Propitiation and Substitution

1 John 2:2  •  2 min. read  •  grade level: 7
When speaking of "propitiation," we could not say that "Christ has propitiated for the sins of the whole world," as some have stated, because we do not find it in scripture. It is blessedly true that "He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but for the whole world." The words, "the sins of" are in italics, because not in the text, (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).) If He had propitiated for the sins of the whole world, then all the world would be saved, which we know is not the truth. But His being a propitiation, or mercy-seat, available to all men, is a different idea from His having propitiated God for the sins of the whole world. Propitiation is the God ward side of Christ's sacrifice. With it God is satisfied. Its value is infinite.
No doubt Jesus is " the Savior of the world," both of Jew and Gentile, and that He "died for all" "gave himself a ransom for all" " tasted death for every man" so that the gospel is preached to every creature, and His work available to all, on the principle of faith, who avail themselves of it " Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." (See 1 John 4:1414And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. (1 John 4:14) Cor. 5:15; 1 Tim. 2 (>; Heb. 2:99But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. (Hebrews 2:9); Rev. 22:1717And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. (Revelation 22:17).)
When, however, the subject in scripture is sin-bearing, the language used is not all, but many. His blood was " shed for many for the remission of sins;" He bare "the sins of many" When writing to believers, the inspired statements are, " He bare our sins." " He died for our sins," and "He was made sin for us;" this is something more than propitiation, it is substitution—the spotless Son of God in death under the judgment of God for sin—the death of the cross—for others. Substitution is the actual judgment of personal sins and iniquity on another, and thus gone forever. The believer therefore can say, "lam crucified with Christ.... he loved me and gave himself for me," and washed me from my sins in His own blood. God too is so satisfied with the work of Jesus for us, that He says, "Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more." (See Matt. 26:2828For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. (Matthew 26:28); 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); 1 Pet. 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); 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); 2 Cor. 5:2121For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (2 Corinthians 5:21); Gal. 2:2020I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20); Rev. 1 v.)