of peace." 
The Lord Jesus, in his capacity of Surety, had entered into our 
obligations in every respect — into prison and judgment for us — 
and was brought again from the dead by Him who is the foun- 
tain of law and justice, because ample satisfaction and payment 
had been rendered. Had not this been so, God could not have 
discharged the Surety, and brought Him again from the dead ; 
but He liberated all His people in such a way that Christ stands 
before our view as the evidence and attestation of their dis- 
charge : and hence the apostle in this prayer appeals to all the 
attributes of God, expecting a display of grace and power for the 
ends of men's salvation and the welfare of the church of God. 

3. It is further added, that all this was in, or with, the 
blood of the eteenal covenant. The dispute among exposi- 
tors here is, whether to construe these words with the resurrec- 
tion, intimating that Christ was raised in virtue of the blood of 
the covenant ; or with the Shepherd of the sheep, conveying the 
sense that the function of the Shepherd is founded on the fact 
that He bought the sheep with His own blood. An equal 
number of expositors is found ranged on opposite sides of this 
point. 1 I am persuaded that the apostle meant to combine 
both thoughts, and that we are not to think of the resurrec- 
tion apart from the great Shepherd's function, nor conversely. 
It is a diversity of view where none should exist, and where 
conflicting views may be united. 

It only remains to notice that this covenant is described 
with the addition of the term blood, which conveys the idea 
of sacrificial blood as that on which it is founded. 2 

1 Bleek, De Wette, and Delitzsch construe the words U alpotri with ava-ya-yav ; 
whereas Lunemann and others connect them with Toi/^iva, tov piyxv. 

2 See our former volume, on Matt. xxvi. 28. 



WE come now to the testimony of Peter, whose activity in 
the first founding of the Christian church, as the most 
prominent man of action, was already noticed under the Acts 
of the Apostles. We here confine ourselves to his epistles. 
The first of these was addressed to the strangers of the diaspora 
(1 Pet. i. 1), a title which seems an allusion to a class of Jewish 
Christians rather than a metaphor for their pilgrim life. This 
at least is the conclusion to which exegetical inquiry in modern 
days has brought most minds, though the tendency for a long 
time was different. The words strangers of the dispersion 
lead us to regard the epistle as addressed to Jewish believers, 
whether they originally belonged to the Jerusalem congrega- 
tion, and went abroad on the errands of their calling, or more 
probably came under Christian influences on some of those 
occasions when they came up from Pontus, Galatia, Cappa- 
docia, Asia, and Bithynia, and carried home the truth to be 
diffused among their Jewish countrymen. The districts named, 
with the exception of Galatia and Asia, are not precisely in the 
sphere of Paul's missionary tours. Though it is not our object 
to discuss the date of Peter's epistle, Weiss' conclusion is not 
improbable, that it was prior to Paul's residence in Ephesus 
(Acts xix. 1) : certainly it bears all the marks of being com- 
posed at an early period of the Christian church. 

Peter has been called the apostle of hope, as John is of 
love ; and agreeably to this feature of character, the aspect in 


which lie presents the atonement is pre-eminently deliverance 
from the effects of sin. Peter sustains the character of a wit- 

ness of Christ's sufferings (1 Pet. v. 1) ; and his allusions to 
the blood, the stripes, and the death of Christ, show how fully 
he had outlived the state of mind which was offended at the 
idea of a suffering Messiah. The aspects of the Lord's history 
set on the foreground are the sufferings that were to come on 
Christ, and the glories that should follow — the themes which 
the prophets searched into (1 Pet. i. 11). Peter represents the 
gospel very much in the light of the fulfilment of prophecy, 
as James represents it in the light of the perfect law. Hence, 
in his vivid delineation of Christ from personal recollection, 
he passes from prophecy to his own testimony, blending the 
two together in the most natural way. He speaks as the eye- 
-witness of the Lord's abasement, and the spectator of that in- 
terview on the holy mount when heavenly visitants conferred 
^ with Christ about His death, and animated Him in His suffer- 
ing career (1 Pet. ii. 23; 2 Pet. i. 16). He reproduces the 
Lord's words, or the Baptist's, in several passages which de- 
scribe the atonement; and in unambiguous terms brings out 
the different elements of the doctrine, the nature, and fruits of 
the Sacrifice. 

I. At the commencement of the epistle, Christians are 
thus described : -Meet according to the foreknowledge of God the 
Father, through [better, in] sanctification of the Spirit, unto 
obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ (1 Pet. i. 2). 
The words describe God's election from a threefold point of 
I view : its source in divine foreknowledge ; the mode in which 
I it is carried out by sanctification of the Spirit ; and the end 
contemplated, viz. obedience and sprinkling of the blood of 
Christ. The obedience here named is but another name for 
faith, or, more strictly, for that obedience of faith which sub- 
mits to the righteousness of God. 1 An obedience follows 
faith ; but this is the obedience of faith itself (Eom. i. 5 ; Acts 
1 See Gerhard on Peter ; also Klinkenberg on the passage. 


422 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

vi. 7). As God's commandment is to believe, so it becomes a 
paramount duty to obey, or submit to God's way of salvation 
(Rom. x. 3). 

The next thing contemplated by the election of Christians, 
and their separation by the Spirit from the common mass, was 
"the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ." This sacri- 
ficial language receives its illustration from the ancient ritual. 
"Whenever mention is made in the Old Testament of the 
sprinkling of blood or of ashes, the allusion is to the blood or 
ashes of victims to which the offerer's guilt was transferred : 
sprinkling made atonement for the parties spoken of, freeing 
them from guilt and punishment. That the expressions to 
spkinkle, and to absolve from guilt, are coincident, may be 
seen from the passages where the language occurs (Ex. xxix. 
21 ; Num. xix. 13; Ps. li. 7). If justice is to be done to the 
present passage, and others similar, we must represent the Lord 
Jesus as an atoning sacrifice, to which the sins and punishment 
of His people have been transferred ; while, on the other side, 
His merits applied to them serve to expiate their guilt, and 
present them faultless before God. The words mean that 
Christ's blood makes atonement for the elect, and that they 
are chosen of God and separated by the Spirit for this end. 
An atoning death for sin always preceded, and was presup- 
posed by, the sprinkling. The apostle represents the blood of 
Christ as sacrificial, a meaning which the word usually bears. 
This passage limits the sprinkling to persons, without noticing 
the other sprinkling, more objective in its character, applied to 
the altar of burnt -offering (Lev. i. 5), to the veil of the sanc- 
tuary (Lev. v. 6), and to the mercy-seat on the day of atone- 
ment (Lev. xvi. 14). In its application to persons we find two 
things included — a positive and a negative ; the remission of 
sins, and a provision for securing access with boldness and 
confidence. Pardon, in a word, was only a pathway to the 
further privilege of a covenant relation, as in the case of Israel 
at Mount Sinai (Ex. xxiv. 8). 


Possibly, as has been conjectured, Peter only reproduces 
the ideas which he had heard from the lips of his Lord at the 
institution of the Supper (Matt. xxvi. 28). The blood shed for 
many, or sprinkled, as some choose rather to view it, was not 
only for the remission of sins, but for the institution of the 
new covenant, replacing that of Sinai. The further idea of a 
covenant relation secured by the sprinkling of Christ's blood 
on those who are set apart as Christians, is warranted by 
Peter's words. Nor is that all : a continuous sprinkling of the 
blood of Christ to perpetuate that covenant standing, and to 
adjust the relation afresh when it is disturbed, is also in- 
volved in the terms. As the term is used in the Epistle 
to the Hebrews, sprinkling intimates an action which lies 
at the foundation of a covenant relation 1 (Heb. xii. 24, x. 22). 
Whether we look, then, at the words of Christ on the occasion 
of instituting the Supper, or at Israel's position at Mount 
Sinai, or at the close connection between the blood of sprin- 
kling and the new covenant, as indicated in the Epistle to the 
Hebrews, we may safely conclude that the apostle alludes to 
the founding of a new covenant relation in Christ's blood. The 
death of Christ atones, and puts away sin ; but not only so : it 
forms a positive covenant relation by which Christians, elected 
and set apart, become a people of God by the sprinkling of 
Christ's blood. 

II. In a second reference to the death of Christ, Peter con- 
nects it with redemption, placing them together as cause and 
effect : Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver 
and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from 
your fathers ; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a Lamb 
without blemish and without spot : who verily tvas foreordained 
before the foundation of the world (1 Pet. i. 18, 19). This is an 
echo of the Lord's own words as to the giving of His life a 
ransom for many, with perhaps a further allusion to the Bap- 
tist's testimony to the Lamb of God. The words are put in 

1 See Weiss' der Petrinische Lehrbegriff, p. 271. 


such a form and connection as to imply an obvious allusion to 
the first passover in Egypt, and the subsequent redemption. 
The apostles have made the doctrine of the atonement more 
perspicuous and striking by the copious use of this class of 
terms, which also recall the Old Testament history, where the 
same ideas are typically exhibited. We have already had 
occasion to find a sure basis for the exposition of the text 
before us, in the elucidation of similar passages in due course 
in the several epistles. The remarks already made on the 
word ransom, as used by our Lord (Matt. xx. 2$), may here 
be recalled. 

