2 Corinthians 5:21
“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Explanation and Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:21
God gave Jesus, His pure sinless Son, as a sin-offering so that Christians might be able to do everything God wants them to do.
In 2 Corinthians 5:18-21, Paul tells us that God has made it possible that we be brought back into His friendship through Jesus dying on the cross for our sins. Sin broke the friendship between God and humans, but Jesus fixed that. Now we have the ability to be reconciled into God’s friendship. So because God did this for us, Paul prays that sinners turn to God, read and believe His Word and follow a Christian life.
Breaking Down the Key Parts of 2 Corinthians 5:21
#1: “God made him who had no sin…”
God made his Son, Jesus, into a man on earth. Jesus was without sin (Hebrew 4:15, 1 Peter 2:22, 1 John 3:5).
#2: “…to be sin for us…”
Some commentators interpret this part of the verse as meaning that Jesus’s death on the cross was an offering for our sins, keeping with the Jewish customs of sacrifice. Some commentators interpret it to mean that Jesus’s death was punishment for our sinfulness, citing Galatians 3:13.
#3: “…so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
The reason God sent Jesus to die on the cross was so that Christians could become righteous, as God is righteous. The Hebrew word for righteous means to be “lawful” and “correct.” The Greek word in the New Testament means to observe divine laws or be faultless. To be perfectly righteous is an impossible task for humans. To be righteous, we would have to do everything God wants us to do.
Jesus tells us to be perfect (Matthew 5:48) and holy (1 Peter 1:15-16) like He is. He also says that unless our righteousness exceeds that of the Pharisees, we will not get to Heaven (Matthew 5:20). The Pharisees were the strictest sect of the Jews in their observance of God’s law, but they had many shortcomings including improper motives (Matthew 23:5-7), being prideful (Luke 18:9-14) and being hypocritical (Matthew 23: 3-4, Romans 2:1, 21-23).
Bible Study on 2 Corinthians 5:21
Expert Overview of 2 Corinthians
Biblical Translations of 2 Corinthians 5:21
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.