Atonement

Boyd’s Bible Dictionary:

Concise Bible Dictionary:

The word “atonement” occurs but once in the New Testament and there it should be “reconciliation,” and the verb in the preceding sentence is so translated: “If when we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.... through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the reconciliation,” καταλλαγή (Rom. 5:10-1110For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. 11And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. (Romans 5:10‑11)). On the other hand, in Hebrews 2:1717Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. (Hebrews 2:17) the AV (KJV) has “to make reconciliation for the sins of the people:” here it is “propitiation,” ἱλἀσκογαι. If the word atonement is not found in the New Testament, atonement in its true meaning is spoken of continually, as “ransom”; “bearing our sins in his own body on the tree”; “Christ our passover is sacrificed for us”; “Christ.... being made a curse for us”; “He suffered for sins, the just for the unjust”; and, to use the language of faith, “with his stripes we are healed”; “He was delivered for our offenses”; “He was manifested to take away our sins.”
In the Old Testament we have the word “atonement” continually, but “propitiation” not at all; “expiation” twice in the margin (Num. 35:3333So ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are: for blood it defileth the land: and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it. (Numbers 35:33); Isa. 47:1111Therefore shall evil come upon thee; thou shalt not know from whence it riseth: and mischief shall fall upon thee; thou shalt not be able to put it off: and desolation shall come upon thee suddenly, which thou shalt not know. (Isaiah 47:11)). But the same word, kaphar, though generally translated by make “atonement,” is employed for “purging” and occasionally for “cleansing,” “reconciling,” “purifying.” The word kaphar is literally “to cover,” with various prepositions with it; the ordinary one is “up” or “upon.” Hence in “atoned for him” or “his sin:” he or his sin is covered up: atonement is made for him or for his sin. Atonement was made upon the horns of the altar: the force is “atonement for.” With the altar of incense, atonement was not made upon it, but for it; so for the holy place, and for or about Aaron and his house: the preposition is al.
The same is used with the two goats. The sins were seen on the sinless goat, and expiation was made in respect of those sins. The how is not said here, but it is by the two goats making really one, because the object was to show that the sins were really laid upon it (that is, on Christ), and the sins carried away out of sight, and never to be found. If we can get our ideas, as taught of God as to the truth, into the train of Jewish thought, there is no difficulty in the al. In either case the difficulty arises from the fact that in English for presents the interested person to the mind; on is merely the place where it was done, as on an altar; whereas the al refers to the clearing away by the kaphar what was upon the thing al which the atoning rite was performed. Clearly the goat was not the person interested, nor was it merely done upon it as the place. It was that on which the sins lay, and they must be cleared and done away. The expiation referred to them as thus laid on the goat. As has been said, the how is not stated here, but the all-important fact defined that they were all carried away from Israel and from before God. The needed blood or life was presented to God in the other, which did really put them away; but did much more, and that aspect is attached to them there. This double aspect of the atoning work is of the deepest importance and interest, the presenting of the blood to God on the mercy seat, and the bearing away the sins. The word kaphar, to make atonement, occurs in (Ex. 29; Ex. 30; Ex. 32; Lev. 1; Lev. 4-10; Lev. 12; Lev. 14-17; Lev. 19; Lev. 23; Num. 5; Num. 6; Num. 8; Num. 15; Num. 16; Num. 25; Num. 28; Num. 29; Num. 31; 2 Sam. 21:3; 13Wherefore David said unto the Gibeonites, What shall I do for you? and wherewith shall I make the atonement, that ye may bless the inheritance of the Lord? (2 Samuel 21:3) Chron. 6:49; 2 Chron. 29:2424And the priests killed them, and they made reconciliation with their blood upon the altar, to make an atonement for all Israel: for the king commanded that the burnt offering and the sin offering should be made for all Israel. (2 Chronicles 29:24); Neh. 10:3333For the showbread, and for the continual meat offering, and for the continual burnt offering, of the sabbaths, of the new moons, for the set feasts, and for the holy things, and for the sin offerings to make an atonement for Israel, and for all the work of the house of our God. (Nehemiah 10:33)).
