Saturday, December 22, 2012

Theophylact: Christ's Atonement is Like the Substitution of an Innocent Man for the Guilty

13. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree. One might argue: "It is true that he who does not fulfill the law is accursed, and that faith justifies. But how do we know that the curse has been lifted? We fear that having once been under the yoke of the law, we still remain under the curse." Anticipating such an objection, Paul demonstrates that the curse has been removed through Christ. He paid the price by Himself becoming the curse and thereby redeeming us from the condemnation of the law. Christ (in His human nature) escaped that curse by fulfilling the law, but we, unable to fulfill it, were guilty under the law. This is like an innocent man who chooses to die in place of a guilty man condemned to death. Therefore, Christ accepted the curse of being hung from a tree and thereby loosed the curse to which we are liable for not fulfilling the law. This was a curse that lay upon us, but not upon Him, because He fulfilled the law perfectly, committing no sin. Theophylact, The Explanation of the Epistle of Saint Paul to the Galatians (at Gal. 3:13), Chrysostom Press (House Springs, Missouri 2011), trans. Christopher Stade, p. 50