Tag Archive for 'expiation'

N.T. Wright on Expiation and Propitiation

Many are confused about these terms. RSV is one that uses expiation. KJV, ESV, HCSB and a few others use propitiation. Others like NRSV and NIV will use sacrifice of atonement or atoning sacrifice and NET uses mercy seat. You’ll have to go somewhere else for the latter. This quote below seems to be the simplest way to put it, although I think propitiation is more complex than stated, as I’m sure N.T. Wright would know. If you want to be even more confused, read Moo’s commentary on Romans (library book)! I’m not knocking him, I just couldn’t make much sense of it. But he did make a case for using ‘sacrifice of atonement’ because propitiation might not quite cover it. Propitiation used to be a shibboleth for me but I’ve loosened up on that.

I hope this simple explanation helps people who don’t know what these words mean to get a basic idea.

In his explanation of Romans 3:21-26 in the NIB Romans commentary, Wright states,

Dealing with wrath or punishment is propitiation; with sin, expiation. You propitiate a person who is angry; you expiate a sin, crime, or stain on your character. Vehement rejection of the former idea in many quarters has led some to insist that only ‘expiation’ is in view here. But the fact remains that in Romans 1:18-3:20 Paul has declared that the wrath of God is revealed against all ungodliness and wickedness and that despite God’s forbearance this will finally be meted out. (p. 476)

Sorry I forgot who to give the Hat Tip (HT) to.

Book Review: The Truth of the Cross by R.C. Sproul

The Truth of the Cross by R.C. Sproul

In my first book review on this blog I’d like to start out with a passage of Scripture and a quote from the book.

“And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:1-2 NKJV).

he [Paul] told the Corinthians he had determined to know nothing except Christ crucified. Clearly Paul was determined to know all kinds of things besides the person and work of Jesus. He wanted to teach the Corinthians about the deep things of the character and nature of God the Father. He planned to instruct them about the person and work of the Holy Spirit, about Christian ethics, and about many other things that go beyond the immediate scope of Christ’s work on the cross. So why, then, did he say this? The answer is obvious. Paul was saying that in all of his teaching, in all of his preaching, in all of his missionary activity, the central point of importance was the cross.

Those are mentioned on pages 3 and 4 and serve as a good basis for the book.

Generous use of Scripture is utilized including exposition of longer passages like Genesis 18 and rules about slaves and marriage in Exodus, which to me is a bonus. We even get some lessons in history like learning a bit about Anselm of Canturbury and how limited atonement was first widely articulated by Augustine. Useful but short personal anecdotes are used sparingly with Scripture taking center stage.

The book serves a wide audience. He uses theological terms but always defines them for those who may not have a wide vocabulary in that area.

Some other interesting topics he goes into:

  • three distinct ways in which sin is described: debt, enmity, crime
  • expiation and propitiation
  • what blessed and cursed means in the OT (Gal 3:13)
  • the sacrificial lamb and the scapegoat and how Christ fulfilled both parts of the sacrifice
  • misunderstandings of limited atonement (a hot issue for some)

just to name a few of those that especially interested me.

I would like to have seen him go more into original sin. Maybe it wasn’t in the scope of this book.

This was the first book of R.C. Sproul’s that I’ve read. I thoroughly enjoyed his writing and teaching style and look forward to reading more of his books.


Other reviews: