I wanted to know if there is a specific word for the person who is/the act of willingly taking the punishment of another person who is convicted of a crime so that they don't need to face the punishment.

For example,

Jesus willingly took the punishment of the sins of mankind by dying on the cross for them.

Here what is the single word for this act and how we can distinguish Jesus in this context?

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    – tchrist
    Jul 12, 2019 at 21:18

3 Answers 3


Jesus chose to be a scapegoat. Originally this was a goat that bore the sins of a community, but its transferred sense is anyone who bears the blame for others. Merriam-Webster:

1 : a goat upon whose head are symbolically placed the sins of the people after which he is sent into the wilderness in the biblical ceremony for Yom Kippur

2a : one that bears the blame for others

b : one that is the object of irrational hostility

The fact that scapegoating is often involuntary should show the altruistic qualities of anyone who becomes a scapegoat voluntarily. Furthermore, a cursory Google search shows that comparisons between Jesus and the scapegoat are nothing new.


Scapegoat is the word I would use. The history of the word from ancient Hebrew traditions fits well with the role Jesus took on.

Defined here as

a person or group made to bear the blame for others or to suffer in their place.


'Scapegoat' is a good word for this. 'Substitute' and 'ransom' are also frequently used.

  • 2
    Please elaborate your answer.
    – JJJ
    Jul 12, 2019 at 1:06

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