Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States
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There is an online debate going on between several Coptic Christians regarding what is sometimes referred to as “penal substitution.” Many state that there is no component of atonement whatsoever regarding Jesus's death on the cross, and that the purpose was not only defeating death. However, it appears from many writings in the Bible and some writings (such as St. Athanasius) that this is a part of Jesus's death.

What is the Coptic Church's official view of this? (From my understanding even though the Church may believe there is an atonement part, it would not be called penal substitution under the Church because the focus is on both atonement and Jesus's victory over death, not mostly on God's wrath and punishment.)

It would be wonderful to get clarification directly from the Church to put this issue to rest. There is a lot of bad love (unfortunately) going on Facebook between Copts and it is confusing a lot of new converts (like myself) and others.

Jesus Christ's death accomplished salvation for the human race by fulfilling Divine Justice. It is not a matter of mere penal substitution. Jesus Christ's death is very relevant to each of us for our salvation. He paid a ransom for us who were sentenced to death. Though humanity was created in the image of God, by sin, Adam begot all generations in his corrupted nature. By the grace of God who instituted the Holy Mysteries [Sacraments], we were granted a new birth through the Holy Mystery of Baptism. Through this Holy Mystery, we die with Jesus Christ and are raised with Him also, putting on Christ and the new man.  Thus, we were grafted into the body of Jesus Christ. By the death of our Lord Jesus Christ on the holy cross, we were granted forgiveness, because Divine Justice was satisfied by the shedding of blood (Hebrews 9:22). Now restored by Jesus Christ's incarnation, in Heaven, we will grow in the "likeness of God." Jesus Christ took what is ours and gave us what is His, as we pray in the Friday Theotokia.

Excerpt from Soteriology, Original Sin and Atonement
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H.H. Pope Shenouda III clarified this issue and said, “The ransom was paid to the Divine Justice. The Old Testament sacrifices were symbols of the sacrifice of the cross. These sacrifices were not offered to the devil but were offered to God. Hence, holy fire came down from heaven and consumed them (1 Kg 18:38), and it is written that God “smelled a soothing aroma” (Gen 8:21) after the sacrifice of our father Noah. Since sin is committed against God (Ps 51:4) then the price of this sin should be paid to God Himself, the devil has no right to ask or to accept a ransom. The devil is just an accuser (Rev 12:10; Job 1). On the cross our Lord offered Himself to the Father (Lk 23:46) and not to the devil.”
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