Penal Substitution in the Old Testament

William Barrick | May 24, 2010

Theologically and biblically speaking, penal substitution refers to God’s gift of His Son to undergo the penalty of death as a substitute for fallen humanity, recent efforts to deny that teaching notwithstanding. The OT offers many examples of cases in which divine judicial action resulted in the deaths of offenders who violated God’s standards of righteousness. No clear evidence in the OT that each individual sin required its own sacrifice. In addition, the Levitical system of animal sacrifices required the death of an animal for sin. The Hebrew and the LXX supported by NT citations back up this concept of judicial punishment for sin. Twelve principles governed the offering of OT sacrifices that pertained to the corporate worship of Israel. Several OT texts illustrate penal substitutionary sacrifices in the OT. The first is the Passover of Exodus 12 in which God graciously spared guilty Israelites through the deaths of animals substituted for the firstborn in each household. Another OT text to illustrate penal substitution is Leviticus 16, the institution of the Day of Atonement. The scapegoat symbolized the removal of Israel’s sin to allow people to enter the presence of a holy God. The Day of Atonement expiated the nation’s sins, cleansed the sanctuary from sin’s pollution, and removed sins from the community. Isaiah 52:13–53:12 is a third text to illustrate penal substitution. The suffering servant of the LORD in this section clearly anticipates the Messiah’s coming substitutionary death as penalty for His people’s sins. The OT sacrificial system clearly laid the basis for penal substitution in awaiting Israel’s coming Messiah.

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William Barrick Faculty Associate, Old Testament B.A., Denver Baptist Bible College M.Div., San Francisco Baptist Theological Seminary Th.M., San Francisco Baptist Theological Seminary Th.D., Grace Theological Seminary Before joining The Master's Seminary faculty in 1997, Dr. Barrick served with the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism (ABWE). In 1981 he and his family moved to Bangladesh. In that ministry Dr. Barrick served as the Exegetical Consultant for Bible translation projects, theological consultant for the Literature Division, and adjunct faculty member of the Baptist Bible Institute of Bangladesh, Bangladesh Theological Seminary, and Grand Rapids Baptist Seminary Extension Program (Singapore). Prior to joining ABWE in 1979, Dr. Barrick had been Professor and Chairman of the Old Testament Department at Denver Baptist Theological Seminary from 1972 to 1978. Beyond his teaching and Bible translation work, Dr. Barrick has been active in a variety of ministries including three years as Director of Church Planting in Chittagong, Bangladesh. He has also had a varied writing ministry from scholarly journals to adult Sunday School materials. Dr. Barrick has been writing in the areas of Bible and theology for forty years. His writings range from adult Sunday school materials, in-house library publications, and newspaper editorials to technical journal articles in English and a commentary on the book of Daniel in Bengali. In addition, as a result of his fifteen years of Bible translation ministry in Bangladesh, he has participated in the production of Bibles, New Testaments, and Bible sections in six different languages. While in Bangladesh he participated in the editing of over twenty books and tracts, including a Bengali translation of Unger's Bible Handbook. During his doctoral studies he worked as a phototypesetter and proofreader for the first fascicle of The Hittite Dictionary of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago and a number of other major volumes. Dr. Barrick has been involved in writing or contributing to 26 books, and has authored over 125 periodical articles and book reviews. Currently he is the OT editor for the Evangelical Exegetical Commentary (Logos) and will be writing the Genesis commentary in that series. He has also contributed the essay, “A Historical Adam, Young-Earth Creation View” in the recently released book Four Views on the Historical Adam (Zondervan, 2013). Dr. Barrick has been married to his wife Barbara for 48 years. They have four married children and fourteen grandchildren. He is currently Faculty Associate and Director of Th.D. Studies at The Master's Seminary.

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