The primary meaning of the term redeem is to deliver from 
slavery, or captivity under the power of an enemy, by the 
payment of a ransom. This is the simple meaning of the word, 
and it precisely corresponds to the English verb to ransom, 
derived from its cognate noun in the very same way. If the 
Saxon term, indeed, were used instead of the term of Latin 
origin, it would be the exact equivalent, and not less emphati- 
cally convey to an English reader the idea of deliverance from 
captivity by the payment of a ransom ; and we are not to aban- 
don the proper sense while it is compatible with the case in 
hand. Under an evangelical garb we find, in modern times, a 
new mode of representing the party to whom the ransom is 
given, which is very wide of the mark. Thus Stier and Klaiber 
make use of the term only to explain away its significance. 
They allow that Christ gave His holy human life and shed His 
precious blood as a ransom, and they will allow the word, if we 
wish it, that He paid the ransom. But when the question is 
raised, to whom was it paid, and by whom was it received, the 
divergence becomes apparent. They will not admit that it was 
offered to God, who, as they represent the matter, is to be 
viewd as eternally rich, and, whether considered as Love or as 
Justice, as having need of none. They hold that it was paid to 
us men, the poor and destitute. In other words, they do not 
allow that it was paid to God in our stead ; for God dispenses 


an absolute pardon id the exercise of pure love by His Son, 
only slain in proclaiming this gracious message. They retain 
the name and neutralize the meaning, or make it a mere meta- 
phor, excluding the idea of an equivalent or satisfaction to the 
divine law for our deliverance. They hold that, without any 
reparation to the law of God, men enter into union with Christ, 
who descended into humanity and lived a sinless human life, 
which is reproduced in us, His followers, by means of fellow- 
ship with Him. Only in this subjective way have His people 
any benefit from Christ, according to the theory. A change of 
nature is admitted, but no provision is made for the rectifica- 
tion of man's relation, or for his personal standing before God. 
The judicial element is discarded, and the claims of the divine 
law have no place. To this the ready answer is, that man^ is 
not merely a nature, butia person who must have a standing in 
law before the moral Governor of the universe ; and the terms 
connected with man's legal relation are, without exception, 
connected with the ransom offered to God in our stead by 
Christ's obedience unto death. 

But this leads me further to notice how the two ideas of 
ransom and sacrifice, by a natural and easy transition, pass 
into each other. However these ideas seem to differ, they do 
not diverge so widely when we attend to the biblical phraseo- 
logy, as a few remarks will show. What was effected by the 
ancient sacrifices, was the removal of the threatened penalty. 
On some occasions the Israelites, stringently bound to provide 
a satisfaction, were under the necessity of paying a certain 
ransom, which occupied the place of a sacrifice; and this 
ransom, paid in money, was called an atonement, as it ex- 
empted them from punishment (Ex. xxx. 15). The man was 
considered as a captive or prisoner to a divine retribution, if 
this was not rendered, whether it required a ransom, properly 
so called, or a sacrifice. But in all cases the principal matter 
is the turning away of a threatened calamity by means of the 
satisfaction (Job xxxiii. 24; Ex. xxi. 30; Vs. xlix. 7). If we 

42 G apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

keep this in view, we can have no difficulty in perceiving how 
the death of Christ can he represented in either light, and 
how the one thought passes over into the other hy an easy 
transition. His blood is thus a ransom, and the atonement 
accomplished by Him is a redemption. 

This enables us to obviate the often-repeated objection, that 
these terms are pressed beyond their legitimate significance, 
and that we attend more to the figure under which the truth is 
represented than to the thing itself. It is not so : for we hold 
as strongly as those who make the objection, that this would 
run counter to all the rules of sound interpretation. But the 
term means something, and cannot be treated as if it were not 
employed, or could be ignored; and we must do justice to its 
import, if we would not incur the deserved blame of indulging 
in a mere capricious exposition of terms meant to be signifi- 
cant. The question to be determined is : In what sense is the 
death of Christ called a ransom ? In what sense is the deliver- 
ance designated a redemption, and derived from the Mediator ? 
And to answer this inquiry, the rules of sound interpretation 
require not only that we shall examine the import of the terms, 
but the passages where they are found, the connection of the 
context, and the appended words which put the ransom and 
deliverance in the relation of cause and effect. 

The opponents of the vicarious satisfaction, when pressed 
by the consideration that the apostles bring out this causal 
connection, resort to the following evasion: They say the 
language may denote absolute liberation, as it comes to us by 
the proclamation of Christ, its great messenger, who confirmed 
His testimony by His death. 1 That is to make the allusion to 
Christ's death nugatory, when the proper import of the terms 
intimates something much beyond a preaching of uncondi- 
tional, unpurchased pardon. It contains nothing less than the 

1 A strenuous attempt has been made to make good this point by Oltramaire 
on Rom. iii. 24, and in one of the Latin treatises recently issued at Leyden by 
Bok on uvroXiirpcoirt;, but in vain. 


connection of cause and effect, price and deliverance. The 
language of the apostles on the subject of the ransom and 
redemption is too express to allow any such evacuation of 
the meaning, any evasion of this nature. It cannot be ex- 
pounded in any other sense than this, that the redemption is 
the direct immediate effect of the ransom or atonement offered. 
As a captive held in chains was set at liberty when the full 
ransom was paid, so are the people of Christ liberated by His 
death from guilt and punishment. If the death of Christ 
exercised no causal influence at all, if it was but a confir- 
mation of the proclamation of absolute deliverance, why does 
the Holy Ghost uniformly ascribe to the blood of Christ the 
character of a ransom ? 

The question on doctrinal grounds touches the deepest 
truths; it touches the divine attributes, to which all such 
questions are and must be run up — the authority of the divine 
law, the immutable justice, holiness, and truth of God. But 
does it, as is alleged, more fully display divine love to set forth 
absolute deliverance ? No : that is but indifference to human 
conduct, concession, indulgence, not love ; and we say, with the 
poet Young, "A God all mercy is a God unjust." 

The import of Peter's words ma)- lie easily collected. Their 
connection and significance may be thus stated : After an 
exhortation to walk in fear, the apostle adds, that the death 
of Christ, considered as a ransom, redeemed the believers, to 
whom he wrote, from their vain, ungodly conversation. He 
intimates that the blood of Christ — that is, the whole surety- 
obedience of Christ — won for them holiness as well as recon- 
ciliation ; for it is Peter's manner, when touching on the death 
of Christ, to unite the atoning and sanctifying elements. The 
thought is, that a sanctified life has its ground and possibility 
in the fact of the objective redemption from guilt, or in the 
blood of Christ as the ransom. 

The more necessary is it to advert to this, to obviate the 
conclusion that, because the death of Christ had in view this 

428 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

liberation from moral corruption, it could not be a satisfaction 
to the justice of God. These two things are not opposites, but 
related as primary and secondary. The primary design is 
atonement, and deliverance from a liability to eternal death. 
The secondary design, or that which is consequent on the 
attainment of the former, is this redemption or rescue from 
unholy conduct. The former is preparatory to the latter, and 
the connection may thus be stated : Forgiveness of sins is 
directly effected by the blood of Christ ; the forgiveness of sin 
paves the way for, and secures, the gift of the Holy Ghost; and 
where the Holy Ghost is, men are delivered 1 from their former 
vain conduct, according to the spirit of the age and the tra- 
ditions handed down to them. 

The apostle, too, lays stress on the greatness and value of 
the ransom by which we are redeemed. He exhibits the blood 
of Christ as the ransom, when he connects the redemption and 
the blood by a relation of cause and effect. To make this 
apparent, he compares two different kinds of redemption : one 
by corruptible things, as silver and gold; the other by a ransom 
infinitely more costly. This contrast proves that the death of 
Christ is a true ransom, and that the comparison is not be- 
tween a proper and a metaphorical redemption, but between 
one effected by silver and gold, and another brought about by 
no lower ransom than the blood of Christ. He names the 
price, and points to the result — deliverance in the first case 
from merited punishment, and in the second from vain conduct. 

