June 8th 2010, 09:10 PM #1
Romans 3:25 - 1 John 2:2 - 1 John 4:10 ?
Dear John Reece and Co.,
I was reading through a book by Dr. John Blanchard titled, 'How To Enjoy Your Bible', where he raised the issue of how the word 'propitiation' in the AV is rendered 'expiation', in the RSV.
These are the passages, which he referred to:
a. Romans 3:25
b. 1 John 2:2
c. 1 John 4:10
He says the following about propitiation & expiation in regard to the doctrine of the Atonement;
In the light of Dr. Blanchard's comment, would you please assist me with the Greek - English, plus a good commentary for each of the following verses:
a. Romans 3:25 ?
b. 1 John 2:2 ?
c. 1 John 4:10 ?
Sincerely in Christ,
Eric J. Sawyer.
June 9th 2010, 10:52 AM #2
Romans 3:25Originally posted by EJS
The word ἱλαστήριον has been extensively investigated with the conclusion that in the LXX it refers either to the gold plate on the ark of the covenant above which the invisible presence of God was thought to hover and where blood was sprinkled on the Day of Atonement, or to purification, propitiation, and expiation in a more general sense. In the context of the Day of Atonement that the reference to blood in 3:25 implies, the mercy seat was the center of the temple where God dwelled, and all of the temple activities aimed at celebrating God's presence and restoring relationships with the invisible, transcendent Deity that had been broken by sin. The most decisive parallel is Lev 16:15-22:
And he [Aaron] shall kill the goat ... and shall bring in from its blood within the veil and shall do with its blood as he did with the blood of the calf and shall sprinkle its blood on the mercy seat, opposite the face of the mercy seat (ἐπὶ τὸ ἱλαστήριον κατὰ πρόσωπον τοῦ ἱλαστηρίου). And he shall make atonement for the sanctuary from the impurity of the children of Israel and from their unjust acts concerning all their sins; and thus shall he do in the tabernacle of witness, which has been established among them in the midst of their uncleanness ... and he shall make atonement for himself and his house and for all the congregation of the children of Israel .... And he shall finish making atonement for the sanctuary and for the tabernacle of witness and for the alter .... And Aaron shall lay his hands on the head of the live goat, and he shall declare over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel .... And the goat shall bear upon itself their unrighteousness ... into the wilderness."Research on this passage makes clear that the Atonement Day ritual served primarily to remove priestly and national sins that pollute the alter and thereby render the temple service ineffective. The remaining sins were laid on the scapegoat to be driven out into the wilderness. In contrast to most interpreters influenced by Christian doctrines of the atonement, the effective forms of atonement offered in the temple were the burnt offerings, whose smoke reestablished relationships with Yahweh. The killing of animals was merely a prerequisite for burnt offerings, with the exception for grain offerings in which blood played no part. As the citation from Lev 16 makes plain, the Atonement Day ritual employed blood as a means to purify the mercy seat and the rest of the temple. Several inconclusive arguments have been developed against associating ἱλαστήριον in Romans with the "mercy seat," such as that the lack of an article as found in the LXX points to expiation in general, that the Roman audience would not have understood the allusion to the ark, or that it seems illogical for a person to be both the location and the means of atonement. There is no doubt, however that the hymn cited by Paul identifies Christ as the ἱλαστήριον.
