I am not a big word type of guy. I don’t use a lot of big words because I don’t really know a lot of them. And I don’t like it too much when someone uses big words with me that I do not know. Although, if they do, I usually go back and look it up so that I can know it next time.
Propitiation is a big word that we all need to know! God’s word is long. 66 books inside one book. Double columns too. And throughout God’s Book there are not a lot of big words. So when God does decide to speak a big word to us- we should listen. We should know it. We should look it up. We should learn it. We are very unwise to say “he is talking over my head” and just leave it with not knowing it. If God uses the word propitiation (which he does), then we need to make sure we know what it means.
The word propitiation is only in the Bible four times: Romans 3:25; Hebrews 2:17; 1 John 2:2; and 1 John 4:10. It would be quite beneficial for you to memorize all four of those.
Romans 3:25 “whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.”
Hebrews 2:17 “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.”
1 John 2:2 “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.”
1 John 4:10 “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
So what does it mean?
Wayne Grudem says it means “a sacrifice that bears God’s wrath to the end and in so doing changes God’s wrath toward us into favor.” (p.575 in Systematic Theology)
In other words, here is what I often tell our church members to know about it: When Christ died for us, He did not ONLY remove our sins from us or wash them away. When Christ died for us, He did take our sins from us and wash them away. And He did that by taking them upon himself. He became our sin. And therefore, He had to suffer the wrath of God for us because of our sins. SO, Jesus did not just wash away our sins. But He washed our sins and took our judgment and punishment for us because of them.
That is what propitiation is all about! Isn’t that a good big word to know? Re-read those 4 verses in context. Learn those 4 verses. Then trust in Christ even more because HE IS THE PROPITIATION FOR YOUR SINS!