Soteriology -- By: Lewis Sperry Chafer

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 104:414 (Apr 1947)
Article: Soteriology
Author: Lewis Sperry Chafer


Lewis Sperry Chafer

(Continued from the January-March Number, 1947)

The Savior

Biblical Terminology Related to Christ’s Sufferings and Death

In the general field of truth respecting the sufferings and death of Christ there are specific words employed by writers—some of which terms are Biblical and some not—the meaning of which should be discerned by the student as to their precise import. Thirteen of these are here considered:

1. Atonement (Lev 5:10).

Whether it be accurately or inaccurately employed, the student will become aware of the fact that the word atonement is the term upon which men have seized with a view to expressing the entire work of Christ upon the cross. That such a word is sorely needed cannot be doubted. The almost universal use of atonement for this purpose may go far to give it authoritative acceptance regardless of its inaptitude for the immense service thus thrust upon it. Objection to the use of the term as employed generally arises from the fact that the word is not a New Testament term, and when used in the Old Testament some seventy-seven times it is a translator’s attempt at interpretation and poorly represents the meaning of kāphar, a term it purports to translate, which word originally means to cover. Though etymologically the word atonement suggests at-one-ment, it feebly relates itself to the New Testament truth which presents Christ as the Lamb of God taking away the sin of the world.

2. Expiation.

The Standard Dictionary defines the meaning of this term thus: “The act of expiating, or the state of being expiated;

also, the means by which atonement or reparation is made.” In general, the term expiation is more inclusive and definite than atonement.

3. Forgiveness and Remission.

Much having been written previously in this work on the doctrinal significance of these terms, no more need be added than to restate that divine forgiveness of sin is made possible only through the cross of Christ, and is never exercised apart from expiation—whether when anticipated, as it was in the Old Testament, or realized, as it is in the New Testament economy.

4. Guilt (Gen 42:21; Rom 3:19; 1 Cor 11:27; James 2:10).

Guilt, which means that the guilty one has offended God’s character and will, is predicated of every person and in two respects:

a. As personal and thus related to the historical fact of actual sin. Such guilt is non-transferable. History and its records can never be changed.


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