2 Corinthians 5:21
Parallel Verses
New International Version
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

New Living Translation
For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

English Standard Version
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

New American Standard Bible
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

King James Bible
For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

International Standard Version
God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that God's righteousness would be produced in us.

NET Bible
God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we would become the righteousness of God.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
For he who had not known sin made himself to become sin in your place, that we would become the righteousness of God in him.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
God had Christ, who was sinless, take our sin so that we might receive God's approval through him.

Jubilee Bible 2000
For he has made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

King James 2000 Bible
For he has made him, who knew no sin, to be sin for us; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

American King James Version
For he has made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

American Standard Version
Him who knew no sin he made to be'sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in him.

Douay-Rheims Bible
Him, who knew no sin, he hath made sin for us, that we might be made the justice of God in him.

Darby Bible Translation
Him who knew not sin he has made sin for us, that *we* might become God's righteousness in him.

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

Webster's Bible Translation
For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Weymouth New Testament
He has made Him who knew nothing of sin to be sin for us, in order that in Him we may become the righteousness of God.

World English Bible
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.

Young's Literal Translation
for him who did not know sin, in our behalf He did make sin, that we may become the righteousness of God in him.
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

5:16-21 The renewed man acts upon new principles, by new rules, with new ends, and in new company. The believer is created anew; his heart is not merely set right, but a new heart is given him. He is the workmanship of God, created in Christ Jesus unto good works. Though the same as a man, he is changed in his character and conduct. These words must and do mean more than an outward reformation. The man who formerly saw no beauty in the Saviour that he should desire him, now loves him above all things. The heart of the unregenerate is filled with enmity against God, and God is justly offended with him. Yet there may be reconciliation. Our offended God has reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ. By the inspiration of God, the Scriptures were written, which are the word of reconciliation; showing that peace has been made by the cross, and how we may be interested therein. Though God cannot lose by the quarrel, nor gain by the peace, yet he beseeches sinners to lay aside their enmity, and accept the salvation he offers. Christ knew no sin. He was made Sin; not a sinner, but Sin, a Sin-offering, a Sacrifice for sin. The end and design of all this was, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him, might be justified freely by the grace of God through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. Can any lose, labour, or suffer too much for Him, who gave his beloved Son to be the Sacrifice for their sins, that they might be made the righteousness of God in him?

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 21. - He hath made him to be sin for us; rather, he made; he speaks with definite reference to the cross. The expression is closely analogous to that in Galatians 3:13, where it is said that Christ has been "made a curse for us." He was, as St. Augustine says, "delictorum susceptor, non commissor." He knew no sin; nay, he was the very righteousness, holiness itself (Jeremiah 23:6), and yet, for our benefit, God made him to be "sin" for us, in that he "sent him in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin" (Romans 8:3). Many have understood the word "sin" in the sense of sin offering (Leviticus 5:9, LXX.); but that is a precarious application of the word, which is not justified by any other passage in the New Testament. We cannot, as Dean Plumptre says, get beyond the simple statement, which St. Paul is content to leave in its unexplicable mystery, "Christ identified with man's sin; man identified with Christ's righteousness." And thus, in Christ, God becomes Jehovah-Tsidkenu, "the Lord our Righteousness" (Jeremiah 23:6). That we might be made the righteousness of God in him; rather, that we might become. The best comment on the pregnant significance of this verse is Romans 1:16, 17, which is developed and explained in so large a section of that great Epistle (see 3:22-25; 4:5-8; 5:19, etc.). In him In his blood is a means of propitiation by which the righteousness of God becomes the righteousness of man (1 Corinthians 1:30), so that man is justified. The truth which St. Paul thus develops and expresses is stated by St. Peter and St. John in a simpler and less theological form (1 Peter 2:22-24; 1 John 3:5).





Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

For he hath made him to be sin for us,.... Christ was made of a woman, took flesh of a sinful woman; though the flesh he took of her was not sinful, being sanctified by the Spirit of God, the former of Christ's human nature: however, he appeared "in the likeness of sinful flesh"; being attended with infirmities, the effects of sin, though sinless; and he was traduced by men as a sinner, and treated as such. Moreover, he was made a sacrifice for sin, in order to make expiation and atonement for it; so the Hebrew word signifies both sin and a sin offering; see Psalm 40:6 and so Romans 8:3. But besides all this, he was made sin itself by imputation; the sins of all his people were transferred unto him, laid upon him, and placed to his account; he sustained their persons, and bore their sins; and having them upon him, and being chargeable with, and answerable for them, he was treated by the justice of God as if he had been not only a sinner, but a mass of sin; for to be made sin, is a stronger expression than to be made a sinner: but now that this may appear to be only by imputation, and that none may conclude from hence that he was really and actually a sinner, or in himself so, it is said he was "made sin"; he did not become sin, or a sinner, through any sinful act of his own, but through his Father's act of imputation, to which he agreed; for it was "he" that made him sin: it is not said that men made him sin; not but that they traduced him as a sinner, pretended they knew he was one, and arraigned him at Pilate's bar as such; nor is he said to make himself so, though he readily engaged to be the surety of his people, and voluntarily took upon him their sins, and gave himself an offering for them; but he, his Father, is said to make him sin; it was he that "laid", or "made to meet" on him, the iniquity of us all; it was he that made his soul an offering for sin, and delivered him up into the hands of justice, and to death, and that "for us", in "our" room and stead, to bear the punishment of sin, and make satisfaction and atonement for it; of which he was capable, and for which he was greatly qualified: for he

knew no sin; which cannot be understood or pure absolute ignorance of sin; for this cannot agree with him, neither as God, nor as Mediator; he full well knew the nature of sin, as it is a transgression of God's law; he knows the origin of sin, the corrupt heart of man, and the desperate wickedness of that; he knows the demerit, and the sad consequences of it; he knows, and he takes notice of too, the sins of his own people; and he knows the sins of all wicked men, and will bring them all into judgment, convince of them, and condemn for them: but he knew no sin so as to approve of it, and like it; he hates, abhors, and detests it; he never was conscious of any sin to himself; he never knew anything of this kind by, and in himself; nor did he ever commit any, nor was any ever found in him, by men or devils, though diligently sought for. This is mentioned, partly that we may better understand in what sense he was made sin, or a sinner, which could be only by the imputation of the sins of others, since he had no sin of his own; and partly to show that he was a very fit person to bear and take away the sins of men, to become a sacrifice for them, seeing he was the Lamb of God, without spot and blemish, typified in this, as in other respects, by the sacrifices of the legal dispensation; also to make it appear that he died, and was cut off in a judicial way, not for himself, his own sins, but for the transgressions of his people; and to express the strictness of divine justice in not sparing the Son of God himself, though holy and harmless, when he had the sins of others upon him, and had made himself responsible for them. The end of his being made sin, though he himself had none, was,

that we might be made the righteousness of God in him; not the essential righteousness of God, which can neither be imparted nor imputed; nor any righteousness of God wrought in us; for it is a righteousness "in him", in Christ, and not in ourselves, and therefore must mean the righteousness of Christ; so called, because it is wrought by Christ, who is God over all, the true God, and eternal life; and because it is approved of by God the Father, accepted of by him, for, and on the behalf of his elect, as a justifying one; it is what he bestows on them, and imputes unto them for their justification; it is a righteousness, and it is the only one which justifies in the sight of God. Now to be made the righteousness of God, is to be made righteous in the sight of God, by the imputation of the righteousness of Christ. Just as Christ is made sin, or a sinner, by the imputation of the sins of others to him; so they are made righteousness, or righteous persons, through the imputation of his righteousness to them; and in no other way can the one be made sin, or the other righteousness. And this is said to be "in him", in Christ; which shows, that though Christ's righteousness is unto all, and upon all them that believe, it is imputed to them, and put upon them; it is not anything wrought in them; it is not inherent in them. "Surely in the Lord have I righteousness and strength", says the church, Isaiah 45:24 and also, that the way in which we come by this righteousness is by being in Christ; none have it reckoned to them, but who are in him, we are first "of" God "in" Christ, and then he is made unto us righteousness. Secret being in Christ, or union to him from everlasting, is the ground and foundation of our justification, by his righteousness, as open being in Christ at conversion is the evidence of it.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

