Passover, Shema, Law, Hilasterion, Expiation, Salvation

6 thoughts on “Passover, Shema, Law, Hilasterion, Expiation, Salvation”

  1. But this neglects 1 Peter 2:24, (NASB) “He Himself bore our sin in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, for ‘by His wounds you were healed.'” (GNT-TIS) [ὃς τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἡμῶν αὐτὸς ἀνήνεγκεν ἐν τῷ σώματι αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ τὸ ξύλον, ἵνα ταῖς ἁμαρτίαις ἀπογενόμενοι τῇ δικαιοσύνῃ ζήσωμεν, οὗ τῷ μώλωπι ἰάθητε.]

    You are correct in saying that the horns of the altar, bulls, goats, the sacrifice of the Passover lamb, etc. all are a part of the ‘passing over’ of sin. But those things were a ‘passing over’ simply because, as the author of Hebrews says, “it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (10:4). Thus, these things are all types–correlating to Christ Jesus–but the death of these animals do not function the same way that His death functioned. God passed over the sins of His chosen in the OT because of Christ–because Christ Jesus bore their sins Himself. If Christ Jesus did not bear their sin, and the wrath of YHWH that sin merits, then Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and the rest of God’s elect are not forgiven, but only await judgment for violating God’s law (Shema included, ‘for all have sinned’). The law, then, is given to a people to explain how to live a sanctified life, and are not intended to make you righteous.

    As a footnote: how do you make sense of your statements, philosophically? A God that pardons sin without justice isn’t a righteous God. A God that pardons sin by bearing the judgment required of sin upon Himself is both a loving and righteous God.


  2. I feel that this does not neglect 1 Peter 2:24. In fact, this explains it! The keywords are propitiation vs expiation. We know that Jesus’s blood was shed to deal with our sin. His blood heals/cleanses (expiates) our hearts so that we die to sin and live to righteousness.

    It depends on how you understand the idea of “taking away sins”. Propitiation means that the just penalty remains in effect, except that it is inflicted upon an innocent victim instead. Expiation means cleansing away the sin itself so that the person who was once unrighteous is now truly righteous because his heart is clean. Now that his heart is clean, there is no reason for him to endure further punishment (cf. Hebrews 12:5; Proverbs 3:11), and God is more than willing to forgive us our debts without requiring any form of payment.

    Philosophically, this is how it makes sense. I think God’s righteousness has been misunderstood. (For now, try not to insist that God’s justice means that he must inflict harm/pain upon sinners as retribution.) God is perfectly righteous and merciful when he forgives sin without having to inflict the retributive-penalty upon an innocent victim. Indeed, you are right that God must forgive sin while also maintaining justice/righteousness. Consider this idea of God’s justice: God created humans to be righteous and holy. But humans have sinned. In God’s eyes, sin is like a disease that must be eradicated. This is why He provided the perfect solution/cure to sin: Jesus’s blood. Instead of Jesus being punished as retribution for our sin, Jesus is really being punished as correction/instruction for our sin. God makes sure that the hearts of his own chosen people are cleansed, and his people are thereby made righteous/holy. This is so that at God’s final righteous judgment, when His wrath is unleashed against all unrighteousness, His own people are unaffected by that wrath, because they have already been made righteous.

    Genesis 15:5-6
    New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
    5 He brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” 6 And he believed the Lord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness.


  3. Thanks for the response!
    But what your explanation does not consider is the idea of Christ actually bearing our sins. It explains his ‘healing’ us and ‘cleansing’ us from all unrighteousness, but not why that means He ‘bore our sins in His body on the tree’. Similarly in Col. 2:14 it is evident that Christ canceled our debt by nailing it to the cross. It seems to me that for His blood to be expiation it must first be propitiation: first He pays our debt Himself, declaring us righteous, and then He cleanses us from unrighteousness.

