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Hebrews 2:17 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
17 Therefore, he was obligated to be made like his brothers in all respects, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.
The words make atonement for the sins of the people describe the work of Christ as our high priest. New Testament scholars debate the meaning of the term for make atonement.
One group suggests that the term means that God wipes away our sin, and they use the term expiation to describe this action. It is certainly true that the death of Christ wipes away our sin, but the terms make atonement in this verse speak of a feature of God’s character which we must emphasize. The emphasis involves much more than the fact that God will wipe away our sins.
The Bible mentions holiness (Isa. 6:3) and love (Rom. 5:8) as important elements in God’s character. God’s holiness led him to show wrath against sin (Heb. 12:29). God’s wrath was not his loss of temper, but his constant attitude of opposition to sin.
God’s love is as constant as his wrath. God showed his love in that he took the initiative to send Christ as the atonement for our sins (1 John 4:10). The death of Christ makes it possible for sinners to be reconciled to a holy God (2 Cor. 5:18–21). The result is that God’s love and holiness are satisfied in the death of Jesus.
The atonement of Christ is that action by which Jesus makes it possible for sinners to have fellowship with God. As our substitute, he received the suffering and death that each sinner deserves. The result of this loving offering is that we have the possibility of enjoying fellowship with the God who created us.