21. For—omitted in the oldest manuscripts. The grand reason why they should be reconciled to God, namely, the great atonement in Christ provided by God, is stated without the "for" as being part of the message of reconciliation (2Co 5:19).

he—God.

sin—not a sin offering, which would destroy the antithesis to "righteousness," and would make "sin" be used in different senses in the same sentence: not a sinful person, which would be untrue, and would require in the antithesis "righteous men," not "righteousness"; but "sin," that is, the representative Sin-bearer (vicariously) of the aggregate sin of all men past, present, and future. The sin of the world is one, therefore the singular, not the plural, is used; though its manifestations are manifold (Joh 1:29). "Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the SIN of the world." Compare "made a curse for us," Ga 3:13.

for us—Greek, "in our behalf." Compare Joh 3:14, Christ being represented by the brazen serpent, the form, but not the substance, of the old serpent. At His death on the cross the sin-bearing for us was consummated.

knew no sin—by personal experience (Joh 8:46) [Alford]. Heb 7:26; 1Pe 2:22; 1Jo 3:5.

might be made—not the same Greek as the previous "made." Rather, "might become."

the righteousness of God—Not merely righteous, but righteousness itself; not merely righteousness, but the righteousness of God, because Christ is God, and what He is we are (1Jo 4:17), and He is "made of God unto us righteousness." As our sin is made over to Him, so His righteousness to us (in His having fulfilled all the righteousness of the law for us all, as our representative, Jer 23:6; 1Co 1:30). The innocent was punished voluntarily as if guilty, that the guilty might be gratuitously rewarded as if innocent (1Pe 2:24). "Such are we in the sight of God the Father, as is the very Son of God himself" [Hooker].

in him—by virtue of our standing in Him, and in union with Him [Alford].

2 Corinthians 5:21 Additional Commentaries
Context
We are Christ's Ambassadors
20Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Cross References
Numbers 7:64
one male goat for a sin offering;

Isaiah 53:12
Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Jeremiah 33:16
In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. This is the name by which it will be called: The LORD Our Righteous Savior.'

Acts 3:14
You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you.

Romans 1:17
For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed--a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith."

Romans 3:21
But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.

Romans 3:25
God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood--to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished--

Romans 4:25
He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.

Romans 8:3
For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh,

1 Corinthians 1:30
It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God--that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

Galatians 3:13
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole."

Hebrews 4:15
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet he did not sin.

Hebrews 7:26
Such a high priest truly meets our need--one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens.

1 Peter 2:22
"He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth."

1 John 3:5
But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin.
Treasury of Scripture

For he has made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

he.

Isaiah 53:4-6,9-12 Surely he has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did …

Daniel 9:26 And after three score and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but …

Zechariah 13:7 Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is …

Romans 8:3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, …

Galatians 3:13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse …

Ephesians 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us…

1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also has once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, …

1 John 2:1,2 My little children, these things write I to you, that you sin not. …

who.

Isaiah 53:9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; …

Luke 1:35 And the angel answered and said to her, The Holy Ghost shall come …

Hebrews 7:26 For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, …

1 Peter 2:22-24 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth…

1 John 3:5 And you know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.

we.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things …

Isaiah 45:24,25 Surely, shall one say, in the LORD have I righteousness and strength: …

Isaiah 53:11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: …

Jeremiah 23:26 How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy …

Jeremiah 33:16 In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: …

Daniel 9:24 Seventy weeks are determined on your people and on your holy city, …

Romans 1:17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: …

Romans 3:21-26 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being …

Romans 5:19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the …

Romans 8:1-4 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ …

Romans 10:3,4 For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to …

1 Corinthians 1:30 But of him are you in Christ Jesus, who of God is made to us wisdom, …

Philippians 3:9 And be found in him, not having my own righteousness, which is of …

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