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“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness.  Because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness that He might be just and the justifier for the one who has faith in Jesus.”  (Romans 3: 23-26)


The word propitiation has three meanings in the dictionary:

  • To placate or to appease

  • To be merciful

  • To make propitiation for someone

The Bible never describes people appeasing God.  Instead, God’s Word describes God as always being merciful to, or making propitiation, for people.  God provides a means for atoning for what man had done wrong (sin) through the death of Christ. 

God, as sovereign and righteous judge of the universe, must direct His wrath against sin, wherever it’s found and in whomever it’s found.  He can’t let His love for man cause Him to compromise His just condemnation of man’s sin.

In other words, propitiation removes God’s wrath.

It’s because when Jesus hung on the cross, He bore the compounded fury of God’s just wrath against the sins of mankind.  Now God has no more wrath to pour out on men.  His justice is satisfied that all sin has been paid for.

When the Bible says Christ died to satisfy the offended righteousness and justice of God, this even included believers in the Old Testament who lived before the cross.  That’s what it means in the above passage where is says that “God had passed over the sins previously committed.”  God put the sins of the Old Testament saints on hold, which was guaranteed to be paid in the future by Jesus.

Additional References: 1 John 2:2, Colossians 1:20, Colossians 1:20

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