Chapter 29 – 1 John Atonement Passages

Author: Kevin George

This book is a work in progress. Posts on this blog are to enable readers to examine the manuscript and make commentary. These blog posts are NOT the final version!

1 John 2:2 “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” ESV

1 John 4:10 “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

Propitiation here is “mercy seat”. Many Bibles put the word “propitiation” here, but this would mean that Jesus dying pleased and thereby appeased an angry God. The term “mercy seat” shows Jesus as a propitiator, not a propitiation. Jesus is who we look to as our means of obtaining God’s mercy, as we read in the very next verse which is a continuation of the same thought, “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments” 1 John 2:3. In short, God has chosen to extend forgiveness to all who are willing to follow his commandments, and this is best demonstrated by and through Jesus, God’s Son.

Obedience to Christ commands restores our relationship to God. This goes beyond mere payment of a debt, which in most cases (except theft) cannot be paid anyway. Our guilt is appeased, thereby assisting us in our restoring of a relationship with God. After all, God is not the problem, we are. If God extends an offer of reconciliation but we are so ashamed due to our guilt, then it is our guilt that needs to be appeased in order to restore the relationship. The death of Jesus, who bore our suffering, assists us in appeasing, or propitiating, our guilt, that we may be restored to a relationship with Him who has been waiting for us to humbly return.

In both 1 John 2:2 and 4:10 we have the statements about Jesus giving himself “for our sins”. It is easy to understand why some people read the “for” as if it is substitutionary. However, in each of these instances the Greek word is “peri”, which means “around or with respect to”. This simply indicates a giving for the sake of, or because of, our sins, and not as a replacement or substitute payment for the sins.