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1 John 2:2

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

And he is the propitiation - 'Ἱλασμος· The atoning sacrifice for our sins. This is the proper sense of the word as used in the Septuagint, where it often occurs; and is the translation of אשם asham, an oblation for sin, Amos 8:14. חטאת chattath, a sacrifice for sin, Ezekiel 44:27. כפור kippur, an atonement, Numbers 5:8. See the note on Romans 3:25, and particularly the note on Luke 18:13. The word is used only here and in 1 John 4:10.

And not for ours only - It is not for us apostles that he has died, nor exclusively for the Jewish people, but περι ὁλου του κοσμου, for the whole world, Gentiles as well as Jews, all the descendants of Adam. The apostle does not say that he died for any select part of the inhabitants of the earth, or for some out of every nation, tribe, or kindred; but for All Mankind; and the attempt to limit this is a violent outrage against God and his word.

For the meaning of the word παρακλητος, which we here translate advocate, see the note on John 14:16.

From these verses we learn that a poor backslider need not despair of again finding mercy; this passage holds out sufficient encouragement for his hope. There is scarcely another such in the Bible, and why? That sinners might not presume on the mercy of God. And why this one? That no backslider might utterly despair. Here, then, is a guard against presumption on the one hand, and despondency on the other.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

And he is the propitiation for our sins - The word rendered “propitiation” ( ἱλασμός hilasmos) occurs nowhere else in the New Testament, except in 1 John 4:10 of this Epistle; though words of the same derivation, and having the same essential meaning, frequently occur. The corresponding word ἱλαστήριον hilastērionoccurs in Romans 3:25, rendered “propitiation” - “whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood;” and in Hebrews 9:5, rendered mercy-seat - “shadowing the mercy-seat.” The verb ἱλάσκομαι hilaskomaioccurs also in Luke 18:3 - God be merciful to me a sinner;” and Hebrews 2:17 - “to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.” For the idea expressed by these words, see the notes at Romans 3:25. The proper meaning of the word is that of reconciling, appeasing, turning away anger, rendering propitious or favorable. The idea is, that there is anger or wrath, or that something has been done to offend, and that it is needful to turn away that wrath, or to appease. This may be done by a sacrifice, by songs, by services rendered, or by bloody offerings. So the word is often used in Homer - Passow. We have similar words in common use, as when we say of one that he has been offended, and that something must be done to appease him, or to turn away his wrath. This is commonly done with us by making restitution; or by an acknowledgment; or by yielding the point in controversy; or by an expression of regret; or by different conduct in time to come. But this idea must not be applied too literally to God; nor should it be explained away. The essential thoughts in regard to him, as implied in this word, are:

(1)that his will has been disregarded, and his law violated, and that he has reason to be offended with us;

(2)that in that condition he cannot, consistently with his perfections, and the good of the universe, treat us as if we had not done it;

(3)that it is proper that, in some way, he should show his displeasure at our conduct, either by punishing us, or by something that shall answer the same purpose; and,

(4)that the means of propitiation come in here, and accomplish this end, and make it proper that he should treat us as if we had not sinned; that is, he is reconciled, or appeased, and his anger is turned away.

This is done, it is supposed, by the death of the Lord Jesus, accomplishing, in most important respects, what would be accomplished by the punishment of the offender himself. In regard to this, in order to a proper understanding of what is accomplished, it is necessary to observe two things - what is not done, and what is.

I. There are certain things which do not enter into the idea of propitiation. They are such as these:

(a)That it does not change the fact that the wrong was done. That is a fact which cannot be denied, and he who undertakes to make a propitiation for sin does not deny it.

(b)It does not change God; it does not make Him a different being from what He was before; it does not buy Him over to a willingness to show mercy; it does not change an inexorable being to one who is compassionate and kind.

(c)The offering that is made to secure reconciliation does not necessarily produce reconciliation in fact. It prepares the way for it on the part of God, but whether they for whom it is made will be disposed to accept it is another question.

When two men are alienated from each other, you may go to B and say to him that all obstacles to reconciliation on the part of A are removed, and that he is disposed to be at peace, but whether B will be willing to be at peace is quite another matter. The mere fact that his adversary is disposed to be at peace, determines nothing in regard to his disposition in the matter. So in regard to the controversy between man and God. It may be true that all obstacles to reconciliation on the part of God are taken away, and still it may be quite a separate question whether man will be willing to lay aside his opposition, and embrace the terms of mercy. In itself considered, one does not necessarily determine the other, or throw any light on it.

