However, a point was brought up that is by no means new, but it triggered some fresh memories for me. That is the word 'propitiation'. Apparently ιλαστηριον in Romans 3:25 was translated as 'expiation' in the RSV, and the ESV translators made it an important statement that they would bring back the term 'propitiation':
- whom God put forward as an expiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins; (RSV)
- whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement F12 by his blood, effective through faith. He did this to show his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed; (NRSV)
God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement,[a] through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—
(Footnote: Or as the one who would turn aside his wrath, taking away sin) (NIV)
God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, [i] through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished.
(Footnote: The Greek for sacrifice of atonement refers to the atonement cover on the ark of the covenant (see Lev. 16:15,16).) (TNIV)
- whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. (ESV)
Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; (KJV)
- For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God's anger against us. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us. God was being entirely fair and just when he did not punish those who sinned in former times (NLT)
- whom God has set forth a mercy-seat, through faith in his blood, for [the] shewing forth of his righteousness, in respect of the passing by the sins that had taken place before, through the forbearance of God; (Darby)
- C'est lui que Dieu a destiné, par son sang, à être, pour ceux qui croiraient victime propitiatoire, afin de montrer sa justice, parce qu'il avait laissé impunis les péchés commis auparavant, au temps de sa patience, afin, dis-je. (Louis Segond)
- welchen Gott hat vorgestellt zu einem Gnadenstuhl durch den Glauben in seinem Blut, damit er die Gerechtigkeit, die vor ihm gilt, darbiete in dem, daß er Sünde vergibt, welche bisher geblieben war unter göttlicher Geduld; (Luther)
- whom God hath made a seate of mercy thorow faith in his bloud to shewe ye rightewesnes which before him is of valoure in yt he forgeveth ye synnes yt are passed which God dyd suffre. (Tyndale)
- Whom God hath set foorth to be a propitiatio, through fayth in his blood, to declare his ryghteousnes, in that he forgeueth the sinnes that are past. (Bishop's Bible)
When I was a very young child we had a visitor to our home, Mr. Norman Berry. He brought with him a model of the Tabernacle, much like this one, that he set up in the meeting hall. The colours and drapery were exquisite, the furnishings of the temple shone with glittering gold paint. Each item fascinated the gaze of a child and the terms laver, altar and table of showbread were familiar to us. We also knew what the mercy-seat was.
Somehow the Tabenacle Talks that accompanied this model have found their way onto the internet here. In Norman Berry's talks, the word 'atonement' is used instead of propitiation. When it is translated into French it becomes propitiation, but when it is translated into Portuguese it becomes expiation.
Wouldn't it be a hundred times better to read Leviticus and understand the concept than have a term that so cloaked in mystery as propitiation. I have taken a brief survey today and found not one of my family and acquaintance who knows what the word 'propitiation' means. As an English word, I know nothing of it either, except that I encountered the word in French and knew what it meant there.
I have rejected grammatical theology and now I am ready to reject etymological theology. (Well, obviously I am not really a theologian) But why can't we trust a Bible in our mother tongue, our native language?