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Expiation / Propitiation

Author's Bias: Interpretation: conservative

"Propitiation" and "expiation" are two vitally important functions that are accomplished by Jesus' substitutionary sacrifice. These terms are translated from the Greek nouns "hilastērion" and "hilasmos."

Expiation is directed towards God. It means "to make amends" or "to atone for", and it implies the removal or cleansing of sin. It can also be seen as "the removal of the reasons for punishment".

Propitiation is directed towards man. It means "to make favorable", and it refers to averting God’s wrath against sinners. It is the act that appeased the total and full wrath of God’s judgment for the sins of human beings.

It is important to understand the Greek term "hilastērion," because it was used several times to translate the Hebrew term "kapporet," which specified the lid of the Ark of the Covenant. The association of expiation and propitiation with the lid of the Ark of the Covenant connects the Mosaic Covenant with the New Covenant.


For deeper study:

A Word Study of the Greek Terms Hilastērion and Hilasmos: Expiation verses Propitiation



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