A short notice of some other Hebrew words may help. We have nasa, “to lift up,” and so to forgive, to lift up the sins away in the mind of the person offended, or to show favor in lifting up the countenance of the favored person (Psa. 4:66There be many that say, Who will show us any good? Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us. (Psalm 4:6)). We have also kasah, “to cover,” as in Psalm 32:11<<A Psalm of David, Maschil.>> Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. (Psalm 32:1), where sin is “covered”: sometimes used with al, as in Prov. 10:1212Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins. (Proverbs 10:12), “love covereth all sins,” forgives: they are out of sight and mind The person is looked at with love, and not the faults with offense.
But in such words there is not the idea of expiation, the side of the offender is contemplated, and he is looked at in grace, whatever the cause: it may be needed atonement, or simply, as in Proverbs, gracious kindness. We have also salach, “pardon or forgiveness.” Thus it is used as the effect of kaphar, as in Leviticus 4:2020And he shall do with the bullock as he did with the bullock for a sin offering, so shall he do with this: and the priest shall make an atonement for them, and it shall be forgiven them. (Leviticus 4:20). But kaphar has always a distinct and important idea connected with it. It views the sin as toward God, and is ransom, when not used literally for sums of money; and kapporeth is the mercy seat. And though it involves forgiveness, purging from sin, it has always God in view, not merely that the sinner is relieved or forgiven: there is expiation and propitiation in it. And this is involved in the idea of purging sin, or making the purging of sin (ιλάσκεσθυι, ἐξιλάσκεσθαι, ιλυσμὸν ποιεπιν); it is in God’s sight as that by which He is offended, and what He rejects and judges.
There was a piaculum, “an expiatory sacrifice,” something satisfying for the individual involved in guilt, or what was offensive to God, what He could not tolerate from His very nature. This with the heathen, who attached human passions or demon-revenge to their gods, was of course perverted to meet those ideas. They deprecated the vengeance of a probably angry and self-vengeful being. But God has a nature which is offended by sin. It is a holy, not of course a passionate, one; but the majesty of holiness must be maintained. Sin ought not to be treated with indifference, and God’s love provides the ransom. It is God’s Lamb who undertakes and accomplishes the work. The perfect love of God and His righteousness, the moral order of the universe and of our souls through faith, is maintained by the work of the cross. Through the perfect love not only of God, the giver, but of Him, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, propitiation is made, expiation for sin; its aspect being toward God, while the effect applies to us in cleansing and justifying, though it goes much farther.
Expiation is more the satisfaction itself which is made, the piaculum, what takes the wrath, and is devoted, made the curse, and so substituted for the offender, so that he goes free. And here the noun kopher comes to let light in on the inquiry. It is translated “ransom, satisfaction,” and in 1 Samuel 12:33Behold, here I am: witness against me before the Lord, and before his anointed: whose ox have I taken? or whose ass have I taken? or whom have I defrauded? whom have I oppressed? or of whose hand have I received any bribe to blind mine eyes therewith? and I will restore it you. (1 Samuel 12:3) a “bribe.” So in Exodus 21:3030If there be laid on him a sum of money, then he shall give for the ransom of his life whatsoever is laid upon him. (Exodus 21:30) a kopher (translated “sum of money”) is laid upon a man to save his life where his ox had killed his neighbor; but in Numbers 35:3131Moreover ye shall take no satisfaction for the life of a murderer, which is guilty of death: but he shall be surely put to death. (Numbers 35:31) no kopher was to be taken for the life of a murderer; for (Num. 35:3333So ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are: for blood it defileth the land: and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it. (Numbers 35:33)) the land cannot be cleansed, kaphar, but by the blood of the man that shed blood as a murderer. This clearly shows what the force of kopher and of kaphar is. A satisfaction is offered suited to the eye and mind of him who is displeased and who judges; and through this there is purgation of the offense, cleansing, forgiveness, and favor, according to him who takes cognizance of the evil.
