Galatians 3:13

I. THE LAW BRINGS A CURSE. It is not itself a curse, though it is a heavy burden. It was not sent for the purpose of injuring us, nor, rightly obeyed, would it cause any evil to fall upon us. It is the breach of the Law that is followed by the curse. But we have all broken the Law. So long, then, as we continue to live under the Law the curse hangs over us. Instead of hankering after a religion of Law, as the Galatians were doing, we should regard it with horror as for us sinners only a prelude to a fearful doom. The curse is the wrath of God, banishment from God, death.

II. CHRIST REDEEMS FROM THIS CURSE. This great truth implies three things.

1. Christians are set free from the curse of the Law,

(1) by the free forgiveness that stays the curse from falling on those who have incurred it in transgressing the Law; and

(2) by removal from the dominion of Law for the future, so that its requirements no longer apply, and principles of love resulting from grace have full sway. Obligations to righteousness are not thereby diminished, but increased; the motive for fulfilling them, however, is no longer the terror of a curse, but the spontaneous devotion of love.

2. This liberation is effected by Christ. We cannot fling off the yoke of Law nor dispel the curse. If done at all it must be done by One mightier than us. Hence the need of a Saviour. The gospel proclaims, not only deliverance, but a Christ who accomplishes it.

3. The deliverance is at a cost. It is redemption. The cost is Christ's endurance of a curse.

III. CHRIST SUFFERED THE CURSE OF THE CROSS. He was not cursed of God. It is significant that that expression is omitted in the quotation from the Old Testament (see Deuteronomy 21:23). We have no evidence of any mysterious spiritual curse falling upon Christ. On the contrary, we are told in what the curse consisted. It was the endurance of crucifixion itself. That was a death so cruel, so horrible, so full of shame, that to suffer it was to undergo a very curse. Christ was crucified, and therefore the curse fell upon him. Moreover, this curse is very directly connected with the breach of the Law by us.

1. Death is the penalty of transgression. Christ never deserved this penalty of violated Law, yet, being a man and mortal, he suffered the fate of fallen men.

2. It was man's wickedness, i.e. nothing else than man's violation of God's Law, that led to man's rejection of Christ and to Christ's death. The world flung its curse on Christ. By a wonderful act of infinite mercy that act of hellish wickedness is made the means through which the world is freed from the curse of its own sins.

IV. CHRIST'S ENDURANCE OF THE CURSE OF THE CROSS LIBERATES US FROM THE CURSE OF THE LAW. He freely endured the curse. He endured it for our sakes. He became "a curse for us."

1. His endurance of the curse gave weight to his propitiatory sacrifice of himself. This was the most extreme surrender of himself to God in meek submission. As our Representative, he thus obtained for us Divine favour and grace of forgiveness in answer to that most powerful intercession, the giving of himself to a death that was a very curse rather than abandon his saving work.

2. Christ's endurance of the curse for us is the grand inducement for us to leave the "beggarly elements" of Law and devote ourselves in faith and love to him who died fur us. - W.F.A.

Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.

1. Under a moral government a righteous governor will, yea, must, append blessing to good and cursing to evil.

2. There is a law above all human laws:

(1)In the perfection of its nature;

(2)the extent of its application;

(3)the power of its condemnation.

3. If we have broken this law, then we are placed under a curse.


1. Guilty men are under the curse; a guiltless one comes under it



2. The Lord Jesus Christ, then, represents our race, and for us has become a curse.

(1)He was of such dignity that He could represent it;

(2)His act was spontaneous;

(3)He was appointed of the Father;

(4)foreseeing the result of His work He rejoiced to do it (Isaiah 53:11; Hebrews 13:1, 2).

3. By bearing the curse on Himself He bore it off from us.

4. The curse being thus rolled away, the way is prepared for the coming of the blessing.

5. The blessing comes to those who repent and believe.

(C. Clemance, D. D.)



III. IT WAS TRANSFERRED TO CHRIST. His hanging on a tree was the sign and token of this (Deuteronomy 21:23 cf.; 1 Peter 2:24).


1. An interest in Christ.

2. Righteousness.

3. Acceptance with God.

(J. Owen, D. D.)

The sentence or curse of the law must not fall to the ground, for then the aid of God's governing the world could not be secured; His law would seem to be given in jest, and His threatenings would be interpreted to be a vain scarecrow, and the sin of the creature would not seem so odious a thing, if the law might be broken and there were no more ado about it; therefore Christ must come to bear this curse.

(T. Manton.)

1. The threatenings of the law, denouncing a curse against those who yield not personal obedience to it, did not exclude or forbid a surety to come in the sinner's room, and to undergo the curse due to him.

2. All men are by nature under the sentence of the law's curse, whereby in God's justice they are under the power of darkness (Colossians 1:13), slavery and bondage to sin and Satan (Ephesians 2:2), so to remain until they be cast into utter darkness (Jude 1:13), except delivery and redemption intervene.

3. There is no delivery of enslaved man from this woeful bondage, but by giving satisfaction and by paying of a price for the wrong done to Divine justice, either by himself, or by some surety in his stead. Satisfaction is demanded by

(1)God's fidelity (Genesis 2:17);

(2)His righteous nature (Psalm 11:6, 7);

(3)the inward desert of sin (Romans 1:32).

