Did Jesus Sin?


The Bible teaches that Jesus of Nazareth was God (e.g. John 1:1; 8:58; 20:28) and a real human being (e.g. Luke 2:7). It also teaches that all people sin and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). These facts have led many people to wonder if Jesus ever sinned.

The New Testament is emphatic that Jesus Christ never sinned. It is contrary to the teachings of the Bible, which the orthodox doctrines of the Christian faith are built on, to suggest that he did. Just as Adam was human and sinless before the Fall, Jesus was sinless his entire life.

How could Jesus be fully human but never sin? Could Jesus have sinned or was it impossible? What Bible verses teach about the sinlessness of Jesus? What does Jesus’ sinlessness mean for Christians today? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and others.

See What Is the Sin That Leads To Death? to learn about Jesus’ teachings.

Jesus sinless
Could Jesus have sinned or was it impossible? See below

How could Jesus be fully human but never sin?

The Bible teaches that all people sin (Rom. 3:23), but this hasn’t always been the case. Adam and Eve were truly human, and not divine, and lived sinless lives before they rebelled against God in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3).

Does having a physical body guarantee sinful behavior? Some people equate sin with having a physical body. They argue that if Jesus had a real flesh-and-bones body, then he must have sinned.

Yet this is contrary to the clear teachings of the New Testament that Jesus had a real body yet never sinned. Again, Adam and Eve had real physical bodies just like people today, yet they lived without sin for a period of time.

Did Jesus just never sin externally or was he sinless internally, too? Jesus never sinned in any manner. He never sinned “externally,” such as in his actions or words. He also never sinned “internally;” meaning, he never had a lustful thought, a wrong motive, promoted deception, or experienced unholy emotions and feelings like bitterness, envy, or pride. Jesus was completely, totally, and permanently sinless.

Could Jesus have sinned or was it impossible? Theologians who agree that Jesus never sinned, don’t agree about whether or not it was possible for him to do so. Some argue that Jesus never sinned because he couldn’t. Others argue that Jesus could have sinned, but never did. Historically, the terms “posse peccare” and “posse non peccare” are used in this discussion.

posse peccareposse non peccare
LanguageLatinLatin
Meaning“able to sin”“not able to sin”
ExampleAdam and Eve before the FallBelievers in heaven

Does it matter if Jesus could have sinned? It doesn’t matter in relation to whether he sinned or not because both perspectives agree that Jesus never sinned. However, it does matter with regard to Jesus’ temptations.

One side argues that if Jesus couldn’t have sinned then the temptations he experienced were inauthentic. The other perspective argues that the temptations were authentic, but the outcome was decided.

Both perspectives work at harmonizing statements in the New Testament that affirm the reality of Jesus’s temptations and evil’s inability to entice God himself.

  • Hebrews 4:15, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”
  • James 1:13, “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.”

How does Jesus’ sinlessness help Christians today? Whatever position a person takes on Jesus’ ability to sin or not (or maybe they are undecided on the issue), it doesn’t change how his sinlessness helps believers today.

  • First, it matters for their salvation because atonement requires a perfect sacrifice. See 2 Corinthians 5:21 and 1 Peter 1:9 below.
  • Second, Christians can feel comforted to know that Jesus knows exactly what temptation is like so they can go to him in their time of need. Jesus not only knows what temptation is like, but he has experienced overcoming it, and choosing holiness and righteousness instead of sin.

See Is Fear A Sin? to learn about the Bible’s teachings.

Cross of Jesus Christ
What does it mean that Jesus was made to be sin? See below

10 Bible Verses About the Sinlessness of Jesus Christ

  • 1 Peter 2:22, “He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth.”
  • Hebrews 4:15, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”
  • 2 Corinthians 5:21, “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 John 3:5, “You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.”
  • Romans 8:3, “For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh.”
  • 1 Peter 1:9, “But with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.”
  • Hebrews 9:14, “How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.”
  • Romans 5:12, “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned”
  • John 1:14, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
  • James 1:13, “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.”

What does 2 Corinthians 5:21 mean when it says the Father made Jesus to be sin? In this verse, Paul is teaching that Jesus paid the price for sin as an expression of love for the salvation of people (John 3:16). The verse doesn’t teach that Jesus became sinful in any way.

See Is Saying Oh My God A Sin? to learn about the Bible’s teachings.

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