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John R. K. Nieminen


The Purpose of This Research

The purpose of this research is to study whether the

Lutheran doctrines of General Justification and God's will

that there would be Universal Salvation, OR Calvinistic

doctrines of Limited Atonement and God's will to save only

the Elect, are Scriptural.

Importance and History of the Problem

It is our contention that in the matter of assurance of

one's salvation nothing less than a universal scope of the

atonement of Christ will suffice to comfort a sinner's

conscience terrified by God's holy law. It avails very

little for such an individual to seek assurance of his

Election and consequently of salvation from within himself or

from God's hidden counsel, which are the only alternatives

that Calvinists, if they follow their theology to what seems

to us its natural conclusion, have left. And because both

they and we admit that God's hidden counsel is unsearchable

to us all, therefore what is left in practice for them is

somehow of themselves to find the assurance that they are

God's Elect.1

This is also what they teach. In The Canons of the Synod of
Dort, Art.XII. it says: "The elect...attain the assurance of this
their eternal and unchangeable election, not by inquisitively
prying into the secret and deep things of God, but by observing in
themselves...the infallible fruits of election..such as a true
faith in Christ, filial fear, a godly sorrow for sin, a hungering
and thirsting after righteousness, etc." Philip Schaff, The
Creeds of Christendom (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, l977),

It very little avails for a Calvinist to look to the

Cross of Christ, for after all, maybe it wasn't for him at


But if we were to ask a Calvinist how can he believe,

because he can not be certain of his election, he, of course,

would reply, that if one can believe in Christ and has the

proper signs showing he is a Christian these are the evidence

and manifestation that he is one of the Elect of God foreor-

dained to salvation.2 But here they put a cart before the

horse, for how is it possible for someone to believe

something which might not exists for him in the first place?

Faith requires an object which it believes, if an object

does not exist for faith, obviously faith into it can not

exist either. Therefore the Election of God can not serve as

an object for the creation of faith in a hearer, because

there is nothing there in the Word of God to ascertain

existence of election for an individual if we, as the

Calvinists do, take the election apart from any such absolute

"The faith which the gospel requires involves a number of
acts in a specific order: first, believing that we can not save
ourselves, but that God has provided a Saviour, Jesus Christ;
then, resting on Christ for salvation, according to the gospel
invitation and promise; finally, inferring from the fact that God
has enabled us to do this that Christ died for us individually."
John Owen, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, with an
introduction by J. I. Packer (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth
Trust, 1985), 30. This teaching is further elaborated on in the
book pp. 202-204. See also footnote 1 above.

statement or promise of salvation3 in the Scripture which can

be equally true to each and every individual. And the only

such absolute is a statement of universal grace in Christ, or

a promise of God of eternal life in Christ (through faith in

Him) on the basis of His atoning work for all. There can be

no doubt but that in order for faith to be created, the

absolute that Christ died for all, and therefore also surely

"for me," is certainly needed. Only when that absolute

redemption is there can one through faith in Christ be

certain of his election in Christ for salvation.4 It is

E.g. that Christ "is the propitiation for the sins of the
whole world," or that "He died for all," or that "God was in
Christ and reconciled the world unto Himself." These are universal
statements which can serve as an object for faith, for they
exclude no one, except according to Calvinistic interpretations.
As can be seen from the footnote #2 Calvinists propose a
logical order in which an individual would be led to a certainty
of him having been elected by God for salvation. We see several
problems, tensions and impracticalities with this order. First,
it is quite evident that in the step number one they would, and
would have to, preach unlimited atonement of Christ, and then only
after, when an individual on the basis of that proclamation had
believed, would they tell him that, after all, atonement is
limited; but see, you believe, therefore you are an elect of God.
Besides being hypocritical, that kind of order is, and can be,
only academic. There would be no way in a real life to control
this order seeing that services are public events. One who does
not yet believe could hear prematurely that maybe it's not for him
- maybe Christ didn't die for him, and this surely would be a
stumbling block far greater than Christ Himself. Obviously also
faith if it was earlier enkindled by the proclamation of universal
atonement would be in jeopardy especially in a time of trial.
Judging from some of their own writings, it seems that the five-
point Calvinists have in an increasing manner themselves realized
the truth of this. Long writes in his Substitutionary Atonement,
(Sterling, VA: Grace Abounding Ministries Inc., 1977), p. 42,
"Although this writer believes in the free offer of the Gospel, he
has become concerned with the manner in which present day five-

rather then that there will follow proper fruits and 'signs'

of one's Christianity, not to confirm election, for the

election is in Christ5, but to manifest that faith is


If one can not trust that Christ died for all, and

therefore also for him, he is doomed to disbelief, at least

to great struggles, and constant examination of himself

whether his faith is really genuine or not, instead of

"looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith".7

The Holy Bible which we believe to be infallible Word

of God (like as Calvinists themselves also confess), teaches,

at least on the basis of casual reading, that God desires all

people to be saved8, that Christ died for all people, that He

redeemed the whole world9, and that those who perish do

perish because they resisted God's saving will.10

point Calvinists are using dubious language, especially with

reference to the revealed and secret will of God, to establish a
warrant for the free offer of the Gospel to all mankind
"...He [God the Father] hath chosen us in Him (i.e. in
Christ) before the foundation of the world." Eph. 4:1.
James 2:14-26.
Heb. 12:2.
1 Tim. 2:4, 2 Pet.2:1, Matt. 23:37, Luke 13:34, 19:41-44,
John 3:14-17 etc.
E.g. Rom. 5:10, 2 Cor. 5:14, 2 John 2:2, John 1:16, 29, 3:14-
17 and 1 Tim. 2:4.
E.g. Acts 7:51, 13:46, Luke 7:30, Matt. 25:41-46. We do not
say, nor does the Scripture, that those who are saved are saved

It is therefore necessary that it be studied in some

detail as to whether the Word of God indeed teaches limited

or universal scope of the atonement of Christ, whether God

desires all to be saved or not, and further more, what does

the Bible say as to why some are not saved. In this paper

this first question, being the main issue for this paper, is

studied in depth, the second through one [only] pertinent

passage, and the third question is covered only where context

requires its treatment.

The question under this study is decisively important

from the Lutheran perspective as we hold the doctrine of

General Justification (which, of course, is also the basis

for Subjective Justification) to be THE KEY DOCTRINE in the

Scriptures, and affirm God's desire to save all people.

These two things have and have had an all pervasive implica-

tions to the formulation of all other doctrines and practice

of our church.
Lutheran reformers in their day had a good foresight

and included Article XI "God's Eternal Foreknowledge and

Election" in to the Formula of Concord, even though "No

because they did not resist God's saving will, or that there was
some other merit whatsoever to their credit which decided the
matter of salvation to their advantage, but that is it solely by
God's grace alone that one is saved. However, neither anywhere in
the Scripture does it teach that those who are damned are damned
because God did not want to save them. It will not do to quote
Romans chapter nine here, for it has to be understood in its
proper context. For further reading here we recommend article by
Theodore Graebner "Predestination and Human Responsibility" in
Concordia Theological Monthly, Vol. VI, July 1935, 164-171.

public dissention" had developed among the confessors,

because they thought: "lest at some future date offensive

dissention concerning it might be introduced into the

church"11 They considered the difficult nature of the

doctrine and desired to elaborate on it for our benefit, and

well so for the Predestination Controversy rocked the

Lutheran boat in the late 1800's and lasted a long time.

This our topic borders the predestination issue and might

well become a controverted issue in the future in the

Lutheran camp. The doctrine of General Justification is at


To be sure, the doctrine of Objective Justification as

such has been studied before at length and also brought to

bear against the teaching of the Limited-Atonement, but not

from the perspective this study will take. Indeed we have

not seen anything written in English12 on this subject under

the proposed study which had extensively and in detail taken

The Book of Concord, ed.Theodore Tappert (Philadelphia:
Fortress Press, 1959), Formula of Concord, Epitome, Art. XI,
There is an extensive article written by Dr. Francis Pieper
in German on this subject: Geraten Lutheraner angesichts der
Schriftstellen, welche von der Praedestination handeln, in
Verlegenheit? This article is found in Lehre und Wehre, 44(yr.):
65-166. "This article considers all the arguments employed by the
Reformed for changing the universal statements of Scripture into
particular ones and shows that all the passages adduced by the
Confession of Faith [Westminster Confession of Faith?] for a
gratia particularis do not prove it." The quote is from Francis
Pieper, Christian Dogmatics (St.Louis: Concordia Publishing
House, 1951), 3:28, footnote 56.

into account for example Calvinistic definitions of the words

"all", "world" or "for many".13 Calvinistic definitions of

these words have largely gone unchallenged, Lutheran

dogmaticians in general having been satisfied in approaching

the question from the perspective of our general understand-

ing of the doctrines of justification often merely stating

that "It is a must" that "the world" means "the world" i.e.

"all people".14

In this age of mergers and dialogues it is important

that we would take seriously where those with whom we

dialogue are at and meet them where they are in order to lead

them also see where we are at, else all our Scripture

This void has been recognized also by limited
redemptionists, "... the writer (Gary D. Long) is persuaded that
most unlimited redemptionists have not examined the subject with
care or with scriptural objectivity and are, for the most part,
either ignorant or ignore the context of the Scripture and the
teachings of the great reformation divines concerning this
doctrine. For example, there is a noticeable lack among the
writings of unlimited redemptionists of any attempt to prove their
contention that "world" in the disputed passages always means
"world," namely, all mankind without exception. This meaning is
invariably assumed by them when they comment concerning the extent
of the atonement." This quote is from Gary D. Long, Definite
Atonement (n.p.: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1976),
32. Even though the quote was more specifically directed against
the four-point Calvinists, and Arminians, yet, to us it seems that
it fairly well applies also to the Lutheran camp.
Robert Preus, Justification as Taught by Post-Reformation
Lutheran Theologians (Fort Wayne: Concordia Lutheran Seminary
Press, 1982), 3; Kurt Marquart, Justification-Objective and
Subjective: A Translation..., (Fort Wayne: Concordia Theological
Seminary Press, 1982), 16-21. The best, even though concise,
treatment by a Lutheran theologian that we have found is in
Francis Pieper, Christian Dogmatics (St.Louis: Concordia
Publishing House, 1951), 2:21-28.

references and evidence from the Word are likely to fall on

deaf ears.

The fact that LCA (Lutheran Church in America), especially

an ALC (American Lutheran Church) and so also in all

likelihood the new merger of these: ELCA (Evangelical

Lutheran Church in America) in the United States, and ELCIC

(Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada) have had intercom-

munion with Reformed Churches also calls for examinations,

also on the basis of official confessions, of theological

differences (and of similarities where they exist) between

Lutheran and Reformed (Calvinistic) traditions. When the

above church bodies dialogued they were, it seems, only

seeking common ground and either ignored their theological

differences or were indifferent of their past confessions.

In their joint publications: "An Invitation to Action" there

is a "Joint Statement on Justification" in which no

theological differences were stated.15

An Invitation to Action, James E. Andrews and Joseph A.
Burgess (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1983), 9-13. Lutherans
even stated Lutherans and Reformed to be "one in their
confessional testimony on justification by grace through faith,"
and, indeed to have "found basic unanimity on this article
beginning with Calvin's Institutes and the WC [Westminster
Confession] through the first two Lutheran-Reformed dialogues and
the Leuenberg Agreement a decade ago." p. 111. It seems to us
that these Lutherans either were ignorant, or ignored, the serious
implications which the teaching of the limited extent of the
atonement, espoused by the Institutes and the said confession, has
to the doctrine of justification by faith. If the implications,
some of which has been mentioned and some of which will be covered
below, were understood and taken seriously they could not have
made the statement stated above.

