Confusing Bible Words

Confusing words

Several words in the Bible are not that easy to understand, like the following, atonement, propitiation, redemption, justified, righteous, and sanctified. On more than one occasion, an individual has asked me to explain them.  Usually, I define each term first and then put them into a sentence to further clarify their meaning.

Atonement is universal in nature and refers to Christ’s death for every person.  It was the reconciliation of God and humanity through the work of Christ on the cross.  It allows any individual who desires to approach God to do so with the secure knowledge that they will not be rejected despite their sinful nature.

Propitiation refers to Christ’s work in appeasing or satisfying God whose anger was kindled against the sins of humanity.  The atonement paved the way for alleviating His righteous anger toward His people because of their constant sinful actions.

Redemption is personal in nature and is the blood spilled on the cross for the individual believer.  Whereas atonement and propitiation happened at a specific point in the past, redemption began with the blood of Christ but flowed forward to affect the seeker at Baptism.  In essence, it delivers them from sin to enable the following action by God.

Justified is the one-time declaration by God and refers to the act of God moving an individual from a state of injustice, which is sin, to one of justice, which is to one of grace and mercy.  It is an acquittal similar to a judge declaring someone free from the accusation of a crime in court.

Righteous refers to the state of right standing before Him because we were justified by Him and is ongoing by nature because of our obedience.

Sanctified is the fact that we are set apart from the rest of the world and gives us the strength to grow in our spirituality.

I usually use the following sentence to show their relationship, “Christ was the atonement for the sins of everyone, thereby becoming the propitiation and ensuring the believer’s redemption to be justified as righteous and be sanctified.

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