Tuesday, June 15

Purposes of Christ's Death, No. 16

We are coming almost to the end of this series. There will be a No. 17, and then I hope to do some sort of summary post, maybe a list that shows all the purposes together. For this post's explicit purpose statement, I'm looking at 1 Peter 2:24:
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we may cease from sinning and live for righteousness. By his wounds you were healed. (NET)
The purpose statement in this verse is "that we may cease from sinning and live for righteousness". One of the purposes of Christ's death is that there be a change of behaviour in people--that they stop sinning and live righteously.

Christ bearing our sin upon himself when he died on the cross--another clear reference to the substitutional nature of what was done there--makes it really possible for us to behave differently. The NET says "that we may cease from sinning" when other translations say something more like "so that we might die to sin." Here is the justification given in the translator's notes for using the word "cease":
The verb ajpogivnomai (apoginomai) occurs only here in the NT. It can have a literal meaning ("to die"; L&N 74.27) and a figurative meaning ("to cease"; L&N 68.40). Because it is opposite the verb zavw (zaw, "to live"), many argue that the meaning of the verb here must be "die" (so BDAG 108 s.v.), but even so literal death would not be in view. "In place of ajpoqnh/skien, the common verb for 'die,' ajpogineqai serves Peter as a euphemism, with the meaning 'to be away' or 'to depart'" (J. R. Michaels, 1 Peter [WBC 49], 148). It is a metaphorical way to refer to the decisive separation from sin Jesus accomplished for believers through his death; the result is that believers "may cease from sinning."
Either way, the idea is that we are freed from the power sin once had over us, and a new way of righteous living is made possible to us. This freedom from sin's power that results in a new righteous way of living is called being healed, and this inner healing that works righteous behavior is one of the purposes of Christ's death.

(Some people like to use this verse to prove that Christ's death brings us physical healing, but I don't think that is the idea Peter had in mind in this verse. "By whose wounds you were healed" is sandwiched between two statements about changed behavior--a new kind of righteous living, and a turning back from straying to return to our Shepherd.)

Another purpose of Christ's death is that people will stop sinning and live righteously.