All of the above considerations make this study


The Definition of the Scope of the Problem

Who teach Limited Atonement

There are outstanding Calvinistic theologians, both

past and present16, of different Calvinistic church denomina-

tions17, who teach that God desires to save only His Elect,

John Calvin, John Murray, John Owen, Charles Hodge, Loraine
Boettner, Gary North, Daune Edward Spencer, Henry Charles
Beeching, Thomas Jackson Crawford, Frederick William Dillistone,
John Knox etc.
E.g. such Reformed, Presbyterian or (Particular) Baptist
bodies like: Christian Reformed Church, Presbyterian Church in
America, Bible Presbyterian Church, Orthodox Presbyterian Church,
The Presbyterian Church in Canada, Protestant Reformed Church in
America, Free Reformed Churches of North America, Reformed Baptist
Church, The American Baptist Convention, The Southern Baptist
Convention, The National Baptist Convention, etc. This informa-
tion is found from Arthur C. Piepcorn, Profiles in Belief (San
Francisco: Harper Row Publishers 1978), 2:334-337, and from F. E.
Mayer, The Religious Bodies of America (Saint Louis: Concordia
Publishing House, 1956), pp. 261, 269-273.

Not all Reformed bodies teach Limited Atonement, but only

those so-called "Five-Point Calvinists." Sometimes they term their
teaching as "Historic or Traditional Calvinism," considering
themselves followers of Calvin's teaching.

"Within the past few years there has been a revival in

historic Calvinistic preaching, teaching and evangelism. Although
this revival is small in numbers, it is virtually world-wide in
scope, especially in the British Isles and North America. In the
United States certain denominations and fellowships, seminaries
and publications are currently leading the way in a return to the
five points of Calvinism or, as they are often referred to, the
doctrines of grace. Examples are the Orthodox Presbyterian and
Presbyterian Church of America denominations and Reformed Baptist
Fellowships; Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia and

sent Christ to redeemed only the Elect and not all people

(viz. Limited Atonement18), predestinating others to

damnation (viz. double predestination).19

Distinctions in theological approaches

It would be very simplistic and insufficient to say

that the differences between the Calvinistic and Lutheran

theological systems are limited to those described under "The

Purpose of This Research" (p. 1). Rather, those and other

differences that do exist, result from what we see as

Calvinists' rational approach to interpretation of the

Scriptures20 dictated with the parameter of "Sovereignty of

Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, MS; The Banner of Truth

Trust publications of London (distributed through Puritan
Publications in Carlisle, PA., and Puritan-Reformed Book Service
in Wilmington, DE.) Presbytarian and Reformed Publishing Company,
Nutley, N.J., Sword and Trowel, a monthly publication published in
Clinton, MI, and KEY, a monthly magazine of Bible word studies
published by the Word of Grace, in San Antonio, TX." This
quotation was taken from Gary D. Long, Substitutionary Atonement,
In Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, there was "Still Waters Revival
Books" bookstore in operation until 1987. The owner now operates
a publishing company and specializes in reprinting of old
Calvinistic theological works.
Also called "Particular Redemption", "Particular Atonement",
"Definite Atonement." Some other terms also which would not imply
to anyone that atonement was limited in its efficacy have been
suggested. Terms like "Efficacious Atonement", and even "Definite
Extent of the Intent of the Atonement" Robert Nicole, The Biblical
Language Concerning the Atonement, (Mount Olive, MS: Mount Olive
Presbyterian Church Library, Cassette, 1977).
These points of the Calvinistic doctrine become clear as we
progress into the study itself.
E.g. Francis Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, 1:25-34, and

God",21 whereas Lutheran's have prided themselves with the

Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone) principle of approach to

interpretation, that is they have desired to be careful not

to add, impose, or bring along anything to the Scripture from

without, no matter how illogical Biblical teachings may seem

to the human mind, but let the Word settle doctrinal issues,

with reason serving only a ministerial and not magisterial

function.22 Thus there is a totally different approach to

theology between the two camps which then results in

different theological systems as well.

As in any system, if you remove one piece from it the

whole thing might collapse. So in this study if we can show

what we now perceive as an unscripturalness of Calvinistic

propositions with respect of the scope of the atonement we

hopefully can make at least some of them rethink their

position not only with respect of the extent of the redeeming


Calvin: Institutes of the Christian Religion, Ed. John T.
McNeill. Translated by Ford Lewis Battles. (Philadelphia:
Westminster Press, 1960), 2, III, 21-24; Calvin: Theological
Treatises, trans. by J. K. S. Reid. (Philadelphia: Westminster
Press, 1954), 179-180.
John Murray, Redemption - Accomplished and Applied (Phillipburg,
PA: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co.), 9-18.
Even though the sovereignty of God is accepted it is
recognized that God, in His sovereignty, decided not to work in
His majestic power through the means of grace i.e. the Word and
the Sacraments, but that His will can be resisted when He works
through those means. Francis Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, 1:196-
199. Theodore G. Tappert, ed., The Book of Concord, Solid
Declaration, Art. II, 520.5-527.28.

work of Christ, but also of their whole approach to

interpretation of the Scriptures.

It is very evident from the above that we approach our

study with some bias, which, though, is not any presupposed

idea, but the result of previous study. However, we seek to

accomplish this study examining Calvinists' evidence for

the limited extent of the atonement objectively.

Calvinism - Arminianism - Lutheranism

It is important for us to note that since 1610 all

writings of Calvinists in defence of the Limited Atonement

and related doctrines of grace were written against the

Arminian, not Lutheran, theological system, and that there

are not any such writings prior to that date, except, of

course, those written mainly against the Roman Catholic

doctrines (for example Calvin's Institutes of Christian

The first controversy then to include the scope of the

atonement took place within the Calvinistic tradition where

what is known as Arminianism arose. James Arminius (1560-

1609), who was synergistic, summed up his theological views

in five points23 in their 'Remonstrance'24 in 1610 rejecting

The five points of Arminianism may be briefly stated as
follows: 1) God from all eternity predestinated to eternal life
those of whom He foresaw that they would remain steadfast in faith
unto their end. 2) Christ died for all mankind, not simply for
the elect. 3) Man must be regenerated by the Holy Spirit. 4) Man
may resist divine grace. 5) Man may fall from divine grace.

five Calvinistic propositions. One of the points, the Second

Article, affirmed universal scope of the atonement of Christ:

Universal Atonement.--Christ, the Saviour of the world,

died for all men and for every man, and his grace is
extended to all. His atoning sacrifice is in and of
itself sufficient for the redemption of the whole
world, and is intended for all by God the Father. But
its inherent sufficiency does not necessarily imply its
actual efficiency. The grace of God may be resisted,
and only those who accept it by faith are actually
saved. He who is lost, is lost by his own guilt (John
3:16; 1 John 2:2)
The Synod of Dort (1618-1619) found the five points

abominable, because the key teaching of the Calvinistic

tradition on which their entire system rests, namely

sovereignty of God25 was, to their view, challenged, and they

countered Arminianism by seeking to affirm what has come to

be called the Five Points of Calvinism26 , found in the

Source: The Concordia Cyclopedia (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing

House, 1927), s.v. "Arminianism." (The item number one implies
synergism, but most importantly, their doctrine of conversion is
very expressly synergistic. See, for example, Rienk Bouke Kuiper,
For whom did Christ die? A study of the divine design of the
atonement, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1959), 72-73, 76.)
Philip Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom (Grand Rapids:
Baker Book House, l977), 1, 516-519.
This starting point and its implications to Calvinistic
theology is examined in Chapter II. Lutherans affirm sovereignty
of God, but it does not lead us to make such conclusions in our
theology as it makes Calvinists to do in theirs.
The five points of Calvinism can be briefly stated as
follows: 1) Total depravity, 2) Unconditional election, 3)
Limited atonement, 4) Irresistible grace, 5) Perseverance of
saints. See, for example, Daune Edward Spencer, T.U.L.I.P.
(Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1985), or Steele & Thomas, Five
Points of Calvinism (Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed
Publishing Co., 1984).

Canons of Dort,27 where the "Second Head of Doctrine" reads

as follows:

Of the Death of Christ. [Limited Atonement.] --

According to the sovereign counsel of God, the saving
efficacy of the atoning death of Christ extends to all the
elect [and to them only], so as to bring them infallibly to
salvation. But, intrinsically, the sacrifice and
satisfaction of Christ is of infinite worth and value,
abundantly sufficient to expiate the sins of the whole
world. . .
Moreover the promise of the Gospel is, that
whosoever believeth in Christ crucified shall not
perish, but have everlasting life. This promise,
together with the command to repent and believe, ought
to be declared and published to all nations, and to all
persons promiscuously and without distinction, to whom
God out of His good pleasure sends the gospel.
And, whereas many who are called by the gospel do
not repent nor believe in Christ, but perish in
unbelief; this is not owing to any defect or insuf-
ficiency in the sacrifice offered by Christ upon the
cross, but is wholly to be imputed to themselves. . . .
this was the sovereign counsel. . . will and

purpose of God. . . that the quickening and saving

efficacy of the. . . death of his Son should extend to

all the elect, . . . it was the will of God, that

Christ. . . should effectually redeem. . . all those,

and those only, who were from eternity chosen to

salvation. . . their Saviour laid down his life for

them upon the cross. . . .

This seems a little bit vague. They affirm the

"intrinsic" value of the atonement to have been "infinite...

abundantly sufficient to expiate the sins of the whole

world," and yet on the other hand there seem to be affirma-

Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom, 1:519-523 and 3: 581-597.

tions that Christ died only for the elect. This ambiguity is

further aggravated by the fact that "The First Head of

Doctrine--of Divine predestination" talks about God's "decree

of reprobation", and how God decreed only the elect "to

redemption in Christ", and how God gave only the elect "to

Christ to be saved by him."

Those Calvinists who have interpreted the Canons of

Dort, or Calvinism in general, have the following to say:

The atonement of Christ had been intrinsically enough to

redeem the whole world had God so decreed, but He didn't;

instead He decreed it only for the elect.28 It seems to us,

John Owen, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, 183-
185. Rienk Bouke Kuiper, For whom did Christ die? A study of the
divine design of the atonement, 79-84. Kuiper (pp. 80-81) quotes
Berkhof: "The Schoolmen were accustomed to saying that Christ died
sufficiently for all men, but efficaciously for the elect. This
language was adopted by some orthodox theologians and even by
Calvin. But after the extent of the atonement had been made the
object of special study, Reformed theologians generally refused to
state the truth in that form, because it was apt to give the
impression that Christ in dying intended that all men should share
in the proper effects of His atoning death. They prefer to say
that the death of Christ viewed objectively and apart from His
design and purpose, was inherently sufficient for all, though
efficacious only for the elect."
Here Kuiper also talks about the "common grace," as
distinguished from the "saving grave." This is some new
development in Calvinistic formulations which teaches that all men
benefited in some measure, excepting salvation, of the atonement
of Christ. This mode of speaking is then also used by some
Calvinist theologians to water down universal expressions of
Scripture concerning the extent of the atonement. So also Kuiper.
He says of 1 Tim. 4:10, which talks of God as being "the Saviour
of all men:" "That is, the Preserver, of all men, that for the
present He takes an attitude of benevolence. . . toward all men. .
." This then means "certain blessings" that God gives to non-
elect, such as rain, sunshine, natural talents etc. To interpret
1 Tim. 4:10 in such a way does not demand our serious considera-
tion, for it is evident to all, how such an interpretation is just

however, that the language of the Canons of Dort is capable

of quite orthodox Lutheran interpretation as far as the

extent of the atonement is concerned i.e. what has been said

there concerning that doctrine can be made to fit with what

we teach concerning the election and how only those who

believe can personally benefit from Christ's perfect and

universal atonement.29 However, the important point is, no

matter how this particular confession is interpreted, the

fact that not only Calvin but also most of those churches who

adhere to the Canons of Dort and their theologians in general

do teach a limited scope of the atonement as we shall later

see.30 And then there, of course, are other confessions like

another human made delusion, for the word __________ translated

"Saviour," can not be defended, for this word is not capable of
the translation "preserver."
For a brief overview concerning the Lutheran (Lutheran
Church--Missouri Synod) view of the doctrines see Lutheran
Cyclopedia, Ed. Erwin L. Lueker (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing
House, 1954) under the following headings: "Predestination", pp.
839-841; "Thirteen Theses", pp. 1057-1058; "Conversion", pp.
258-260. For a dogmatic presentation of the doctrine of
predestination see Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, 3:473-505, and for
the doctrine of Universal Grace see his volume 2, 21-28, and
generally about the teachings concerning the Saving Grace of God
volume 2, 3-54.
Of interest and further insight would also be to read about
the Predestination Controversy in the Lutheran Church: Moving
Frontiers: Readings in the History of the Lutheran Church--
Missouri Synod, ed. Carl S. Meyer (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing
House, 1964), 267-278.
'Moderate Calvinists' interpret these articles of the extent
of the atonement in a universal sense. It therefore seems to be,
at least to some extent, a matter of semantics and definition of
The Synod of Dort (1618-1619) where theologians of the
Calvinistic tradition assembled from all over the Europe adopted

the "Westminster Confession of Faith" which is more explicit

and says for example: "To all those for whom Christ hath

purchased redemption, he doth certainly and effectual apply

and communicate the same. . . ." "The Lord Jesus. . .

