Whose sins did Jesus die for?

I’ve never really thought about it before, but if Jesus died for the sins of the world, then why do we still have original sin, and why must we still confess and repent to be forgiven?

The “mechanics” of salvation may be a bit of a mystery, but I understand it this way. After the Fall, mankind was in a futile state of slavery, unable to ever reach the company of God through the imperfect sacrifices of old. Christ bridges that insurmountable gap. He makes a “ransom” for mankind, thus freeing mankind’s futile state of slavery. He has “purchased” our freedom. Yet some people choose to remain a slave, rather than embrace Christ, the way to union with God.

Who is he purchasing it from? It sounds like he’s purchasing it from himself, which is… confusing, to say the least.

Essentially, “I had to let some men murder me, in order to be able to forgive all of mankind.” :confused:

You don’t get healed because doctors and hospitals exist. They went to school and got degrees and licenses to practice medicine in order to heal you. But that is not enough - you have to go to them and do what they say. You have to take the medicine they prescribe. And you have to exercise and eat right and get rest and brush your teeth or you get sick again. You don’t get healed of a broken leg because there is a hospital down the road - you have to go there and do what they say.

It’s the same thing with our spiritual health. You don’t get forgiven just because Jesus died for you. You don’t grow in virtue just because God exists. You have to go to him and do what he says and do your spiritual exercises or you get sick - fall into sin - again. You have to take your medicine and do your exercise.

You can’t sit in a chair and watch football and be saved. You gotta do something.


There are theological opinions on the matter, including that the ransom was paid to the devil, who in a sense had captured mankind at the Fall. See this article on Atonement at the Catholic Encyclopedia and keyword search “ransom.”

However, regarding man’s understanding of “ransom,” the article concludes:*That great doctrine has been faintly set forth in figures taken from man’s laws and customs. It is represented as the payment of a price, or a ransom, or as the offering of satisfaction for a debt. But we can never rest in these material figures as though they were literal and adequate. As both Abelard and Bernard remind us, the Atonement is the work of love. It is essentially a sacrifice, the one supreme sacrifice of which the rest were but types and figures.*If you read the whole article, you can see the difficulties in trying to understand a “mystery.”

Someone offends me deeply, to the point where I write that person off and all his family and all the offspring from any member of that family. Decades later, I’m in a bridge-building mood, so I sent my cherished only son as a goodwill embassador. Some members of the banished family loves my son and recognizes him as such, a significant proportion, however, thinks he’s a lunatic, a liar, and they decide to torture him and kill him. The killing of my son was what I expected, not only that but it was the sine qua non condition for a true reconciliation with the whole family. Appears absurd.

Secondly, i question why we didn’t get the full benefit of Adam’s preternatural gifts. Seems God doesn’t want us to get anything easily. Saint Adam, pray for us.


My take on this topic is that Jesus died for all sin, as the following is told by John:

(1Jn 4:10) In this is charity: not as though we had loved God, but because he hath first loved us, and sent his Son to be a propitiation for our sins.

This being done.

Now God the father can Forgive our sins and still be perfect and just, in Him Self. But we need to go to the Father and ask for forgiveness and mercy for the wrongs we have done.

Look at infant baptism free forgiveness, in infant baptism, the child is changed (sin washed away) and is then in members of the household of God, nothing that the infant did, but what Jesus did to gain us eternal life, as infants cannot do anything.

As they (we) grow and then sin, then is does become more difficult. More that is given, more is expected.


You forgot to mention that your son is also fully you.

If we were forgiven simply because Jesus died and God exists, everyone would be saved. But in the real world, that isn’t happening. Only those who do what God says will be saved.

Isn’t this line of thinking the fallacy of Ad Ridiculum? You could just as easily characterize the whole enterprise as God exhibited the ultimate act of love by sacrificing the thing of utmost value. Rather, the matter of salvation history must be understood in the context of the Jewish traditions in which they occurred, whether or not there is merit to the witness to Christ’s death and subsequent resurrection, miracles, witness, prophecies, etc…

The way I’ve been taught (and read in St. Anselm) is that Jesus’ perfect act of charity in obedience on the cross, offered as a ransom in his human will to God the Father, was more pleasing than all of this world’s sins are displeasing.

Why do we still need to repent? The offer of love from God to us - the offer to become a lover of God, to put us in a filial relationship with the Father in the Son, more than restoring what was lost by the Fall - may be accepted or rejected. It must be freely chosen; we have, now, the opportunity to freely merit salvation through good works done in sanctifying grace.

It is essentially a sacrifice, the one supreme sacrifice of which the rest were but types and figures.[/INDENT]If you read the whole article, you can see the difficulties in trying to understand a “mystery.”

Respectfully, I’m still trying to find a part of the faith that isn’t a mystery. Grr.

You certainly have very tangible realities, such as the incarnation itself, But besides “is it true,” do you have a list of rules by which the true faith has to abide? :slight_smile:

So, how would this have any different had Jesus NOT died on the cross for our sins? we still would have had to go do something…right?

I understand my analogy has limitations. But do you think the aspect you raise makes the dying of Christ more absurd? It’s funny, Christ’s death is huge in Christian theology, yet apart from the worn-out “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son…” most of us don’t seem to understand the reason for the Incarnation and death of Christ.

If it weren’t for Christ’s crucifixion, you’d be stuck in Abraham’s bosom forever if you were counted as a righteous man when you die. As for the rest, we’re just like Adam after the fall, concupiscence and all. The nifty preternatural gifts are forever lost, alas. I wonder if the Father could have become incarnate and taken his orders from the Son. Weird to think there is even a hierarchy within the trinity.

So, you are asking isn’t everyone going to heaven because Jesus died for all sin?

Why is the John 3:16 quotation “worn out”? If that’s the actual reason, it seems to suffice.


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