Published on September 17, 2020 by Benjamin J. Montoya

IVP Academic, 2014 | 272 pages

A Brief Book Summary from Books At a Glance

By Kendall Clevelant


About the Author

Donald Macleod (MA, University of Glasgow; DD, Westminster Theological Seminary) was the chair of systematic theology at the Free Church of Scotland College in Edinburgh, where he served as the school’s principal. He is a frequent contributor to works of theology and the author of numerous books, including A Faith to Live By and The Person of Christ.



This book examines the doctrine of the atonement from exegetical and theological perspectives. Macleod defends the view that the atonement of Christ was necessary for the holy and righteous God to forgive sinful humans. The cross was a Trinitarian transaction in which the divine Father directed his righteous anger against sin towards his Son, who willingly offered himself as a sacrifice and thus received the full punishment of the curse that was due to sinners. In this divine act, therefore, God not only provided the substitute who took the punishment in place of sinners, but he himself became that substitute.


Table of Contents

Part I: The Way of the Cross
1  A Man of Sorrows
2  From the Third to the Ninth Hour
3  The Divine Paradox: The Crucified Son
Part II: The Word of the Cross
4  Substitution: The Man for Others
5  Expiation: Covering Our Sins
6  Propitiation: Averting the Divine Anger
7  Reconciliation: God’s Way of Peace
8  Satisfaction: Enough to Justify Forgiveness
9  No Other Way?
10  Redemption: Setting the Prisoners Free
11  Victory: Disarming the Powers




PART I: The Way of the Cross

Chapter 1: A Man of Sorrows

Each Gospel devotes a significant portion of its narrative to the passion of Christ. This illustrates the NT perspective that the cross was the central moment of Christ’s mission. The Last Supper sheds light on the way Christ understood his coming death. First, Jesus saw his death as a formal sacrifice. The vicarious nature of this sacrifice is highlighted by Paul’s addition of the phrase “for you” in his account of the bread-saying (1 Cor. 11:24). The link between the blood and death of Christ and forgiveness were quickly recognized by the early Christians. After the Lord’s Supper, Jesus and his disciples go to Gethsemane. There, Jesus becomes overwhelmed with the apprehension of the true nature of his impending ordeal: the holiness of God confronted him as he was faced with the prospect of bearing the curse of God against sin. The betrayal leading to the arrest of Jesus was part of the Father’s priestly act of “delivering him up” for us as a sacrifice (Mk. 14:4-2; cf. Rm. 8:32). The most striking feature of the trial is that it concluded before all the relevant authorities that Jesus was innocent. This confirmed Jesus’ integrity as the one who was “without blemish or defect” (1 Pt. 1:19).


Chapter 2: From the Third to the Ninth Hour

The Gospel writers note the charge for which Jesus was crucified: “Jesus King of the Jews” (Mk. 15:26). This is a political charge of sedition, pronounced by Pilate to mock the Jewish people. For the Jews, the charge was blasphemy. The written charge highlights that Christ’s death was a kingly act by which he conquers, liberates, and secures his kingdom. They also note that Jesus was crucified between two criminals. This points to Jesus solidarity with sinners (cf. Lk. 22:37; Is. 53:12), which climaxed at the cross (2 Cor. 5:21). A third detail noted is the derision hurled against Jesus from the people, the chief priests, and the criminals. Christ’s true identity as Son, with his obedience to the Father, kept him on the cross. A fourth detail recorded by the synoptics is the three hours of darkness. This was a supernatural phenomenon, possibly expressing the Father’s judgment on sin.

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IVP Academic, 2014 | 272 pages

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