A Study in the Book of Romans
Lesson #6 : Atonement (Romans 5:1-21)
In this lesson we are going to be looking at the word atonement. Romans 5:11 is the only place that this word is found in the New Testament. At first glance it may seem a little out of place but when we define the word and look at the context of the passage we will see that it is perfectly placed by the Holy Ghost in this passage.
Atonement – Agreement, concord, reconciliation after enmity or controversy.
Expiation; satisfaction or reparation made by giving an equivalent for an injury or by doing or suffering that which is received in satisfaction for an offense.
When we read this chapter as a whole the first part (verses 1-11) speaks of the justification we have in Jesus Christ and the blessing that are connected with being justified. Then it switches to comparing how by Adam all men die to by Jesus we can live (verses 12-21). The word atonement is found right in the middle of these two passages.
In our definition of atonement the word reconciliation comes up. In verse 10 we see that we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son. In verses 12-21 we see that man is condemned to die because of the sin of Adam. Everyone born is under the penalty of death because of Adam’s sin.
When we look at the word atonement in the Old Testament we see it that it is usually connected with blood and death (Example Leviticus 17:11). Also we see that from the very beginning God has required blood in connection with the atonement of man’s sin (Genesis 3:21).
So when we look at the second definition of the word atonement we see that it means satisfaction or reparation made by giving an equivalent for an injury or by doing or suffering that which is received in satisfaction for an offense. Since man was condemned by Adam’s sin and the penalty is death, then someone had to die. Jesus Christ shed the blood that was required to satisfy God and took our place in death on the cross giving an equivalent for the injury (sin) that was done by man. Therefore the word atonement is perfectly placed here for it shows that we have been justified and reconciled through Jesus Christ and through him and him alone have we received the atonement.
We must note that the even though in the Old Testament that the word atonement was used those Old Testament saints did not receive the atonement as we do today. Those animal sacrifices were an agreement between God and them along with doing the Law but those animal sacrifices could not take away sin (Hebrews 10:4). So those Old Testament saints were not justified in Jesus Christ as we are which is why they had to wait in Abraham’s Bosom until Jesus could deliver them from that place (Ephesians 4:7-11).
A Study in the Book of Romans
Lesson #6 : Atonement (Romans 5:1-21) Handout
1) What is unique about the word atonement in Romans chapter 5?
2) What is a good definition for the word atonement?
3) Why do you think the word atonement shows up in this passage?
4) How is atonement different for us verses the Old Testament Saint?