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Galatians 3:13 tells us "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for (instead of us)." The word "for" is huper and it means "for the sake of, in behalf of, instead of."

The word is used in John 11:50 of Jesus dying as a substitute. "It is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish."

The apostle Paul stresses this great truth in 2 Corinthians 5:21. "He [God] made Him [Christ] who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."

Christ "gave Himself for us" (Galatians 1:4; 2:20; 1 Timothy 2:6) refers to the vicarious suffering and death of Christ. He sacrificed Himself for us. He gave Himself to redeem us from the power and penalty of sin and set us free. Behind the idea is someone substituting himself for another person.

The reason He "gave Himself for us" was "to redeem us from all iniquity." The blood of Jesus was paid to set us free (1 Peter 1:18). Christ set His people free from the power of sin by His vicarious, substitutionary death for our sins.

Titus 2:14 tells us "who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds." (Titus 2:14). 

The purpose of His substitutionary death on our behalf was to redeem us and set us free. Christ "gave Himself for us" means that He became our substitute. "Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree" (1 Peter 2:24). He set us free by paying a price, i.e., redeemed us by His death on our behalf. Jesus shed His blood in His vicarious sacrifice for sin. His death is a propitiation, a turning back the wrath of God from the sinner who believes on Him (1 John 2:2; 4:10; Rom. 3:25).

Romans 5:6, 8 uses the verb huper in reference to Christ dying "for the ungodly," and "Christ died for us" sinners. Even a casual reader cannot miss the clear emphasis of Christ dying as a substitute "instead of" or "in behalf of" the ungodly sinner. Jesus Christ died in the place of Wil Pounds. On that great fact I claim the promise of eternal life with Him in heaven (Acts 4:12; John 3:16, 36).

Jesus Christ "was delivered up because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification" (Romans 4:25).

In Romans 8:32 we have great assurance and encouragement in the Christian life because "He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?" He gave Himself up to death for every believer.

Galatians 2:20, after telling us how to live the Christian life, the apostle Paul reminds us that our vital union with Christ is based upon the substitutionary fact that the Son of God "loved me, and delivered Himself up for me." Again the word is huper, "instead of," "in behalf of." The reality is so vivid to the apostle Paul that he can say I was co-crucified with Christ, "and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me . . ." Everything about our walk of faith is centered in His substitutionary death and resurrection.

C. H. Spurgeon writes: "If you believe in Jesus, that is to say, if you trust Him, all the merits of Jesus are your merits, are imputed to you; all the sufferings of Jesus are your sufferings. Every one of His merits is imputed to you. You stand before God as if you were Christ because Christ stood before God as if He were you—He in your stead, you in His stead. Substitution! That is the word! Christ the Substitute for sinners—Christ standing for men and bearing the thunderbolts of the divine opposition to all sin, He “being made sin for us who knew no sin.” Man standing in Christ’s place, and receiving the sunlight of divine favor, instead of Christ. 

“‘Therefore, being justified’—how? Not by works; that is not the link, but—‘being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.’” Christ offers to God the substitution. Through faith we accept it; and from that moment God accepts us."

Key Scriptures

John 11:15, 17, 18; 5:13; 1:29; 1 John 3:16; Isaiah 53:5-6, 10-11; Romans 3:25-26; 4:25; 5:6, 8; 8:3; Genesis 22:8-18; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13; 1 Peter 2:24; 3:18; Ephesians 5:2; Hebrews 9:11-14; Mark 10:45; 1 Timothy 2:6; Titus 2:14

Abiding Principles and Practical Applications

1. Do you see Jesus Christ dying in your place, bearing the penalty of your sins? Is that great truth fresh to you every day? Begin you day with grateful thanksgiving to God that Jesus loved you and died for you. Because of His substitutionary death God make us righteous with a righteousness of His own (2 Cor. 5:21).

 2. The only reason Jesus Christ died on the cross was to pay the death penalty for you and me. "The wages of sins is death . . ." (Romans 6:23). "The soul that sins will surely die" (Ezekiel 18:4), but Jesus was not dying for His own sins because He was sinless, pure and holy. We cannot receive eternal life unless we personally appropriate the death of Jesus on our behalf (Rom. 5:6, 8; 2 Cor. 5:21). Jesus was made "sin for us," a "curse for us," "died for us," i.e., in our stead that we might be saved from the wrath to come.

3. Since Jesus Christ died as my substitute on the cross I therefore need to "reckon," consider and be constantly counting upon the fact that I am under His grace (Rom. 6:11-14). Here is where we get the daily encouragement to let Christ live His life in and through us.

4. Since Jesus is my "Good Shepherd" who "lays down His life for the sheep" this little lamb needs to listen and obey his Good Shepherd (John 10:11, 27-30).

5. Since Jesus Christ demonstrated His love and "gave Himself up for us," should we not also "walk in love, just as Christ also loved us" (Ephesians 5:2).


For Further Study

The Song of the Suffering Servant  Isaiah 52:13-53:12 
Genesis 22:1-19  Isaac's Substitute Lamb 
1 Peter 3:18  Our Divine Substitute 
1 Peter 3:18  Rejoice in Our Divine Substitute 
Either We Die or He Dies 
The Exchanged Life 
God Justifies the Ungodly 
Leviticus 17:11  Blood of Atonement 
John 19:26-27  Substituting for the Substitute






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Unless otherwise noted "Scripture quotations taken from the NASB." "Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE" © Copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission." (www.Lockman.org)

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NET) are from the NET Bible copyright ©1996-2006 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. http://www.bible.org/. All rights reserved.

Wil is a graduate of William Carey University, B. A.; New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Th. M.; and Azusa Pacific University, M. A. He has pastored in Panama, Ecuador and the U. S, and served for over 20 years as missionary in Ecuador and Honduras. He had a daily expository Bible teaching ministry head in over 100 countries from 1972-2005. He continues to seek opportunities to be personally involved in world missions. Wil and his wife Ann have three grown daughters. He currently serves as a Baptist pastor and teaches seminary extension courses in Ecuador.


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