In which I make everybody’s head hurt

by Craig on April 19, 2012


The Bible says that God literally made. Jesus. sin. (2 Cor 5:21)

How can Paul say that God made Jesus “sin”…
in the same sentence he says that Jesus is without sin? ¯\(°_o)/¯

Last time I gave a reason why most Bible translators have inserted the words “to be” in their translations. “God made Jesus to be sin”.

Here’s another reason. In the English, if you say “God made Jesus sin” it can be read as, “God caused Jesus to sin.” It’s totally different from what the Greek says, it contradicts all of Scripture, and I can absolutely see how someone could take this English translation, run with it, and bring lots of people along for the heretical ride.

But left alone, the verse literally reads that God “made” Jesus “sin”.

Here’s another way translators have gotten around this problem.

It’s written this way in the New Living Bible, a “paraphrase”, not a “translation’.

What’s the difference?


“Translations” are like bran muffins…

and a “paraphrase”…


…a paraphrase is a like birthday cake.

Bran muffins don’t have candles and sprinkles and tons of icing.
In this case, the New Living Bible heaps on the following icing…

God made Jesus to be the offering for our sin .

Here’s that deal.

The Corinthian church didn’t have a New Testament yet. They had writings of the apostles floating around, which they considered as Scripture, but their “Bible” was the Old Testament…and not the Hebrew Old Testament, because nobody spoke Hebrew anymore, but the Greek translation of it (the Septuagint). And the Greek word for “sin”…


(pronounced hamartia, emphasis on the “ti”)

is, in the Septuagint often used to translate the Hebrew word…


(pronounced like awesome but with an “sh” instead of the “s” “aweshome”)…

and this word means both “offense or guilt”…


“a sacrifice made by a priest for an offense or guilt”


So here’s the thinking…

This Hebrew word אָשָׁם֙ (aweshome) got translated to the Greek, ἁμαρτία (hamartia)…
and the Corinthians would probably get this whole Greek/Hebrew thing.

So Paul would intend it, and they’d understand it…as just what the New Living Bible says…
For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin…


this means that Paul would have used the very same word, with only two Greek words between, to mean two different things. That’s really bad writing, and Paul was a much better writer than that.

I’m thinkin’ he meant exactly what he said, literally, “for him [Jesus] who did not know sin, on our behalf He [God] did make sin, that we may become the righteousness of God in him.”

The other ways are easier, and good possible translations.

But Paul, though he never edited enough, wasn’t sloppy with his Greek.


what if Paul meant exactly what he said…
God made our sinless Jesus, literally, to be sin…
leaving me in the same uber-uncomfortable position in which I started???!!!! ¯\(°_o)/¯

Can I take this verse literally and still have a Jesus without a smidge of sin?


That’s next time.

I’m sure I’ve driven you half crazy with theological loopholes already.

My brain hurts too. (°_o)

Next time, the straight line approach.

I heart straight lines.

Please come back.

P.S It took 7 hours to write this post…
so yes – my brain really DOES hurt. ツ
But it’s a happy…satisfied hurt ƪ(ツ)╯

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Cora April 19, 2012 at 10:35 am

I should have taken Greek, because I just love these studies. You drew me right into this one, Craig, as I’ve had my hands up with the “HUH????” face going. I’ve let it go, just accepting it, but deep down inside, I want the explanation. So I’m holding my breath here, and will have to print out all of it and just learn it. You’d make a great teacher, my friend.


Craig April 19, 2012 at 11:22 am

as I’ve said, Cora, in 27 years of believing – and doubting nearly all the way through – I’ve had a gazillion questions – but I heart digging into this stuff – and have never had a theological question go unanswered. When I was a brand-new Christian, after reading the passage where Solomon was granted wisdom, I asked God in prayer to let me know EVERYTHING about him – I didn’t know that we can NEVER know EVERYTHING about God – but he sure has given me the heart to find things out (ˆ◡ˆ)

Oh, and after you read the post I added another picture (without the pics EVERYONE would have REALLY gotten headaches from reading) – and PS – you might like coming back to see that. And thank you for your kind words as always, and I WAS as a teacher – I think that’s in my 100 things list (ˆ◡ˆ) God bless you Cora.