4. It is not in the power of fallen man to acquire a ransom for himself, by anything he can either do or suffer.

5. Jesus Christ has undertaken and accomplished this great work.

6. This work is to "redeem." Christ buys back what was once His own, but for a time lost.

7. It is a real redemption, all that was forfeited being restored.

8. The price paid by Christ, in order to our redemption, was no less than His undergoing the curse due to us.

(James Ferguson.)

The apostle here unveils a reason why men are not saved by their personal righteousness, but by their faith. He says the reason is, that men are not saved now by any personal merit, but their salvation lies in another, viz., in Christ Jesus, the Representative Man, who alone can deliver from the curse of the law; and since works do not connect us with Christ, but faith is the uniting bond, faith becomes the way of salvation. Since faith is the hand that lays hold upon the finished work of Christ, which works could not and would not do, for works lead us to boast and to forget Christ, faith becomes the true and only way of obtaining justification and everlasting life. Let us try to understand more clearly the nature of His substitution, and of the suffering which it entailed upon Him.


1. It is the curse of God. God who made the law has appended certain penal consequences to the breaking of it; and the man who violates the law becomes at once the subject of the wrath of the Lawgiver. Hence it must be

(1)supremely just;

(2)morally unavoidable;

(3)most weighty.

2. It is a sign of displeasure. God is angry with the wicked every day: His wrath towards sin is great.

3. God's curse of something more than a threatening; He comes at length to blows. He uses warning words at first, but sooner or later He bares his sword for execution. Cain. Flood. Sodom.


1. The Jewish nation. To them the law of God was very peculiarly given beyond all others.

2. All nations. The law, although not given to all from Sinai, has been written by the finger of God more or less legibly upon the conscience of all mankind.

3. Those who, when offered the gospel, prefer to remain under the law (Galatians 3:10). All that the law of works can do for men is to leave them still accursed.


1. By substitution. Christ was no curse in Himself. Of His own free will He became a curse for us.

2. All the sins of His people were actually laid upon Him. He endured both

(1)the penalty of loss; and

(2)the penalty of actual suffering, both

(a)in body and

(b)in soul.It was an anguish never to be measured, an agony never to be comprehended. To God only were His griefs fully known. Well does the Greek liturgy put in, "Thine unknown sufferings," for they must for ever remain beyond guess of human imagination. Behold Christ bearing the curse instead of His people. Here He is coming under the load of their sin, and God does not spare Him, but smites Him as He must have smitten us, lays His full vengeance on Him, launches all His thunderbolts against Him, bids the curse wreak itself upon Him, and Christ suffers all, sustains all.


1. We are redeemed from the curse. The law is silenced; it can demand no more. The quiver of wrath is exhausted.

2. The blessing of God, hitherto arrested by the curse, is now made most freely to flow. A great rock has been lifted out from the river-bed of God's mercy, and the living stream comes rippling, rolling, swelling on in crystal tides, sweeping before it all human sin and sorrow, and making the thirsty who stoop down to drink at it.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Redemption being deliverance by means of the substitution of a ransom, it follows that, although the ransom can only be paid to God, and to Him only as the moral governor of the universe, we may still be said to be redeemed from all that we are delivered from by means of the ransom paid in the sacrifice of Christ. Thus we are said to be redeemed from

(1)our vain conversation (1 Peter 1:18);

(2)death (Hosea 12:14);

(3)the devil (Colossians 2:15);

(4)all iniquity (Titus 2:14);

(5)the curse of the law (Galatians 3:13; Galatians 4:5).It is, of course, not meant that the ransom is paid to the devil, or to sin. or to death, or to the law. These different conceptions are not inconsistent. A captive is redeemed by a price paid only to him that holds him in bondage, but by the same act he may be redeemed from labour, from disease, from death, from the persecution of his fellow-captives, and from a slavish disposition.


Two curses pronounced in the law are here referred to. All mankind was liable to the former one. How was it to be removed?

1. He who was to remove it must not Himself be liable to it. He who was to be a substitute for the guilty must Himself be innocent. He who was to suffer in the stead of the disobedient must Himself be obedient in all things.

2. He who was to be the substitute for all must have the common nature of all. He must not take the person of one individual man (such as Abraham, Moses, Elias), but He must take the nature of all, and sum up all mankind in Himself.

3. He who was to do more than counterbalance the weight of the sins of all, must have infinite merits of His own, in order that the scale of Divine justice may preponderate in their favour. And nothing that is not Divine is infinite. In order, therefore, that He may be able to suffer for sin, He must be human; and in order that He may be able to take away the sins, and to satisfy God's justice for them, He must be Divine.

4. In order that He may remove the curse pronounced in the law of God for disobedience, He must undergo that punishment which is especially declared in the law to be the curse of God.

5. That punishment is hanging on a tree (Deuteronomy 21:23).

6. By undergoing this curse for us, Christ, He who is God from everlasting, and who became Emmanuel, God with us, God in our flesh, uniting together the two natures — the Divine and the human — in His one person — Christ Jesus, redeemed us from the curse of the law. Thus, having accepted the curse, He liberated us from it.

(Bishop Chris. Wordsworth.)Christ stood for the "every one who continueth not," by becoming the "very one" who hung upon the tree.