In view of the need for temple purification on the Day of Atonement when the "mercy seat" was approached by the high priest, it appears that a kind of renewed temple was thereby created. In a way parallel to the Qumran community, which hoped for an eschatological temple to replace the corrupt temple in Jerusalem, the hymn celebrates the death of Jesus as having established a new "place of atonement, epiphany, and the presence of God." This understanding of the hymn renders unnecessary elaborate theories about the typological, functional, or metaphorical interpretations of Christ as the mercy seat. Since blood had a cleansing rather that a directly atoning function with regard to the mercy seat, the long-standing debate about propitiation or expiation is largely irrelevant for the interpretation of this verse. The central aim of the hymn is that Christ provided a new means of access to God that reached beyond the sins of Israel. In view of Paul's other statements about atonement, moreover, it seems unlikely that he shared an expiatory theory, which concentrates so exclusively on the matter of forgiveness, a matter of decidedly secondary interest in his theology. Propitiation seems far from Paul's interest. The likely alternative is found in 2 Cor 5:19, 21, reiterated in Rom 5:10, where we find a distinctively Pauline formulation: ὡς ὅτι θεὸς ἦν ἐν Χριστῷ κόσμον καταλλάσσων ἑαυτῷ ... τὸν μὴ γνόντα ἁμαρτίαν ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν ἁμαρτίαν ἐποίησεν, ἵνα ἡμεῖς γενώμεθα δικαιοσύνη θεοῦ ἐν αὐτῷ ("Because in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself ... For our sake he made him who knew no sin to be sin, in order that in him we might become the righteousness of God.") This form of atonement aims not at assuaging divine wrath or repairing damage to divine justice, but at overcoming human enmity against God and restoring human righteousness "in him," that is, in the new community of faith. While traditional interpreters construe this passage as "putting away of God's wrath against sin," Frank Matera wisely observes that "there is no need of God to be reconciled to humanity as appears in 2 Macc 1:5; 7:33; and 8:29. To the contrary, humanity stands in need of reconciliation to God." The situation resolved by the death of Christ was the massive human assault on the righteousness of God, an assault that dominates the argument of Romans from 1:18 through 3:20 and is reiterated in 3:23.
Last edited by John Reece; June 9th 2010 at 10:58 AM.
June 9th 2010, 11:24 AM #3
Re: Romans 3:25
This is a superb commentary, and corrects as well as confirms some of my own thoughts. I look forward to reading your responses to (b) + (c)
June 9th 2010, 11:49 AM #4
Re: Romans 3:25 - 1 John 2:2 - 1 John 4:10 ?
John, do you buy Jewett's claim that Paul's interest was not ending God's wrath toward men, but rather men's opposition toward God? That seems rather opposed to the theme that Paul introduces in Romans 1:17.
June 9th 2010, 12:42 PM #5
Re: Romans 3:25 - 1 John 2:2 - 1 John 4:10 ?
The reason for this thread:
'assist me with the Greek - English, plus a good commentary'
This is not an debate thread, but first and foremost an information gathering thread. You are welcome to start your own thread in Theology 101, about your objections to the theology of Professor Jewett.
Once replies to (b) + (c) are fully posted, then you can are welcome to discuss with others on this thread, but for now please hold back.
Eric J. Sawyer.
June 9th 2010, 07:12 PM #6
Re: Romans 3:25
I am in another discussion on ( apologetics.com ) dealing with this same topic > (here) < and there was mention of Doug Moo's commentary of Romans, as well as Thomas Schreiner's. I have never read them, and certainly your quote of Jewett's, is new to me too. Then again I am primarily reliant on NET Bible and ESV Online, plus a handful of old motley's of my own, so I find I am continually being stunned by new names. I wish I had the cash and the time to buy some of the commentaries on Jaltus' list, but hey, maybe next time around.
There is not hurry, so please take your time.
Eric J. Sawyer.
June 9th 2010, 07:18 PM #7
Re: Romans 3:25 - 1 John 2:2 - 1 John 4:10 ?
Comment by John R. W. Stott in The Letters of John (TNTC; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988), pages 89-93:
Additional Note: The Biblical Concept of Propitiation (2:2)
The only two occurrences in the New Testament of the noun hilasmos, 'propitiation', are in this letter (2:2 and 4:10). The verb hilaskomai occurs twice also (Lk 18:13; Heb 2:17), while hilastērion is found in Hebrews 9:5 for the 'mercy seat', and in Romans 3:25 either in the same sense or, more probably, signifying 'a means of propitiation'.
The AV translation of hilasmos as 'propitiation' comes from the Vulgate, but is regarded by many modern writers as 'infelicitous' (Dodd). Thus the RSV prefers 'expiation' and the NEB the rather clumsy periphrasis 'the remedy for the defilement of'. The main contemporary objection to the vocabulary of 'propitiation' is theological. It is said to conjure up notions of an irritable and capricious deity who needs to be appeased with bribes. Such ideas are rightly dismissed as pagan; they are inconsistent with the revelation of God in Jesus Christ. Apparently unwilling to concede that there may be a biblical and Christian concept of propitiation quite distinct from crude pagan views, some scholars proceed to support their theological rejection of propitiation with linguistic arguments.
