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The Pastor's Blog

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Propitiation… that’s a five-dollar word, a churchy word, archaic and unused in today’s vernacular.  


Propitiation is found only four times in the English Standard Version, and never in the Christian Standard Bible.


“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith” (Romans 3:23–25, ESV).


“He had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:17, ESV).


“He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2, ESV).


“God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:9–10, ESV).


Other English Bibles translate “propitiation” as “atoning sacrifice.” For example, the Christian Standard Bible reads: “He himself is the atoning sacrifice for our sins...” (1 John 2:2).


But “atoning sacrifice” may not be an accurate translation, or at least not a completely accurate translation. Propitiation is the means by which God’s wrath and justice are satisfied, and God’s mercy is demonstrated. He is the only possible substitutionary sacrifice that makes atonement for sin, and His death upon the cross was the only way that God could offer mercy and forgiveness to sinners, and at the same time, be just. Somebody had to die, and that somebody could only be Jesus.


Jesus is our Propitiation.


Jesus humbled Himself, leaving behind His royal throne, to become a man. Clothed in human skin, Jesus was tempted, tested, and tried in every conceivable way, and still He lived a perfectly sinless life. Thus, He became the only potential sacrifice for the sins of mankind. Indeed, He offered Himself freely. He took upon Himself our sin in order to appease God’s just wrath and to demonstrate God’s mercy for His fallen creation.


Propitiation refers to Christ’s sacrifice for sins in order to bring about a peaceful relationship between a holy God and sinful humanity. His substitutionary sacrifice was the only way that God’s wrath and justice could be satisfied, and at the same time, God’s grace and mercy could be demonstrated.


“God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” (as the propitiation for our sin) “that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16, NKJV).



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