Cross Purposes: Atonement, Death and the Fate of the Wicked

Conditionalists believe that “the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (; emphasis added). Those who do not believe in him will not have eternal life, and will instead perish (). After rising from their first death to be judged, they will be sentenced to the second death (). Traditionalists, on the other hand, say the body that rises “dies not again,”1 confessing that “the evil ones … shall be made immortal” (emphasis added).2 Their language is unambiguous: “Every human being ever born lives forever;”3 “everybody lives forever;”4 the unsaved “will continue living in a state with a low quality of life.”5
Adherents to both views argue that the punishment Jesus Christ bore on the cross, in place of those who believe in him, poses a real challenge to their opponents’ doctrine. Conditionalists point out that Jesus was indeed executed, not eternally tormented. Traditionalists, however, point out Christ wasn’t annihilated, that he did not cease to exist.
Leon Morris writes, “The atonement is the crucial doctrine of the faith. Unless we are right here it matters little, or so it seems to me, what we are like elsewhere.”6 If one’s view of final punishment logically leads to an unbiblical understanding of the atonement, it must be rejected. Contrary to the claims of traditionalists, it is often they, not conditionalists, whose eschatology clashes with what the Bible reveals about the cross.

Death, not eternal torment.

These words from the pen of traditionalist Robert Peterson reveal simultaneously the significant relevance of the cross when it comes to the debate over final punishment as well as the basis for our challenge to traditionalists: “The cross sheds light on the fate of the wicked, because on the cross the sinless Son of God suffered that fate.”7 Conditionalists agree, but we claim that this light shines squarely upon our view of final punishment. For example, David Reagan asks himself, “What do you consider to be the single most powerful argument against the traditional concept of eternal torment in Hell?” His answer:

The fact that the Bible says that Jesus paid the price for our sins (, , and ). What was that price? It was extreme suffering followed by death. It was not eternal torment. Unrepentant sinners will therefore experience what Jesus experienced: suffering and death (the “Second Death”).8

Edward Fudge concurs, putting the challenge even more strongly when he insists that it is traditionalists who “cannot allow the death of Jesus to teach anything about the nature of the punishment awaiting the lost.”9 Fudge argues that we conditionalists can allow the death of Jesus to do that:

The simple truth is that Jesus died; he was not tortured forever. Jesus’ death for sinners does provide a window into the final judgment awaiting the lost. But the view we see through that window is one of suffering that ends in death—not one of everlasting conscious torment. Jesus suffered and died because he was bearing the sin of others. Unlike sinners in hell, he rose again because his own life was perfectly pleasing to the Father. It was “impossible for death to keep its hold” on the perfectly obedient Son of God (). The apostle Paul literally says that Jesus died “because of” our sin and that he rose again “because of” our justification ( NASB).10

Traditionalists seemingly acknowledge that it was in his death that Christ served as the penal substitute that diverts the just wrath of God from his people. Wayne Grudem writes that “Christ’s death was ‘penal’ in that he bore a penalty when he died. His death was also a ‘substitution’ in that he was a substitute for us when he died … As our representative, he took the penalty that we deserve.”11 Robert Peterson explains that “Scripture presents Christ in his death as making a substitutionary atonement for his people (; ; ). This means he died in their place and bore the punishment that they deserved.”12 John Blanchard says, “In his death, Jesus took the place of sinners and became a proptiation on their behalf.”13
How can this be? How can Peterson, Grudem, Blanchard and other traditionalists affirm on the one hand that by his death Jesus suffered the fate deserved by his people, and on the other hand that what we deserve is an eternity of torment in bodies and souls which never die?

The equivalent of eternal punishment?