Christ's blood, the price of our redemption, and described 
as precious, suggests, by way of contrast, the blood of lower 
animals constituting the ransom in typical ages before the 
reality was ushered in. The point of the comparison, or that 
which both had in common, was the satisfaction necessary for 
the liberation. We have seen how naturally, in the phrase- 
ology of Israel, the terms ransom and sacrifice passed over into 

1 See Gess, Jahrbiicher fur Deutsche Theologie, 1857 ; also Lechler, das 
apostolische Zeitalter, p. 178; and Tliomasius, Christi person, iii. p. 143. 


eacli other, and came to be united on the ground that any one 
neglecting the ceremonial precepts became by that neglect a 
captive to the retributive government of God, and a sacrifice 
or ransom redeemed him. When the blood of Christ is here 
contrasted with the ransoms or sacrifices current in the ancient 
_ Israeli tish community, the comparison must either intimate 
that our liberation stands in the same connection, or be inept 
and nugatory. 

In addition to this, let the particle by which the apostle 
introduces the .allusion to Christ as the unblemished and spot- 
less Lamb be carefully noted : " as of a Lamb." It is not the 
particle of comparison, but of explanation, expressing the 
reason why the blood of Christ was so infinitely precious. The 
original word rendered as, or as being (ojs), serves frequently 
to intimate the truth of a thing, or such a quality as belongs 
to a person or economy. Many passages serve to show this 
(John i. 14 ; Matt. xxi. 26 ; 2 Pet. i. 3 ; Phil. ii. 8 ; 2 Cor. ii. 17, 
v. 20). The important thought is, that Christ's blood is not 
to be considered as that of a teacher confirming his doctrine 
by his death, or of a hero exposing himself for his country, but 
sacrificial blood, as of a spotless lamb, whether the allusion be 
to the passover in Egypt, which is probable from the further 
reference to redemption, or to the lamb of the daily sacrifice. 
Eansom and sacrifice are so closely allied, that the one idea, 
from the nature of the case, at once passes over into the other. 

Thus His blood was sacrificially shed;, and it is further 
designated PRECIOUS, or of infinite value, from the fact that it 
was the sacrifice of a sinless person. To go back to the type, 
the Lamb must needs be without blemish and without spot 
(Ex. xii. 5 ; Lev. ix. 3) : for the perfection of the animal was 
not a mere prerequisite or condition of the sacrifice ; rather it 
was an element of it, offered in and with the blood. And 1 ] e 
sinless perfection of Jesus was not a mere indispensable \ 
requisite to the atonement, but an integral part of it. 
blood, viewed as sacrificial, possessed infinite value, bee; 

430 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

it was the blood not merely of the best of men, but of the 
eternal Son of God, and adequate to meet the wants of count- 
less millions of mankind. The apostle connects the high value 
of the sacrifice with the absolutely sinless purity of Christ. 
But the subjoined words, referring to the eternal fore-appoint- 
ment of Christ and the federal transactions of the Trinity, 
recall the dignity of the Lord as lending a divine value to the 
whole. Not one element then, but several, enter into the in- 
finite value of this precious blood. 

The remoter effect of Christ's redeeming blood, as here 
stated, is moral renovation. It has sanctifying efficacy, and 
prompts the Christian too, in the way of motive, to walk in 
fear (ver. 17). But this presupposes the remission of sins, 
and the acceptance of our persons, as the immediate effect of 
the Lord's sacrifice. The sacrifice conditions the sanctifying 
change, or spiritual renovation, which sets us free from our 
vain conversation according to the course of the world. The 
apostle's words assume that the Lord's death effects the re- 
mission of sins, and then gives rise to a sanctification of life or 
;; moral renovation. 

III. Another decisive passage as to the nature of the atone- 
ment occurs in the following chapter: Who His own self bare 
our sins in His own tody on [better, up to] the tree, that we, 
being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose 
stripes ye were healed (1 Pet. ii. 24). The apostle had addressed 
Christian slaves, a class of men who suffered deeply from the 
cruelty, caprice, and absolute power of heathen masters. Ani- 
mating them to patience, he pointed to Christ as the grand 
ttorn, who, when reviled, reviled not again, but committed 
df to God, the righteous Judge (vers. 18-23). The apostle 
ot stop short there, but adds, by a natural transition of 
it, that Christ's sufferings were more than an example. 
3iitions two things : first, what Christ did for us in His 
ngs and death ; secondly, for what end all was done. 
lows how painful, and yet voluntary, were those suffer- 


ings, liow innocent and elevated in their nature. First, when 
it is said that He boke ouk sins in His body, the shade of 
jneaniiig conveyed by the terms is, that_He bore our sins as a 
heavy burden. This will appear by a few considerations drawn 
from the primary meaning of the verb, from the accessory 
words, and from the context. 

a. As to the primary meaning of the verb (avcttp'sp&ii/), it 
denotes " to carry up," " to bear upwards." From that primary 
signification arises a secondary or .metaphorical sense in the 
most natural way, viz. " to offer in sacrifice." No writer uses 
the Greek verb in any other way, as will appear to any one 
who institutes a strict inquiry. It is used in its primary signi- 
fication, when it is said that the Israelites, at the exodus from 
Egypt, brougltt up the bones of Joseph (Josh. xxiv. 21) ; when 
David brouc/ht up the bones of Saul and Jonathan from Beth- 
shan (2 Sam. xxi. 1 3) ; when our Lord brought up the disciples 
to the Mount of Transfiguration (Matt. xvii. 1) ; when He was 
carried up to heaven at His own ascension (Luke xxiv. 51). 
In the secondary signification, naturally derived from the 
former, it denotes to offer in sacrifice ; the allusion being to 
the fact that the victim was carried up to the altar, which was 
always erected on a raised or elevated spot (Jas. ii. 21; Heb. 
vii. 27). 

b. The accessory words to be next noticed supply another 
reason for abiding in this case by the primary signification of 
the word. Two expressions render it absolutely necessary to 
retain that signification ; for the statement that He bore our 
sins in His own body, and next, that He bore them up to the 
thee, 1 can be fitly interpreted only when we maintain the 
primary meaning. 

c. The context was further mentioned, as requiring that the 
passage shall be understood of the bearing of sin as a heavy 
burden. A few words will show this. The apostle had ex- 

1 See Van Voorst, de Usu Verborum cum Prcepos. Compositorum in N. T. ; 
also Grotius. Annot. in N. T. 

432 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

horted Christian servants, by the Lord's example, to the patient 
endurance of the injurious treatment to which they were ex- 
posed ; and the notion of bearing a burden is so plainly con- 
tained in the passage, that, without it, no natural connection 
could obtain between the context and the clause under our 
notice. A threefold view of Christ is given : the patient 
sufferer who, when reviled, reviled not again; the faultless 
sufferer, who did no sin ; and the vicarious sufferer, who bore 
our sins in His own body. This makes it evident that we 
must retain the primary meaning of the verb. 

On these grounds, we deny the competency of the transla- 
tion, " He took away our sins." To this rendering many in 
former and recent times have given a preference, for various 
reasons. By most of the supporters of this rendering the idea 
attached to the phrase is, that of removing future sin by moral 
amendment. But, not to mention other arguments against 
that interpretation, let it suffice that this idea is intimated in 
the last clause of the verse, when the apostle mentions the 
ultimate end contemplated by the atonement; and to make 
both clauses affirm the same moral reformation, would not only 
be a tautology, but make a matter the reason of itself. That 
is decisive against the rendering, " He took away our sins." 
According to the other rendering, the atonement is represented 
as conditioning moral renovation. 

But even if such a rendering could be admitted, it would 
not make for the opponents of the vicarious satisfaction. The 
question would still recur, How were they then and there 
taken away ? The limitation of this removal, or taking away 
of sin, to Christ's own body on the tree, would still lead to the 
conclusion that this was accomplished eighteen centuries ago, 
and therefore would be tantamount to the atonement of the 
cross. The language is so environed and limited by the other 
words, that they must be taken as affirming that sin was taken 
away in His own body on the tree. Sin was thus taken away 
by a fact in connection with Christ's cross, and this virtually 


amounts to expiation. Peter's words refer all this to the cross ; 
and it is simply inconsistent with the apostle's design to affirm, 
as Socinians were wont to do, that this was but an inter- 
mediate stage in Christ's way to heaven, where sin was actually 
taken away. It will not do to say, as they said, that the cross 
does all this, as it persuades men to believe and lead a virtuous 
life, which is followed in due course by the taking away of sin. 
The words cannot be understood in that sense. They must be 
understood of a result effected in His own body. 

This leads me to an explanation which finds favour with a 
class who feel that they must say something about Christ's 
connection with human sin, but are committed to a disavowal 
of Christ's vicarious sacrifice : they make Him bear sin in His 
own body, because He received the outburst of human malice 
and passion against Himself. That we are warranted to call a 
mere evasion; for it changes the terms, substituting for the sins 
which He bore, the idea of malicious men opposing Him, and 
acting out their sinful feelings against Him. The answer to 
this is, that it runs counter to the Old Testament phraseology 
on the subject of bearing sin ; that no instance can be adduced 
where the phrase to bear sin has such an acceptation ; that 
certainly it does not so occur in a passage from Lamentations 
sometimes adduced in this sense (Lam. v. 7) ; and that, had 
Peter's design been to express this idea, he would have used 
wholly different language, as may be seen by comparing what 
lie did say in the book of Acts (Acts ii. 23, iii. 13). 

