Experiencing Christ

The Meaning of Propitiation

Rom 3:25  Whom God set forth as a propitiation place through faith in His
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.

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 mediated 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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