(Galatians 3:10-13) New American Standard Bible (NASB)

10 For as many as are of the works of [o]the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them.” 11 Now that no one is justified [p]by [q]the Law before God is evident; for, “[r]The righteous man shall live by faith.” 12 [s]However, the Law is not [t]of faith; on the contrary, “He who practices them shall live [u]by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a [v]tree”— 14 in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might [w]come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

I hope I do Not sound like I'm nitpicking, but, I thought that the phrase "a curse for us" is Unclear. Isn't "cursed for us" more accurate than "a curse for us" ? Or am I interpreting the "a curse for us" phrase Incorrectly? Isn't the "a curse for us" suggesting that Jesus Christ was "cursed for us?


Thanks to all stackexchange.com users who responded to my question post.
I was reading and meditating on the aforementioned passage, and here is how I interpreted said scripture:

(Galatians 3:13)

13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law,

If we think about it, we could view The Law as being a curse to the Ancient Israelites. To elaborate, if you read through the Book of Leviticus, you will notice the tremendous legalistic effort put into sacrifices which involves time-consuming work and in some cases financial cost expenses, therefore, being under Ancient Israelites Torah Law was certainly a curse.

having become a curse for us

However, when Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins, we are under the curse of Jesus Christ which does Not force us to put some kind of legalistic effort because we are Now under the different "curse"--if you will-- of being justified by faith in Jesus Christ. (In other words, the curse of Jesus Christ is a "good curse" that involves No sweat, blood, financial effort on our part )


5 Answers 5


I believe the phrase “being made a curse for us” is a direct reference to the “blessing and the curse” described in Deuteronomy 28. Here Moses is reminding Israel that they must do ‘everything” written in the law or else they will endure the curse. God never executed judgment on Israel for not keeping everything written in the law. By God’s mercy, that punishment was reserved for Christ. Jesus took all the punishment meant for us as outlined in Deuteronomy 28:15-68.

Verse 1 states you must to do everything written in the law.

Deut 28:1 (KJV)

And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth:

Blessings are then listed from V2 through 14.

Staring in verse 15, the bible describes the curse for not doing everything written in the law.

Deut 28:15 (KJV)

15 But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee:

Verse 16 starts the list of punishments contained under the curse.

In verse 20, God gives a summary of all things under the curse, ie verses 15 and following. YLT uses the phrase “the curse”.

Deut 28:20 (YLT)

20 `Jehovah doth send on thee the curse, the trouble, and the rebuke, in every putting forth of thy hand which thou dost, till thou art destroyed, and till thou perish hastily, because of the evil of thy doings [by] which thou hast forsaken Me.

Verses 21 to 68 depict the total destruction of Israel. In the next chapter, Moses extends that curse to include total annihilation just like Sodom and Gomorrah.

Deut 29:23-27 (KJV)

23 And that the whole land thereof is brimstone, and salt, and burning, that it is not sown, nor beareth, nor any grass groweth therein, like the overthrow of Sodom, and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboim, which the LORD overthrew in his anger, and in his wrath: 24 Even all nations shall say, Wherefore hath the LORD done thus unto this land? what meaneth the heat of this great anger? 25 Then men shall say, Because they have forsaken the covenant of the LORD God of their fathers, which he made with them when he brought them forth out of the land of Egypt: 26 For they went and served other gods, and worshipped them, gods whom they knew not, and whom he had not given unto them: 27 And the anger of the LORD was kindled against this land, to bring upon it all the curses that are written in this book:

Deuteronomy 30:1 uses the term “the curse” as a summary of these curses in chapter 28/29. Hence Jesus became “the curse” for us.

Deuteronomy 30:1

And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations, whither the Lord thy God hath driven thee,


This is actually a good question and no the two phrases do not mean the same thing. Here is the significance of the difference.

"A curse for us" is emphasizing a single specific curse that points back to the one that Paul offers--“Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.” When you change it to "cursed for us" you make it a general statement that does not give the cause of the cursing.

Think of it this way. In the way that Paul wrote it, pointing to one specific element of the Law, cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree, he can still maintain that Jesus kept the whole Law. Not that you are suggesting it, but if you change it to a general statement you suggest there is more than one aspect of the Law that caused his cursing.

I can't speak for the translators of all the versions but that is why I would keep it as "being made a curse" (KJV). In fact that is perhaps why the KJV translators made the phrase being made a curse for us. In that rendition the point is emphasized even more that He was cursed only because of the manner of His death for us and not by a breaking of the Law in His life. If He had been a law breaker then He could not be our perfect once for all sacrifice because He would have needed someone to die for His sin. So the translation is actually very good, even if it seems a little out of place in modern English. Even the Good News Bible, which is more of a paraphrase than a translation, keeps this phrase.

