The Meaning of Propitiation

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Bible Verses

Rom 3:25 Whom God set forth as a propitiation place through faith in His blood... 1 John 2:2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for those of the whole world. Heb 2:17 ...He might become a merciful and faithful High Priest in the things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.

Consider this:

Romans 3:25 says that God set forth Christ Jesus a propitiation-cover through faith in His blood. The Greek word for propitiation is hilasterion, different from hilasmos in I John 2:2 and 4:10 and hilaskomai in Hebrews 2:17. Hilasmos is that which propitiates, that is, a propitiatory sacrifice. In 1 John 2:2 and 4:10 the Lord Jesus is the propitiatory sacrifice for our sins. The Lord offered Himself to God as a sacrifice for our sins (Heb. 9:28), not only for our redemption but also for God's satisfaction. In Him as our Substitute, through His vicarious death, God is satisfied and appeased. Hence, He is the propitiation between God and us.

Hilaskomai means to appease, to reconcile one by satisfying the other's demand, that is, to propitiate. In Hebrews 2:17 the Lord Jesus made propitiation for our sins to reconcile us to God by satisfying God's righteous demands on us. The Lord Jesus made propitiation for our sins to appease God's righteousness, to reconcile us by satisfying the demand of God's righteousness.

In Romans 3:25 hilasterion is the place of propitiation. So in Hebrews 9:5 this word is used for the lid of the ark within the Holy of Holies, and in Exodus 25:16-22 and Leviticus 16:12-16 the Septuagint also uses this word for the cover of the ark. The law of the Ten Commandments was in the ark, exposing and condemning by its righteous requirement the sin of the people who came to contact God. By the lid of the ark with the atoning blood sprinkled upon it on the day of atonement, the whole situation on the sinner's side was fully covered. Therefore, it was upon this lid that God could meet with people who broke His righteous law without, governmentally, any contradiction to His righteousness, even under the observing of the cherubim that bore His glory overshadowing the lid of the ark. The propitiatory or expiatory sacrifice, which foreshadowed Christ, satisfied all the requirements of God's righteousness and glory. This is what Romans 3:25 refers to. Thus, the word hilasterion is used to reveal that the Lord Jesus is the propitiation place, the propitiation cover. As the propitiatory sacrifice, He has made full propitiation on the cross for our sins and has fully satisfied the requirements of God's righteousness and glory.

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  • Daily Devotions

A Humble Sinner in Need of Propitiation

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Bible Verses

Luke 18:9 And He told this parable also to certain ones who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised the rest: (10) Two men went up to the temple to pray, the one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. (11) The Pharisee stood and prayed these things to himself: God, I thank You that I am not like the rest of men--extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. (12) I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all that I get. (13) But the tax collector, standing at a distance, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, God, be propitiated to me, the sinner! (14) I tell you, This man went down to his house justified rather than that one; for everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, but he who humbles himself shall be exalted.

Consider this:

In verses 10 through 14 the Lord tells a parable of two men who "went up to the temple to pray, the one a Pharisee, and the other a tax collector" (v. 10). The Lord often used tax collectors and Pharisees as examples. The Pharisee's word in verse 11, where he thanks God that he is not like the rest of men, does not sound like a prayer at all; instead, it sounds like an accusation of others. Likewise, his word in verse 12 about fasting and paying tithes does not sound like a prayer, but rather like an arrogant boast to God. Therefore, in his prayer the Pharisee was accusing others and boasting to God.

In verse 13 we see that the despised, accused, and condemned tax collector prayed in the way of humbling himself to the uttermost... His prayer implies the need of a Redeemer and also the need of propitiation. The tax collector realized how his sinfulness offended God. Hence, he asked God to be propitiated, to be appeased toward him by a propitiation, so that God may be merciful and gracious to him. This humble person realized that he was nothing but a sinner. Because he offered up a prayer that was based upon God's propitiation, he "went down to his house justified" (v. 14).

Actually, to repent and confess our sins is to humble ourselves. All saved ones are those who have been humbled and subdued. When I was young, I was proud and arrogant, never willing to admit that I was wrong. But one day the Spirit caught me, and I was convinced, humbled, and subdued. It seemed to me that no one was as sinful as I was. My attitude was the exact opposite of what it had been before. I can testify from experience that a saved person is a humble, subdued person. We need to humble ourselves to such an extent that we consider ourselves nobody and nothing,


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Not Offending, but Forgiving

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Bible Verses

Luke 17:1 And He said to His disciples, It is impossible for causes of stumbling not to come, but woe to him through whom they come. (2) It is more profitable for him if a millstone is put around his neck and he is hurled into the sea than to stumble one of these little ones. (3) Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. (4) And if he sins against you seven times in a day and turns again to you seven times, saying, I repent, you shall forgive him.

Consider this:

In church life, the church service, and the Lord's ministry it is a very serious thing to offend others. Sometimes it seems that we can accomplish a great deal. Nevertheless, we may tear down more than we build up. This is the result of stumbling others. When I was young I was given the following admonition: "Don't do the Lord's work in such a way that you build up one foot and then tear down a foot and a half." According to this admonition, it is possible for us first to build up and then to tear down more than what we have built up. We need to learn from this not to stumble others and thereby tear down what has been built up. We always need to be careful and cautious not to hurt others, not to offend others, and not to stumble others.

If we are offended by someone, (this is something the Lord is still working on with me) we need to be ready and willing to forgive that one. Then we shall not have problems with others. To forgive means not to be offended. According to the Lord's word in 17:4, even if a brother sins against us seven times a day, we should always be ready to forgive him. As soon as we forgive someone, we shall not be offended by him. But if we do not forgive, we shall be offended. The point here is that forgiving annuls offending.

Suppose a certain brother offends you, and you forgive him. Your forgiving of him will annul his offending of you. Then there will be no problem between you. However, suppose this brother offends you, and you are not willing to forgive him and drop the offense. This will cause trouble, especially to you, for you will become entangled as the result of being offended. Hence, we should avoid stumbling others, and we should also avoid being offended by others. We should always be careful and cautious not to offend others. At the same time, we should always be willing to forgive others.

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  • Daily Devotions

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