Books of Bible
By H. A. (Buster) Dobbs
A. A study of the word atonement is necessarily a study of the two
B. A common misconception is that the Old Testament, especially the
law of Moses, was a system of law, and the New Testament is a
covenant of grace.
1. The Old Testament often promises grace to those who were
under its provisions, and the New Testament often speaks of
law and law keeping.
2. The English word grace occurs 37 times in the Old Testament
(King James Version). The Hebrew word translated grace
is also translated favour, or some similar word, an additional
62 times in the Old Testament (King James Version), for a
total of 99 times in the Old Testament.
3. The English word grace occurs 112 times in the New Testament
(King James Version). The English word favour appears 6 times
in the New Testament (King James Version), for a total of 128
times in the New Testament.
4. To say that the Old Testament is a system of law that
ignores or discounts grace is to show a superficial
knowledge of the teaching of the Bible.
5. To say that the New Testament is a system of grace and not
legal (legalistic) or law based is a failure to take into
account the whole of the teaching of the New Testament.
Paul said long after his conversion that he was under law to
God and to Christ (1 Cor 9:21); Faith establishes law (Rom.
3:31); where there is no law there is no sin (Rom. 5:13).
The gospel is called the law of the Spirit of life in Christ
(Rom. 8:2). We must fulfill the law of Christ (Gal. 6:2).
The New Testament, full of grace and truth, is the perfect
law of liberty (James 1:25); a royal law (James 2:8); the
law of liberty (James 2:12); we are to be judged by the law
6. To say the New Testament is a system of grace and frees from
all law to God and Christ is to show a superficial knowledge
of the teaching of the Bible.
C. Some use John 1:17, "For the law was given through Moses; grace
and truth came through Jesus Christ."
1. Does this passage mean there was no truth in the law of
2. Does this passage mean there was no grace in the law of
3. Does this passage mean there is no law in the New
Testament - that we are not under law to God and Christ?
4. The verse is simply saying that under the law of Moses there
was no absolute forgiveness for all sin, but under Christ
there is such forgiveness. The passage does not deny grace
under Moses nor law under Christ, but affirms that in Christ
we have super-abounding grace and all sin may be forgiven.
D. Note: if there is no law under Christ; and if sin is a
transgression of law (Rom. 5:13); then under Christ there is no
sin. The conclusion is universal salvation.
A. The word atonement is an Old Testament word. It occurs 70
times in the King James Version; 76 times in the American
Standard Version; and 86 times in the New King James Version.
1. It never appears in the New Testament in either the
American Standard Version or the New King James Version; it
occurs only one time in the New Testament in the King James
Version (Rom. 5:11), and translates a word that everywhere
else in the King James Version in the New Testament is
B. Atonement means to cover; the radical, root meaning of the
word is to conceal. (See Strong's Exhaustive concordance).
1. The word is translated in the Old Testament pitched, appeased,
be pacified, purged, disannulled, and such like.
2. When God told Noah to build the ark he told him to "pitch
it within and without with pitch" (Gen. 6:14).
(a) The word here translated pitch is the same word
translated atonement throughout the Old Testament.
(b) The idea was to cover it up with pitch -- hence to conceal.
C. The book of Leviticus frequently uses the word atonement to
describe the various sacrifices of the Mosaic Law.
1. The sacrifices of the law of Moses could not fully remove
all sin, and the unforgiven sins were passed over,
overlooked, or covered.
2. There was a passing-over of the sins done aforetime in the
forebearance of God (Romans 3:25). The times of ignorance
God once overlooked (Acts 17:30).
D. The sacrifice of Jesus at Calvary is not an atonement because
it does not passover sins, but forgives sins. In Christ our
sins are removed--not covered.
1. The glory of the New Law is that is brings the removal,
washing away, of sins, whereas the Old Law could not do
that. This is the major difference between the two
covenants, and explains why it is said that law came by
Moses but grace and truth by Jesus (See Heb. 8:8-12).
2. Under the Old Law sins were atoned (passed-over); under the
New Law sins are forgiven.
3. When Jesus died on the cross his blood flowed back to Eden
and all atoned sin was forgiven; his blood flows forward to
the end time and gives the possibility of forgiveness to all
(See Titus 2:11 and John 3:16).
4. "And for this cause he is the mediator of a new covenant,
that a death having taken place for the redemption of the
transgressions that were under the first covenant, they
that have been called may receive the promise of the
eternal inheritance" (Heb. 9:15).
5. Vine says of atonement: "The explanation of this English
word as being at-one-ment is entirely fanciful." He calls
it "mercy-seat -- the covering of the ark of the Covenant."
E. Under the law of Moses there was a passing over of sins. Under
Christ there is a forgiveness of sins.
1. When we obey his commands to believe and be baptized (Mark
16:16), we are actually forgiven. Our sins are not just
covered over, but are removed. "And now why tarriest thou?
arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on
his name" (Acts 22:16).