The Person and Work of Christ Part XI: Character and Results of Propitiation -- By: John F. Walvoord

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 119:475 (Jul 1962)
Article: The Person and Work of Christ Part XI: Character and Results of Propitiation
Author: John F. Walvoord


The Person and Work of Christ
Part XI:
Character and Results of Propitiation

John F. Walvoord

It has been long considered an essential doctrine of orthodox Christian theology that Christ in some sense died as a substitutional sacrifice for sin. The concept of substitution is inherent in the Scriptures in relation to the sacrificial system of the Old Testament and of course is revealed pre-eminently in the death of Christ on the cross in the New Testament.

Substitution in the Old Testament. The idea of substitution is prominent in the Old Testament offerings though it remained for the New Testament to give the full revelation of the doctrine of propitiation. The viewpoint of Scripture seems to be that the Old Testament offerings were only a temporary provision, a typical symbol of the propitiation that was to be fulfilled by the sacrifice of Christ. Old Testament sacrifices therefore were imperfect in their revelation of the satisfaction of divine justice embodied in the principle of propitiation. All of the Old Testament offerings which prefigured Christ have the element of substitution. The nonsweet savor offerings, consisting principally of the sin offering and the trespass offering, were representations of Christ satisfying the demands of God by bearing the guilt and judgment of our sin (John 1:29). The sweet savor offering represented Christ satisfying the demands of God by presenting His merit for us (Eph 5:2). In each case the offering was identified with the offerer by some religious act and the sacrifice was offered on behalf of another, usually the one who brought the sacrifice to the priest.

Substitution in the New Testament. The sacrifice of Christ, while fulfilling the Old Testament principle of substitution and the anticipation of propitiation, stands in contrast to the Old Testament doctrine in several particulars. (1) In contrast to the many offerings in the Old Testament, Christ was offered

once and for all (Heb 9:28). (2) Christ’s sacrifice was a complete and an eternal satisfaction for sin, in contrast to the Old Testament offerings which did not offer any permanent satisfaction (Rom 3:25; Heb 10:4). (3) In the Old Testament the victims were animals, unintelligent and involuntary substitutes, while in the sacrifice of Christ one was offered who was willing to die and who intelligently accepted being a sacrificial substitute for sinners. The fact that Christ was a willing sacrifice prompted by the love of God, bot...

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