21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 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. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
Sometimes as you read through the Bible you come across one of those big theological words. When this happens some will pass over it with no thought to its meaning, others will think they know what it means and they will move on also, but some will stop, ponder and consider the theological meaning and implications of these words. I trust you are in the latter group.
The word in question here is propitiation. Propitiation comes from the Greek word hilasterion which means to appease or render favorable. In this context hilasterion means a sacrifice that bears God’s wrath to the end and in so doing changes God’s wrath toward us into favor. God has set the sinner free through Christ, but He has not done so by setting aside the rules. He has set the sinner free in Christ by satisfying the demands of God’s justice in Christ. Due to sin, a penalty was to be meted out and a price was to be paid. Christ paid that price and suffered that penalty. God’s divine wrath had to be appeased, due to man’s sin; Christ has appeased that wrath.
So then we should not be so quick to pass over the word propitiation for it contains the theological richness that is the gospel. When we read the word propitiation we should stop to ponder the completed work of Christ that appeased the wrath of God against us and brought us into a favorable relationship with God. This change in our relationship towards God as our judge to God as our Father comes by faith and trust in the work of Christ our propitiation.