After removing these false comments, it remains that we 
bring out the positive ideas contained in the verse. These are 
specially two — vicarious sin-bearing, and priestly action on the 
cross ; and to both these we must specially advert. 

1. The words imply that Christ, by His own act as well as 
by Cod's appointment, bore our sins in His own body, con- 
necting Himself with sinful humanity, and taking our sins in 
such a way as to incorporate them with Himself, or conjoin 

them with His own body. The quotation from Isaiah estab- 

2 E 

434 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

lishes this still more precisely.' He made our sins His own, 
in such a way that they adhered to Him in the only sense in 
which they could adhere to the sinless humanity of the in- 
carnate Son — by suretyship and imputation. That is brought 
out in the words, who His own self. He became personified 
guilt : it was made His by His own act and His Father's will. 
The words refer to the efficacy of His person in the atonement, 
showing so marked an antithesis between Himself and our sin, 
that no man without prejudice can fail to apprehend the idea 
of substitution and sin-bearing. When a physician makes use 
of means, we cannot say that he himself wrought the cure. 
But of Christ it is said that He Himself bore our sins, and ex- 
piated them by transferring our obligations to His own person. 
He made them His, and bore them, that their guilt might not 
be imputed to us. 

2. Another idea is Christ's priestly action on the cross. 
The word here used stamps the character of a priestly action 
on this spontaneous offering of Christ. He carried our sins up 
to the tree ; in other words, He carried up His own body, laden 
with our sins, to the tree. The language is so put, that we can- 
not exclude the sacrificial idea. To that tree the Lord, by His 
own spontaneous act, carried up our sins, incorporating them 
with Himself, and consummating the oblation by His priestly 
act. It does not matter whether we take the wood of the cross 
as His altar, with some of the best commentators both in the 
Reformed and Lutheran Church, or prefer, with others, to ab- 
stain from such a definition of the altar. One thing is obvious, 
the idea is sacrificial. But when we decide for the allusion to 
a priestly sacrifice, it by no means follows that we must neces- 
sarily interpret the word sins here used as meant to denote 
sin-offering. The language in the plural cannot naturally 
admit that sense. Rather the apostle alludes to our count- 
less sins, viewed as guilt. What does the apostle mean when 
he names Christ's " body " as bearing the sin ? It is a synec- 
doche for the person. He does not mean that our Lord bore 


sin in His body alone. This appears very evidently from the 
other phrase, "who His own self." The body in which the 
Lord bore our sins is only contrasted with animal sacrifices. 

Nor is this text to be interpreted as teaching that Christ 
was the sin-bearer only during the hours when He hung on 
the cross, — a notion to which James Alting gave currency in 
Holland two centuries ago, and which has been revived among 
certain crude religionists in our own time. 1 Alting maintained 
that our Lord's sufferings were divided into those borne in His 
encounters with Satan, or such as were warlike, and those 
endured as a satisfaction for sin, limited to the three hours 
on the cross when the sun was darkened. That notion was 
repudiated by the best divines on all sides, who expressed their 
conviction that (the whole previous life of Christ came within 
the range of sin-bearing. They who appeal to this text as 
lending countenance to the theory that sin-bearing was limited 
to the time of the crucifixion, draw their argument from the 
English version, in this case palpably defective. The text does 
not say that sin-bearing coincided with the time of Christ's 
suspension on the cross. Still less does it say that He did 
not come within this experience in the previous stages of His 
life. It intimates that He who bore our sins all through His 
earthly history, bore them up to the cross, to be finally and for 
ever expiated. 

We do not hesitate to declare for the use of the biblical ex- 
pression sin-bearing, in preference to all the artificial language 
which many would put in its place. Some, without weighing 
the advantages of abiding by the nomenclature of Scripture, 
choose rather to speak of our punishment than of our sins 
being laid on Christ. The import in substance amounts to 
the same thing. But why alter the biblical phrase sin-bear- 
ing for any other mode of speech ? We forfeit precision, for 
without sin-bearing punishment could have no place. God 

1 Ths Plymouthists adduce this text for their notion that Christ bore sin 
only on the tree, but mistake the sense. 

430 apostles' sayings 

made our sins meet on the 

the time of the incarnation till He gave up His spirit on the 
cross, He appeared with them at every moment. He appeared 
with them before the divine tribunal, and even confessed them 
to His Father (Ps. xl. 12, lxix. 5). 

This of course assumes that in this great transaction, whether 
we call it sin-bearing or the imputation of sin, nothing is out of 
keeping with truth. Sins were not charged to Christ in such a 
sense that He was held to have personally done the deeds when 
He bore their guilt. No reasonable mind ever adopted a sup- 
position so unwarrantable. The distinction was always drawn 
between the personal and the official in all the language used 
of the vicarious satisfaction ; and had due regard been paid to 
this distinction, as is always done by intelligent expounders of 
the Scripture, much of the revolting language used by the op- 
ponents of the vicarious satisfaction, and many of the difficul- 
ties which they have conjured up, would have been forestalled 
and obviated. On the one hand, sin is so personal a thing, 
that it never ceases to be recalled as ours, as a source of 
humiliation, even when its guilt is cancelled ; for we may say, 
with Milton, " Who can undo the past ? not God Himself." 
On the other hand, sins w T ere charged to Christ in such a 
sense that they were transferred to Him, as He sustained the 
person of the sinner ; and thus they are no longer ours, but 
His, w r ho, as the sinless surety, condescended to bear them in 
His own body to the tree. They are to the believing mind 
still the cause of humiliation, for it will be always true that we 
committed them ; and we must say, These sins are ours. On 
the other hand, seeing them in the light of Christ's cross, w r e 
also say, These sins are no longer ours, in consequence of the 
expiation of the cross, and are extinguished or annihilated as 
if they had never been. The exchange of places explains all. 
This can be fully maintained in harmony with the truth of 
God. I only add, that Christ's bearing of our sins was meant 
to fill the whole horizon of the church's view, as if nothing 


were seen between us and God but the Surety surrendering 
Himself as the sin-bearer, and satisfying for sin. 

3. The next thing to be noticed is the fi nal cause or end 
contemplated in the divine plan by the atonement : " that (Jva) 
we, being dead to sin, might live unto righteousness." The two 
clauses of the verse are connected by the particle of design 
(tuu), so as to show that Christ's death aimed at moral renova- 
tion as well as pardon. And this, as we noticed above, is 
decisive as to the strict connection between the atonement and 

This fact is established, whether we hold with some, that 
Peter has his own phraseology and phase of thought, or hold 
with others, that we have a mode of expression common to 
Paul and Peter. The former view renders the words, " that 
we, being freed from sins, might live unto righteousness ;" and 
the sense is, that we are freed from the heavy guilt of sin, and 
no more disquieted by it. That is the practical end kept in 
view by those to whom the atonement is applied, and more 
and more to be attained. The words may admit this interpre- 
tation, which is supported by many excellent expositors, but 
not so naturally. The other view is, that we have a style of 
thought common to Paul and Peter, meaning, according to the 
translation of the authorized English version, that we died 
with Christ in that atoning death. We shared so fully in that 
one act of our Eepresentative, that we suffered the punishment 
of sin, and fulfilled the divine claims in Him, as truly as if 
we had personally performed it all. This is preferable, and 
does greater justice to the language : it retains the contrast 
between death and life; it shows more forcibly in what way 
the Christian died TO sin, and is discharged from its guilt. 

The important thought, in a doctrinal point of view, is, that 
the atonement procured a premial life, or paved the way, 
according to the divine aim, for a life of holy obedience. That 
is described in the way of purchase rather than in the way of 
human motive. This was the ulterior end for which the Lord 

438 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

bore our sins in His own body. The expiation of sin, and the 
acceptance of our persons, contemplated that further object. 

Sin is considered as a potentate, or master, exercising au- 
thority over a slave. Death liberates the slave ; and when the 
penal infliction due to sin ran its course on the Surety, with 
whom we were one in the eye of God, we died to sin. His 
death and our death are not regarded as two separate acts, of 
which the one is like the other, but one and the same. To 
understand how the action of one may be for many, we have 
only to recall the first Adam : by one man sin entered into the 
world, and it was the act of one for many. According to 
apostolic language, we may either say, Christ died for us, to 
deliver our persons from guilt, and secure the renovation of our 
natures to newness of life ; or, We obeyed when He obeyed, and 
died when He died in that one representative act, that, as the 
recipients of a new premial life, we may walk in holy obe- 
dience. The latter is preferable. We find it repeated in the 
Pauline epistles in various forms, and particularly in the 
phraseology that we were co-crucified with Christ in that one 
corporate surety-act. 1 

The doctrine contained in this important clause is, that 
only as sin is expiated and the sinner discharged, can a holy 
life begin ; and that there is no way apart from this for the 
dedication of our lives to God. Discharged by the sin-bearing 
death of Christ from the captivity under which we were held, 
we are prepared for personal dedication, and a holy obedience 
to God different from the previous life of sin. This was the 
great end for which Christ bore our sins in His own body on 
the tree. 