purchased. . . reconciliation. . . for all those whom the

Father hath given unto him." "the Mediator should. . .

purchase a peculiar people. . . ." "Redemption is certainly

applied, and effectually communicated, to all those for whom

Christ hath purchased it; who are in time by the Holy Ghost

enabled to believe in Christ according to the gospel."31

The above quotation provided only some examples from

this confessional book which is hailed as "the best

symbolical statement of the Calvinistic system of


the Belgic Confession (see: Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom,

3:383-436 and 1:502-507) and Heidelberg Catechism (see 3:307-355)
in which two documents one can not find any teaching of the
limited or universal atonement, but only redemption and salvation
"for us." Maybe this is the mode of speech they employed in order
to avoid a premature exposure of the teaching of the limited
atonement to inquirers contrary to the order of exposure of things
(see footnote 2). It might well be that they mean by the "for us"
only those who believe, the elect, whereas when Lutherans use that
expression the emphasis is on the personal faith (Subjective
Justification): "I believe this was also for me." "The universal
redemption is not only for some good Old or New Testament saints,
but also for me."
The Canons of Dort, The Belgic Confession and the Heidelberg
Catechism are confessions of the Reformed Church in America,
besides of different splinter groups, and of other Calvinistic
bodies both in Europe and North America. (Schaff, 3:581).
Westminster Confession of Faith (Inverness, Scotland: F. P.
Publications, 1983), pp. 49, 50, 146, 157 respectively.
Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom, 1:506.

The Lutheran doctrine of predestination is different

from both the Arminian and Calvinistic schemes, but we do

teach absolute and particular election to salvation.

On the extent of the atonement we affirm its universal

scope as the Arminians do, but we do not see it as "only the

salvability of sinners", but as the actual redemption of all

people by Christ.

We hold to the doctrine of total depravity (conversion,

then, as the whole salvation, being sola gratia - by grace

alone33), and of perseverance of the saints (excepting

"temporal christians"), but at the same time hold (what is

irreconcilable to human reason in view of the other doctrines

which we hold, but which we believe is taught in the

Scripture) that grace is resistible.34

Lutherans are not concerned how unreasonable their

theological system may be as long as it is derived from the

Word. We do not bring doctrines to their logical conclusion,

because that would implicate supremacy of human reason over

Also Formula Consensus Helvetica teaches limited atonement:

"For these alone, the elect, He (Christ) subjected Himself to
dire death,...these alone He reconciled to God,..." Quote in
Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, 2:25 footnote 50.
Unlike Arminians Lutherans do not teach man's co-operation
in conversion (synergism). Synergistic teaching of Arminians was
a great offence to Calvinists, and rightly so, for the Scripture
does not teach synergism.
Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, 1:317.

and against God's Word. What may be irreconcilable in human

judgement, faith reconciles, faith which is grounded in

Scripture--"if God says it, that settles it." It is this

same faith which receives salvation through Christ. Here we

come to the third Lutheran Reformation principle, sola fide--

by faith alone, by faith which is God given through His Word.

Overview of the Organization of this Paper and

Methodological Procedure Employed

In Chapter II we, first, seek to understand the

presuppositions which have led to Calvinistic theological

system and have implications to the issue at hand, then

present an overview of the Calvinistic view of the doctrines

of grace35, and lastly examine, both positively and

negatively, primarily their teaching concerning the extent of

the atonement, and secondarily of God's saving will in a more

detailed way.
In Chapter III we set forth Lutheran presuppositions,

or the Lutheran starting point for doing theology, and then

our teaching concerning the doctrines of grace and finally

concentrate on the teaching of the Scripture and, where

deemed helpful, of our confessions and theologians,

concerning the scope of the atonement and of God's saving

will against the background of Calvinistic presuppositions,

Election, Atonement, Conversion, Justification, and

teaching and interpretation of Scripture concerning the same.

We end our paper with conclusions.

In this study, besides the examination of the great

difference in Calvinistic and Lutheran presuppositions which

lead to respective theological systems, the two key issues

seem to be, one; the right definition of the words "all",

"world", and "for many" especially in the passages that deal

with the extent of the atonement (i.e. "Whom was it for?"),

but also in those where the extent of God's saving will (i.e.

"Whom does God desire to save?"36) is dealt with. Calvinists

in such passages tend to limit the meaning of "all" to "all

kinds of people (high or low)", and the word "world" to "all

kinds of nations/people", especially in the sense of "other

than Jew", and "for many" to "for the Elect";37 second; There is

another class of passages which imply universal scope of the atonement,38 but which passages

the Calvinists likewise interpret to fit their views. These passages need to be looked at as

well. Finally; How can such passages of the Scripture be understood which seem to imply a

Study of the extent of the atonement in this paper, titled
"Atonement: Limited or Universal," will receive the main emphasis,
the extent of God's Saving Will receiving some attention only
because it is seen to be so closely related with the former, for
if one were able to show God's saving will to be limited only to
the elect, he could then somewhat more plausibly argue also for
the limited extent of the atonement.
Westminster Confession of Faith, pp. 46, 49, 50, 146, 147,
157, 295, 324, and 325; G. I. Williamson, The Westminster
Confession of Faith for Study Classes (Philadelphia: Presbyterian
and Reformed Publishing Co., 1964), 79; Philip Schaff, The Creeds
of Christendom, 3:587 (The Canons of the Synod of Dort, Second
Head of Doctrine, Art.VIII).
E.g. 2 Pet. 2:1.

limited scope of the atonement (e.g. "...the good shepherd lays down his life for the

sheep." John 10:11 i.e. not for the wolves. "Greater love has no man than this, that a man

lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13 i.e. not for his enemies) and which type of

passages advocates of the Limited-Atonement quote in support of their view.39

In this

study then we will approach the question from the perspective

which the above considerations provide. This will include

word studies, it seems, both independent and contextual of

the words "all", "world", and "for many".

We are aware that Calvinists to a great extent, in

order to defend their view of the atonement, use also some

other approaches to exonerate their teaching. One such

approach is to come to the question from the perspective of

covenant theology.40 Examination of this particular approach

is beyond the scope of this paper. Other approaches include

Christ's priestly office which involves His intercession for

His own,41 and the doctrine of Trinity42 (interpenetration and

unity of will).43 These approaches we will cover briefly.

Westminster Confession of Faith, p. 50 footnote q.
Hugh Martin, The Atonement: In Its Relations to the
Covenant, the Priesthood, and the Intercession of Our Lord
(Edinburgh: Knox Press, 1976).
William Symington, On the Atonement and Intercession of
Christ (New York: Carter, 1839).
John Owen, A Brief Declaration and Vindication of the
Doctrine of the Trinity (Glasgow: Printed by Napier and Khull for
R. Hutchison and J. Steel Co., 1798).
Also books that deal with the subject in general often
devote some chapters to defend limited atonement also from the
perspective that these different approaches provide.

However, in the main we approach the question from the

perspectives laid out above, for if we can find that the

Scripture establishes in a clear language universal scope of

the atonement of Christ, then we conclude, without hesita-

tion, that also their treatment of the atonement through

other approaches, whatever, must be flawed, because the

doctrine of the unity of Scripture44 does not allow divergent

conclusions based on the same evidence (the Word of God) no

matter what approach of study is employed, as long as the

method of study acknowledges infallibility of the Scriptures,

and uses solid hermeneutical principles.

As the Calvinists in question in general hold to the

inerrancy of the Scriptures, their method of interpretation

of the same, especially as far as the rather prevalent method

wherewith Calvinists derive the meanings for the words

"world" and "all" in the atonement passages, need careful


Passages in Controversy concerning the Extent of the


Passages where the word "world" expresses the extent

In all of these passages the Greek word for

Francis Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, 1:307-342.
Because some ninety-nine per cent of the passages used and
implicated in the discussion of this topic, both by limited and
universal redemptionists, are from the New Testament, those are
the passages covered also in this presentation.

"world" is

"Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin

of the world." John 1:29.

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only

begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should
not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent
not His Son into the world, to condemn the world, but
that the world through Him might be saved." John 3:16-

"Now we believe,...and know that this is indeed

the Christ, the Saviour of the world." John 4:42.

"For the bread of God is He which cometh down from

heaven, and giveth life unto the world." John 6:33.

"...the bread that I will give is my flesh, which

I will give for the life of the world." John 6:51.

"...I came not to judge the world, but to save the

world." John 12:47.

"...casting away of them [be] the reconciling of

the world,..." Rom. 11:15.

"God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto

Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them..."
2 Cor. 5:19.

"And He [Christ] is the propitiation for our sins,

and not for ours only, but also for [the sins of] the
whole world." 1 John 2:2.

"...God sent His only begotten Son into the world,

that we might live through Him. Herein is love, not
that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His
Son [to be] the propitiation for our sins....And we
have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son
[to be] the Saviour of the world." 1 John 4:9,10,14.

Passages where the word "all" expresses the extent

In all of these passages the Greek word for "all" is


"And I (Jesus), if I be lifted up form the earth,

will draw all unto me." John 12:32.

" one man sin entered into the world, and

death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for
that all have sinned [Greek: "inasmuch as all sinned"
] . . . but not as
the offence, so also [is] the free [gift]. For if
through the offence of one many be dead, much more the
grace of God, and the gift by grace by one man, Jesus
Christ, hath abounded unto many. And not as [it was]
by one that sinned, [so is] the gift: for the judgement
[was] by one to condemnation, but the free gift is [of]
many offenses unto justification . . . . Therefore
as by the offence of one [judgement came] upon all men
to condemnation even so by the righteousness of one
[the free gift came] upon all men unto justification of
life. For as by one man's disobedience many were made
sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made
righteous . . . . as sin hath reigned unto death, even
so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal
life by Jesus Christ our Lord." Rom. 5:12,15-16,18-

"...that if one died for all, then were all

dead: and [that] He died for all, that they which live
should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto
him which died for them, and rose again." 2 Cor.
5:14, 15.

"And having made peace through the blood of His

cross by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself, by
Him, whether things in earth, or things in heaven. And
you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in mind
by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled in the body
of His flesh through death, to present you holy and
unblamable and unreprovable in His sight, if you
continue in the faith..." Col. 1:20-23.

