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About Doctrines

Propitiation



The KJV, NKJV and the New American Standard Bible use that big word "propitiation" at this point. This needs some clarification to fully understand what Paul is telling us in these two verses. Let us start by noting that the NIV translates this word as "a sacrifice of atonement." The New Century Version says that God gave Jesus as "a way to forgive sin.." The New Living Translation says that God gave Jesus "to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God's anger against us." Darby's translation says that Jesus was "set forth a mercy-seat."

This last translation helps us to understand the word usage of the Greek term under consideration in this passage. Many see the Greek as generally meaning "appeasement." In the Septuagint, the Greek hilasterion is used as the "mercy-seat" that sat up top of the Ark of the Covenant (Exod 25:17). In this sense it replaces a Hebrew word that simply means "covering." The Hebrew term is used to denote the lid of the Ark of the Covenant (Exod 25:21; 30:6). As the mercy-seat, the connotation of the word came to be used not only for the covering or lid, but also for the blood of the sacrifices that were sprinkled on the mercy seat on the Day of Atonement. In Hebrews 9:5 the KJV and NKJV actually translate the word as "mercy-seat."

The English word "propitiation" appears again in 1 John 2:2 and 4:10.

1 John 2:2
And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.

A different Greek word (hilasmos) is used in these verses as well as in Hebrews 2:17, where the term is translated along of the lines of "make reconciliation." The Greek here still has the meaning of making appeasement.

So, propitiation carries a meaning of Christ having been made the perfect sacrifice for our sins, appeasing the wrath of God, so that we might be reconciled back to God. This is nothing more that the true outcome that is pictured by all of the Old Testament rituals on the Day of Atonement.

God presented Jesus as the perfect, appeasing sacrifice so that through His (Jesus') blood, atonement could be obtained. Jesus was the perfect sacrifice, without blemish, without sin, and fulfilled the law, for He is God. Thus, God could accept the sacrifice once and for all.

Hebrews 7:27
who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people's, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.

Christ's sacrifice was through faith – "from faith to faith" (Rom 1:17). The faith of God is a faith we cannot understand. But we may understand His faithfulness. Having provided Jesus as the ultimate, perfect, appeasing sacrifice, God is faithful to accept the results of the Cross. This was done as a demonstration of God's righteousness and justice. God established the "rules" in the Old Testament and now God is living by those rules. His wrath has been appeased by the perfect sacrifice.

Here is one simple definition of faith. Faith is the saving righteousness of God revealed through the faithfulness of Jesus. The faithfulness of Jesus creates human faith. Of course, the faith of Jesus could be transferred from one human to the next via the spreading of the Gospel message. And, the faithfulness of Jesus is shown in the Cross. It is all about blood and sacrifice. The Old Testament teaches us that the life is in the blood.

Leviticus 17:11
‘For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.'

God initiated the sacrificial system to picture the Cross. The Cross is the symbol of salvation by blood and by faith.

All Scriptures taken from the NKJV

 

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