It is finished!

In the Greek, Christ's cry from the cross, "It is finished!" is an accounting term, meaning that the debt had been paid in full. Justice had been satisfied by full payment of its penalty, and thus God could "be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus" (Rom 3:26).

    Answer: This is a fanciful approach to the idea of Eternal Security that has come into popularity in recent years. The argument seems like it is sound and is based upon the Greek term [teleo] which can be translated as "paid". This is a fact, and as a fact it cannot be ignored.

1. "In the Greek, Christ's cry from the cross, "It is finished!" is an accounting term." What we need to realize is that another important fact is conveniently ignored in this statement which is that the same word can mean finished, complete, accomplished, fulfilled, and to bring to an end. It is not always an accounting term as is implied by his statement.

2. Because we have so many different meanings to this singular Greek word, we must look at the context to see which is the preferable translation. It is extremely doubtful that Jesus uttered this statement in an effort to apply any and all meanings of this one word to His death. If this is the case, then we must ask why no reputable translation of the Bible inserts "Paid in full" in place of "It is finished"?

A. The first reason is that the context determines the meaning of the word used in this passage. The obvious contextual translation is "It is finished," or accomplished/complete. His work on the cross on behalf of man has come to an end. To say "paid in full" would deviate from the direction the context is leading us. It is also significant to ask why those in the Apostolic Church, who read the Greek and were close to those who were taught by the disciples never seem to have pressed this interpretation into play. The reason should be obvious, such an idea of atonement never crossed their minds because the Apostles never taught this doctrine!

B. The context uses the same term twice; once in verse 28, and the one in question in verse 30. Tetelestai in verse 28 is, "After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, (tetelestai) that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith..."This sets the meaning of "it is finished" (tetelestai) in verse 30. Jesus is confirming in His own words what was accomplished. If the meaning in verse 28 is "accomplished, finished, completed," it makes little or no sense to deviate from its purposeful meaning of "accomplished, finished, complete," in verse 30. If we say verse 30 must mean "paid in full," then verse 28 must have the same meaning, for it is talking about the same thing. Observe the awkwardness if this approach, "After this, Jesus knowing that all things were paid in full, (tetelestai) that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith...""he said, paid in full." (tetelestai). If this were not awkward enough, note that verse 28 specifically states, "that the scripture might be fulfilled." Not once does the Scripture speak of the Cross being a payment, so it is impossible that verse 28, and consequently verse 30 can be translated that way and be true to a fulfillment of Scripture!

C. The most important reason is that there is no Biblical warrant to make such an assertion. There are no passages in the entire Bible that states that anything was paid for on the cross! The Bible never suggests that anyone was paid any amount, or if they were, whom it was that was paid. The entire Old Testament alludes to reconciliation through sacrifice, but never once does it make any reference reconciliation by a payment of an account. The New Testament makes references to the sacrificial system and to the judicial system, but never, not even once does it state that anything or anyone was ever paid. There are no parallel passages that would justify imposing such a translation on this passage! Any translator of the Bible that did not want to be laughed out of a job would ever insist on such a wild and unwarranted assertion that it should be translated "paid in full" as is evidenced in every translation that has ever received the acceptance of scholars and the believing public.

D. There is a serious lack of any linguistic history for the argument that the meaning is "paid in full." Such a translation has been missed by the greatest commentators and linguists if the past 2000 years if this is true! It would not surprise me that we cannot find such a translation before 16th century since the Penal Substitution Theory had not been invented yet. But it is astonishing that I cannot find any evidence or suggestion for this translation until the late 1900's; the last 50 years! If such a translation were viable, a credible expositor would have seized the opportunity to support the interpretation of "paid in full" long before now!

E. I conclude that the reason for the suggestion this should be translated "paid in full" does not come from an altruistic motive to faithfully bring forth the meaning of the Bible, but it is brought to our attention in order to salvage a THEORY that cannot be supported by the context of Biblical language.

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For the full article see: Dave Hunt