A word may be added as to the comparison made between the two birds (Lev. 14:4-74Then shall the priest command to take for him that is to be cleansed two birds alive and clean, and cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop: 5And the priest shall command that one of the birds be killed in an earthen vessel over running water: 6As for the living bird, he shall take it, and the cedar wood, and the scarlet, and the hyssop, and shall dip them and the living bird in the blood of the bird that was killed over the running water: 7And he shall sprinkle upon him that is to be cleansed from the leprosy seven times, and shall pronounce him clean, and shall let the living bird loose into the open field. (Leviticus 14:4‑7)), and the two goats (Lev. 16:7-107And he shall take the two goats, and present them before the Lord at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. 8And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the Lord, and the other lot for the scapegoat. 9And Aaron shall bring the goat upon which the Lord's lot fell, and offer him for a sin offering. 10But the goat, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be presented alive before the Lord, to make an atonement with him, and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness. (Leviticus 16:7‑10)). The object of the birds was the cleansing of the leper; it was application to the defiled man, not the kopher, ransom, presented to God. It could not have been done but on the ground of the blood-shedding and satisfaction, but the immediate action was the purifying: hence there was water as well as blood. One bird was slain over running water in an earthen vessel, and the live bird and other objects dipped in it, and the man was then sprinkled, and the living bird let loose far from death, though once identified with it, and was free. The Spirit, in the power of the word, makes the death of Christ available in the power of His resurrection. There was no laying sins on the bird let free, as on the goat: it was identified with the slain one, and then let go. The living water in the earthen vessel is doubtless the power of the Spirit and word in human nature, characterizing the form of the truth, though death and the blood must come in, and all nature, its pomp and vanity, be merged in it. The leper is cleansed and then can worship. This is not the atonement itself towards God, though founded on it, as marked by the death of the bird. It is the cleansing of man in death to the flesh, but in the power of resurrection known in Christ who once died to sin.
So also the Red Heifer (Num. 19:1-221And the Lord spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, 2This is the ordinance of the law which the Lord hath commanded, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring thee a red heifer without spot, wherein is no blemish, and upon which never came yoke: 3And ye shall give her unto Eleazar the priest, that he may bring her forth without the camp, and one shall slay her before his face: 4And Eleazar the priest shall take of her blood with his finger, and sprinkle of her blood directly before the tabernacle of the congregation seven times: 5And one shall burn the heifer in his sight; her skin, and her flesh, and her blood, with her dung, shall he burn: 6And the priest shall take cedar wood, and hyssop, and scarlet, and cast it into the midst of the burning of the heifer. 7Then the priest shall wash his clothes, and he shall bathe his flesh in water, and afterward he shall come into the camp, and the priest shall be unclean until the even. 8And he that burneth her shall wash his clothes in water, and bathe his flesh in water, and shall be unclean until the even. 9And a man that is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer, and lay them up without the camp in a clean place, and it shall be kept for the congregation of the children of Israel for a water of separation: it is a purification for sin. 10And he that gathereth the ashes of the heifer shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even: and it shall be unto the children of Israel, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among them, for a statute for ever. 11He that toucheth the dead body of any man shall be unclean seven days. 12He shall purify himself with it on the third day, and on the seventh day he shall be clean: but if he purify not himself the third day, then the seventh day he shall not be clean. 13Whosoever toucheth the dead body of any man that is dead, and purifieth not himself, defileth the tabernacle of the Lord; and that soul shall be cut off from Israel: because the water of separation was not sprinkled upon him, he shall be unclean; his uncleanness is yet upon him. 14This is the law, when a man dieth in a tent: all that come into the tent, and all that is in the tent, shall be unclean seven days. 15And every open vessel, which hath no covering bound upon it, is unclean. 