(M. B. Riddle, D. D.)

1. The believer's discharge. The law of God hath three parts, commands, promises, and threatenings or curses. The curse of the law is its condemning sentence, whereby a sinner is bound over to death, even the death of soul and body. The chain, by which it binds him, is the guilt of sin, and from which none can loose the soul but Christ. This curse of the law is the most dreadful thing imaginable; it strikes at the life of a sinner, yea, his best life, the eternal life of the soul; and when it hath condemned, it is inexorable, no cries nor tears, no reformations or repentance, can loose the guilty sinner: for it requires for its reparation that which no mere creature can give, even an infinite satisfaction. Now from this curse Christ frees the believer; that is, He dissolves the obligation to punishment, cancels the hand-writing, looses all the bonds and chains of guilt, so that the curse of the law hath nothing to do with him for ever.

2. We have here the way and manner in and by which this is done; and that is by a full price paid down, and that price paid in the room of the sinner, both making up a complete and full satisfaction. He pays a full price, every way adequate and proportionable to the wrong.

3. The nature of Christ's satisfaction.(1) It is the act of God-man; no other was capable of giving satisfaction for an infinite wrong done to God. But by reason of the union of the two natures in His wonderful person, He could do it, and hath done it for us.(2) If He satisfy God for us, He must present Himself before God, as our Surety, in our stead, as well as for our good; else His obedience had signified nothing to us: To this end He was made under the law (Galatians 4:4), comes under the same obligation with us, and that as a Surety, for so He is called (Hebrews 7:22). Indeed, His obedience and sufferings could be exacted from Him upon no other account. It was not for anything He had done that He became a curse.(3) The internal moving cause of Christ's satisfaction for us was His obedience to God, and love to us. That it was an act of obedience is plain from Philippians 2:8, "He became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."(4) The matter of Christ's satisfaction was His active and passive obedience to all the law of God required.(5) The effect and fruit of this His satisfaction is our freedom, ransom, or deliverance from the wrath and curse due to us for our sins. Such was the dignity, value, and completeness of Christ's satisfaction, that in strict justice it merited our redemption and full deliverance; not only a possibility that we might be redeemed and pardoned, but a right whereby we ought to be so. We pass on to STATE SOME OBECTIONS, and to answer them. The doctrine of Christ's satisfaction is absurd, for Christ (say we) is God; if so, then God satisfies Himself, than which what can be more absurd to imagine? I answer, God cannot properly be said to satisfy Himself; for that would be the same thing as to pardon, simply, without any satisfaction. But there is a twofold consideration of Christ; one in respect of His essence and Divine nature, in which sense He is the object both of the offence, and of the satisfaction made for it. Another in respect of His person and economy, or office; in which sense He properly satisfies God, being in respect of His manhood another, and inferior to God (John 14:28). The blood of the man Christ Jesus is the matter of the satisfaction; the Divine nature dignifies it, and makes it of infinite value.

2. If Christ satisfied by paying our debt, then He should have endured eternal torments; for so we should, and the damned shall. We must distinguish betwixt what is essential, and what is accidental in punishment. The primary intent of the law is reparation and satisfaction; he that can make it at one entire payment (as Christ could and did) ought to be discharged. He that cannot (as no mere creature can) ought to lie for ever, as the damned do, under sufferings.

3. If God will be satisfied for our sins before He pardon them, how then is pardon an act of grace? Pardon could not be an act of pure grace, if God received satisfaction from us; but if He pardon us upon the satisfaction received from Christ, though it be of debt to Him, it is of grace to us: for it was grace to admit a surety to satisfy, more grace to provide Him, and most of all to apply His satisfaction to us, by uniting us to Christ, as He hath done.

4. But God loved us before Christ died for us; for it was the love of God to the world that moved Him to give His only-begotten Son. Could God love us, and yet not be reconciled and satisfied? God's complacential love is indeed inconsistent with an unreconciled state: He is reconciled to every one He so loves. But His benevolent love, consisting in His purpose of good, may be before actual reconciliation and satisfaction.

5. Temporal death, as well us eternal, is a part of the curse; if Christ have fully satisfied by bearing the curse for us, how is it that those for whom He bare it die as well as others? As temporal death is a penal evil, and part of the curse, so God inflicts it not upon believers; but they must die for other ends, viz., to be made perfectly happy in a more full and immediate enjoyment of God, than they can have in the body; and so death is theirs by way of privilege (1 Corinthians 3:22). They are not death's by way of punishment. The same may be said of all the afflictions with which God, for gracious ends, now exercised His reconciled ones. Thus much may suffice to establish this great truth. We proceed to make the following INFERENCES:

1. If the death of Christ was that which satisfied God for all the sins of the elect, then certainly there is an infinite evil in sin, since it cannot be expiated, but by an infinite satisfaction. Fools make a mock at sin, and there are but few souls in the world that are duly sensible of, and affected with its evil; but certainly, if God should damn thee to all eternity, thy eternal sufferings could not satisfy for the evil that is in one vain thought.

2. If the death of Christ satisfied God, and thereby redeemed the elect from the curse, then the redemption of souls is costly; souls are dear things, and of great value with God.

