“God Made Him Who Had No Sin to Be Sin for Us” (2 Cor 5:21a): Understanding of Paul’s Statement in the History of Exegesis

Keywords: 2nd Epistle to the Corinthians, Sin, Soteriology, Death of Jesus, History of exegesis


The article aims to answer the question of how in the history of exegesis the statement of the Apostle Paul from 2 Cor 5:21a (“God made Christ a sin”) was interpreted. The article consists of several parts examining the issue chronologically. At the beginning the interpretation of 2 Cor. 5:21a by theologians of the Patristic era (esp. Origen, Cyril of Alexandria, Gregory of Nazianzus; Gregory of Nyssa, John Chrysostom, and Augustine of Hippo) was presented. Then, the interpretation by medieval theologians (esp. Anselm of Canterbury) was discussed. In the third stage the understanding of 2 Cor 5:21a by Martin Luther, Jan Calvin, and other theologians of the Reformation era has been examined. The last step is the presentation of the interpretation of 2 Cor 5:21a during the modern era. It has been noticed that contemporary exegetes refer to the results of the theologians who lived before. In the interpretation of 2 Cor 5:21a, the three most important tendencies can be distinguished. First of them sees here a reference to the incarnation of the Son of God, the second one—a reference to His death understood as a sacrifice for sin, and the third trend understands making Jesus sin in relation to the reality of sin that Jesus Christ faced.


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