16And whosoever toucheth one that is slain with a sword in the open fields, or a dead body, or a bone of a man, or a grave, shall be unclean seven days. 17And for an unclean person they shall take of the ashes of the burnt heifer of purification for sin, and running water shall be put thereto in a vessel: 18And a clean person shall take hyssop, and dip it in the water, and sprinkle it upon the tent, and upon all the vessels, and upon the persons that were there, and upon him that touched a bone, or one slain, or one dead, or a grave: 19And the clean person shall sprinkle upon the unclean on the third day, and on the seventh day: and on the seventh day he shall purify himself, and wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and shall be clean at even. 20But the man that shall be unclean, and shall not purify himself, that soul shall be cut off from among the congregation, because he hath defiled the sanctuary of the Lord: the water of separation hath not been sprinkled upon him; he is unclean. 21And it shall be a perpetual statute unto them, that he that sprinkleth the water of separation shall wash his clothes; and he that toucheth the water of separation shall be unclean until even. 22And whatsoever the unclean person toucheth shall be unclean; and the soul that toucheth it shall be unclean until even. (Numbers 19:1‑22)), was not in itself an act of atonement, but of purification. The ground was there laid in the slaying and burning of the heifer. Sin was, so to speak, consumed in it, and the blood was sprinkled seven times before the tabernacle of the congregation. When Christ died sin was, as it were, all consumed for His people by the fire of judgment, and all the value of the blood was before God where He communicated with the people. All that was settled, but man had defiled himself in his journey through the wilderness, and must be cleansed. The witness that sin had been put away long ago by Christ undergoing what was the fruit of sin was brought by the living power of the Holy Spirit and the word, and so he was purified. But the act of purifying is not in itself atonement; for atonement the offering is presented to God. It is a kopher, a ransom, a satisfaction, to meet the infinite, absolute perfection of God’s nature and character, which indeed is there alone brought out. Thereby atonement is made and the very Day of Atonement is called kippurim. The priest made an atonement in respect of the sins; and it had the double aspect of presenting the blood before God within as meeting what He was, and bearing His people’s sins and carrying them away never to be found. We must make the difference of an un-rent veil and repeated sacrifices, and a rent veil and a sacrifice offered once for all. This is taught in the Epistle to the Hebrews.
There is still one case to be noticed, but it was merely a principle confirming the real character of the kaphar, making atonement. In Exodus 30:11-1611And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 12When thou takest the sum of the children of Israel after their number, then shall they give every man a ransom for his soul unto the Lord, when thou numberest them; that there be no plague among them, when thou numberest them. 13This they shall give, every one that passeth among them that are numbered, half a shekel after the shekel of the sanctuary: (a shekel is twenty gerahs:) an half shekel shall be the offering of the Lord. 14Every one that passeth among them that are numbered, from twenty years old and above, shall give an offering unto the Lord. 15The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel, when they give an offering unto the Lord, to make an atonement for your souls. 16And thou shalt take the atonement money of the children of Israel, and shalt appoint it for the service of the tabernacle of the congregation; that it may be a memorial unto the children of Israel before the Lord, to make an atonement for your souls. (Exodus 30:11‑16) it was ordered that when the people were numbered, each, rich or poor, should give half a shekel as a kopher, ransom, for his soul or life. This had nothing to do with sin, but with ransom, that there might be no plague — a recognition that they belonged to God all alike, and could have no human boast in numbers, as David afterward brought the plague on Israel. This was offered to God as a sign of this, and shows what the force of kaphar, making atonement, is.
We have no atonement in connection with the meat offering: we get the perfectness of Christ’s person, and all the elements that constituted it so as man, and there tested by the fire of God, which was even to death, the death of the cross, and all a perfect sweet savor, and perfect in presenting it to God a sweet savor, but no kopher, ransom: for that we must have blood-shedding.
