Regardless of whether Jesus is God or not, why do some stridently hold to, 'Jesus can only cover sin by His own death as God'?

Until Jesus' perfect sacrifice/offering, the law required an animal to remedy the debt of sin each person/Israelite had before God. An animal was killed, blood was spilt to cover the sinner's guilt so they be 'cleansed' and made right with God again.

Your lamb must be an unblemished year-old male, and you may take it from the sheep or the goats. Ex 12:5

Paul explains a lot about Christ's sacrifice being sufficient to cover all sin - by him faithful believers are made free from the debt of sin - past present and future. Naturally, all mankind is covered by this sacrifice except the few that may fall outside for some reason or their own choosing.

For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified Heb 10:14

But now He has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. Heb 9:26

we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, through His flesh 10:19-20

He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. 9 And having been perfected, He became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey Him Heb 5:8

Jesus is holy and without sin why would this human only sacrifice not be enough?


I thought it would be assumed that Jesus is holy and sinless because his Father is God (as scripture provides). Thus he has no inherited sin, and is not a just a 'good' man. Clearly any man apart from Jesus would not suffice.

  • There really is nothing biblically that supports that Jesus had to be more than human in order for his sacrifice to be good enough, other than the argument that only God can be perfectly sinless. That said there are certainly angels who are perfectly sinless since they remain in God's presence so, I dunno.
    – Austin
    Commented Apr 14, 2021 at 5:46
  • 1
    ah yes, I see your point
    – steveowen
    Commented Apr 14, 2021 at 5:51
  • 2
    There is no divine element then it is not effective or applicable today through time and space. The accomplishment must be through the eternal Spirit so that it is ever ready to be applied through spacetime and beyond
    – pehkay
    Commented Apr 21, 2021 at 11:13
  • 1
    that doesn't make sense - would you expand/rewrite? Not a good thing to 'read b/w the lines' with.
    – steveowen
    Commented Apr 21, 2021 at 11:16
  • 1
    @Adam "Only God can forgive sins, no man can do this" that is untrue. The bible presents a contrary view. Matt 9:8 John 20:22
    – steveowen
    Commented Apr 21, 2021 at 21:43

6 Answers 6


God gave detailed instructions on how and when animal sacrifices were to be offered to cover sin. The underlying principle is that blood has to be shed for the forgiveness of sins:

Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins (Hebrews 9:22).

This was to continue until Christ came to offer the ultimate, perfect sacrifice, which made animal sacrifice no longer necessary.

But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins, because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins (Hebrews 10:3–4).

Yes, Jesus is holy and without sin, so why would a perfect human sacrifice be insufficient if he was only a man?

One human life, even the life of a perfect man, couldn’t possibly cover the sins of the multitudes who ever existed. Neither could one finite human life atone for sin against an infinite God. The only viable sacrifice must be an infinite one, which means only God, manifest in flesh, could atone for the sins of the elect. Only God, an infinite Being, could pay the penalty owed to Himself. This is why God became manifest in flesh to dwell among men (John 1:14). No other sacrifice would suffice.

God the Son sacrificed Himself to God the Father and thereby fulfilled all the requirements of the Law. Unlike the temporary sacrifices, Jesus’ once-for-all-time sacrifice was followed by His resurrection. He laid down His life and took it up again, thereby providing eternal life for all who would ever believe in Him and accept His sacrifice for their sins. He did this out of love for the Father and for all those the Father has given Him (John 6:37–40).

Sin entered the world through Adam, and Adam’s sinful nature has been transferred to every baby born into the world (Romans 5:12)—except for Jesus. Because Jesus did not have a human father, He did not inherit a sin nature. He possessed the divine nature from His Heavenly Father.

Jesus, the Word, became flesh in order to dwell among us (John 1:14). Jesus came (from heaven) to give his life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45).

Jesus was the final, perfect sacrifice that satisfied forever God’s wrath against sin (Hebrews 10:14). His divine nature made Him fit for the work of Redeemer; His human body allowed Him to shed the blood necessary to redeem. No human being with a sin nature could pay such a debt. No one else could meet the requirements to become the sacrifice for the sins of those whom God had chosen, the elect (Matthew 26:28; 1 John 2:2). If Jesus were merely a good man as some claim, then He had a sin nature and was not perfect. In that case, His death and resurrection would have no power to save anyone.

Because Jesus was God manifest in flesh, He could pay the debt we owed to God.

