Musings on…..Propitiation


*Foot update, my foot is killing me, I hope I didn’t hurt it worse, I would hate surgery*

The Pastor is preaching from Romans.

At our church you get to hear and learn words like ‘imputation’, ‘credited’, ‘atonement’, ‘justification’, ‘glorification’, sanctification’, ‘wrath’, ‘just’ and ‘propitiation’.

How fun is that? Well, to me, its fun, I love learning those words, I love learning about the bible and what it means to us as a people.

Romans 3:25-31

25God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

 27Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith. 28For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law. 29Is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, 30since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. 31Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.


Some notes I jotted down. [I don’t take many notes, sorry]

Propitatory sacrifice = propitiation

It presupposses the wrath of God. WE are under Gods wrath. The sermon, ‘Sinners in the hands of an Angry God’ by Johnathan Edwards is an awesome sermon and example of this.

Read it here, but hearing it is much better. here

Wikipedia, as much as I hate it, says this about propitiation

What caught my eye was this:

Propitiation in Judaism

Rabbinic Judaism teaches that atonement comes through the study and practice of the Torah‘s 613 commandments.

Interesting, huh?

Easton’s 1897 Bible DictionaryCite This Source


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 2:2; 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.”)

From the bible:

Ro 3:25whom 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; Heb 2:17Therefore, He 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. 1Jo 2:2and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for {those of} the whole world. 1Jo 4:10In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son {to be} the propitiation for our sins.


Propitiation isn’t a word in day-to-day usage, so a brief definition needs to be given. It refers primarily to the process whereby someone’s wrath is either ‘averted’ or ‘satisfied’, resulting in ‘mercy’ being received. The RSV’s rendering of the word with ‘expiation’ obscures the true meaning for this word is interpreted as ‘making amends for a wrong’.  Excerpt from here

The New Testament Greek Lexicon


 Strong’s Number:  2435 iÔlasth/rion
Original Word Word Origin
iÔlasth/rion from a derivative of (2433)
Hilasterion hil-as-tay’-ree-on
Noun Neuter 3:318,362

  1. relating to an appeasing or expiating, having placating or expiating force, expiatory; a means of appeasing or expiating, a propitiation
    1. used of the cover of the ark of the covenant in the Holy of Holies, which was sprinkled with the blood of the expiatory victim on the annual day of atonement (this rite signifying that the life of the people, the loss of which they had merited by their sins, was offered to God in the blood as the life of the victim, and that God by this ceremony was appeased and their sins expiated); hence the lid of expiation, the propitiatory
    2. an expiatory sacrifice
    3. a expiatory victim



Theologians stress the idea of propitiation because it specifically addresses the aspect of the atonement dealing with God’s wrath. Critics state that seeing the atonement as appeasing God is a pagan idea that makes God seem tyrannical. In response to this theologians have traditionally stressed that propitiation should not be understood as appeasing or mollifying God in the sense of a bribe or of it making an angry God love us because it is God who – both in the Old and New Testaments – provides the propitiation. “I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls” (Lev 17:11). God out of his love and justice renders Himself favorable by his own action.

On this point proponents of penal substitution are virtually unanimous. John Stott writes that propitiation “does not make God gracious…God does not love us because Christ died for us, Christ died for us because God loves us” (The Cross of Christ p.174) Calvin writes “Our being reconciled by the death of Christ must not be understood as if the Son reconciled us, in order that the Father, then hating, might begin to love us”. (Institutes II 16:4)

I like this above paragraph, we could go on and on about propitiation, there is tons of info on the subject.

But, it doesn’t get talked about very much, neither does the wrath of God.

Why? Basically it comes down to this: If we let God have all His attributes, He is the big formidable  righteous diety in our lives that we ‘should’ reverently obey and glorify.

If we do not allow God to to have wrath and justice along with His ‘nice’ attributes, he is our friend who gives us what we want and will turn us into pretty baby angels when we die.

Side note: Obviously we are not the ones who let God be or do anything, our attitude and thinking must change, Not Gods.

Hope you enjoyed; comments, additions or corrections are always welcomed, because I am but a mere (wo)man striving to live a spirit filled life…. and failing miserably.

Thats a good quote, maybe I should get that published somewhere……. 😉

Blessings, the [broken] Home Engineer

One response »

  1. Like most things, I have come to a place where I wonder how much we know about what we think we know about God. I know you must be surprised.

    To presuppose propitiation is where the “wrath of God” is appeased means we know God needs appeasement. How do we know? Because the Bible is an infallible teacher about God and it says so. In addition our understanding of the infallible Bible must also be infallible.

    I question the premise.

    Here is what I believe to be true: Following the disciplines of Christianity I have found peace and joy. I have experiences which I cannot explain except as a result of prayer. I have had knowledge of things which I cannot explain except as prophetic knowledge.

    I believe God has spoken to me several times and at least twice out loud (not as an inner knowledge.)

    But the more I study the Bible, the more I see the world, the more I question the assumptions upon which Christianity is based, I realize I know almost nothing about God and have experienced almost nothing of God.

    Jesus is even more of a puzzler. I don’t understand the need for blood atonement. There isn’t any question the ancient Jews practiced blood atonement and the Gospels picture Jesus as the ultimate blood atonement sacrifice. But when we place human characteristics on God his need for blood atonement seems to be petty and cruel.

    Which is why I go back to not believing God is human is necessary for me to maintain my faith.

    “Why do you ask my name? It is beyond understanding.” – Judges 13:18

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