Sunday, August 7, 2011

Bible Dictionary: Atonement

For my New Testament class I had to write a bible dictionary topic. I choose the atonement. Keeping it limited to three pages was the hardest part of the assignment. What do you think of it? What could I add? What should I take out?

Atonement: The word atonement implies that two people who are estranged can be together again. In While the New Testament only has the word Atonement in Romans 5:11 the Old Testament is full of references of an atonement between the sinning human and a holy God. The Old Testament reconciled the gulf between human and God by the use of animal sacrifice that covered or atoned for sin. the case of the New Testament the Synoptic Gospel authors, John and Paul all use the word reconcile, reconciliation and atone to imply that humans through the sacrifice of Christ can be sanctified. While the New Testament authors are all in agreement that atonement with God is accomplished through Christ they each record this principle differently.

The cross is integral part of Mark’s gospel. The first reference to the cross is found in Mark 2:19-20 where Christ refers to a bridegroom who will be taken away. The central part of Mark's gospel 8:27-10:52 can be segregated into three sections (8:31; 9:31; 10:32-34). Each of these sections function to explain the necessity of the sacrifice and cross from a soteriological point of view that establishes it is the will of God for Christ to be sacrificed.

There are three significant images that are recorded by Mark that describe Christ’s suffering, the cup (10:38; 14:23-24, 36) the baptism (10:38) and the ransom for many (10:45). Each of these has images relates back to a part of the Old Testament. The cup has reference to Christ bearing the wrath of God for humanity( Ps. 75:8; Is. 51:17-23; Jer. 25:15-28) The image of baptism indicates being overwhelmed by a flood of troubles (Ps. 69:1-2, 14-15). The concept of the ransom of many refers back to Israel’s deliverance from Egypt. Isaiah prophesied of a new exodus that would be accomplished by the servant of the Lord( Is. 35:9; 41:14; 43:1, 14; 44:33-24; 51:11; 52:2; 62:12; 63:9) Mark is trying to get his reader to understand that it is the death of Jesus that will the ransom that is paid to free the sinner from slavery.

Matthew includes much of the same material that Mark records. In the first chapter of Matthew Christ’s mission is made evident (Matt: 1:21). This is fulfilled later in Matthew 26:28. There are three sub-conflicts in Matthew between Jesus and the religious establishment, his disciples when they demonstrate a lack of faith and lastly the conflict with Satan. Each of these conflicts is ultimately resolved by Christ when he submits to the will of the Father in Gethsemane (Matt. 26:39, 42) and when he overwhelms the will of Satan. (Matt. 16:21-23)

Like Mark, Matthew records that Jesus fulfilled the words of Isaiah. (Is. 53) Differing from Mark, Matthew has two explicit citations that state that Jesus is the one prophesied of. (Is. 53:4; 42:1-4; Matt. 8:17; 12:17-21) In Christ’s healing of the sick, infirm, and possessed showed that even his ministry portrayed his ultimate messianic mission.

In The Passover meal in both Mark and Matthew Jesus gave additional words over both the bread and wine that impress His imminent sacrifice. It is in the Passover that Christ’s blood and body are mentioned in connection with the sacrifice of the paschal lamb. Both Paul and Peter make the link between Christ and the paschal lamb (1 Cor. 5:7-8 1 Peter 1:18-19) In the Gospel of Luke Christ makes a statement signifying his blood is the part of a new covenant. (Luke 22:20) In saying that his blood will be poured out, Christ is making reference to the sacrificial language of the Old Testament (Lev. 4:7, 18, 25, 30, 34).

For the apostle Paul the atonement of Christ was not only a historical fact but a critical part of Christian life. In some of his earliest writings to the Saints in Galatia and Corinth Paul reminds his converts that Jesus died for their sins according to the prophecies found in the scriptures. (1 Cor. 15:3; Gal. 1:4) It is the epistles of Paul that the doctrine of Atonement is more fully expounded and recorded.

It is in Paul’s writings that an early Christian understanding of Christ’s sacrifice can be found. It is this reconciliation with God that often makes up some part of the theme of each of his epistles. For Paul reconciliation between God and humanity only occurs through Christ. (Rom. 5:1-11) It is Christ’s sinless life that allows him to be the bridge between a fallen human and God. (2 Cor. 5:21) Without the penal substitution of Christ each person would have to face the wrath of God’s justice for their actions in mortality. (Rom. 5:9; 2 Cor. 5:10) Because Christ had to suffer the wrath and justice of God fallen humanity does not. (Rom. 5:8-10) The blood and death of Christ is what allows the justice of God to be reconciled with the mercy of God. (Rom. 3:25) The atoning blood of Christ is what allows a person to move on toward sanctification. (Eph. 5:26-27)

(Scriptures regarding the Atonement: Explained: Rom. 5:8-11; 2 Cor. 5:18-19; Foreordained: Rom. 3:25;1 Peter 1:11, 20; Foretold: Isa. 53:4-6, 8-12; Dan. 9:24-27; Zech. 13:1,7; Effected by Christ alone: John 1:29, 36; Voluntary: Heb. 10:5-9; John 10:11, 15, 17-18; Exhibits the grace and mercy of God: Rom. 8:32; Eph 2:4-5, 7; 1 Tim. 2:4; Heb. 2:9; Exhibits the love of God: Rom. 5:8; 1 John 4:9-10; Exhibits the love of Christ: John 15:13; Gal. 2:20; Eph 5:2, 25; Reconciles the justice and mercy of God: Rom. 3:25-26; Necessity of: Luke 19:10; Heb 9:22; Made only once: Heb:7:27; 9:24-28; 10:10,12,14; 1 Pet. 3:18; Remission of sins: John 1:29; Rom. 3:25; Eph. 1:7; 1 John 1:7; Rev. 1:5; Justification: Rom. 5:9; 2 Cor. 5:21 Sanctification: 2 Cor. 5:15; Eph 5:26-27; Redemption: Matt. 20:28; Acts 20:28; 1 Tim 2:6; Heb 9:12; Delivers from power of sin: Rom. 8:3; 1 Pet. 1:18-19; Power of Satan: Coloss. 2:15; Heb. 2:14-15; Faith in, indispensable: Rom. 3:25; Gal 3:13-14)