  • "only God Himself could atone for the sins of mankind" there is no biblical support for this idea - you have not provided any...
    – steveowen
    Commented Apr 21, 2021 at 20:58
  • 3
    @user47952 'Gave his life a ransom for many ' is quite sufficient proof. One man, if perfect, could only atone for one man. Christ suffered for sins, the sins of a vast multitude which no man can number, in his own body on the tree. This is sheer logic. God alone could do this. No mere mortal man could do so.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Apr 22, 2021 at 8:23
  • 1
    @user47952 The elect are born sinners, just like everyone else. They are ungodly up till the moment they recognise they are sinners and they repent, after which they experience the spiritual rebirth and are adopted into God’s family. If Jesus was only fully human (with a human father and a human mother) then he would have inherited sin, just like everyone else. Read John 8:7, Romans 5:12 and 1 John 1:8. My apologies for not making that clear in my answer.
    – Lesley
    Commented Apr 22, 2021 at 14:23
  • 1
    @user47952 As a Bible-believing Christian I know that Jesus did not have a human father - his father is God. Trinitarians understand this, but anti-trinitarians deny the deity of the pre-incarnate Jesus - that he pre-existed in heaven from eternity and was known as the Word, who then came to earth to become human. But he did not give up his divinity. Anti-trinitarians seem to mistakenly think that the Son and the Father are one and the same being. They are not. The Son is part of the One Being who is God. Please be aware that when Jesus died, God the Father did not also die.
    – Lesley
    Commented Apr 23, 2021 at 10:00
  • 3
    @ user47952 ... if Jesus is just a man than would you please explain Isaiah 9:6? "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government will be upon His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
    – Adam
    Commented May 12, 2021 at 3:58

The first consideration needs to be, ‘What IS a perfect sacrifice?’ That is, from God’s point of view. The second consideration needs to be, ‘Why must Jesus be human to be a perfect sacrifice?’ The third consideration needs to be, ‘Why must Jesus also be God to be a perfect sacrifice?’

1 – What IS a perfect sacrifice? God provides the answer in the Bible, first, in a negative sense: “For it is impossible for blood of bulls and of goats to take away sins.” Those animal sacrifices in the ancient nation of Israel were but a reminder of their sin, and the need to approach God carefully, his way, with due consideration for their sins to be symbolically taken up and away, in God’s sight. The previous verses explain this:

“For the law having a shadow of the coming good things – not the very image of the matters, every year, by the same sacrifices that they offer continually, is never able to make perfect those coming near.” The point is made that had animal sacrifices been perfect sacrifices, there would have been no need to keep doing more and more had the guilty had their consciences purified by one perfect sacrifice. No, animal sacrifices only served as “a remembrance of sins every year.”

Then, in a positive sense, that same text explains further that the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ only needed to happen once, because that perfect human body was prepared by God for him to offer back to God, that the saved have: “been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once… for by the one offering he hath perfected to the end those sanctified.” (Hebrews 10:1-25 YLT)

The only perfect sacrifice there has ever been was that of the body of Christ Jesus and – it being the only perfect sacrifice ever, no more sacrifices were required.

2 – Why must Jesus be human to be a perfect sacrifice? Again, God’s word In Hebrews (chapter 9 now) states that “…with blood almost all things are purified according to the law, and apart from blood-shedding forgiveness does not come… nor that he may many times offer himself… so also Christ, once having been offered to bear the sins of many…”

As blood represents life, which is God-given, it should always be viewed as sacred and must never be eaten or drunk but returned to the earth – Leviticus 17:11 & Deuteronomy 12:23. That is why biblical sacrifices to God required a living soul with blood in the veins, to have that blood shed. Hence, the only perfect sacrifice had to be a perfect body with blood in the veins, sacrificed to God.

Therefore, Jesus had to have a perfect human body with blood in his veins. That is what God prepared for him. Jesus could not be a mere apparition of humanity. He had to be fully human to fully represent all humanity.

3 – Why must Jesus be God to be a perfect sacrifice? God is Spirit. God is a divine Being and by nature, divinity is what God is. That is the nature of his Being. A human being is, by nature, human. That is what a human is. That is the nature of humanity. You cannot become what you are not. God has always been God, for that is the very nature of his Being; that is what he is. Yet the one who made everything that was made (the Word of God, who was with God in the beginning, and who is God – John 1:1-3) made man in his image. Therefore, the Word, who became flesh as the man, Jesus, was not becoming what he was not. He was appearing in the flesh, human flesh, which he had made in the beginning as the first man, Adam. Spirit has no blood. Therefore, the Word became flesh [and blood] “and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, that of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

The text in John 1 states that the Word, who became the man, Jesus, was God. You ask “Why?” Because all humans stood condemned under God’s law as law-breakers. The first Adam brought about that collapse into sin which none of us can extricate ourselves from. Now, if the man, Jesus, had not been God incarnate, but born as are all humans from the stock of Adam, he would have been in the same plight as ourselves. He would have required another to cover his own sin. He could never have been sinless. No creature (i.e. a created being, as are all human beings, as are all angelic beings) could have the magnitude of deity needed to deal with the immensity of sin, death, and the devil.

