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The Work of Christ

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World Religions

Case Story on the work of Christ

Total Marks - 18


Question 1 and 2 - List the theories that are biblically and theologically accurate or inaccurate (Marks 3) & Give reasons or explanations for the doctrinal truth or falsehood for each one of these cases (Marks 12) :

Case 1

        Developed by Origen around 185 - 254 AD, The Ransom to Satan Theory aims to protest and advocate that Satan held people as captive as a victor during war time. The theory strongly states that the death of Christ on the cross was a ransom to the evil one rather than to God to liberate the captives. Hebrews 2:14, “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power to death - that is, the evil -”, supports The Ransom to Satan Theory as it assures that the death of Christ would destroy the evil power. Such biblical evidence may make The Ransom to Satan Theory seem plausible upon the surface; however, upon closer examination, it is evident that the theory is both biblically and theologically incorrect. It is biblically inaccurate because the Bible never recorded the debt was from Satan and this theory gives Satan much more authority and credit than he really has. This perspective degrades God’s deity as the theory believes that Satan has authority over God, which is theologically inaccurate. Furthermore, Mark 10:45 states that,  “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many”. This proves that the theory is erroneous as nowhere in this verse mentioned that Jesus’ sacrifice was for Satan. This theory is an offence to God’s holiness and it is only in God that had the power to free mankind of their sins. Second, even if this theory was true, it would make Satan the benefactor of Christ’s death and that would place Satan too high a role in redemption. God would never make a payment to Satan. The death of Christ was not a ransom to Satan, but rather a judgment of Satan and liberating man.

Case 2

Theorized by Irenaeus during 125-202 AD, The Recapitulation theory sees Christ as a new Adam. It points out that the main difference between Christ and Adam is that Christ systematically undid what Adam did in the Garden of Eden and was obedient to God till His death on the tree. In a first glance, this theory seems to be accurate as 1 Corinthians 14:45 states that Christ is known as the Last Adam, “So it is written: The first man Adam became a living being; the last Adam, a life giving spirit”. This bible verse can create misunderstanding by making The Recapitulation theory biblically accurate. However, once being examined with close scrutiny, it is also proven to be both biblically and theologically inaccurate . This is because Christ had never personally sin. Rather, He was pure and rid of sin, as stated in John 3:5, “But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin.” Thus, this proves that The Recapitulation theory is biblically inaccurate. 1 Peter 2:22 further disapproves The Recapitulation theory and proves that it is biblically inaccurate. The day He was sent down to earth by God, Jesus came down as a human, in which He experienced emotions man has: Jesus felt happiness, pain and anguish. However, he lived out a sinless life. Moreover, the atonement is not mentioned in this theory. The atonement is when Christ laid His life down for mankind to cleanse man with His pure blood. Hence, it is overall biblically and theologically inaccurate. Christ did not saved mankind through his “recapitulated” life, but he saved mankind through His death on the cross.

Case 3

The Commercial Theory is setted by Anselm, who believes that God was robbed of the honour due to Him because of sin, and He chose to gain back the honour through satisfaction, to satisfy His just wrath against mankind which is the death of Jesus and not through punishment. He passed this gift to the sinner and those who live by the gospel will have eternal life. This view did change from the ransom for ransom for Satan to ransom to God, as God did not owe anything to Satan and it would make more sense for the ransom to be paid for the honour of God. Yet, there were still neglection of the emphasizing that the death of Christ was for the penalty of sin. This view also embraced the concept of the Roman Catholic concept of “so much satisfaction for so much violation”, implying that the theory is theologically inaccurate. Most importantly, the problem with this theory is that the motivation of God’s atoning work is holiness rather than love. Also, there are no verses that suggest it was God’s holiness that was the motivation for the atoning work, which proves that The Commercial Theory is biblically inaccurate.  Thus,this theory denies the true spiritual state of unregenerate sinners and their need of a completely new nature, available only in Christ, making it both biblically and theologically erroneous.

Case 4

The Moral Influence Theory holds that the atonement is not for the purpose of satisfying divine justice, but rather of expressing divine love. God expression of his love through Christ’s death is the only part in this theory that is accurate. However, it cannot be the only and fundamental reason of death of the Christ. The Moral Influence Theory is both biblically and theologically fallacious. By claiming God demonstrated His love for humanity through Christ’s death so that sinner’s hearts would be softened and therefore leading the sinner to repentance. Such view places basis for the death of Christ as His love rather than His holiness. This goes against the Bible, as in Matt. 20:28, it is clearly proven that the death of Christ was substitutionary. This means that through Christ’s death, the sinner is justified before a holy God, not merely influenced by a demonstration of love.  Even though Christ’s death is an expression of God’s love, man knew that God loved him long before Christ came. Moreover, this theory is erroneous as it presents Christ as suffering with the sinner rather than in the sinner’s staed. The supporters of The Moral Influence Theory believe that the purpose and meaning of Christ’s death was to demonstrate God’s love toward man. Although Christ’s sacrifice demonstrates God’s love, the theory is unbiblical primary because it goes against Ephesians 2:1, which states that the true spiritual condition of man is dead in transgressions and sins as well as denying the fact that God actually requires a payment for sin.



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