Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: [Galatians 3:13, KJV]

...As it relates to a Luther(esque) view of justification... which largely hinges on this verse. I have found some good stuff from John Chrysostom, but besides that, I am having a difficult time.

  • 1
    I have added the verse in order to assist your readership and in order to demonstrate to you how quotations are handled. Welcome to SE-C.
    – Nigel J
    May 13, 2020 at 18:08
  • Well done Nigel, as ever. :-) May 14, 2020 at 1:59
  • Why do u say that Luther's view of just. largely hinges on this verse? There are scores of verses which support the doctrine, though sure enough a right understanding of this verse supports it too. May 15, 2020 at 11:06
  • 1
    An anonymous circular letter to Christian churches in the Roman province of Syria circa 101 A.D. is called the Didache (also known as The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles). A book commenting on it says, "As in the case of other apostolic fathers, the Didache hardly mentions grace, faith, forgiveness, justification or any of the other distinctive notes of Paul's letters and his gospel of salvation. The way of salvation described in it is a certain lifestyle of faithfulness and obedience to God's commands..." Perhaps they considered those matters as settled in and by scripture?
    – Anne
    Jul 6, 2020 at 16:10

2 Answers 2


Clement of Rome and Polycarp are the earliest church fathers and are known as the Apostolic Fathers. After them came Irenaeus, Ignatius and Justin Martyr, the Ante-Nicene Fathers (pre 325 A.D.) Clement’s first letter to the Corinthians (circa 96 A.D.) makes reference to several canonical books including Genesis, Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, 1 Corinthians and Philippians.

Although I could not find a specific reference to Galatians 3:13, in 1 Clement 32:4 there is possibly one of the earliest patristic references to the biblical doctrine of justification through faith alone:

1 Clem 32:4: And so we, having been called through His will in Christ Jesus, are not justified through ourselves or through our own wisdom or understanding or piety or works which we wrought in holiness of heart, but through faith, whereby the Almighty God justified all men that have been from the beginning; to whom be the glory for ever and ever. Amen. Source: http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/1clement-lightfoot.html

I hope this may be of some use to you.


Below are some bible commentaries from the early fathers that might be helpful:

Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangs on a tree: - Galatians 3:13

Every one who shall have hung on a tree.". I suppose, you endeavour to introduce a diversity of opinion, simply because you deny that the suffering of the cross was predicted of the Christ of the Creator, and because you contend, moreover, that it is not to be believed that the Creator would expose His Son to that kind of death on which He had Himself pronounced a curse. "Cursed "says He, "is every one who hangeth on a tree.". You cannot establish a diversity of authors because there happens to be one of things; for the diversity is itself proposed by one and the same author. Why, however, "Christ was made a curse for us". But yet it by no means follows, because the Creator said of old, "Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree". Nay, but you do blaspheme; because you allege not only that the Father died, but that He died the death of the cross. For "cursed are they which are hanged on a tree". nor indeed did the apostle utter blasphemy when he said the same thing as we. The Lord Himself was "cursed "in the eye of the law;. Why, in this very standing of yours there was a fleeing from persecution, in the release from persecution which you bought; but that you should ransom with money a man whom Christ has ransomed with His blood, how unworthy is it of God and His ways of acting, who spared not His own Son for you, that He might be made a curse for us, because cursed is he that hangeth on a tree,

  • Tertullian of Carthage, A.D. 220

Then I replied, "Just as God commanded the sign to be made by the brazen serpent, and yet He is blameless; even so, though a curse lies in the law against persons who are crucified, yet no curse lies on the Christ of God, by whom all that have committed things worthy of a curse are saved.

  • Justin Martyr, A.D. 165

Christ was made a curse for us. Christ, though blessed in Himself, was made a curse, so far as He took on Him the person of sinners, to expiate the curse due because of their sins. Just as if a man make himself responsible for another"s debt, he becomes and is called a debtor, so Christ was made a curse for us. The term, however, cannot be properly applied to Him, for though a debt may be transferred, sin cannot. It is only applied to Him improperly, in the sense that He took upon Him the punishment of sin. In 2 Corinthians 5:21, Christ is said to have been made sin for us, i.e, a victim for sin, according to the Jewish rite by which, through the imposition of hands, the whole body of sin was transferred to the victim. So here He is called a curse, because God transferred to Him the curses due to the whole human race, so that He bore for us the shameful Cross, to show the hideousness of sin as well as to give an example of every virtue. He hung on the Cross, says S. Augustine, "in order that Christian freedom, unlike Jewish slavery, might fear not only no death, but no kind of death" (contra Adimant. c21). So too Tertullian: "The Lord Himself was cursed in the law, and yet He alone was blessed. Therefore let us, His servants, follow our Lord, and patiently endure cursing, that we may be blessed." (de Patienciâ, c8). For it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree. This is from Deuteronomy 21:23. Aquila and Theodotion render the clause, The curse of God is hanged; Symmachus, He was hanged for blasphemy against God; Ebion, the half-Jewish, half-Christian heresiarch, as Jerome calls him, rendered it, He who hangs is an outrage on God; another, The insult against God is hanged. Jerome adds that his Hebrew teacher (Barhanina) told him that the Hebrew might be translated, God was ignominiously hanged. Hence S. Jerome infers, that as S. Paul does not mention the name of God, that name was not in the original, but afterwards inserted by some Jew, in derision of the Christians. But this is improbable, for all the Hebrew, Latin, and Greek texts, as well as the LXX. version, have the name of God in this text of Deuteronomy. It was, therefore, out of zeal for God that Paul omitted His name, and because of the Jews and the Galatians , already half-disposed to forsake Christ. He feared lest he might alienate them still further if he said that Christ had been cursed by God.

