« Prev § 36. The Sacerdotal Office. Next »

§ 36. The Sacerdotal Office.

The second office of Christ is to accomplish the redemption itself and reconciliation with God. [1] Christ thereby performed the work of a priest, for it was the office of priests to propitiate God by the sacrifices they offered, and therewith to remove the guilt which men had brought upon themselves. Christ, however, did not, like the priests of the Old Testament, bring something not His own as a sacrifice, but Himself, whence He is both priest and sacrifice in one person. [2] This part of His work is called the Sacerdotal Office. “The sacerdotal office consists in this, that Christ holds a middle ground between God and men, who are at variance with each other, so that He offers sacrifice and prayers that He may reconcile man with God.” [3] (BR., 491.) Accordingly it is subdivided into two parts, corresponding to the two functions that belong to priests, i.e., the offering of sacrifice and intercessory prayer. [4] The work is, therefore, in part already accomplished, and in part is still being executed by Christ. The first part of it is called satisfaction, by which expression, at the same time, the reason is implied why reconciliation with God was possible only through a sacrifice; because thereby satisfaction was to be rendered to God, who had been offended by our sins, and therefore demanded punishment. [5] The other part is called intercession. I. SATISFACTION. — If the wrath of God, which rests upon men on account of their sins, together with all its consequences, is just and holy, then it is not compatible with God’s justice and holiness that He should forgive men their sins absolutely and without punishment, and lay aside all wrath together with its consequences; not compatible with His justice, for this demands that He hold a relation to sinners different from that He holds towards the godly, and that He decree punishment for the former; not with His holiness, for in virtue of this He hates the evil; finally, it is not compatible with His truth, for He has already declared that He will punish those who transgress His holy Law. [6] If God, therefore, under the impulse of His love to men, is still to assume once more a gracious relation to them, something must first occur that can enable Him to do this without derogating from His justice and holiness; [7] the guilt that men have brought upon themselves by their sins must be removed, a ransom must be paid, an equivalent must be rendered for the offence that has been committed against God, or, what amounts to the same thing, satisfaction must be rendered. [8] Now, as it is impossible for us men to render this, we must extol it as a special act of divine mercy [9] that God has made it possible through Christ, and that He for this end determined upon the incarnation of Christ, so that He might render this satisfaction in our stead. [10] In Him, namely, who is God and man, by virtue of this union of the two natures in one person, everything that He accomplishes in His human nature has infinite value; while every effort put forth by a mere man has only restricted and temporary value. Although, therefore, a mere man cannot accomplish anything of sufficient extent and value to remove the infinite guilt that rests upon the human race, and atone for past transgressions, yet Christ can do this, because everything that He does and suffers as man is not simply the doing and suffering of a mere man, but to what He does there is added the value and significance of a divine and therefore infinite work, [11] in virtue of the union of the divine and the human nature, and their consequent communion; so that, therefore, there can proceed from Him an act of infinite value which He can set over against the infinite guilt of man, and therewith remove this guilt. In Christ, the God-man, there is therefore entire ability to perform such a work, and in Him there is also the will to do it. But a twofold work, however, is to be accomplished. The first thing to be effected is, that God cease to regard men as those who have not complied with the demands of the holy Law. This is done, when He who is to render the satisfaction so fulfils the entire Law in the place of men that He has done that which man had failed to do. Then it must be brought about that guilt no longer rests upon men for which they deserve punishment, and this is accomplished when He who is rendering satisfaction for men takes the punishment upon Himself. Both of these things Christ has done; [12] the first by His active obedience (which consisted in the most perfect fulfilment of the Law), for thereby He, who in His own person was not subject to the Law, fulfilled the Law in the place of man; [13] the second by His passive obedience (which consisted in the all-sufficient payment of the penalties that were awaiting us), for thereby He suffered what men should have suffered, and so He took upon Himself their punishment, and atoned for their sins in their stead. [14] Through this manifestation of obedience to the divine decree in both these respects, Christ rendered, in the place of man, [15] a satisfaction fully sufficient [16] and available for all the sins of all men, which is designated as the former part of the sacerdotal office by which Christ, by divine decree, through a most complete obedience, active and passive, rendered satisfaction to divine justice, [17] infringed by the sins of men, to the praise of divine justice and mercy, and for the procurement of our justification and salvation.” HOLL. (735). [18] But since Christ rendered satisfaction, as above stated, He thereby secured for us forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation, which we designate as His merit that is imputed to us. QUEN. (III, 225): “Merit flows from satisfaction rendered. Christ rendered satisfaction for our sins, and for the penalties due to them, and thus He merited for us the grace of God, forgiveness of sins, and eternal life.” [19] II. INTERCESSION. — For, after Christ had thus offered Himself as a sacrifice for men, the second part of His priestly office consists in His actively interceding with the Father, when He had been exalted to His right hand, upon the ground of His merit, so that men thus redeemed may have the benefit of all that He has secured for them by His sufferings and death, of everything, in fact, that can promote their bodily, and especially their spiritual welfare. “Intercession is the latter part of the sacerdotal office, by which Christ, the God-man, in virtue of His boundless merit intercedes truly and properly, and without any detriment to His majesty; intercedes for all men, but especially for His elect, that He may obtain for them whatsoever things He knows to be salutary for them, for the body, and especially for the soul (but chiefly those things which are useful and necessary for securing eternal life), 1 John 2:1; Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25; 9:24.” (HOLL., 749.) [20] “This intercession has reference, therefore, it is true, to all men, as all men while upon earth may become partakers of salvation; but, inasmuch as Christ can give very differently and more freely to those who have by faith already become partakers of His merit than to those who still reject it, this is distinguished as to its comprehension into general intercession, in which Christ prays to the Father for all men, that the saving merit of His death may be applied to them (Rom. 8:34; Is. 53:12; Luke 23:34); and special intercession, in which He prays for the regenerate, that they may be preserved and grow in faith and holiness, John 17:9.” (HOLL., 749.)[21] As to its nature, it is described as true, real, and peculiar, i.e., as such, that Christ is not content merely in silence to await the effect of His satisfaction, but that He actively, effectively, really avails Himself of His merit with the Father in such manner as becomes Him in His divine dignity. [22] Finally, as to its duration, it never ceases. [23] The effect accomplished by the priestly office, in its whole compass, is the redemption of men. [24] If they appropriate it in faith, their sins are no longer reckoned, nor is temporal or eternal punishment imposed, nor does the wrath of God any longer rest upon them; for, in the true and proper sense of the term, they are redeemed from all this by the ransom that Christ has paid for them. “The redemption of the human race is the spiritual, judicial, and most costly deliverance of all men, bound in the chains of sin, from guilt, from the wrath of God, and temporal and eternal punishment, accomplished by Christ, the God-man, through His active and passive obedience, which God, the most righteous judge, kindly accepted as a most perfect ransom (lutron), so that the human race, introduced into spiritual liberty, may live forever with God.” HOLL. (752). [25] [1] KG. (I, 150): “The end of the office of priest is to reconcile men with God, Heb. 4:16; 9:26, 28; 1 John 2:2.” More specifically, QUEN. (III, 222): “(1) The perfect reconciliation of man, the sinner, with God, or the restoration of the former friendship between the separated parties, God and men the sinners, Rom. 5:10; Col. 1:20, 21; 2 Cor. 5:18, 19; Heb. 7:27. (2) Deliverance from the captivity of the devil, Luke 1:74; Heb. 2:14, 15; 1 John 3:8. (3) From sin, as well in relation to its guilt, Col. 1:14; Eph. 1:7, as its slavery, 1 Pet. 1:18; Gal. 1:4, and its inherency, Rom. 8:23.” [2] HOLL.: “The material of the sacrifice is Christ Himself, Eph. 5:2.” BR. (493): “While, in other sacrifices, victims are offered different from the priests, Christ sacrificed Himself, when He voluntarily subjected Himself to suffering and death, and thus offered Himself to God as victim, for expiating not His own sins, but those of the entire human race.” [3] HOLL. (731): “Christ’s office as a priest is that according to which Christ, the only mediator and priest of the New Testament, by His most exact fulfillment of the Law and the sacrifice of His body, satisfied, on our behalf, the injured divine justice, and offers to God the most effectual prayers for our salvation.” QUEN. (III, 220): “From this priestly office Christ is called a priest, Ps. 110:4 (Heb. 5:10; 6:20; 7:26; 9:11; 10:21); a great high priest, Heb. 