3. If Christ's death satisfied God for our sins, how unparalleled is the love of Christ to poor sinners!

4. If Christ, by dying, hath made full satisfaction, then God is no loser in pardoning the greatest of sinners that believe in Jesus; and consequently His justice can be no bar to their justification and salvation. He is just to forgive us our sins (1 John 1:9). What an argument is here for a poor believer to plead with God!

5. If Christ hath made such a full satisfaction as you have heard, how much is it the concernment of every soul, to abandon all thoughts of satisfying God for his own sins, and betake himself to the blood of Christ, the ransomer, by faith, that in that blood they may be pardoned? It would grieve one's heart to see how many poor creatures are drudging and tugging at a task of repentance, and revenge upon themselves, and reformation, and obedience, to satisfy God for what they have clone against Him: And alas! it cannot be, they do but lose their labour; could they swelter their very hearts out, weep till they can weep no more, cry till their throats be parched, alas, they can never recompense God for one vain thought. For such is the severity of the law, that when it is once offended, it will never be made amends again by all that we can do; it will not discharge the sinner, for all the sorrow in the world.

(John Flavel.)

I. THE SUFFERINGS OF CHRIST. He was made a curse. Upon Him rested, for a season, the wrath of God.

1. This was the bitter experience of His life. From His standpoint of perfect rectitude and purity, He saw how far men had wandered from God, and how deeply they had fallen in sin.

2. This was the agony of His death. Man's hatred to God culminated in the act that put Christ to death.

3. That Christ endured such suffering, being made a curse, was evident from the peculiar manner of His death. "As it is written, cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree."

II. REDEMPTION BY CHRIST. "He hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us."

III. BLESSING THROUGH CHRIST. In this blessing is included —

1. Salvation for the Gentiles, "That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ."

2. Blessing through Christ included the "promise of the Spirit."Lessons:

1. Christ the sufferer must be Christ the Redeemer.

2. The blessings of salvation are to be obtained in Christ (ἐν Χριστῷ). There must be fellowship with Christ.

3. Salvation becomes an actual and personal blessing through the ministration of the Spirit.

(Richard Nicholls.)

A man pays a ransom for slaves; but Christ took the slave's place. A doctor gives medicine to a sick man; but Christ "took the disease on Himself." We are told of Sister Dora "that she was in the habit of bringing back to life patients who had sunk into the first stage of the fatal collapse which often precedes death from small-pox, by actually putting her mouth to theirs, and breathing into them, until vitality was restored." ("Sister Dora," by M. Lonsdale.) St. Vincent do Paul was at one time almoner-general to the prison ships in the chief harbours of France, during the reign of Louis XIII. "While visiting those at Marseilles, he was so much struck by the broken-down looks and exceeding sorrowfulness of one of the convicts, that, on discovering his sorrow was less for his own sake than for the misery to which his absence must needs reduce his wife and children, St. Vincent absolutely changed places with the convict. The prisoner went free, whilst St. Vincent wore a convict's chain, did a convict's work, lived on convict fare, and, worst of all, had only convict society. He was soon sought out and released, but the hurts he had received from the pressure of the chains lasted all his life .... After this St. Vincent worked with infinitely more force on the consciences of the convicts for having been for a time one of themselves."

(From Miss Yonge's "Book of Golden Deeds.")

This curse is the wretched inheritance of all the guilty sons of Adam. And can there any, in this forlorn and desperate ease, interpose to shelter the trembling sinner from so great, so deserved, so imminent a destruction? Is there any way of escape, any door of hope opened? There is; for, behold! I this day bring unto all penitent and humble souls the glad tidings of great joy; joy which, if excess of fear and horror have not altogether stupefied and made us insensible, must needs fill us with the highest raptures of triumph and exultations. A Saviour, a Redeemer: O sweet and precious names, for lost and undone sinners! Names, full of mercy, full of life! Justice is answered; the law is satisfied; the curse removed; and we restored to the hopes of eternal life and salvation. "Christ hath redeemed us," etc.


1. What it is to be made a curse. Now to be accursed, in its proper notion, signifies to be devoted to miseries and punishments; for we are said to curse another when we devote and, so far as in us lies, appoint him to plagues and miseries. And God is said to curse men when He doth devote and appoint them to punishments. Men curse by imprecation; but God curseth more effectually by ordination and infliction. But yet, notwithstanding, every one whom God afflicts must not be esteemed as cursed by Him. Every one, therefore, that is afflicted is not presently accursed. For God hath two ends for which He brings any affliction upon us. The one is the manifestation of His holiness; the other is the satisfaction of His justice. And accordingly as any affliction or suffering tends to the promoting of these ends, so it may be said to be a curse or not.