    On a similar note, how do you define/explain ‘redemption’? As you say, “God is more than willing to forgive us our debts without requiring any form of payment.” But the Scriptures consistently treat ‘redemption’ as a payment. The Hebrew ‘pithyon’ and ‘pthewiym’ and their root ‘pathak’ entail a payment by an acceptable substitute (money, something of equal or comparable value). So for example in Exodus 13:15, the Israelites must redeem every first-born male with an acceptable animal or money substitute. Christ is the perfect fulfillment of this typology. As they say in Rev. 5: 9, ” for You were slain, and by Your blood You ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.” The word used is ἀγοράζω, meaning “to acquire things in exchange for money” or “to secure rights to someone by paying a price.” For this reason propitiation is an acceptable idea: Christ bought us with the price of his blood.

    It seems unwise to divide the two wonderful concepts of propitiation and expiation, because the heart of the gospel is that God has both provided His elect an acceptable substitute–Christ Jesus–and cleanses us from dead works and unrighteousness by washing us in His blood. Of course, it is the Holy Spirit who makes all of this effectual by giving us faith, and uniting us with Christ in His death and resurrection.


  4. Hey, you’re welcome.

    In the OT, God redeemed/ransomed his people from slavery in Egypt, and in the NT, God redeems/ransoms his people from slavery to sin. The “redemption from slavery” metaphor is distinct from the “sin-debt” metaphor. In Col 2:14, the record of debt was “destroyed”. The context is based on Deut 15, wherein debts are cancelled every 7th year, without any payment at all.

    This website explains it all quite well:

    Hope this makes sense.


  5. But the redemption in the OT was a type of that in the NT…it isn’t simply a parallel to Deut. 15. The Scriptures are pretty plain about that. See Matthew 20:28, Mark 10:45, Luke 1:68, 2:38, 24:21, 1 Peter 1:18, Hebrews 9:12, 1 Timothy 2:6, Titus 2:14. To deny that Christ’s blood was ‘payment’ for a debt that we owed to God Himself seems to directly contradict these passages, especially Hebrews 9:12.
    Also, that article you sent me says that Penal Substitution means A. That God doesn’t forgive, and that B. There is no participation in Christ’s death….but those are inaccurate! The Penal Substitutionary understanding of at-one-ment is that the way God forgives us is by sending the Son to bear our sin and judgment. To claim that for God to substitute the Son in our stead is ‘unforgiving’ is just wrong. That is not unforgiving, nor does it force God to love us–He did that because He loves us. It is also NOT unbiblical–the arguments he makes don’t work against Penal Substitution. Eph. 1:5–God saves us in accordance with His pleasure and will: Yes. He was pleased to send the Son to be a ‘ransom for many’. He saves us as He chooses. Ps. 103:10–God does not treat us as our sin deserves: EXACTLY–we do not deserve for the Son to bear our sin, but God sent Him to bear it! Humankind is reconciled to God: yes! We no longer bear sin and the objective guilt due to us! We can now stand before God as innocent and righteous children. And the last argument is just silly (Rom. 6:1-14). Of course we participate in Christ’s death…but also in his resurrection by the Spirit, who joins us in mystical union to Christ Jesus in His death, life, glorification, and righteousness. Any decent Calvinist believes that. But that does not detract from the fact that He also is our substitute–our ransom–our Redeemer-Kinsman, who payed the price of His blood, when our blood was what was owed to God. The things that he pits against each other (propitiation vs. expiation; substitution vs. participation, etc) are actually all espoused in Scripture.


  6. Well, I’d just say that the bible doesn’t really talk about the kind of penal substitution espoused by Reformed/Calvinist doctrine. Being aware of our assumptions helps a lot in our search for truth. Penal substitution assumes that sin needs to be met with a kind of retributive punishment that the bible just doesn’t say. The bible’s emphasis is much more about the kind of corrective punishment mentioned in Proverbs 3:11 and Hebrews 12:5.


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