On the cross, Jesus Christ paid the penalty for sin, fully bearing and satisfying God’s wrath toward the sins of his people. He was punished in our place as our substitute. He is the propitiation for our sins. This biblical truth is known as penal substitutionary atonement and is central to the gospel message. Without the penal substitutionary atonement of our Lord Jesus Christ, there would be no gospel and no salvation for sinners. Below is a collection of quotes from each era of church history to show how prevalent and central penal substitution has been and still is to Christian orthodoxy and to the gospel message itself. This list is only a small fraction of those throughout the centuries that have embraced the doctrine of penal substitution.
1. Biblical Authors
The Prophet Isaiah
Taken from Isaiah 53:
v. 4 – “He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows”
v. 5 – “He was pierced for our transgressions”
v. 5 – “He was crushed for our iniquities”
v. 5 – “upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace”
v. 5 – “with his wounds we are healed”
v. 6- “the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
v. 10 – “it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt…”
v. 12 – “[he] was numbered with the transgressors”
v. 12 – “he bore the sin of many”
The Apostle Paul
“…through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.” – Romans 3:24-25
“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” – 1 Peter 2:24
“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us…” – Galatians 3:13
The Author of Hebrews
“Therefore, he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” – Hebrews 2:17
“…he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.” – Hebrews 9:12
“…he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” – Hebrews 9:26(b)
The Apostle John
“He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” – 1 John 2:2
“In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 4:10
The Apostle Peter
“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.” – 1 Peter 2:24
2. Early Church Fathers
Clement of Rome (c. 35-99)
“Love knows nothing of division, love does not foment rebellion, love does everything in harmony; in love all the elect of God are made perfect; without love noting is pleasing to God. In love the Master received us; because of the love he had towards us, our Lord Jesus Christ gave his blood for us in accord with the will of God: his flesh for the sake of our flesh, his life for our lives.”
Justin Martyr (c. 100-165)
“For the whole human race will be found to be under a curse. For it is written in the law of Moses, ‘Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them.’ And no one has accurately done all, nor will you venture to deny this; but some more and some less than others have observed the ordinances enjoined. But if those who are under this law appear to be under a curse for not having observed all the requirements, how much more shall all the nations appear to be under a curse who practice idolatry, who seduce youths, and commit other crimes?
If, then, the Father of all wished His Christ for the whole human family to take upon Him the curses of all, knowing that, after He had been crucified and was dead, He would raise him up, why do you argue about Him, who submitted to suffer these things according to the Father’s will, as if he were accursed, and do not rather bewail yourselves?”
Eusebius of Caesarea (c. 275-339)
“And the Lamb of God…was chastised on our behalf, and suffered a penalty He did not owe, but which we owed because of the multitude of our sins; and so He became the cause of the forgiveness of our sins, because He received death for us, and transferred to Himself the scourging, the insults, and the dishonor, which were due to us, and drew down upon Himself the appointed curse, being made a curse for us.”
Athanasius (c. 300-373)
“The Word perceived that corruption could not be got rid of otherwise than through death; yet He Himself, as the Word, being immortal and the Father’s Son, was such as could not die. For this reason, therefore, He assumed a body capable of death, in order that it, through belonging to the Word Who is above all, might become in dying a sufficient exchange for all, and, itself remaining incorruptible through his indwelling, might thereafter put an end to corruption for all others as well, by the grace of the resurrection. It was by surrendering to death the body which He had taken, as an offering and sacrifice free from every stain, that He forthwith abolished death for His human brethren by the offering of the equivalent. For naturally, since the Word of God was above all, when He offered His own temple and bodily instrument as a substitute for the life of all, He fulfilled in death all that was required.”
Gregory of Nazianzus (c. 330-390)
“As for my sake He was called a curse, Who destroyed my curse; and sin, who taketh away the sin of the world; and became a new Adam to take the place of the old, just so He makes my disobedience His own as Head of the whole body. As long then as I am disobedient and rebellious, both by denial of God and by my passions, so long Christ is called disobedient on my account.”
Ambrose of Milan (339-397)
“And so then, Jesus took flesh that He might destroy the curse of sinful flesh, and He became for us a curse that a blessing might overwhelm a curse, uprightness might overwhelm sin, forgiveness might overwhelm the sentence, and life might overwhelm death. He also took up death that the sentence might be fulfilled and satisfaction might be given for the judgment, the curse placed on sinful flesh even to death. Therefore, nothing was done contrary to God’s sentence when the terms of that sentence were fulfilled, for the curse was unto death but grace is after death.”