This is where the love of God becomes staggeringly awesome. God knew that nothing we could do would save us from the punishment due for our many sins, so the Son of God agreed to become a flesh and blood human, to be the one, perfect sacrifice, where God would pour out on him the punishment due for all sinners who were to be reconciled to himself. Christ became sin as he died (for “accursed is every one hung on a tree” – Deuteronomy 21:23), though he was without sin! And, because he died sinless, death could not hold him. God raised his Son from the dead as proof that he truly was, and is, the Son of God (which is an ascription of deity). See Romans 1:1-4.

As the question itself raises the vital point of blood being shed to deal with sin, I have agreed with that, then gone on to show that sinlessness can never be achieved by a created human being, so for a once-for-all-time perfect sacrifice of blood, a sinless human was required who was uncreated. That only ever could be the one who created humanity in his image - the one who made everything that was made, hence (logically) not having been made (created) himself - God incarnate.

  • 2
    Like yourself, I immediately thought of the Hebrews text 'For it is impossible for blood of bulls and of goats to take away sins.' Animal sacrifices never took away a single sin. Nor would a human substitute for an animal do so, for the sins of all God's people. Only the extension of the humanity of Christ within the Deity of Christ is sufficient scope for God almighty to resolve the sins of a vast multitude which no man can number, within the sufferer on the tree. (Up-voted +1.)
    – Nigel J
    Commented Apr 22, 2021 at 8:45
  • 2
    You have approached this question well and Psalm 49:7-9 backs it up: "Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life, for the ransom of their life is costly and can never suffice, that he should live on forever and never see the pit." If Jesus were merely human this Psalm would be a lie. Commented Apr 22, 2021 at 11:27
  • 1
    @MikeBorden—Keep going. Psa. 49:15: “But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave...” God does what man cannot. Hence, it is necessary for Jesus to be God, because man cannot redeem man from the power of the grave. Commented May 12, 2021 at 4:08
  • 2
    @ Der Ubermensch I noted your comment to Mike Borden who can respond for himself, but I must point out the Jesus prophesied that HE would raise his body back to life (Jn 2:19-21 & 10:18); the Holy Spirit raised Christ’s body back to life (Rom 1:4 & 1 Pet 3:18), the Father raised the Son’s body back to life (Acts 2:24 & Rom 6:4 & 2 Cor 4:14). This shows how the one Being of God ‘operates’ in tri-unity. Jesus had to be God incarnate to have power (authority) to give his life (in death) and to take it up again.
    – Anne
    Commented May 12, 2021 at 7:24

There are so many questions arising from Scripture where the answer from God really is, "Because I said so." I find that I dislike this response only slightly less than when I was a child and yet God is not obligated to explain further.

I imagine being at Jericho - "Why must we march around this city for 6 days and then 7 times on the 7th day? How is that going to do anything?"

I imagine being a priest in the temple (Leviticus 14) - "Why must I put blood and then, later, oil on the earlobe, right thumb, and right big toe of this person who needs cleansing? How can that possibly work?"

I imagine being Abraham - "Why must I offer this child, through whom the promise is given, as a burnt offering? How can I inherit the promise by killing it?"

Scripture is chock full of these types of things and many much more profound and unsearchable.

For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all. - Romans 11:32

Why must this be the way?

And yet, if we are diligent and humble, if we seek the Lord and believe in His Word, He has provided some answers for us, buried like treasure in a field, like pearls of great price. These answers do not aim at satisfying human intellect...they satisfy faith, which saves by grace.

"Jesus is holy and without sin why would this human only sacrifice not be enough?"

Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life, for the ransom of their life is costly and can never suffice, that he should live on forever and never see the pit.- Psalm 49:7-9

Because God has said so.

