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 PatienciÃ¢, 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.