I submitted this question on the “Ask an Apologist” forum, but received no reply.
What is meant by 2 Cor 5:21?
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (NKJV)
This stems from a discussion with BibleReader where he asserted that the plain meaning of the words is the actual meaning. My assertion was that Christ:
- Could not have become sin, as an all powerful deity who was all sin would be disasterous, not salvific.
- Became, instead, a “sin offering” to take away the sins of the world, not become them. I derive this (among other places) from Isaiah 53 (the Messianic prophesy):
v4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows…v6 the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all…v10…when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin
Thus, “became sin” in 2 Cor 5:21 is “biblical shorthand” for “became a sin offering”, which would seem to jibe with the sin offerings of Leviticus 4 and 6.
This, according to BibleReader, is in contrast with the plain language, as well as prophetic typology; specifically, the bronze serpent (sin) raised up so that people could be healed of the serpents’ bites (sin).
I tried the CCC, which yielded the following (footnotes omitted):
“For our sake God made him to be sin”
602 Consequently, St. Peter can formulate the apostolic faith in the divine plan of salvation in this way: “You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers. . . with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was destined before the foundation of the world but was made manifest at the end of the times for your sake.” Man’s sins, following on original sin, are punishable by death. By sending his own Son in the form of a slave, in the form of a fallen humanity, on account of sin, God “made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
603 Jesus did not experience reprobation as if he himself had sinned. But in the redeeming love that always united him to the Father, he assumed us in the state of our waywardness of sin, to the point that he could say in our name from the cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Having thus established him in solidarity with us sinners, God “did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all”, so that we might be “reconciled to God by the death of his Son”.
I believe 603 agrees with what I have said, but I am still unclear. I’m afraid that if BibleReader is correct, imputed righteousness is what’s being taught at the terminal end of the theology; since I know “penal substitution” and “imputed righteousness” are false doctrines, I think BibleReader is wrong. I could be wrong, however, that this is what the end result comes out being, in which case BibleReader could be correct and it would still be an orthodox teaching.
Could someone point me in the right direction, hopefully with Magisterial documentation?
Thanks for the help,