Summary: A sermon on the word "propitiation" (Material and outline taken from John Stott's book, The Cross of Christ, chapter 7 "The Salvation of Sinners" under propitiation)


And the man that wrote the Home Sweet Home,He never was a married man. She'll meet you at the door when you go to come in And knock you down with a rolling pin, And the man that wrote the Home Sweet Home, He never was a married man.

To talk about propitation I like to use an illustration from my own life. Especially early in our marriage my wife was justified in her anger. Stay out many nights. Not answer the pager. On my way home I realize that things are going to be tough at home. Stop by and get some flowers. My wife meets me at the door with a frying pan but I pull out the flowers. Her attitude changes somewhat and she lets me come into the house and we are able to talk in a calm fashion.


A. To “propitiate” means to appease or pacify someone’s anger.

Main Scriptures on propitiation are:

“Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;” Romans 3:24, 25, KJV.

“My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, 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 the sins of the whole world.” 1 John 2:1, 2, KJV.

“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 4:10, KJV.

Maybe noticed that I used KJV here. Most current translations do not use this word. Why?

1. It is archaic.

2. Many do not want to talk about the wrath of God. However, the wrath of God is talked about in the Bible over 580 times. “The morning is come unto thee, O thou that dwellest in the land: the time is come, the day of trouble is near, and not the sounding again of the mountains. Now will I shortly pour out my fury upon thee, and accomplish mine anger upon thee: and I will judge thee according to thy ways, and will recompense thee for all thine abominations. And mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity: I will recompense thee according to thy ways and thine abominations that are in the midst of thee; and ye shall know that I am the LORD that smiteth.” Ezekiel 7:7-9, KJV.

3. The word propitiate came into our language from pagan concepts of trying to appease the gods through gifts, sacrifice, or suffering. Does God accept bribes? Can offerings or rituals cool God’s anger? Are we really to believe that Jesus by his death propitiated the Father’s anger, convincing him to turn from it and to look upon us with favor instead?

D. If we are to have a truly biblical doctrine of propitiation, it is necessary to tell it apart from pagan ideas at 3 points

Thesis: Talk about these 3 questions: 1) Why is propitiation necessary? 2) Who made the propitiation? 3) What is the propitiation?

For instances:

Why is propitiation necessary?

Sin arouses the wrath of God. Talked about the OT, this idea is not foreign to the NT.

“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” John 3:36, KJV.

“Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.” Ephesians 5:6, KJV.

Not just God the Father but also Jesus Christ has wrath. “And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:” Revelation 6:16, KJV.

Must understand that our God does not fly off the handle at trivial things, and that he does not lose his temper for no apparent reason. “The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.” Psalms 103:8, KJV.

There is nothing whimsical or arbitrary about our holy God. Neither is he malicious, spiteful or vindictive. His anger is not mysterious or irrational. God is faithful and like a rock.

God’s anger is predictable, because it is provoked by evil, and evil alone. The wrath of God is his unrelenting, unremitting, uncompromising opposition to evil in all its forms and manifestations.

God’s anger is not like ours. What provokes our anger (injured ego) never provokes his; what provokes his anger (holiness) seldom provokes ours. Righteous indignation.

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