2 Corinthians 5, pt.2

This evening we are gathering to read and study 2 Corinthians 5. This chapter ends with one of the more quoted verses of Scripture: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew not sin, so that in him we might become the righteous of God.”  This verse is fairly dense and gets to the heart of the Incarnation and why God became man.  Read the verse closely.  In commenting on this verse John Chrysostom says that Paul “did not say ‘made him a sinner’ but made him ‘sin’; did not say ‘him that did not sin’ but ‘him that knew no sin’; that we might become not ‘righteous (virtuous)’ but become the very ‘righteousness of God.’”  And, throughout the history of the church, there have been different ways of reading and interpreting what exactly Paul is saying.

In the classical Patristic understanding of this verse, Jesus becomes fully human and takes upon the very essence of our nature – sin and death – so that our nature may be joined with the Divine Nature. Sin is a disease that defaces the image of God within us, and therefore, God becomes human to cure our disease, so that we may become like God.  In quoting this verse, Gregory of Nyssa writes (attached) that “This is our doctrine . . . the union of the Man with the Divinity, and which calls by the name of “making” the transmutation of the Mortal to the Immortal, of the Servant to the Lord, of Sin to Righteousness, of the Curse to the Blessing (Gal 3:13), of the Man to Christ.  Only by the Son becoming Sin can he work that fundamental change in our nature, that we can be restored to the image of the Righteousness of God.” Against Eunomius, Book V, Ch.5

In the Reformation understanding of this verse, Paul is saying that Jesus became our sin, and thereby God imputed our guilt and punishment to and on Christ so that God may then impute the righteousness of Christ to us.  Sin is a legal problem of disobedience that must necessarily be punished.  In quoting this verse, John Calvin says (attached) “Wherefore, in order to accomplish a full expiation, he made his soul a propitiatory victim for sin on which the guilt and penalty being in a manner laid, ceases to be imputed to us. . . . For the Son of God, though spotlessly pure, took upon him the disgrace and ignominy of our iniquities and in return clothed us with his purity.”  The Institutes, Book II, Ch. 16.6 In other words, by transferring sin itself to Jesus, sin and the power of sin is destroyed by his death on the Cross.  And because our disobedience and its consequences are taken away we can now become at one with God.

If you have the time, please take a look quick read of the excerpts from Gregory and Calvin.  Dinner is at 6.  The menu is macaroni-and-cheese. Discussion about 6:45.  Bring a friend.

 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do.  Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me.

Romans 5:19-20

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