Pierced for our transgressions

Pierced for our transgressions

Rediscovering the glory of penal substitution

Steve Jeffery & Mike Ovey
from 9 reviews

This scholarly but approachable book looks at this central doctrine to evangelical faith from a whole variety of angles.

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The doctrine of penal substitution states that God gave himself in the person of his Son to suffer instead of us the death, punishment and curse due to fallen humanity as the penalty for sin. The belief that Jesus died for us, suffering the wrath of his own Father in our place, has been the wellspring of the hope of countless Christians through the ages.

However, an increasing number of theologians and church leaders are questioning this doctrine, claiming, for example, that it misunderstands the nature of God’s judgment; that it divides the Trinity; or that it misreads crucial texts such as Isaiah 53 or Mark 10:45. The doctrine has been provocatively described as ‘a form of cosmic child abuse’. In recent years, the criticisms – including some from within the evangelical constituency – have intensified. Furthermore, the debate is no longer confined to the academy, and has now found its way into popular Christian books and magazines.

In response, Jeffery, Ovey and Sach offer a fresh articulation and affirmation of penal substitution. In Part 1 they make the case that the doctrine is clearly taught in Scripture; that it has a central place in Christian theology; that its neglect has serious pastoral consequences; and that it has an impeccable pedigree in the history of the Christian church.

In Part 2, the authors then engage systematically with over twenty specific objections that have been brought against penal substitution. Their clear exposition and analysis, and charitable but firm responses, are accessible to all with a serious concern for the issues.

Product details


  • Foreword by John Piper
  • Part One: Making the Case
  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. Searching the Scriptures: the biblical foundations of penal substitution
  • 3. Assembling the pieces: the theological framework for penal substitution
  • 4. Exploring the implications: the pastoral importance of penal substitution
  • 5. Surveying the heritage: the historical pedigree of penal substitution
  • Part Two: Answering the Critics
  • 6. Introduction to the debate
  • 7. Penal substitution and the Bible
  • 8. Penal substitution and culture
  • 9. Penal substitution and violence
  • 10. Penal substitution and justice
  • 11. Penal substitution and our understanding of God
  • 12. Penal substitution and the Christian life
  • 13. A final word
  • Appendix: A personal note to preachers


Author Steve Jeffery, Mike Ovey
ISBN 9781844741786
Format Paperback
First published March 2007
Dimensions 155mm x 233mm x 28mm
Print size 9pt
Language English
Pages 372
Publisher IVP

Other information

'This extended declaration and defence of the penal substitutionary view of Christ’s atoning death responds to a plethora of current criticisms . . . with a thoroughness and effectiveness that is without parallel anywhere . . . I hail this treatise as an epoch-making tour de force.'
J. I. Packer

'This book deserves the widespread circulation achieved by corresponding contributions a generation ago – those of Leon Morris, Jim Packer and John Stott.'
D. A. Carson

'. . . I commend this book for its comprehensive and fair scrutiny of the many objections brought against the doctrine of penal substitution in recent years.'
I. Howard Marshall

'. . . probably the most significant book on the doctrine of the cross since The Cross of Christ. It is timely and urgently needed. Let the exposition of this magnificent doctrine both inform your mind and warm your heart.'
Mike Pilavachi

'The authors of this work compel us to take seriously an objective view of the cross of Christ; one that is not simply dependent on how we feel and what the culture around us promotes.
Michael Nazir-Ali

'At a time when some people seem determined to snuff out this doctrine from what is sung and taught . . . there is a need for the vital doctrine of penal substitution to be clearly, comprehensively and compellingly explained. This book does the job admirably.'
Stuart Townend

Independent reviews

Pierced for our transgressions

Tim Challies, Challies.com, July 1st 2007

Endorsed by a veritable who’s who of conservative evangelicals, this book is sure to clearly delineate the divide between those who hold to the historic Protestant position on this doctrine and those who do not. It has already done this in the U.K. and we expect it to do the same on the other side of the Atlantic when it is released later this year. I pray that it is widely read, widely studied and widely influential. Jeffery, Ovey and Sach have done the church a service with this volume. I’m grateful for it and commend it to you.... continue reading

Customer reviews


“An excellent defence of penal substitution”

This book is both a comprehensive response to the recent doubts raised over the doctrine of penal substitution and an effective exposition of the doctrine. The carefully precise style adopted enables the authors to address pertinent issues in sufficient detail, with detailed biblical exegesis, but briefly enough to be manageable. They demonstrate that penal substitution is both taught by the bible, has been widely accepted by the church throughout its history and is interwoven with many other key doctrines. I found this book helpful in gaining a better understanding of penal substitution and a number of other points. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to any serious reader.


“very thorough and helpful”

This is a very informative and readable explanation of penal substitution. It covers the historical and current issues in some detail without losing the non-theologically trained reader. It is a book to refer to time and again when the issues arise. The arguments are presented in language which is precise but accessible.


“Eminently satisfying!”

In Ps. 11, David asks 'When the foundations are being destroyed what shall the righteous do?' Part of the answer is 'Write books like this one!'This is a thorough, Biblically satisfying and articulate defence of the orthodox dosctrine of penal substitution. It is a demanding, though not heavy, read, and rewards patient persistence. Any one wanting to get to grips with this core doctrine will find their appetite satisfied.
A thorough overview of all the Biblical evidence is followed by a survey of key characters from history who believed it. The second part is given to refuting of objections to this truth. And John Piper's foreword is pure gold! Buy it and plunder it!


“Great easy to read reminder of this core doctrine and its implications”

This book is a fine restatement of the core doctrine of penal substitution, which has regrettably come under fire in recent years. The authors restate the doctrine in a solid, biblically based way, and show how it ties in to many other areas of our Christian faith. This is done in a way that avoids too much 'theological college' teaching, and is instead very accessible for the lay reader. The potentially most useful section of the book is where the authors confront the challenges that have been brought to the traditional understanding of penal substitution, and show how it is possible to answer them in a thorough and biblical way. A very good book for anyone who wants to be able to explain the confidence we have that Christ has ensured there is no condemnation for those that believe.


“An excellent book which unashamedly honours the Gospel”

I am greatly indebted to the authors for their thorough exposition of the Biblical doctrine of penal substitution while simultaneously comprehensively refuting the attacks made against it. Every Christian who reads this book will be better equipped to be a witness for 'the faith once delivered to the saints'.


“Destined to be a classic”

This book provides the most thorough and up-to-date defence of the doctrine of penal substitution available today. It manages to combine scholarly rigour with clarity and pastoral sensitivity.
The issues it addresses go to the very heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ. No church leader should be without a copy -- or with an unread copy!


“Quite good, but becomes monotonous”

The book tackles an important topic quite well, but becomes somewhat monotonous.


“Excellent! Essential!”

As is said in the reviews in the book, this is on a par with The Cross of Christ by John Stott as a landmark work.
It addresses the attack on the heart of the faith once for all delivered to the saints!


“Supportive of Penal substitution”

This book restates the orthodox, traditional position of the Christian Church of Penal Substitution. Penal Substitution has been under attack for a number of years and, in recent years, by people such as Steve Chalke and Brian McLaren (of the Emerging Church Movement). The book is lucid, well researched, accurate and needs to be in the library of all pastors and Christian workers and Christian teachers.

A big thumbs up!

Director of Rogma International Christian Miinisteries

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Pierced for our transgressions | Steve Jeffery, Mike Ovey | £17.99 £14.39