"...God our Saviour who will have all men to be

saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
For there is one God, and one mediator between God and
men, the man Christ Jesus who gave himself a ransom for
all ,..." 1 Tim. 2:4-6.

"...we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour

of all men, specially of those that believe." 1 Tim.
"For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath

appeared to all men,..." Titus 2:11.

Passages which express the extent in general terms

"...Christ died for the ungodly." Rom. 5:6.

"...while we were yet sinners, Christ died for

us.... ....when we were enemies, we were reconciled to
God by the death of His Son,..." Rom. 5:8,10.

"...God sent forth His Son...made under the law,

to redeem them that were under the law, that we might
receive the adoption of sons." Gal. 4:4,5.

"Having abolished in His flesh the enmity, [even]

the law of commandments...for to make in Himself of
twain [of Jews and Gentiles] one new man, [so] making
peace, and that He might reconcile both unto God in one
body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby."
Eph. 2:16.

"This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all

acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to
save sinners..." 1 Tim.1:15.

"For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the

just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God,..."
1 Pet. 3:18.

Passages where other universal expressions are used

"But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower

than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned
with glory and honour, that He by the grace of God
should taste death for every man.... make
reconciliation for the sins of the people." Heb.2:9,

"But there were false prophets also among the

people, even as there shall be false teachers among
you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even
denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon
themselves swift destruction." 2 Pet. 2:1


"Amyraldianism", known also as "Salmurianism", which teaches
"modified Cavinism", or "Four Point Calvinism" which has dropped
one point of Calvinism, namely that of "Limited Atonement", and
teaches "Indefinite Atonement," is not covered here. Let it only
be said that they, unlike Lutherans, teach the atonement to have
only rendered the world "salvable," but not saved (being actually
saved on a condition of faith). This view of theirs, just as that

of "particularists," likely results from their failure to see that

the atonement and salvation are in Christ. For some other brief
information and views concerning modified Calvinism see Gary D.
Long, Substitutionary Atonement; a Study of Three Key Problem
Passages on the Extent of the Atonement (Sterling, VA: Grace
Abounding Printers, 1977), 1-7. A detailed dogmatic work of Four
Point Cavinists is written, for example, by Lewis Sperry Chafer,
Systematic Theology 8 vols. (Dallas: Dallas Seminary Press, 1948).

View of Atonement and Sovereignty of God

The concept of the sovereignty of God permeates the

whole theological system of Calvinism. God being a

sovereign, almighty God, nothing can hinder Him from bringing

about what He desires to accomplish, but whatever He wills

that He will also unfailingly perform. Both good and evil

has to serve His will. This being so we can judge from the

results what His will was and is.47

By Calvinism here is meant that theological system
which is seen to have started with Calvin, expounded in his
comprehensive two volume Institutes of the Christian
Religion, affirmed by the Synod of Dort (1618-1619), and
known as the "Five Points of Calvinism" (one of which affirms
limited scope or extent of the atonement of Christ, i.e. that
Christ died only for the elect of God--this teaching of
"Limited Atonement" is known also as "Particular Redemption,"
or "Particular Atonement" and "Definite Atonement."
Calvin: Institutes of the Christian Religion, Ed. John T.
McNeill, trans. by Ford Lewis Battles (Philadelphia: Westminster
Press, 1960), 2, Art. III, 21-24; Calvin: Theological Treatises,
trans. by J. K. S. Reid (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1954),
John Murray, Redemption--Accomplished and Applied (Phillipburg:
Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co.), 9-18; John Owen, The
Death of Death in the Death of Christ (Pennsylvania: The Banner of
Truth Trust, 1985), 2-15; Gary D. Long, Substitutionary
Atonement; a Study of Three Key Problem Passages on the Extent of
the Atonement, 3, footnote 3.
These references could have been multiplied, for any book that
deals with the subject from the Calvinistic perspective is careful
to begin their treatment of the matter from the sovereign will of

God and implications that they see it to have.


Calvinists distinguish between the revealed (voluntas

signi) and hidden will (voluntas beneplaciti) of God. The

former is to be interpreted according to the latter. Chamier


Though God wills the salvation of all men according to

His voluntas signi, or His conditioned will, or His
non-efficacious will, nevertheless He does not will the
salvation of all according to His voluntas beneplaciti,
or His absolute will, or His efficacious will.48

Application of the Sovereign Will of God to

the Doctrine of Atonement

Here an application of God's voluntas beneplaciti, or

His absolute will, or His efficacious will is made.49

If all people of all times had and would come to faith

and therefore be saved, then we could judge that God indeed

Francis Pieper, Christian Dogmatics (St.Louis: Concordia
Publishing House, 1951), 2:28. Pieper quotes Chamier in footnote
56. Piper indicates that his source for this quote is Chamier's
Panstrat. 3.7.6.
It seems that there is no consistency in the Calvinist camp
concerning this view, in that many Calvinists want to interpret,
as we shall later see, the passages which have traditionally been
seen to express God's will to save all, in a sense that would
limit also His expressed or revealed saving will to the elect. It
seems to us that there would be no need of this endeavour if
Chamier's view were accepted (though we do not say that it is
acceptable), for he could, according to his view of things, say,
that even though God in the Scripture has expressed His desire
that all were saved, in His hidden will He does not desire it.
Possibly Calvinists have realized, at least to a degree, the
futility of such basing of doctrine on the hidden will of God, and
have attempted to sound Scriptural. But, yet the fact remains, as
we shall see, that they are not free of their presuppositions and
that therefore the hidden will of God will yet steer their
judgment as to how individual passages are to be interpreted.

desires all people to be saved; but if some did or do not

believe and therefore are damned, then we realize that God

never desired to save those particular people, and therefore

did not and does not desire all to be saved. For if He did,

then, as truly as God is sovereign, almighty God, whose will

is efficacious and unfailing, all had gotten and would get

saved as well; but now that all did not, we truly know that

God never desired or willed their salvation.50

On the basis of the hidden sovereign will of God which

is all permeating, and the idea that from the results we can

determine what that will was, Calvin and Calvinists make

also, for example, the following conclusions: God willed the

fall of Adam and Eve, and predestined some to salvation and

some to perdition.51 This will preceded the Creation.

If from the Scripture then we find passages which speak

of God's will to save all, those passages are, by

Calvinists, interpreted and harmonized by voluntas

beneplaciti to fit those passages which seem to express or

imply that God does not desire all to be saved - which

Calvin: Institutes of the Christian Religion, 2:982-987
(3.4.15-17); Calvin: Theological Treatises, 179-180.

This predestination issue again is one for which most
Calvinists say they have support in God's revealed will, and
desire to base their case on the Scriptures, whether they
everytime express it or not. See e.g. Calvin: Institutes of the
Christian Religion, 2:955-958 (3.23.7); Calvin: Theological
Treatises, 179. Other references found in footnote 1 also make
this point.

passages they find mainly in Chapter nine of the Epistle of

Paul to the Romans.52 On the basis of these principles then

Calvinists complete their theological system.

Calvinistic Doctrines of Grace

We will cover briefly Calvinistic doctrines of

grace53 which allows us then focus on their teaching of

Limited Atonement and see it in its proper perspective and

relationship to the other doctrines. 1) Total depravity.

Every and each human being is, because of the Fall, totally

depraved. In this his fallen state he does not worship true

God, but sins against Him and is in a state of spiritual

blindness. 2) Unconditional election. God, before the

foundation of the world, in His counsel hidden from us,

predestined some people to salvation and some to damnation.54

Calvin for example deals with Ezek. 33:11 where God says:
"As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of
the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live..."
Calvin says that God does not really want every wicked one to
repent, for else they would, but that this passage is really only
for the comfort of those to whom God gives the grace of
repentance. Calvin: Institutes of the Christian Religion, 2:982-
983 (3.24.15).
These are what are called the "Five Points of Calvinism"
conveniently abreviated as T.U.L.I.P.: Total depravity,
Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistible grace, and
Perseverance of saints. For further reading on these areas see,
for example, William G. T. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, three vols.,
reprint of 1888 ed. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing
House, 1969).

This is known as "double-predestination."

This choosing was not based on anything in man. 3) Limited

atonement. God decided before the foundation of the world to

send a Saviour to redeem and save those, and only those

people, whom He before had chosen to salvation, namely the

elect. 4) Irresistible grace. God will see to it that He

will in time bring the elect to faith in Christ. 5)

Perseverance. God will make sure that the elect do not fall

away from faith in time, but will preserve them in faith.

It is important to keep in mind here that Calvinists in

general do not see any other options to be available in

interpretation of the Scriptures, but that one is forced to

teach either limited atonement, universal salvation, that

Christ did not redeem anyone, or synergism.55 The second one

is seen through experience not to be true - for not all

people have believed. The third option is senseless and

against Scripture. The fourth option they abhor, because of

their doctrine of total depravity. Therefore only the first

option can stand. This view is a result of their teaching

that redemption includes purchasing also of "faith and

sactification", that the redemption and its application can

not be separated.56

Gary D. Long, Substitutionary Atonement; a Study of Three
Key Problem Passages on the Extent of the Atonement, 3-4.
They make this conclusion because they do not know, it seems,
any other alternatives to exist, except that Arminian synergism
which they abhor.
John Owen, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, 184;
Gary D. Long, Substitutionary Atonement; a Study of Three Key

General Objections Against Universal Atonement

Redemption and its Application

A distinction is made between internal sufficiency

of the atonement of Christ and external intention or purpose

of the Father and Christ as to who should benefit from the

atoning death of Christ. Only those encompassed by this

external intention would and could actually be saved, that is

the elect. In itself, it is affirmed, the death of Christ

would be sufficient "to have been made a price" for the

redemption of the whole world, only God did not intend its

benefits to be, but limited efficaciousness of the atonement

to the elect, to whom Christ purchased not only redemption,

but also "faith and sanctification".57 By these Calvinists

want to emphasize that there is nothing lacking in the

Problem Passages on the Extent of the atonement, pp. i-iii.

"...Son should offer a sacrifice of infinite worth, value,
and dignity, sufficient in itself for the redeeming of all and
every man, if it had pleased the Lord to employ it to that
purpose....This is its own true internal perfection and
sufficiency. That it should be applied unto any, made a price for
them, and become benificial to them, acccording to the worth that
is in it, is external to it, doth not arise from it, but merely
depends upon the intention and will of God." And this "intention
and will" of God is limited to the elect only. John Owen, The
Death of Death in the Death of Christ, 183-185.
Long writes, "Christ did not die for any upon condition, if
they do believe, but He died for all God's elect that they will
believe and believing have eternal life." Gary D. Long,
Substitutionary Atonement; a Study of Three Key Problem Passages
on the Extent of the Atonement, 13, footnote 12. (Emphasis here
is ours).

efficacy of the atonement, but that only it is intended to

and for the elect, for whom Christ intrinsically with the

atonement secured also faith. This theological opinion then

looms very heavy in their interpretation of individual

passages and definitely has its foundation in their

understanding of what the necessary implications of the

sovereignty of God are.

Did Christ die for those already in hell?

Calvinists obviously say, no. Christ did not die for

those already in hell.