4:14; a high priest, Heb. 4:15; 9:11; 3:1.” The priesthood of Christ is adumbrated in the priesthood of Aaron and Melchisedek. The latter is related to the former, as the shadow to the very substance. APOL. CONF. (XII, 37): “As in the Old Testament, the shadow is seen, so, in the New Testament, the thing signified must be sought for, and not another type, as though sufficient for sacrifice.” HOLL. (732): “As the shadow yields in eminence to the body, so does Aaron to Christ.” QUEN. (III, 221): “Hebrews 7 diligently unfolds the type set forth in Melchisedek, and applies it to Christ. . . . This very comparison of Christ with Melchisedek is presented in the germ by Moses, Gen. 14:17, is formally declared by David, Ps. 110:4, and is specifically explained by Paul.” [4] QUEN. (III, 225): “THe priestly office of Christ is composed of two parts, satisfaction and intercession; because, in the first place, He made the most perfect satisfaction for all the sins of the whole world, and earned salvation. In the second place, He anxiously interceded and still intercedes and mediates, on behalf of all, for the application of the acquired salvation. That the Messiah would perform these functions of a priest, Is. 53:12 clearly predicted.” [5] HOLL. (735): “Satisfaction is not a Scriptural but an ecclesiastical term, yet its synonyms exist in the holly volume, namely, ilasmoß, propitiation for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2; 4.10), (ilasthrion, Rom. 3:24, 25), katallagh, Rom. 5:10; 2 Cor. 5:18, apolitrwsiß, Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14, paying the ransom (ton lutron), Matt. 20:28. For this redemption denotes the payment of a sufficient price for the captive; and the reconciliation of God with men is described in Scripture in such a manner, that it is evident that it was made not without a ransom, which divine justice demanded of the Mediator.” [6] HUTT. (Loc. Com., 418): “This threatening (Gen. 2:17) ought necessarily to have been fulfilled after the Fall of our first parents, because the truth and justice of God are immutable, and God cannot lie. But if God had remitted anything from this, His truth, as the Photinians say, i.e., from this Law, and, without any satisfaction, had embraced the human race in His mercy, then God would have lied, when He said: ‘Thou shalt surely die.’ This truth and justice of God, therefore, remaining unmoved, the human race must either perish eternally, or could be redeemed from this penalty only by the intervention of the most complete satisfaction. But this could be provided by no mortal. Therefore it was necessary to be provided by Christ, the Son of God, as Saviour.” [7] Therefore the proposition (HUTT., Loc. Com., 406): “The mercy of God is not absolute, but in Christ, and founded only in Christ and in His merit and satisfaction. . . . God is not only supremely merciful but also supremely just. But this justice of God required, of the whole human race, such penalties as those with which God Himself in Paradise threatened our first parents, if they should transgress the Law that had been given them. . . . Therefore, there could not be a place for God’s mercy until satisfaction should be rendered the divine justice. . . . Hence, the position remains, established, firm and immovable, that this mercy of God could have had no place, except with respect to, or in consideration of, the satisfaction of Christ.” The love of God to men is therefore denoted accurately as ordinate, and not as absolute. HUTT. (Loc. Com., 415): “God indeed loved already from all eternity the whole human race, yet not absolutely and unconditionally, but ordinately; namely, in His beloved Son. This ordinate love includes and relates to the Son likewise not absolutely, or only in such a respect as that God willed that He should be the teacher of the human race; but also ordinately, so far as He took upon Himself the guilt of our sins, and made satisfaction on behalf of the whole human race to the divine wrath or justice. Therefore, this ordinate affection or love of God necessarily presupposes His wrath, so that this love in God could not have a place, unless, likewise from all eternity, satisfaction had been made to this divine wrath or justice through the Son, who from eternity, offered Himself as a mediator between God and men.” [8] QUEN. (III, 227): “The object to which satisfaction has been afforded is the Triune God alone.” (HOLL. (736): “Observe, that, in a certain respect, Christ made satisfaction to Himself. For, as far as Christ made satisfaction as a mediator, He is regarded as the God-man; but, in so far as He likewise demanded satisfaction, He must be regarded as the author and maintainer of the Law, who by His essence is just.”) QUEN. (III, 227 sq.): “For the entire Holy Trinity, offended at sins, was angry with men, and, on account of the immutability of its justice (Rom. 1:18), the holiness of its nature, and the truth of its threatenings, could not with impunity forgive sins, and, without satisfaction, receive men into favor. But this Triune God has not the relation of a mere creditor, as the Socinians state, but of a most just judge, requiring, according to the rigor of His infinite justice, an infinite price of satisfaction. For redemption itself, made for the declaration of righteousness (Rom. 3:25), proves the necessity of requiring a penalty, either from the guilty one himself, i.e., man, or from his surety, namely, Christ. If God, without a satisfaction, could have forgiven man’s offence, without impairing His infinite justice, there would not have been need of such an expense as that of His only Son.” . . . The chief passages in the Symbolical Books are the following: AP. CONF. (III, 58): “THe Law condemns all men; but Christ, because without sin He submitted to the punishment of sin, and became a victim for us, removed from the Law the right of accusing and condemning those who believe in Him, since He is the propitiation for them for the sake of which we are now accounted righteous.” Ibid. (XXI (IX), 19): “The second requirement, in a propitiator, is that his merits be presented in order to give satisfaction for others, to bestow upon others a divine imputation, that, through these, they may be regarded precisely as righteous as though by their own merits. As, if a friend should pay the debt of a friend, the debtor would be freed by another’s merit just as though by his own. The merits of Christ are so presented to us that, when we believe in Him, we are accounted just as righteous, by our confidence in the merits of Christ, as though we had merits of our own.” FORM. CONC. (Sol. Dec., III, 57): “Since this obedience of Christ is that not of one nature only, but of the entire person, most perfect is the satisfaction and expiation, on behalf of the human race, according to which satisfaction was made to the eternal and immutable divine justice revealed in the Law. This obedience is that righteousness of ours that avails before God.” . . . Moreover, it was especially the Socinians against whom the Dogmaticians had to defend the doctrine above stated; and it was under the influence of the controversy with them that the doctrine assumed the form just presented. HUTT., who already in his Loc. TH. opposes the Socinian doctrine at great length, states it as follows: “That man is justified before God, not because of the merit or satisfaction of Christ, because neither the justice of God required this, nor did Christ by His death afford it, but because alone of the forgiveness of sins, which God, not on account of any merit of His Son, but from His most free will, grants those who believe in the Word of Christ, and pursue a life of innocence.” In refutation of this doctrine, HUTT. makes a distinction between three controversies. (402): “The first is, concerning the mercy of God, which, the Photinians contend, (1) is not natural or essential, but accidental to God; (2) that in respect to men, as sinners, it is altogether absolute, and is not based upon any satisfaction whatever, whether of Christ or of ourselves. The second is, concerning the justice of God, as avenging or punishing the sins of men, of which the Photinians imagine that there neither is, nor ever has been, any such in God; just as though in the Scriptures God were nowhere read of as ever being or having been angry with sinners. The third is, concerning the satisfaction and merit of Christ our Saviour; for they absolutely deny both, contending very blasphemously, (1) that there was no necessity whatever for a satisfaction; . . . (2) that the suffering of Christ neither was nor could have been a satisfaction or merit for our sins; . . . (3) that the final cause of Christ’s suffering was nothing else than that He might be able to show us the way of life, and that, by means of His doctrine, we might embrace salvation; . . . (4) that the remission of sins comes to us without the shedding of Christ’s blood, solely by free, unconditional, and absolute will of God’s mercy, according to which He is willing to forgive us our sins, and truly forgives them if we truly repent.” [9] HOLL. 736): “The wisdom and mercy of God especially shines forth from the wonderful satisfaction of the Mediator, a most precious ransom having been most wisely found, and most mercifully determined and accepted.” [10] HUTT. (Loc. Com., 408): “Wherefore, in order that the mercy of God might harmonize with His justice, it was necessary that a combination of divine justice and mercy should intervene; by reason of which, both His justice would press its right, and mercy, at the same time, would have a place. We are permitted to hold such a combination, and that, too, by far the most perfect, in one and the same work of our salvation, with respect to one and the same subject, namely, Christ our Saviour. For, when about to reconcile the world, and that, too, not without an unparalleled feeling of mercy, He saw that satisfaction must first be made to justice. Therefore, He turned upon Himself the penalties due our sins, He was made sin for us, He truly bore our griefs, and thus became obedient to God the Father, even to the death of the cross, satisfied divine justice to the exactest point, and thus reconciled the world, not only to God the Father, but also to Himself.”

