1 Peter 2:24
If Jesus did not literally have the sins of the world placed upon him, then what did Peter mean in 1 Peter 2:24, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed”? I think we must first notice what the text does actually say. Notice that it says he “bore our sins in his body,” not on his body. So what did the body of Christ do? What does it mean when Peter say Jesus bore our sins?
The word “bore” in the Greek is the word anaphero, which means “to carry up, take up, offer up.” The irony in the words of the commentators can be clearly seen in Warren Wiersbes The Bible Exposition Commentary: “He died as the sinners Substitute…. He died as a Saviour, a sinless Substitute. The word translated “bare means “to carry as a sacrifice.” I find it humorous that Wiersbe admits the meaning of the word “bore” yet insists this passage teaches substitution.
We can see the meaning of this word throughout the scriptures. Hebrews 7:27 says, “who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up (anaphero ) sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the peoples, for this He did once for all when He offered up (anaphero) Himself.” James 2:21 similarly, “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up (anaphero) Isaac his son on the altar?” 1 Peter 2:5 says, “you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up (anaphero) spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
Understanding the word “bore” makes the words of Peter rather simple. This passage does not say that Jesus “carried” our sins “on” His body nor that our sins were “placed” upon Him. The body of Jesus was offered up on an altar as a sacrifice, an offering to God, for sins. Thus, the NLT translates 1 Peter 2:24, “He personally carried away our sins in his own body on the cross so we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. You have been healed by his wounds!”
Chapter 53 is often used to prove the theory of substitution. So let us spend a little time looking at what Isaiah says in his prophecy. Verse 3 tells us that “He was despised and forsaken by men” not by God.
Verse 4 says, “Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows.” Many translations say “he bore our infirmities.” We must understand the word “bore” means “to take up; to carry; to take away; to remove” which is why the NIV translates, “Surely he took up our infirmities….” Matthew quotes this part of Isaiahs prophecy in Matthew 8:16-17 and declares Jesus fulfilled it while he was on the earth, healing people of demon possession. Jesus has taken away our sorrows and griefs. “Yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.” Again, the text does not say that God afflicted Jesus, but that we considered Jesus afflicted by God. This goes to prove our understanding of Galatians 3. Jesus was not cursed by God, but the people considered Jesus cursed of God.
Verse 6 is an important verse that we must deal with properly: “And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” What does it mean that the Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all? The word for “laid on” is the Hebrew word paga, which means according to Strongs, “come (betwixt), cause to entreat, fall (upon), make intercession, intercessor, entreat, lay, light (upon), meet (together), pray, reach, run.” In the same context, the word used by translators is “intercession.” Verse 12 says, “…and made intercession (paga) for the transgressors.” Similarly, Isaiah 59:16, Jeremiah 7:16, and 15:11 has (paga) translated as “intercession.” The Septuagint, the translation of the Hebrew scriptures into Greek, uses the Greek word paredoken from paradidomi, meaning “to deliver up or intercede.” This base of this Greek word is found twice in the New Testament. Romans 8:32 says, Similarly, Ephesians 5:2 says, “He did not even spare His own Son, but offered (paradidomi) Him up for us all; how will He not also with Him grant us everything?””and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave (paradidomi) Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” We are now able to see that there is nothing in these words implying substitution. Rather, Isaiah 53:6 is simply saying the Lord delivered or offered up Jesus for the iniquity of us all. Jesus sacrifice was to make intercession for our iniquities.
Verse 8 does not require a substitutionary view either. “For the transgressions of my people He was stricken” simply tells us that it was because of our sins that Jesus was needed as a sacrifice for sins.
Verse 10 is useful because Isaiah says exactly what we have been arguing in these lessons. “When you make his life an offering for sin…” states the very point we are making concerning Jesus death. The death was not a substitution but a sin sacrifice. The sacrifice of Jesus was well-pleasing to God, offered on our behalf to open the way of Gods mercy for us. This is exactly what Paul said concerning Jesus in Ephesians 5:2, “And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.”
Verse 11 says “For He shall bear their iniquities.” Hopefully we now understand what it means for Jesus to bear our iniquities, as we noted previously in 1 Peter 2:24. The Hebrew word for “bear” is sabal which means according to Strongs “to carry (literally or figuratively).” Thus, the HCSB rightly translates, “and He will carry their iniquities.” This is the same word used back in verse 4 of Isaiah that Jesus “carried (sabal) our sorrows.” The Hebrew word sabal is translated in the Septuagint with the word anaphero, which we noticed already means “to carry up, to carry away, to offer up.”
Finally, verse 12 concludes, “And he bore the sins of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” The Hebrew word for “bore” is nasa which means “to lift, to carry, to take.” Similarly, the Hebrew word nasa is also translated by the Septuagint with the word anaphero. Again, the meaning is that Jesus took away our sins and offered up our sins as a sacrifice to the Lord. The Bible asserts Jesus as our substitute but a pleasing sacrifice offered up for our sins.