I believe that Jesus' death (his punishment) is a substitute for our death (our punishment) which allows us into heaven--Jesus paid the price for our sins. I also believe that this substitutionary payment works.

However, I am slightly confused as to how Jesus temporal sacrifice paid our everlasting punishment.

Unsaved people are punished for their sins by being sent to hell--forever.

8 Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.

Matt 18:8 (KJV)

Our punishment (we were unsaved) was taken by Jesus. Jesus' torture on the cross was horrible; I am not arguing against that. But how does Jesus single death on the cross pay for my eternal hell?

Is there some aspect of His suffering that I have missed?

  • Yes, this is a duplicate. however, could we keep it open long enough for me to converse with Calvin who has already posted an answer?
    – Jeremy H
    Commented Aug 11, 2014 at 23:30
  • @HandofDon You can still comment, edit, vote, and select after a question is put on hold. Only new answer posts are put on hold (prevented).
    – user3961
    Commented Aug 11, 2014 at 23:44
  • @ fredsbend Oh, okay thank you for the clarification.
    – Jeremy H
    Commented Aug 11, 2014 at 23:58
  • 1
    @HandofDon: 1) This is not a "conversation" site. 2) You can still "converse" (to the minimal extent permitted here) once the question is closed.
    – Flimzy
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 11:33

3 Answers 3


Jesus' death was sufficient simply because DEATH is the punishment for our sins, not suffering. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that the Savior must suffer for a long time to cover our sins, only His death.

If you look at all these verses, we'll see that "Christ died" and it is enough: http://www.blueletterbible.org/search/search.cfm?Criteria=christ+died&t=KJV#s=s_primary_0_1

The punishment the law required for our sins was not the whippings on His back or even hell, but death. Jesus’ substitutionary death perfectly fulfilled the offerings of the OT.

In the OT, the sinner needed to bring an offering to the priest to atone for his sins. It was enough for the animal to die, not for the animal to suffer, and suffer, and suffer.

  • Did Jesus die on the cross? Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 6:52
  • This answers that question: John 19:28-37. He gave up His spirit on the cross, and while on the cross, the soldiers did not break His legs to hasten His death because He was already dead.
    – Steve
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 13:47

Jesus' suffering and death were more than just surrogacy of suffering, Jesus also vanquished the devil. From Hebrews 2:14-15:

...through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.

Jesus sacrifice sanctified us before God, that Jesus' sacrifice may stand in for own in when we are judged. A helpful metaphor is that when God sees us, God looks into our hearts to see if we yearn to be with God. If God looks into our hearts and sees Jesus there, then we belong, but if it is only sin and ourselves, then we are ill-suited to the presence of God.

We can turn to early Christians for their understanding of the matter:

I believe in Jesus Christ, God's only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended into hell. On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come to judge the living and the dead.

Jesus returned from hell to heaven victoriously and in glory. This was a case of conquest as well as substitution. I'm sure we all love John 3:16 here, but consider also the verses that surround it:


No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”

On Jesus' triumphant return to heaven, we too are carried to heaven if we wish to be.


Whoever believes in him is not condemned...

That is, now that Jesus sits as judge, Jesus passes pardon on those that believe, for this belief is equivalent to being well suited to spending eternity in the presence of God.


But let's also consider this statement:

unsaved people are punished for their sins by being sent to h*ll - forever.

With the following reference:

Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.

The exact nature of the wages of sin and the environment of hell are difficult to determine to any reasonable degree of clarity theologically, but I would like to point out what is being called forever/eternal/everlasting/unending and what is not.

The fire is everlasting.

The destruction of hands or feet is everlasting.

The consequences are everlasting.

However, nowhere do we see duration of residency specifically outside of the presence of God as everlasting.

My pastor, and I agree with my pastor on this matter, maintains that anyone that chooses not to welcome Jesus in their heart, rather than eternally dwelling in the presence of God when the die, instead receives the "wages of sin" or death, and simply dies. While this is getting pretty off-topic, being punished forever and simply not being in the presence of God, while identical concepts, have different connotations, especially when evangelizing, and it may be helpful consider what the scriptures say on this matter independently of social constructs.

