Propitiation, Substitution And Atonement

Propitiation is properly for sins, as Hebrews 2, and 1 John 2, and Romans 3:25, 26 are to the same effect: only, Christ having taken the condemnation for sin, persons who do not search out words exactly “may speak of the effect as for sin. Sin, as calling for it, was not properly known in the Old Testament. Leviticus 1 does not, as far as I see, apply to this, except in a very general way. It was as a peri amartias that God condemned sin in the flesh in Christ for us, so that there was no condemnation for us. In Leviticus 1, though blood was shed and atonement made, all is sweet savour. Man’s state is no doubt assumed, that is, sin; but the condemnation side is not what is in view, but acceptance. In the peri amartias sin is properly in view. In propitiation sins are in view. Substitution is a human word, though a right one, but properly it is for sins, that is, the scape-goat in contrast with Jehovah’s lot. Sin, as such, is never forgiven: God condemned sin in the flesh, but Christ took this place, was given peri amartias, and, He knowing no sin, the condemnation of sin in the flesh took place, and that in death, and we are dead with Him for faith; it has ceased to exist: the condemnation of it gone. Death in Christ involves both. Guilt is from sins. We are dead to sin with Christ, but He has died for our sins. This last is what is properly atonement, and meets judgment. Death to sin is a question of state, not of guilt, though of exclusion from God. A question of defilement, not guilt, refers, and rightly, to what was done in the sanctuary, which was defiled (not guilty), which in full apprehension of the work has its importance.

The scape-goat had to do with personal guilt, the blood on the mercy-seat with approach to God, but the sanctuary was cleansed. The word “atonement” is very vague, and never used in the English New Testament but once, where it ought not to be. In the Old, kaphar “to make atonement” refers to the removal of positive guilt out of God’s sight. And, as I have said, sin properly does not come into question in the Old Testament, though birth in it is recognised in one place (Psa. 51:5) only. Even where the sweet savour of Christ’s acceptance is figured, man’s sinful condition is recognised, and the work that is infinitely acceptable is in view of this. But this, though it assumes it, does not deal with sin in itself. Lost and guilty are different: one is my state; the other, my responsibility and guilty failure. I believe I have said all I can at this moment.

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To apply 2 Corinthians 5:14 to death to sin, instead of death by it, is more wrong than I thought, because ponton is absolute. “He died for all,” and oi pontes applies necessarily to the game all.