1 John 4:10

1 John 4:10 (NIV) – This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

In this awesome verse, the NIV translates the Greek word ἱλασμὸς (hilasmos) as “atoning sacrifice, other English bibles translate it propitiation. Either way it is a profound reality. Below is an article on the Greek word, taken from G. Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. It is an interesting and hopefully encouraging read for you.

“John is obviously following the Old Testament ἱλασμός does not imply the propitiation of God. It refers to the purpose which God Himself has fulfilled by sending the Son. Hence it rests on the fact that God is gracious, i.e., on His love. The meaning, then, is the setting aside of sin as guilt against God. The subjective result of ἱλασμός in man is confidence before the divine judgment, or victory over the consciousness of sin. As a demonstration of love, ἱλασμός begets love (for the brethren). The overcoming of sin as guilt cannot be separated in fact from the overcoming of sin as transgression, which in John is lack of love. In this respect John can even say that he who is born of God cannot sin, 1 John 3:9, 6. He deduces this impossibility of sin in the regenerate from the fact that Jesus, who is sinless, is manifested for the putting away of sin (i.e., as ἱλασμός). If Christians do still sin—and to deny this is to sin against the truth, 1 John 1:8, 10—this simply forces them to look again to Him who is the ἱλασμός. The line from 1 John 1:8, 10 leads directly to 2:2. John does not say how Jesus accomplished the ἱλασμός. But it is worth noting that neither in 1 John 2:2 nor 4:10 does he refer to the death of Christ. He simply speaks of the risen Lord and of the total mission of Jesus. The ἱλασμός is not one-sidedly linked with the single achievement of the death, but with the total person and work of Jesus, of which His death is, of course, an indissoluble part. Jesus is our expiation as the One who has fulfilled the purpose of His sending, who has been kept in perfect love and who is perfectly righteous. John does not speak of any necessity of expiation. He sees the day of judgment approaching, 1 John 4:17, and it is thus unnecessary to establish the necessity of expiation. For John the ἱλασμός is much more than a concept of Christian doctrine; it is the reality by which he lives.”

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