  1. From this and other passages, such as Numbers 25:24, Joshua 8:29, 2 Samuel 21:9, it appears that the Jews, contrary to the opinion expressed by some, punished criminals with crucifixion, as well as stoning or burning.
  2. They adopted crucifixion for the most heinous crimes, such as blasphemy, idolatry, oppression, and accordingly they crucified Christ for aiming at a kingship over Juda. Hence criminals so punished were held in greater execration than others, accursed by God and man. It was not among the Romans alone that the punishment of crucifixion was regarded as infamous above all others.
  3. Although Tostatus extends by analogy the provisions of Deuteronomy 21:23 to other modes of punishment besides crucifixion, yet there is little warrant for doing so. The law imposes this penalty precisely on hanged criminals alone, on the ground that they were specially execrable. It may be asked why God commanded the bodies of such criminals to be buried before the evening. The answer is to be found in Josh. viii28 , and the comments of Andreas Masius on it. "It Isaiah ," he says, "because such a corps is regarded as contaminating the earth; for as long as human bodies are left neglected and unburied, like the bodies of brute beasts, men who dwell on the earth are apt to conceive an impious and pernicious opinion of the soul"s mortality." This explanation is more ingenious than true. It proves too much, and applies to all criminals, however killed; but the law regards those only who were hanged on a tree. The opinion, therefore, of Cajetan and others is preferable, viz, that God wishes to blot out the remembrance of such men entirely from the earth, as a deterrent to others. So too poisoning, arson, fraud, and sodomy were punished with death by fire, the fire annihilating the bodies of those guilty of such atrocities. We should note the Scripture phraseology here. The earth is said to be polluted by crimes, to groan, to cry aloud, to be angry, to call for vengeance, nay, to cast out its inhabiters, as, e.g, in Leviticus 18:28. The figure is a prosopopÅ“ia, by which life and feeling are attributed to inanimate things, so that the earth and the elements, as irrational creatures serving their Creator and jealous for His honour, detest what He detests. They do this by a sort of natural instinct, which keeps them true to their place and the universal good, and eager to fulfil the will of God. This natural instinct makes them do what they would do in obedience to reason if they were rational creatures. It was in accordance with this law of Deuteronomy that Christ, as a suspended malefactor, was taken from the Cross and buried, before the evening of the day on which He suffered, the next day being a Sabbath, although strictly speaking He was exempted from this law by His innocence. Hence the Hebrew of S. Jerome, before quoted, held that the law could be prophetically rendered: "His body," i.e, Christ"s, "shall not remain on the tree because God was ignominiously hanged." The Jews, however, did not rely on this law for their action in taking him down from the Cross, but on the dishonour that would otherwise be done to the great Sabbath that was close at hand, as is clear from S. John 19:31. This law of Deuteronomy was a judicial law, and, therefore, abrogated with the whole judicial and ceremonial law, by the death of Christ. Consequently crucified criminals are not now reckoned as cursed above others, nor are they buried on the same day, but are sometimes allowed to hang for days and weeks for a terror to other evil-doers. S. Jerome remarks on this passage. "The Lord"s shame is our glory. He died that we might live. Ye descended into hell that we ascend to heaven. He was made foolishness that we might become wise. He emptied Himself of His fulness, and put off the form of God, and put on the form of a servant, that the fulness of the God-head might dwell in us, and that we might be changed from slaves into masters. He hung on the Cross, that the tree of shame might destroy the sin which we had committed through the tree of knowledge. His Cross made the bitter waters sweet, and made the lost axe swim in Jordan. Finally, He was made a curse—made, not born—that the blessings which had been promised to Abraham, with Him as author and herald, might be transferred to the Gentiles, and the promise of His spirit might by faith be fuelled in us." See too the notes of Chrysostom and Anselm.

G- Cornelius a Lapide, A.D. 1637

Read more commentaries at https://catenabible.com/com/5735dff2ec4bd7c9723bb0c0

  • +1 I would certainly mark that as the answer if it were my question.
    – Ruminator
    Jul 9, 2020 at 20:20

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .