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Purposes of Christ's Death: 2 Corinthians 5

This is another updated and reposted piece from an old series of posts examining the purpose statement that scripture gives us regarding the death of Christ. 

This post looks at two texts from 2 Corinthians 5. The first is text is this: 

For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; [15] and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. (2 Corinthians 5:14-15 ESV)

The second is just a few verses away:

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV)

The purpose statements in these two texts are different, but I’ve to put them together because they come from the same passage of scripture.

The purpose statement in 2 Corinthians 5:14-15  is “that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” One of the purposes of Christ’s death is to produce people who no longer live in the old way of life, but in the new way; who no longer live self-centered lives, but live lives centered around Christ. Or to put it another way, Christ died to create people who are controlled, not by self-love, but by love of Christ. 

The second purpose statement is found in 5:21. Christ died “so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” In The Atonement: It’s Meaning and Significance, Leon Morris explains the mysterious phrase “righteousness of God”:

….the expression signifies the righteousness or ‘right standing’ that God gives….Paul is clearly referring to a legal status, a standing before God. A status can be given, and the apostle says that this status is given.

You will probably recognise the term “right-standing” before God (or the “righteousness of God”) as another way of expressing justification. In a parallel — but an opposite kind of parallel — to Christ being counted as sinful, we are counted as righteous. This is another of the many purposes of Christ’s death: Christ died so that we would be justified, or given a right legal status before God.

The two purposes for Christ’s death found in these texts are so that we would live for Him rather than for ourselves, and so that we would be justified.

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