2. How Jesus Christ, who is God blessed for ever, could be made a curse or become accursed. This, at the first glance of our thoughts upon it, seems very difficult, if not impossible, to be reconciled. And the difficulty is increased, partly because the true faith acknowledgeth our Lord Jesus Christ to be the true God, blessed for ever; and partly because the apostle tells us, "That no man, speaking by the Spirit of God, calleth. Jesus accursed" (1 Corinthians 12:3).(1) Then certain it is that Christ is essentially blessed, being the most blessed God, co-equal and co-eternal with the Father, possessing all the infinite perfections of the Deity, invariably and immeasurably. Yea, and He is the fountain of all blessing, whence flow all our hopes and happiness. But although He is for ever blessed essentially, yet,(2) Mediatorily, He was accursed; and that because the economy and dispensation of His mediatory office required that tie should be subjected unto sufferings, not only as they were simply evil, but as they were penal, and inflicted on Him to this very end, that justice might be repaired and satisfied.(3) But the curse of the law being only duo unto sin and guilt, it remains yet to be inquired how this curse could be justly inflicted on our Saviour, who was infinitely pure and innocent; and to whom the Scripture gives this testimony, that He did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth (1 Peter 2:22). To this I answer: That sin may be con. sidered either as personal or imputed.

(a)Christ was free from all personal sin, whether of corruption of nature or transgression of life.

(b)Yet He was not free from all imputed sin and guilt. The sins of all the world assembled and met together upon Him.

3. Is it consistent with the justice of God to punish an innocent person for the sins of those that are guilty? To this I answer:(1) In general, that it is not unjust for God to punish the sins of one person upon another who hath not committed them. We find frequent instances of this in the Scripture (Exodus 20:8; Lamentations 5:7; Genesis 9:25; 2 Samuel 21:1-14; 2 Samuel 24:17).(2) It is just with God to inflict the punishment of our sins upon Christ, though innocent. And there are two things upon which this justice and equity are founded — conjunction and consent.[1] There is a near conjunction between Christ and us, upon which account it is no injustice to punish Him in our stead. And this conjunction is twofold-either natural or mystical.1st. There is a natural conjunction between us, as Christ is truly man, and hath taken upon Him our nature, which makes a cognation and alliance between us. We are bone of His bone, and flesh of His flesh. It was therefore necessary that Christ should take our nature upon a threefold account.(1st) That thereby the same person, who is God, might become passive, and a fit subject to receive and bear the wrath of God; for had He not been man, He could not have received it; and had He not been God, He could not have borne it.(2ndly) That satisfaction might be made to offended justice in the same nature which transgressed; that as it was man which sinned, so man also might be punished. And yet farther,(3rdly) that the right of redemption might be in Christ, being made near of kin unto us, by His taking our flesh and our nature. For we find in the law that the person who was next of kin was to redeem to himself the lands of his relations, when they were fallen to decay, and constrained by poverty to sell them (Leviticus 25:25; Ruth 3:12; and 4:4). Whereby was typified unto us our redemption by Jesus Christ, who, having a body prepared for Him, is now become near of kin unto us, and is not ashamed to call us brethren. Now, because of this natural conjunction, the transferring the punishment from us, who are guilty, unto Christ, who is guiltless, doth, at least in this respect, answer the rules and measures of justice; that although the same person be not punished, yet the same nature is. But this is not all, for —2ndly. There is a nearer conjunction between Christ and us, and that is mystical, whereby we are made one person with Him. And by reason of this, God, in punishing Christ, punisheth not only the same nature, but the same person. For there is such an intimate union by faith between Christ and a believer, that they make up but one mystical person.[2] As Christ is thus conjoined to us, both naturally and mystically, so He has also given His full consent to stand in our stead, and to bear our punishment.

4. Did Christ bear the same wrath and curse which were due to us for our sins, or some other punishment in lieu thereof? For answer to this, we must carefully distinguish between the substance of the curse and the adjuncts and circumstances of it. For want of rightly distinguishing between these, too many have been woefully staggered and perverted in their faith; and have been induced to believe that Christ died not in the stead of any, but only for the good of all, as the Socinians blaspheme. Now certain it is that Christ underwent the very same punishment, for the matter and substance of it, which was due to us by the curse and threatening of the law, though it may be different in very many circumstances and modifications, according to the divers natures of the subjects on whom it was to be inflicted. For the substance of the curse and punishment threatened against sinners is death. "In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die."

5. For whose sake was Christ thus accursed and punished?(1) He died in our place and stead as a Ransom for us.(2) He suffered our punishment to free us from it.


1. Let us consider what redemption is. Redemption, therefore, may be taken either properly or improperly. An improper redemption is a powerful rescue of a man from under any evil or danger in which he is. Thus Jacob makes mention of the angel which redeemed him from all evil (Genesis 48:16); and the disciples profess that they hoped that Jesus had been He who should have redeemed the Israelites from under the Roman yoke and subjection, etc. A proper redemption is by paying a price and ransom. And that either fully equivalent: thus one kinsman was to redeem another out of servitude (Leviticus 25:49, 50); or else what is given for the redemption of another may, in itself, be of a less value, but yet is accepted as a recompense and satisfaction: thus the first-born of a man was to be redeemed, and the price paid down for him no more than five shekels (Numbers 18:15, 16). Now the redemption made for us by Christ is a proper redemption, by way of price; and that price, not only reckoned valuable by acceptation, but, in itself, fully equivalent to the purchase, and compensatory to Divine justice.

