First John: 1 John 4:10b-Love is Defined by God Sending His Son to be the Propitiatory Sacrifice for the Believer’s Sins Lesson # 167
1 John 4:10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (ESV)
“And sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” identifies specifically for the reader what John means by the previous adversative clause.
“Sent” is the verb apostellō (ἀποστέλλω), which means “to dispatch someone, to send someone” with authority to a particular location implying for a particular purpose.
This indicates that God the Father dispatched or sent His Son, Jesus Christ into the human race with authority to be the propitiatory sacrifice for each and every one of the sins committed by the believer during the course of their lifetime.
“His Son” is describing the relationship between the Father and Himself and emphasize that Jesus of Nazareth and the Father share the same divine nature.
“To be the propitiation” is the accusative masculine singular form of the noun hilasmos (ἱλασμός), which means, “propitiatory sacrifice.”
This refers to Jesus Christ’s substitutionary spiritual and physical deaths on the cross propitiating or satisfying the Father’s holy demands that sinners experience His wrath or righteous indignation for committing sin.
“For our sins” is composed of the following: (1) preposition peri (περί), “for” (2) articular genitive feminine singular form of the noun hamartia (ἁμαρτία), “sins” (3) genitive first person plural form of the personal pronoun ego (ἐγώ), “our.”
The noun hamartia is used with reference to mental, verbal and overt acts of sin from the perspective that these mental, verbal and overt acts of sin miss the mark of the absolute perfection of God’s holiness and are in disobedience to God’s laws.
The personal pronoun ego to denote possession and means “each and every one of our” since the word is referring to John and the recipients of First John and all God’s children as a corporate unit and is used in a distributive sense emphasizing no exceptions.
It is the object of the preposition peri which is employed here as a marker of benefaction indicating that Jesus Christ is the propitiatory sacrifice “for the benefit of” each and every one of the sins committed by the believer during the course of their lifetime.
1 John 4:10 Love is defined by means of this: By no means that we are loving God (the Father) but rather that He Himself in contrast to us loved each and every one of us. Specifically, He dispatched with authority His Son to be the propitiatory sacrifice for each and every one of our sins. (Author’s translation)
Therefore, John is teaching in 1 John 4:10 that the substitutionary spiritual and physical deaths of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary, which propitiated the demands of God’s holiness, is the ultimate expression of God’s attribute of love because they manifest this attribute perfectly.
This is not the first time that the apostle John asserts that Jesus Christ is the propitiatory sacrifice for each and every sin committed by each and every believer during the course of their lifetime since he makes this assertion in 1 John 2:2.
“The propitiatory sacrifice” means that Jesus Christ’s voluntary substitutionary spiritual and physical deaths on the cross “satisfied” or “propitiated” the holy demands of God which required that the sins of every person in human history-past, present and future be judged.
They propitiated the Father in the sense that they paid the penalty for the sins of the entire world.
Every human being stands condemned before a holy God because they are sinners by nature and practice (cf. Rom. 1:18-3:23).
God’s holy nature and character stands opposed to the entire human race because they possess a sin nature and as a result commit sin.
Consequently, they are under God’s wrath, which refers to His legitimate anger towards sin and sinners.
God’s wrath or righteous indignation is an expression of God’s holiness.
However, from His attribute of love, God provided His Son as the sacrifice which would resolve this problem the human race had in relation to God’s holiness (1 John 4:10).
God provided His Son as a substitute for the human race in the sense that He would experience God’s righteous indignation on the cross in place of every member of the human race because of His attribute of love.
Jesus Christ’s substitutionary spiritual and physical deaths on the cross satisfied the demands of God’s holiness which required that sinners experience His righteous indignation for committing sin against Him.
To understand the meaning of the spiritual and physical deaths of Jesus Christ on the cross, we must understand what happened to the first Adam (cf. Rom. 5:12-19).