IV. We come now to a statement which, of all the pas- 
sages, gives us the clearest description of substitution and 
vicarious punishment : For Christ also hath once suffered for 

1 See our remarks above on Rom. vi. 1-11, and on 2 Cor. v. 14. See Doedes, 
p. 327, wIki makes uvroyivop.ivei not dead, but sundered, or having done with. 
See Weiss. 


sins, the just for the unjust [better, the righteous for the un- 
righteous'], that He might bring us to God, being put to death in 
the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit (1 Pet. iii. 18). This verse 
is introduced as grounding the practical duty that Christians 
must willingly suffer for righteousness' sake (vers. 14, 17). The 
expressions may be an echo of similar terms used by the Lord 
Himself on various occasions, combined with others derived 
from Isaiah's prophecy. They teach, in unfigurative language, 
that Christ, personally righteous, suffered punishment for sins 
in room of the guilty. The apostle's object is to bring out that 
the effect of the atonement is to bring back to God, or restore 
to priestly nearness and priestly service, those who by sin had 
been widely separated and estranged from Him. 

1. The first thing mentioned is, that He suffered for sins. 
The meaning of the expression, which it is necessary accurately 
to apprehend, is that vsin was the cause or ground on account 
of which He suffered. Had there been no sin in us, Christ 
would not have been required to suffer. But because we were 
guilty, or liable to punishment, He underwent the suffering. 1 
The meaning of the words, " He suffered for sins," is self- 
evident from the language of ordinary life. Thus, in common 
discourse, when we say of any one that he suffered for his sins, 
the import is that he bore their punishment; and no other 
sense can be put upon the words by any hearer or reader. 
And, in like manner, when we read that Christ the righteous 
suffered for sins, which are further mentioned as the sins of the 
unrighteous, the import is, that the innocent took upon Him- 
self the sins of others, and suffered the punishment which the 
guilty should have endured. That is the natural and necessary 
meaning. Lest it should be alleged there was no relation be- 
tween the sufferings of Christ and those of guilty men, Peter 
says, in terms the most precise, that He suffered for sins, and 
for the guilty. Nor can any other interpretation of the words 

1 Doedes (I.e. ) shows that Christ's death was made necessary by the sins of 
the aliKm. 

440 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

be made even probable. They cannot, for example, mean 
that Christ died to turn men away from future sinning, for 
that could not be called suffering for sin. To bring out that 
sense, many additional words would be necessary, whether it 
were understood as a motive on the part of man, or as an 
influence on the part of God. The suffering is spoken of as 
caused by actual guilt, past and present sin, of which the 
Christian is already conscious. When Paul speaks of Christ 
U'ivino; Himself for our sins, and unites with this a further 

DC? 7 

reference to a future amendment or deliverance from this pre- 
sent evil world, the two things are plainly distinguished from 
each other (Gal. i. 4). As little can the words refer to the 
sinful passions of men, or to the bitter hostility with which the 
Jews were animated when they crucified the Lord : that could 
not be called a suffering for sins. The allusion is to the actual 
guilt of men, which must be expiated by punishment. This is 
the result or full effect of what was already noticed, — the bear- 
ing of sin in His own body to the tree. Here we may take in 
the phrase, being put to death in the flesh. This peculiar style 
of language applied to Christ, denotes His abased, sin-bearing 
humanity (see Heb. v. 7), contrasted with the state in which 
He now is, and implies all the infirmities proper to humanity 
in this life, and which could be in Christ along with a perfect 
immunity from sin. The whole time of His humiliation, from 
the manger to the cross, is thus described (2 Cor. v. 16); and 
the phrase, " put to death in the flesh," has reference either to 
the sin-bearing condition of the Lord, or to the guilt and cursed 
death to which He was subjected. 

2. The next thing requiring notice is the emphatic allusion 
to the Lord's sinlessness as the Eighteous One by way of emi- 
nence, or the one Eighteous Person as contradistinguished from 
all men as sinners : He suffered, the eighteous for the un- 
righteous. The term righteous denotes one approved by God 
when tried by the standard of the law. The word intimates 
perfect sinlessness of nature, and a life adjusted to the idea of 


man's normal relation toward God. When it is added that He 
suffered, the righteous for the unrighteous, the words imply, in 
connection with the previous allusion to sin, that He was the 
innocent for the guilty, the pure for the impure, the holy for 
the unholy, in all the steps to which, as the surety of sinners, 
He must needs subject Himself. His sufferings were not on 
His own account, nor from the mere course of events or laws 
of evil in a sinful world, but the result of substitution in the 
room of others. , The nature of the transaction, and the marked 
antithesis, imply that the suffering was in the room of the 
guilty ; and no unbiassed mind can peruse these words in 
their natural import, with the desire to know simply what is 
written, without arriving at this conclusion. The words, even 
with the utmost violence, cannot be made to yield any other 
meaning than that of vicarious suffering. What is wanted is a 
full recognition of the claims of the divine law, for the atone- 
ment was but a satisfaction to them in all their breadth and 
extent. The main position, to which every one must come 
who has right conceptions of the extent of the divine law 
and of its unbending claims, is, that Christ's satisfaction is 
perfectly identical with that which men should themselves 
have rendered ; and in the atonement of Christ we are to 
read off the unalterable claims of the divine law. We must 
argue from man's obligations to the nature of the Lord's under- 
taking, and conversely from the latter to the former. 

The penal suffering or passive obedience must come to its 
rights. The infliction or visitation He suffered could be nothing 
else than a retribution — a suffering for sins, as here expressed 
— the wages of sin. The active obedience must also come to 
its rights ; for many too exclusively fix attention on the death 
of Christ, without taking into account, as they ought to do in 
speaking of the necessity of a satisfaction to justiceMhe sinless 
nature and immaculate obedience of Him who is here called 
the Eighteous One. Some make His sinlessness a mere condi- 
tion or indispensable prerequisite to the atonement ; but it is 

442 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

more. Others maintain that Christ's active obedience was a 
service which He, in common with every rational creature, 
owed to God on His own account ; but they forget that He 
was under no obligation either to take flesh, or to fulfil what 
He did fulfil in humanity on His own account. The active 
obedience was an essential factor or constituent element in the 

3. Another thing calling for notice is the declaration that 
Christ once suefeked. By that expression the apostle does 
not mean that all penal suffering was confined to one time — 
to the hours when He was suspended on the cross. The ex- 
pression intimates that He suffered once for all, so that there 
was no more need to repeat the sacrifice, as in the case of the 
Old Testament sacrifices. His one all-sufficient atonement has 
everlasting validity, needing no repetition. The allusion is 
plainly to a suffering which on the one hand pervaded the 
whole tenor of His earthly history, and on the other reached 
its culmination on the cross (Heb. ix. 25-28). It is the more 
necessary to advert to the true meaning of the expression, as it 
has been thought to lend countenance to the notion that the 
vicarious sufferings of Christ were limited to the time of the 
crucifixion. But the apostle's aim in the use of this expres- 
sion, is to contrast the completeness of His suffering obedience, 
which comprehends His whole life, with the notion that it 
needed a repetition. Even the Jewish sacrifices were not done 
at one moment, but presupposed many successive steps ; and 
our Lord's sacrifice took in His entire earthly course. And it is 
said that He once suffered, to intimate that the atoning work 
which satisfied the law of God and procured remission was 
limited to His first advent, as contrasted with anything per- 
formed during His present mediatorial activity or at His 
second advent. It was once, and only once, as contrasted 
with the oft-repeated sacrifices of the old economy. The Lord's 
atoning work required and admitted no repetition. 