But the price of redemption must be paid God, and to Him the satisfaction must be rendered. HUTT. (Loc. Com., 430): "Neither the devil, nor sin, nor death, nor hell, but God Himself, was the ruler holding the human race in captivity, as He delivered it to the infernal prison by this sentence, ‘Thou shalt surely die.' The devil bore only the part of a lictor; sin was like chains; death and hell, like a prison. Therefore, the price of the redemption was to be paid not to the devil,1616[Referring to the doctrine found in many of the early writers of the Church, (especially Origen, Gregory of Nyssa), and in Lombardus and other Scholastics, which represented the price of redemption as paid the devil. Men, they taught, because of sin, had been handed over to Satan's power. Christ offered Himself as man's substitute, and was gladly accepted by Satan, who overlooked Christ's omnipotence, and was thus not only defrauded of his prey, but even himself was destroyed, when the Son of God, brought within his realm, completely overthrew and ruined it. It was the work of Anselm to antagonize this perversion of Heb. 2:14, 15, and to define the doctrine that has since prevailed.] not to sin, not to death or hell, but to God, who had it in His power once again to declare the human race free, 351and to redeem it for grace; provided only a satisfaction to the exactest point be rendered His justice.”

[11] QUEN. (III, 228): “It was the infinite God that was offended by sin; and because sin is an offense, wrong, and crime against the infinite God, and, so to speak, is Deicide, it has an infinite evil, not indeed formally, . . . but objectively, and deserves infinite punishments, and, therefore, required an infinite price of satisfaction, which Christ alone could have afforded.” GRH. (III, 579): “The guilt attending the sins of the entire human race was infinite, inasmuch as it was directed against the infinite justice of God. An infinite good had been injured, and, therefore, an infinite price was demanded. But the works and sufferings of Christ’s human nature are finite, and belong to a determined time, i.e., are terminated by the period of His humiliation. In order, therefore, that the price of redemption might be proportionate to our debt and infinite guilt, it was necessary that the action or mediation not only of a finite, viz., a human, but also of an infinite, i.e., a divine nature, should concur, and that the suffering and death of Christ should acquire power of infinite price elsewhere, viz., from the most effectual working of the divine nature, and thus that an infinite good might be able to be presented against an infinite evil.” Cf. the doctrine of the third genus of communicatio idiomatum. Christ, as the God-man, could afford such a satisfaction. QUEN. (III, 227): “The source from which” (Christ made satisfaction) “comprises both natures, the divine, as the original and formal source, and the human, as the organic source, acting from divine power communicated through the hypostatic union.” Cf. FORM. CONC., Sol. Dec., III, 56.

NOTE. — The passages cited prove that the Dogmaticians attached so much importance to the union of the divine and human natures for the special reason that, if the divine nature had not participated with the human in suffering, in the manner indicated in § 33, Note 23, this suffering would not have had an infinite value, and in this they follow the theory of Anselm. But this theory still further magnifies the importance of the union of the two natures in Christ by another consideration, stating that “if this service of infinite value had not been rendered by one who was at the same time man, it would have been of no avail for us men;” and without this addition the theory is confessedly incomplete. Although our Dogmaticians do not expressly mention this point, we may still assume that they silently included it. This assumption is justified by the self-consistency of the Anselmic theory, which they on this subject adopted.


[12] QUEN. (III, 244): “The means by the intervention of which satisfaction was afforded is the price of Christ’s entire obedience, which embraces (1) the most exact fulfilment of the Law; (2) the enduring, or most bitter suffering, of the penalties merited by us transgressors. For by His acts Christ expiated the crime which man had committed against justice, and by His sufferings He bore the penalty which, in accordance with justice, man was to endure. Hence the obedience of Christ, afforded in our place, is commonly said to be twofold, the active, which consists in the most perfect fulfilment of the Law, and the passive, which consists in the perfectly sufficient payment of penalties that awaited us. The distinction into active and passive obedience is not very accurate, as Dr. Mentzer well remarks, because the passive obedience does not exclude the active, but includes it, inasmuch as the latter was wonderfully active, even in the very midst of Christ’s death. Hence Bernard correctly called Christ’s action passive, and His passion active. ‘From the Scriptures and with them we acknowledge only one obedience of Christ, and that the most perfect,’ says the already quoted Mentzer, ‘which, according to the will of His Father, He fulfilled with the greatest holiness and the highest perfection in His entire life, and by the action and suffering of death.’ The active obedience is His conformity with the very Law. And therefore, properly and accurately, and by itself, it is called obedience. But what is ordinarily called passive obedience is the enduring of a penalty inflicted upon the violator of the Law. If this is to be named obedience, it will be so called in a broad sense, or from its result, for it is certain that alone and without the accompaniment of active obedience, it is not conformity with the very Law . . . . The obedience of Christ is with less accuracy called passive, because He voluntarily did and suffered all things for us and our salvation.”

[13] HOLL. (737): “By His active obedience, Christ most exactly fulfilled the divine Law in our stead, in order that penitent sinners, applying to themselves, by true faith, this vicarious fulfilment of the Law, might be accounted righteous before God, the judge, Gal. 4:4, 5; Rom. 10:4; Matt. 5:17.”

In the doctrine of the active obedience, the following points come into consideration: (1) That God could not forgive us if we could not be considered as having satisfied the demands of the divine Law. QUEN. (III, 244): “For, inasmuch as man was not only to be freed from the wrath of God as a just judge, but also, in order that he might stand before God, there was a necessity for righteousness which he could not attain except by the fulfilment 353of the Law, Christ took upon Himself both, and not only suffered for us, but also made satisfaction to the Law in all things, in order that this His fulfilment and obedience might be imputed to us. (2) That Christ was subject to the Law not for His own person.” QUEN. (III, 246): “The cause on account of which the Son of God was subject to the Law was not His own obligation; for Christ not only as God, but also according to His human nature, was in no way subject to the Law . . . . For Christ, with respect to Himself, was the Lord of the entire Law, and not its servant, Mark 2:28. And, although He was and is the seed of Abraham, yet, because in the unity of His person He was and is the Son of God, He was not subject to the Law with respect to Himself.” (3) That consequently as Christ has nevertheless fulfilled the Law, He has done it in our stead. GRH.: “Rom. 8:3. Here there is ascribed to the Son of God the fulfilment of the Law, which it was impossible for us to render, in order that the righteousness of the Law might be fulfilled in us through faith, viz., through Christ, cf. Rom. 5:8; Phil. 3:9. The Son of God, therefore, was sent to render that which, because of weakness, was impossible for us, and it was, therefore, necessary that the Son of God Himself should fulfil the Law for us, in order that the righteousness demanded by the Law and rendered by Him might become ours through the imputation of faith, and thus, in God’s judgment, according to His reckoning, might be fulfilled or be able to be regarded as fulfilled by us.” Christ engaged Himself to fulfill the Law on our account, as CALOV. (VII, 424) asserts, already through “circumcision, which to Him was not a means of regeneration or renewal, because He needed neither; wherefore, for no other reason, except for our sake, He submitted to circumcision, and through the same put Himself under obligation to render a fulfilment of the Law, that should be vicarious or in our place.”

