For What Did Christ Atone in Isaiah 53:4-5?

Richard Mayhue | August 25, 2009

Isaiah 53:4-5 raises the question, “For what did Christ atone?” or more specifically, “Is physical healing in the atonement?” Outside Isaiah 53, Scriptures touching on Christ’s atonement in Leviticus and Hebrews deal only with sin, not sickness. The context and language of Isa 53:3-12 address sin alone. A broad range of Scriptures teach that Christ died to deal with humankind’s sin dilemma. Matthew 8:16-17 uses an illustration of physical healing to demonstrate a spiritual truth about the Christian’s resurrection hope of being sinless and thus in perfect health. First Pet 2:24, studied in both broad context (2:18-25) and narrow (2:24-25), reasons that Christ atoned for sin, not sickness. Therefore, the conclusion is that physical healing is not in the atonement, but rather comes through the atonement after resurrection, because only then does the atonement eliminate the moral cause of physical infirmities, which is sin in one’s personal experience.

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Richard Mayhue Research Professor of Theology B.S., Ohio State University M. Div., Grace Theological Seminary Th. M., Grace Theological Seminary Th. D., Grace Theological Seminary Prior to enrolling in seminary, Dr. Mayhue served with the United States Navy from 1966 to 1971, including a tour of duty in Vietnam. After seminary he ministered from 1975 to 1977 as an assistant pastor at Grace Brethren Church in Columbus, Ohio, where he also served as director of the Worthington Bible Institute. From 1977 to 1980, Dr. Mayhue taught in the areas of New Testament and Pastoral Ministries at Grace Theological Seminary in Winona Lake, Indiana, where he also enjoyed an active weekend Bible conference ministry. From 1980 to 1984, he was a member of the pastoral staff at Grace Community Church where he served as an associate to Dr. MacArthur in a teaching ministry and as director for the well-known Shepherds' Conferences. From 1984 to 1989, he pastored the historic Grace Brethren Church of Long Beach, California. Dr. Mayhue joined the faculty of The Master's Seminary in 1989 and was appointed as Dean of the Seminary in 1990. Dr. Mayhue also served in the role as Senior Vice President and Provost of The Master's College (2000-2008). Dr. Mayhue has authored, contributed to, and/or edited thirty books, including How To Interpret the Bible for Yourself, The Healing Promise, What Would Jesus Say About Your Church?, Seeking God, Practicing Proverbs, Unmasking Satan, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Bible Boot Camp, and Christ's Prophetic Plans plus numerous periodical and journal articles. He is active in Bible conference ministries.

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