Copyright Rev. Stanley L. Derickson Ph.D. 1992



Atonement in the New Testament is a translation of the Greek word "katalithozo" (Strong's 2643). It appears as atonement only once, in Ro. 5:11. The other appearances are translated reconciliation. Ro. 11:15; II Cor. 5:18; II Cor. 5:19.

In the Old Testament atonement was always related to the idea of a sacrifice being given to atone for sins of the people. It is used almost exclusively in Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers. Only four other occurrences are found outside these three books.

There are two words translated atonement in the Old Testament. ("Kip-poor'" and "kaw-far'") The first comes from the second and the meaning is to cover. It is the word that is used in Genesis 6:14, "Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch." Noah was to use pitch, or kawphar to cover the ark.

Indeed, is not Noah covering the ark with pitch and being saved, a picture of the Old Testament saint that sacrificed an animal, and the animal becoming a covering for the sin, to protect the saint?

The New Testament term is one which we studied under propitiation. The term is translated reconciling or reconciliation in the New Testament usually, and atonement only once in the New Testament.

Atonement is the paying of a price to bring man and God back together. The question of whom the atonement was for, is often raised.

Some see the atonement as only for the elect. The strong Calvinist would be in this group. Christ died only for those that God in His sovereign will did elect in eternity past. Others view Christ's work on the cross for the sins of the world - for all of mankind.

The abundance of Scripture seems to indicate the unlimited atonement is best.

John 1:29 Christ taketh away the sin of the world.

John 3:16 God loved the world.

John 6:51 Christ gave flesh for the world.

Rom. 11:12,15 Reconciling of the world.

II Cor. 5:19 Christ reconciling the world to Himself.

I Jo. 2:2 Christ propitiation for sins of the world.

II Cor. 5:14 Christ died for all.

I Tim. 2:4,6 Christ ransom for all.

Tit 2:11 Grace that bringteth salvation appeared to all men.

Heb. 2:9 Christ tasted death for every man.

II Pet. 3:9 God wants all to come to repentance.

(Pardington notes p 261 ff list more references if they are needed.)

It would seem from these verses that Christ died for the sins of every individual that has, or will live on this earth. The fact that many are lost shows that the work of Christ must be accepted to become effectual in the life.

There are some inadequate views of the atonement. We should look at these briefly.

1. REPLACEMENT THEORY: (Iraneus) Christ's obedience to God replaced the Devil's disobedience, and thus Christ conquered the devil. This theory does not deal with sin, however, and that is the problem that man needs cared for.

2. RANSOM TO SATAN: (Origen) Christ died to buy us back from the Devil. The problem with this theory is that the Bible nowhere mentions that we are Satan's, nor that we need to be bought back from him.

3. MYSTICAL THEORY: (Schleirmacher/a liberal) Christ took on a sinful nature. Just how making Christ sinful in nature cares for lost man's sin, I don't know. This theory does not deal with death nor penalty.

4. MORAL INFLUENCE THEORY also known as the BUSHNELLIAN THEORY: (Abelard) Death of Christ softens our heart to lead us to repentance. As we consider and meditate on the death of Christ our soul is moved to repentance.

5. HONOR, COMMERCIAL or ANSELMIC THEORY: (Anselm) Christ received honor and he didn't need it so Christ passed it on to us if we follow the Gospel.

The Roman Catholic church expands this thought and see grace as coming from this source. They feel that the Church Saints also had extra grace which went into a pool with that of Christ, where the person can come to gain grace, through the sacraments.

6. TRUE DOCTRINE: (God) The atonement must be manward as well as Godward. God's holiness demands sin be punished. (eternal torment) Christ died as our substitute for our sin. This affects both God and man. Man becomes correct before God, and God can see His creatures face to face.

Christ did all that was needed to bring man to God. We could not do it.

7. SOCINIAN: (originally set forth by Laelius & Faustus Socinus of Poland in 16th century. Today it is basically a Unitarian doctrine.) Only man has a problem. God is okay and when man gets it right all will be well. Man does this by his own will and works. Christ was an example for us to show how we are to be faithful to duty.

8. GROTIAN, or GOVERNMENTAL THEORY: God's governmental set up requires that the punishment be levied and carried out. This is what Christ was doing. It has nothing to do with God's nature.

9. IRVINGIAN, or THEORY OF GRADUALLY EXTIRPATED DEPRAVITY: (Set forth by Edward Irvin in England 1792-1834 and presently held by some German scholars.) Christ took upon Himself a fallen human nature and through suffering here on earth lived a perfect life and purified that nature. His death on the cross was His final reuniting the perfected nature with God. (This may be similar to the mystical theory that has already been covered.)