Concerning the nature of the Law that Christ fulfilled, HOLL. (737): “The Law to which He was subject is understood both as the universal or moral, and the particular, i.e., the ceremonial and forensic.” QUEN. (III, 245): “And the Law was thus fulfilled by the Lord: (1) the ceremonial, by showing its true end and scope, and fulfilling all the shadows and types which adumbrated either His person or office; (2) the judicial, both by fulfilling those things which in it belonged to common, natural, and perpetual law; (3) the moral, in so far as by His perfect obedience, and the conformity of all the actions of His life, He observed the Law without any sin and defect, reaffirmed its doctrine which had been corrupted by the Pharisees, and restored it to its native integrity and perfection.”


Andr. Osiander gave occasion to the supplementing of the passive by the active obedience. The doctrine was first developed by Flacius (in his work, “Concerning Righteousness vs. Osiander,” 1552) in the following manner: “The justice of God, as revealed in the Law, demands of us, poor, unrighteous, disobedient men, two items of righteousness. The first is, that we render to God complete satisfaction for the transgression and sin already committed; the second, that we thenceforth be heartily and perfectly obedient to His Law if we wish to enter into life. If we do not thus accomplish this, it threatens us with eternal damnation. And therefore this essential justice of God includes us under sin and the wrath of God . . . . Now there are often two parts of this righteousness due to the Law: the former, the complete satisfaction of punishment for sin committed, for, since it is right and proper to punish a sinner, one part of righteousness is willingly to suffer the merited punishment; the other part is perfect obedience, which should then follow and be rendered. Therefore the righteousness of the obedience of Christ, which He rendered to the Law for us, consists in these two features, viz., in His suffering and in the perfection of His obedience to the commands of God.”

The FORM. CONC. (Sol. Dec., III, 14) states the doctrine thus: “Therefore the righteousness which, out of pure grace, is imputed before God to faith or believers, is the obedience, the suffering, and the resurrection of Christ, by which, for our sake, He made satisfaction to the Law and expiated our sins. For since Christ is not only man, but God and man in one undivided person by reason of His own person, He was no more subject to the Law than He was to suffering and death, as He was the Lord of the Law. For this reason, His obedience (not only that by which in His entire passion and death He obeyed the Father, but also that by which, for our sake, He voluntarily subjected Himself to the Law and fulfilled it by His obedience) is imputed to us for righteousness, so that because of the entire obedience which, for our sake, Christ rendered His Heavenly Father, both by doing and suffering, God forgives us our sins.” Cf. III, 57. Intimations of this doctrine occur, indeed, already in the writings of earlier theologians, even in those of Luther, but before the time of the FORM. CONC., the obedience of Christ was considered mainly with reference to His sufferings. Thus MEL. (Loc. c. Th., II, 212): “Since, therefore, men did not afford obedience, it was necessary either that they should perish as a punishment, or that another one pay the penalty or ransom; therefore by His wonderful and unerring counsel, the Son of God, by interceding for us, paid the ransom, and drew 355upon Himself the wrath which we ought to have borne; wherefore, God did not abate His Law without a compensation, but preserved His justice in demanding punishment. Christ therefore says, ‘I am not come to destroy but to fulfil the Law,’ namely, by undergoing punishment for the human race and by teaching and restoring the Law in believers.” And at the time, and even after the time, of Osiander, many divines contented themselves with thus stating it, and to the passive added a further obedience only in this sense, viz., that the obedience of Christ manifested itself not only in suffering, but also throughout His entire holy life. Thus GRH. states it (VII, 60), who, however, in other passages, expresses himself as favoring the active obedience in the sense of the FORM. CONC.): “It remains for us to inquire by what means Christ merited the righteousness that avails before God. We reply, from the Scriptures, that the entire obedience of Christ, the active as well as the passive, that of His life as well as that of His death, concur in procuring this merit. For, although in many passages of Scripture the work of redemption is ascribed to Christ’s death, and the shedding of His blood, yet this must be received by no means exclusively, as though by it the holy life of Christ were excluded from the work of redemption, but it must be regarded as occurring for the reason that nowhere does the fact that the Lord has loved and redeemed us, shine forth more clearly than in His passion, death, and wounds, as the devout old teachers say; and because the death of Christ is, as it were, the last line and completion, the τελος, the end and perfection of the entire obedience, as the apostle says, Phil. 2:8. That it is altogether impossible in this merit to separate the active from the passive obedience, is evident, because even in the death of Christ the voluntary obedience and most ardent love concur, of which the former respects the Heavenly Father, and the latter us men, John 10:18; Gal. 2:20.” Direct opposition to the distinction drawn by Osiander was first made among the Lutheran theologians by Parsimonius (1563), who soon, however, withdrew it. He said: “The Law binds to either obedience or punishment, not both at once. Therefore, because Christ endured the punishment for us, He thereby rendered obedience for Himself.” Also: “What He rendered, that we dare not render, and are under no obligation to do it. But we must render obedience to the Law. Christ, therefore, did not render obedience to the Law for us, but for Himself, that He might be an offering unspotted and acceptable to God.” (Arnold, “Kirchen und Ketzer Geschichte,” vol. ii, pt. xvi, ch. xxx, § 12.) On the part of the Reformed, the chief opposition to this doctrine came from John Piscator, in Herborn. 356His arguments are answered at length by Grh., vii, 70, sqq.: “The suffering of penalties alone is not the righteousness of the Law, for then it would follow that the condemned most perfectly fulfill the Law; since they endure the most exquisite punishments for their sins . . . . The passion of Christ would not have profited had it not been combined with most full and perfect obedience to the Law . . . . The active obedience alone would not have been sufficient, because punishment was to be inflicted for the sins of the human race; the passive obedience alone would not have been sufficient, because if the sins were to be expiated, perfect obedience to each and every precept of the Law was required, i.e., the passive obedience had to be that of one who had most fully met every demand of active obedience . . . . Rational creatures not yet fallen into sin, the Law places under either punishment or obedience. The holy angels it obliges only to obedience, but in no way to punishment. Adam, in the state of innocency, it obliges only to obedience, but not at the same time, except conditionally, to punishment. For, where there is no transgression, there is no punishment. But rational creatures that have fallen into sin, it obliges to both punishment and obedience: to obedience, so far as they are rational creatures; to punishment, because they have fallen into sin. Thus, since the Fall, Adam and all his posterity are under obligation at the same time both of punishment and of obedience, because the obligation to obedience is in no way abated by a fall, but on the other hand, a new obligation has entered, viz., that of the endurance of punishment for sin.”

For the history of the doctrine of the active obedience, see Fr. H. R. Frank: “The Theology of the Form. Conc.,” II, 1861. J. G. Thomasius: “The Person and Work of Christ,” Part III, Division 1, second edition. 1863.

[14] HOLL. 737): “By the passive obedience, Christ transferred to Himself the sins of the whole world (2 Cor. 5:31; Gal. 3:13), and besides this suffered the punishments due them, by shedding His most precious blood, and meeting for all sinners the most ignominous death (Is. 53:4; 1 Pet. 2:24; John 1:29; Rom. 4:25; Gal. 1:4; 1 Cor. 15:3; 1 Pet. 3:18; Heb. 10:12; Rom. 6:23; Heb. 9:28), in order that, to believers in Christ the Redeemer, sins might not be imputed for eternal punishment.” To the satisfactory sufferings of Christ, there are referred (QUEN. III, 253): “All the acts of Christ, from the first moment of conception to the three days of His atoning death; as, His lying hid for nine months in the womb of the Virgin, His being born in poverty, His living in constant misery, His bearing hunger, thirst and cold. For He bore 357all these things for us and our sake.” Nevertheless, the passive obedience is said to consist “especially of death, and the yielding up of the spirit.”