4. The end contemplated by the Lord's death is next 


noticed: that He might bring us to God. The death of 
Christ attains this end only as it procures the remission of 
sins, and so delivers us from the dividing element which 
separates between God and man. The great end for which 
the Lord died was ^to restore us to the divine communion — to 
friendly intercourse and .priestly privilege, after a complete 
jlisunion. The peculiar shade of meaning ascribed to the ex- 
pression is very variously given. Thus, some have regarded it 
more in the light of inward renovation and dedication, while 
others make it identical with reconciliation. A third class are 
of opinion that, while it includes the divine favour, it prin- 
cipally alludes to the possession of future blessedness and the 
life with God above. The expression may be taken in the 
latter comprehensive sense. But it seems specially to contain 
an allusion to the restoration of access or nearness to God, and 
the priestly privilege, 1 in which these feelings find their fullest 
scope. They have an open door of entrance — a deliverance 
from fear and the depressing sense of guilt, which previously 
shut them out from God, and prevented every activity or 
liberty of approach. They are now made nigh as priests, 
and can do everything as a priestly service (1 Pet. ii. 5, 9). 
This was the privilege faintly set forth, but never realized, by 
the separation of Israel. * 

But the words, while tracing this great privilege to the 
Saviour's sufferings as the meritorious cause, refer also in no 
obscure way to the activity of the risen Christ. By whom 
are Christians brought to God ? By Christ, in His function of 
risen Mediator or great High Priest, the introducer, 2 whose 
action is here distinctly intimated after His redemption-work 
was completed. Whether we refer the language to Oriental 
court ceremonies, and suppose an allusion to the introduction 

1 Some, as Calvin, make the -rpoffa.ya.yn refer to inward renewing. Weiss, 
Petrin. Lehrbegriff, correctly refers it to the Christian's priestly standing. 

2 There is frequent mention of Christ's introduction (vpotrxyay*, Rom. v. 2, 
Eph. ii. 12). Comp. Calvin. 

4 44 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

effected by the favourite or son of a monarch, or simply call 
in the idea of Christ as the way to the Father (John xiv. 6), 
and as our introducer, we cannot fail to notice the action of 
our risen Lord and Saviour : it is He who brings us to God. 

V. Still another passage must be noticed, though closely 
connected with the former: Forasmuch, then, as Christ hath 
suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same mind ; 
for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin (1 Pet. 
iv. 1). Peter returns to the same theme, which he expresses in 
the same terms ; and the obvious conclusion is, that we must 
take the allusion to Christ's sufferings in the same sense. 
There is nothing to warrant a different exposition of the words, 
as the apostle returns to the same thought, and, indeed, in a 
formal way recapitulates its substance after completing the 
intervening parenthesis (1 Pet. iii. 19-22). When he resumes 
his previous expressions, he can only refer to Christ's vicarious 
sufferings in the flesh. And he bids the Christians realize the 
fact, that in Christ's sufferings, as the representative or surety 
of all believers, they were co-crucified or co-sufferers. The 
language goes much beyond a mere allusion to Christ's ex- 
ample, carrying with it the notion of two separate and similar 
actions parallel to each other. This is but one. 

Here, then, we have another instance in which Peter and 
Paul use nearly the same phraseology in speaking of our death 
to sin ; and this so far from offering a difficulty, or inclining us 
to make a difference when there is none, is only what was to 
be expected (compare 1 Pet. ii. 24). Any other explanation is 
in the last degree unnatural. They who represent the ex- 
pressions as alluding to what Christ encountered in His 
earthly life from wicked men, and explain the second clause 
of the believer suffering in Christ's cause and after His ex- 
ample, can produce nothing to satisfy the forcible terms here 
used as to ceasing from sin. To allege that the words mean 
only, that he who suffers in the cause of Christ has broken 
with sin, or testifies that he no more obeys the will of the 


world, is to evacuate words of their significance. It makes the 
whole clause unmeaning. The best expositors of the Patristic 
and Reformation schools have agreed to explain the expression, 
" He that has suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin," in the 
Pauline sense of suffering or dying with Christ 1 (Rom. vi. 7). 
Thus the meaning of the expression will be, that we suffered as 
one person with Christ. Peter considers Christians as one 
person with Christ, as suffering when He suffered, and paying 
the last tribute to sin — their old master and tyrant — when we 
died with Christ. There are two modes of speaking in re- 
ference to the atonement, either of which presupposes and 
involves the other. We may either say, " Christ suffered for 
sins, the just for the unjust ;" and then we describe the Surety 
as interposing between God and us : or we may say, " He that 
suffered in the flesh," or suffered in the Surety, or in that 
obedience unto death finished by Him as a public person, has 
been discharged from sin, or parted company with sin. The 
person who is regarded at the divine tribunal — as every be- 
liever is regarded — as a co-sufferer with Christ, or crucified 
with Christ (Gal. ii. 20), is absolved from sin, dead to sin. He 
is here described as having ceased from sin ; that is, as one who 
has done with sin, and has no more connection with it as his 
master. This naturally flows from the representative capacity 
of Christ and His vicarious atonement. But how could such a 
thought be deduced from the sufferings of Christ, and how 
could we be regarded as suffering with Him, if He did not 
suffer in our room and stead ? The apostles, when they connect 
our sanctificution with the death of Christ, always presuppose 
His surety-satisfaction in our stead. This enables us to meet 
the only plausible objection to the interpretation now advanced, 
viz. that the word ELESii must be taken in two different senses 
in the two different clauses of this verse. P>y no means. It has 
the same sense in both, denoting Christ's representative suffer- 
ing, and our act, considered as one with Him in God's account. 
1 (Ectimenius says : o t&0&v lv a-upx) %vr) a uxofavw (Rom. vi. 8). 

446 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

The only further point to be noticed in the verse is, that the 
Christian must realize all this, and arm himself with the same 
mind. There is a divine fact ; "but it must be apprehended and 
felt, and the inward realization of that objective fact is the 
Christian's armour in the way of motive. He must apprehend 
his discharge from sin in Christ (Eom. vi. 11). And this 
forcibly proves how much, in the practical conduct of life, the 
apostle deduced all privileges and all motives from the fact of 
the atonement. 

The Second Epistle of Peter contains less express allusion 
to the atonement. Nor should this excite surprise, as it was 
directed against a class of gnostic errorists, imbued with an 
Antinomian spirit, and scoffers in regard to the second advent ; 
and this gave a peculiar tone to the epistle ; for the genuine- 
ness of which, notwithstanding all the doubts which many 
have expressed, the church has a satisfactory amount of 
evidence, external and internal. It bears to have been written 
by the aged Peter toward the close of his apostolic labours 
(2 Pet. i. 14). 

The sole passage that bears reference to the atonement is 
the prophetic announcement of false teachers, who were to 
bring in heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them (2 Pet. 
ii. 1). The term Lord (foffirorriv) has special emphasis, de-- 
noting a Lord who rules over others with unlimited power. 
While ostensibly appearing to serve Christ, they in substance 
deny His dominion and atoning sacrifice, spreading views at 
variance with these fundamental doctrines. This passage, con- 
sidered in the light of an efficacious atonement securing the 
redemption of the true church (Acts xx. 28), is not without its 
difficulties, and is variously expounded ; being the passage, in 
fact, in which the Liitheran and Arminian polemical writers uni- 
formly intrench themselves and defy assault. It cannot fairly 
be adduced as impugning the biblical doctrine of the special 
redemption of the elect (Eph. v. 25); and two explanations have 
been given by those who maintain that, according to Scripture, 


the atonement is at once special and efficacious. The first 
mode, not so satisfactory, holds there is no allusion to Christ's 
death ; that there is no mention of Christ, but of a Master, — 
a word not elsewhere applied to Christ, and rather applicable 
to God ; no allusion to Christ's blood, sufferings, and death, as 
the ransom ; nor of deliverance from Satan and the bondage 
of sin ; and that the whole must therefore be referred to the 
outward relation which the false teachers occupy to God, as 
employing them in His church. That exposition does no 
justice to the term bought. The comment of Piscator and of 
the Dutch annotations is much to be preferred, viz. that these 
false teachers are described according to their own profession 
and the judgment of charity. They gave themselves out as 
redeemed men, and were so accounted in the judgment of the 
church while they abode in her communion. This is simple 
and natural. The passage by no means affirms that any but 
the true church or the sheep of Christ are truly bought by 
atoning blood. 



JOHN was reserved, with his calm contemplative mind, to 
lay a new impress on the Christian church, already 
founded by the labours of Peter and Paul. The activity of 
John presupposes the labours of Paul, and takes for granted, 
too, that the conflict on the subject of the law has been termi- 
nated. The disciple whom Jesus loved, less a man of action 
than of intuition, seems to have received into himself all the 
impressions to be derived from the life and death of his Lord, 
and all the experience to be drawn from the first founding of 
the Christian church, in order to appear upon the field in due 
season, when the rest of the apostles had passed away, and 
errorists began to arise, — to encourage and edify the church by 
new elements. His writings were sent forth long after the 
other inspired documents. 

