1 John 2:2 New American Standard Bible 2 and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
The word propitiation means to appease or satisfied. What John is writing to us is that what Jesus accomplished at Calvary through His suffering and His death has satisfied the righteousness and justice of God. Because God is righteous and holy, He must deal rightly with wickedness and sin.
Before Jesus came, God put in place a series of sacrifices under the law that would cover the sins of the people, but would not fully atone for their sin. The life of the individual is found in the blood (Lev 17:11). Because of this the blood must be shed for the forgiveness of sins. When blood is shed the sacrifice being made is taking the place of the individual making the sacrifice. Under the Old Covenant animals would have to be sacrificed day after day and year after year. But with Christ His onetime sacrifice atones for all sin.
John writes not only for the sins of those believers reading his letter, but the entire world. It is important to understand this does not refer to universal salvation. For salvation to occur in the life of an individual they must come to a place of repentance and faith. Faith in the Son of God is what opens the door to salvation. Faith is what releases the forgiveness of God upon our lives. Repentance calls us to turn from our sin and turn fully unto God. Without repentance, true biblical faith is not present. True biblical faith is not mere beliefism; simply to claim I believe that Jesus is the Son of God. If we truly believe Jesus is the Son of God and is God Almighty who has died for our sins, there will be a decision to no longer live for sin and self but to live fully for Jesus Christ.
John makes it a point to say that Christ has died for the whole world to show us the sufficiency of His sacrifice. No matter what someone has done and no matter where they have lived in history after the cross, if they call upon the name of Jesus, they will be saved. God’s desire is that none would perish but all would come to everlasting life (2 Peter 3:9). God’s desire is for people to be saved. In His mercy He gives people sufficient time to hear the gospel and make a decision to follow Him. But sadly, Jesus said the road that is narrow is the road that leads to life and few will find it, but the road that is broad leads to destruction and many will walk on it. Sadly, people would rather desire and live for the things of this world instead of living for Christ and receiving His precious gift of salvation.
For those of us who are saved by God’s grace this should come as a great comfort to us. No matter the depths of our sins, what Jesus has done at Calvary is greater. No matter how much condemnation the enemy tries to heap upon us, it is not able to touch us. For in Christ we are redeemed. The wrath of the Father is satisified through the sacrifice of the Son. We can rest in the finished work of the cross and focus on growing in Christ on a daily basis. Letting go of trying to earn anything from God and simply living in intimate fellowship with Him. When we have a right understanding of all that Christ has done for us we will truly begin to experience freedom and the abundant life Jesus promised.