I also used to preach the message of God the Father as the judge in the courtroom with Jesus stepping in to endure the punishment from God the Father in our stead. I eventually recognized the fallacy of the penal substitution theory. Sadly, it is still a widespread paradigm among Christians around the world. Until we ask ourselves what we really believe. Asking questions like: How did I come to believe this claim, where is the source and evidence for this claim, and is this really supported by Scripture? Then it could be that what we claim as fact could be nothing more than us parroting what we have heard others say. If people don’t become aware enough to practice the principle of asking healthy questions, nothing will change or improve. By questioning your beliefs, you are not necessarily acting out of disbelief. It can be a way to filter out the things that are worth believing and therefore to cement those beliefs. That’s exactly what we’re doing here throughout these articles in this blogsite. The subject of “The Wrath of God” is one of those really misunderstood topics in and outside of Christian circles. If Christians do not understand this correctly, how can it be assumed that the rest of the world is not confused? Some of the things that are commonly believed about the wrath of God are nothing more than myths based on misunderstandings of scriptural interpretations. Let us demythologize our concept of the wrath of God and the death of Christ on the cross.
As explained in the previous article, Catholic and Protestant / Charismatic Christianity promotes the believe that the wrath of God came upon Jesus on the cross, that Jesus died in our place, and thereby paid the debt of sin on our behalf. But most Christian groups are still quite selective about where the fulfilment of God’s wrath ends. Sometimes God the Father killed his own Son on the cross, and thus appeased his own “righteous” anger, yet inconsistently certain disasters in the world are also attributed to the wrath of God.
Note that the rediscovered emerged modern grace message, draws a clear line at the cross and says that the death of Christ was the completion and the finishing of all God’s wrath. Most grace preachers today, however, are futurist in their eschatology as well. Futurist theology considers the book of Revelation to be something that has yet to be fulfilled in our future. Therefore, they must believe that the wrath of God will be unleashed again at the Apocalypse (the revelation of Christ at His coming). So here are the questions that need to be asked. Was Christ’s death in our place a payment to God the Father? Was Christ punished with all or part of the wrath of God? Did God the Father really kill His only begotten Son on the cross? Or was Christ not punished at all?
Did all of God’s wrath come upon Jesus?
If all the judgment and wrath of God came upon Christ on the cross, we have a serious problem because we still see God’s wrath in the book of Acts. For example: Acts 5 with Ananias and Saphira and Acts 12 with Herod being eaten by worms. As I said, we also see the wrath of God unleashed in the book of Revelation.
Oh, but we are in the Dispensation or the Age of Grace right now …(?)
The eschatological futurist view, specifically dispensationalism, teaches that we are currently living in the Age of Grace. This age of grace is supposed to last from the cross and resurrection until the coming of Christ in our future, according to their explanation of the Book of Revelation, when the wrath of God is to be poured upon the whole world. Based on this thesis, one must conclude that if there is still wrath in the near future, not all judgment was poured out on Christ on the cross. This would also suggest that God is jumping back and forth from a New Covenant Agreement to an Old Covenant Agreement (Sinaitic Covenant), from the Age of wrath to the Age of grace and from grace, where wrath is momentarily suspended until the age of wrath is re instituted.
The Grace message also makes the case that the Law of Moses has it’s cut off point at the cross. But during the apocalypse of the book of Revelation wrath is unleashed because it was directly connected to the breaking of that Sinaitic Covenant and the Law of Moses.
Someone may say that wrath was unleashed in Revelation because of rejecting Christ and the persecution of the believers. This is also true but remember that the rejection of Christ as their Messiah, and persecuting the believers was a direct transgression of the commandments of the Law of Moses and an attempt to suppress the truth of Christ’s resurrection from the dead. As the Law of Moses prophetically pointed to its fulfilment in Christ, they broke the Sinaitic Covenant, by rejecting Him, and wrath was the consequence. If there is still wrath after the cross whether in the book of Acts, or in the fulfilment of the book of Revelation in the first century, or if Revelation is still in our future, but the law of Moses ended at the cross, which is it? Did the Sinaitic – Covenant end at the cross, but revived again in our future? Unless of course God’s wrath did not come upon Jesus, and the Sinaitic Covenant was not abolished at the cross.