[15] The satisfaction which Christ has made is, therefore, a vicarious satisfaction. HOLL. (737): “To a vicarious penal satisfaction, (a) if it be formally regarded, there is required: 1. A surrogation, by which some one else is substituted in the place of a debtor, and there is a transfer of the crime, or an imputation of the charge made against another. 2. A payment of penalties, which the substituted bondsman or surety makes in the place of the debtor; (b) considered with regard to the end, the payment of the penalty, for obtaining the discharge of the debtor, occurs in such a way that he is declared free from the crime and penalty.” The attacks of the Socinians against the vicarious satisfaction are refuted by GRH. (VII, 1. xvii, c. ii, § 37, sq.), and QUEN. (De officio Christi, pars polemica, qu. 6). The chief objection: “The action of one cannot be the action of another; the fulfilment of the Law is an action of Christ; therefore the fulfilment of the Law cannot be our action,” HOLL. (734) refutes thus: “An action is considered either physically, as it is the motion of one acting, or morally, as it is good or evil. The action of one can be that of another by imputation, not physically, but morally.”

[The argument of GRH. is: 1. Christ is our mediator, 1 Tim. 2:5; Heb. 8:6; 9:15; 12:24. 2. Our redeemer, Ps. 111:9; Luke 1:68; 2:38; Rom. 3:24; 1 Cor. 1:30; Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14; 1 Tim. 2:7; Heb. 9:12, 15; 1 Pet. 1:18; Rev. 5:9. 3. The ιλασμος, propitiation for our sins, 1 John 2:2; 4:10; Rom. 3:24, 25. 4. By Him we are reconciled to God, Is. 63:3; cf. Rev. 19:13; John 1:17; Rom. 5:10, 11; 2 Cor. 5:18, 19; Eph. 2:16; 5:2; Col. 1:20. 5. He gave His life a λυτρον και αντιλυτρον for us, Matth. 20:28; Mark 10:45; 1 Tim. 2:5, 6, the latter meaning properly an equivalent compensation; and hence the benefit acquired is said to be λυτρωσις and απολυτρωσις, Luke 1:68; Tit. 2:14; 1 Pet. 1:18; Heb. 9:15. 6. He was made sin for us, 2 Cor. 5:21; Rom. 8:3. 7. He became a curse for us, Gal. 3:13. 8. He took upon Himself our sins and their punishment, Ps. 69:4; Is. 43:24, 25; 53:4, 6, 8; John 1:29; 1 Pet. 2:24. Here belongs the scape-goat, Lev. 16:20, as a type of Christ, John 1:29. 9. He shed His blood for our sins, Matth. 26:28; 1 John 1:7; Heb. 9:13, 14. 10. He blotted out the indictment, Col. 2:14. 11. He freed us from the curse of the Law, Gal. 3:13; 4:5. 12. From the wrath of God, 1 Thess. 1:10; 13. From eternal condemnation, 1 Thess. 5:9, 11. 14. In Christ we are righteous and beloved, 2 Cor. 5:21.


The counter-arguments of the Socinians are then examined: e.g., Against (1) they urge, that Moses was also a mediator. This is conceded. But there is more in the antitype than in the type. The manner in which Christ is said to be mediator is especially taught in Scripture, 1 Tim. 2:4, 5, 6; Heb. 9:15. Against (2) that redemption means only simple liberation without an intervening price of satisfaction. It is conceded that the word redeem is so used in some passages, but not in those which refer to Christ as our Redeemer, 1 Cor. 6:20; 1 Pet. 1:18, 19; Gal. 3:13; Eph. 1:7; Tit. 2:14; Heb. 9:12, 15; Rev. 5:9. Against (4) that the reconciliation is not of men with God, but of men with themselves, i.e., of Gentiles with Jews, and of men with angels. It is conceded that in Eph. 2, the apostle is speaking of the antagonism between Jews and Greeks, and in Col. 1, of that between angels and men; but from this it does not follow, that there is no reference to the removal of the dissent between men and God by Christ’s satisfaction, for this is distinctly said, Eph. 2:16; therefore He reconciled the Gentiles not only to the Jews, but also to God Himself, vs. 13, 18, 19. So, according to Col. 1, angels are reconciled to men, because, through Christ, the human race is reconciled to God. That we are reconciled to God through Christ, Scripture clearly asserts; but from this, it neither can, nor should be inferred that God is not reconciled to us through Christ, but rather that the one follows from the other. As we could not be reconciled to God, unless God were reconciled to us, the Apostle says (Rom. 5:10): “When we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son,” etc.

Among the general objections of the Socinians, the chief is that any satisfaction conflicts with the gratuitous remission of sins; as a creditor cannot be said to remit a debt gratuitously, for which a satisfaction is rendered. GRH. answers that there is no opposition, but only a subordination, Rom. 3:24: ‘Being justified freely by His grace’ (gratuitous remission) ‘through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus’ (satisfaction), Eph. 1:7: ‘In whom we have redemption through His blood’ (satisfaction), ‘the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of His grace’ (gratuitous remission). As the grace of God does not destroy the justice of God, so gratuitous reemission does not annul the merit and satisfaction of Christ which the Law demands. Nor was God a mere creditor, but also a most just judge and avenger of sins; nor were sins mere debts, but they conflict with the immutable justice of God revealed in the Law. In short, the particle freely excludes our worth, our merits, our satisfaction; but in no way the satisfaction of Christ. 359The mercy of God remitting sins is gratuitous; but not so absolute as to exclude the merit of Christ.”]

[16] QUEN. (III, 246): “The form or formal mode of the satisfaction consists in the most exact and sufficient payment of all those things which we owed . . . . Indeed this very payment of the entire debt of another, freely undertaken by Christ, and imputed to Him in the divine judgment, was sufficient, not merely because accepted of God. For in this satisfaction God did not, out of liberality, accept anything that was not such in itself, neither, in demanding a punishment due us and rendered by a surety, did He abate anything; but in this satisfaction Christ bore everything that the rigor of His justice demanded, so that He endured even the very punishments of hell, although not in hell, nor eternally . . . . Therefore the satisfaction of Christ is most sufficient and complete by itself, or from its own infinite, intrinsic value, which value arises from the facts, (1) that the person making the satisfaction is infinite God; (2) that the human nature, from the personal union, has become participant of divine and infinite majesty, and therefore its passion and death are regarded and esteemed as of such infinite value and price as though they belonged to the divine nature. Acts 20:28.” If men have merited eternal punishment, and Christ suffered only for a short time, yet this was nevertheless still a sufficient atonement, inasmuch as the sufferings of Christ are of infinite value. HUTT. meets the objection of the Photinians (Loc. Com., 427): “That the curse of the Law was eternal death; but now, since Christ did not undergo eternal death, therefore He has not undergone or borne for us the curse of the Law,” by saying: “The reasoning deceives through the sophism of ‘non causa pro causa.’ For it is not true, that the merit of Christ is not of infinite value, for the reason that Christ met a death that is not eternal; for, as the sins of our disobedience are actually finite, yet in guilt are infinite, since they are committed against the infinite justice of God; so the obedience and death of Christ were indeed finite in act, so far as they were circumscribed by a period of fixed time, namely, the days of humiliation, but they are infinite with respect to merit, inasmuch as they proceed from an infinite person, namely, from the only begotten Son of God Himself. Secondly, it is not unconditionally true, that the curse of the Law is to be defined only by eternal death. For if this were true, the Apostle’s definition of the curse of the Law, by the declaration of Moses: ‘Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree,’ Deut. 21:23, would have been extremely inaccurate. Then, eternal death is defined not only by its perpetual continuance, or the enduring of the tortures 360of hell, but also by the feeling of the sorrows of hell, united with rejection or desertion by God; so that he who even but for a moment endures such sorrows, can be said to have experienced eternal death. Thus Christ, indeed, not for a moment, or a short space of time, but through the entire period of His humiliation, truly endured the feeling of those sorrows of hell, so that at length He was constrained to exclaim, ‘My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?’ But the reason that He did not suffer death in the latter manner is, that He himself, as an innocent man, by dying satisfied the Law.” HOLL. (742) remarks: “Christ endured a punishment equivalent to eternal punishment, inasmuch as He suffered the punishments of hell intensively as respects their power, weight, and substance, although not extensively, so far as their duration and the accidents pertaining to the subject’s suffering are concerned; He bore the extremity, but not eternity of tortures.”

