‘Propitiation’: Intercession, Not Human Sacrifice (1 John 2:2, Isaiah 53:12)

Biblical Translation Copyright disclaimers

“Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. May not copy or download more than 500 consecutive verses of the ESV Bible or more than one half of any book of the ESV Bible.”

“Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

Scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible® (NASB), Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission. www.Lockman.org

“Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™ “

The Orthodox Jewish Bible Copyright Artists for Israel Intl Used by permission © The Orthodox Jewish Bible fourth edition, OJB. Copyright 2002, 2003, 2008, 2010, 2011 by Artists for Israel International, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Introduction

This explanation aims to show how God’s good commandments forbid human sacrifices (ref. Deuteronomy 24:16, Ezekiel 18:20), and thus 1 John 2:2 (or any other verse for that matter) is in no way saying that Christ (Messiah) was a literal human sacrifice.

1 John 2:2

1 John 2:2 reads as follows;

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 ESV (also see KJV)

Explanation

1 John 2:2 is perhaps often misunderstood by many, with some feeling it is speaking of a righteous man (Christ/Messiah) literally dying for the sins of many as a type of human sacrifice.

However the commandments forbid human sacrifices (ref. Deuteronomy 24:16, Ezekiel 18:20), and with this the verse will now be explained in it’s correct context both contextually, and then briefly linguistically.

Contextually

Any Scriptures which read along the lines of;

• ‘…the blood of Jesus Christ makes us clean…’ (ref. 1 John 1:7),

• ‘…he was wounded for our transgressions…’ (ref. Isaiah 53:5)

or even,

• ‘He is the propitiation for our sins…’ (1 John 2:2 ESV)

– are figurative and (respectfully) poetic in nature.

One will note that such figurative and poetic style verses will always be referring to key literal verses which better describe what the Scripture is referring to and how and why believing in Christ is vital for everlasting life.

One such verse explained which gives a reader a feel for overall context in this matter is;

‘For Christ also… once suffered for sins [to be proven observant in a body of flesh under the law, even to the point of death (Hebrews 12:4, Deut 13:4) and subsequently be declared mediator (1 Timothy 2:5) and high priest for all (Psalm 45:7, Psalm 110:4, Isaiah 53:11-12, Hebrews 4:14, 7:17) – fulfilling Holy Scripture], the just for the unjust [in the above sense; in that he walked this earth and diligently gave his all to be faith ful and observant, then was declared High Priest], that he might bring us to God….’ [mediating (1 Timothy 2:5), interceding (Isaiah 53:12)]
(1 Peter 3:18 KJV, explanation in [brackets])

This is humbly shared, as Christ’s walk here on earth was to;

• fulfil Holy Scripture (Matthew 5:17)
• observe the Law of Moses flawlessly before G-d (Isaiah 53:9, Psalm 45:7),
and ultimately
• be declared a Priest and mediator between the Holy God and fallen men – as Messiah (Christ) hated wickedness and loved righteousness, as per key verses from the Old Testament (Tanakh) (Psalm 45:7 [see article], Psalm 110:4), which are also referenced and confirmed in the New Testament (Hebrews 4:14, 7:17), where he makes intercession for transgressors as High Priest (Isaiah 53 :11-12, 1 Timothy 2:5).

There are other key literal verses which are similar to 1 Peter 3:18 – however for the sake of brevity, perhaps this will suffice for now.

Linguistically  – ‘Propitiation’

The key word in 1 John 2:2 translated as ‘propitiation’, when reviewed and explored a little more – allows for better understanding of the verse.

This ancient Greek word is the Strong’s Concordance’s Word G2434.

According to the concordance, the word can indeed be used in a ‘sacrifice’ type sense – however – the word is often recieved in the wrong context/usage.

Many mistakenly feel it is speaking of human sacrifice. Such an interpretation though would break the commandments that state a literal ‘human sacrifice’, is forbidden.

What can we do here? If we dig just a little deeper for sake of understanding, and review other legal definition(s)/useage(s) for the word ‘propitiation’, a simple dictionary explanation reads;

‘1 The action of propitiating or appeasing a god, spirit, or person.
‘he lifted his hands in propitiation’

1.1 Atonement, especially that of Jesus Christ.
(Lexico Powered By Oxford)

‘…If you propitiate someone, you stop them being angry or impatient by doing something to please them….’
(Collins Dictionary)

Here, Christ lifts his hands in prayer to God as our representation in a propitiation-like, priestly manner.

This agrees with a key verse in the Tanakh (Old Testament) which says that Christ does infact do just this.

In Isaiah 53:12 it says the Messiah makes intercession for the transgressors;

‘…he… makes intercession for the transgressors.
Isaiah 53:12 ESV

This agrees with the correct context of 1 John 2:2 and the dictionary’s definition of the word ‘Propitiation’ on how it may be legally used. Thus,;

‘Messiah (Christ) makes intercession (meaning to pray and/or mediate) for repentant humans…’

– and one may certainty pray with ‘lifted hands’ – as it says;

I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.
1 Timothy 2:8 KJV

Summary

Christ was not sent to this earth to be a human blood sacrifice, and ‘die for your sins’ in a literal sacrifice context.

Rather, he was subsequently declared after his faithful observant life on this earth and ressurection, to be;

• High Priest in the order of Melchizadek (Psalm 45:7 [see article], Psalm 110:4, Hebrews 4:14, 7:17)

and,

• Our Mediator (1 Tim 2:5, Isa 53:11-12)

This respectful explanation of Scripture renders the inherited ‘died for our sins’ [literal] doctrine, inaccurate and mistaken.

In closing;

‘…Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.’
(Romans 8:34 NIV)

Hoping it is fruitful.

Shalom and kind regards.

Copyright disclaimers:

“Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. May not copy or download more than 500 consecutive verses of the ESV Bible or more than one half of any book of the ESV Bible.”

“Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

“Scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible® (NASB), Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission. http://www.Lockman.org

“Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. http://www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™ “

The Orthodox Jewish Bible Copyright Artists for Israel Intl Used by permission © The Orthodox Jewish Bible fourth edition, OJB. Copyright 2002, 2003, 2008, 2010, 2011 by Artists for Israel International, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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