Again, this is a good question.


One way of looking at why the noun is used here, is to first understand what the verse is referring to here by the word "curse". Naturally "curse" here means the damnation sin brings, see Genesis 2:17. Now, we can easily hypothesize that Christ's removal from the living was made into a removal of world's curse from the human race through the Atonement, such that all who believe in it can enjoy eternal salvation through becoming observers of this truth (being observers to truth makes it tangible, it being a quantum phenomenon like light and electric energy that traverses truth/false gates in electronic devices, see quantum physics, -- this truth to them is no longer an ephemeral concept one only entertains). And to prove this hypothesis, we can see that he was indeed removed from the human race when he died, and the fact that he had risen does not mean he came back in his curse state, since as we can read in Zechariah 3:3 his filty robes, which symbolize the sin he took up, were taken from him and the new robes were given to him such that when he was risen and seated in heaven (where he still is), that robe of sin which kept him in the state of being a curse, no longer existed. So, this hypothesis, as one of the interpetations of this verse, is not disproved. As a result it is fair to say that when the Bible says Christ became a curse for us, it said it quite literally.


I would translate (overly literally) Gal 3:13 as: "Christ purchased us out of the curse of the law becoming on behalf of us a curse, as it has been written, 'accursed [is] everyone hanging on a tree.'" (quoting Deut 21:23) I note that there is no significant variation in the Greek text between NA28, W&H, Majority text, Byzantine text, etc.

There is a very similar idea in 2 Cor 5:21, "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (NIV) If we couple this with Rom 5:8 (among many others) "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (NIV)

Thus, human salvation is God's initiative and He accomplishes this by (among other things) taking responsibility for our sins. That is, Jesus was treated as we deserve so that we might be treated as He deserves. Despite this, Jesus was "without sin"(see Heb 7:26).


Paul's polemic is clearly an allusion to Deuteronomy 21:22-23 which says "has been cursed" and not "became a curse" and Paul quotes it properly (though not verbatim). So it can be construed as him creating a euphemism in order to avoid saying that Jesus was accursed by God though I don't personally think that is in view at all, particularly since he says the equally disturbing, "Christ became a curse".

The person who has been killed because of God's curse (as found in the sanctions of the Torah in Deuteronomy 28 is said to be accursed, himself. However, the passage goes on to say that if, after being executed by hanging from a tree he is not taken down before sundown then the promised land will be defiled, effectively making the unburied corpse into a curse upon the land:

NET Bible Deuteronomy 21:

22 If a person commits a sin punishable by death and is executed, and you hang the corpse on a tree, 23 his body must not remain all night on the tree; instead you must make certain you bury him that same day, for the one who is left exposed on a tree is cursed by God. You must not defile your land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance.

In the LXX (I'm looking at Rahlf's) it specifies that they must take down the body of him that "sleeps" from the wood of the tree and place it in a cemetery:

Rahlf's LXX Deuteronomy 21:23 οὐκ ἐπικοιμηθήσεται τὸ σῶμα αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ τοῦ ξύλου ἀλλὰ ταφῇ θάψετε αὐτὸν ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ἐκείνῃ ὅτι κεκατηραμένος ὑπὸ θεοῦ πᾶς κρεμάμενος ἐπὶ ξύλου καὶ οὐ μιανεῖτε τὴν γῆν ἣν κύριος ὁ θεός σου δίδωσίν σοι ἐν κλήρῳ

So just as it was urgent for the Jews to bury those they hanged for their own safety from the cursed corpse so must the believer be certain to bury their messiah in a cemetery lest the curses of the law defile them, which we see done here:

KJV Mar 15:43 Joseph of Arimathaea, an honourable counsellor, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly [τολμήσας: "gathered up the courage"] unto Pilate, and craved [αἰτέω - "demanded?"] the body of Jesus.

So in my view, in addition to the obvious bio-hazards it addresses I see the passage in Deuteronomy as a messianic prophesy filled with important symbolism.

Paul is engaged in a fierce polemic ("war of words") with the Jewish believers. Their argument is not that the gentiles cannot be saved but rather that they must be circumcised and obey Torah. His argument, or at least one is, I believe, that if the believer continues to live by the Torah or if they rebuild it then they are under a curse:

KJV Galatians 2:

17“But if, in seeking to be justified in Christ, we Jews find ourselves also among the sinners, doesn’t that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! 18If I rebuild what I destroyed, then I really would be a lawbreaker.

19“For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God.

The believer is joined to Christ. As it was necessary for Christ to be entombed in a cemetery to not be a curse to the land so the believer must be moved from the wood of the tree and be placed in the cemetery ("sleeping place") and die to the works of the Torah or else partake of the curses thereof:

KJV Galatians 3:10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.

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