Subject unto Man

October 24, 2008 | 6 comments

It behooveth the great Creator that he suffereth himself to become subject unto man in the flesh . . . that all men might become subject unto him.

-2 Nephi 9:5

What does this mean?

It has a pleasing symmetry. Perhaps the Atonement is designed not just to satisfy the demands of justice but the demands of every human value, including the demands of beauty and the demands of order.

Perhaps, under a ransom theory of the Atonement, Christ bought us from those to whom we were indebted. The coin with which we were indebted was the injustices we had done to them, and the coin with which we were purchased was the injustices they had done to Him when he made himself subject.

Perhaps only someone who deeply knows what it is to be led can inspire our confidence in His leadership.

Perhaps there is a deep law written in our hearts that, when we realize the injustices we did to Christ, moves us to follow him. Since I didn’t personally nail Christ to the cross, this either means that in his atonement Christ suffered for my individual sins or else that I share the collective guilt of mankind.

In 2 Nephi 2 we read that God’s plan created the possibility of acting and being acted upon. We usually see acting as a valuable gift and being acted upon as something to be avoided. This verse suggests that perhaps the two are inseparable.


6 Responses to Subject unto Man

  1. BruceC on October 24, 2008 at 3:34 pm

    Perhaps the justice for every sin must be met not only if it violate God’s law but also if it violates man’s law. Christ became subject unto man in the flesh so that his atonement would satisfy human justice as well? Does this imply that when we forgive someone the injustrices they do us, that forgiveness is noted “in heaven” and that to some degree their guilt in remitted? And in the act of forgiving others we reduce the burden of the atonement (yeah, right. As if infinity minus one is any less than infinity). This is why God is so keen on our forgiving each other. Even making our being forgiven dependent on it.

    OK, I’m getting a little to heady for my taste. I soooo need to go get lunch.

  2. Adam Greenwood on October 24, 2008 at 3:44 pm

    That’s a notion I’ve toyed with too, BruceC.

  3. greenfrog on October 24, 2008 at 6:53 pm


    Interesting gloss of that verse. I’d always previously read it to be slightly asymmetrical — that Christ becomes “subject to” man meaning He takes on the limitations of flesh and blood mortality and mankind becomes “subject to” Christ meaning “consents to be governed by the will of” Christ.

    I need to ponder your reading further.

    Thanks for it.

  4. Adam Greenwood on October 24, 2008 at 7:41 pm

    You may be right, Greenfrog.

  5. Jim Cobabe on October 24, 2008 at 8:58 pm


    I don’t understand the idea of “collective guilt”. The second article of faith say “men will be punished for their own sins”. How does “collective guilt” work within this idea?

  6. Raymond Takashi Swenson on October 25, 2008 at 10:57 am

    Christ suffered under the hands of the Sanhedrin and Pilate so that he could perform the Atonement which placed all mankind in his debt eternally. We are subject to him.


Times and Seasons is a place to gather and discuss ideas of interest to faithful Latter-day Saints.