  • very interesting view point, and I see your point. May I ask what denomination you are from/in? My pastor is doing a three week sermon study and his position(which could easily be fallable) is that the torment is forever, which is different than you see. You, then, are saying that the destruction is forever; as in, there is no restoration, but that doesn't mean we live in hell forever. that is what you are saying, correct?
    – Jeremy H
    Commented Aug 11, 2014 at 23:26
  • Let me just preface my answer by stating that I do NOT believe the nature of hell to be either completely clear or a salvation issue, and I do believe that there is room on this matter for healthy theological discussion. My home church is a protestant non-denominational church that has affirmed the National Association Evangelical Statement of Faith. Yes, you are correct in identifying the viewpoint I was articulating.
    – Calvin
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 14:41
  • @HandofDon perhaps this matter deserves a separate topic posting.
    – Calvin
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 14:43
  • @HandofDon I got in touch with my pastor who recommended claypeck.com/articles/…
    – Calvin
    Commented Sep 4, 2014 at 14:52

Your question goes to the heart of Salvation, and surprisingly you are not alone in not understanding how our sins can be transferred to Jesus and thus be forgiven.

So lets see if we can clear it up for you.

All Scripture is quoted from the King James translation, unless otherwise noted.

First of all we need to start with one basic fact, that being that Jesus is the only Human who ever lived on the Earth and did not sin. So what does that really mean? Jesus never had so much as a bad thought, and he fulfilled not only the law, but the intent of the law.

So what does it mean that he fulfilled not only the law, but the intent of the law? We have to go back to the Old Testament to begin our explanation. The first requirement is that we are to be as Holy as God is:

Leviticus 11:45 For I am the LORD that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.

To start with God knew before he created the Earth that we would be unable to be Holy as God is holy.

So if God knew we could not do what he required us to do why did he charge us with even trying to be? God Created the Universe and everything within it as a part of his overall plan, and even though we do not know what that overall plan is we know that we are a vital part of it, otherwise God would not have sent his son to bring us salvation.

The requirement to be Holy is necessary if we are to be acceptable to go to Heaven, but we are not able to accomplish that by ourselves, and so God had to provide an alternate path for us to attain acceptability for Heaven.

So lets see if we can determine just how that works, and so lets begin in the book of Leviticus.

Leviticus 26:3 If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them;

This is a conditional promise, but it was broken almost immediately by the Israelites. But God in his infinite mercy gave them a foretaste of Salvation.

Leviticus 1:3 through 5 If his offering be a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish: he shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD. And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him. And he shall kill the bullock before the LORD: and the priests, Aaron's sons, shall bring the blood, and sprinkle the blood round about upon the altar that is by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.

There are three important thing that must be noted here;

  1. It had to be without blemish, and this requirement is for anything given to God.

  2. If the sacrifice met God's standards it would then be an acceptable atonement.

  3. The blood was to be sprinkled on the Altar. This is the most important part. Why is the blood so important? Because the blood is life and no human can live without it; it keeps all parts of the body alive by delivering life giving oxygen to all the cells of the body.

By sprinkling the blood on the Altar it was representative of giving back to God the life he had given man, that changed him from dust to a living soul.

Genesis 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

When Jesus died on the Cross it was the same thing as sprinkling the blood on the Altar, or in other words, Jesus was giving back the life that was breathed into man. But what life was he giving back since he had never sinned.

That is why Salvation is such a marvelous thing. Just as the unblemished animal sacrifice was acceptable as a substitute, so Jesus was a unblemished and acceptable substitute for us. And when we ask Jesus to be the propitiation for our sins and ask God to forgive us, then Jesus sinless blood sprinkled on the Altar of God gives our now unblemished life which God breathed into us and we became a living soul, back to God.

Why is that important? It's importance lies in the requirement that man must die in return for his disobedience.

Genesis 2:16 and 17 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

The penalty of death was not for gaining the Knowledge of good and evil it was for eating from the tree which God forbad Adam to eat, or in other words disobeying God.

Hope this clears it up for you.

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