Who, what and how did Jesus pay?

1426171_86491530We’ve sung our beloved hymns about how Jesus “paid it all” and how He “paid a debt He didn’t owe, one that we could not pay” for over a century. We’ve believed this for much longer.

But I have a couple questions about this…

Where does it actually say that Jesus paid for our sins in the Bible? (Notice carefully that I am focusing on the payment for sin part.) 

One more two-part question…if Jesus did pay for our sins,  who did He pay, and how did He pay for them?

These are not trick questions, by the way.  I honestly would like to know. And there is a very important reason I’m asking them. So, if you would, treat this deeply held sentiment as if you never heard about it before and let me know what you come up with.

I recently asked my congregation these question, too, and got their feedback. Now, I would be interested in yours.

If you don’t wish to give an answer here, at least ponder them for now. I will share some of my thoughts on this in next few posts as we approach Easter. I think we might just have an enlightening journey together. 🙂

Image source: freeimages.com

About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 37 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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14 Responses to Who, what and how did Jesus pay?

  1. Now that’s something to chew on. I honestly never thought about it but, I will definitely ponder the questions at hand. Also, I will try and check back to see your thoughts on the next few post. Thanks for sharing Pastor Mel.

    Be A Blessing!


  2. Saskia Hart says:

    The further and further I dive into grace, the more I consider long-used phrases and find them (sometimes) radically inconsistent with the gospel. One thing is for sure. .Jesus didn’t pay God (as I used to think?!) God the Father was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself! Yay!! Today I’m just thinking about how absolutely scandalous the Gospel is!! It’s such a scandal!! It’s absolutely phenomenal?! It almost makes me giddy to think about such love. Wow. Can’t wait for most posts… you kind of left us hanging? I went looking for verses about Jesus paying for our sins . . .none that said that per say. Found 1 Cor 6:20 “For you were bought with a price” Maybe that’s where we get this idea? 1 Cor. 7:23 repeats that idea.. .looked up the Greek words for “bought” and “price” but my head’s hurting, and I’m super not good at Greek. Guess I’ll wait! 🙂

    • Mel Wild says:

      I agree, Saskia. The more we understand God’s scandalous grace, the more crazy, amazing it is!

      And, yes, we were bought with a price. But, as you probably guessed, that’s not my question. The question is, did Jesus pay for our sin? And, if so, who did He pay, and how did He pay? But I do really appreciate your points here.

      I won’t leave you hanging for long, I promise, and thanks for playing along. 🙂 Blessings to you.

  3. Lydia Thomas says:

    Interesting. I immediately thought of 1 Peter 1:18 where we are redeemed by Christ’s blood (which, upon further consideration, doesn’t speak to Him paying for sin, but paying for our redemption/restoration). Then I wrestled with 1 John 2:2 where it speaks of Christ being the propitiation for our sin, which I’ll be honest, I’d always assumed (and maybe had some help from Awana at some point along the way) meant payment for sin. But I looked it up and propitiation actually has a connotation of reparation or restoring something. Hm.

    Those were the only two verses I could think of, and turns out they don’t speak to your question at all.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Thanks for your thoughts here, Lydia. Yes, the word redeemed means to deliver or liberate. This does not necessarily mean Jesus paid a debt for sin, at least, in the way the aforementioned hymns mean it. I will also talk about propitiation before I’m done. It’s an important word to rightly understand concerning the atonement. Blessings.

  4. Saskia Hart says:

    Awesome. . . I’m excited about the discussion about propitiation.. somebody (a VERY excited somebody) once tried to explain to me the difference between expiation and propitiation and I confess I was so distracted by their obvious joy and excitement I think I missed what they were saying. .so. . this will be great!

  5. gahigi says:

    Hi Mel,

    I’ll have to look it up later but my first thought was Isa 53 where it mentions He took the punishment for our sins(but maybe not that exact wording).. Then there’s the Hebrew which reads different and I forgot exactly what I heard another pastor mention about that. Anyway I’ll need to look it up. Also John the Baptist says He’s the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. That doesn’t say payment but the idea may be implied. It’s interesting checking these things out we’ve held for so long like someone above mentioned. I’ll be reading your next posts on this. Peace

    • Mel Wild says:

      Thanks for your comments here. I believe you’re referring to Isaiah 53:5….

      “But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
      He was crushed for our iniquities;
      The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
      And by His scourging we are healed.” (NASB)

      Actually, I will treat Isaiah 53 in a separate part because there’s a couple of things we need to look at, including verse 10.

      Yes, John the Baptist did say the Lamb of God will “take away” the sins of the world, which we will see is an important distinction from paying a debt, and gets closer to what I’m getting at.

      I will post my next installment tomorrow. 🙂 Blessings.

  6. Wally Fry says:

    I am addressing that very question in my current series Jesus Paid it All. Good question to ask

  7. Pingback: Saving Easter – part one | In My Father's House

  8. Jim fleming says:

    There are two entities to consider, the first is mercy, the second is justice. Until the Lord died on the cross mercy couldn’t be given without justice being cheated… When the Lord cried “it is finished” while hanging on the cross the price was paid. Your question is to whom was the payment paid? The answer is to justice. Now every sinner who comes to the foot of the cross and asks for mercy (forgiveness) receives it because justice is satisified! Want a proof text? Check out Paslm 85: 10

    • Mel Wild says:

      Thank you for your input, Jim. I’m not sure how Psalm 85:10 is a proof-text for Jesus paying a debt. And where does it say He paid justice? And just how do you pay an attribute? As I said in the subsequent articles of this series, Jesus clearly took our sins away. There’s no question about that, but that’s not my question.
      And I do believe in God’s justice, but it does not have to be punitive, it can be restorative. I believe it was the latter, which is what the early church believed.

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