2. The reasons which moved God to contrive the method of our redemption by substituting His own Son to bear the punishment of our offences.(1) God substitutes His Son to undergo our punishment that thereby the exceeding greatness of His love towards us might be expressed and glorified.(2) In the sufferings of Jesus Christ, God manifests the glory both of His justice and mercy, and with infinite wisdom reconciles them one with the other.(3) By this means also God most effectually expresses His infinite hatred and detestation of sin. For it is expedient that God should, by some notable example, show the world how provoking a thing sin is. It is true He hath already demonstrated His hate against it by ruthful examples upon all the creatures. As soon as ever the least breath of this contagion seized upon them, God turned the angels out of heaven, and man out of Paradise; He subjected the whole creation unto vanity, that nothing but fears, care, sorrow, and disappointment reign here below; and under these woeful effects of the Divine wrath we groan and sign away our days. But all these are but weak instances of so great and almighty a wrath; and their capacity is so narrow, that they can only contain some few drops of the Divine indignation, and those, likewise, distilled upon them by degrees and succession. And, therefore, God is resolved to fit a vessel large enough, a subject capable enough, to contain the immense ocean of His wrath; and because this cannot be in any finite and limited nature, God Himself must be subject to the wrath of God.(4) God so severely punisheth His Son that the extremity of His sufferings might be a caution to us, and affect us with a holy dread and fear how we provoke so just and so jealous a God. For if His own Son, dear to Him as His own essence, could not escape, when He only stood in the place of sinners, how thinkest thou, O wretch! to escape the righteous judgment of God if thou continuest in thy sins and provocations?

3. Who the persons are for whom Jesus Christ has wrought out this great redemption.(1) That Christ died for all men, with an absolute intention of bringing all and every one of them into a state of salvability; from the which they were excluded by their guilt and God's righteous judgment, and that He is not frustrated in this His intention, but, by His death, hath fully effected and accomplished it.(2) The second argument is this: The covenant of grace is propounded to all indefinitely and universally. (Mark 16:16) "Whosoever believeth shall be saved." And, under these general terms, it may be propounded unto all, even the most desperate and forlorn sinners on earth. But if Christ had not died for all, as well for the reprobate as the elect, this tender could not be made to all, as our Saviour commands it to be (v. 15), "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature."(3) It must needs be acknowledged that Christ died for all men, in such a sense, as He is denied to have died for the fallen angels; then His death was not only a sufficient, but an intended, ransom for all. For the death of Christ had sufficient worth and value in it to have redeemed and restored them, being an infinite price, through the infinite dignity of His person.(4) All are bound to the great duty of believing in Christ; therefore He died for all.(5) All men in the world are obliged to return gratitude and obedience unto Christ upon the account and consideration of His death; therefore His death had a respect to all (See 1 Corinthians 6:20; 2 Corinthians 5:15).(6) Christ challenges unto Himself supreme authority and dominion over all by the right of His death (Romans 14:9). But if Christ's authority over all, as Mediator, be founded on His death, it will follow that, as His authority is over all, so His death was for all; otherwise He must exercise His jurisdiction over those persons over whom He hath no right nor title.


1. Be exhorted to admire and adore the infinite love of our Lord Jesus Christ towards fallen and undone mankind, in that He was pleased to substitute Himself in our stead, and, when the hand of justice was lifted up against us, to thrust Himself between us and the dread effects of the Divine wrath, receiving into His own bosom all the arrows of God's quiver, every one of them dipped in the poison of the curse(1) Consider the infinite glory and dignity of our Lord Jesus Christ.(2) Consider our infinite vileness and wretchedness.(3) The infinite love of Christ, in being made a curse for us, is mightily glorified, if we consider, not only what He was, and who we are, but the several bitter and direful ingredients that compounded the curse which was laid upon Him.

2. If Christ has thus borne the curse for us, why should we think it much to bear the cross for Him?

3. Here is abundant satisfaction made to the justice of God for all the transgressions of true believers. They, by their Surety, have paid to the full, yea, and supererogated in His sufferings. For God could never have been so completely satisfied in exacting the penalty from us in our own- persons as now He is by the punishments laid upon His own Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. For those very sufferings of thy Saviour, which were an expiation for the sins of the whole world, were all of them tendered to the Father as an expiation for thine, and the full value of His infinite satisfaction belongs all of it entirely unto thee. And, therefore, look upon thy sins as horrid and heinous as thou canst; yet, unless thine in particular have been more than the sins of all the world, unless thine have been more sinful than sin itself can be, know, for thy comfort, that a full atonement is made, and now nothing is expected from thee but only to accept, it, and to walk worthy of it.

(E. Hopkins, D. D.)

One of our boys had committed an offence so bad that Mr. Gibb, his teacher, though rarely using the rod, felt it necessary to make an example of him. The punishment .was to be publicly inflicted, "that others might fear." But when the culprit, who had only been a few days in our school, was stripped, he was such a living skeleton, that the master had not the heart to beat him. At his wit's end what to do — for the crime must be punished — it occurred to him to make such an appeal as, to compare small things to great, reminds us of the mystery of salvation, and the love of Him who "was wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities, and by whose stripes we are healed." Turning to the others, "It goes," he said, "against my heart to lay a hand on that miserable creature. Will any one take his place, and be punished in his stead?" The words bad hardly left his lips when, with tears of pity brimming in his eyes, a boy stepped bravely out, pulled his jacket off, and pushing the culprit aside, offered his own back and shoulders to the rod. A ragged school boy, he was a hero in his way, presenting an example of courage and kindness, of sympathy and unselfishness, rare in schools — or anywhere else.