10. DRAMATIC THEORY: (Aulen 1879-1978) "Christ in His death gained victory over the powers of evil." (Reprinted by permission: Ryrie, Charles C.; "BASIC THEOLOGY"; Wheaton: Victor Books, 1986, p 309)

11. BARTHIAN THEORY: (Barth 1886-1968) "Christ's death was principally a revelation of God's love and His hatred of sin. (Reprinted by permission: Ryrie, Charles C.; "BASIC THEOLOGY"; Wheaton: Victor Books, 1986, p 309)

12. SUBSTITUTIONAL OR SATISFACTION THEORY: This one is the correct one by the way. It was mentioned in number six previously. This view was set forth by Augustine, and later Calvin. It is present in todays Reformed and Presbyterian theologies. "Christ the sinless One took on Himself the penalty that should have been borne by man and others." (Reprinted by permission: Ryrie, Charles C.; "BASIC THEOLOGY"; Wheaton: Victor Books, 1986, p 309)

SUBSTITUTIONARY ATONEMENT is a term we often use today. It describes the fact that Christ died in our place as a substitute for us on the cross.

This principle is seen in the Old Testament sacrificial system. The saint was to lay his hand on the sacrifice as it was slain. Ryrie states of this, "This meant transmission and delegation, and implied representation; so that it really pointed to the substitution of the sacrifice for the sacrificer...." (Reprinted by permission: Ryrie, Charles C.; "BASIC THEOLOGY"; Wheaton: Victor Books, 1986, p 287)

Pardington has more information on the theories if you want more study materials. Ryrie goes into great length on the use of prepositions in relation to the atonement, if you would like further study.


1. Christ died for the sins of the world. THAT'S MISSIONS!

2. Christ died in our place. THAT'S GRACE!

3. Christ paid the price. THAT'S LOVE!

4. Jesus last words on the cross were these, "It is finished". THAT'S VICTORY!!

He was speaking of the work that God had given Him to accomplish on this earth! He did all that was required of Him. All that was required of Him was all that God had planned for Him before the foundation of the world.

Q. How do you as a believer react to what you have read in this series of studies? Has it changed your life one whit? Has it brought you under conviction about any of the overindulgences you allow yourself in the material realm?

Has it brought you face to face with the 2-3 BILLION people that have never heard the Gospel once. 2-3 billion people that we have discussed as being lost and without hope of salvation. Have you really faced that issue in your life? (In 1992 the world's population was 5 1/2 billion. The estimates tell us that half of these people have never heard the claims of the Gospel.)

Has it put you into prayer about the multitude of things that Christ provided to you when you simply trusted Him as your personal savior?

Has it made you think of the 30,000 missionaries that will be retiring in the next few years. Many missions were established and manned shortly after World War II when the Christian servicemen were coming home after seeing the needs of people over the world spiritually. Most of these people are in their 60's and 70's.

We only have about 5,000 appointees and applicants on the line today to replace those 30,000 that are coming home!

If you truly believe all that we have studied this semester, then there is no way you can put these questions aside. You must deal with them! To ignore them is to ignore the Lord, for Missions is what it is all about!

Theology books may seem to be a funny place to talk of these things but let me tell you something! Our schools and seminaries are geared for raising Pastors and Missionaries. They raise them in separate gardens and the two are only allowed to learn from one another those things that happen accidentally. If we don't start teaching pastors to be missions minded we are never going to have a missions minded church.

If we don't apply what we learn here in these studies to the program of God then we are wasting both our time and His.

If in your mind, Theology is not related to the ministering of that knowledge you learn here to the souls of men, then PLEASE stop wasting your time!

If the things you are learning in these books today aren't in your mind aimed at reaching the lost with the Gospel, you have a wrong concept of what is going on.

We have been studying the very essence of the Gospel. We have dissected it, we have chewed it up, we have inspected it and we have labored with it. We should have a good understanding of what Christ is sending us out to preach.

MAN is lost in SIN and God has provided SALVATION!



"The day after the air raid which resulted in the demolition of the House of Commons chamber at Westminster, when we knew the worst, the thought was in millions of minds that after the war we must build that old historic house 'according to the original plan,' but alas! the old plan was nowhere to be found. The prime minister confessed to the House that all possible research was being made and would be made.

"Away back in the year 1882 a famous architect was going over a number of old plans and distributed those for which he had no further use to his staff of young designers and draughtsmen. One of these young men who chose a plan and who is still alive today was recently listening in to a talk on 'Planning,' and the speaker reminded his listeners that old plans and old papers had acquired a new value as munitions of war and suggested that those listening in should immediately search their houses and turn in all old papers for salvage. The architect who in his youth had acquired the plan from his chief made search in his attic, and there amid the dust of the years, discovered he had in his possession something of great value which had long ago been forgotten. It was the original plan of the House of Commons! The good news was at once conveyed to the House, and the plan pronounced valid, and a great relief filled the minds of many people that in the period of reconstruction the House of Commons chamber would be rebuilt on the model of the old plan.

"There is surely a parable in this story. The world is in a terrible mess of trouble and disaster because the old plan of God's word and God's will has been lost or set aside. Men have either rejected it altogether or tampered with it. God's plan is the only solution! Nothing less will do. Let us seek out that old plan for the reconstruction which must follow war. Charles S. Rodenberg (Stuber, Stanley I. and Clark, Thomas Curtis; "TREASURY OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH"; New York: Association Press, 1949)

I trust none of us mislay, or place in storage what we've learned in this section. We have the plan that millions need! How can we personally help in furthering God's program?