18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,” (I Peter 3:18).
In Jesus Christ, we see the person responsible for substitutionary atonement. Jesus the Messiah is the only one who is identified as one who suffered once for sins. The word suffered (πάσχω; pascho) means to experience pain. Certainly, Jesus experienced excruciating physical pain and suffering while on the cross. But so did the two thieves crucified with Him. What made Jesus’ death on a cross different?
Peter gives us the answer this way: “Christ also suffered once for sins.” The phrase “once for sins” gives us the insight to the distinct difference in Jesus’ death. Jesus did not die because of sins He committed, but rather died on behalf of sinners like you and me.
The word “once” (ἅπαξ; hapax) means once and for all or once and never again. Jesus did not have to continually die again and again on behalf of sinners. One time was enough. The word once means one for all kinds of people and not once upon a time. “For sins” (περί ἁμαρτία; peri hamartia) means that Jesus died, and only died, on behalf of or with regard to those who have done wrong: sinners.
Romans 6:10 says, “For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.”
Hebrews 10:8-10 says, “8 First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”—though they were offered in accordance with the law. 9 Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second.10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
Peter wants persecuted believers to understand that the example of Christ should stir us to patient endurance. The death He died was for our sins, not his (I Peter 1:18). Jesus was, and remains, the sinner’s sin offering (Lev. 5:7; 6:30).
May we be strong in Christ remembering that the life we live, we live for Christ and the death we die should honor Christ. Have a blessed day!
Soli deo Gloria!