Some years ago, in a faculty devotional at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Dr. Murray Harris proposed this line of thinking:

What is the most important Book in the universe?  The Bible.  Which book within the Bible is the most important?  Romans.  Which chapter in Romans is the most important?  Chapter 3.  Which paragraph in Romans 3 is the most important?  Verses 21-26.  Which verse in that paragraph is the most important?  Verse 25.  Which word in verse 25 is the most important?  Propitiation: “. . . whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.”

Therefore, the most important word in the most important verse in the most important paragraph in the most important chapter in the most important book within the most important Book in the universe is propitiation.

Worthy of our reverent contemplation.

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13 thoughts on “The most important word in the universe”

  1. Mike Neglia says:

    We just finished up a church prayer meeting at my house, and as one of the ladies was leaving she turned around and told me that “the penny just dropped” and earlier today she understood what propitiation means. She was reading in a study Bible and the notes made sense to her and she said that she “got” propitiation.
    That’s fantastic! I pray that she (and all the members of this church) would “get” the most important word in the universe!

  2. jason says:

    I think the most important word is love, which also is the greatest commandment and the second greatest too.

    But to each his own

    1. Mark Dickinson says:

      Without understanding propitiation, you can not fully understand the biblical concept of ‘love.’

      1. Ray Ortlund says:

        I agree, Mark. “Propitiation” digs deeper by explaining love’s remedy for human evil.

  3. mike says:

    Amen! I had Dr. Harris for Greek at seminary and remember him sharing this with us. FWIW, I think was quoting Packer in Knowing God.

  4. Allen says:

    A wonderful word indeed! Thank you for yet again another cordial to an exiled soul!

  5. Henry imler says:

    I would have gone with “Love”.

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Ray Ortlund


Ray Ortlund is senior pastor of Immanuel Church in Nashville, Tennessee, and serves as a Council member with The Gospel Coalition. You can follow him on Twitter.

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