Scripture Queries and Answers: Atonement and Propitiation; Prophetic vs. By Prophets; Angels

 •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 10
Q.-Lev. 16 &c. Does the Hebrew distinguish “atonement” and “propitiation”? Are there two different words? What distinction does the chapter present? It is known that ἱλασμὸς in the N. T. is translated “propitiation,” and in the Septuagint answers to “atonement.”
A.-The Hebrew word Kaphar (for the question) means to atone, or make atonement. So it is regularly; and Dent. 32:43, 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), Ezek. 16:63; 43:20; 45:15, 17, 2063That thou mayest remember, and be confounded, and never open thy mouth any more because of thy shame, when I am pacified toward thee for all that thou hast done, saith the Lord God. (Ezekiel 16:63)
20And thou shalt take of the blood thereof, and put it on the four horns of it, and on the four corners of the settle, and upon the border round about: thus shalt thou cleanse and purge it. (Ezekiel 43:20)
15And one lamb out of the flock, out of two hundred, out of the fat pastures of Israel; for a meat offering, and for a burnt offering, and for peace offerings, to make reconciliation for them, saith the Lord God. (Ezekiel 45:15)
17And it shall be the prince's part to give burnt offerings, and meat offerings, and drink offerings, in the feasts, and in the new moons, and in the sabbaths, in all solemnities of the house of Israel: he shall prepare the sin offering, and the meat offering, and the burnt offering, and the peace offerings, to make reconciliation for the house of Israel. (Ezekiel 45:17)
20And so thou shalt do the seventh day of the month for every one that erreth, and for him that is simple: so shall ye reconcile the house. (Ezekiel 45:20)
, are the same in substance, though the effect in some cases is meant, as pacified, purged, forgiven, merciful, &c. “Propitiate” would be just as good a rendering as “atone “; and no other word regularly expresses either but the one. There is however a real distinction definitely drawn in the chapter, not between atonement and propitiation, but between propitiation and substitution typified in Jehovah's lot and the scapegoat. The error which has so often been exposed in these pages is limiting propitiation exclusively to the use made of the blood by Aaron in the sanctuary. That theory necessarily involves the frightful error of denying that the offering of the slain victim is any part of the propitiation for our sins. What a slight on Christ's sufferings! For this monstrous theory is that propitiation was made “in heaven, and after death,” thus nullifying forever that great work of God by Christ's blood and death on the cross, and making it altogether dependent on another work “after death and in heaven,” instead of the type met before God in heaven by what Christ suffered on earth. “You hath He reconciled in the body of His flesh (not when He was out of His body) through death” (not after death and in heaven). Assuredly to be “reconciled” is grounded on propitiation, and presupposes it; but the truth is that Christ fully reconciled us in the body of His flesh through death. The ghostly work after death and in heaven is a ghastly fable, and calls for abhorrence.
A.-The key is given, as generally, by the context. God's gospel, or glad tidings, He had promised before; this was therefore through His prophets in holy scriptures. It centers in His Son, come of David's seed according to flesh, marked out Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by resurrection. While Jesus Christ our Lord then fulfilled the promises, He brought in deliverance from sin and therefore from death by power according to the Spirit of holiness, as even the O. T. prophets had foreshown. So far says Rom. 1:2-42(Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,) 3Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; 4And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: (Romans 1:2‑4). But 16:25, 26 goes much higher. For therein the apostle, without opening out the mystery or secret kept silent eternally as it had been, here tells the saints in Rome it was now manifested and by prophetic scriptures made known unto all the nations for faith-obedience, not by man's wit or imagination but according to command of the eternal God. The development of this hidden secret was mainly given to the Ephesian and the Colossian saints; but Paul's gospel as he calls it, yea the preaching of Jesus Christ in general to establish the saints in the faith, was in accord with it. Here therefore we necessarily pass beyond all the O. T. revelation, and are told, not of “the scriptures of the prophets” which is an incorrect rendering and a false sense, but of “prophetic scriptures.” These are in fact definitely distinguished from even all the prophets of the Old Testament, and refer solely to scriptures of the N. T. which reveal the secret of Christ Head over all things to the church which is His body. Never does the O. T. make this known, as the apostle declares here and elsewhere. Now it is revealed, and by prophetic scriptures (that is, the epistles, &c., of the N.T. generally) made known, not to Israel as the O. T. was, but expressly unto all the nations.
A.-The Epistle to the Hebrews quotes verbally from the Greek Version of Deut. 32:4343Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people: for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and will render vengeance to his adversaries, and will be merciful unto his land, and to his people. (Deuteronomy 32:43), at least in the Vatican copy. The same truth is revealed in Psa. 96 (-7.) 7 substantially but as a direct address. There is therefore no ground for doubt that “angels” are meant and commanded to pay supreme honor to the Son as the risen and glorified Man, but none the less a divine person. Indeed if He were not so, worthiness as man and conferred dignity could not warrant the homage God claims from the highest creatures of heaven to His Son. “Gods (Elohim)” we find often applied to those who represent God as in government, or who are commissioned to announce and execute His will; as the Lord makes plain to the reader of John 10:34, 3534Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? 35If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; (John 10:34‑35). Thus there is no real difficulty. Idols must pass away, and the demons behind them be punished and put down. In that day all must bow in honor of Him Who appears to reign, Who is not more truly the Anointed (or Christ) of God than He is God Himself, and Jehovah. Whatever place He takes in humiliation or in glorious administration to the, glory of God, and for the blessing of creation, He is in personal title and divine nature as truly Supreme as the Father or the Holy Spirit. To think otherwise is to disown His true Deity.