John Chrysostom (c. 349-407)
“If one that was himself a king, beholding a robber and malefactor under punishment, gave his well-beloved son, his only-begotten and true, to be slain; and transferred the death and the guilt as well, from him to his son (who was himself of no such character), that he might both save the condemned man and clear him from his evil reputation; and then if, having subsequently promoted him to great dignity, he had yet, after thus saving him and advancing him to that glory unspeakable, been outraged by the person that had received such treatment: would not that man, if he had any sense, have chosen ten thousand deaths rather than appear guilty of so great ingratitude? This then let us also now consider with ourselves, and groan bitterly for the provocations we have offered our Benefactor; nor let us therefore presume, because though outraged He bears it with long-suffering; but rather for this very reason be full of remorse.”
Augustine of Hippo (c. 354-430)
“But as Christ endured death as man, and for man; so also, Son of God as He was, ever living in His own righteousness, but dying for our offences, He submitted as man, and for man, to bear the curse which accompanies death. And as He died in the flesh which He took in bearing our punishment, so also, while ever blessed in His own righteousness, He was cursed for our offences, in the death which He suffered in bearing our punishment.”
3. Theologians from the Middle Ages
Gregory the Great (c. 540-604)
“When then the first man was moved by Satan from the Lord, then the Lord was moved against the second Man. And so Satan then moved the Lord to the affliction of this latter, when the sin of disobedience brought down the first man from the height of uprightness. For if he had not drawn the first Adam by wilful sin into the death of the soul, the second Adam, being without sin, would never have come into the voluntary death of the flesh, and therefore it is with justice said to him of our Redeemer too, Thou movest Me against him to afflict him without cause. As though it were said in plainer words; ‘Whereas this man dies not on his own account, but on account of that other, thou didst then move Me to the afflicting of this one, when thou didst withdraw that other from Me by thy cunning persuasions.’ And of him is it rightly added, without cause. For ‘he was destroyed without cause,’ who was at once weighed to the earth by the avenging of sin, and not defiled by the pollution of sin. He ‘was destroyed without cause,’ Who, being made incarnate, had no sins of His own, and yet being without offence took upon Himself the punishment of the carnal.”
Thomas Aquinas (c. 1225-1274)
“It is wicked and cruel to hand an innocent man over to suffering and death if it is against his will. Nor did God the Father so treat Christ in whom he inspired the will to suffer for us. God’s severity is thus manifested; he was unwilling to remit sin without punishment, as the Apostle intimates when he says, He did not spare his own Son. But it also illustrates God’s goodness, for as man was unable to make sufficient satisfaction through any punishment he might himself suffer, God gave him one who would satisfy for him. Paul stresses this, saying, He has delivered him for us all, and, God has established [Christ] as a propitiation by his blood through faith.”
4. The Reformation Period
Martin Luther (1483-1546)
“But now, if God’s wrath is to be taken away from me and I am to obtain grace and forgiveness, some one must merit this; for God cannot be a friend of sin nor gracious to it, nor can he remit the punishment and wrath, unless payment and satisfaction be made.
Now, no one, not even an angel of heaven, could make restitution for the infinite and irreparable injury and appease the eternal wrath of God which we had merited by our sins; except that eternal person, the Son of God himself, and he could do it only by taking our place, assuming our sins, and answering for them as though he himself were guilty of them.
This our dear Lord and only Saviour and Mediator before God, Jesus Christ, did for us by his blood and death, in which he became a sacrifice for us; and with his purity, innocence, and righteousness, which was divine and eternal, he outweighed all sin and wrath he was compelled to bear on our account; yea, he entirely engulfed and swallowed it up, and his merit is so great that God is now satisfied and says, “If he wills thereby to save, then there will be a salvation.”
John Calvin (1509-64)
“What, I ask you, would Christ have bestowed upon us if the penalty for our sins were still required? For when we say that he bore all our sins in his body upon the tree [1 Peter 2:24], we mean only that he bore the punishment and vengeance due for our sins. Isaiah has stated this more meaningfully when he says: ‘The chastisement (or correction) of our peace was upon him’ [Isa. 53:5]. What is this ‘correction of our peace’ but the penalty due sins that we would have had to pay before we could become reconciled to God–if he had not taken our place? Lo, you see plainly that Christ bore the penalty of sins to deliver his own people from them… This is why Paul writes that Christ gave himself as a ransom for us [1 Tim. 2:6]. ‘What is propitiation before the Lord,’ asks Augustine, ‘but sacrifice? What is the sacrifice, but what has been offered for us in the death of Christ?'”