[The students of the history of the doctrine of the “Active Obedience,” have occupied themselves too exclusively with polemical treatises. In practical works, its formulation is much earlier than 1553. It is distinctly taught in the Third Homily of the Church of England (Cranmer) of 1547, in the Articles for the Reformation of Cologne (Melanchton and Bucer) of 1543, and the Brandenburg-Nürnberg Articles of 1433. What is especially interesting is, that this earliest document was prepared by Andrew Osiander himself, with the assistance of Brentz. Its presentation is as follows:

“This Mediator, treated thus with God: First, He directed His entire life to the will of the Father; did for us what we were under obligation to do, and yet could not do; and fulfilled the Law and all righteousness for our good, Matt. 5:17; Gal. 4:4; 1 Cor. 1:30; Phil. 3:9” (Active). “Secondly, He took upon Himself all our sins, and bore and suffered all that was due us, John 1:29; Is. 53:4-6; Rom. 8:32;” Gal. 3:13 (Passive).

Nowhere, in the whole range of Lutheran theology, are these two forms of the obedience more sharply discriminated than in the above]

[17] QUEN. (III, 228): “The real1717In the sense of pertaining to things. object for which satisfaction was rendered is one thing; the personal object is another. I. The real object comprises (1) all sins whatever, original as well as actual, past as well as future, venial as well as mortal, yea, even the very sin against the Holy Ghost, Is. 53:4 sq.; Tit. 2:14; 1 John 1:7; Heb. 1:3; 1 John 2:2. (2) All the penalties of our sins, temporal as well as eternal, Is. 53:5; Gal. 3:13; Rom. 5:8, 9; Heb. 2:14, 15; 1 Cor. 15:14.”


On the real object, GRH. VI, 306: “1. Scripture everywhere speaks indefinitely when it treats of the satisfaction rendered for sins by Christ. John 1:29: ‘The sin of the world,’ i.e., sin understood universally, everything having the nature of sin. 2. Not only indefinitely but also universally, Is. 53:6; Rom. 3:12; Tit. 2:14; 1 John 1:7. 3. Species of actual sins are specified, Is. 53:6; Rom. 3:12; Heb. 9:14. 4. Christ made satisfaction for every sin which the Law accuses and execrates. But the Law accuses and execrates all sins, not only original, but also actual, Gal. 3:13; Deut. 27:5. 5. Had Christ made satisfaction only for original sin, so that it would be left us to make satisfaction for actual sins, only one part of the work of redemption would be left to Christ, while the other, and that, too, the greater part, would be transferred to men. For Christ’s satisfaction would be for but one sin, while men would have to render satisfaction for many sins. But Scripture ascribes the entire work of redemption to Christ, 1 Tim. 2:5; Is. 63:3; Heb. 10:14. Christ however made full satisfaction not only for actual sins, but also for the temporal and eternal punishments due our sins: 1. According to the nature of a perpetual relation, when the guilt is removed, the debt of punishment belonging to the guilt is also removed. But Christ took upon Himself our sins, Is. 53:6; John 1:29; 1 Pet. 2:24. Therefore, He also transferred to Himself the penalty due our sins, and consequently freed us from the debt of the penalty that was to be paid. 2. Scripture emphatically says that the punishment due our sins was imposed on Christ, Is. 53:5. 3. All punishments, temporal and eternal, corporeal and spiritual, are included under the name ‘curse,’ Gal. 3:13. One punishment of sin is the curse of the Law; but ‘Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the Law.’ Another punishment of sin is the dominion of Satan; but Christ has delivered us from the dominion of Satan, Heb. 2:14. Another punishment of sin is the wrath of God; but Christ has delivered us from the wrath to come, 1 Thess. 1:10. Another punishment is death; but Christ has delivered us from death, Hos. 13:14. Another is hell and eternal damnation; but Christ has delivered us from hell and eternal damnation, Rom. 8:1. 4. God’s justice does not allow the same sin to be punished twice; and He has ‘bruised’ His most beloved Son for our offenses, Is. 53:4. Therefore He will not punish them in those who have become partakers of the satisfaction rendered by Christ. 5. If we had still to render satisfaction as to the penalties of sin, the satisfaction of Christ would not yet be perfect, the work of redemption would not yet be complete, all things would not yet be finished by Him. And yet He cried on the cross, 362‘It is finished,’ from which Heb. 10:14 infers, etc. Had He made satisfaction for original sin alone, or for guilt alone, it would be better called ημιλυτρωσις than απολυτρωσις.

That, by faith, men become partakers of the most perfect satisfaction rendered by Christ, we prove by the following arguments:

1. Scripture describes our reconciliation with God to be such that God no longer remembers our sins, Jer. 31:34, but casts them behind our backs, Is. 38:17, blots them out like a cloud, Is. 44:22, casts them into the depths of the sea, Mic. 7:19, does not impute, but covers them, Ps. 32:1. Therefore He does not hold the reconciled to the reckoning, or exact of them punishments. For were God still to punish, He would still impute; were He to avenge, He would still remember; were He to account, He could not keep covered; were He to examine, He could not cast away; were He to inspect, He could not blot out.

2. The complete forgiveness of sins is inconsistent with a debt of satisfaction yet to be rendered for the punishment. That for which a satisfaction is still exacted is not yet completely forgiven. No one would say that a creditor who still demands a satisfaction, had forgiven a debtor. When all the debt is forgiven, the obligation to pay even the least part is removed, etc.

The contrary doctrines are the various opinions of the Scholastics and Papists: (a) That “we can make satisfaction for our guilt;” (b) that while “we cannot make satisfaction for our guilt, we can for the penalty;” (c) that “eternal punishment is, by the power of the keys, commuted to temporal punishment, so as to bring it within our ability;” (d) that “while eternal guilt and punishment are remitted, the obligation to some temporal punishment remains.” Thus Bonaventura: “In sinning, the sinner binds himself to eternal punishment. Divine mercy, in justifying, remits all the guilt and subjection to eternal punishment. But since mercy cannot prejudice justice, whose office it is to punish what is wicked, it releases in such a way that he remains under subjection to only a relatively small amount of temporal punishment.”

In the controversy, the very practical question arose as to how then we are to regard the temporal afflictions of the justified. These, the Papists argued, were a fulfilment of the obligation of punishment, and thus satisfactions. The Lutherans, especially CHEMNITZ in his Examen, “De Satifactione,” maintained that, properly speaking, they were not punishments, but chastisements. “What before forgiveness were punishments of sinners, after forgiveness became the contests and exercises of the justified” (Chrysostom in GERHARD). GERH. (VI, 319): “The former are indications, 363testifying that the person afflicted is under the wrath of God; the latter proceed not from an enraged, but from a propitious God, Lam. 3:33. The former are testimonies, aye, beginnings of eternal punishment; the latter look towards the reformation and salvation of the godly. Where there is remission of sins, there punishment properly so called cannot occur; for what else if remission of sins, but forgiveness from punishment?”

II. (QUEN., III, 238): “The personal object comprises (not angels, but) each and every sinful man, without any exception whatever. For He suffered and died for all, according to the serious and sincere good pleasure and kind intention of Himself and God the Father, according to which He truly wills the salvation of each and every soul, even of those who fail of salvation; not κατα δοξαν (in appearance), but κατ αληθειαν (in truth, i.e., not in imagination or conjecture, but in very deed, and most truly, Is. 53:6; Matt. 20:28; 2 Cor. 5:14, 15; Heb. 2:9; 1 Tim. 2:6; John 1:29; 1 John 2:1, 2; Rom. 14:15; 1 Cor. 8:11; Heb. 6:4-6; 2 Pet. 2:1.”