But now Christ did not intend to satisfy for the

sins of all and every man for innumerable souls were in
hell, under the punishment and weight of their own
sins; from whence there is no redemption before, nor
actually then when our Savior made Himself an oblation
for sin. Now, shall we suppose that Christ would make
Himself an offering for their sins whom He knew to be
past recovery...Shall we think that the blood of the
covenant was cast away upon them for whom our Savior
intended no good at all?... (to say), that Christ died
for them, and His death would have been available to
them if they had in my judgement, of no
force at all; for, First, For the most part they never
heard of any such condition. Secondly, Christ at His
death knew full well that they had not fulfilled the
condition [to believe - if some suppose there is such a
condition], and were actually cut off from any
possibility ever to do so, so that any intention to do
them good by his death must needs be vain and
frustrate; which must not be assigned to the Son of

However, they do admit that Christ offered Himself for

Ibid., pp. 135-136.

those who were in heaven at the time of His suffering.59

Atonement and the Doctrine of Trinity

It is very evident that there is unity of purpose in

the Godhead--One person does not desire, intend or will but

in harmony with the other two Persons.60 The idea of the

Universal atonement is seen to disrupt the unity of Godhead

in that if the atonement, a work of the Second Person, is

universal, then also the work of conversion by the Third

Person, the Holy Spirit, should likewise be universal, and

consequently universal salvation should ensue, the Holy

Spirit applying salvation through faith in it to as many as

were redeemed, that is, to all people of all times. But

since we know that not all have, nor do, believe we must

conclude that one of the premises must be faulty. Because

the Holy Spirit would apply the salvation to as many as were

redeemed, and not all do believe, we must conclude that the

redemption was not universal, and consequently God the Father

never willed the salvation of all people.

This understanding of the unity of will of the Godhead

makes redemption and salvation inseparable, even more, it

makes salvation intrinsic to atonement as we saw above.

Ibid., 136.
Ibid., 51-66, 136.

Atonement and High Priestly Office of Christ

It was Christ's priestly office under which He

atoned for our sins (for the sins of the elect). The

intercessory prayer likewise is a part of His priestly

office. Therefore the extent of both is to be the same. We

see from John 17 (Christ's High Priestly Prayer) how He prays

"not for the world, but for them which Thou hast given me..."

(John 17:9). Since He prays only for "them," who are the

elect, therefore it was likewise only for them that He died--

if He died for all, He would pray for all likewise.

Another aspect of the High Pristly office of Christ is

that "a high priest must make offering to God for a people,"


the offering of the high priest must be for sins.

This Christ did "once, when he offered up himself"
(Heb. 7:27), and "bare our sins in His own body on the
tree" (1 Pet. 2:24). Note that His offering was not
for "sin" in the abstract and impersonal, but for
"sins." His offering was for actual and individual
sins--for those of the people for whom He died.61

A Unique New Testament Covenant Context

The difference between the Old and New Testaments

(Covenants). Whereas the Old Covenant was established

between Israel and God, the New Covenant includes people from

all nations. The Jews had a very hard time realizing that

also some of those from other nations were redeemed by

Gary D. Long, Definite Atonement (n.p.: Presbyterian and
Reformed Publishing Co., 1976), 29.

Christ.62 This explains the use of the word "world" also in

the passages which talk about the scope of the atonement the

writers desiring to make it clear that the elect are not only

of the Jews, but of all nations, the elect for whom Christ

died.63 Therefore the word "world" is to be understood in a

sense of "also of/for other than Jews" (as long as one of

the elect is meant), hence "the world of elect", or even "the


Calvinistic Interpretations of the Passages Traditionally

Seen to Teach Universal Extent of the Atonement

General Introduction

Equivocality of the word "world"

Owen desires to show, in general terms, in

accordance to Calvinistic system, how the word "world" here

must mean the "elect."

Various meanings for the word "world" ( ),

which is "so exceedingly equivocal" are considered. Because

the word can mean:

the whole fabric of heaven and earth, with all things

E.g. Peter other Jews and Cornelius, a Roman centurion, Acts
10 (pay attention especially also to verses 45-48). See also Acts
11:1-19. John Owen, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ,
pp. 186, 187, 189, 190.
Ibid., 186-187.
William G. T. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, 479-480.

in them contained;65 the world contained, especially men

in the world; and that either,--First, universally for

all and every one,66 Secondly, Indefinitely for men,

without restriction or enlargement; Thirdly,

Exegetically, for many, which is the most usual

acceptation of the word;67 Fourthly, Comparatively, for

a great part of the world; Fifthly, Restrictively, for

the inhabitants of the Roman empire (Luke 2:1);

Sixthly, for men distinguished in their several

qualifications , as: For the good, God's people...;68

and For the evil, wicked, rejected men of the world.

For the world corrupted...; For a terrene[?] world

ly estate or condition of men or things; For the

world accursed; and in divers other significations . .

. .69

Owen70 then sets to show that in none of the passages

Thus for example in John 3: 17,19.
As in Rom. 3:6,19; 5:12.
E.g. in John 4:42.
E.g. in John 3:16; 6:33,51; 2 Cor. 5:19; 1 John 2:2.
John Owen, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, pp.
192, 193. All the Scripture references in the quote are Owen's.

And this is not anything unique. Most, if not all,
Calvinists have followed in his footsteps and use his method in
order to show limited extent of the atonement, and deem his book,
The Death of Death in the Death of Christ to represent "doctrinal
exactness," and state further,

which Arminians have interpreted in a universalistic sense

can the word "world" be taken in a sense of "all people."

These argumentations are recorded below where individual

passages are discussed.

Equivocality of words in general

Owen also desires to show that this kind of many

facetedness of meaning of words is not limited to the words

"world" or "all."

So Matthew 8:22, "Let the dead bury their dead;"--dead

in the first place denoting them that are spiritually
dead in sin; in the next, those that are naturally dead
by dissolution of soul and body....So,...John 3:6,
"That which is born of the Spirit is spirit." Spirit
in the first place is the almighty Spirit of God; in
the latter, a spiritual life of grace received from

How this kind of change in meaning takes place also

with the word "world" Owen attempts to show from John 1:10,

"He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the

It is safe to say that no comparable exposition of the work of

redemption . . . has ever been done since Owen published his
in 1684. None has been needed . . . . Owen's interpretation
of the texts is sure; his power of theological construction
is superb; nothing that needs discussing is omitted, and no
arguments for or against his position have been used since
his day which he has not himself noted and dealt with . . . .
Nobody has a right to dismiss the doctrine of the limitedness
of the atonement as a monstrosity of Calvinistic logic until
he has refuted Owen's proof that it is part of the uniform
biblical presentation of redemption, clearly taught in plain
text after plain text. And nobody has done that yet.

J. I. Packer, Introduction to Owen's The Death of Death in the

Death of Christ.
John Owen, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, 193-

world knew Him not."

He that should force the same signification upon

the"world" in that triple mention of it would be an
egregious glosser: for in the first, it plainly
signifieth some part of the habitable earth, and is
taken subjective , in the second, the whole
frame of heaven and earth, and is taken subjective
, and in the third, for some men living in the
earth,--namely, unbelievers, who may be said to be the
world adjunctive.72

Definition of the word "all"

The word "all" as for example in 1 Tim. 2:4, 6

simply means "all sorts of men" i.e. whether high or low,

rich or poor etc., as long as they are of the elect.

Sometimes "all" means "all believers".73

Anthropomorphites and definition of words

A great danger is seen,if we take literally the words

like "world" and "all." This would lead to:

the cursed madness of the Anthropomorphites,--assigning

a human body,

form and shape,

unto God, who

hath none; and

the alike

cursed figment

Ibid., 194.
William G. T. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, 480.





the body of

Christ, who

hath one; with

divers other

most pernicious


Owen appeals us to use context, rules of interpreta-

tion, mind the circumstances and scope of the place, and

notice the different use of the same words in different

places of Scripture.75

Individual Passages Considered

The following sections where individual passages are

considered are somewhat hard to distinguish from the above

where general arguments against the universality of the

atonement was discussed for for the most of the time you do

not find individual passages considered on their own, but

passages of the same type (i.e. those containing the same key

words, like "world" or "all") are grouped together and

John Owen, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, 191.

considered collectively starting explanation with a passage

which seems to lend itself best for their refutation with

some reference also to others. What makes it more difficult

yet, is that passages which contain those key words, but have

nothing to do with the atonement, let alone with the extent

of the atonement, are drawn into discussion so as to show how

the words "world" and "all" in them are used in a limited

sense, thus resulting again in refutation in and with general

terms (against the background of their general understanding

of the doctrines of grace) of particular passages which talk

about the atonement in universal terms.

We shall here follow the Calvinists' own way of

presenting their case. Therefore we will sometimes cover one

passage at a time, sometimes a group of passages. And as we

shall notice they do not here, for the most part and by most

authors, engage in serious exegesis, but talk in generalit-

ies, and even when an individual passage is under

investigation it is, indeed, their general understanding of

the work of Christ, and of course of election, that in the

final analysis determine how the key words, and consequently

the passages themselves, are to be interpreted. Because of

these reasons, we do not see it necessary even to try to

cover all passages individually (which, indeed could be next

to impossible to do because they have not done it), but

endevour to cover all the basic arguments and such as they

consider the strongest for their case.


Passages of general nature

The following passages: Rom. 5:6,8,10 and 1 Pet. 3:18

where those for whom Christ died are termed as: "ungodly",

"sinners", "enemies", or "unjust", will not be considered

separately. It will suffice to say concerning them that they

are dismissed in that the elect were "ungodly", "sinners",

etc., until that God called them out of the world.76

Passages containing the word "world" considered

To John Owen the word "world" is ambiguous,

therefore the Arminians' argument:77 "The whole world

contains all and every man in the world; Christ died for the

whole world: therefore He died for each and every man", can

not stand, because it is faulty, in that the word "world" in

the first proposition is taken for "the world containing";

in the second for "the world contained." Only if it is

affirmed that the word "world" here means "the world

containing" and that Christ died for "the world containing"

can the argument stand. But then the conclusion is

senseless.78 No one can prove that the word "world" always

in the Scripture means all and every man, whether past,

Ibid., 277.
Based on John 3:16; 6:51; 1 John 2:2.
John Owen, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, 205-

present or future,79 therefore no one can attach any strength

to arguments from that word.

In the passage, "For God sent not His Son into the

world, to condemn the world, but that the world through Him

might be saved." (John 3:16-17) the world in the first, is necessarily to be

understood that part of the habitable world wherein our

Savior conversed; in the second, all men in the world,

as some suppose (so also there is a truth in it, for

our Savior came not to condemn all men in the world:

for, first, condemnation of any was not the prime aim

of his coming; secondly, he came to save his own

people, and so not to condemn all); in the third, God's

elect, they whom he intended to save, and none else, or

he faileth of his purpose, and the endeavour of Christ

is insufficient for the accomplishment of that

whereunto it is designed.80
The following passages, for example, prove to

Calvinists how the meaning of the word "world" is to be

restricted: "The world knew Him not," (John 1:10) for surely

believers knew Him; "That all the world should be taxed,"

(Luke 2:1) for only those in the Roman Empire, and possibly

Ibid., 215.
Ibid., 194. This is a very typical argumentation in the

not even all of them, were to be taxed; "I speak to the world

those things which I have heard of Him," (John 8:26) for He

did not address the whole world only those people who lived

where He went about; "Behold the whole world is gone after

Him," (John 12:19) For not the whole world, but only a

multitude from the world went after Him, etc.81

Also Long, with other Calvinists, desires to make the

word "world" suspect. He informs us that the word is used by

John in his epistles 23 times, of which 22 occur in his first

epistle. And then he says that only twice can the word mean

"mankind generically," namely in 1 John 2:2, and in 4:14,

which both passages address the extent of the atonement.

But, because exactly the same expression, which is found from

1 John 2:2, "the whole world" is used also in 1 John 5:19,

"the whole world lieth in wickedness (in the wicked one),"

Long asks,

Can this be true of the believer who is in Christ?