Menno Simons (1496-1561)
“Here it is proper to observe, how the Righteous died for the unrighteous, when we were yet sinners and enemies; how the spotless Lamb was prepared for us, in the fire of affliction, suffered upon the cross, and was offered an eternal propitiation for our sins;how the Creator of all things was bruised for our sakes, and he, who was above all the children of men, became the most unworthy, and was counted with evil doers; how the Innocent bore the sins of the whole world, blotted out all our transgressions, and redeemed us with his crimson blood, as the Scriptures declare, ‘I restored that which I took not away,’ Ps. 69:4.”
5. The Puritans
John Bunyan (1628-88)
“From all which I gathered, that I must look for righteousness in his person, and for satisfaction for my sins by his blood; that what he did in obedience to his Fathers Law, and in submitting to the penalty thereof, was not for himself, but for him that will accept it for his Salvation, and be thankful. And no was my heart full of joy, mine eyes full of tears, and mine affections running over with love, to the Name, People, and Ways of Jesus Christ.”
John Owen (1616-83)
“Christ so took and bare our sins, and had them so laid upon him, as that he underwent the punishment due unto them, and that in our stead: therefore, he made satisfaction to the justice of God for them. First, that Christ took and bare our sins, God laying them on him. Secondly, That he so took them as to undergo the punishment due unto them. Thirdly, that he did this in our stead.”
6. Leaders of the Great Awakening
John Wesley (1703-91)
“It is the blood of Christ alone whereby any sinner can be reconciled to God; there being no other propitiation for our sins, no other fountain for sin and uncleanness. Every believer in Christ is deeply convinced that there is no merit but in him; that there is no merit in any of his own works.”
Note: Elsewhere Wesley defines propitiation as “the atoning sacrifice by which the wrath of God is appeased.”
Charles Wesley (1707-88)
“Guilty I stand before Thy face;
On me I feel Thy wrath abide:
’Tis just the sentence should take place,
’Tis just—but O, Thy Son hath died!
For me I now believe He died!
He made my every crime His own,
Fully for me He satisfied:
Father, well pleased behold Thy Son.”
“For what you have done
His blood must atone:
The Father hath punished for
you his dear Son,
The Lord, in the day
Of his anger, did lay
Your sins on the Lamb, and he bore them away.”
Jonathan Edwards (1703-58)
“Christ, as it were, spent himself for us. Though we were enemies, yet he so loved us that from love to us he had a heart not only to look at our things, but to spend his own things for us, to forego his own ease and comfort, and outward honor, and to become poor for us. ‘For even Christ pleased not himself; but as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me’ (Rom. 15:3). And not only so, but to spend himself for us, to spend his blood, to offer up himself a sacrifice to the justice of God for our sakes.”
George Whitefield (1714-70)
“It had pleased the Father (for ever adored be his infinite love and free grace) to wound his only Son for our transgressions, and to arrest and confine him in the prison of the grave, as our surety for the guilt we had contracted by setting at nought his commandments. Now had Christ continued always in the grave, we could have had no more assurance that our sins were satisfied for, than any common debtor can have of his creditor’s being satisfied, whilst his surety is kept confined. But he being released from the power of death, we are thereby assured, that with his sacrifice God was well pleased, that our atonement was finished on the cross, and that he hath made a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction for the sins of the world.”
7. The Last Two Centuries
Charles Spurgeon (1893-92)
“If ever there should come a wretched day when all our pulpits shall be full of modern thought, and the old doctrine of substitutionary sacrifice shall be exploded, then will there remain no word of comfort for the guilty or hope for the despairing. Hushed will be forever those silver notes which now console the living, and cheer the dying; a dumb spirit will possess this dying world, and no voice of joy will break the blank silence of despair. The gospel speaks through the propitiation for sin, and if that be denied, it speaketh no more. Those who preach not the atonement exhibit a dumb and dummy gospel; a mouth it hath, but speaketh not…
Would you have me silence the doctrine of the blood of sprinkling? Would anyone of you attempt so horrible a deed? Shall we be censured if we continually proclaim the heaven-sent message of the blood of Jesus? Shall we speak with bated breath because some affected person shudders at the sound of the word ‘blood’? or some ‘cultured’ individual rebels at the old fashioned thought of sacrifice? Nay, verily, we will sooner have our tongue cut out that cease to speak of the precious blood of Jesus Christ.”
Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981)
Commenting on Romans 3:25:
“This is a statement of the effect that God’s wrath has been appeased and that God has been placated as the result of the work which our Lord did there by dying upon the Cross.”
Commenting on Isaiah 53:4:
“That means that not only have the sins been laid upon him, but that the wrath of God has been poured out upon him. The punishment that should have come to you and to me on account of our sinfulness and our sins came to him.”