II. The amount, then, in regard to the propitiation made for sin is, that it removes all obstacles to reconciliation on the part of God: it does whatever is necessary to be done to maintain the honor of His law, His justice, and His truth; it makes it consistent for Him to offer pardon - that is, it removes whatever there was that made it necessary to inflict punishment, and thus, so far as the word can be applied to God, it appeases Him, or turns away His anger, or renders Him propitious. This it does, not in respect to producing any change in God, but in respect to the fact that it removes whatever there was in the nature of the case that prevented the free and full offer of pardon. The idea of the apostle in the passage before us is, that when we sin we may be assured that this has been done, and that pardon may now be freely extended to us.

And not for our‘s only - Not only for the sins of us who are Christians, for the apostle was writing to such. The idea which he intends to convey seems to be, that when we come before God we should take the most liberal and large views of the atonement; we should feel that the most ample provision has been made for our pardon, and that in no respect is there any limit as to the sufficiency of that work to remove all sin. It is sufficient for us; sufficient for all the world.

But also for the sins of the whole world - The phrase “the sins of” is not in the original, but is not improperly supplied, for the connection demands it. This is one of the expressions occurring in the New Testament which demonstrate that the atonement was made for all people, and which cannot be reconciled with any other opinion. If he had died only for a part of the race, this language could not have been used. The phrase, “the whole world,” is one which naturally embraces all people; is such as would be used if it be supposed that the apostle meant to teach that Christ died for all people; and is such as cannot be explained on any other supposition. If he died only for the elect, it is not true that he is the “propitiation for the sins of the whole world” in any proper sense, nor would it be possible then to assign a sense in which it could be true. This passage, interpreted in its plain and obvious meaning, teaches the following things:

(1)that the atonement in its own nature is adapted to all people, or that it is as much fitted to one individual, or one class, as another;

(2)that it is sufficient in merit for all; that is, that if anymore should be saved than actually will be, there would be no need of any additional suffering in order to save them;

(3)that it has no special adaptedness to one person or class more than another; that is, that in its own nature it did not render the salvation of one easier than that of another.

It so magnified the law, so honored God, so fully expressed the divine sense of the evil of sin in respect to all people, that the offer of salvation might be made as freely to one as to another, and that any and all might take shelter under it and be safe. Whether, however, God might not, for wise reasons, resolve that its benefits should be applied to a part only, is another question, and one which does not affect the inquiry about the intrinsic nature of the atonement. On the evidence that the atonement was made for all, see the 2 Corinthians 5:14 note, and Hebrews 2:9 note.

(See also the Supplementary notes at these passages, for a general review of the argument regarding the extent of atonement.)

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
When have an Advocate with the Father; one who has undertaken, and is fully able, to plead in behalf of every one who applies for pardon and salvation in his name, depending on his pleading for them. He is "Jesus," the Saviour, and "Christ," the Messiah, the Anointed. He alone is "the Righteous One," who received his nature pure from sin, and as our Surety perfectly obeyed the law of God, and so fulfilled all righteousness. All men, in every land, and through successive generations, are invited to come to God through this all-sufficient atonement, and by this new and living way. The gospel, when rightly understood and received, sets the heart against all sin, and stops the allowed practice of it; at the same time it gives blessed relief to the wounded consciences of those who have sinned.
Ellen G. White
Selected Messages Book 1, 237

So sacred and so glorious is the law, that when Moses returned from the holy mount, where he had been with God, receiving from His hand the tables of stone, his face reflected a glory upon which the people could not look without pain, and Moses was obliged to cover his face with a veil. 1SM 237.1

The glory that shone on the face of Moses was a reflection of the righteousness of Christ in the law. The law itself would have no glory, only that in it Christ is embodied. It has no power to save. It is lusterless only as in it Christ is represented as full of righteousness and truth. 1SM 237.2

The types and shadows of the sacrificial service, with the prophecies, gave the Israelites a veiled, indistinct view of the mercy and grace to be brought to the world by the revelation of Christ. To Moses was unfolded the significance of the types and shadows pointing to Christ. He saw to the end of that which was to be done away when, at the death of Christ, type met antitype. He saw that only through Christ can man keep the moral law. By transgression of this law man brought sin into the world, and with sin came death. Christ became the propitiation for man's sin. He proffered His perfection of character in the place of man's sinfulness. He took upon Himself the curse of disobedience. The sacrifices and offerings pointed forward to the sacrifice He was to make. The slain lamb typified the Lamb that was to take away the sin of the world. 1SM 237.3