The first Epistle of John, supposed by some to have been a 
companion document to his Gospel, recalls in many ways the 
Lord's own words. None of the apostles in a brief epistle 
more explicitly refers to the atonement ; and a few peculiarities 
may be noticed. 

a. John most copiously expatiates on the love of God. 
And it is worthy of remark that, of all the apostles, he most 
frequently used the term propitiation, which takes for granted 
divine wrath against sin. The one suggests and presupposes 
the other. 

b. A second point that may be noticed is: John, in de- 


lineating the work of atonement, commonly connects the 
divine Sonship with the sacrifice — as was indeed to be ex- 
pected from the high conceptions everywhere expressed of 
the personal dignity of Christ. Sometimes he does this in 
direct terms, sometimes more suggestively. 

c Nor can we fail to notice another peculiarity : he attaches 
himself closely to the Old Testament doctrine of sacrifice in 
alluding to the blood of Christ (1 John i. 7 ; Eev. i. 5). The 
greatest mistakes of expositors have arisen from not keeping in 
view the sacrificial vocabulary, and allusions to the ancient 
worship occurring in his style. Thus, he describes the Lord as 
coming not by water only, but by water and blood (1 John v. 6) : 
in the Apocalypse he twenty-seven times designates the exalted 
Christ as the Lamb, recalling His humiliation as the ground of 
the dominion ; and no one shows more clearly that forgiveness 
comes directly from the atonement, not from moral amend- 
ments. His type of doctrine is the following : — The Eternal 
Life has been manifested to bring back to men that life which 
lies in fellowship with God. Before that could be effected, 
the fountain of death, which lies in sin, must be removed ; and 
the atonement enters as the provision which restores men to 
fellowship with Him who is life and light as well as love. 

I. The first allusion to the atonement is in the first section : 

If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship 

one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth 

us from all sin (1 John i. 7). The context amounts to this: God 

is light, and in Him is no defilement at all: if we claim to 

have fellowship with Him, and indulge in unholy conduct out of 

keeping with union to Him, we are false pretenders : only as we 

walk in the light have we fellowship with Him and each other. 

Here it recurs to the apostle that the Christian's walk in the 

light, far from reaching steady, unsinning fellowship, contracts 

ever recurring taints, for which a cleansing is to be provided. 

The last clause of the verse, which might be marked off by a 

colon, and begin with an also, thus announces this provision : 

2 F 

450 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

" Also the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all 
sin." 1 The usual mode of connecting the two clauses is the 
following : If we walk in the light, we receive cleansing or 
remission of sins by the continuous application of the blood of 
Christ ; — an exposition which seems to run counter to the re- 
ceived biblical principle, that forgiveness precedes, and a holy 
walk is its fruit. The connection rather is as follows : Amid 
the recurring stains of the Christian life, the blood of Christ is 
ever needed and applied anew to restore the fellowship which 
it at first procured. The present tense, cleanses, intimates that 
the blood daily cleanses, that the merits of the Lord are anew 
imputed, as sin is contracted and confessed. 

1. The apostle describes this cleansing blood as the blood of 
God's Son, — an addition having peculiar emphasis, as it is in- 
tended to exhibit the infinite value and efficacy of that blood. 
The title Son occurs in a higher sense than can be ascribed to 
any other being. It assigns a divine nature to Him, and, in 
such connections as the present, exhibits His redemption-work 
not merely as planned and approved by God, but wrought out, 
so far as atoning action is concerned, by the only-begotten and 
beloved Son. This imparts to Christ's atonement its infinite 
sufficiency and value, making it adequate to procure for men 
the remission of sins, how great and numerous soever, whether 
we think of individuals or of countless millions. On account 
of the personal union of the two natures, the blood is spoken of 
as the blood of the Son of God. Though the blood belongs to 
Him as Son of Mary, yet in virtue of the hypostatic union 
it is the blood of God's Son, and therefore possessed of all the 
value that the divine nature lends to it, and adequate to the 
expiation of human sin laid in the scales against it. 

2. How is the blood of Christ said to cleanse us ? One 
thing is obvious, this cannot denote inward cleansing, or the 
renewing of the Holy Ghost, as it is a cleansing by the blood 
of Christ ; that is, by His blood sacrificially shed. Several 

1 See Muntinghe, Geschiedenis, x. 118, and note appended. 


recent expositors of note have referred the language to inward 
cleansing from the power of sin, but a cursory examination of 
the passage suffices to refute that comment. The very terms 
refer to the sacrifices. 1 Then in no case are men here below 
cleansed from all sin, in the inward acceptation of the phrase. 
Besides, it would run counter to the very object which the 
apostle intends to teach — that we are cleansed notwithstanding 
daily recurring stains. He asserts a continuous cleansing by 
the blood of Christ, applied as necessity requires ; and we 
cannot therefore expound this cleansing by referring to the 
mission of the Spirit, or inward spiritual life, when it is so 
definitely ascribed to the blood of Christ, considered, in the 
sacrificial sense, as sprinkled and applied to the guilty. 

To understand this cleansing by blood, we may go back 
to the Old Testament ritual, and notice the great national 
cleansing of Israel. On the day of atonement, when the blood 
was brought into the holiest of all, and sprinkled on and be- 
fore the mercy-seat, this action was regarded as the appointed 
means by which sin was removed. But not only was this 
action said to atone (Lev. xvi. 17), it was also said to cleanse 
the people (ver. 30). In the latter verse we find the two ex- 
pressions conjoined as coincident or parallel : " On that day 
shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, 
that ye may be clean from all your sins before the Lord." 
Evidently the expression " to cleanse you " does not mean 
inwardly to amend and renew, but to free from punishment 
incurred by sin, so as to put the worshipper on a right footing 
with God. Moses explains it, by making atonement, or re- 
moving the penalty threatened in the law. To obtain remission 
was the great design of the sacrificial blood. Could the whole 
nation be cleansed or improved in heart, so as to be clean from 
all their sins, by a mere external ceremony ? From this passage 

1 Doedes (Jaarboeken coor Weten. Theol. 1840, p. 320) argues for this view, 
and adds as an argument, that a<xl nairn; x/*aprlas means from every sin which 
is covered ; hence, he argues, it is not an allusion to progressive holiness. 

452 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

it appears that the two expressions above mentioned amount to 
nearly the same thing; and this is the import of the phrase, 
wherever cleansing is coupled with sacrificial blood according 
to the Jewish ritual. 

To this, however, an objection is taken by Socinus and 
his followers, on the ground that inanimate things, needing 
no forgiveness, nor capable of receiving it, are also described 
in the Jewish ritual as purified and cleansed by blood. The 
objection is easily obviated. It argues a defective insight into 
the true nature of the sacrificial laws and the Mosaic code. 
The primary question is, "What is meant when men are said 
to be cleansed by the blood of sacrifice ? We have seen that 
it implies deliverance from punishment, and restoration to the 
due position of a worshipper. Nor is the meaning different 
when the expression is applied to inanimate objects. The 
words of the law are : " He shall make an atonement for the 
holy place, because of the uncleanness of the children of 
Israel" (Lev. xvi. 1G). The general notion of cleansing by 
blood is retained even here, as the following explanation Mali 
show. The nation was regarded as a sinful people before God ; 
as having defiled the sanctuary of God, which was His habi- 
tation. The priests, as they approached the altar with the 
sacrifices, indicated that the Israelites coining before God with 
so many sins defiled the sanctuary ; and the vessels as well as 
holy places were annually cleansed by atoning blood. But 
this was because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel. 
Thus, the sprinkling of blood on inanimate things removed 
divine punishments from the priests and the people. This is 
the meaning. 

The expression, "the blood of Christ cleanses," intimates 
purifying from the defilement of sin, by which the believer 
was again made meet to appear as clean before the Lord. The 
blood of Christ is regarded as the truth or realization of all the 
ancient sprinkling or cleansing which restored the Israelite to 
his standing or right relation before God, when this was inter- 


rupted by ceremonial defilement. The word cleanse is to be 
taken, first in the sense of effecting forgiveness for sins com- 
mitted, and then of uniting us to God anew (Heb. i. 3, ix. 14), 
as the Israelite was absolved and restored to God's friendship 
by sacrificial blood. 

This further appears by what the apostle subjoins in the 
context. Thus it is said : " If we confess our sins, God is 
faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us 
from all unrighteousness" (ver. 9). It is a peculiarity of John's 
style to use two expressions for the same thing, the positive 
and negative (ver. 5); sometimes a coincident expression, as in 
Hebrew poetry, that the one may elucidate the other. The two 
expressions, " to forgive us our sins," and " to cleanse us," are 
equivalent, or a slight advance of meaning is found in the latter 
■ phrase. The Epistle to the Hebrews, recalling sacrificial ideas, 
speaks of cleansing or purging the conscience by the blood of 
Christ, and then identifies the purging with remission (Heb. 
ix. 22). 