John Stott (1921-2011)
“The sinless one was ‘made sin for us’, which must mean that he bore the penalty of our sin instead of us, and he redeemed us from the law’s curse by ‘becoming a curse for us’, which must mean that the curse of the law lying upon us for our disobedience was transferred to him, so that he bore it instead of us…
When we review all this Old Testament material…and consider its New Testament application to the death of Christ, we are obliged to conclude that the cross was a substitutionary sacrifice. Christ died for us. Christ died instead of us.”
Billy Graham (1918-2018)
“All through the Old Testament, God gave the promise of salvation if by faith man would believe in the coming Redeemer. Therefore God began to teach His people that they could only be saved by substitution. Someone else would have to pay the penalty for man’s redemption.”
“[Jesus] moved supremely, gloriously, and with great anticipation toward the mission that He had come to accomplish. He had come to save sinful men. He had come to appease the wrath of God.” 
“There is no possibility of being saved from sin and hell, except by identifying yourself with the Christ of the cross. If there had been any other way to save you, He would have found it. If reformation, or living a good moral and ethical life would have saved you, Jesus never would have died. A substitute had to take your place. Men to not like to talk about it. They od not like to hear about it because it injures their pride.”
J.I. Packer (1926-)
“Has the word propitiation any place in your Christianity? In the faith of the New Testament it is central. The love of God, the taking of human form by the Son, the meaning of the cross, Christ’s heavenly intercession, the way of salvation–all are to be explained in terms of it, as the passages quoted show, and any explanation from which the thought of propitiation is missing will be incomplete, and indeed actually misleading by New Testament standards.
In saying this, we swim against the stream of much modern teaching and condemn at a stroke the views of a great number of distinguished church leaders today but we cannot help that. Paul wrote, ‘Even if we or an angel from heaven’–let alone a minister, bishop, college lecturer, university professor, or noted author–‘should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!’. And a gospel without propitiation at its heart is another gospel than that which Paul preached. The implications of this must not be evaded.”
Note: Packer defines propitiation as “his sacrificial death for our sins Christ pacified the wrath of God.”
John Piper (1946-)
“Well, not much more could be more important than the question of whether Christ was, in fact, a just and merciful substitute for sinners, so that when he died for his elect, he actually bore their punishment so that they can experience no condemnation. That is the heart of the Christian gospel. If that goes, everything goes. Let us eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we perish (1 Corinthians 15:32).”
 From 1 Clement 49.5 as quoted in From Heaven He Came and Sought Her, p. 60.
 From Dialogue with Trypho, a Jew as quoted in Pierced for Our Transgressions, p. 164.
 From Proof of the Gospel as quoted in Pierced for Our Transgressions, p. 167-168.
 From On the Incarnation as quoted in Pierced for Our Transgressions, p. 170.
 From The Fourth Theological Oration, in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers as quoted in Pierced for Our Transgressions, p. 174.
 From Flight from the World, in The Fathers of the Church as quoted in Pierced for Our Transgressions, p. 175.
 From Homilies on Second Corinthians, in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers as quoted in Pierced for Our Transgressions, p. 176.
 From Against Faustus as quoted in Pierced for Our Transgressions, p. 178-179.
 Morals on the Book of Job, p. 148.
 From Summa Theologiae as quoted in Pierced for Our Transgressions, p. 184.
 Sermons of Martin Luther, vol. 2, p. 344.
 The Institutes of Christian Religion, p. 657.
 From The Lord’s Holy Supper as quoted in “Menno Simons (Anabaptist) and the Cross”
 From The Pilgrim’s Progress as quoted in Pierced for Our Transgressions, p. 189.
 From The Death of Christ as quoted in Pierced for Our Transgressions, p. 190.
 From The Works of the Rev. John Wesley as quoted in “John Wesley and the Cross”
 From the hymn “Wherewith, O Lord, Shall I Draw Near?”
 From the hymn “All Ye That Pass By”
 The Power of God: A Jonathan Edwards Commentary on the Book of Romans, p. 315.
 From the sermon “The Power of Christ’s Resurrection”
 From the sermon “The Blood of Sprinkling” as quoted in Pierced for Our Transgressions, p. 22.
 From Romans: An Exposition of Chapters 3:20-4:25 as quoted in Pierced for Our Transgressions, p. 195.
 The Cross of Christ, p. 148.
 Peace with God, ch. 8.
 In My Place Condemned He Stood, p. 32.
 Ibid., p. 34.
 From the Ask Pastor John podcast episode titled“Articulating the Glorious Cross to an Atonement-Rejecting Culture”