The 2 Corinthians 5:21 Meaning (he became sin who knew no sin)

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21

This profound verse encapsulates the Gospel message and the transformative power of Jesus’ work on the cross. This short verse packs a large punch. The 2 Corinthians 5:21 meaning points to the foundational truth for all Christians. 

As we unpack this verse we will see how he became sin who knew no sin should change everything in our lives and faith. This is a powerful verse that every Christian should know and apply to their lives. 

The Context Of 2 Corinthians 5:21

Throughout 2 Corinthians Paul urges the Corinthian church to live out their faith. One of the common themes throughout is showing how Jesus is greater than the temporary suffering we experience in this life. 

As we get to 2 Corinthians 5 Paul encourages his readers to keep their eyes on the eternal prize and not the temporary things in this life. He uses his life as an example; he continually suffers for preaching the Gospel. But he doesn’t stop; he keeps his eyes forward and shows people God’s love. 

Paul’s focus in this chapter is that we should have the same mindset (2 Corinthians 5:6). We should be reconciled to God and bring this good news to those around us. Rather than focusing on what is temporary, we should focus on the eternal prize that’s waiting for us. We should live by faith and not by sight

How is this possible? Through the work of Jesus. Paul is constantly reminding his audience that they have been reconciled to God. Their sins are no longer counted against them, and they can have an incredible life through God. God’s love compels Paul to proclaim this message, and we too should be Christ’s ambassador

The 2 Corinthians 5:21 Meaning 

Now that we’ve looked at the context, let’s dive into the 2 Corinthians 5:21 meaning.

God Made Him Who Had No Sin To Be Sin For Us

The best way to understand he became sin who knew no sin is to start with what it doesn’t mean. This verse is not saying that Jesus became sin itself or a sinner. Jesus bore our sins, but he himself was never guilty of sin personally. 

Our sin separates us from God and keeps us from entering into a relationship with our creator. Not only that, sin keeps us from finding the peace and joy that God has for us. On our own, we have no way of getting back to God. 

2 Corinthians 5:21 is pointing to how Jesus took our place and paid the price for our sins. He did not deserve death because he never sinned; he willingly took on our punishment. He made a way for us not because we are deserving but because he loves us. 

So That In Him We Might Become The Righteousness Of God 

So, what does this mean for us that he became sin who knew no sin?The second half of this verse gives us the answer. He became sin so that we might become the righteousness of God. 

On the cross, our sins were attributed to Jesus. He took on our sin and paid the price. Now Christ’s righteousness is attributed to us. We are not righteous ourselves, rather Jesus’ righteousness is applied to us. 

Our sin separates us from God, but because of Jesus’ work, the separation is removed. We can now enter back into a relationship with our creator and find peace and joy in him. 

This is the gospel message, the good news. This is what Paul is proclaiming, that all can find forgiveness in Jesus just as he has. It’s a message he will go to the grave proclaiming. 

How 2 Corinthians 5:21 Applies To Your Life 

So, how do we apply the 2 Corinthians 5:21 meaning to our lives today? Here are two ways you can live it out. 

1. Embrace Your New Identity 

Jesus has demonstrated his great love for us by taking on our sins and paying the debt we racked up. For followers of Jesus, this should never stop filling us with gratitude and awe and lead us to live a life of devotion to God. 

Because of Jesus, we have a new identity in him. We are no longer sinners without hope; we are loved by our Creator and can find a new life in him. Our sins aren’t counted against us; instead, we are recipients of God’s righteousness. Therefore we should strive to live in a manner worthy of this incredible gift. 

The meaning of 2 Corinthians 5:21 centers around Jesus’ sacrifice for us. But it doesn’t end there. We shouldn’t keep this incredible truth to ourselves, we should share it with those around us. 

2. Invite Others Into The Life You’ve Found In Jesus 

Not only should we embrace our new identity, we should invite others to discover this incredible life. When Paul experienced the grace of God he was transformed and went out and told everyone he could about the life he had found in Jesus. We should do the same. 

Once we’ve been transformed by God’s love we are called to go tell those around us. Our lives and our experiences are a testimony to the goodness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21 challenges us to be bold and tells others about the life that’s available to them through Christ. 

Now check out: What 2 Chronicles 7:14 REALLY Means (if my people…)

Jeffery Curtis Poor
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