Penal Substitution in the New Testament: A Focused Look at First Peter

Paul Felix | May 24, 2010

A focused look at 1 Peter regarding the doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement, taking into account 1 Pet 1:2, 18-19; 2:24; 3:18; and 4:1, typifies many NT references to that important teaching. Though 1 Pet 1:2 does not speak of penal atonement, the passage does speak of the death of Christ in language that recalls the language of sacrifice and substitution in the OT. The language of redemption in 1 Pet 1:18-19 includes substitution since the redeeming of one life requires the giving of another life. That passage also includes in its background a penal aspect since the blood of the victim clearly entailed His dying a painful death as a penalty for the sins of others. First Peter 2:24 does provide readers with an example to follow in Christ’s suffering, but it does far more. In line with the influence of Isaiah 53 on the passage, it views Christ as a sin bearer and substitute for those whose place He took. It also presents Him as the curse-bearer in bearing punishment for the sins of the people He came to save. In mentioning the sufferings of Christ and the death of the just one for the unjust ones, 1 Pet 3:18 confirms what 1 Peter teaches elsewhere, i.e., the penal substitution of the cross of Christ. Without adding further details but summarizing what Peter has already written, 1 Pet 4:1 adds an explicit reference to the death of Christ. The epistle clearly supports the penal substitutionary nature of the atonement.

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Paul Felix Associate Professor of New Testament B. A., University of Redlands M. A., Talbot Theological Seminary M. Div., The Master's Seminary Th. M., The Master's Seminary Th. D., The Master's Seminary Upon completion of his undergraduate studies, Professor Felix worked in the data processing profession as a Senior Systems Programmer for a number of years. It was during this time that he studied at Talbot Theological Seminary. Professor Felix served as the Assistant Pastor in his local church as well as teaching and serving as Vice-President for Academic Affairs at the Los Angeles Bible Training School from 1982 to 1992. From 1992 to 1996, he served as a faculty associate at The Master's Seminary. Between 1996 and 1999 Professor Felix served as senior pastor at Berean Bible Church in Denver, Colorado. In the summer of 1999 he returned to TMS as an instructor in the New Testament Department. In addition to his responsibilities at TMS, Mr. Felix serves as the President of the Los Angeles Bible Training School (www.labts.org). Professor Felix was a contributor to The Jesus Crisis (Kregel, 1998) and The Master's Perspective on Contemporary Issues (Kregel, 1998).

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