(Dr. Guthrie.)

Damon, a Grecian philosopher, is remarkable for his devotion to Pythias, his friend. Pythias having been condemned to death, he obtained leave of absence to go home and settle his affairs, and Damon pledged himself to endure the punishment if his friend did: not return. Pythias was absent at the time for the execution, but Damon was punctual, and ready to die for his friend, and the king was so pleased with the friendship of Damon that he pardoned him.

(W. Birch.)

From, The Yorkshire Post
"About a fortnight ago a man was admitted to the Bristol Royal. Infirmary, suffering from an affection of the throat, supposed to be diphtheria. The operation of tracheotomy was performed by Mr. W. C. Lysaght, M.R.C.S., assistant medical officer to the Infirmary; but the tube becoming choked, the last chance of saving the man's life was for some one to apply his lips to the tube and suck the moisture. This Mr. Lysaght did, but without avail, for shortly afterwards the patient died of suppressed scarlatina. Mr. Lysaght caught the disease in its worse form, and died."

(From "The Yorkshire Post," Aug. 6, 1887.)

I. "CHRIST MADE A CURSE." First of all, I lay down this position as certain (however unlikely it might have seemed to us beforehand:), that the curse which the apostle speaks of is the curse of God. True, there was no lack of the cursing of this blessed One, in a secondary sense of the word, from other quarters, — no lack of the cursing of Him by men and devils, in the sense of maligning, blaspheming — wishing, calling Him accursed. But Paul assuredly does not speak of anything of that kind. Besides that he says "made" — not called, or wished, but (γενόμενος) made a curse, — see how certain it is from the entire context that it is the curse of God which he speaks of, and which he says Christ was made. He had begun to speak of this curse at the tenth verse, saying, "As many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is everyone that con-tinueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them." Then in the thirteenth verse, where the text lies, "Christ," says he, "hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us." It is out of the question to imagine the sense of the term to be entirely changed in this second: clause. Beyond all doubt the meaning is, Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, having borne that curse — been made the curse of the law for us. And then, as it is God's curse which the apostle says Christ was made, so was it God Himself who made Him that curse. God alone can bring His curse on any man. And you may only further notice as to this, that the word "made" here is the same the apostle uses in the fourth verse of the next chapter, "When the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law" — made by God, of course. Our first position then is, that it is the curse of God "which the apostle says Christ was made, and God Himself who made Him that curse.

II. But, secondly, at once the question arises, HOW COULD SUCH A THING EVER BE? For the righteous God will bring His curse on no guiltless one. But it is certain He will not bring His curse on the guiltless. Wicked men may curse them — may wish, or call them, accursed.

III. But now, thirdly, there was a mysterious manner, yet most real and true, in which Christ was not guiltless. I might remind you of those words of the ransomed Church in Isaiah, "All we like sheep have gone astray; "we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all." But let us fix our attention a little more closely on those words of 2 Corinthians 5:21, "God made Him to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." "Made Him to be sin" — the entire expression is, "made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us." So much is certain, therefore, negatively, that the apostle's meaning is not, and cannot be, that He was made our sin in the pollution, or stain, or turpitude of it, either in nature or in life. For, besides the frightfulness of such a thing to be even imagined, it were in contradiction to the express words, "He hath made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us." So that the question remains just as before, what that sin was which was transferred. It could not be the pollution, the turpitude, on the one hand; it was not the suffering simply, on the other. But there was a great intermediate element between the turpitude and the suffering;and this it was that Christ was made in the whole fearful reality of it — even the guilt (the reatus, as the Latins spoke) — the just liability in law, and in the eye of the lawgiver, to endure the suffering, the punishment, the curse. For Christ, by an altogether peculiar Divine constitution — of infinite grace alike on the Father's part and on His own — had become the Head of His body the Church, — taken their place in law — become one with them in law for ever. Read again, for instance, that fourth verse of the following chapter, "When the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law" — under the law? But what could the Son, the very Lawgiver, have to do with subjection to the law? Nothing, assuredly, for Himself — nothing save as a public Person, Surety, Representative. And now turn we for a moment to the passage cited by the apostle from the Pentateuch. Let no one be startled in the reading of it. It is the twenty-first of Deuteronomy, the twenty-second and twenty-third verses — "If a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree; his body Shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day (for he that is hanged is accursed of God); that thy land be not defiled, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance."

IV. Fourthly, thus have we the wondrous explanation of the whole life of our Lord Jesus Christ, which otherwise were an inexplicable enigma. Even had His sufferings proceeded simply from the hands of men and devils, the mystery would not have been removed, since neither devils nor men could be more than instruments — voluntary and guilty, yet only instruments — in the hand of Jehovah for the executing of His designs. But the fact, unquestionably, was that the principal sufferings of this Just One came from the immediate hand of the Father himself. It is impossible to read the Gospel histories without perceiving that by far His deepest agonies were those which He endured when there was no hand of man upon Him at all, or when, at least, He himself traces the suffering to another hand altogether — saying, for example, "Now is My soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save Me from this hour? but for this cause came I unto this hour." — "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death; tarry ye here and watch with Me" — "Oh My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me" — "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" Ah! behold the explanation of all — of the travail of Messiah's soul — of an agony that wrung the blood from every pore of His sacred body — of what He himself declared to be His own Father's desertion of Him — see, not the source of it only, but the soul also of its deepest bitterness and anguish, in these words, "made sin," "made a curse," — not accursed simply, but — as if all the curses due to a world's sin had been made to meet in His person — "made curse," that we might be redeemed from the curse of the law!