The essence then of atonement is, firstly, a work or satisfaction presented to God according to, and perfectly glorifying, His nature and character about sin by sacrifice; and secondly, the bearing our sins; glorifying God even where sin was and in respect of sin (and thus His love is free to go out to all sinners); and giving the believer, him that comes to God by that blood-shedding, the certainty that his sins are all gone, and that God will remember them no more.

From Anstey’s Doctrinal Definitions:

This term is not found in the New Testament, but the truth of it surely is. (The text in the KJV in Romans 5:1111And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. (Romans 5:11) mistakenly states “atonement,” but it should be reconciliation.”) Bible teachers use the word “atonement” in reference to the work that Christ accomplished on the cross in the putting away of sin(s) by the sacrifice of Himself (Heb. 9:2626For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. (Hebrews 9:26)).
The word “atonement” (“kaphar” in the Hebrew) means to cover (Lev. 16:6, 10-11, 16-18, 276And Aaron shall offer his bullock of the sin offering, which is for himself, and make an atonement for himself, and for his house. (Leviticus 16:6)
10But the goat, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be presented alive before the Lord, to make an atonement with him, and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness. 11And Aaron shall bring the bullock of the sin offering, which is for himself, and shall make an atonement for himself, and for his house, and shall kill the bullock of the sin offering which is for himself: (Leviticus 16:10‑11)
16And he shall make an atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins: and so shall he do for the tabernacle of the congregation, that remaineth among them in the midst of their uncleanness. 17And there shall be no man in the tabernacle of the congregation when he goeth in to make an atonement in the holy place, until he come out, and have made an atonement for himself, and for his household, and for all the congregation of Israel. 18And he shall go out unto the altar that is before the Lord, and make an atonement for it; and shall take of the blood of the bullock, and of the blood of the goat, and put it upon the horns of the altar round about. (Leviticus 16:16‑18)
27And the bullock for the sin offering, and the goat for the sin offering, whose blood was brought in to make atonement in the holy place, shall one carry forth without the camp; and they shall burn in the fire their skins, and their flesh, and their dung. (Leviticus 16:27)
, etc.). The sacrifices for sin in the Old Testament did that; they “covered” the sins of the people before God (Psa. 32:11<<A Psalm of David, Maschil.>> Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. (Psalm 32:1)). But those sacrifices could not “take away” sins (Heb. 10:44For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. (Hebrews 10:4)). Such required an infinitely greater sacrifice than that “of bulls and of goats.” Today, on account of Christ’s finished work on the cross, the sins of those who believe are put away” (Heb. 9:2626For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. (Hebrews 9:26)) and “taken away” (1 John 3:55And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. (1 John 3:5)). Since Christ’s finished work has accomplished much more than providing a covering for sin, the word “atonement” drops off in the New Testament when Christ’s death is in view. Instead, the two parts of His finished work are focused on:
•  Propitiation—meets God’s holy claims against sin.
•  Substitution—meets our guilt.
In Romans 3:2525Whom 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 3:25), J. N. Darby translates "propitiation" (in the KJV) as "mercy-seat." The Apostle Paul's point in this verse is that God has set forth Christ as the Mercy Seat in the gospel testimony. The mercy seat in the Old Testament sacrificial system was the place where God met with His people on the ground of the blood of a victim—a sacrifice (Ex. 25:21-2221And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee. 22And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel. (Exodus 25:21‑22); Lev. 16:1414And he shall take of the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it with his finger upon the mercy seat eastward; and before the mercy seat shall he sprinkle of the blood with his finger seven times. (Leviticus 16:14)). The blood on the mercy seat illustrates (typically) what the gospel announces—that propitiation has been made. Christ glorified on high is now the divine meeting Place for all in the world to come and be saved. He is not on the cross today, but is risen and seated on high in glory. He is there as an Object of testimony for all to believe. Hence, the sinner desiring to be saved does not come to a dying Saviour on the cross, but to a risen Saviour on high. The apostles preached Christ as such (a risen Saviour) throughout the book of the Acts (Acts 4:10-12; 5:29-32; 10:38-43; 13:22-39; 16:3110Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. 11This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. 12Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:10‑12)
29Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. 30The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. 31Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. 32And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him. (Acts 5:29‑32)
38How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. 39And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: 40Him God raised up the third day, and showed him openly; 41Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead. 42And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. 43To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. (Acts 10:38‑43)
22And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will. 23Of this man's seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus: 24When John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. 25And as John fulfilled his course, he said, Whom think ye that I am? I am not he. But, behold, there cometh one after me, whose shoes of his feet I am not worthy to loose. 26Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent. 27For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him. 28And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain. 29And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre. 30But God raised him from the dead: 31And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people. 32And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, 33God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. 34And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David. 35Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. 36For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption: 37But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption. 38Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: 39And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. (Acts 13:22‑39)
31And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. (Acts 16:31)
).
