Summary: Key Words in the Christian Life - Propitiation (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email:

Reading: Romans chapter 3 verse 25:


25”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”;


25”God sacrificed Jesus on the altar of the world to clear that world of sin. Having faith in him sets us in the clear. God decided on this course of action in full view of the public--to set the world in the clear with himself through the sacrifice of Jesus, finally taking care of the sins he had so patiently endured.”


“Whom God put forward [before the eyes of all] as a mercy seat and propitiation by His blood [the cleansing and life-giving sacrifice of atonement and reconciliation, to be received] through faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in His divine forbearance He had passed over and ignored former sins without punishment”.


• There are 800,000 in the English language,

• 300,000 are technical terms.

• The average person knows 10,000 words and uses 5,000 in everyday speech.

• A journalist knows approximately 15,000 and uses around 10,000.

Propitiation is one of those 300,000 words that are technical terms in the English language:

• That the average person or journalist rarely uses.

• Simply put: ‘Propitiation is the satisfaction of God's holiness’.


When you walk into the Book of Romans, you are walking into a court of law.

• The good news is the judge is absolutely 100% fair and just.

• We can be confident he is the best and will do his job justly and perfectly!

• The bad news is that you and me, who are in the dock;

• And we are 100% guilty (and of that there is no-doubt!)


• How can somebody who is absolutely guilty.

• Be set free and yet at the same time satisfy the law?

Answer: Propitiation (or atonement) is the answer:

Just think again for a moment about this picture of a law court:

(a). There is of course the person in the dock:

• That person is in big trouble because the book of Romans teaches that;

• No guilty person can ever satisfy the law (too late – they are condemn – guilty!)

(b). Also in the court is the judge:

• The Judge may love us and want to help us all that he can,

• But being just and righteous he has to obey the Law.

(c). We need another option.

• The only solution is that someone else who is qualified and willing can come in,

• And could act as some kind of substitute.

• Someone who can obey the Law, and thus satisfy it.

• But also someone who is willing to transferee their righteousness onto us.

• Of course, that person is Jesus Christ.

• He alone is qualified to be our propitiation (atoning sacrifice).


(1). Definition of Propitiation:

Quote: One Christian writer put it this way:

“Propitiation is the work of Jesus Christ on the cross;

By which He satisfied God's holiness so God could extend mercy to lost sinners”.


• If you look up the word "propitiation" in an English dictionary,

• You will find it defined as "appeasing someone's anger."


A biblical example of that is Jacob and Easu (Genesis chapter 32):

• Jacob has ripped off his brother Esau.

• Esau is very angry at Jacob wants revenge.

• Eventually Jacob has to come back home.

• Knowing the rotten situation he left behind.

• He sends word, and he sends spies ahead to check out Esau.

• To find out if he is still mad and gunning for his blood.

• The report comes back;

• Esau is coming, and it is not likely to be good news when he catches up with you.

• Jacob gets presents and sends them to his brother,

• Hoping to turn his brothers frown into a smile.

In the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament);

• They uses the Greek word ‘Hilasmoi’.

• Which in our New Testament; some translations interpret as ‘propitiation’.

• In other words Jacob is sending something;

• In the hope of appeasing the anger of his injured and offended brother.

Question: Is that what the word means when it is used in the New Testament?

• Some people have the idea that God the Father is angry at lost sinners.

• And that he is out to get even with those people who have disobeyed Him.

But then God the Son comes up and says,

"Now, Father, please don't be angry!

I will go and die for these sinners, and this will appease Your wrath."

I believe nothing could be further from the truth.

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