It was seeing the object of that which was to be done away, seeing Christ as revealed in the law, that illumined the face of Moses. The ministration of the law, written and engraved in stone, was a ministration of death. Without Christ, the transgressor was left under its curse, with no hope of pardon. The ministration had of itself no glory, but the promised Saviour, revealed in the types and shadows of the ceremonial law, made the moral law glorious. 1SM 237.4

Paul desires his brethren to see that the great glory of a sin-pardoning Saviour gave significance to the entire Jewish economy. He desired them to see also that when Christ came to the world, and died as man's sacrifice, type met antitype. 1SM 237.5

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Ellen G. White
Early Writings, 150

The angels prostrated themselves before Him. They offered their lives. Jesus said to them that He would by His death save many, that the life of an angel could not pay the debt. His life alone could be accepted of His Father as a ransom for man. Jesus also told them that they would have a part to act, to be with Him and at different times strengthen Him; that He would take man's fallen nature, and His strength would not be even equal with theirs; that they would be witnesses of His humiliation and great sufferings; and that as they would witness His sufferings, and the hatred of men toward Him, they would be stirred with the deepest emotion, and through their love for Him would wish to rescue and deliver Him from His murderers; but that they must not interfere to prevent anything they should behold; and that they should act a part in His resurrection; that the plan of salvation was devised, and His Father had accepted the plan. EW 150.1

With a holy sadness Jesus comforted and cheered the angels and informed them that hereafter those whom He should redeem would be with Him, and that by His death He should ransom many and destroy him who had the power of death. And His Father would give Him the kingdom and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, and He would possess it forever and ever. Satan and sinners would be destroyed, nevermore to disturb heaven or the purified new earth. Jesus bade the heavenly host be reconciled to the plan that His Father had accepted and rejoice that through His death fallen man could again be exalted to obtain favor with God and enjoy heaven. EW 151.1

Then joy, inexpressible joy, filled heaven. And the heavenly host sang a song of praise and adoration. They touched their harps and sang a note higher than they had done before, for the great mercy and condescension of God in yielding up His dearly Beloved to die for a race of rebels. Praise and adoration were poured forth for the self-denial and sacrifice of Jesus; that He would consent to leave the bosom of His Father, and choose a life of suffering and anguish, and die an ignominious death to give life to others. EW 151.2

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Ellen G. White
The Upward Look, 191.3

Christ, our Saviour, in whom dwelt absolute perfection, became sin for the fallen race. He did not know sin by the experience of sinning, but He bore the terrible weight of the guilt of the whole world. He became our propitiation, that all who receive Him may become sons of God. The cross was erected to save man. Christ lifted on the cross was the means devised in heaven for awakening in the repenting soul a sense of the sinfulness of sin. By the cross Christ sought to draw all to Himself. He died as the only hope of saving those who, because of sin, were in the gall of bitterness. Through the agency of the Holy Spirit, a new principle of mental and spiritual power was to be brought to man, who, through association with divinity, was to become one with God. UL 191.3

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Ellen G. White
SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 6 (EGW), 1096

7-17. The Moral Law Glorified by Christ—The types and shadows of the sacrificial service, with the prophecies, gave the Israelites a veiled, indistinct view of the mercy and grace to be brought to the world by the revelation of Christ. To Moses was unfolded the significance of the types and shadows pointing to Christ. He saw to the end of that which was to be done away when, at the death of Christ, type met antitype. He saw that only through Christ can man keep the moral law. By transgression of this law man brought sin into the world, and with sin came death. Christ became the propitiation for man's sin. He proffered His perfection of character in the place of man's sinfulness. He took upon Himself the curse of disobedience. The sacrifices and offerings pointed forward to the sacrifice He was to make. The slain lamb typified the Lamb that was to take away the sin of the world. 6BC 1096.1

It was seeing the object of that which was to be done away, seeing Christ as revealed in the law, that illumined the face of Moses. The ministration of the law, written and engraved in stone, was a ministration of death. Without Christ, the transgressor was left under its curse, with no hope of pardon. The ministration had of itself no glory, but the promised Saviour, revealed in the types and shadows of the ceremonial law, made the moral law glorious (The Review and Herald, April 22, 1902). 6BC 1096.2

7-18 (Romans 3:31; 7:7; Galatians 3:13). Christ's Glory Revealed in His Law—Christ bore the curse of the law, suffering its penalty, carrying to completion the plan whereby man was to be placed where he could keep God's law, and be accepted through the merits of the Redeemer; and by His sacrifice glory was shed upon the law. Then the glory of that which is not to be done away—God's law of ten commandments, His standard of righteousness—was plainly seen by all who saw to the end of that which was done away. 6BC 1096.3

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