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THE CHRISTIAN CONCEPT OF ATONEMENT

AS SEEN IN THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES

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Overview:

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 Jerusalem Bible, New English Bible, New International Version, Philips Modern Version, and Revised Standard Version, use the term "reconciliation" here. The Living 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 friends."

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.

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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 Empire.

Two passages in Paul's epistle to the Romans dealt directly with his concept of atonement. They are:

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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 atonement."

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."

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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."

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Matthew 26:28: "For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins."

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Mark 14:24: "And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many."

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Luke 22:20: "Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you."

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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 world."

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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."

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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."

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Romans 5:6-9: See above.

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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 again."

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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."

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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."

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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."

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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

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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."

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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."

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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."

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Hebrews 10:10: "By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."

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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."

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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."

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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."

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References:

  1. "Atonement," HyperDictionary.com, at: http://www.hyperdictionary.com/
  2. Paul Laughlin, "Remedial Christianity: What every believer should know about the faith, but probably doesn't," Polebridge Press, (2000), Page 178 &179. Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store

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Home > Christianity > History, Beliefs, Trends, etc > Beliefs > Atonement > here

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Copyright © 2004 & 2005 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2004-APR-7
Latest update: 2005-APR-12
Author: B.A. Robinson

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