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2 Corinthians 5:21 & meaning...


him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf; so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

2 Corinthians 5:21


But all things are of God, who reconciled us to himself through Jesus Christ, and gave to us the ministry of reconciliation; namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not reckoning to them their trespasses, and having committed to us the word of reconciliation. 

2 Corinthians 5 [20.] We are therefore ambassadors on behalf of Christ, as though God were entreating by us: we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf; so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

2 Corinthians 6 [1.] Working together, we entreat also that you not receive the grace of God in vain,


  • Imputation of Sin: 

The opening phrase, "For him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf," encapsulates the concept of imputation. Imputation involves the transfer or crediting of something to someone else's account. In this case, Jesus, who knew no sin, took upon Himself the weight and consequence of our sin. It was a voluntary identification with the sinfulness of humanity.

  • Becoming the Righteousness of God: 

The latter part of the verse declares the transformative result of this divine exchange. Through the imputation of our sin to Christ, a profound transaction occurs—we, in turn, "become the righteousness of God in him." This is not merely a legal declaration but a spiritual reality wherein believers are granted the righteousness of God through their union with Christ.

Significance and Reflection:

Redemption Through Exchange: 2 Corinthians 5:21 underscores the nature of redemption as an exchange. The sinless Christ willingly took on the burden of our sin, and, in return, those who believe in Him receive the righteousness of God. This exchange is a demonstration of divine love, mercy, and grace, highlighting the immeasurable cost of our redemption.

Identification with Christ: The voluntary identification of Christ with our sin emphasizes the depth of His solidarity with humanity. Jesus, the sinless Son of God, entered into our brokenness and sinfulness, bearing the consequences on our behalf. This profound identification invites believers to recognize the depth of God's love and the personal nature of Christ's sacrifice.

Positional Righteousness: The concept of becoming the righteousness of God speaks to the positional righteousness imputed to believers. It is not based on personal merit but is a gift received through faith in Christ. This righteousness positions believers in a restored relationship with God, free from the guilt and condemnation of sin.

Cross References:

Romans 3:22: The idea of righteousness through faith is echoed in Romans 3:22, where it is stated that the righteousness of God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. This reinforces the consistent biblical theme of righteousness being imputed to believers through their faith in Christ.

Philippians 3:9: Philippians 3:9 emphasizes the desire to be found in Christ, not having a righteousness of one's own, but a righteousness that comes through faith in Christ—the righteousness from God based on faith. This aligns with the imputed righteousness proclaimed in 2 Corinthians 5:21.

In Conclusion: 2 Corinthians 5:21 stands as a theological cornerstone, encapsulating the heart of the Gospel message. It invites us to marvel at the divine exchange orchestrated by God's redemptive plan—Christ taking on our sin, and us receiving His righteousness. As we reflect on this verse, we are drawn into the profound mystery of God's love and the transformative power of faith in Jesus Christ.

PIB Scriptures are derived from the World English Bible


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