On the personal object:

GRH., IV, 178: “If the reprobate are condemned because they do not believe in the Son of God, it follows that to them also the passion and death of Christ pertain. For, otherwise, they could not be condemned for their contempt of that which, according to the divine decree, does not pertain to them. The former is distinctly affirmed, John 3:18, 36; 16:9. If Christ had not made satisfaction for the sins of unbelievers, it follows that they are condemned for the very reason that they are unwilling to believe that that pertains to them, which in truth, and according to God’s immutable decree, does not pertain to them. I add also this argument: To whomsoever God offers benefits acquired by the passion and death of Christ, for them also Christ has died. For far be it from us to ascribe to God such dissembling as though by His Word, He would call the unbelieving to repentance and the kingdom of Christ, whom nevertheless He would exclude therefrom by an absolute decree. But both Scripture and experience testify that God has offered and still is offering His Word and Sacraments to some reprobate and condemned, and, in these means, also the blessings acquired by the passion and death of Christ.”

He next shows how the Calvinists have attached another sense to the Scholastic axiom, which they have adopted: “Christ died sufficiently, but not efficiently for all.” The Scholastics meant by this, that Christ potentially saved all, and that the reason that all do not partake of His grace must be found in their own guilt, in 364not accepting Him by faith. The Calvinists, on the other hand, understand by it that Christ’s death would not be without the power to expiate the sins of all, if it had been destined by God for this end, but that such was not His purpose.

“The former refer the cause of the inefficiency to the men themselves; by the latter, it is referred to the decree of God.”

The chief arguments in opposition to the universality of the satisfaction are recounted:

1. “Christ says, that He lays down His life for His sheep, John 10:15; sanctifies Himself for those given Him of His Father, John 17:19; His blood is given for many, Matt. 26:28. Christ, therefore, has died only for the elect.” But (a) the force of such argument is: Christ died for His sheep. Therefore, for His sheep alone. He died for the elect; therefore, only for the elect. (b) The particular is included in its universal, viz., that Christ died for all; hence the universal ought not to be limited by the particular, but the particular extended by its universal. (c) The word “many” is frequently used in Scripture for all, Ps. 97:1; Dan. 12:2; Rom. 5:19. Hence the argument: “Christ died for many; and, therefore, not for all,” is invalid. (d) In these passages “many” must necessarily be understood of the whole multitude of men. This is shown by the opposition in the argument of Rom. 5:19. For all who were rendered sinners by Adam’s fall, the benefit of righteousness has been acquired. Cf. Is. 53:12 with v. 6; also Matt. 20:28, with 1 Tim. 2:6. (e) Scripture speaks in accordance with the double relation of Christ’s merit, it is universal, if considered apart from its application; but its application and actual enjoyment is, by man’s fault, rendered particular.

2. “If Christ truly died for all, the effect and fruit of His death must pertain to all” But (a) that alms be received, there must be not only a hand to give, but also a hand to take. It is not enough that the benefits of Christ, acquired by His death, are offered; they must also be received by faith. (b) This faith God ordinarily enkindles in the heart through the Holy Spirit, working in Word and Sacraments; but they who repel the Word, and resist the Spirit, are, by their own fault, deprived of the benefits of Christ’s death. (c) This is clearly shown from 2 Cor. 5:18, 19: “God hath reconciled us to Himself,” etc., i.e., reconciliation has been made, viz., with respect to the acquiring of the benefit by Christ’s death, and yet, v. 18: “God hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;” v. 20: “We pray you, be ye reconciled,” i.e., reconciliation is still to be made, viz., with respect to its application. (d) The argument rests on the hypothesis that the death of Christ 365does not belong to those who do not partake of its fruit. Were then Paul, the thief on the cross, and others, as long as they were unbelieving and impenitent, excluded from the number of those for whom Christ died? If this be denied, the universality of the proposition falls; if it be affirmed, it follows that in conversion, the justified are either without the death of Christ, or that only then does Christ die for them. (e) This may be illustrated by an example: A hundred Christian captives are in bondage to the Turkish Emperor. A Christian prince pays a certain sum for the ransom of all. If any afterwards prefer to remain longer in captivity rather than enjoy the liberty acquired and offered them, they should ascribe this to themselves. For the universality of the ransom is not thereby invalidated.

3. “Christ made no satisfaction for those for whom He does not pray. But for the reprobate He does not pray, John 17:9.” But, while it is true, that the satisfaction of Christ is not for those, for whom He absolutely does not pray, this cannot be said of the reprobate, Is. 53:12; Luke 23:34. A distinction must be drawn between the general and the special intercession; also between the office of Christ, as a priest and as a prophet: as a priest, praying for all, when on the altar of the cross He offered His body as a sacrifice for the sins of the whole world; but as a prophet, proclaiming that sins are retained against sinners impenitent and resisting.

4. “That for which there could have been no use, we must not believe to have been done by God. But there would be no use of a universal merit, since some of the reprobate for whom Christ would have then suffered were already in hell.” With equal reason we could conclude that Christ did not suffer for Abraham, Isaac, and the other saints of the Old Testament, since they had already attained that which is said to come through Christ’s passion. We should rather say, according to Rev. 13:8, that the Lamb of God was slain from the foundation of the world, viz., with respect to the divine decree, the promise, the types in the sacrifices, and the efficacy; and that the fruit of Christ’s passion is not to be restricted to the moment of time in which it occurred, but extended to both past and future, whence the ancients said that “Christ’s passion was before it was.” We, therefore, are right in saying that Christ suffered and died also for those who, while He was suffering, were in hell; not as though Christ, by His suffering, would liberate them from hell, but because while they were still living, the promises concerning the Messiah ought to have been embraced, and the merits of His passion thus received, as patriarchs, 366prophets, and the rest of the godly under the Old Testament, were saved by faith in Christ.

[18] QUEN. (III, 253): “Satisfaction is an act of the sacerdotal office of Christ, the God-man, according to which, from the eternal decree of the triune God, out of His immense mercy, He cheerfully and voluntarily substituted Himself as the bondsman and surety for the entire human race, which, through sin, had been cast into incredible misery; and, having taken upon Himself each and every sin of the entire world, by His most perfect obedience and the suffering, in their place, of the penalties that men had merited, made satisfaction, on this earth, during the whole time of His humiliation, and especially in His last agony, to the Holy Trinity that had been most grievously offended; and, by thus making a satisfaction, acquired and earned for each and every man the remission of all sins, exemption from all penalties, grace and peace with God, eternal righteousness and salvation.”

[19] Concerning the relation of satisfaction and merit, HOLL. (736): “(1) Satisfaction precedes, merit follows; for Christ has merited righteousness and life eternal by rendering a satisfaction. (2) Satisfaction is made to God and His justice,; but Christ has merited salvation, not for God, but for us. (3) Merit precedes the payment of a price; satisfaction, the compensating of an injury. Therefore, by His satisfaction, Christ made a compensation for the injury offered to God, expiated iniquity, paid the debt, and freed us from eternal penalties; but, by His merit, He acquired for us eternal righteousness and salvation. (4) The satisfaction rendered by Christ is the payment of our debts, by which we were under obligations to God; but merit arises from the fulfilment of the Law and the suffering that is not due.” The entire obedience which Christ rendered avails for us, and Christ did not need to merit anything for His own person. This the Dogmaticians express in the following manner: “Christ, as a man, merited nothing for Himself, by His obedience; because, through the personal union, Christ was given all the fullness of the Godhead (Col. 2:9), and was anointed with the oil of joy (the gifts of the Holy Ghost) above His fellows (Ps. 45:7). Therefore, it was not necessary that He should merit anything for Himself.” (HOLL. (749)).