Let the reader judge. If the term "whole world" in 1
John 2:2 means all mankind generically, it is an
exceptional usage in the epistle... Therefore, it is
the writer's contention that the burden of proof rests
upon those who interpret "whole world" generically to
establish that the term means all mankind in any
redemptive sense, let alone 1 John 2:2. In the
writer's research he has not found any writer who holds
to an indefinite atonement attempting to do this;
rather the term is always said to mean, in "normal and
unbiased approach," the whole world, meaning all
mankind, both the elect and non-elect.82

Ibid., 194-195.
Gary D. Long, Substitutionary Atonement, 16.

Warfield's view of the correct interpretation of 1 John

2:2 is a view termed "eschatological universalism."

According to this view John's reference made by "the whole

world" is to the future world that is saved at the second

coming of Christ. Warfield writes:

He (Christ) came into the world...that He might

save the world, and He actually saves the world. Where
the expositors have gone astray is in not perceiving
that this salvation of the world was not conceived by
John--any more than the salvation of the individual--as
accomplishing itself all at once. Jesus came to save
the world, and the world will through Him be saved; at
the end of the day He will have a saved world to
present to His Father. speaking from the
point of view of this completed work. From that point
of view He is the Savior of the world....He (John) is a
universalist; he teaches the salvation of the whole
world. But he is not an "each and every" universalist:
he is an "eschatological" universalist.83

Long agrees with Warfield, "there will be a future

world in which all the sins of that world will be taken

away," but this, however, is only one aspect which he

includes into his "ethnological" view.84 This view sees John

to have written his first epistle to the Jews dispersed among

the Gentiles and used the term "the whole world" and "world"

to mean the elect among the Gentiles in general as

distinguished from the elect among Israel. In support of the

first premise he quotes Pink who sees in John's epistle e.g.

the following "convincing reasons" in support of this

John E. Meeter, ed., Selected Shorter Writings of Benjamin
B. Waarfield (Nutley, N.J.: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing
Co., 1970-1973), 1:176-177.
Gary D. Long, Substitutionary Atonement, 25.

assumption: "an old commandment which you had from the

beginning" in 2:7 must have been addressed to Jewish

believers, of whom only it was true, for the Gentile

believers had not "an old commandment", and "the beginning"

is said to refer to "the beginning of the public

manifestation of Christ." Therefore, the "fathers" in "I

write unto you, fathers, because ye have known Him from the

beginning" (2:13), must refer to Jewish believers. The same

argument is made of, "They (antichrists) went out from us..."

(2:19), for the antichrists,

were all Jews, for during the first century none

but a Jew posed as the Messiah. Therefore, when John
says "He is the propitiation for our sins," he can only
mean for the sins of Jewish believers.85

And naturally enough with "for the sins of the whole world"

is then meant, that Christ is the propitiation also for the

sins of the Gentile elect. And, sure enough, Long wants to

pull his "strictly parallel passage"86 of John 11:51,52 to

defend his interpretation. We do not reproduce that passage

here, only may the reader check how "parallel" that passage

is, not with Long's interpretation of 2:2 (with which it

naturally agrees), but with the text itself.

"God was in Christ reconciling the world unto

Arthur W. Pink, The Atonement (Venice, Florida: Chapel
Library, n.d.), 13-14.
Gary D. Long, Substitutionary Atonement, 28.

Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them..."

2 Cor. 5:19

Here again Calvinists, concerning the extent of the

meaning of the word "world," bring their cliche87 "Does it

include all mankind absolutely without exception... or...

some of mankind relatively without distiction" to the fore,

as if the latter was Scripturally a real, viable,

possibility. Long defends his view of the limited extent of

the atonement from "the phrase which immediately follows,"

namely, "not imputing their (the world's) trespasses unto


The point should be obvious. The phrase "not

imputing their trespasses unto them" definitely means
that the "world" (whoever they are) has not its (their)
sins imputed to them; otherwise none would or could be
condemned by God for their sins. Then, does this not
require that "world" must be interpreted restrictively
in this verse?

It can not escape one's attention that Long's argument

is here based on the Calvinistic understanding of how the

atonement and its application are inseparable. If that

premise were true, then there would be something to his

argument, but as we will discuss in the Chapter III, that

premise is faulty and consequently conclusions based on it

are fallacious.

Passages containing the word "all" considered

For example, Ibid., 16, 35, 36.

"...that if one died for all, then were all dead:

and [that] He died for all, that they which live should
not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which
died for them, and rose again." (2 Cor. 5:14,15)

The Bible teaches that "All for whom Christ died, also

died in Christ. All who died in Christ rose again in

Christ". To die is to die to sin, and to rise with Him is to

rise to a life of new obedience. "The inference is

inevitable that those for whom Christ died are those and

those only who die to sin and live to righteousness." And

because it is plain that not all people thus live for Christ,

neither can we then say that "Christ died for all men." This

being so and the death of Christ constituting the atonement

"the conclusion is apparent--the death of Christ in its

specific character as atonement was for those and those only

who are in due time partakers of that new life..."88

We can not take "those who live" to be different from

the "all" for whom Christ died, for this "would bring us into
conflict with...Romans 6:5,8." "Romans 6:4-8 must be applied

to 2 Corinthians 5:14,15. Hence... 'those who live' must

have the same extent as those embraced in... 'He died for

all'." Thus Murray sees this passage to teach limited, not

unlimited atonement.

John Murray, The Atonement (Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and
Reformed Publishing Co.), p.69-72. He advances the following
Scripture to prove his point: Rom. 6:4,5,8, 9; Col. 3:3.

"But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than

the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and
honor, that He by the grace of God should taste death for
every man.... make reconciliation for the sins of the
people." Heb.2:9, 17b

On the first part of the passage i.e. on verse nine no

Calvinistic interpretation was found. The verse seventeen

they cover, if they do, where they talk of Christ's

priesthood. This aspect of the passage is already covered

elsewhere in this paper therefore we do not duplicate that


Special case of 2 Peter 2:1

"But there were false prophets also among the

people, even as there shall be false teachers among
you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even
denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon
themselves swift destruction." 2 Pet. 2:1

This is the only passage in the New Testament where it

is explicitly stated that Christ bought also them who

eventually will perish, therefore, understandably, much

interpretation goes into explaining it in order to

accommodate it into the Calvinistic system.

Long desires, from the words "the Lord"

and "bought" to show how the Lord, actually,

did not buy them in a redemptive sense, or to that matter,

buy them in any sense of the word at all. First, says he,

is used,
ten times in the New Testament. But never does it
refer to the Father or to the Son as a mediator unless

2 Pet. 2:1 be the exception. And if this be the case,

the burden of proof rests upon those who wish to make
it the exception, does it not?... It is completely
ignored that is never used as a
redemptive title for anyone,...89

Long makes his second point out of the word

Concerning this second Greek word and the issue

whether or not is to be understood redemptively
or non-redemptively, the following points should be
made. First, in the Greek Septuagint and its
related noun forms are used some twenty times to
translate three Hebrew words ( and
); yet it is never used to translate the two
great redemptive words--those translated "redeem" (
and "ransom" or "purchase" ( ). Second, of its
thirty occurrences in the New Testament, is
never used in a salvation context (unless 2 Pet. 2:1 is
the exception) without the technical term "price" (
--a technical term for the blood of Christ) or its
equivalent being stated or made explicit in the context
(see 1 Cor. 6:20; 7:23; Rev. 5:9; 14:3-4). Third, in
each of the latter five references the context clearly
restricts the extent of (regardless of what it
means) to believers--never to non-believers. Fourth, a
word study of , in both the Greek Old and New
Testaments, reveals that the word itself does not
include the payment price. When it is translated with
a meaning "to buy," whether in a salvation or non-
salvation context, a payment price is always stated or
made explicit by the context. Fifth, in contexts where
no payment price is stated or implied, may
often be better translated as "acquire" or "obtain."
Sixth, is never used in Scripture in a
hypothetical sense unless 2 Pet. 2:1 be the exception.
Rather it is always used in a context where the buying
or acquiring actually takes place.90

Long dismisses, on the basis of his own study, as

weaker, other Calvinists' "Christian charity" view of 2 Pet.

2:1. According to this view Peter wrote the way he did, out

of the Christian charity, on the basis of the false teachers'

Gary D. Long, Substitutionary Atonement, p. 50.
Ibid., 51-52.

outward profession, "not that in reality this redemption is

true of the false teachers."91 Likewise Long prefers his own

view over the non-soteriological "temporal deliverance" view,

(although it, just as the Christian charity view, can, given

certain conditions, be compatible with his own view) held by

some other five-point Calvinists, who say that

Peter is speaking of the false teachers, not in respect

to the reality of eternal redemption but that, by their
professing to be believers... they are temporally
(physically) delivered from the pollutions of the

Long's own view regarding the correct interpretation of

the passage is termed "the sovereign creation" view. This,

obviously, is likewise a non-soteriological interpretation of

the passage. It sees the text as "referring to the creation

of the false teachers by Christ their sovereign Lord." Long

cites "four significant points that support this view."

First, that this view gives to the words and

their "proper significance," as covered above. Second,

that Peter "intentionally alludes to the phrase "thy father

that hath bought thee" in Deuteronomy 32:6, which words are

immediately followed by "hath He not made thee, and

established thee?"

The three Hebrew words translated "bought," "made" and

"established" are significant in the sovereign creation
view for, in the Hebrew, they mean, in context, "to
acquire," "to make" or "to constitute" and "to
Ibid., 55-57.
Ibid., 58.

establish" a nation. The meaning of the Greek

Septuagint translation of these three words is
"acquire," "make" and "establish" ("create"-- this is
Codex Alexandrinus' translation for "establish"--Greek
) Although the Greek word translated "bought"
or "acquire" in Deut. 32:6 is and
a word study of these two terms reveals that they are
closely related and used interchangably in both the Old
and New Testaments.93

Therefore Long feels that "a strong case can be

established... to substantiate that Peter's allusion to

Deuteronomy 32:6" is to make that passage and his, parallel,

in that, just as he "bought (acquired)" the covenant nation

Israel ("including 'His children' as well as the 'spot' among

them which was 'a perverse and crooked generation' ") from

Egypt, "made and established them to be a covenant people,"

just so "Christ... acquired the false teachers in order to

make them a part of the covenant nation of God in the flesh

because He had created them... for the purpose of bringing

glory to Himself through their foreordainment unto

Long's case in its totality largely rests on the

following argument:

The fact that in Peter's use of Deuteronomy 32:6

he refers only to "bought," the first of the three
words in the phrase "bought, make and establish," is
explained by the manner in which New Testament writers
commonly allude to Old Testament references without
directly quoting them. Peter, therefore, only refers
to the first word, "bought," using it as a summary for
all three words to stress the idea of creating and
Ibid., 61.
Ibid., 61-63.

acquiring Israel as a covenant nation as the context of

Deuteronomy 32 teaches.95

Third, Long feels his sovereign creation view to be

supported by the context in both 2 Pet. 2 (especially the

verse 12) and Jude 4-19.

A fourth and final reason is that "it is illogical to

say that Christ died... for those foreordained unto


The Extent of God's Saving Will

We will not here meet with anything terribly new. Same

kinds of arguments, based on the same premises as was the

case on the above sections, are found here. Therefore, we

see no need to greatly expand on this section, but briefly

cover the main passages referred to, by Calvinists and

others, under this head.

"...God our Savior, who will have all men to be

saved, and to come unto the knowledge of truth. For

there is one God, and one mediator between God and men

the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all

to be testified in due time." 1 Tim. 2:3b-6.

