Suffering vs. Punishment

Adherents to the Commercial Transaction Theory rightly believe that guilty sinners deserve to be punished. The theory falters, however, when it represents Christ paying the Father an equal amount of suffering in His own person that sinners would have otherwise been liable to pay. But if Christ was punished to purchase our salvation:

  1. This would require satisfaction of retributive rather than public justice. (Remember no amount of punishment will render a sinner less guilty. Guilt can only be forgiven, not punished away.)
  2. Punishment implies guilt. (It would be unjust for God to punish an innocent person.)

The difference between suffering and punishment is simply this: One is involuntary while the other is voluntary. The Bible clearly teaches that Christ willingly suffered and died for our sins.

Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father. John 10:17–18

Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin. John 19:10–11