It is quite true, they say, that in pagan Greek from Homer onwards the verb hilaskomai meant to make somebody propitious to oneself, to propitiate or pacify an offended person, and especially to placate the angry gods by gifts or sacrifices. The is incontrovertible. But, the argument goes, secular Greek had a rarer, secondary use of the same verb, meaning 'to perform and act by which defilement (ritual or moral) is removed; to "expiate"' (Dodd). In these cases the object is not personal (God) but impersonal (sin's defilement). It was, in fact, a universal belief of the ancient world that certain rituals acted as a 'powerful disinfectant' (ibid). Further, it is maintained, this second, expiatory meaning of the verb is found in the Greek Old Testament. It is true that on three occasions, God himself is the object of exilasasthai (Zc 7:12; 8:22; Mal 1:9, where the RSV renders the Hebrew 'entreat the favor of the Lord'; cf. Gn 32:20 of Jacob and Esau), but nowhere else. The commonest use of the verb is with an impersonal object, translating Hebrew kipper, to 'cover' and so to 'make atonement' or 'expiate'. Indeed, so far from being the object of the verb in the LXX, God is sometimes its subject, a usage unknown in pagan Greek. Similarly, in the LXX of Psalms 65:3; 78:38 and 79:9 God is the subject of the non-compound verb hilaskomai, while its object is the sins or ungodliness of men (in the accusative in the first case and the dative in the other two). In these verses the AV translation is 'forgive' or 'purge away', so that Dodd can write, 'the meaning is virtually indistinguishable from "to forgive"; the defilement of sin can be removed, in the last resort, only by divine forgiveness'. Therefore, in 1 John 2:2, to say that Jesus is 'the propitiation for our sins' is just another way of saying that through Christ God both 'cleanses' and 'forgives' us, as has already been stated in 1:7, 9 (cf. Lev 4:20; 12:7). We have thus come full circle. The notion conveyed by hilasmos and its cognates, we are told, is not an action by which God is propitiated, but one by which man is cleansed and his sin 'neutralized' (Westcott, Dodd). The thought is 'not that of appeasing one who is angry ... against the offender; but of altering the character of that which without occasions a natural alienation, and interposes an inevitable obstacle to fellowship (Westcott). The hilasmos changes man, not God; it annuls his sin and thus removes the barrier to fellowship with God.
Leon Morris has subjected to a close and critical analysis the linguistic arguments by which this reconstruction is buttressed. He shows that the only two secular Greek passages in which hilaskomai is said to mean to 'expiate' are quite capable of being translated in a propitiatory sense; that the eleven occurrences of hilaskomai in LXX, which are all in the middle or passive, with God as the subject, either must or may convey the sense 'propitiate' or 'be propitious to'; that the compound verb exilaskomai (commoner in LXX, but not found in New Testament) translates the Hebrew kipper eighty-three times, and that the latter from its context normally means either 'to avert punishment, especially the divine anger, by the payment of a kopher, a ransom', or in its cultic use 'to accomplish reconciliation between God and man' by sacrifice; and that, contrary to what has often been asserted, this compound verb exilaskomai 'is never followed by an accusative of sin in the canonical Scriptures of the Old Testament', but most commonly (fifty-eight times) by peri with a genitive of person'. Morris's conclusion from this linguistic study, briefly summarized here, is that 'it would seem impossible for anyone in the first century to have used one of the hilaskomai group without conveying to his readers some idea of propitiation'.
