This morning we will celebrate the holy Supper of our Lord in our home church. Our bulletin shows that our pastor will be preaching from the familiar passage in 2 Cor.5:21 – “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
The following is John Calvin’s interpretation (partial) of this text as found in his commentary on this epistle (Baker ed., vol.20, p.242):
…Righteousness, here, is not taken to denote a quality or habit, but by way of imputation, on the ground of Christ’s righteousness being reckoned to have been received by us. What, on the other hand, is denoted by sin? It is the guilt, on account of which we are arraigned at the bar of God. As, however, the curse of the individual was of old cast upon the victim, so Christ’s condemnation was our absolution, and with his stripes we are healed (Isaiah liii, 5).
…The righteousness of God is taken here to denote – not that which is given us by God, but that which is approved by him…. Farther, in Romans iii. 23, when he says, that we have come short of the glory of God, he means, that there is nothing that we can glory in before God, for it is no very difficult matter to appear righteous before men, but it is mere delusive appearance of righteousness, which becomes at last the ground of perdition. Hence, that is the only true righteousness, which is acceptable to God.
Let us now return to the contrast between righteousness and sin. How are we righteous in the sight of God? It is assuredly in the same respect in which Christ was a sinner. For he assumed in a manner our place, that he might be a criminal in our room, and might be dealt with as a sinner, not for his own offenses, but for those of others, inasmuch as he was pure and exempt from every fault, and might endure the punishment that was due to us – not to himself. It is in the same manner, assuredly, that we are now righteous in him – not in respect of our rendering satisfaction to the justice of God by our own works, but because we are judged of in connection with Christ’s righteousness, which we have put on us by faith, that it might become ours.