First, Calvinists divide God's will into "His will

intending, and His will commanding, or rather,... (1) For His

purpose, what He will do; (2) For His approbation of what we

Ibid., 61-62.
Ibid., 63.

do, with His command thereof."97 Owen then takes this

premise granted, and urges his opponents to choose according

to which will, of the two, God here wills. Owen is inclined

to see the will of God here in the second sense, but explains

it in both senses so as to have its effectual application

only to the elect. In the first case, he says, if it is

according to

voluntate signi, with His will commanding,

requiring, approving, then the sense of the words is
this: "God commandeth all men to use the means whereby
they may obtain the end, or salvation,...and so it is
the same with that of the apostle in another place,
"God commandeth all men everywhere to repent." Now if
this be the way whereby God willeth the salvation of
all here mentioned, then certainly those all can
possibly be no more than to whom He granteth and
revealeth the means of grace,...
Secondly, If the will of God be taken for His
efficacious will, the will of His purpose and good
pleasure,... then certainly it must be fulfilled, and
all those saved whom he would have saved... therefore,
if these all here be all and every one... then one of
these two things must of necessity follow: either that
God faileth His purpose and intention, or else that all
men universally shall be saved.98
Now, since neither of the two alternatives is not, or

can not, be true, therefore, Owen says we are forced to

realize that the "all men" mentioned in the passage must mean

"some or many of all sorts, that is, all sorts of men," in

other words "all men without distinction," but not "all men

without exception." And he feels that the context, where the

John Owen, Death of Death in the Death of Christ, pp. 232-
Ibid., 232.

apostle urges that, "supplications, prayers, intercessions,

and giving of thanks, be made for all men, for kings, and for

all that are in authority..." supports his view, the apostle

himself showing that,

by all men he understandeth men of all sorts, ranks,

conditions, and orders, by distributing those all into
several kinds, expressly mentioning some of them, as
"kings and all in authority." Not unlike that
expression we have in Jeremiah 29:1,2, "Nebuchadnezzar
carried away all the people captive to Babylon,... the
king, and the queen, and the eunuchs, the princes...,
the carpenters, and the smiths,..." where all the
people is interpreted to be some of all sorts, by a
distribution of them into the several orders, classes,
and conditions whereof they were.99

Some Passages Calvinists Say Imply Limited Atonement

Here we need only summarize their case, for all

these passages are of the same nature, and at least on the

surface would seem to indicate limited extent of the

atonement. These are the passages which state that,

Christ gave Himself for His people (Matt.1:21), for His

friends (John 15:13), for His sheep (John 10:15), for
His church (Eph. 5:23-26; Acts 20:28)100

and thus not for those who are not His people, or are

His enemies, or wolves, or are not part of the Church,

respectively. This is another Calvinists' argument for the

definite redemption, and the last one covered in this paper.

Ibid., 234.
Gary D. Long, Definite Atonement, 33; R. B. Kuiper, For
Whom Did Christ Died? (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1959), 64.

There is no need to expand on this their contention for it

is simple enough for the above brief statement to cover its




Atonement & the Love of God and Revelation

vs. Sovereignty of God

Before we begin, it must be said from the outset that

we have no pleasure in the unscriptural Arminian system of

theology. Being synergistic, it does not afford comfort to a

sinner regardless of their doctrine of universal atonement.

For wherever something remains to be done on man's part in

the matter of salvation before its complete, one can, at the

most, hope to be saved, but as to certainty of one's

salvation, it is nowhere to be found if it does not rest

solely on Christ. Furthermore, Calvinists are indeed

justified in their criticism of Arminian system of theology

in saying that they teach redemption which does not redeem,

atonement which does not atone etc. for those statements are

true in view of Arminian synergism. However, there is no

need, nor is it correct, to counter Arminian heresy with

another one in the terms of limited or definite atonement, or

as it is also called, particular redemption. This provides

sufficient "prologue" for the Lutheran position.

The starting point in the Lutheran theology is not, as

is the case in Calvinism, however true it is in itself, the

sovereignty of God. And how, indeed, could or should it be

the beginning point for any healthy theology, for who can

tell what the sovereignty of God means for us? Can not God,

in His sovereignty, limit the scope of His activity? Could

He possibly have (as some Calvinists indeed say He could

have) saved us by some other means, but through Christ?

Could He have answered Jesus' petition, "Abba, Father, all

things are possible unto Thee; take away this cup from

me;..." (Mark. 14:36) in the affirmative? Even Jesus' prayer

seems to imply that He could have. But He did not! He

surely, in His sovereignty, limited His sovereignty.101 He

Or, maybe we should say that His righteousness limited His
sovereignty, His righteousness demanding that a due penalty and

did not do what He, theoretically at least, could have done.

Not even at the expense of His Son's suffering and death.

Also He allowed Lazarus to die, Job to suffer, Israel be

defeated. His Ark stolen, Judas perish etc. Which all things

again He could, in His sovereignty, have prevented. But

again there were many other attributes to God, for example,

His righteousness and love, which dictated otherwise. God is

not all sovereignty, even though He is all-sovereign. One

can not emphasize sovereignty of God at the expense of other

attributes of God. The Bible nowhere says that God in His

sovereignty sent Jesus to redeem the elect, but that God in

His love toward the world sent His Son.

punishment should be executed on the fallen mankind, and then

deciding to execute it in a substitu- tionary sufferer, Jesus
Christ. And also we could say that His love toward the fallen
humanity limited, or at least guided, His sovereignty.

The important distinction is to be made between what

God wills and what He allows. God does not intrinsically

will the death of a wicked, but allows it if he does not

repent and believe.102

Calvinists say that we can judge from results what the

Lord's sovereign will was. We think not. When His Son

suffered, was the very suffering itself intrinsically God's

will? We think not, for else we could accuse God for being a

sadist, which thought is surely abominable, nay, even more, a

sheer blasphemy. Was it not because of the fruit of His

suffering -- especially the redemption of the fallen mankind

-- why it all happened through God's love, "For God so loved

the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that..."103,

and righteousness,

...For all sinned and came short of the glory of God,

being justified freely by His grace through the
redemption that is in Christ Jesus whom God hath set
forth [as] a propitiation through faith in His blood,
to declare His righteousness...104

What about the election? Was it God's will

intrinsically that most should perish? We think not, for

again we could accuse God for being a sadist. Was it not

because of the fruit of the election--the salvation of the

elect--His desire to save at least the elect! Certainly so.

Ezek. 18:1-32; 33:7-19.
John 3:16.
Rom. 3:23-25a.

The Bible, God's Word, even with the words, "God is

Love,"105 leaves us no other alternative to entertain, for

those words describe, not God's inclination toward some (the

elect), but His very nature, and His nature, being the nature

of His Being, must apply to all in an equal manner. Now,

obviously there is this other side to God, namely His

righteousness. However, these two sides of His nature, love

and righteousness, can not exclude each other nor be in any

tension, but it is loving to be righteous, and it is

righteous to love. Those people then, who spurn His love in

Christ fall under His righteous judgement.106 These things

we can find from the Word, but as to implications of His

sovereignty, or His hidden will, those things we can not find

from the Word, but can only comfort ourselves in knowing that

His sovereignty or hidden will can not betray the nature of

His Being. There might be some seeming contradictions

between God's hidden will and the will revealed in the Word,

1 John 4:8.
This is the Lutheran distinction between the antecedent, or
first, will (voluntas antecedens, voluntas prima) and the
consequent, or second, will (voluntas consequens, voluntas
secunda) of God. According to the former God desires in earnest to
save all men through faith in Christ, and according to the latter
condemn all who refuse to believe in Christ. This distinction is
based for example on John 3:14-21. Francis Pieper, Christian
Dogmatics, 2:36-38.
From the Old Testament also we know that God delivered all
Israelites from Egypt, but yet destroyed those who did not trust
in Him. Accordingly the apostle in the New Testament warns us not
to tempt God or Christ, or fall away from grace. (1 Cor. 10:1-12;
Gal. 5:4).

but that is all they are, seeming contradictions.

Therefore we can see that we are not able to tell what

God's sovereignty can mean to us. We can not simplistically

judge it from the results.107 Does it have to mean that the

Atonement had to be limited in its extent? We think not.

Does it have to mean that the Atonement had to be universal

in its extent? We think not. We can not tell. We can not

tell what God's sovereignty has to mean.108 What then can we

know? Only that which God has been pleased to reveal to us

in His Word; further we can not, and dare not go. Else we

walk on a sea of doubts, on a swamp of human opinions.

God could in His sovereignty have provided the world

with the universal atonement, but save only those, the elect,

in whose heart He works faith in it. And this is indeed what

we believe the Word teaches, not only clearly, but also


Therefore the heart and core of the revelation of God

in the Scripture, namely the revelation and manifestation of

God Himself, and His love, in and through His Son Jesus

There are many events that have taken place in the Biblical
history which the Scripture says God was not an author of. Matter
in fact, nothing sinful can be attributed to God, yet sin was, and
is, rampant in the world. To take just one example, false
prophets preached though God had not sent them (Ezek. 13).
Nor should we study it in vacuum, i.e. without taking into
account other attributes of God. And in the New Testament, with
regard of the atonement, it surely talks more about the love and
righteousness of God than of His sovereignty.

Christ toward the fallen world (and not the sovereignty of

God), has to be, not only the beginning point, but all

permeating teaching of all who desire to be Biblical.109

Calvinists also include God's love as the prime

motivation of God to provide the atonement. One Calvinist

author even states, that "the free love of God in Jesus

Christ is the starting point for Calvin's doctrine of the

atonement."110 However, when we look closer to that love of

God, we soon find, that it is "the free, sovereign,

distinguishing love of God,"111 that the Calvinists mean.

Peterson explains himself right before the above quote: "One

must go all the way back to the eternal counsels of the

triune God to reach the primary source of Calvin's doctrine

of Christ's work." Therefore, God's love to Calvinists is

that which made Him predestine the elect to salvation. For

them John 3:16 reads: "For God so loved the elect...," and we

John 14:8,9; 1 John 4:10.
Robert A. Peterson, Calvin's Doctrine of the Atonement
(Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co.,
1983), 1. He dismisses Christology and the doctrine of sin as
Calvin's starting point for his theology, and does not even
mention (not at least directly) that sovereignty of God would be
his starting point.
Gary D. Long, Definite Atonement (Nutley: Presbyterian and
Reformed Publishing Co., 1976), 8. Also see John Murray, The
Atonement (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing
Co., -), p. 10. We quote: "The purpose to redeem is of the free
and sovereign exercise of His love."

could continue, "and hated the others, that..."112 The fact

that John, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit,

did not write thus is dismissed by their sophistry.113

It is a total heresy and also unreasonable and against

all reason to distinguish between the revealed (voluntas

signi) and hidden will (voluntas beneplaciti) of God in such

a way as to make them contradictory to each other in any

point as some Calvinists surely do, namely those who say that

"the former is to be interpreted according to the latter."114

If that indeed were the case then we could not trust in

anything in the Word, but should always wonder if God's

hidden will is different than His will, no matter what

subject it concerns, revealed in the Scriptures.115

Lutherans do desire to harken to the commanding

exhortation which the Father spoke concerning Jesus Christ:

Gary North, 75 Bible Questions (Tyler, Texas: Spurgeon
Press, 1984), pp. 17, 18.
By "sophistry" this writer means that Calvinistic
disposition which does not take the text of Scripture as it is
written, but inserts into, adds, changes and manipulates it, with
a show of being Scriptural, according to their human reason so as
to make it agree with their preconceived ideas of what the
Scripture must mean.
See p. 27.
And in the Scripture Christ has revealed the Father's will,
"This is the will of Him that sent me, that every one which seeth
the Son and believeth on Him may have everlasting life..." (John

"This is my beloved Son: Hear Him."116 And then to Jesus'

words to His apostles: "He that heareth you, heareth Me; and

he that despiseth you despiseth Me; and he that despiseth Me

despiseth Him who sent Me."117 Thus the written Word of God

becomes the ultimate and the only authority for doctrine and,

consequently, of practice.118

It is our contention that orthodoxy is not secured by

imposing some preconceived ideas, human reason, or some

logical reductions (even if they were from Biblical state-

ments) on the Scripture, but indeed by hearing the Word on

its own merits, whether conclusions then are seemingly

contradictory or not, for, after all, as is the case with the

Cross so also it is with the theology of the Cross, as it is

written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will

bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent."119 The

only way to remain on 'track' is to adhere to the Word just

as we have it written without any of our import into it. If

this were not the case how could Christ, one time after

another, have said with authority: "It has been written." If

the plain text had and would not suffice, it had been for

Luke 9:35.
Luke 10:16.
The Book of Concord, ed. Theodore Tappert (Philadelphia:
Fortress Press, 1959), Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration,
Introduction, 505.9.
1 Cor. 1:19.

