This week’s word(s) are Propitiate and Expiate
As before these words do not garner much attention nor receive much air time since some harsh realities are exposed. So enjoy your God ordained two-fer.
As is our custom let’s begin with a definition from Webster’s (1828)
PROPITIATE – To conciliate; to appease one offended and render him favorable.
EXPIATE – To atone for; to make satisfaction for; to extinguish the guilt of
Some of the difficulty in these terms is that their close relationship makes them seemingly synonymous with each other and even when looking at their definitions above it can be difficult to really see the difference. Here it becomes advantageous to look to the OT sacrificial system for a more clear view of just what those differences are and how they relate to one another.
This provides a beautiful picture of both the act of Propitiation and Expiation in that God was propitiated by the blood of the one and expiated by the bearing of the people’s sin by the other. Friend this is a perfect picture of Christ for by his blood God’s wrath is appeased (propitiated) and by His bearing our sin upon the cross we have our guilt removed (expiated). Again, this is a beautiful and complete picture of Christ’s atoning work.
So that the difference is one of object. Christ expiates (atones for) our sin and as a result God is propitious toward us having had His wrath appeased. In other words one propitiates a person and expiates a problem.
Sola Deo gloria