Turning from linguistics to theology, and in particular to the two Johannine verses in which the noun hilasmos (2:2 and 4:10), three points may be made. The first concerns the need for the propitiation. This is indicated in the expression 'the atoning sacrifice for our sins' (peri tōn hamartiōn hemōn) common to both verses. If what John had in mind was in reality an expiation, of which our sins were the object, the construction would surely have been a simple genitive, 'the expiation of our sins'. Instead he uses the preposition peri. The need for a hilasmos is seen not in 'our sins' by themselves but 'concerning our sins', namely in God's uncompromising hostility towards them. The pagan was wrong to see the need for propitiation in the wrathful character of his god, arbitrary and without ethical cause. Some modern commentators, in their proper reaction against this travesty, are equally wrong to see it in sin and its taint alone. Christ 'has made possible the removal of the sin which keeps men from God', writes Brooke. But what is this 'removal' of sin which takes no account of the divine judgment upon it? The need for propitiation is constituted neither by God's wrath in isolation, nor by man's sin in isolation, but by both together. Sin is 'lawlessness' (3:4), a defiant disregard for the law of God which deserves the judgment of God. It is this divine judgment upon human rebellion which constitutes the barrier to fellowship with God; and there can be no expiation of man's sin without a propitiation of God's wrath. God's holy antagonism to sin must somehow be turned away if sin is to be forgiven and the sinner restored. These concepts are not foreign to John, the apostle of love. Although he does not mention God's wrath in his letters, he does in his Gospel, where he writes that 'God's wrath remains' on the disobedient unbeliever (Jn 3:36). And in his first letter the concept is implied. The condition of the unbeliever is 'death', which is the result of sin (3:14; 5:16); and 'life', which is fellowship with God, is available only in Christ, who came to win it for us (4:9; 5:11-12). Moreover, the fact that Jesus Christ, the Righteous One, is our advocate in heaven, implies the need for his advocacy. It is on the ground of his propitiation that his advocacy is effective.
Secondly, both verses indicate that the nature of the propitiation is Jesus Christ himself. God 'sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins (4:10). 'He (autos) is the atoning sacrifice ...' (2:2). No direct mention is made in either verse of his death, but John has already written that what cleanses us from sin is the blood of God's son (1:7), that is, the virtue of his sacrificial death. He died the death which was the just reward of our sins. And the efficacy of his death remains, so that he is today himself the propitiation. 'Christ is said to be the "propitiation" and not simply the "propitiator" (as He is called the "Saviour", 4:14), in order to emphasize the thought that He is Himself the propitiatory offering as well as the priest (compare Romans 3:25)' (Westcott).
Thirdly, the source of the propitiation is clearly taught in 4:10, namely the love of God. This was so in Old Testament days, since the propitiatory offerings were divinely instituted and prescribed as the means by which the sinner might be forgiven. 'The life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the alter ...' (Lv 17:11). The sacrifices were not a human arrangement, but a divine gift. So with the sacrifice of Christ. God gave his Son to die for sinners. This gift was not only the result of God's love (Jn 3:16), nor only the proof and pledge of it (Rom 5:8; 8:32), but the very essence of it: 'This is love ... that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins' (1 Jn 4:10).
There can, therefore, be no question of human beings appeasing an angry deity by their gifts. The Christian propitiation is quite different, not only in the character of the divine anger but in the means by which it is propitiated. It is an appeasement of the wrath of God by the love of God through the gift of God. The initiative is not take by us, nor even by Christ, but by God himself in sheer unmerited love. His wrath is averted not by any external gift, but by his own self-giving to die the death of sinners. This is the means he has himself contrived by which to turn his own wrath away (cf. Pss 78:38; 85:2-3; 103:8-10; Mi 7:18-19).
Last edited by John Reece; June 9th 2010 at 07:25 PM.
June 9th 2010, 07:30 PM #8
Re: Romans 3:25
June 9th 2010, 08:13 PM #9
Re: Romans 3:25
Thank you so much John!
RBerman recommended JWR Stott, first off.
You are the BOMB!!!
June 9th 2010, 10:08 PM #10
Re: Romans 3:25
I'll quote Cranfield on Romans 3:25, when I get around to it.