This refers to the side of Christ's work on the cross that has to do with His taking our guilty place under the judgment of God, and thus bore our sins in His own body on the tree (1 Peter 2:2424Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. (1 Peter 2:24)). Propitiation is for the whole world (1 John 2:22And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:2)), but substitution applies only to those who believe. The actual word “substitution” is not in the Bible, but the truth of it is found in many places. For instance, when the believer’s side of Christ’s work (substitution) is in view in Scripture, it will say, "many"—referring to the many who believe (Isa. 53:11-1211He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. 12Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:11‑12); Matt. 20:28; 26:2828Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. (Matthew 20:28)
28For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. (Matthew 26:28)
; John 17:22As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. (John 17:2); Rom. 5:1919For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. (Romans 5:19); Heb. 2:10; 9:2810For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. (Hebrews 2:10)
28So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation. (Hebrews 9:28)
). Or, it will say, "us," "our," or "we"—again referring to that same company of believers (Rom. 4:2525Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. (Romans 4:25); 1 Cor. 15:33For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; (1 Corinthians 15:3); 1 Peter 2:2424Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. (1 Peter 2:24); Rev. 1:55And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, (Revelation 1:5), etc.). Isaiah 53 mentions Christ's substitutionary work ten times—verses: 5 (four times), 6, 8, 10, 11, 12 (twice).
A frequent error in preaching today is in telling lost sinners that Christ died for their sins. If this erroneous statement is worked out to its logical conclusion, it makes God to be unjust in His dealings with men! If indeed Christ has borne the judgment for the sins of all men, then God would not judge any sinner for his sins, because the price has been paid for them. Therefore, announcing to an audience of unbelievers that Christ died for their sins, or that Christ bore their sins, is false. He only bore the sins of those who believe—the “many” (Isa. 53:1212Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:12); Heb. 9:2828So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation. (Hebrews 9:28)). Out of this mistaken idea comes the thought that in the day of judgment God will not judge the unbeliever for his sins, because that has been settled at the cross. The question in that day (they think) will simply be whether a person has received Christ or not. If they haven't received Him in faith, then they will be judged on that basis, as a rejecter of Christ. This, however, is not the truth of Scripture which says that the lost will be judged "according to their works" (Rev. 20:12-1512And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 14And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:12‑15)). As a rule, in the gospel we are to preach propitiation to the world (1 Tim. 2:66Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. (1 Timothy 2:6)), and upon sinners believing the message of God’s grace, we are to teach them the truth of substitution for their peace.
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Romans 3:2525Whom 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 3:25) gives God's side of Christ's work on the cross, emphasizing propitiation, whereas Romans 4:2525Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. (Romans 4:25) gives the believer's side of Christ's work on the cross, emphasizing substitution. In 1 Peter 3:1818For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: (1 Peter 3:18), the Apostle Peter linked these things together, and then added to it the truth of reconciliation. He said, “Christ suffered for us (propitiation), the Just for the unjust (substitution), that He might bring us to God” (reconciliation).