If the book of Revelation was written to first-century Christians, dealing with the imminent return of Christ at the conclusion of the Old Sinaitic Covenant in AD 70, it makes perfect sense when wrath is connected to the law of Moses and the Sinaitic covenant and not to the cross. The wrath of God was poured out, as per the Sinaitic Covenant requirements, on the ancient (symbolical) heavens and earth, which was the temple in Jerusalem, and all apostate Israel.
Romans 4:15 King James Version
15 Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.
Either way, God’s wrath could not have been poured out on Jesus on the cross and also on Jerusalem, Judea and Israel by AD 70. Though the cross marked the beginning of the end of the Sinaitic Covenant its abolition was complete at the destruction of the Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 A.D. There will be no wrath in our future.
Revelation 15:1 American Standard Version
1 And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having seven plagues, which are the last, for in them is finished the wrath of God.
Was it God the Father’s anger that killed his own Son so that He would not kill us?
Teaching that Jesus drew the wrath of God the Father unto Himself instead of us can cause us to be thankful for Jesus. However, for some it can be problematic to see the Father as a Loving Father. For some people, this can present deeper conflicting psychological challenges. The question many will ask is how God the Father could punish his Son in such a horrific way. As a result, many are unable to accept God the Father as a loving God.
My question is, did God the Father really punish his son? I believe he did not.
Jesus also fulfils the typology of the sacrificial system prescribed by the law of Moses. Nowhere in the Law of Moses do we see the high priest punishing animals prepared for sacrifice. The animals were not punished, beaten, or tortured as they were sacrificed. The sacrifice was the rite of renewing the Sinaitic Covenant.
What immediately comes to mind is Isaiah’s account of the crucifixion and suffering of Christ in his prediction of that event in chapter 53. Notice that as you read Isaiah 53, the purpose of the son’s death as a sacrifice was to establish the new covenant. It was not the punishment and torture of the son who was supposedly executed by the Father.
The guidelines in the Law of Moses and of the Jewish Tradition during the time the sacrificial system still existed required that the death of the animal be as painless as possible. Nothing in the Torah suggests that the animal must be in pain. A close examination of the sacrificial system under the Law of Moses leads me to believe that the main reason Jesus died was to set up the New Covenant, regardless of the torment He suffered at the hands of the Jewish Sanhedrin and Roman soldiers.
As per Isaiah 53’s description, was Christ punished by God the Father?
Isaiah 53:3-5 King James Version
3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
I think you can see where I’m going with this. Yes, those people who were obsessively involved in Christ’s crucifixion were the ones who considered Him to be afflicted by God. They assumed He was punished for the sins of Israel.
John 11:48-53 King James Version
48 If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation. 49 And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, 50 Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. 51 And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; 52 And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad. 53 Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death.
As it was the high priest who declared this, it was perceived as a divine instruction. Do you see how those who believed in the authority of the high priest were enraged and anxious to get rid of Him whom they held for a deceiver who claimed to be the Son of God who would usher in the new Messianic Age? The Jews then understood that there were two ages. The one they were in and the coming New Messianic Age, which would end the age they were in. Some of the Jews at the time did not want to believe or accept that their way of life was about to end. It was portrayed as a threat to the Sinaitic Covenant if someone came and preached that the Kingdom of God (the New Messianic Age) was at hand. For them the arrival of the kingdom of God and the dawning of the new Messianic Age meant that the previous age would be abolished.
Unfortunately, to this day it is generally taught and believed that God the Father punished his son. That was the belief of the Jews at the time. Whether we or the generation in Jesus’ day said so, Isaiah’s prophecy and the crucifixion itself does not give us a display of God the Father punishing His Son. It was merely the assumption of those people then and many Christians today.
Please note that the old manuscripts did not have chapters and verse numbers. In ancient times, Hebrew texts were divided into paragraphs identified by two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Peh (פ) denoted an “opening” of the paragraph which began on a new line, while Samekh (ס) denoted the “closing” of the paragraph that began on the same line after a small space. Isaiah 52:12 ends with Samekh (ס). What follows is a whole new paragraph which leads to Chapter 53. The next paragraph doesn’t begin until the middle of Isaiah 53 at verse 12. The paragraph from 52:12 to 53:12 emphasizes the rejection of Christ by the Jews of that generation, and that God would nevertheless exalt the Messiah to be crowned King of Kings and be seated upon the heavenly throne in fulfilment of God’s promises to King David.
