Substitutionary atonement throughout the Scriptures

Recently, I mentioned to my wife that there were writers in the evangelical world that had challenged the idea of substitutionary atonement, the doctrine that Christ died in our place for our sins, because it makes God out to be bloodthirsty.  She made the point that in a world without blood sacrifices, people don’t see that kind of thing as necessary anymore, whereas it was much more obvious to ancient people.  I was reminded of this point again when we heard a performance of the Messiah and came to the third selection in Part II:

Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows! He was wounded for our transgressions; He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him. And with His stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:4a, 5, lyrics from

It’s pretty clear that this doctrine is taught in Scripture, but I’ve focused on what Warren Gage called the “propositional teaching” of substitutionary atonement, like in Isaiah 53.  In Gage’s post at Peter Leithart’s blog, he sketches out typological illustrations of this doctrine.  It’s not too long and is worth a read.  Gage concludes, as he begins, with a defense of the importance and glory of this truth as well as with a reference to C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe:

In all of these things we see that the justice of Scripture is sure, that the guilty must suffer for sin (Exod 34:7).  But there is a better jurisprudence, a “deeper magic” that reflects a more profound expression of love found in the cross of Christ, where He suffered our curse in order to give us His blessing, where He who had committed no sin became sin for us, where God kissed a guilty world in love, and death itself began “working backward.”



  1. “It is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.” Rom. 2:13
    I think you need to forget about the nonsense of “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” and everything else C. S. Lewis might have imagined and find out what this law is Paul is referencing.

  2. Theodore, I (and Warren Gage, the author of the post that I linked to) know about the law in the Old Testament, although I know that my knowledge of the Old Testament needs to grow. Gage is referring to the recurring theme of substitutionary atonement that can be seen throughout the Scriptures. I don’t think that he’s ignoring the law, but focusing on the path to salvation for us lawbreakers. The Lewis reference was just point of common reference with readers of his post.

  3. Paul is not referencing any OT law. One has been added to the law, but it was added after Jesus’ crucifixion and that is the law Paul is referencing.
    You need to find it.

  4. According to Jesus there are only a few, many less than you think, who ever find what the small narrow gate into the king of God is. Actually the gate is a law that has been added to the law.
    “The law was added so that the trespass might increase.” Rom 5:20 The crucifixion of Jesus is the sin of murder caused by bloodshed and by a law that has been added to the law this trespass of sin has been increased to the level of unilateral accountability. Therefore the narrow gate into God’s kingdom is the faith of confessing directly to God that you are sorry Jesus’ life was lost by bloodshed when he was crucified and be baptized into this Way for the forgiveness of past sins. You need to carefully regard “For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law.” Heb. 7:12 “For the Lord is our Lawgiver” and “For law will proceed from Me.” Isa. 33:22 & 51:4 Jesus fulfilled the law by adding to it perfecting God’s will for each man.
    “And for Your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from EACH man, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man.” This oath of God is God’s set purpose for each man. Looking at your picture I am certain that you are in the classification of each man too. Aren’t you?

  5. Theodore, I don’t think that’s what Paul is referring to in Romans 5. He’s talking about the disobedience of Adam, and then the law that was added after that would be the Old Testament law.

    I am sorry that Christ died, but also grateful for his sacrifice for me. I don’t think that there’s any evidence that there’s a new law added after the crucifixion, though.

  6. Well Scott the Man says “Make every effort to use it” and He also says “and only a few find it”. It, is an article son. The view from my window is a church house on the corner of every block and several more in between those and this term “substitutionary atonement” is the glue holding the things together. Two things. It does not take any effort at all to “use” substitutionary atonement and every Tom, Dick and Harry has found it. And every Tom , Dick and Harry in those pulpits has bought the “gifts” of interpretation and teaching.
    So now, son, we have a contrast “It is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.” Son this statement cannot be true unless a law has been added to the law.
    The key, chi, to the Romans statement is “But sin is NOT taken into account when there is no law.” but a sin is taken into account when there is a law relative to the sin that has already been committed.
    And then in 5:20 law enters again but if law is a reference to OT law why is it that trespass is used rather than trespasses?
    If the crucifixion of Jesus is substitutionary and Jesus died in every body’s place why in the world would you or anybody even need to hear anything about it in the first place? The salvation of all would be a done deal and having to use, It, turns out to be the crock that is not true. What! Is God a liar no, but every swinging penis standing in a pulpit saying “Jesus died in your place is”!
    Did you notice the common thing in every church house built on the foundation of substitutionary atonement, the do nothing gospel? “Sit! “, God has promised Jesus, “Until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet” and right down front center of every church built on the foundation of substitutionary atonement sits the table God has prepared before Him right in the presence of his enemies which is a snare and a trap for them. Because whenever approval is given that committing any sin is a positive benefit that sin is imputed to all who approve of it. It is not to me that you must confess that you are sorry Jesus’ life was lost by bloodshed, son. For it is by Jesus’ crucifixion that you must have the faith to make your confession known to the Living God in regard to his son’s life lost by bloodshed or you disobey an article of law that you cannot see that has no possibility of being forgiven if you don’t.

    • When the scripture says, “that the trespass might increase”, it’s talking about the the trespass having more weight in court. That’s why it says, “For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed where there is no law.” So, adding the law justifies the coming eternal judgment. That is the increase in the trespass-unto death-eternal death. When it comes to the narrow gate, I can relate in the sense that many people have conceptualized God and never turn to HIM, but rather to a concept. However, no law was added to the law but the scripture says,
      “Colossians 2:14
      (Christ was)Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;”
      Ephesians 2:15
      (Christ)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;
      2 Corinthians 3:13
      And not as Moses, which put a veil over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished:”.

      So, He didn’t add to it, He fulfilled it, nailed it to His cross, and gave use a new one. Note the number of times He said, “Ye have heard it said….but I SAY.” God testifies of this truth when He spoke from heaven saying, “This is My beloved Son. HEAR HIM!” God’s final voice from heaven in scripture was listen to Jesus and He(Jesus) had a new plan for eternal salvation.
      Hebrews 5:9
      And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;.
      The task is knowing what He commands.

      On dying in our place, you’re right, that’s not scriptural. What the scripture says and I believe is the hardest thing in the world to believe is,

      “Rom 6:4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.5For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also [in the likeness] of [his] resurrection:
      6Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with [him], that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

      So, that strait gate that you refer to includes believing that we died with Him and when He was raised, we were raised with Him and no longer are the same self-seeking, self-serving, low life scum that we were but, new creature that sin does not have dominion over. In the sense of going directly to God, I do believe that this truth brings you to the throne of God in brokenness, reverence, thanksgiving, and contrition and that you will never be the same.

      On the “Do nothing” churches, that is sad but there are some churches that are truly pleasing to God.

  7. The psuedomorphic “Christian” (bastards as Pauls refers to them) always falsely conclude that everything God has done is for them. However Jesus was crucified , murdered, for God’s purpose for each man.
    “And for Your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from evey animal. And from each man, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man.
    No man escapes from the class of ‘each man, too’. Which is why the sea will give up it’s dead. The crucifixion of Jesus is not a direct benefit as the psuedomorphic “Christian” erroneously concludes. There ain’t no such animal as substitutionary atonement. One either obeys God exactly as he demands in regard to Jesus’ crucifixion as a sin or pays hell for not obeying God by the Way Jesus’ crucifixion has perfected. Got it?

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