I John

I John 2:1-2 We Have An Advocate-The Propitiation.

One of the reasons that John wrote his letter was so that his hearers and readers “may not sin” (v. 1a). However, as he previously noted, we all sin, “if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1:8). “If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us” (1:10). So, if his word is in us, we will acknowledge our own sin. However, next to these two ‘ifs’ are two others. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1:9). Now John gives his fourth ‘if’ or second one admitting our condition, but finding in Jesus our advocate. “And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (v. 1b). The writer to the Hebrews reminded his audience, which includes us, that Jesus Christ, our High Priest, “always lives to make intercession” for us (7:25). He appears “in the presence of God for us” (9:24).

“We have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” “The Greek word ‘parakletos,’ a “helper,” such as an attorney in a legal matter. In the Gospel of John it is used of the Holy Spirit (John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7). The word is not found elsewhere in the New Testament, although it is common in other literature” (NGSB p.1987). “And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins” (v. 2a). “A propitiation is a sacrifice to God meant to take away the enmity brought by sin between God and the worshiper. Only Christ can be an effective propitiation” (NGSB p.1987). One reason, the main reason, that Jesus Christ is the only possible propitiation, is because he is “the righteous.” Strong’s defines ‘dikaios’ as “‘equitable’ (in character or act); by impl. ‘innocent’, ‘holy’ (absol. Or rel.):-just, meet, right(-eous)” (Greek Dict. P. 23). He being innocent, i.e., without sin, was the only one who could appease God’s wrath for those who were guilty.

The word ‘hilasmos,’ propitiation, is an interesting word, packed full of a great deal of theology, and a word, in it’s various forms, that finds divergence in translation. It is true that as a noun it only occurs in this letter, here and at 4:10. However, as a cognate noun and verb it does occur elsewhere, emphasizing the same truth. “The basic idea (though some interpreters disagree) is to appease wrath for an offense by means of sacrificial atonement. Thus Jesus satisfied the requirements of God’s justice, His wrath, by giving Himself for our sins. Cf. the cognate noun ‘hilasterion’, that which expiates or propitiates (Rom 3:25), and the place of expiation or propitiation, the mercy seat (Heb. 9:5); and verb ‘hilaskomai’, expiate, propitiate, at Luke 18:13.” (The NKJV Greek English Interlinear New Testament p.826) It is puzzling that the KJV does not translate ‘hilaskesthhai’ in Hebrews 2:17 as “to make propitiation,” as does the NKJV, which the ESV even translates as the NKJV.

For some reason the KJV translated Hebrews 2:17 as “to make reconciliation.” However, reconciliation is secondary. Reconciliation is only made possible because Jesus Christ, our great High Priest, Himself was made our propitiation to appease God’s wrath. Until the sacrifice of the Lamb of God was made on the propitiatory or mercy seat (Heb. 9:5), there was no basis for reconciliation. As also noted with the above quote from The NKJV-GEINT, there is plenty of support for the position that this writer holds, that not only should Hebrews 2:17 be translated as above, but so also 9:5 (again , as above), and Luke 18:13. The latter would then read as follows:-“God, be propitiated to me a sinner!” The fact that Luke records the tax collector as saying this, shows that this was not a word only comprehended by the scholarly class at the time, much less today. As the Lord went on to say, because this tax collector asked for God to be propitiated on his behalf, he was declared as being justified (Lk. 18:14).

Those who are guilty, are all those born into this world. What John indicated for his audience also includes those who would come after, and not for their location or race only, but for the whole world. “And not for ours only but also for the whole world” (v. 2b). This reiterates what John the Baptist said, and John the apostle wrote and recorded at the dawn of Jesus ministry. “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (1:29)!” Our High Priest made “propitiation for the sins of the people” (Heb. 2:17b), because the blood of his covenant was offered on the propitiatory, the mercy seat, the covering (Heb. 9:5). As noted from the account of the tax collector in Luke, when God is propitiated, the sinner is justified, and this is what Paul also summarized. “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” (Rom. 3:23-25).

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