“He is the propitiation for our sins and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. (I John 2:2, ESV)
“In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loves us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (I John 4:10, ESV)
“Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” (Hebrews 2:17, ESV)
Propitiation is the turning away of God’s holy wrath by the providing of an offering. The New Testament uses the Greek words ιλασκομαι, and ιλασμος. These words carry the idea of averting the wrath of God.
Contrary to what people think, part of God’s glorious character is His wrath. The idea of God’s wrath is deeply rooted in both the Old and New Testament. In the Old Testament God’s wrath is referred to some 585 times. God forgives sin and that forgiveness includes the turning away of God’s wrath from the one who is forgiven.
Romans chapter one makes it very clear that God has unleashed His wrath toward those who are unrepentant and outside of His family. The Bible makes it clear that man receives a just reward of punishment because God’s wrath is directed toward sinners.
What is amazing to us as believers is that God Himself provides the means of turning away His wrath from us. God demonstrated His love in the fact that He provided His unique Son to be that which turned His wrath away from us. The very purpose that Jesus was born of Mary was to become the offering, the only offering that would turn away the wrath of God from the sinner.
Wrath, anger, and indignation are integral parts of the glorious and magnificent character of God. These character traits are exhibited and directed at sin. God’s love seems to spontaneously arise from His character; However wrath is generated by the wickedness of those whom God has created. All opposition to God’s Holiness and righteousness evokes the wrath of God.
Please be aware that the wrath of God is not so much as an emotional frame of mind nor is it a “knee-jerk” reaction such as anger. God’s wrath is a settled opposition to unholiness and unrighteousness. This is why we see the wrath of God in its effects upon sin and sinners.
We find particularly in the New Testament the call to repentance and faith in the means of the turning away of the wrath of God and from the wrath which is to come (I Thessalonians 1:9-10.) The good news for man is that Jesus Christ, a lamb provided by God, who took upon Himself the sin that offended God’s holiness and righteousness and suffered the wrath of God averted God’s wrath from those who in faith repent.
Propitiation – a great word!