The two parts in atonement are illustrated in the sacrifices made on the Day of Atonement. Atonement was first made for Aaron’s house (Lev. 16:11-1411And Aaron shall bring the bullock of the sin offering, which is for himself, and shall make an atonement for himself, and for his house, and shall kill the bullock of the sin offering which is for himself: 12And he shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from off the altar before the Lord, and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small, and bring it within the vail: 13And he shall put the incense upon the fire before the Lord, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat that is upon the testimony, that he die not: 14And he shall take of the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it with his finger upon the mercy seat eastward; and before the mercy seat shall he sprinkle of the blood with his finger seven times. (Leviticus 16:11‑14)), which typifies the Church as a company of priests (1 Peter 2:55Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:5); Rev. 1:66And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. (Revelation 1:6)) and then for the house of Israel (Lev. 16:15-2215Then shall he kill the goat of the sin offering, that is for the people, and bring his blood within the vail, and do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it upon the mercy seat, and before the mercy seat: 16And he shall make an atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins: and so shall he do for the tabernacle of the congregation, that remaineth among them in the midst of their uncleanness. 17And there shall be no man in the tabernacle of the congregation when he goeth in to make an atonement in the holy place, until he come out, and have made an atonement for himself, and for his household, and for all the congregation of Israel. 18And he shall go out unto the altar that is before the Lord, and make an atonement for it; and shall take of the blood of the bullock, and of the blood of the goat, and put it upon the horns of the altar round about. 19And he shall sprinkle of the blood upon it with his finger seven times, and cleanse it, and hallow it from the uncleanness of the children of Israel. 20And when he hath made an end of reconciling the holy place, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar, he shall bring the live goat: 21And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness: 22And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness. (Leviticus 16:15‑22)), which is a type of the remnant of Israel coming into the blessing of Christ’s work on the cross in a coming day (Rom. 11:2626And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: (Romans 11:26)). The order of this is significant; it indicates that the Church comes into the good of the atonement that Christ made on the cross before the remnant of Israel will. While atonement was made twice in the chapter (on behalf of these two companies), it typifies the one work of atonement the Lord made on the cross.
In each case, there was that which speaks of propitiation and substitution. In regard to Aaron’s house, a bullock was brought to the altar and killed, and its blood was sprinkled “upon” the mercy seat before God (vs. 14a). This typifies propitiation. Then, seven drops of blood were placed on the ground “before” the mercy seat, where the priests (Aaron’s sons) stood and ministered (vs. 14b). This typifies substitution.
In regard to the house of Israel, one of two goats that had been taken for the work was brought to the altar and killed, and its blood was put “upon” the mercy seat. This speaks of propitiation. Then, the live goat had the sins of the people confessed over it, and it was let go to run away into the wilderness (vss. 21-22). This typifies the sins of the children of Israel being confessed (Psa. 69:55O God, thou knowest my foolishness; and my sins are not hid from thee. (Psalm 69:5)) and borne away (Isa. 53:1212Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:12)) by Christ on the cross as their Substitute. When the remnant of Israel comes into the good of this in a coming day, they will understand that their sins have been removed “as far as the east is from the west (Psa. 103:1212As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:12)). W. Kelly said, “Atonement consists of two parts, united for us in the bullock, and for Israel in the two goats of Leviticus 16, which set forth Jehovah’s part in propitiation and the people’s in substitution (The Bible Herald, vol. 1, p. 234).
Noah’s ark, which was God’s means of saving Noah and his family, also typifies these two parts in atonement. In making the ark, Noah was to pitch it within and without with pitch” (Gen. 6:1414Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch. (Genesis 6:14)). “Pitch” is the same word as “atone” in the Hebrew. It is what made the ark impervious to the rain (judgment) that came against it. God saw the pitch on the outside, and Noah’s family saw the pitch on the inside. This typifies propitiation and substitution.
While Scripture distinguishes Christ’s atoning sufferings, His atoning death, and His atoning blood, God intends that we should take them as one work. Many have gotten into serious error by separating these three things from one another. As a rule, we should distinguish them, but not separate them.