The traditionalist resolution to this seeming inconsistency is to appeal to the hypostatic union of Christ’s divine and human natures. Peterson explains,

He suffered the equivalent of eternal punishment … When Jesus endured the wrath due sinful humanity, it was as the incarnate God-man; when by virtue of his human nature he suffered separation from his Father’s love, it was as the eternal Son of God who had become human … because of the infinite dignity of Christ’s person, his sufferings, though finite in duration, were of infinite weight on the scales of divine justice (much as his righteousness, though displayed during his incarnation over a finite period, is of infinite weight). As God incarnate, Jesus was capable of suffering in six hours on the cross what we can suffer only over an infinite period of time.14

Grudem puts it this way:

Jesus was able to bear all the wrath of God against our sin and to bear it to the end. No mere man could ever have done this, but by virtue of the union of divine and human natures in himself, Jesus was able to bear all the wrath of God against sin and bear it to the end…when Christ’s sufferings at last came to an end on the cross, it showed that he had borne the full measure of God’s wrath against sin and there was no penalty left to pay.15

Larry Dixon sums it up, writing, “The Cross is God’s infinite response to man’s sin. Christ exhausts the punishment due to sinners because he himself was the infinite and eternal God.”16 According to many traditionalists, then, the finite duration of Jesus’ suffering and anguish is the equivalent of the eternity of agony awaiting unbelievers on account of His divine nature.
This demonstrates that, when many traditionalists say that Christ died in the place of sinners, what they really mean is that he suffered pain in their place. At best, they are simply unaware of the inconsistency. At worst, this is disingenuous doublespeak that doesn’t actually answer the conditionalist challenge. Either way, when used to defend the traditional view of final punishment, this reasoning renders the Lord’s death an afterthought at best.

Minimizing His death

In fact, I think this traditionalist reasoning skirts dangerously the border of heresy. Again, in their appeal to the dual natures of Christ, Peterson and Grudem identify his suffering leading up to his death as that which propitiates God’s wrath, and it is that suffering, finite in duration, which is the equivalent of the everlasting suffering awaiting the unsaved. Peterson explains in more detail:

The traditional understanding of the punishment of hell includes two elements: separation from God (poena damni, the punishment of the damned) and the positive infliction of torments in body and soul (poena sensus, the punishment of sense). Jesus suffered the punishment of hell for sinners. That he endured separation from the Father’s love is evidenced by his cry, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mat 27:46). On Calvary’s cross Jesus also endured God’s wrath. In Gethsemane Jesus was deeply grieved at the prospect of drinking the cup of God’s wrath (). This is why he thrice asked the Father, “If it is possible, may this cup be taken from me” (Mat 26:39; compare Mat 26:42, 44). On the cross, then, the Son of God suffered the pains of hell: separation from God and the positive infliction of torments in body and soul.17

We see, then, that according to the traditional view of hell, Jesus bore the punishment of hell—separation from God and infliction of suffering—completely on the cross up until his life left him. This flatly contradicts the biblical testimony which consistently identifies Christ’s death as primarily that which he bore on behalf of the elect. Paul tells the Romans that “at the right time Christ died for the ungodly,” and that “God demonstrates his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (). Later he tells them, “Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died” (; compare with ).
Furthermore, the death that redeems is particularly physical death, notably a sort of death traditionalists deny will be experienced by the unsaved in hell. Paul calls this the gospel “by which also you are saved” in his first letter to the Corinthians, writing, “I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day” (). The language of burial and resurrection clearly indicates that the death of Jesus’ body is in view, language Paul also uses in his second letter to the Corinthians when he writes of “Him who died and rose again on their behalf” (). Peter likewise says, “Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that he might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh” (). The author of Hebrews writes, “we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” ().
By focusing so heavily on Christ’s pain, then, traditionalists minimize the propitiatory importance of his death, which Scripture identifies as being of utmost importance. But the problem doesn’t end there. It seems to me that the traditional view doesn’t just minimize the importance of Christ’s death, it renders his death irrelevant. If the finite duration of Jesus’ suffering is the substitutionary equivalent to the eternity of suffering awaiting the risen, undying wicked, why did he go on to die? If in his suffering the Lord bore the full wrath of God, what penalty was left to pay with his death? This is why I dare to suggest that the traditional view of hell leads to a view of the atonement that skirts dangerously close to heresy: it ultimately reduces the salvific value of Christ’s death to zero, rendering it unnecessary and arbitrary.

