'Mercy Seat'

From: Rodney Woods (rodney.woods@hunterlink.net.au)
Date: Wed Sep 04 1996 - 19:04:11 EDT

I am presently studying Koine Greek and am at present studying the word iJlasthvrion found only twice in the New Testament (Romans 3:25 and Hebrews 9:5) and in the Septuigent (Lev. and Exodus).

I came accross the statement below in a Greek Lexicon (as referenced). I am little unsure of the following:-

1. Does the word mean 'lid' or 'cover'?
2. Does it also have a theological meaning ie 'forgiveness' or 'propitiation'.
3. Does the Hebrew word have a different meaning? Or is the LXX translation incorrect?
3. Where might I find a wholistic approach to this subject? (In English please as I am yet to learn German...)

If anyone can help me in this regard I would be most grateful.

"iJlasthvriona o}n proevqeto oJ qeo;" iJlasthvrion dia; th'" pivstew" 'God offered him as a means by which sins are forgiven through faith (in him)' Ro 3.25.
Though some traditional translations render iJlasthvrion as 'propitiation,' this involves a wrong interpretation of the term in question. Propitiation is essentially a process by which one does a favor to a person in order to make him or her favorably disposed, but in the NT God is never the object of propitiation since he is already on the side of people. iJlasmov" and iJlasthvriona denote the means of forgiveness and not propitiation."

Louw, Johannes P. and Nida, Eugene A., Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament based on Semantic Domains, (New York: United Bible Societies) 1988, 1989, CD.

Rodney Woods
Avondale College

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