Nor can the force of this conclusion be evaded by asserting 
that the allusion is to a cleansing from future sins. The apostle 
does not speak of sins not yet committed, but of sins already 
contracted and every day recurring. He cannot mean deliver- 
ance from sin by moral amendment, and motives drawn from 
that which Christ had to encounter among men. The context 
shows that no such attainment is made by any one ; and that 
forgiveness and cleansing cover each other, and mutually ex- 
plain each other. It is sacrificial blood that cleanses, sprinkles, 
and purifies the Christian disciple, by covering his sin, and 
enabling him to stand before God. 1 

A single glance at the Old Testament sacrificial ritual 
suffices to show that it was not the death, or bloody action 
of slaying the sacrifice, that possessed the sin-covering and 
cleansing power. The action with the blood — the priestly 
action which ensued — cleansed and purified. And the apostle, 

1 See Calvin on the passage ; also Grotius on x.a.(a.fC 1 ui, dc Satisfactione. 

454 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

iii writing to Christians, assumes that, amid daily recurring 
stains, they shall have a fresh remission, and restoration to 
their privileges. As the transgressor under the law, becoming- 
unclean, was excluded from an approach to God, so he had 
access restored, and a renewal of the privileges of God's people, 
the moment the blood was sprinkled. He was clean, and 
again in communion and favour. Precisely so is it with us: 
by Christ's blood we are forgiven and restored to fellowship. 

II. Another passage is as follows : We have an advocate 
with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous ; and He is the pro- 
pitiation/or our sins, and not for ours only, hut also for the sins 
of the whole world [better, without the supplementary words 
of our translators, but also for the whole world]. The apostle, 
exhorting believers not to sin, takes for granted daily sins, 
which would forfeit the divine favour were no provision made- 
to remove their guilt. He directs their thoughts to the Advo- 
cate, or Helper, through whom divine anger is averted ; and the 
ground of that intercession is next subjoined, viz. the twofold 
consideration that Jesus Christ is righteous, and that He is the 
propitiation for sins. These two descriptive names bring before 
us His vicarious work in its double aspect, reminding us that 
it is all identified with Christ Himself, a present as well as a 

1. As to the epithet pjghteous, the contrast in which it 
stands to sin proves that it must denote innocent or sinless ; 
that is, one approved as righteous when tried by the test of the 
divine law. It does not mean constant to His promises, as the 
Socinians expounded it, but the sinless One, or righteous Ser- 
vant (Isa. liii. 11 ; 2 Cor. v. 21; 1 Pet. iii. 18; Heb. vii. 26), 
and intimates that for the sinning a sinless obedience is pre- 
pared. Wherever Scripture speaks of Christ's redeeming work, 
it generally shows us His personal righteousness underlying it, 
and that not as a mere preparation, but as an element of the 
propitiation. Only the righteous One could atone : only the 
righteous One could intercede. 


2. Another term is : the peopitiation for our sins. Per- 
sonally sinless, He must also be the propitiation. It will be 
necessary to elucidate the import of this term (iKuo-fiog) from 
the usage of language. The uniform acceptation of the word 
in classical Greek, when applied to the Deity, is the means 
of appeasing God, or of averting His anger ; and not a single 
instance to the contrary occurs in the whole Greek literature. 
As interpreters, therefore, our business is to abide by language, 
and not pervert it from its proper meaning. As this is the 
received import of the term in the language of Greece, without 
a trace of any other, we are bound to hold that it here inti- 
mates the means of averting divine anger for the sins of man- 
kind, when Christ Himself is called our propitiation. 1 The 
expression intimates that this propitiation is found in His own 
person, apart from any work which man can render for him- 
self. God had just grounds for inflicting punishment, just 
cause of anger ; and the word means that by which God's anger 
is turned away, and man ceases to be the object of divine dis- 
pleasure. It is interesting to find that the word occurs in the 
same sense in what is called Hellenistic Greek. It is the word 
in the Septuagint for the day of atonement (Lev. xxiii. 27); 
for the ram of atonement, whereby an atonement was made 
(Num. v. 8) ; and for the sin-offering (Ezek. xliv. 27). This 
fact explodes all other senses put upon the word by Socinian 
writers. If men will maintain another signification, they can- 
not do so as interpreters of language, but must appeal to 
theories and foregone conclusions of their own. 

The expression propitiation for our sins takes for granted 
the wrath of God, a property often ascribed to Him in the 
Old and New Testament, and the moving cause of the punish- 
ment which He inflicts on sin. This anger has its seat in the 
bosom of God, or in His moral nature, and its measure is ac- 

1 See Stillingfleet on the Death of Christ ; Chapman's Defence, on tins word 
ixxa-fior, Moras, in suam Epitomen, ii. 91 ; also Stein, de Satixfactione, p. 270 ; 
Oetler on Racoc. Cat. p. 821 ; Calov. p. 556. 

456 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

curding to the conduct of His creatures. It is grounded in His 
essential holiness, as appears from the fact that God swears in 
His wrath (Heb. iii. 11) ; and it belongs to the idea of the per- 
sonal God, the Creator and moral Governor, as He acts in 
history. He is no indifferent spectator of human conduct : He 
cannot look on sin and obedience, on vice and virtue, in the 
same light. Had we no other idea of God than the Epicurean 
notion, which represented Him as remote from human inte- 
rests, or the pantheistic notion, which makes all things equally 
divine, we could not affirm that God had affections correspond- 
ing to anger or displeasure in regard to human conduct. But 
the Scriptures give us a different view, and speak of God's 
wrath as comprehending the following elements : aversion to 
sin ; displeasure at the sinner ; and the will or purpose to 
avenge it. It is impossible to assent to their opinion, who, 
with Koppe, maintain that this term applied to God means 
nothing more than punishment, and that the translators of the 
Scriptures should have rendered it by the latter word (1 Thess. 
i. 10). A full examination of biblical language may satisfy 
every one that the term wkath never means the mere outward 
fact of punishment, apart from the affection of an acting party : 
it never means the mere effect (Eom. i. 18, ix. 22 ; 1 Thess. v. 9). 
Man, made in the image of God, is capable of regarding sin 
and vice in a similar way. The Bible speaks of God in words 
borrowed from what is human; and, on the ground already 
stated, there is no reason to remove from our representation of 
God the idea of displeasure or wrath against sin, — that is, 
without the turbulent emotion which is associated with it in 
fallen natures. We find it in the sinless Saviour (Mark iii. 5). 
There is in God a displeasure at moral evil simply as such, 
which He regards as a violation of His supreme authority, and 
an injury offered to His majesty. Irrespective of the conse- 
quences which sin carries in its train, He regards Himself as 
wronged, even though His essential happiness is not invaded 
by any denial of His authority or withdrawal of His declara- 


tive glory, and is led by the perfection of His nature to regard 
the offender with anger, and to visit him with punitive jus- 
tice. This wrath rests on man by nature (Eph. ii. 3). We 
may affirm that divine wrath is essential to our idea of God 
as the moral Governor, that it is essentially connected with the 
doctrine of sin, with the atonement, and with the doctrine of 
future retribution. It cannot be limited to the future, how- 
ever, as some propose, 1 on the erroneous supposition that it 
strikes only the rejectors of salvation, and is but a modification 
of love, or the sorrow of love. It strikes on sin as sin, in all 
its forms and degrees, and is far from being a mere phase of 
love. If men, however, represent the essence of God as con- 
sisting in love alone without other perfections, such as holiness 
and justice, they cannot ascribe anger to God in any Scripture 
acceptation of the term. 

This brings us to the peopitiation which presupposes the 
wrath of God. It is revealed in its full depth and severity in 
the atonement of Christ, as sin -bearer, curse-bearer, and wrath- 
bearer. Considered in its objective significance, the atoning 
work of Christ is the propitiation of the divine wrath — the 
appeasing of God. The Lord Jesus is called the propitiation 
ior our sins, to intimate that He is the author, the cause, or 
the means of averting the divine wrath. The word which 
the apostle employs, denotes in general terms the means of 
expiation, without naming His death, and without a closer 
definition of its sacrificial character. But whether we look at 
the cleansing blood, referred to in the previous context (1 John 
i. 7), or at the Hebrew style of thought which is introduced, 
according to which the only propitiation was by sacrifice, no 
doubt remains that the allusion is to the sin-offering. The 
apostle could not more unambiguously teach that what the sin- 
offering was under the old economy, Jesus is for the sins of 
His people. By Him the divine anger is averted, and for- 
giveness bestowed. The allusion, as in the Epistle to the 
1 So Kitschl, de ira Dei. 

458 apostles' sayings on the atonement. 

Hebrews, is to the priestly office of the Lord, and to His death, 
as the truth of the Mosaic sacrifices. The words affirm : What 
the propitiatory sacrifices were to Israel, when they expiated 
their sins and delivered them from punishment, that Christ is 
to the world at large. 

Here we may answer three inquiries : (1.) Who is propi- 
tiated ? God, provoked to anger by the sins of men. It is 
not man who is described as propitiated to God, but conversely. 
(2.) By what was the propitiation effected ? By the whole 
active and passive obedience of the Lord. The fact that He 
who is the propitiation is described as Jesus Christ the right- 
eous, emphatically shows that it was not personally needed 
for Himself. (3.) Was the work clone a ful