Friday, June 17, 2011
“And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement” (Romans 5:11 KJV).
This is the only time the word “atonement” appears in the King James’ New Testament. The Greek word translated “atonement” here is usually translated “reconciliation, reconciling, reconciled” elsewhere (Romans 5:10; 1 Corinthians 7:11; 2 Corinthians 5:18-20).
In the Old Testament, once a year, on the Day of Atonement, Israel’s high priest would sprinkle animals’ blood on the mercy seat, the lid of the Ark of the Covenant, to first cover his sins and then the sins of the nation Israel (Exodus 30:10; Leviticus 16:3-34; Hebrews 9:7). But “it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4). For that reason, “in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year” (Hebrews 10:3).
The book of Hebrews describes how Jesus Christ shedding His own (sinless) blood has done away with the animal sacrifices. “And every priest standeth daily ministering and oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: but this man [Christ Jesus], after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;” (Hebrews 10:11,12).
That word “atonement”—wrongly translated “reconciliation” in modern Bibles—is needed in Romans 5:11 because it links us with the Old Testament practice of the Day of Atonement. Animals’ blood could never take away sins, the Bible says, but that blood did serve as a temporary forgiveness. When the blood of Jesus Christ was shed, the shedding of animals’ blood became null. What God accomplished for Israel at the cross of Calvary, He also accomplished for us (the Church the Body of Christ).
Notice “we have NOW received the atonement” (Romans 5:11). As Christians we have our sins blotted out today (Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 2:13). Israel will not receive her national forgiveness until the Second Coming of Christ (Acts 3:19,20; Romans 11:26,27).
Rejoice, saints, “we have NOW received the atonement!” Praise ye the Lord!