In I John 2:2, Jesus is called our Propitiator. The word “propitiation” means “satisfaction” or “a means of appeasing another” (A Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament, pg. 216). It means Jesus brings satisfaction to the Father for someone.
In this case, Jesus satisfies or meets the wrath of God against sin. As the sacrifice for sin and our advocate, He satisfies the Father. He propitiates and is the Propitiator. John Murray, in his book The Atonement, has said that
“the doctrine of the propitiation is precisely this: that God loved the objects of His wrath so much that He gave His own Son to the end that He by His blood should make provision for the removal of His wrath. It was Christ’s so to deal with the wrath that the loved would no longer be the objects of wrath, and love would achieve its aim of making the children of wrath the children of God’s good pleasure” (pg. 15)
In ancient pagan cultures, and even in many religions today, false deities needed to be appeased with bribes (e.g., fruit, money) and then their wrath to 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” (Isaiah 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.
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