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Among evangelical Protestants, especially, but also in various other quarters of Christianity, it is common to believe that "Jesus died for me" in the sense that Jesus' death made satisfaction for (in Catholicism) or specifically made satisfaction by paying the penalty for (in Protestantism) my individual sins.

There is a great deal of wording in the Bible supporting the idea that Jesus died for the sins of humans collectively. For example, this passage from Isaiah is commonly interpreted by Christians as referring to Jesus' death for us on the Cross:

Surely he has borne our infirmities
and carried our diseases;
yet we accounted him stricken,
struck down by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions,
crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the punishment that made us whole,
and by his bruises we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have all turned to our own way,
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
(Isaiah 53:4–6)

The language here is not individual, but collective: "our diseases," "our transgressions," "has made us whole," "all we like sheep," "the iniquity of us all."

And:

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6–8)

Here dying for an individual righteous person is mentioned as a parallel example, but the language specifically about Jesus' death is still collective: "While we were still weak," "died for the ungodly [the Greek is plural]," "while we were still sinners Christ died for us."

I am specifically not asking for the answer, "Jesus died for everyone, and that means he died for you, too." That answer says, essentially, "You are part of the collective, so Jesus' death covers you as well."

Rather, I am asking for the biblical basis for the belief that Jesus' death made satisfaction for individual sins, not just for the collective sins of humanity under which individuals are also covered. To use a legal analogy: that Jesus did not engage in a class action lawsuit, but litigated—and litigates—each individual's sins separately. Pointing out that particular individuals belong to the class of "sinners" does not answer this question.

In layman's terms, what is the biblical basis for the belief that Jesus suffered and died for each one of my individual sins, and not just for the sins of all of humanity, which covers my particular sins also?


Note 1: Though the question "What is the Biblical basis for thinking that Jesus died for me specifically?" is closely related to this one, as the OP says in a comment on the accepted answer, that question is more about whether Jesus was consciously thinking of, and dying, for, individuals while he was on the cross. My question is not concerned with Jesus conscious awareness (or lack thereof) of dying for every individual's sins on the cross, but with the biblical basis of the belief that Jesus' death made satisfaction for specific sins committed by specific individuals, and not just general satisfaction for the collective sins of humanity.

Note 2: I am asking this question from the perspective of those denominations, mainly Catholic and Protestant, that subscribe to one or another form of satisfaction theory, and that may include the belief that this means Christ made satisfaction for individual, not just collective, sins. I am presuming that the question applies primarily to evangelical Protestantism, but the answer should not be significantly different if answered from a Catholic satisfaction model that includes the idea that Jesus died to make satisfaction for individual sins. If even today the Catholic Church does not hold that Jesus made satisfaction for individual sins, but only for collective ones, please provide me with the relevant references to Catholic doctrine on that subject, and I'll edit it out of the question.

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Part of the solution here might be to look at the Old Testament sacrifices which Jesus is fulfilling. When an Israelite took his lamb to the temple to be sacrificed, he had no sense that his sacrifice was for all the sins of God's people collectively. The sacrifice was being made for his own sin. Take a look at Leviticus 4, for example.

Hebrews specifically connects these Old Testament sacrifices to the work of Christ. Just as the OT lamb was slain because of the specific sins of a specific individual, so too did Jesus die for the specific sins of his people.

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    I think mentioning specific verses would be more helpful. Jul 30 '17 at 3:28
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Off the top of my mind, there are two passages upon which the belief of individual satisfaction can be based. One is from Paul's letter to the Romans, v 6:10 [RSV]:

While we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Why, one will hardly die for a righteous man—though perhaps for a good man one will dare even to die. But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we are now justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.

While Paul writes partly in the collective, the use of the singular in the second sentence leads me to think that he is writing singly to an audience which is collective.

A second passage is from John's first epistle, v. 8-10. Again, written to a plural audience, but in my view with a mind towards addressing the individual members of that audience:

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. [RSV]

In my mind, John 1 Chapter 2 is likewise written to a collective as the audience of the epistle, but is intended to be interpreted by Paul as applying to the individuals who constitute the collective.

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See the parables of the Lost Coin and the Lost Sheep:

Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ (Luke 15: 8-9)

Again,

Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? (Luke 15:4)

In these two parables, Jesus gives irrevocable testimony to His commitment to redeem each sinner by his or her name. Does one need more explanation ?

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  • I've made some formatting changes. Click edit to see how to do it.
    – fгedsbend
    Aug 1 '17 at 9:29
  • I think this answer would be better with a corroborating link. Find a book or sermon that uses these verses in the same way. +1 in advance
    – fгedsbend
    Aug 1 '17 at 9:31
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Please allow in my answer and mention that your question is not entirely specific to one thing. Within all Christendom there are actually two kinds of redemption referred to:

  1. Redemption from hell and sin-related suffering, conditional on accepting and following Christ. (1st John 3:15-24)

  2. Redemption from death, conditional that we are a descendant of Adam (1st Corinthians 15:22)

In the case of the second, all are redeemed as a class of mankind, but in the first, we are redeemed conditional to our faith and relationship with Christ.

With that distinction, I would repeat the answer of Steve, that for sin, our sins have always been transferred symbolically to Christ on an individual basis as in the old law (Leviticus 4, Acts 8:22). The measure of Christ's atonement and suffering (remember to include the Garden of Gethsemane and the implied withdrawal of God, the Father's presence on the cross, Matthew 27:46) is without quantification or qualification by human reckoning, therefore it may not be possible to understand if the burden of each person's sins were added cumulatively upon him or if the full measure of suffering was simply enough for all by some super-earthly measure, until God reveals such things.

Without knowing the mechanics of Christ taking these things upon him, we may only surmise that our redemption is individual by the requirement that we individually agree to relinquish our sin or our bonds to sin unto him.

If the intent of your question is along the lines of whether Christ could or would endure all if just one person were to be saved, we have little precedence with which to declare that, but that sentiment is unquestionably clear (ex. Genesis 18:32) that the Lord values even the least number of us.

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I don't know if this is a valid answer to your questions since you asked for affirmative explanations, however, I must answer in the negative. I believe the Bible only supports the class action lawsuit view as it clearly states that Christ died to sin once for all:

Hebrews 7:27 27 He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself. Romans 6:10 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.

Related to your questions, there is a common miss understanding that Christ paid the debt for each and every one of our sins, but, in effect, the scriptures reveal that Christ's death affected, instead, the cancellation of our debt.

Colossians 2:11-15 11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

We individually access this cancellation, as Col 2:12-13 describe, when we are buried and raised with Christ in baptism through faith. Paul echoes this same idea in Romans 6:3-6:

3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.

The idea of the body of sin being brought to nothing so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin in verse 6 is the same that Colossians 2:11 describes as the circumcision not made with hands that happens when we are baptized and involves the putting off the body of flesh.

This separation between us and our bodies of sin/flesh indicates the separation of ourselves from the corrupting curse within our flesh due to the sin of Adam so that while our bodies are still enslaved to sin by means of a curse and destined to die, we ourselves are free to be destined for greater things being united with the New Adam who is the Christ.

This is explained as a clever legal maneuver whereby dying with Christ we void any obligations we had under the old covenant of death. We are now free to be obliged under a new covenant of life to our Savior Jesus Christ.

Romans 7:1-4 1 Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? 2 For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. 3 Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress. 4 Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God.

So Christ engaged in a successful class-action lawsuit through his death on the cross. We become members of that class and beneficiaries of the settlement individually by being united with his death and resurrection through our baptism into a covenantal relationship with Christ.

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