When the first Adam sinned with his wife, they both received a sin nature and in fact, the sin nature entered the human race because of their sin and consequently, they entered into spiritual death, which is the experience of being separated from God.
The sin nature resided in the genetic structure of their physical bodies, which is why the Lord said to them that their bodies would go back to the dust of the ground.
Therefore, the presence of the sin nature in the human body is the reason why members of the human race die physically.
Members of the human race sin because they are dominated by the sin nature.
Failure to trust in Jesus Christ as Savior will result in the sinner experiencing spiritual death in the lake of fire forever and this is the second death and eternal condemnation (Rev. 20:14).
Now, Jesus Christ had to die spiritually in order to negate spiritual death in the human race.
He is the last Adam who came to negate the effects the first Adam’s sin had on the human race.
He was experiencing spiritual death on the cross when the Father abandoned Him on the cross and He cried “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?”
The Father was the member of the Trinity who was the judge and the Son suffered the penalty and the Spirit empowered the Son to experience this judgment (Heb. 9:14).
After this, Jesus said “It is finished” and then, He dismissed His spirit and died physically like no human being in history since He died of His own volition (John 10:18).
His physical death was designed to negate physical death in the human race and not only this but to eventually eradicate the sin nature from the human race because the sin nature resides in the human body.
Jesus Christ’s resurrection was also designed to negate and eradicate the presence of the sin nature in the human race.
Jesus didn’t have a sin nature because He didn’t have a human father since the Spirit impregnated Mary and thus the sin nature was not passed down to the human nature of the Son of God (Luke 1:35).
The sin nature is passed down by the male through sex but Mary did not get pregnant through a sinner but rather through the Spirit.
The moment a sinner trusts in Jesus Christ as Savior, the Father imputes His Son’s righteousness to them and declares them justified (Rom. 3:20-30; Gal. 2:16).
Simultaneously, the Holy Spirit identifies them with Jesus Christ in His crucifixion, spiritual and physical deaths on the cross, burial, resurrection and session at the right hand of the Father (Rom. 6:1-6; Eph. 2:1-7; Col. 2:12; 3:1-4).
These events in Jesus’ life were the means by which the Father resolved the problem of the sin nature in the human race, personal sins, spiritual and physical death and eternal condemnation and condemnation from the Law.
It also restored the image of God in mankind and restored mankind to rulership over creation and thus, the need to identify the believer with Christ.
This act of identifying the justified sinner with Jesus Christ is called the baptism of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13; Col. 2:12).
The believer is now united with Christ (Gal. 3:26-28) and members of His body (Rom. 12:4; 1 Cor. 12:12-13; Eph. 5:30; Col. 1:18) and under His headship (Col. 1:18) whereas prior to justification they were condemned before a holy God (Rom. 3:10, 23) and under the headship of Adam (Rom. 5:12-19).
This identification restores the image of God in human beings and the believer’s identification with Jesus Christ in His present session at the right hand of the Father restored the human race as ruler over the works of God’s hands.
Originally, Adam and Eve were designed to rule over the works of His hands (Gen. 1:26-27; Heb. 2:5-8) but Satan usurped this authority over the earth and rulership with the Fall, which is why Paul calls Satan “the god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4).
The Son of God had to become a human being in order to restore the human race to rulership over the earth (cf. Heb. 2:5-13).
The Father placed His incarnate Son Jesus Christ as ruler over the earth as a result of His Son voluntarily suffering a spiritual and physical death on the cross as a substitute for the entire human race (Phil. 2:6-11; Heb. 2:9-11).
When He ascended into heaven and was seated at the right hand of the Father, He was given the title deed to the earth and rulership over it (Rev. 5:1-5).
At His Second Advent, He will bodily assume rulership over the earth (Rev. 19:11-20:4) and at that time, He will imprison Satan for a thousand years (Rev. 20:1-3).
Regenerate human beings will assume rulership over the earth with Jesus Christ and rule with Him for a thousand years.