The vicarious life and cross-work of Jesus Christ does not put the elect in a potentially saved state; rather it secured salvation for the ones that the Father gave to Christ (esp. John 6:37-40, 44).

Christ’s death also secured reconciliation for His elect (cf. Rom. 5:10; 2 Cor. 5:18-19; Col. 1:21-22; Heb. 9:12). He voluntarily gave Himself as a ransom for His chosen, on their behalf (cf. Mark 10:45; Rom. 8:32; Gal. 1:4; 3:13; Eph. 5:25-26; 1 Thess. 5.9-10; 1 Tim. 2:6): “For He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people” (Luke 1.68).

Note the usage of the Greek preposition huper (“on behalf of,” “instead of”) to describe the actual and literal substitutionary death of Christ: “[the Father] delivered [paredōken; i.e., delivered up for sacrifice] Him over for [huper, lit., “on behalf of”] us all” (Rom. 8:32; emphasis added); “who gave Himself for [huper] our sins” (Gal. 1:4; emphasis added; cf. 3:13); “Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for [heauton paredōken huper] her” (Eph. 5.25).

Further, to emphasize the nature of the substitutionary work of Christ on the behalf of His elect, the preposition anti is utilized in Mark 10:45: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for [lutron anti] many” and Matthew 20:28, which reads identically. After careful lexical and linguistic study, Greek scholar, Daniel Wallace, concludes:

In summery, the evidence appears to be overwhelmingly in favor of viewing anti in Matt. 20:28/Mark 10:45 as meaning in the place of and very possibly with the secondary meaning in exchange for. . . . (GGBB, 367).

In 1 Timothy 2:6, Paul combines the compound antilutron and huper to clearly denote what Jesus Christ literally did for His people—a ransom in their place: “who gave Himself as a ransom for [antilutron huper] all.” But because of His great love and mercy for His chosen, He not only invites them, but infallibly deliverers them: “you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21).

As Paul rightly says, “By His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Cor. 1.30). He literally substituted Himself on behalf of His people absorbing the wrath that was due to our account because of sin. His cross-work satisfied the requirements of God’s law.

It was the perfect justice of God, which required that the perfect demands of the law should be met (cf. Rom. 3:25-27). Christ Jesus perfectly met those requirements by His active (preceptive) and passive (penal) obedience whereby substituting Himself (both in perfect His life and death) in our place.  

3 thoughts on “Substitutionary Atonement (Brief)

  1. Michael Falsia says:

    Excellent article and shows that those who are the beneficiaries of the finished work of the Messiah and appointed sin bearer are saved by what the Son of God accomplished in His perfect obedience and substitutionary death on the cross in behalf of those chosen in Him from the foundation of the earth. Revelation 13:8 In the Son and in him alone we have peace with God and eternal life. We are not saved because of faith or on the merit of faith but by the finished work of the Son of God who met and fulfilled in his own person all the terms and conditions necessary for our salvation. Faith therefore is a token of our saving union in and with Him by regeneration which produces an inner change of heart wrought in the soul by the Holy Spirit. Christ and not faith saves us from the wrath of God and is the sole basis of our right to receive all of God’s favor, acceptance and eternal blessings now and in the world to come. Faith is a free gift which flows out of the redemption which is Christ Jesus given exclusively to the Elect Of God. To Him and Him alone is all the glory. See John Gill A Body Of Doctrinal and Practical Divinity The Redemption Of Christ book 4 chapters 1 thru 8. The best treatment of the subject I have ever read. Gill is brilliant!

  2. Michael Falsia says:

    A substitutionary atonement lies at the very heart and foundation of the Christian faith without which the doctrine of Justification would be an empty declaration and sinners would still be liable to the judgment and wrath of God.

    • Edward Dalcour says:

      Yes. It is interesting many Arminians will use and affirm the decidedly Reformed phrase, “substitutionary atonement,” however, with a universal application, which is, of course, self-refuting.

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