What does 1 John 2:2 mean?
ESV: He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
NIV: He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
NASB: and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
CSB: He himself is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for those of the whole world.
NLT: He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins — and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.
KJV: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
NKJV: And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.
Verse Commentary:
This verse opens with a statement many find difficult to understand: "He is the propitiation for our sins." The Greek word hilasmos can be translated as "propitiation," "expiation," or "atonement." All of these refer to settling, satisfying, or repaying a debt. In other words, Jesus is the one and only sufficient payment for the sins of humanity. Without this payment, we are left separated from God. Notice that verse 1 described Jesus also as our "advocate." This means that Christ not only speaks to God on our behalf, He pays our debt for us, as well.

John was clear that this power of Jesus' sacrifice was made available to all people of the world. These words resemble John 3:16: "For God so loved the world…" This doesn't mean that every person will actually be saved. It does, however, mean that Christ's sacrifice was sufficient to pay the debt for anyone who comes to faith in Him (Revelation 22:17). There is a distinction between Christ's power to (potentially) save all people and those who actually come to Him for salvation.
Verse Context:
First John 2:1–6 both encourages and warns Christians about sin. John reassures his readers that when a saved believer sins, Christ will plead our case with God. Jesus is our substitute, taking the punishment for our sins. At the same time, John warns that those who claim to know Christ, yet disobey Him, are lying to themselves and others. Anyone who claims to have fellowship with Christ should live as if that is true.
Chapter Summary:
Chapter 2 explains the fellowship Christians have with God. Christ is our advocate, even when we sin. Christians are not to love things of the world, or to love the world. Instead, we are to live, love, and act like Christ. False teachers, and those who deny Jesus are called ''liars.'' Those who demonstrate a Christ-like behavior are ''born of'' God.
Chapter Context:
Chapter 1 introduced the primary themes of John’s letter. Chapters 2 and 3 lay out a detailed description of how Christian conduct is meant to be marked by obedience to the truth. Christians are called to live like Christ. Therefore, those who do not (live that way) do not have ''the truth'' in them. Later chapters of this letter will fill in how Christian love and conduct give us confidence in our daily lives.
Book Summary:
First John seems to assume that the reader is familiar with the gospel. Rather than re-state these facts, John is concerned with building confidence in Christian believers. At the same time, his words encourage believers to examine their own lives for signs of their relationship with Christ. This letter also challenges false teachers and their incorrect claims about Jesus. Many themes are shared with the Gospel of John.
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