What does the phrase “His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” mean (1 John 4:10 NKJV)?

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“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). This verse is describing Jesus Christ’s sacrifice as the atonement for our sins against God. The other verses that contain the word propitiation are Romans 3:25; Hebrews 2:17 and 1 John 2:2.

Propitiation is translated from the Greek word hilaskomai, which is often used to translate the Hebrew word kippur (atonement). Propitiation means “the removal of wrath by the offering of a gift” ( International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, 1986, “Propitiation”). And it also conveys sin being covered and remitted ( Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 1985, “Propitiation”). The New Bible Dictionary sums it up this way: “‘Propitiation’ is a reminder that God is implacably opposed to everything that is evil, that his opposition may properly be described as ‘wrath,’ and that this wrath is put away only by the atoning work of Christ” (1982, “Propitiation).

Here’s how other translations define “propitiation” in 1 John 4:10: “as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (New International Version), “as a sacrifice to take away our sins” (New Living Translation), “to die in our place to take away our sins” (New Century Version) and “as the remedy for the defilement of our sins” (New English Bible).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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