The word propitiation holds the idea of appeasement, or satisfaction, specifically towards God. Propitiation involves appeasing the wrath of an offended person and being reconciled to them. Propitiation is that by which it becomes consistent with the offended parties character and government to pardon and bless the sinner. The propitiation does not procure their love or make them loving; it only renders it consistent for them to exercise their love towards sinners.
Charles C. Ryrie said in his work “Basic Theology”: “Propitiation means the turning away of wrath by an offering. In relation to soteriology, propitiation means placating or satisfying the wrath of God by the atoning sacrifice of Christ.”
J.I. Packer in “Knowing God” designates a distinct difference between pagan and Christian propitiation: “In paganism, man propitiates his gods, and religion becomes a form of commercialism and, indeed, of bribery. In Christianity, however, God propitiates his wrath by his own action. He set forth Jesus Christ… to be the propitiation of our sins.”
John Stott in “The Cross of Christ” writes that propitiation “does not make God gracious…God does not love us because Christ died for us, Christ died for us because God loves us”.
John Murray in “The Atonement” wrote, ‘The doctrine of the propitiation is precisely this that God loved the objects of His wrath so much that He gave His own Son to the end that He by His blood should make provision for the removal of this wrath…’.
Now all that said, not every translation of the Bible uses the word propitiation … check yours and see how the translators dealt with this word and the concept. Specifically look at: Romans 3:25, Hebrews 2:17, 1 John 2:2, 1 John 4:10. Some of the translations that still use the word propitiation include: ESV, KJV, NKJV, ASV, NASV, among others. All of these and many others can be found at http://www.biblegateway.com