Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Jesus Christ, Our Whipping Boy.

In times past there was a practice of having a "whipping boy." A whipping boy was a servant that would take the place of punishment for a disobedient child. Often times those who were wealthy or of noble blood would have many servants, but this kind of servant had a specific and undesirable purpose. For instance when the son of a noble or wealthy person would get into some sort of trouble serious enough for physical punishment, like being whipped, rather than have the one who deserved to be beaten for their wrong doing actually take the fall, the whipping boy would be put in his place.

This was of course a terrible thing to do. Placing the punishment and shame that one person deserved and placing it upon another. But nonetheless this was something that was often done. After all the crime had to be punished, it could not go left alone. Someone had to pay the price for this wrong doing.

Sounds kind of familiar doesn't it? Well if you are a Bible reading Christian, it should. Even though this is not itself a Bible story, though something that really did happen, Jesus Christ was indeed the whipping boy for sinful man. Yes, taking the punishment for sinners who rightfully deserved death, Jesus took their place, their punishment and their pain.

Romans 3:23-26

"23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus."

I love the word "Propitiation!" It's not exactly a word that we hear used in every day conversation, but what a word it is! The biblical understanding of the word propitiation means "an appeasement for, and turning away of the wrath of God." When Christ put Himself on the cross for sinners, He turned away the wrath of God's furry against sin for those whom He died. He literally took the place of, substituted for, sinners who deserved death and Hell. Jesus Christ is the "whipping boy" of sinful man.

The entire purpose of a whipping boy, or in Christ's case a propitiatory sacrifice, is to appease and turn away the wrath that one has earned for wrongdoing. When a noble boy stole something, the whipping boy took his place and punishment. After the whipping boy was whipped, the price was paid and the noble boy no longer owed anything because his debt was paid for him. This is the very same truth that is presented in Scripture when we think of the cross of Christ Jesus. Those whom Jesus died for are no longer held to their debt, it has been paid for them.

So what then would it be on the part of he who punishes to whip the whipping boy and the noble boy both? It would be unheard of, the price was already paid! It would be unjust! And yet so many Christians believe this to be true of God. By saying that Jesus died in the place of "ALL" meaning every person, every place, for all time, they assert that God punishes Christ for the sin that He is going to punish others for also. That is not justice.

If Christ is truly a propitiation, a whipping boy, then those whom He died for are free from the wrath of God because Christ paid their fine. God the Father would not be just to place His wrath against every person's sin upon Christ and then punish many of those same people for their sin that Christ already suffered for. Jesus Christ as we are told in Romans 3:25 was "put forward as a propitiation." Jesus died LITERALLY in the place of sinners. So if Jesus died for absolutely everyone, then no one is going to Hell. But we know by Scripture's account that people are going to Hell, and lots of them. So then, it only makes sense that Jesus died not for all people, but for those whom He chose to save. If Christ suffered truly "in the place of" sinners, then those whom He died for are free.

John 8:36

"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."

If you assert that Christ died in the place of all people, you assert that He failed to satisfactorily satisfy the Fathers wrath, or that God is unjust giving double punishment. But If you believe that Christ died actually in the place of sinners, then you must know that He accomplished His work and died not for all, but for the elect.


Papa J said...


Good post.

Just a few posts. Lest you confuse anyone. Christ did die so that ALL men will be saved from the bonds of mortal death. ALL men are saved from that fate because of our savior.

And you are right, it is the elect that are the only ones that receive the atonement. The demands of justice are met. Christ acknowledges us to his father. "These are my sheep."

It is humbling to know that Christ would so willingly pay that price. The whipping boy, I can only imagine, was probably not a willing participant. Our savior was. Even in seeking another solution, he acknowledged his father's will and subsumed his own desires to His fathers.

I pray that I am never found to be the one holding the whip. Hebrews 6:6 But rather, always seeking for his forgiveness and mercy.

risen_soul said...


You said "Christ did die so that ALL men will be saved from the bonds of mortal death. ALL men are saved from that fate because of our savior."

could you explain to me what you meant by the above quote? How is it that all men are actually "saved from the bonds of mortal death"?

Do you mean that because of Christ people don't physically die? I don't understand what you meant.

Are you now agreeing with my presentation of unconditional election?

Yes, I agree that the whipping boy would not have been so willing as Christ was, all analogies break down somewhere.

