And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world, (1 John 2:1b – 2).
The ideas of sin, transgression, penalty, and satisfaction for the one transgressed or sinned against are foreign to our therapeutic society. We may still understand to some degree the idea of restitution when reduced to monetary terms, but repentance escapes us. We may look for emotional and mental catharsis via social media, but we tend not to seek spiritual cleansing and healing from God – but rather His approval for our transgressions; after all, God wants us to be happy.
And so the idea that Jesus Christ the righteous is the propitiation, the satisfaction to God, for our sins is an idea that we can gloss over with the thought, “Well of course He is.” We quickly forget the Cross of 1John 1:7…and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. God is propitiated and we are cleansed in and through Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ was the object of the judgment of God for us, taking humanity and the sins of humanity on Himself, and by trusting in Him we can experience cleansing from sins.
A quick review of translations reveals that there are three preferences for translating the Greek word for “propitiation”; propitiation, sacrifice, and atoning sacrifice. My preference is “propitiation” for that is the best English equivalent, while the idea of sacrifice is certainly present in the Biblical idea of propitiation, John writes: He is the propitiation…; John doesn’t write: His sacrifice is the propitiation. While the death of Jesus Christ the righteous on the Cross is central to Him being our propitiation, John is pointing to the Person of Jesus in this passage and not an act of Jesus, though the act is bound up in the Person – He is the Lamb of God slain before the foundation of the world. Jesus is our Advocate, Jesus is our propitiation. Jesus satisfies God on our behalf, that is, because we have sinned we have incurred a penalty which we are unable to satisfy – God is holy and we are sinners, incapable of keeping His law, incapable of “making it right” when we transgress His law.
Because the blood of Jesus cleanses us, because Jesus is our Advocate with the Father, and because Jesus is our propitiation, we can have peace with God: Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ… But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us, much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life, and not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have received the reconciliation, (Romans 5:1; 8 – 11).
Because of Jesus we can also live life in intimacy with God with a clean conscience: Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water, Hebrews 10:19 – 22.
Let us live today in full assurance of faith in Jesus Christ.