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. - Romans 11:33-36

  • 1
    I thought you were going to finish appropriately with this, For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive an abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ! Rom 5:17 You were off to such a good start!
    – steveowen
    Commented Apr 22, 2021 at 12:01
  • 2
    Does this verse say "through the one man who is only a man, Jesus Christ"? Commented Apr 22, 2021 at 12:11
  • 1
    LOL, does it NEED to? Do you NEED to read in more than it provides? Do you NEED to add a whole other dimension that the text does not even hint at? Seeing as the only few verses used to account for a J is G dogma are totally misused speaks volumes. Like 'I and the Father are one' etc etc. It's a pretty short list compared to all the 'J is a man' texts. who has a God, and can die.......................... Fascinating!
    – steveowen
    Commented Apr 22, 2021 at 12:18
  • 1
    You are the one reading in more than it provides for what I have italicized is what is in your thoughts. I do not deny that Jesus was a man, as the Scriptures affirm. Unlike some of the other answers here which try to state that a man can only provide ransom for one other person (and that's why Jesus has to be God) the Psalmist says that one man cannot ransom another..it can never suffice. That is pretty clear. So, if Jesus was human only he couldn't even save a single person. Commented Apr 22, 2021 at 12:46
  • 2
    Jesus (and the gospel writers, too) sure did quote an awful lot of Psalms. He (and they) appeared to take them at face value and give them a lot of theological weight. Imagine Jesus saying, "Hey take it easy with that, it's only a Psalm." Commented Apr 23, 2021 at 11:29

As the OP states, the Old Testament atonement was a spotless animal. What is missing, however, is the fact that this could happen daily for sin. And it is annually at the Day of Atonement.

Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD. Lev. 23:27

This had to be repeated annually because, while the outside may appear spotless, the inside was insufficient.

Within that command, we get a hint of Christ's sacrifice.

Ye shall do no manner of work: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath. Lev. 23:31-32

So, we find Christ's offering of Himself once for all time.

Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this he did once, when he offered up himself. Heb. 7:27

And the contrast between animals and Christ.

And every [Aaronic] priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man [Christ], after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; Heb 10:11-12

I must say it is unfortunate that some sects still attempt to offer blood not their own of that one sacrifice.

OP: Jesus is holy and without sin why would this human only sacrifice not be enough?

What made Him "holy and without sin"? He fulfilled the Law, which no man alone could do.

And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Luke 24:44

That He did.

For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: Romans 8:3

  • TY "He fulfilled the Law" this didn't make him holy, he was holy at birth. I'm not sure you got to the answer... why would this human only sacrifice not be enough?
    – steveowen
    Commented Apr 21, 2021 at 21:11
  • 2
    @user47952, he was holy from birth, however to maintain holiness he had to remain obedient.
    – Austin
    Commented Apr 22, 2021 at 13:38
  • @Austin indeed.
    – steveowen
    Commented Apr 23, 2021 at 10:12

If Jesus were only a sinless man, we would still have a great problem. His death would be good for only one man; in fact, it would be good for only one sin. God requires man to die because of sin—even one sin. Suppose in your entire life you committed only one sin. As a sinless man, Jesus could die as a substitute for that sin. But if you were to sin again you would have to die for that second sin. Well, you know that you have sinned more than once in your life! How could one man, Jesus, die for all your sins and for all the sins of mankind? And how could it work for us two thousand years after His death?

He was a genuine man, yet also the complete God. His being God added an eternal element to His redeeming blood. Hebrews 9:14 says that the Lord offered Himself up through the eternal Spirit. He has accomplished an eternal redemption for us (Heb. 9:12). Now Jesus' blood is effective for all men of all times. It can cleanse every sin of every man on the earth throughout time and space.

TLDR, Because of the eternal Spirit, the effectiveness of Christ's death has been universalized.

12 nor yet through the blood of goats and calves, but through his own blood, entered in once for all into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption.

14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish unto God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

So, the Spirit's operation in Christ's death, bears a timeless quality that renders it effective to all who believer in His sacrifice for theirs sins, including the Old Testament saints, who by faith, offered sacrifices to God and their consciences purged from sin (Rom. 3:25-31).


Why is it not enough for Jesus to be human to be the perfect sacrifice, why must he be God?

This is a very good question and a difficult one to explain with written words. I know the answer and will try my best to explain.

To atone for sin something must die. So if Jesus was human and was crucified on the cross for sin he would only be able to atone for 1 person's sin. So the sacrifice would do no good. But if Jesus was a form of God then he would be able to forgive ALL sin with one sacrifice. Jesus is not God but a form of God, he is God in human form.

I don't know if this makes complete sense or not, but feel free to ask follow-up questions.

  • Welcome to Christianity Stack Exchange. To understand how we are different to other sites and to see what we look for in well researched answers, please take our Tour: christianity.stackexchange.com/tour
    – Lesley
    Commented Apr 21, 2021 at 14:23

You must log in to answer this question.

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