September 17, 2015


Most often when we ponder the work of Christ on the cross, we think of its SIN-WARD and MAN-WARD aspects. Sin was atoned for and man is justified by God the Judge when he/she believes in Christ.  

But, PROPITIATION is the GOD-WARD effect of Christ’s “once for all” death for sin and sinners. A key word to define it is SATISFACTION. PROPITIATION = SATISFACTION. What is satisfied? God’s holiness and righteous demands toward the sinner were rendered fully satisfied when His Son died in the sinners place. In the mind of God the offense of sin has been cleared.

My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: 2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” 1 John 2:1-2


In the Old Testament the Mercy Seat on top of the Ark of the Covenant in the holy of holies had to be regularly made a place of PROPITIATION by sacrifice.

 The writer of Hebrews describes this: “But [inside] beyond the second curtain or veil, [there stood another] tabernacle [division] known as the Holy of Holies. It had the golden altar of incense and the ark (chest) of the covenant, covered over with wrought gold….But into the second [division of the tabernacle] none but the high priest goes, and he only once a year, and never without taking a sacrifice of blood with him, which he offers for himself and for the errors and sins of ignorance and thoughtlessness which the people have committed.” (Hebrews 9:3-4,7 AMP). 

All this was a type of Jesus’ actual and propitiatory fulfilment on the cross: “But [that appointed time came] when Christ (the Messiah) appeared as a High Priest of the better things that have come and are to come. [Then] through the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with [human] hands, that is, not a part of this material creation, He went once for all into the [Holy of] Holies [of heaven], not by virtue of the blood of goats and calves [by which to make reconciliation between God and man], but His own blood, having found and secured a complete redemption (an everlasting release for us)” (Hebrews 9:11-12).


NOW, the blood-sprinkled body of Christ on the cross IS the Mercy Seat for sinners once and for all. The prayer of the publican (Luke 18:13), “God be merciful to me, the sinner!” can be translated “God, be Thou propitiated to me, the sinner.” God was rendered satisfied a short time after the publican’s prayer when His Son died. Now, we believe in Jesus for salvation and thank Him for the propitiatory work of Jesus on the cross. The mercy has been extended historically at Calvary.


In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).

“…for all  have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation  in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; 26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:23-26).

“Therefore, He (Jesus) had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the  people” (Hebrews 2:17).



...that by which God is rendered propitious, i.e., by which it becomes consistent with his character and government to pardon and bless the sinner. The propitiation does not procure his love or make him loving; it only renders it consistent for him to execise his love towards sinners. In Rom 3:25 and Heb 9:5 (A.V., "mercy-seat") the Greek word _hilasterion_ is used. It is the word employed by the LXX. translators in Ex 25:17 and elsewhere as the equivalent for the Hebrew _kapporeth_, which means "covering," and is used of the lid of the ark of the covenant (Ex 25:21; 30:6. This Greek word (hilasterion) came to denote not only the mercy-seat or lid of the ark, but also propitation or reconciliation by blood. On the great day of atonement the high priest carried the blood of the sacrifice he offered for all the people within the veil and sprinkled with it the "mercy-seat," and so made propitiation.

In 1 John 2 Ex 2:2 4:10, Christ is called the "propitiation for our sins." Here a different Greek word is used (hilasmos). Christ is "the propitiation," because by his becoming our substitute and assuming our obligations he expiated our guilt, covered it, by the vicarious punishment which he endured. (Comp. Heb 2:17, where the expression "make reconciliation" of the A.V. is more correctly in the R.V. "make propitiation.")