1. The brazen serpent. At first view it seems very strange that the chosen type of the blessed Redeemer should have been the likeness of a serpent, — that, when the Israelites were dying of the bite of serpents, the medium of their cure should have been the likeness of one, "Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole; and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live." But the wonder ceases, or rather is turned into another wonder of holy admiration, when we find that the only possible way of our deliverance from sin, was the Redeemer's taking it, in its whole guilt and curse into His own person — being made sin and a curse for us. What glorious light is thus cast on the words of Jesus, "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up; that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life!"

2. The burnt offering. There is no doubt that the fire of all the burnt offerings of the law, whether it came down immediately from heaven to consume the victim, as on various memorable occasions, or was kindled naturally, was the emblem of the Divine holiness and justice, consuming the substitute lamb on which the sin had been laid — the sacrifice in place of the sinner. What a picture of Christ made a curse, enduring the fire of "the wrath of God revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men!" What a picture of the prophet's "Awake, O sword, against My shepherd, and against the man that is My fellow, saith the Lord of Hosts; smite the shepherd!" What a picture of Him who cried, "My heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of My bowels. 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!"

3. The sin-offering. Let these words, for example, be carefully observed (Leviticus 16:27, 28), "The bullock for the sin offering, and the goat for the sin-offering, whose blood was brought in to make atonement in the holy place, shall one carry forth without the camp; and they shall burn in the fire their skin, and their flesh, and their dung. And he that burneth them shall wash his clothes, and bathe his flesh in water, and afterward he shall come into the camp." That is to say, the victim, as having had the whole iniquities transferred to it by the laying of the hand upon its head, had become an unclean and accursed thing, and so behoved to be carried away out of God's sight without the camp, and consumed in the fire. This is what our apostle refers to in those words in Hebrews, "The bodies of those beasts, whose blood for sin is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest, are burned without the camp. Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered without the gate." As if to say that when God appointed the sin-offerings of the law to be carried forth outside the camp as unclean and accursed, and to be burned in the fire, it was but a figure of our Lord Jesus, laden with our accursed iniquities, made sin and a curse, numbered with the transgressors, dealt with as the vilest of all — not by man so much as by God, the Holy One of Israel — because the Lord had, with His own most free consent, made to meet on Him the iniquities of us all. When Jesus was led forth out of Jerusalem, and there crucified between the thieves, it was as if all the innumerable multitudes of sinners whom He represented had been in that hour carried out, and had there endured, in their own persons, the curse of the Divine law due to their whole ungodliness, unrighteousness, pride, falsehood, vanity, uncleanness, rebellion, and I know not what other crimes and sins.

VI. But thus I observe, once more, that we do not get at the full explanation of the mysterious fact in our text till we have taken into view the wondrous design and issue of all, as set forth in the passage thus — "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us, that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith." And now, not only are we thus delivered from the law's terrible sentence, but — the stone which lay over the grave of our corruption once removed — the way is open for the Holy Ghost's descending into it to make an end of our corruption too, — yea, open for the whole blessing of the Abrahamic covenant, "I will be a God to thee," coming on believers everywhere, of the Gentiles and of the Jews alike — from which blessing the apostle singles out the promise of the Holy Ghost, as being the centre and sum of it all, saying, "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, etc., that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith." Three words in conclusion.

1. The apostle, in the opening chapter of this Epistle, speaks of "another gospel, which is not another." Very rife in our day is another gospel, which truly is not another gospel. Substantially it is this, that God never has had a quarrel with man, but only man a quarrel with God, — that God never has been angry with men, but men only jealous of Him; and that the whole design, of Christ's coming into the world, and of His suffering unto death was to convince men of this — who, as soon as they are persuaded to believe it — to believe that God loves them, and has loved them always, are saved. Another gospel truly — which in fact turns the whole mission and work of our Lord Jesus Christ into an unreality! But see the apostle's gospel in verses 10, 13, 14, of this chapter. Ver. 10, God's quarrel with guilty men — "As many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them." Then, the wondrous settlement of that quarrel (ver. 13), "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us." And hence the settlement of our vile quarrel also with God (ver. 14), "that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith." Now at length a conscience purged, and righteously purged, from dead works, to serve the living God! Now all possible motives, of love, and fear, and gratitude, and hope, and joy, unto a new and child-like obedience! "O Lord, truly I am Thy servant; I am Thy servant, and the son of Thine handmaid: Thou has loosed my bonds."

2. Behold here the very soul of the Lord's Supper, which might have for its motto, "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us," — "This is My body broken for you: this cup is My blood of the new covenant, shed for remission of the sins of many." Oh for a profound self-abasement, and fervent love, and lively faith, in the observing of it!

3. Be it well known to all, that we become partakers of this whole redemption by faith alone without the deeds of the law.

(C. G. Brown, D. D.)

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