Cora April 19, 2012 at 11:30 am

Don’t know which I like better, the kitty with the headache, or the choice workbook. I’m the worst at choices. My usual pick is “none of the above.” It’s the safe thing, but I end up with nothing. Keep on teachin’, Craig. I’m sitting here learnin’.


Craig April 19, 2012 at 11:42 am


Sylvia April 20, 2012 at 10:24 am

Actually, I don’t have a headache — yet — but appreciate your explanation for the NLT paraphrase. Sometimes the paraphrases seem to take things and run with them off on a tangent. But you made this one make good sense. Sorry (that cute little) Kitty’s head hurts and that you strained your brain working this up, but thankful for resulting insight! God bless!


Craig April 23, 2012 at 12:22 pm

Sylvia, first of all I’m sorry I’m late in replying to your comment – first I was preparing, then at, and then recuperating from Bloggy Boot Camp. When I was in seminary they had us translate texts. Recently I went back and I noticed that they had groups of students translating some very difficult texts – kind of like this one. As I watched, I could see them discussing why they choose certain words for their translation – and I thought – that’s exactly how a Bible translation committee works. Humans, taking one language, and trying to remain true to that language, and translate it into another language, one which may or may not be a good fit. Sometimes translating is easy – sometimes –ooph. God bless you Sylvia – glad you didn’t have a headache after reading this.


Dawn April 20, 2012 at 6:12 pm

I’m waiting for the straight line, but I do understand the 7 hour blog “thing”. I spent about that yesterday and it still didn’t end up a straight line. Sometimes the unraveling comes in the comments. I LOVE when that happens.

Blessings, Craig!


Craig April 23, 2012 at 12:24 pm

Dawn, we’ve both found that to be true, sometimes the unraveling DOES come out in the comments. So true! Back from camp now – the straight line is tomorrow. God bless you and keep you!


Virginia from That Bald Chick April 21, 2012 at 7:31 am

I skipped Greek in Bible college, but wish (in retrospect) that I had taken it. I agree that paraphrases can tend to run with things. I enjoy reading the NLT and the Message, but not as my STUDY Bible. I use a translation, rather than a paraphrase, for study.


Craig April 23, 2012 at 1:30 pm

Virginia, somehow you got caught in my spam catcher – I suspected it might happen – it does on a first comment sometimes – I saved you from it’s clutches just now. ¯\(°_o)/¯ Sorry for that! I’m glad we met – really!! I am going to enjoy reading you more. And I like the readability of the LT and the Message too – and Bible College!!!!!! I didn’t become a Christian till after College days – but they got me in Seminary – I HEART GREEK!!!! Although things would be lots better for me if they just spoke English. you know – even King James English ツ Anyway, thank you. And God bless and keep you!!


Martha Orlando April 21, 2012 at 8:08 am

Made my head hurt, too! I know you will give us the aspirin we need in the next installment, my friend. :)
Blessings to you, Craig!


Craig April 23, 2012 at 12:27 pm

Martha, first of all I’m sorry I’m late in replying to your comment – first I was preparing for, then at, and then recuperating from Bloggy Boot Camp. and I hope the next installment, which will be tomorrow, relieves your theological headache – the bottom line is that I don’t want to dance around possible variations of translation – I just want to read it as it is – and then understand WHY and HOW what seems impossible – really isn’t. God bless you and keep you Martha!


Martha Orlando April 23, 2012 at 6:13 pm

Thanks, Craig! No apologies necessary, my friend.
Just wanted to give you a heads up about the blog you were interested in seeing about God never being far from us even though we think He is. I will be posting it on Wednesday at
Blessings to you!


A. April 23, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Love the title, love the first pic! Love that this is here so I can come back more than once to read, and reread, and rehurt the head. :)


Craig April 23, 2012 at 2:52 pm

A, the “straight line” finish is tomorrow – then the more it rumbles around in my head, the more I’m thinking it may be a little headache-ish as well – but good headache-ish ツ God bless you my friend!


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