By His stripes we are healed

But what about Peterson’s claim that the punishment of hell, which Jesus bore, consists (apparently exclusively) in separation from God and in pain and suffering? As to separation from God, Jesus did ask, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” (). As to pain and suffering, Isaiah says that “he was pierced for our transgression” and that “by his scourging we are healed” (). The author of Hebrews writes that “he learned obedience from the things which he suffered” (). Peter says “Christ also suffered for you” and “while suffering, he uttered no threats” (). Jesus said, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer” (). Don’t these testify to the separation and suffering Jesus experienced on our behalf before he died?
To a certain extent, this is true, but this serves as no challenge to conditionalism. Read the words of conditionalists Reagan and Fudge again; both affirm that final punishment consists in suffering and death. Neither does this challenge the contention that the primary element of the atonement was Christ’s bodily death. We looked at texts from multiple authors to multiple audiences which consistently emphasize that Christ died for us, and did we not see Paul identifying the death of Jesus as being of first importance, going so far as to call it the gospel that saves us? Suffering, though an element of the atonement, is not the primary element.
But the reality is that even in those contexts in which we’re told of the suffering and separation from God experienced by Christ, that experience is an element of his death. They do not stand alone. Yes, he asked if his god had forsaken him, quoting a psalm whose author says, “You lay me in the dust of death” (). Yes, he was pierced and scourged for us, but he also “poured out himself to death” (). Yes, he learned to be obedient by his suffering, “obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (). Yes, he suffered for us, and while suffering did not utter threats, in the context of “having been put to death in the flesh” (). Yes, it was written that the Christ would suffer, “and rise again from the dead the third day” ().
The pain, anguish, suffering and separation experienced by the Lord on our behalf was not atoning in and of itself. His experience on the cross while alive did not stand alone from the death in which it culminated. Christ suffered, to be sure, but he suffered as part of the process of being executed; so, too, will the risen wicked suffer as part of the process of being executed. But it was primarily the result of Jesus’ execution that atoned for sin.

Put to death in the flesh

In the future we’ll look at the reverse challenge from traditionalists who insist that conditionalism must be false because either Christ wasn’t annihilated or because of conditionalism’s allegedly heretical Christological implications. In the meantime, the conditionalist challenge remains strong and unanswered. Traditionalists say that Jesus died for our sins, but what they mean is that he suffered pain leading up to his death, a finite amount of pain qualifying as an eternity of pain by virtue of the union of his natures. This contradicts the biblical testimony that he was “put to death in the flesh” on our behalf, and renders his bodily death an afterthought. Conditionalists, on the other hand, affirm that the wages of sin is death, that Christ died so that ultimately the elect will not, and that death actually does await unbelievers after rising to judgment.
In order to affirm the biblical view of the atonement, traditionalists must acknowledge that the death of Jesus was, at the very least, one element of the atonement, as Robert Morey does when he lists it as the third aspect to the punishment Jesus bore, following the separation and suffering He experienced.18 If they do so, however, they lose the ability to object to conditionalism on the grounds that the atonement didn’t consist in annihilation, for neither do they believe that the bodies of the risen wicked will die like Jesus’ did. In other words, they don’t believe the punishment Jesus bore matches the punishment awaiting unbelievers, so they can’t challenge us on that basis. And because traditionalists don’t believe the bodies of the risen wicked will ever die, their view of eternal punishment is at the very least considerably more unlike the substitutionary death of Christ than ours. I conclude with the words of Robert Taylor:

Scripture is explicit as to the penalty Jesus paid for the forgiveness of our sins. “When I see the blood, I will pass over you,” says the Lord (). Read the account of the Day of Atonement in Leviticus , or that of the Passover in Exodus , or the Good News of Jesus Christ in the New Testament. The story is the same; redemption is by blood. It is Christ’s sacrificial death and His death alone that paid for the sins of the world.19


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Part 2 of this article is available here.