[20] CONF. AUG. (XXI, 2): “The Scripture propoundeth unto us one Christ, the mediator, propitiator, high priest, and intercessor.” AP. CONF. (III, 44): “Christ who sitteth at the Right Hand of the Father, and perpetually maketh intercession for us.”

QUEN. (III, 264): “Of this priestly act in the type, we may read in Lev. 16:17, 18; Ex. 28:29, 35. Christ, the God-man, is 367our only intercessor, 1 Tim. 2:5.” (257): “The ground of this intercession is the satisfaction and universal merit of the interceder Himself; for by and through His bloody satisfaction, or, by the virtue of His merit, Christ, as a priest, intercedes for us with God the Father.” A more specific explanation of intercession is given in the following (ib.): “By the virtue of His merit, Christ truly and formally intercedes for all men, not indeed by acquiring anew for them grace and divine favor, but only according to the mode of His present state, which is that of exaltation, by seeking that the acquired blessing may be applied to them for righteousness and salvation.” GRH.: “Intercession is nothing else than the application and continual force, as it were, of redemption, perpetually winning favor with God.”

[21] QUEN. (III, 256): “He does not indeed intercede for those who, having died in impenitence, are in hell, suffering eternal punishments (for He is not their intercessor, but the judge condemning and punishing them), but in general for all those who still live in the world, and still have the gate of divine grace standing open before them, whether they be elect or reprobate. For He interceded for the transgressors, or His crucifiers, Is. 53:12; Luke 23:34.” HOLL. (750): “How He prays for the elect, we read, John 17:11. From which is inferred that Christ intercedes for the regenerate and elect, that they may be preserved from evil, be kept in the unity of faith, and be sanctified more and more by the Word of truth.” QUEN. (III, 257): “It is evident that Christ justly does not ask the peculiar blessings that have been recounted, the actual, saving enjoyment of which belongs to the faithful and godly alone, for the ungrateful, wicked and refractory world, in so far as it is and remains such, since it is incapable of these. These special blessings, Christ has not sought for such a world, by no means out of any absolute hatred against it,  . . . but because of its wickedness, ingratitude, and contumacy . . . . The Saviour, therefore, in His prayers, does not commend to the Father the inflexible despisers and violent persecutors of the Gospel, but His own beloved disciples who received His Word; yet that this does not absolutely exclude the world either from His satisfaction or from His intercession, is evident from John 17:21.”

[22] HOLL. (749): “The intercession of Christ is not merely interpretative through the exhibition of His merits” (“as though Christ interceded for us not by prayers, but by His merit alone, and its eternal efficacy” (QUEN. III, 257)); “for the word, εντυγχανειν, Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25, employed concerning the intercession of Christ, means more than the real yet silent presentation of merits. 368. . . Therefore, the intercession of Christ is not only real, but also, vocal and oral; not abject by submission” (“as though Christ, as a suppliant, with bent knees and outstretched hands, and a vocal lamentation, should entreat the Father as in the days of His flesh, for such an entreaty conflicts with Christ’s glorious state; therefore we must regard it in a manner becoming God (John 17:24), and not after the manner of the flesh or of a servant” (QUEN. III, 257), “but is expiatory and effectual for obtaining saving blessings for men (because whatever He asks of His Father is pleasing and agreeable to the Father, John 11:22). The intercession of Christ is effectual to obtain for us salvation, although those who do not believe in Christ do not enjoy the effect. Hence, it is said to be effectual, by reason of the saving intention of Christ, and not by reason of the result in the unbelieving and wicked.” But BR. observes, in regard to the verbal intercession (498): “Whether this intercession be verbal, consisting in words and prayers presented either mentally or vocally, or whether it be only real, consisting in this, that, by the virtue of His merit and satisfaction formerly rendered, and of His prayers formerly made, Christ moves God to remit our sins, it is not necessary to determine.” [QUEN. (III, 271): “Elegantly has St. Augustine, on Ps. 85, said: ‘He prays for us, as our Priest; He prays in us, as our Head; He is prayed to by us, as our God.’ Let us, then, recognize our voices in Him and His voices in us.”]

[23] QUEN. (III, 258): “This intercession will not be terminated by the end of the world, but will continue to all eternity, Heb. 7:25; Ps. 110:4; Heb. 5:6; 7:17. For it must not be thought that after the end of the world, when the elect have passed into life eternal, intercession is superfluous; for He prays and intercedes, not that they may not by sin fall from eternal salvation, but that they may be kept in glory, which, as it must be regarded as having been received for merit, must also be regarded as having been received for Christ’s meritorious intercession.”

As, in Rom. 8:26, mention is made of an intercession by the Holy Spirit also, some of the Dogmaticians inquire what is to be understood by this, and how it differs from the intercession that is offered by Christ. QUEN. (III, 259): “Some receive υπερεντυγχανειν by metalepsis and with respect to the result, so that He is said to pray and groan, because He causes us to pray and groan, shows and teaches us for what to pray and how to pray aright, and forms our prayers within us. But others also understand it literally as referring to the very person of the Holy Ghost, viz., that the Holy Ghost Himself, in His own person, prays and intercedes for us.” QUEN. decides for the former interpretation. And he thus states 369the difference between the two kinds of intercession: “The one intercession (that of Christ) is θεανθρωπικη [that of the God-man]; the other is purely θεικη [divine]. The one is mediatorial; the other is not. The intercession of Christ is founded upon His suffering and death, which cannot be said of the intercession of the Holy Ghost.” (Ib. 260).

[24] HOLL. (751): “Redemption is not simple, absolute, and metaphorical, but precious, satisfactory, and literal, 1 Cor. 6:19, 20; 1 Pet. 1:18; Matt 20:28; 1 Tim. 2:6.” Id. (752): “The former is liberation without any intervening price from a penalty that has been decided; the latter is that by which a guilty person is redeemed from his crime and the punishment, by the payment of a price . . . . For, properly speaking, to redeem signifies to buy again, just as the Greek words λυτρουν, αγοραζειν, εξαγοραζειν, and the Hebrew words, גָאַל פָּרָה, denote purchase or repurchase, which occurs through an intervening price. Therefore, when, in the present argument, where we treat of the redemption of the fallen human race accomplished by Christ, these Hebrew and Greek words from the holy volume are employed, we receive them in a literal sense, because no necessity appears to be imposed upon us of departing from the literal sense.”

The expressions used in Holy Scripture to denote redemption are (a) in the Old Testament גְּאֻלָה. Lev. 25:24, 26, 29, 31, 32, 48, 51, 52; פִּדְיוֹן, Ex. 21:30; Ps. 49:8; (b) in the New Testament, λυτρωσις, Luke 1:68; 2:38; Heb. 9:12; απολυτρωσις, Luke 21:28; Rom. 3:24; 8:23; 1 Cor. 1:30; Eph. 1:7, 14; 4:30; Col. 1:14; Heb. 9:15; 11:35; αγορασις, 2 Pet. 2:1; Rev. 5:9; 14:3; εξαγορασις, Gal. 3:13; 4:5.

[25] The Dogmaticians KG., QUEN., and HOLL., treat still more fully of redemption, distinguishing (1) the captive (the whole human race). (2) The one holding the captive (God, Rom. 11:32; Gal. 3:22, to whom the ransom must be paid; and the devil who holds the wicked in the snares of sins, 2 Tim. 2:26, to whom not a price, but punishment is due). (3) The one redeeming the captive (Christ, the only and the universal Redeemer of the whole human race, availing by the right, strength, and will to redeem, Rom. 3:24). (4) The chains from which Christ redeemed the human race (sins, offences against God, and temporal and eternal punishments). (5) The means of redemption. (6) The end of redemption (the final end, the glory of God; the intermediate, freedom from the guilt and dominion of sin). As, however, all the matters discussed under these heads have been included in the previous discussion their further citations could be dispensed 370with, and their presentation by the Dogmaticians above named is to be regarded as a mere recapitulation of what had been given before.

« Prev § 36. The Sacerdotal Office. Next »
VIEWNAME is workSection