THE CHRISTIAN CONCEPT OF ATONEMENT
AS SEEN IN THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES
In a religious sense, atonement means "at-one-ment."
This is the state of being "at
one" -- or being reconciled -- with God. 1
In the King James Version of the Bible, only one verse, Romans 5:11 includes the
word "atonement." Many other Bible translations, including the
Bible, New English Bible, New International Version, Philips Modern Version, and
Revised Standard Version, use the term "reconciliation"
Bible, a paraphrased translation, refers to Yeshua's death "making us friends
of God." Today's English Version uses a similar phrase: "made us God's
There are a number of other verses in the Christian Scriptures (New
Testament) which imply that the life and/or death of Yeshua of Nazareth (Jesus
Christ) brought about the possibility of his followers being
reconciled with God.
We quote the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible in this essay. It is
not the easiest translation to read. It was written in the early 17th century
and many of its words have changed meaning since. However, it has the advantage of not
getting this website into major difficulties over copyright infringements.
Atonement according to the writings of Paul:
Paul was the principal theologian of that component of early
Christian movement called Pauline Christianity. It
eventually won out over Jewish Christianity, Gnostic Christianity and other
competing Christian groups to became the dominant religious force in the Roman
Two passages in Paul's epistle to the Romans dealt directly with
his concept of atonement. They are:
Romans 5:6-11: "For when we were yet without
strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a
righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even
dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were
yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his
blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were
enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being
reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy
in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the
Theologian and author Paul Alan Laughlin writes: "Paul's reference to
'life' in the next to last sentence of this passage does not mean the
earthly life of the historical Jesus, but the 'life' of the risen and
ascended Christ." 2
The circumstances of Jesus' conception, the
personal example that he provided, the content of his preaching, the miracles that he
performed, his other actions, etc. are had relatively little impact on
atonement. Laughlin continues: "...only the death of Jesus on the
cross...is the key to human salvation....For Paul, only two things were
important about Jesus: his alleged divinity and his atoning death. Together
these and these alone made human salvation possible."
Romans 5:12-19: "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered
into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that
all have sinned: (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not
imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses,
even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's
transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. But not as the
offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be
dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one
man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. And not as it was by one that
sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the
free gift is of many offences unto justification. For if by one man's
offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of
grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus
Christ.) Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to
condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon
all men unto justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience many
were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous."
Paul Alan Laughlin writes: "...Paul saw a clear parallel between Adam and
Christ: as Adam had been disobedient and thus had brought sin and death and
condemnation into the world, so had Christ been obedient, and consequently
had brought righteousness and life and acquittal....Jesus undid the tragedy
that Adam had wrought." 2
This essay continues below.
Additional references in the Christian Scriptures to "Atonement:"
There are many additional passages in the Christian Scriptures which refer
to Yeshua of Nazareth's life -- and particularly his execution -- providing a
path so that it becomes possible for individuals to be reconciled with God. This
reconciliation results in the person's sins being forgiven and forgotten by God.
They are justified, ransomed, and saved. They avoid the wrath of God and achieve
Heaven after death.
Matthew 1:21: And she shall bring forth a son, and thou
shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
Matthew 20:28: "Even as the Son of man came not to be
ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many."
Matthew 26:28: "For this is my blood of the new
testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins."
Mark 14:24: "And he said unto them, This is my blood of
the new testament, which is shed for many."
Luke 22:20: "Likewise also the cup after supper, saying,
This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you."
John 1:29: "The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto
him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the
John 10:14-15: "I am the good shepherd, and know
my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the
Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep."
John 14:6: "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the
truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."
Romans 5:6-9: See above.
2 Corinthians 5:14-15: "For the love of Christ
constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were
all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not
henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose
2 Corinthians 5:18-21: "And all things are of God, who
hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the
ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ,
reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them;
and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are
ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in
Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for
us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."
Galatians 3:14: "Christ hath redeemed us from the
curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is
every one that hangeth on a tree."
1 Timothy 2:3-6: "For this is good and acceptable in the
sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come
unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator
between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for
all, to be testified in due time."
1 Timothy 4:10: "For therefore we both labour and suffer
reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men,
specially of those that believe." This is a favour
Hebrews 2:9: "But we see Jesus, who was made a little
lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and
honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man."
Hebrews 9:13-15: "For if the blood of bulls and of
goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the
purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through
the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your
conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this cause he is
the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the
redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they
which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance."
Hebrews 9:26-28: "For then must he often have suffered
since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath
he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So
Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look
for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation."
Hebrews 10:10: "By the which will we are sanctified
through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."
1 Peter 2:24: "Who his own self bare our sins in
his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto
righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed."
2 Peter 3:9: "The Lord is not slack concerning his
promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not
willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."
1 John 2:2: "And he is the propitiation for our sins: and
not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world."
- "Atonement," HyperDictionary.com, at:
- Paul Laughlin, "Remedial Christianity: What every believer should know
about the faith, but probably doesn't," Polebridge Press, (2000),
Page 178 &179.
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Copyright � 2004 & 2005 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2004-APR-7
Latest update: 2005-APR-12
Author: B.A. Robinson
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