Sin and Sin-Offering
"Him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf;
that we might become the righteousness of God in him"
(2nd Corinthians 5.21, R.V.)
"God, sending his own Son in the likeness of flesh of sin and as an offering for sin,
condemned sin in the flesh"
(Romans 8.3, R.V. and marg.)
Of all the lesser emendations made by the revisers of the New Testament, none is more acceptable than that of Rom. 8.3. In this short passage are included the doctrines that sin is a constituent of the fleshly organization; that our Lord was constituted as to his physical nature in this likeness (cp. 1 Cor. 15.49); that he was sacrificed as a sin-offering, and that since this sacrifice was of a Holy One, who did no sin yet "died unto sin" (Rom. 6.10), sin became condemned in human nature and so could be taken away from it-in the person of the risen Saviour-with full satisfaction to the justice of God.
Some translators and expositors have not shown the same wisdom and knowledge as the revisers, but have allowed themselves to insert "sin-offering" in quite a number of passages where the original does not warrant it. Before we give examples we will show upon what their action is based.
We are given to understand that "sin" and "sin-offering" are the same in the Hebrew of the Old Testament. These translators, therefore, assume that the same rule applies to the Greek of the N.T., hence their errors.
The Greek for "sin" in these cases is hamartia. The translators of the Septuagint, faced with the need to render clearly in Greek what might be doubtful if translated literally, used the phrase peri hamartias (concerning sin) to indicate "sin-offering". Consequently, where they did not use this phrase, but rendered the Hebrew by hamartia, they made it clear that in such passages "sin" was meant.One is sometimes directed to Hosea 4.8,as being a place where "sin" means"sin-offering", but the R.V., supported by the LXX, makes it plain enough that the priests "fed on the sin of the people", i.e., they made sins a source of profit, like the Roman Church.
From its use in the LXX peri hamartias became the current and proper expression in Greek, just as "sin-offering" is in English, whilst hamartia continued to be used for "sin". The revisers were therefore abundantly justified in their emendation in Rom. 8.3, and wherever else peri hamartias is found. Examples of this phrase in the LXX are found in Num.7.16, and in Psa. 40.6, and in the Greek N.T. in Gal.1.4, and Heb. 10.6, 8, 18, 26, as well as Rom. 8.3.
The attempt, then, to force upon hamartia a meaning which it will not bear is to be condemned, and the consequent endeavour to foist unwarranted meanings on texts of scripture is to be resisted. Examples are:- Heb. 9.28 R,V. "Apart from sin", wrongly rendered in Young's translation, "Apart from a sin-offering", and the first verse at the head of this article. The force of the latter passage lies in the antithesis between sin and righteousness; that Jesus was, though sinless, constituted of our sinful nature in order that we, through him, might "become partakers of the divine nature": the erroneous rendering, "made a sin-offering" (Emphatic Diaglott, etc.), obscures the antithesis and weakens the passage as a testimony to our Lord's nature. It is hoped that these remarks may assist in right understanding of the Word of Truth.
W.J.Y. 'The Christadelphian', November 10th, 1913.