“The sufferings of the Saviour finally culminated in his death…It is but natural that, when we speak of the death of Christ in this connection, we have in mind first of all physical death, that is, separation of body and soul.  At the same time we should remember that this does not exhaust the idea of death as it is represented in Scripture.  The Bible takes a synthetic view of death, and regards physical death merely as one of its manifestations.  Death is separation from God, but this separation can be viewed in two different ways.  Man separates himself from God by sin, and death is the natural result, so that it can even be said that sin is death.  But it was not in that way that Jesus became subject to death, since He had no personal sin.  In this connection it should be borne in mind that death is not merely the natural consequence of sin, but above all the judicially imposed and inflicted punishment of sin.  It is God withdrawing Himself with the blessings of life and happiness from man and visiting man in wrath.  It is from this judicial point of view that the death of Christ must be considered.  God imposed the punishment of death upon the Mediator judicially, since the latter undertook voluntarily to pay the penalty for the sin of the human race.”

(Louis Berkhof, “Doctrine of the Person and the Work of Christ,” “The States of Christ,”  Systematic Theology, pp 338-339, Banner of Truth ed., reprinted 2005)

 

Louis Berkhof on the Death of Christ

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