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Easton's Bible Dictionary

 

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Atonement
        This word does not occur in the Authorized Version of the New
        Testament except in Rom. 5:11, where in the Revised Version the
        word "reconciliation" is used. In the Old Testament it is of
        frequent occurrence.
        The meaning of the word is simply at-one-ment, i.e., the state
        of being at one or being reconciled, so that atonement is
        reconciliation. Thus it is used to denote the effect which flows
        from the death of Christ.
        But the word is also used to denote that by which this
        reconciliation is brought about, viz., the death of Christ
        itself; and when so used it means satisfaction, and in this
        sense to make an atonement for one is to make satisfaction for
        his offences (Ex. 32:30; Lev. 4:26; 5:16; Num. 6:11), and, as
        regards the person, to reconcile, to propitiate God in his
        behalf.
        By the atonement of Christ we generally mean his work by which
        he expiated our sins. But in Scripture usage the word denotes
        the reconciliation itself, and not the means by which it is
        effected. When speaking of Christ's saving work, the word
        "satisfaction," the word used by the theologians of the
        Reformation, is to be preferred to the word "atonement."
        Christ's satisfaction is all he did in the room and in behalf of
        sinners to satisfy the demands of the law and justice of God.
        Christ's work consisted of suffering and obedience, and these
        were vicarious, i.e., were not merely for our benefit, but were
        in our stead, as the suffering and obedience of our vicar, or
        substitute. Our guilt is expiated by the punishment which our
        vicar bore, and thus God is rendered propitious, i.e., it is now
        consistent with his justice to manifest his love to
        transgressors. Expiation has been made for sin, i.e., it is
        covered. The means by which it is covered is vicarious
        satisfaction, and the result of its being covered is atonement
        or reconciliation. To make atonement is to do that by virtue of
        which alienation ceases and reconciliation is brought about.
        Christ's mediatorial work and sufferings are the ground or
        efficient cause of reconciliation with God. They rectify the
        disturbed relations between God and man, taking away the
        obstacles interposed by sin to their fellowship and concord. The
        reconciliation is mutual, i.e., it is not only that of sinners
        toward God, but also and pre-eminently that of God toward
        sinners, effected by the sin-offering he himself provided, so
        that consistently with the other attributes of his character his
        love might flow forth in all its fulness of blessing to men. The
        primary idea presented to us in different forms throughout the
        Scripture is that the death of Christ is a satisfaction of
        infinite worth rendered to the law and justice of God (q.v.),
        and accepted by him in room of the very penalty man had
        incurred. It must also be constantly kept in mind that the
        atonement is not the cause but the consequence of God's love to
        guilty men (John 3:16; Rom. 3:24, 25; Eph. 1:7; 1 John 1:9;
        4:9). The atonement may also be regarded as necessary, not in an
        absolute but in a relative sense, i.e., if man is to be saved,
        there is no other way than this which God has devised and
        carried out (Ex. 34:7; Josh. 24:19; Ps. 5:4; 7:11; Nahum 1:2, 6;
        Rom. 3:5). This is God's plan, clearly revealed; and that is
        enough for us to know.

Bibliography Information
Easton, Matthew George. M.A., D.D., "Biblical Meaning for 'Atonement' Eastons Bible Dictionary".
bible-history.com - Eastons; 1897.

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