Expiation and Propitiation
In the world of the first century, Roman crucifixion was not only a horrific form of torture, reserved for the lowest dregs of the criminal class, but it was also associated with severe shame. Not only were Roman citizens exempt from this humiliating death, but even the word crucifixion was avoided in social gatherings. In the Jewish mind-set, crucifixion was seen through the lens of Deuteronomy 21:23, which declares that anyone who hangs on a tree is cursed of God (see also Gal. 3:13). Given such a reality, how is it that the Apostle Paul, along with the rest of the New Testament authors, determined to know nothing but “Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2), even to placard publicly Jesus as crucified in preaching (Gal. 3:1) and, indeed, to boast in nothing else except “the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (6:14)?