1 John 2:2a-Jesus Christ, the Righteous is the Propitiatory Sacrifice For the Sins of the Believer
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world. (NASB95)
“And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins” is explanatory meaning that this declarative statement explains the fifth class conditional statement in .
“He Himself” refers to the Jesus Christ and “the propitiation” is the nominative masculine singular form of the noun hilasmos (ἱλασμός), which means, “propitiatory sacrifice” and is used of the Lord Jesus Christ’s substitutionary spiritual and physical deaths on the cross.
“For our sins” indicates that Jesus Christ is the propitiatory sacrifice “for the benefit of” the sins of every believer in the sense that He paid the penalty for these sins on the cross.
My dear children, I am presently writing these things for the benefit of each of you in order that each of you would not enter into committing a sin. However, if anyone enters into committing a sin, we possess an advocate with the Father, namely, Jesus, who is the Christ, who is a righteous person. 2 For you see, He Himself is, as an eternal spiritual truth the propitiatory sacrifice for our sins. Indeed, by no means for ours only, but in fact also for the entire world. (My translation)
contains an explanatory statement which is followed by an emphatic correlative clause.
The former provides the reason for the fifth class conditional statement in and the latter advances upon and intensifies this explanatory clause.
In the fifth class conditional statement in , the apostle John asserts that if any believer enters into committing a mental, verbal or overt act of sin, they possess an advocate with the Father, namely, Jesus Christ, who is a perfectly righteous person.
Now, here in verse 2, he asserts that Jesus Christ Himself is the propitiatory sacrifice for the believer’s sins.
Therefore, John is telling the recipients of this epistle that Jesus Christ is the believer’s advocate with the Father because He Himself is the propitiatory sacrifice for the believer’s sins.
The Father has accepted this sacrifice and His holy character and standards are upheld and He is propitiated or satisfied by this sacrifice because His Son is a righteous person.
His holy standards were thus satisfied or propitiated because His Son is perfectly righteous like Himself.
Therefore, when we compare this fifth class conditional statement in with the explanatory statement in , we can see that John is teaching us that Jesus Christ’s advocacy on behalf of His church, His body, is effective because He is a righteous person or in other words, because He is sinless.
Furthermore, when an unregenerate sinner trusts in Jesus Christ as their Savior, the Father forgives them all their sins and accepts them into His family and gives them every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places because of the merits of the person of His Son and the merits of His work on the cross for them.
He delivers the sinner from eternal condemnation, spiritual and physical death, bondage to the sin nature and Satan, personal sins because of the merits of His Son’s spiritual and physical deaths on the cross which have merit with the Father because His Son is perfectly righteous like He is.
When the sinner is declared justified by the Father through faith in His Son Jesus Christ, they appropriate the Son’s work in propitiating the Father.
They also appropriate the reconciliation His work on the cross effected and the redemption His spiritual and physical deaths on the cross provided.
On the other hand, those sinners who refuse to trust in Jesus Christ as their Savior do not appropriate this reconciliation, redemption and propitiation of the Father which Christ’s death provided for the sinner.
In the same way, when the believer sins after justification but confesses these sins to the Father, the Father restores them immediately to fellowship with Himself because of the merits of His Son Jesus Christ’s spiritual and physical death on the cross as a substitute for them.
Again, these deaths have merit with the Father because Jesus Christ is His Son and thus perfectly righteous like Himself.
If they refuse to confess their sins, then they will not experience the forgiveness of sins and will not be experiencing fellowship with God.
“The propitiatory sacrifice” for the sins of the believer means that Jesus Christ’s voluntary substitutionary spiritual and physical deaths on the cross “satisfied” or “propitiated” the holy demands of God which required that the sins of every person in human history-past, present and future be judged.
They propitiated the Father in the sense that they paid the penalty for the sins of the entire world.
Every human being stands condemned before a holy God because they are sinners by nature and practice (cf. ) and consequently, they are under God’s wrath, which refers to His legitimate anger towards sin and sinners and is an expression of God’s holiness.
In , John declares that “God is light,” and that there is absolutely no darkness in Him none whatsoever, which is a reference to His holiness.
However, from His attribute of love, God provided His Son as the sacrifice which would resolve this problem the human race had in relation to God’s holiness ().
Jesus Christ’s substitutionary spiritual and physical deaths on the cross on behalf of all sinful humanity paid the penalty for the human race being sinners by nature and practice.
He experienced God’s wrath or righteous indignation in the place of everyone in the human race which was demonstrated by His spiritual and physical deaths on the cross.
His spiritual death resolved the problem of spiritual death in the human race since it dealt with the consequences of human beings having a sin nature and committing sin.
Physical death is the direct result of having a sin nature and Jesus Christ’s physical death resolved the problem of physical death as well as the sin nature which resides in the genetic structure of the human body (cf. ; ).
Also, His resurrection contributed to resolving the problem of physical death in the human race as well as resolving the problem of the sin nature.
To understand the meaning of the spiritual and physical deaths of Jesus Christ on the cross, we must understand what happened to the first Adam (cf. ).
When the first Adam sinned with his wife, they both received a sin nature and in fact, the sin nature entered the human race because of their sin, thus, they entered into spiritual death, which is the experience of being separated from God.
The sin nature resided in the genetic structure of their physical bodies and this is why the Lord said to them that they would go back to the dust of the ground.
Therefore, the presence of the sin nature in the human body is the reason why members of the human race die physically and also members of the human race sin because they are dominated by the sin nature.
Failure to trust in Jesus Christ as Savior will result in the sinner experiencing spiritual death in the lake of fire forever which is the second death and eternal condemnation ().
Now, Jesus Christ had to die spiritually in order to negate spiritual death in the human race since He is the last Adam who came to negate the effects the first Adam’s sin had on the human race.
He was experiencing spiritual death on the cross when the Father abandoned Him on the cross and He cried “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?”
The Father was the member of the Trinity who was the judge and the Son suffered the penalty and the Spirit empowered the Son to experience this judgment () and after this, Jesus said “It is finished.”
Then, He dismissed His spirit and died physically like no human being in history since He died of His own volition ().
His physical death was designed to negate physical death in the human race and not only this but to eventually eradicate the sin nature from the human race because the sin nature resides in the human body.
Jesus Christ’s resurrection was also designed to negate and eradicate the presence of the sin nature in the human race.
Jesus didn’t have a sin nature because He didn’t have a human father because the Spirit impregnated Mary and thus the sin nature was not passed down to the human nature of the Son of God ().
The sin nature is passed down by the male through sex and yet Mary did not get pregnant through a sinner but rather through the Spirit.
Now, the moment a sinner trusts in Jesus Christ as Savior, the Father imputes His Son’s righteousness to them and declares them justified (; ).
Simultaneously, the Holy Spirit identifies them with Jesus Christ in His crucifixion, spiritual and physical deaths on the cross, burial, resurrection and session at the right hand of the Father (; ; ; ).
These events in Jesus’ life were the means by which the Father resolved the problem of the sin nature in the human race, personal sins, spiritual and physical death and eternal condemnation and condemnation from the Law.
It also restored the image of God in mankind and restored mankind to rulership over creation and thus, the need to identify the believer with Christ.