The Berean Expositor
Volume 34 - Page 35 of 261
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These are weighty words, and will, we believe, receive the assent of all our readers.
In this series we are not attempting the impossible; we have but one item of truth to
examine, and this we must begin to consider in this opening article. The question, then,
before us is: Should the word "atonement" be removed from Rom. 5: 11? Is it not true
that "atonement" means "covering", and that nowhere in the N.T. do we read that Christ
made a "covering" for sin, but rather that He "took away", or "put away" sin, which it
was impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to do? Should not the word "atonement",
therefore, be reserved for the O.T. sacrifices, and not be used of the one offering of
The reader will perceive that much is involved in this question, not only the translation
offered in the A.V. but the very use of the word "atonement" in connection with the
sacrifice of Christ. It will also be observed that in all this there is a desire to honour the
Lord, and acknowledge the completeness of His one offering. In fact, it is this that is
partly responsible for the objection to the word "atonement" as being too limited. We
shall discover eventually that the whole problem revolves around the intention of the
Scriptural writers when they used the word kaphar, which primarily meant "to cover",
whether we understand this "covering" to be a mere O.T. expedient or regard it as
foreshadowed, though never provided, by the O.T. sacrifices, and eventually fully
accomplished by Christ. In other words, Does kaphar mean "to cover up" or "to atone"
and "propitiate"? And is the sacrifice of Christ greater than the O.T. types, or different
from them? This most important question will be approached, in this series, in the
following sequence:
An examination of the translation "atonement" in the A.V. of Rom. 5: 11
An examination of the idea expressed by the "covering" of sin.
An examination of the Septuagint translation of the Hebrews word kaphar.
The bearing upon the subject of "type", "shadow", "figure" and "pattern".
Following this sequence, let us devote the space available in the present article to a
consideration of Rom. 5: 11: "By Whom we have now received the atonement." The
marginal note indicates that the word could be rendered "reconciliation" and refers to
verse 10. It is therefore evident that the A.V. translators were perfectly familiar with the
word "reconciliation", and yet deliberately used the word "atonement". It would be easy
to sweep this rendering aside, but such an attitude would hardly do justice to the fact that
the A.V. is the crown of many earlier translations, nor would it exhibit that becoming
modesty, that would attribute to these translators at least as much common sense and
understanding as we ourselves possess. The fact is that the word "atonement" means
"reconciliation", and was in common use at the time of the A.V. translation. It was
selected with deliberate intent, and shows that these translators, rightly or wrongly,
intended the reader to link this one great "reconciling" sacrifice of Rom. 5: with the
"atoning" sacrifices of the Levitical law.  To the translators of the A.V. the word
"atonement" meant no mere "covering", but "reconciliation"--a fact that even a
superficial acquaintance with Elizabethan English makes clear. Surely then we must not
set aside the considered testimony of these translators because they used the language of