Isaiah 52:13 King James Version
13 Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high.
Psalm 132:11 King James Version
11 The Lord hath sworn in truth unto David; he will not turn from it; Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne.
The 17th century Jewish historian Raphael Levi admitted that long ago rabbis would read Isaiah 53 in synagogues, but after the chapter caused much “Arguments and Confusion,” the rabbis decided it would be easier to simply remove this prophecy from the Haftarah readings in synagogues. That is why today, when Jews read Isaiah 52, they stop reading in the middle of the chapter and jump straight to Isaiah 54 at the next synagogue meeting a week later.
I’ve looked at the Hebrew Text with other likely translations of keywords where they are printed in bold, and I’ve removed the verse numbers. Applying these changes does not conflict with the Hebrew words of the original. In fact, the translators added some of the words we read in German and English translations.
They even put some of the words in a different order and place in the sentences or even left out some Hebrew translations. This could consequently change the way in which the text is read and therefore convey something different from what the author originally intended. As we explained in the previous articles, replacing words with “but” instead of “and” also makes a big difference. I’ve also restored some of the words that were left out.
Here is how Isaiah 53: 3-5 can also be read
He was despised and rejected by all people; a man full of pain and illness: He was so despised by us that we hid our faces from Him; surely, he hath borne our sickness, and carried our pain: but we thought He was plagued, beaten and tortured by God and wounded for our iniquity, and that He was crushed because of our sin. We regarded Him bruised because of our iniquities and punishment came on Him so that we might have peace, but by his wounded body we are healed.
Consider perhaps that it was not God the Father who punished Jesus. It was not God the Father who crushed Jesus or afflicted Him. Apart from the obvious death torture of crucifixion, consider that is was our sin that crushed Him. It was our sin and pain He bore, and it was that incomprehensible burden which afflicted Him in His body and soul.
But didn’t the Father forsake Jesus when he died on the cross? Isn’t that a sure sign of His wrath and anger with the Son? …
Using the example of Jesus crying on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” It has been believed that God the Father withdrew His presence from Jesus because He was supposedly punished. However, the exact opposite is true.
Matthew 27:46 King James Version
46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
When Jesus said this, he was quoting the first verse of Psalm 22, one of the songs of King David. By quoting the first few lines of the Psalm, anyone with a rich Jewish background who could hear Him knew the Psalm. They would know the rest of the song. Jesus only showed them what was prophetically being fulfilled. Check these verses out:
Psalm 22:13-19 King James Version
13 They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion. 14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. 15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death. 16 For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. 17 I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. 18 They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture. 19 But be not thou far from me, O Lord: O my strength, haste thee to help me.
Of course, Jesus suffered and was in great pain. He was not going to sing the whole song for them. He didn’t have to sing the whole song. He spoke these words and called the song into the remembrance of all bystanders. Those who knew the whole song would find that this prophetic song was fulfilled before their very eyes. Did the Father look away when Jesus was made sin, suffered, and died? Did the father withdraw His presence and was a separation initiated between them? Did the father really leave him? Check out the next verses of this song.
Psalm 22: 20-25 King James Version
20 Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog. 21 Save me from the lion’s mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns. 22 I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee. 23 Ye that fear the Lord, praise him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him; and fear him, all ye the seed of Israel. 24 For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard. 25 My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows before them that fear him.
We can see in this song that the Father heard His prayer, He was near him during his suffering, He did not leave him in his death and yes, He healed Him and raised Him from the dead and sat Him at His right hand.
OK, what about Isaiah 53:10?: …
Isaiah 53:10 King James Version
10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
Wouldn’t this not be clear evidence that God the Father punished his son and that his death was the pay off for sin? As in fact, this verse says that it pleased God to bruise His Son. This idea becomes enhanced when the word “pleased” is defined as “to be satisfied”. The linking of the words “satisfied” and “bruise” could allude to the idea that the payment Jesus made was receiving punishment from the Father. But what if the word “bruise” is not the appropriate translation of the Hebrew original?
