Jesus, Our Propitiator

The Wednesday feature of the Worldly Saints blog is a Scriptural meditation whereby I take a verse or passage I have been pondering lately and seek to edify my readers with it’s promises, encouragements, warnings, rebukes, etc.



I John 2:2 says, “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.”

What is “propitiation”? This word means “satisfaction, a means of appeasing another.”[1] It means that Jesus brings some form of satisfaction to the Father for someone. In this case, Jesus satisfies or meets the wrath of God against sin with all sufficiency and satisfaction. As the sacrifice for sin and our advocate, He satisfies the Father. He propitiates and is the propitiator.

In ancient pagan cultures, and even in many religions today, false deities needed to be appeased with bribes (e.g., fruit, money), then their wrath would be diverted and then the worshiper would help create a happy or favorable deity. They would propitiate their false god. Here, Jesus propitiates perfectly for the Father.

Isaiah would write, “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed” (Isa 53:5). This verse screams of propitiation! Being the source of piercing and crushing and chastising so we could be present before the Father as faultless. That is propitiation.

A lot could be said about the 2nd part of vs. 2. He does this for “our sins” (genuine believers) “but also” (or “in addition to”) “the sins of the whole world.” Calvinists and Arminians love to argue over this verse and whether His atonement was limited or not.

I had a professor in college that used to say, “If the plain sense makes sense, seek no other sense.” And the plain sense is this: Jesus died for his elect or His chosen, but His death was more than adequate for everyone’s sins. To say otherwise is to limit the power of His blood. Even the non-elect have sins that could be covered by His blood, but because of their rejection of Him as Lord and Savior He is not their propitiator. It’s like the veil being torn down in the temple and Jesus saying to all mankind, “You may now enter,” but instead, they refuse. Not everyone will come to know Him as their Lord and Savior. His death was sufficient to deal with the sins of the whole world, but only those who believe in Him will enjoy that reconciliation.

We need to know who Jesus is. As our Advocate (I John 2:1) and Propitiator, He has done the work we could not do. He has earned the salvation we could not earn. He became sin for us so we could become righteous (II Cor 5:21).

[1] A Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament, pg. 216


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