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  1. Gill, J. A Body of Doctrinal Divinity: Or a System of Evangelical Truths (The Baptist Standard Bearer, Inc., 2001), 679. []
  2. The Belgic Confession, Article 37. []
  3. MacArthur, J. “The Answer to Life’s Greatest Question, Part 1.” []
  4. Koukl, G. (Host). (2011, June 5). “Christopher Morgan on Hell and Inclusivism.” Stand to Reason [radio]. 1:09:25. []
  5. Habermas, G. and Moreland, J.P. Immortality: The Other Side of Death (Thomas Nelson, 1992), 173. []
  6. Morris, L. The Cross in the New Testament (Eerdmans, 1999), 5. []
  7. Peterson, R. Hell On Trial: The Case for Eternal Punishment (Presbyterian & Reformed, 1995), 216. []
  8. Reagan, D. Eternity: Heaven or Hell? (Lamb & Lion Ministries, 2010), 117. []
  9. Peterson, Robert A.; Fudge, Edward W. (2010-09-15). Two Views of Hell: A Biblical & Theological Dialogue (pp. 204-205). InterVarsity – Kindle Edition. []
  10. Ibid. []
  11. Grudem, W. Systematic Theology (InterVarsity, 1994), 579. []
  12. Peterson. Two Views. p. 175. []
  13. Blanchard, J. Whatever Happened to Hell? (Crossway Books, 1995), 110. []
  14. Peterson. Two Views. p. 175. []
  15. Grudem. Systematic Theology. p. 578. []
  16. Dixon, L. The Other Side of the Good News (Christian Focus Publications, 2003), 217. []
  17. Peterson. Two Views. pp. 174-175. []
  18. Morey, R. Death and the Afterlife (Bethany House, 1984), 89. []
  19. Taylor, R. Rescue from Death: Salvation (Outskirts Press, 2012). 134. []

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.

But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed.

who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,

He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.

25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.

25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”—

13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.

15 Thus the Lord, the God of Israel, said to me: “Take from my hand this cup of the wine of wrath, and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.

Romans 5:8

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

15 For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died.

11 And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died.

15:1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,

15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,

10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed.

Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.

21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.

1 Peter 2:23

23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.

46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead,

15 my strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
you lay me in the dust of death.

12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.

And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,

46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead,

13 The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.

16:1 They set out from Elim, and all the congregation of the people of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt. And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and the people of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily.” So Moses and Aaron said to all the people of Israel, “At evening you shall know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your grumbling against the Lord. For what are we, that you grumble against us?” And Moses said, “When the Lord gives you in the evening meat to eat and in the morning bread to the full, because the Lord has heard your grumbling that you grumble against him—what are we? Your grumbling is not against us but against the Lord.”

Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, ‘Come near before the Lord, for he has heard your grumbling.’” 10 And as soon as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud. 11 And the Lord said to Moses, 12 “I have heard the grumbling of the people of Israel. Say to them, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread. Then you shall know that I am the Lord your God.’”

13 In the evening quail came up and covered the camp, and in the morning dew lay around the camp. 14 And when the dew had gone up, there was on the face of the wilderness a fine, flake-like thing, fine as frost on the ground. 15 When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat. 16 This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Gather of it, each one of you, as much as he can eat. You shall each take an omer, according to the number of the persons that each of you has in his tent.’” 17 And the people of Israel did so. They gathered, some more, some less. 18 But when they measured it with an omer, whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack. Each of them gathered as much as he could eat. 19 And Moses said to them, “Let no one leave any of it over till the morning.” 20 But they did not listen to Moses. Some left part of it till the morning, and it bred worms and stank. And Moses was angry with them. 21 Morning by morning they gathered it, each as much as he could eat; but when the sun grew hot, it melted.

22 On the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers each. And when all the leaders of the congregation came and told Moses, 23 he said to them, “This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Tomorrow is a day of solemn rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord; bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over lay aside to be kept till the morning.’” 24 So they laid it aside till the morning, as Moses commanded them, and it did not stink, and there were no worms in it. 25 Moses said, “Eat it today, for today is a Sabbath to the Lord; today you will not find it in the field. 26 Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, which is a Sabbath, there will be none.”