June 9th 2010, 10:18 PM #11
June 10th 2010, 01:15 PM #12
Re: Romans 3:25
Comment by Douglas Moo in The Epistle to the Romans (NICNT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996):
What Paul means by designating Christ a hilastērion1 has been the subject of considerable debate. When the use of hilastērion in the Bible is considered, a strong case can be made for taking the word as a reference to the OT "mercy seat,"2 the cover over the ark where Yahweh appeared (Lev 16:2), and on which sacrificial blood was poured. For this is what the word refers to in its one other NT occurrence (Heb 9:5), as well as in 21 of its 27 LXX occurrences.3 Particularly significant are the several occurrences of the word in the description in Lev 16 of the "Day of Atonement" ritual. According to this text, the high priest is to enter the "Holy of Holies" once a year and sprinkle on the mercy seat (= LXX hilastērion) the blood of a sacrificial victim, thereby "making atonement."4 In the OT and Jewish tradition, this "mercy seat" came to be applied generally to the place of atonement. By referring to Christ as this "mercy seat," then, Paul would be inviting us to view Christ as the New Covenant equivalent, or antitype, to this Old Covenant "place of atonement," and, derivatively, to the ritual of atonement itself. What in the OT was hidden from public view behind the veil has now been "publicly displayed" as the OT ritual is fulfilled and brought to an end in Christ's "once for all" sacrifice. This interpretation, which has an ancient and respectable heritage,5 has been gaining strength in recent years. It is attractive because it gives to hilastērion a meaning that is derived from its "customary" biblical usage, and creates an analogy between a central OT ritual and Christ's death that is both theologically sound and hermeneutically striking.
To be sure, there are objections to taking hilastērion as a reference to the "mercy seat.6 Some claim, for instance, that the imagery would have been foreign to the Gentile Christian church in Rome, and Paul would hardly have used imagery that he knew they would never understand.7 However, arguments based on what the Gentile congregation in Rome would, or would not, have been familiar with are precarious. Paul's letters furnish abundant proof that he expected his Gentile readers to be fully conversant with the OT. Surely he could expect his Gentile readers in Rome to have knowledge of the Day of Atonement ritual and the significance within it of hilastērion.8
In fact, we do not find anything that would render the interpretation of hilastērion against the background of the OT mercy seat improbable. Before drawing conclusions, however, other alternatives must be considered.9
1Grammatically the word is to be taken as the substantive of the adjective ἱλαστήριος (L. Morris, "The Meaning of ἱλαστήριον in Romans III 25," NTS 2 [1955-56], 34) rather than as a masculine noun ("propitiator" ― cf. the reading propitiatorem in some manuscripts of the Latin Vulgate, and some Fathers [Cranfield mentions Ambrose, Ambrosiaster, Jerome, and Pelagius]) or as an adjective modifying ὃν (...).
2The English "mercy seat" comes from Tyndale's translation, which was in turn influenced by Luther's German "Gnadenstuhl."
3The underlying Hebrew word in these texts is כַּפֹּרֶת. All six of Philo's uses of the word refer to the "mercy seat," but all occur in the context of biblical exposition (...).
4The Greek verb is a cognate of ἱλαστήριον, εξιλάσκομαι (the Hebrew verb is כפר).
5Origen, Theodoret, Luther, Calvin, Bengel.
6The word ἱλαστήριον was used for other things than the mercy seat in the OT and is used widely in secular Greek with reference to memorials and sacrifices that are intended to propitiate the gods. Therefore, Deissmann's insistence that ἱλαστήριον does not mean "mercy seat" is correct (...), The word specifies the function of the cover over the ark ― in its first occurrence in the LXX, it is used adjectivally (Exo 25:16) and thereafter always has the article when the mercy seat is denoted. The anarthrous state of ἱλαστήριον in Rom 3:25 has, then, been cited as evidence against the translation "mercy seat" (e.g,, Morris "ἱλαστήριον" p. 40). But this argument has little weight since there would be good grammatical reasons for the omission of the article in Rom 3:25 (e.g., the predicative function of ἱλαστήριον [cf. Stuhlmacher, "Recent Exegesis," p. 99]). Moreover, while ἱλαστήριον does not mean "mercy seat," it is used absolutely in 20 of its LXX occurrences to denote that object. More serious is the logical strain involved in linking Christ with a place of atonement; but perhaps the strain is no greater than in thinking of Christ as the new temple (John 2:19-21), as the rock that followed in the wilderness (1 Cor 10:4), or as both High Priest and sacrifice at the same time (cf. Hebrews). Moreover, there is evidence that the word, or the mercy seat it designates, becomes a semitechnical way of designating the atonement itself. In this case, objections to the interpretation based on the literal function of the mercy seat fall to the ground.