Thanks for the comment.

Papa J said...

No, of course we shall all die, but the scriptures that support the resurrection of ALL men are plenty. Here are two:

Isaiah 25:8

He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it.

Part 1 of that verse speaks of physical death. Part 2 speaks of the atonement, and you'll note (and I'm sure you'll agree) that the atonement only applys to HIS people.

This split resurrection is better explained in John 5:26-30

26 For the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;
27 And hath given him authority to execute judgement also, (there's that authority thing again) because he is the Son of man.
28 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,
29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, (there's that works thing again) unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

By the way, this last bit, about damnation points to the concept of eternal progression. What does a damn do? It stops progress. If we are damned in the after life our progression has been halted.

About election, I am not agreeing with you on how one becomes elect, only on the fact that it will be the elect that are saved. I am trying very hard to not have unnecessary antagonistic or contrarian posts.

risen_soul said...

I see what you mean now about the resurrection. I believe also that all men will be raised from death. Some will be resurrected to eternal life with Christ and others to eternal Hell. We agree that far anyway.

As far as progression goes, these are more fundamental differences that you and I have. I don't believe in progression in heaven at all. I believe when the believer enters into God's kingdom after the judgement they are glorified and made perfect, there is no need for progression.

And those who will go to hell, in no sense of the word "progressed" while on earth because they were not justified and not undergoing sanctification.

Our view of justification makes a difference on this issue.

I didn't figure you really agreed with me about election. So who are the elect? Seeing as how you don't believe people are elect by God's choice, how does one become elect?

Incognito said...

Interesting post, Jacob, but can you explain where personal repsonsibility and accountability for one's actions fits in to the "Whipping Boy" concept?
I would think that people might feel it's okay to conduct their lives however they see fit, knowing there is a whipping boy ready to take punishment for them.

It's a little like the concept of 'confession'.. leading a dissolute life during the week, knowing you can confess on Sunday and all will be forgiven.

I think the most important thing a person can do is to be as harmless (and good) as possible every minute of the day, and to love GOD with every fiber of one's being. That way there is no need for confession or a whipping boy, so to speak.
Just my 2 cents.

risen_soul said...


Thanks for the comment, and the question. I certainly agree that there is personal accountability and responsibility for followers of Christ. This post was merely an analogy for Christ's substitutionary atonement and how it worked for the believers.

Like all analogies, this one is imperfect and breaks down if you take it far enough. My only point was that Christ literally took the place of sinners, and therefore those sinners for whom He died have been freed from sin and justified completely by Christ's death and therefore the atonement is limited to the elect and not all mankind.

I've said before when debating with Roman Catholics and Mormons that I believe works are important. They "justify", in a sense, faith. In other words, a true believer in Christ will be a new creation and have the Spirit of God in his life and exhibit the fruit of the Spirit. So true believers will not continue in sin and love it, they will continually be repenting and turning to Christ and His grace and they will walk in good works if they are really a believer.

Romans 6 addresses this very issue. We are saved by God's grace through faith, but that doesn't give us warrant to sin and let grace increase.

I believe that being a good person and doing good works are a sign that accompanies true believers, but good works and being as good as we can will not merit us any favor before the Lord.

Furthermore, without Christ we are incapable of being or doing good according to Romans 3:10-12. So any truly good work is a result of God's grace in the life of a believer.

Hope that helps clarify my position, if you'd like further thoughts, I'd be glad to chat more.


Papa J said...


You will never hear me say that our actions justify us measure for measure. The very idea of saving yourself runs contrary to any religion that believes Christ is our savior and redeemer.

The only difference in our beliefs is that I say our works show our faith, which makes us worthy of the atonement. (Col. 1:10)You say that faith brings good works, but faith alone makes you a participant in the atonement.

We both agree that faith is crucial and that we do not bring about our own salvation.

Without Christ, we could be baptised, live a pious life, be kind to everyone. But we could never be made perfect. We would always come up short.

I definitely admit that I need Christ's grace.

risen_soul said...

Well I'm glad to hear, though I already understood, that your position is not that works alone justify for your sin. I don't deny that the mormon position is that faith and works go together in a persons justification.

I still must take exception to this however because to add works as a necessity of the salvific process is to say that I can contribute to my own salvation. And indeed my salvation, to some extent, is based upon my own actions and not completely Christ alone.