27 On the seventh day some of the people went out to gather, but they found none. 28 And the Lord said to Moses, “How long will you refuse to keep my commandments and my laws? 29 See! The Lord has given you the Sabbath; therefore on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days. Remain each of you in his place; let no one go out of his place on the seventh day.” 30 So the people rested on the seventh day.

31 Now the house of Israel called its name manna. It was like coriander seed, white, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey. 32 Moses said, “This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Let an omer of it be kept throughout your generations, so that they may see the bread with which I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.’” 33 And Moses said to Aaron, “Take a jar, and put an omer of manna in it, and place it before the Lord to be kept throughout your generations.” 34 As the Lord commanded Moses, so Aaron placed it before the testimony to be kept. 35 The people of Israel ate the manna forty years, till they came to a habitable land. They ate the manna till they came to the border of the land of Canaan. 36 (An omer is the tenth part of an ephah.)

12:1 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, “This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you. Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household. And if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his nearest neighbor shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats, and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight.

“Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted, its head with its legs and its inner parts. 10 And you shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. 11 In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord’s Passover. 12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord. 13 The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.

14 “This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast. 15 Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven out of your houses, for if anyone eats what is leavened, from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. 16 On the first day you shall hold a holy assembly, and on the seventh day a holy assembly. No work shall be done on those days. But what everyone needs to eat, that alone may be prepared by you. 17 And you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this very day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day, throughout your generations, as a statute forever. 18 In the first month, from the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread until the twenty-first day of the month at evening. 19 For seven days no leaven is to be found in your houses. If anyone eats what is leavened, that person will be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a sojourner or a native of the land. 20 You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your dwelling places you shall eat unleavened bread.”

21 Then Moses called all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go and select lambs for yourselves according to your clans, and kill the Passover lamb. 22 Take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. None of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning. 23 For the Lord will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you. 24 You shall observe this rite as a statute for you and for your sons forever. 25 And when you come to the land that the Lord will give you, as he has promised, you shall keep this service. 26 And when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ 27 you shall say, ‘It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses.’” And the people bowed their heads and worshiped.

28 Then the people of Israel went and did so; as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did.

29 At midnight the Lord struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of the livestock. 30 And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he and all his servants and all the Egyptians. And there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was not a house where someone was not dead. 31 Then he summoned Moses and Aaron by night and said, “Up, go out from among my people, both you and the people of Israel; and go, serve the Lord, as you have said. 32 Take your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and be gone, and bless me also!”

33 The Egyptians were urgent with the people to send them out of the land in haste. For they said, “We shall all be dead.” 34 So the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneading bowls being bound up in their cloaks on their shoulders. 35 The people of Israel had also done as Moses told them, for they had asked the Egyptians for silver and gold jewelry and for clothing. 36 And the Lord had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have what they asked. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.

37 And the people of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children. 38 A mixed multitude also went up with them, and very much livestock, both flocks and herds. 39 And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough that they had brought out of Egypt, for it was not leavened, because they were thrust out of Egypt and could not wait, nor had they prepared any provisions for themselves.

40 The time that the people of Israel lived in Egypt was 430 years. 41 At the end of 430 years, on that very day, all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt. 42 It was a night of watching by the Lord, to bring them out of the land of Egypt; so this same night is a night of watching kept to the Lord by all the people of Israel throughout their generations.

43 And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “This is the statute of the Passover: no foreigner shall eat of it, 44 but every slave that is bought for money may eat of it after you have circumcised him. 45 No foreigner or hired servant may eat of it. 46 It shall be eaten in one house; you shall not take any of the flesh outside the house, and you shall not break any of its bones. 47 All the congregation of Israel shall keep it. 48 If a stranger shall sojourn with you and would keep the Passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised. Then he may come near and keep it; he shall be as a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person shall eat of it. 49 There shall be one law for the native and for the stranger who sojourns among you.”

50 All the people of Israel did just as the Lord commanded Moses and Aaron. 51 And on that very day the Lord brought the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their hosts.

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.