7Many of the contemporary advocates of the view avoid this difficulty by attributing the imagery to the pre-Pauline confession formulated in Jewish Christian circles (...). But this is a move of questionable validity. Not only is the existence of a tradition uncertain (...), but it is unlikely that Paul, were he using a tradition, would have quoted words from it that he knew, or suspected, would fail to communicate with his readers.
8Cf. Stuhlmacher ("Apostle Paul's View of Righteousness," p. 83): "The Roman congregation was at home in the Old Testament Scriptures from the synagogue and from Christian worship. They were instructed in the traditions of their faith by Jewish-Christian missionaries." Thus Paul might well be using cultic imagery from a tradition with which the Christians in Rome would have been familiar. Note particularly the striking similarities between Paul's argument here and the argument in Heb 9-10. These include verbal parallels ― notably ἱλαστήριον, used only in Rom 3:25 and Heb 9:5 in the NT, and ἀπολυτρώσεως found in Rom 3:24 and Heb 9:15 (cf. also λύτρωσις in 9:12) ― but, more importantly, thematic parallels. Hebrews makes much of the inadequacy of the Old Covenant ritual ― it "cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper" (9:9), "can never take away sins" (10:11), and means, in its yearly repetition, a constant "remembrance of sins" (10:1-4). This inadequacy, according to Hebrews, is met in the "once-for-all" sacrifice of Christ (cf. 9:14: "the blood of Christ"), whose death "redeems [those who are called] from the transgressions under the first covenant" (9:15), brings the "forgiveness" of sins, as promised in the new covenant prophecy (10:17-18), so that there is now "at the end of the age" a "putting away" of sin (9:26). In the same way, according to Paul, God has set forth Christ "at the present time" as a sacrifice that satisfies the demands of God's justice in his "passing over the sins in the past." In both passages, then, the focus is on the way God has provided in Christ as a sacrificial victim the basis for eternal redemption ― a basis that was not provided through the OT cult. Moreover, Hebrews directs attention particularly to the Day of Atonement ritual (cf. 9:6). Not only, then, are we justified in suggesting that the passages move in a similar direction, but there is also further reason for thinking that Lev 16 may be in the background of the Romans text.
9To be continued in the next post ―JR.
Last edited by John Reece; June 10th 2010 at 01:26 PM.
June 10th 2010, 06:32 PM #13
Re: Romans 3:25
Thank you John, I am deeply grateful.
It is great to come full-circle and finally get to the core of what brought me here in the first place.
Eric J. Sawyer.
June 11th 2010, 09:07 AM #14
Re: Romans 3:25
Your efforts to this thread, are received with heart-felt thanks!!!!!!
Along with my own motley commentaries, array of odd books and online resourses, I am now set to do battle with my flesh.
I am realy, really, really enjoying this study
When you get around to putting up a quote from Cranfield, do you think you might be albe to include a quote from Schreiner as well?
Eric J. Sawyer.
(btw. Dr. Mathetes recommended, The New Testament Gateway )
Have you ever read, 'The Blood of the Cross' by Dr Andrew Murray?
June 11th 2010, 09:40 AM #15
Re: Romans 3:25
Of the writing of commentaries on Romans there is no end. The best Romans commentary now available in English is the work of Douglas J. Moo (...). Its introduction is thin, but Moo exhibits extraordinary good sense in his exegesis. No less importantly, his is the first commentary to cull what is useful from the new perspective on Paul while nevertheless offering telling criticisms of many of its exegetical and theological stances. The combination of the strong exegesis and the rigorous interaction makes the book superior to another recent commentary of similar length, that of Thomas R. Schreiner. ― D. A. Carson, New Testament Commentary Survey, 6th edition (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2007).I did not omit anything from Carson's reference to Schreiner's commentary; he said nothing about it, beyond the fact that (in his opinion) Moo's is superior to it.
Last edited by John Reece; June 11th 2010 at 09:49 AM.
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