“And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.”
We have twofold provision in Jesus Christ: 1) an Intercessor and 2) a Propitiator. Verse one set forth Jesus as our Intercessor. Verse two sets forth Jesus as our Propitiator – the One who satisfies the holy demands of an absolute God (1:5).
Chapter 1 should have ended with 2:2. John set forth 3 claims and 3 counterclaims. Verses 1 and 2 are the last counterclaim.
And He Himself
Normally priest and sacrifice are distinct but here they are the same. Jesus is not only our Intercessor but He is the sacrifice for our sins as well. Jesus can plead our cause because of what He did. He does not plead our cause for what we did, do or will do.
The Greek puts great emphasis on the person of the propitiator. Christ alone is able to propitiate God. He is in His own person and work the propitiation. This connects closely with His role as our Defense Attorney (2:1). Jesus’ work of propitiation gives efficacy to His work of intercession.
is the propitiation for our sins,
This word “propitiation” is not the same word as is found in Romans 3:25. The word in Romans refers to the “mercy seat,” the meeting place between God and man. The word in our verse carries the idea of expiation. My sin does not undo the sacrifice of Christ for my sin. That is why Jesus undertakes my case before the Father when I sin.
We need to distinguish between expiation and appeasement. Expiation refers to payment of penal exaction or punishment leveled against our sin. Appeasement refers to turning away God’s wrath. Propitiation refers to the full satisfaction of the absolute, holy and righteous character of God. “Mercy seat” was the place of propitiation. In the New Testament, it is the shed blood of the body of Christ.
Jesus as our Defense Attorney is His office but His role in propitiation is the satisfaction He offers to the Father that makes it possible for Him to officiate in the office of Defense Attorney. The Defense Attorney offers Himself as the basis of satisfaction!
Propitiation is a term of appeasement. Jesus’ death on the cross appeased the wrath of God against our sin. God must be just or consistent with Himself. He is absolute in His being and He can never compromise His character in any way.
The New Testament uses “propitiation” in the sense of satisfaction, appeasing. Jesus satisfies the demands of an absolute God. We cannot bring God into favor with ourselves by our merit. God is always propitiated by the atonement sacrifices of the Old Testament or the work of Christ on the cross.
Death for sin vindicates God’s righteous character. The person who believes in this propitiatory sacrifice appeases the wrath of God. Jesus forever broke down the barrier between God and man in His work on the cross. He annuls the authority of sin to separate us from God. We satisfy the holy demands of God through faith in the blood of Christ. God makes actual the efficacy of the propitiation by those who believe in the means of appeasing God – the death of Christ for our sins.
Ro 3: 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation [mercy seat] by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed…”
Jesus did not just make satisfaction for our sins, but who He is and what He did is satisfaction itself. God puts great value on the blood of Christ to save us. God is satisfied! Our Advocate pleads our cause on this basis. It is His brief before the almighty, absolute God. Jesus pleads His work on the cross.
Jesus’ death on the cross satisfies the absolute demands of God’s holy character.
Note that the statement is not, “If I repent, I have an Advocate” or, “If I confess my sins, I have an Advocate.” The statement is, “If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father.” I have an Advocate whether I repent or not.
Jesus is always our Advocate whether for sins confessed or sins unconfessed. Jesus takes up my case every time I sin. He represents me to the Father without exception. Sin does not touch the issue of our relationship to the Father but it does relate to the issue of our fellowship with the Father. That is why we must confess our sin to get back in communion with Him (1:9). The Father is more than ready to receive us back into fellowship when we do.
The propitiatory sacrifice of Christ for our sins satisfied the demands of an absolutely holy God. He took our penalty for our sin as our substitute. He took our hell that we might have His heaven.
Jn 1: 29 “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’”
He 9: 26 “He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.”
He 10: 10 “By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
1 Pe 1: 18 “…knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”
Why we do make such an issue over Jesus? He died for us. He took our hell. He gave Himself for us. He took our rap. We go to heaven free of charge because of Him. That undermines all religion because it undercuts any attempt at morality to gain God’s approval. Religion, morality, church rites, baptism and confirmation cannot cut any ice with God to gain salvation. None of it will take you to heaven. Only the final, finished work of Christ’s suffering on the cross can give you eternal life.
God dismisses Satan’s case against us because of the blood of Christ. Jesus’ appeal is perfect. It will not help to say, “Oh, I will never do it again.” This is ridiculous. The frequency of sinning is another matter. We can get out of fellowship occasionally or for long periods. The great objective is sin less so that confession is only necessary occasionally.