Look at the same verse in the LXX Septuagint, the Greek translation, of the Hebrew Tanakh. The organised Christian Church adopted all the books of the Tanakh, in a somewhat different arrangement, and canonized them as the Old Testament.
English translation of LXX Septuagint, Isaiah 53:10
10 The Lord also is pleased to purge him from his stroke (plague). If ye can give an offering for sin, your soul shall see a long-lived seed:
In the book of Romans, the apostle Paul quotes from Isaiah, using the Septuagint translation as his preferred translation 11 times. Early Church theologians preferred the LXX version of Isaiah 53:10. It is quoted by Clement of Rome, Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 16. Justin Martyr also quoted it in two places, Athanasius of Alexandria quoted it, Augustine quoted it, John of Antioch (Chrysostom) quoted it. The 3rd century Biblical Commentator Origen of Alexandria also preferred to quote Isaiah from the LXX.
This favoured use of LXX Isaiah 53:10 and LXX Isaiah in general by ancient authorities is weighty. Despite the efforts of some proponents of penal and substitute theory to project this theory onto the scriptures, early Christians did not adhere to penal and substitute theory, and this preference for the LXX version of Isaiah 53:10 underpins the historical Assessment.
The LXX – Septuagint, Old Testament was written in excellent Ancient Greek. Translation began in the 3rd century B.C. and was Completed 132 B.C.. The story goes that King Ptolemy II Philadelphus gathered seventy Jewish sages and provided them with all the resources they needed to translate the Hebrew Scriptures into Ancient Greek. The results were far-reaching and affected not only the Jews, but later also the Christians. In fact, the LXX became a basic text for Jews and Christians for over a thousand years.
This changed during the Reformation. Martin Luther, among others, decided that certain of the teachings contained therein were objectionable. To get around this problem, he and other reformists decided to believe that the Masoretic Text (Masorah: Hebrew for “tradition”) was more authentic. The problem was that the earliest known Masoretic text – The Codex Leningradensis (The Leningrad Codex) – was written around AD 1100 and is therefore much younger than the LXX. Even so, many were more inclined to believe that the Hebrew Masoretic Text would be more authentic than any Greek translation, no matter how good that translation was. In the case of LXX and Masoretic Text, however, this would be the wrong assumption. Believe it or not, the LXX links back to the more authentic Hebrew text. This is a fact that Rabbinic Judaism and the authors of the Masoretic Text despised. Although this would lead to a different topic, rabbis and scribes began “editing” the LXX from the beginning, primarily to refute the claims of Christ and his followers.
The LXX Septuagint predominantly had the ancient Hebrew texts of the Tanakh as its source. The Dead Sea Scrolls of the Hebrew Tanakh, dated hundreds of years before the time of Jesus, and were written at least 1,200 years before the Masoretic text.
The Masoretic Text has been used as the basis for translations of the Old Testament into Protestant Bibles such as the King James Translation and the American Standard Version, as well as some versions of Catholic Bibles, which replaced the Vulgate translation. Although the Vulgate itself had already been revised in the light of the Masoretic text in the 1500s.
So here we are with our modern Bible translations of Isaiah 53:10.
If the LXX Septuagint version of Isaiah 53:10 is more accurate, it severely weakens Scriptural support for penal – substitution theory.
The Jews who rejected Jesus assumed that Jesus was punished and killed by God.
Jesus was not punished by God the Father.
The Sinaitic Law of Moses for Sacrifice never required the punishment of sacrifices.
The sacrifices were made to either renew, restore, or make a covenant.
The father did not kill or punish his only begotten son.
Isaiah 53:10 and Psalm 22 confirm that God the Father delivered Jesus from his plague and was with him during his suffering, healing him and raising him from the dead.
In the Bible sin is often symbolised as the plague.
Yes, Jesus bore our sin (plague) and through His death established the eternal New Covenant of Peace.
Yes, sin caused humanity to be guilty and owe a debt to God. A debt we could not pay.
The New Covenant of Peace is a covenant of forgiveness. The moment Jesus confirms the New Covenant humanity was forgiven.
If Jesus paid the debt of our sin by receiving the wrath of God upon Himself, then our debt was not forgiven but paid off.
Jesus shed His blood to seal the New Covenant and from that moment on we were forgiven of our debt.