2 and He Himself is the [a]propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world. (NASB)
(Just a side note: The reason I have started using NASB is because my dad tells me that it is the most literal translation, and therefore, he feels, the most accurate. It is also the translation used for my MacArthur Study Bible. I've always used NIV and I didn't like reading other translations because they didn't feel familiar, but I actually have grown to quite like NASB.)
I remember memorizing these verses as a kid, probably in Awana (Awana is a Christian kids' club where Scripture memorization is how you earn your "badges"; they're not called badges, I don't remember what they're called, but you get the idea.) Anyway, I remember this word propitiation. Every time I read that word, I'm not telling you how many years later, I remember practicing how to pronounce it. The dictionary in my Kobo defines propitiation as "an atoning sacrifice". The notes in my study Bible say "appeasement" or "satisfaction".
The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross satisfied the demands of God's holiness for the punishment of sin. So Jesus propitiated or satisfied God.
Moving on to "those of the whole world," -- The passages which speak of Christ's dying for the whole world must be understood to refer to mankind in general. "World" indicates the sphere, the beings toward whom God seeks reconciliation and has provided propitiation. God has mitigated His wrath on sinners temporarily, by letting them live and enjoy earthly life. In that sense, Christ has provided a brief, temporal propitiation for the whole world. But He actually satisfied fully the wrath of God eternally only for the elect who believe. The pardon for sin is offered to the whole world, but received only by those who believe. There is no other way to be reconciled to God.
This goes back to what we talked about last week, saying that the book of 1 John is a "back to the basics" for believers. Here we have the very core, the foundation, of our faith and our salvation. Jesus paid the penalty for our sins. Without the sacrifice being made, the penalty being paid by someone, we would be "on the hook". We would each have to pay the penalty for our own sin. And "the wages of sin is death". Jesus made the choice to obey God. He loved us so much that he was willing to take all that pain and suffering and humiliation and ultimately death, so that we who believe and repent could be free of bondage and have life everlasting.
This old, familiar hymn keeps coming back to my mind again and again these last few days:
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus' blood and righteousness
(As another side note - you wouldn't believe how many youtube videos with the lyrics said "holy lean on Jesus' name" instead of "wholly lean on Jesus' name". SO IRRITATING!)
Tomorrow's scripture focus: 1 John 2:3.