Christ, and would be for us, a total futility to quote

Scripture. If the true understanding of any given text could

be derived only after much imposition of our thoughts and

insertion of our words into it, which insertions supposedly

are dictated by some other passages of Scripture, the proper

meaning of which one again would need to derive from some

other text or texts, and so forth, who could then anymore say

what the Bible teaches!? And also, if the above procedure

would need to be followed, then to derive any meaning, real

or unreal, out of the Scripture at all, one would have to be

a well educated theologian, but to ordinary people the Bible

would remain totally senseless book, with no reading value.

Thus we would be back to the dark ages when the church

claimed that it only can interpret the Scripture. But one of

the key tenets of the Reformation120 was that the Word is

open to every individual alike so that they can come to know

the truth by plain reading of it, by adhering to the plain

text thereof.121

Neither will it do for us to connect parallel passages,

Sola Scriptura, by Scripture alone.
But at least some of our great Calvinistic theologians
esteem such an approach childish. When Arminians took the word
"world" (e.g. in John 3:16) to mean "world", they were called
"poor pretenders" who "are indeed very children" to the right
understanding of the word and then consequently also of the Word,
where the word is contained. John Owen, The Death of Death in
the Death of Christ. (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust,
1985), 205. Subsequently John Owen reinterprets the word "world,"
and ends up with the meaning "elect" for that word; p. 213.

or compare Scripture with Scripture, at random, the way the

Calvinists tend to do,122 but there needs to be the same

subject matter, or at least very much related issues, in all

passages that we want to bring to bear in formulating any

doctrine. More could, and maybe should, be said here, but

let this now suffice.123

Lutheran theology is then developed from the centre,

who is the Christ, out, so that all doctrines have their

connection to Him, who indeed is called "The Word of God" in

For example Gary D. Long in his book Substitutionary
Atonement; a Study of Three Key Problem Passages on the Extent of
the Atonement (Sterling, VA: Grace Abounding Printers, 1977), 32-
33, makes a distinction between "soteric" and "cosmic"
reconciliations (the former meaning the reconciliation of the
elect through Christ, the latter the reconciliation of the non-
rational creation through Christ), and writes,

Soteric or saving reconciliation has special reference to

reconciling mankind in their lost estate (see Rom. 5:8-11;
Eph. 2:13-18; 2 Cor. 5:18-20; Col. 1:21-23), not with
reconciliation in its cosmic or world-wide non-rational
creation aspect which includes the compulsive submission of
all enemies of Christ and the removal of the curse upon the
whole creation (see Col. 1:20; Rom. 8:18-23; 1 Cor. 15:24-

If one only examines the passages referred to, he can find

under the same head (here reconciliation) a mixing together of
passages which address the atonement or reconciliation with those
where "all enemies" will be put "under His feet."
When this kind of a treatment of Scripture then generally
serves as a basis on which, or a premise from which they do their
exegesis, no wonder what conclusions are arrived at.
For further reading see Francis Pieper, Christian Dogmatics
(St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1950), 1:3-359 for
sections on "The Nature and Character of Theology", and "Holy
Scripture." Also Jacob A. O. Preus, It is Written, (St. Louis:
Concordia Publishing House, 1971).

the Scriptures.124

Other Calvinistic General Objections Answered

Redemption and its Application

Calvinist's view that application of the redemption and

the redemption itself are intrinsic and therefore inseparable

is not true. When the Abolition of slavery125 was declared

in America it did not end the slavery overnight for various

reasons, one of which surely was that slaves did not quite

believe it, or did not know how to use their freedom, and

some desired to remain slaves for the rest of their lives,

even if they knew they were free by the virtue of the

declaration.126 Likewise it can be with Christ's atoning

death and its declaration as far as non-elect, and the elect

until that they believe, are concerned. For it is only in

God's design of salvation of the elect that the atonement and

its application are intrinsic and therefore inseparable.

This, however, does not mean that salvation is intrinsic to

the atonement or redemption and therefore must follow for

John 1:1-14; Rev. 19:13.
Redemption here was done by the change of law.
We realize that this illustration is not, nor any
illustration indeed can be, parallel to what God did in Christ,
but it serves only as an illustration of the point we desire to
make, which point obviously, to have any validity, is to be based
on Scripture and not on any illustration.

everyone redeemed, but as said, they are that only as far as

God's design of salvation of the elect is concerned.

Calvinists say that redemption which is not applied is no

redemption at all, whereas they should say, that design of

salvation which is not executed is no salvation at all. But

God's design of salvation of the elect, which we find from

the Scriptures, includes both, redemption in Christ which

actually redeems and its application to the elect in

imparting them faith in it through the Gospel by the Holy

Spirit. Both are actions of God.

There is a grave problem with the Calvinistic

presupposition described above, because, by implication, it

does away with faith.127 This is not seen by Calvinists to

be the case, but the following "For whom did Christ die?"

will make it evident for all, that it is so.

"For Whom did Christ die?"

"For Whom did Christ die?", is John Owen's riddle which

Calvinists are fond of quoting in their books128 and verbal

That Calvinist theology, where it is consistent, because of
its denial of the universal redemption, does away also with the
means of grace which create faith, is conclusively shown in
Francis Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, 3:118-122.
" is needful to restate Owen's classic argument for
particular redemption. It has been over three hundred years since
it was penned, and it is the writer's firm opinion that, to date,
no one has been able to refute it scripturally. It is seriously
doubted that any shall ever refute it unless the Scripture be
rewritten. Owen wrote:..." Gary D. Long, Definite Atonement, 33-


The Father imposed His wrath due unto, and the Son
underwent punishment for, either:

1. All the sins of all men.

2. All the sins of some men, or
3. Some of the sins of all men.

In which case it may be said:

a. That if the last be true, all men have some

sins to answer for, and so none are saved.

b. That if the second be true, then Christ, in

their stead suffered for all the sins of all the
elect in the whole world, and this is the truth.

c. But if the first be the case, why are not all

men free from the punishment due unto their sins?

You answer, Because of unbelief. I ask, Is this

unbelief a sin, or is it not? If it be, then Christ
suffered the punishment due unto it, or He did not. If
He did, why must that hinder them more than their other
sins for which He died? If He did not, He did not die
for all their sins!129

Our reply: Here Owen will become a victim of his own

logic and sophistry: We say: If the second be true, then

according to his own reply to the first case, the elect need

not believe, for Christ answered also for that sin of the

elect, for He "in their stead suffered for all the sins of

all the elect in the whole world," so therefore why should

John Owen, Death of Death in the Death of Christ, 137 This
has then by the proponents, besides having been profusely quoted
in their books and lectures, been printed separately, in an edited
format, on little sheets of paper for handy distribution. It is
in this external format that we have quoted the text.
This same presupposition elaborated on here, which is one of
the key premises of Calvinists, is reiterated time after another
in Owen's own book (e.g. pp. 227-228) and obviously also in those
of other Calvinists.

the sin of unbelief "hinder them more than their other sins

for which He died?" For "If He did not, He did not die for

all their sins!" If his refutation of the universalists'

position holds true, then likewise this our refutation of the

particularists' position must meet with acceptance for it was

based squarely on the same premise for precisely the same

reasons. Calvinists might desire to exclaim, "Of course they

are to have faith!" This would put them, at least, into

partial agreement with us. But this position is not where

Owen's logic, if systematically followed, leads.

The above is an example of the kind of material one

finds from Calvinists' books.130 When they say that "how

could rejection of Christ, in other words, unbelief, be the

only condemning sin?" they are ignoring the Scripture which

specifically states that to be the only condemning sin,

"...but he that believeth not is condemned already, because

he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of

God." (John 3:18) "If ye believe not that I am (he), ye

shall die in your sins."(John 8:24) "And ye will not come to

me, that ye might have life." (John 5:40) "This is the will

of Him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son and

So also Warfield, "...if it [unbelief] is sin, is it not
like other sins, covered by the death of Christ?... surely it
would be very odd if the sin of rejection of Redeemer were the
only condemning sin,..." John E. Meeter, ed., Selected Shorter
Writings of Benjamin B. Warfield (Nutley, NJ: Presbyterian and
Reformed Publishing Co., 1970-1973), 1:172.

believeth in Him may have everlasting life..." (John 6:40)

Did Christ die for those already in hell?

It is apparent, as also the Calvinists themselves must

admit, that if it so be that Christ died for those who

eventually will end up in hell, then by the same token, He

likewise died for those who were there before His suffering.

And this for the very same reason why He died for all those

also who ultimately will perish. This reason then must be,

which also has been suggested by others, (and which reason

rises from the Scriptures, and not, as is the case with

Calvinists - from human reason), God's faithfulness and


For what if some did not believe? Shall their

unbelief make the faith [i.e. faithfulness] of God
without effect? God forbid: yea, let God be true, but
every man a liar; as it is written, That Thou mightest
be justified in Thy sayings, and mightest overcome when
Thou art judged. (Rom. 3:3,4)
This passage is spoken in the context of the rejection

of Israel as a special status nation,131 therefore someone

might object of taking these words to apply to people in

general. However, may it be carefully noted, that the

apostle here does not set forth some special case with regard

to Israel, but a general principle of God's justice

This is: If they, or any individual in that nation, believe
not in Christ, they are condemned as any other man.

applicable also to Israel.132

Note also carefully wherein God can be found justified:

"in Thy sayings." And, for us, His "sayings" are recorded in

the Scripture. Therefore when the Word says that, Christ

died for all; That Christ is the propitiation for the sins of

the whole world; How God in Christ reconciled the whole world

unto Himself, and so forth, these are sayings of God wherein

He will be found justified. No condemned can accuse or judge

God and say that the redemption was not for them, for God has

spoken of it in universal terms. Calvinists object and say

that God had no compelling need whatsoever as far as His

justice goes to provide redemption for any, and therefore

those who were not redeemed have nothing wherewith to accuse

God of injustice even though they were left out. Now, this

sounds plausible for the human reason, but God has indicated

otherwise in His Word wherefrom we can find that He has

provided universal redemption. We ask, who has the greater

understanding of what God's justice demands, Calvinists or

God Himself?

Atonement and Doctrine of Trinity

The Calvinistic unity-of-Trinity scheme does not stand.

There surely is unity of will in the Godhead, but that does

This "as it is written" quote of the apostle's comes from
Psalm 51:4 where it also, indeed, is a general principle of God's

not result in the doctrine of particular redemption. Why

could not God, in unity of the will of the Persons, have

desired to 1) Save all in Christ, and therefore 2) Redeem all

in Christ, and 3) Seriously offer the salvation to all in

Christ, and finally 4) Allow His design of salvation to be

resisted when He works, not in His majesty, but through the

means of the Word and Sacraments to accomplish his desire to

save all? When this approach is taken we do not need to

twist the Scripture, add, insert or impose on it anything our

own, but can take it as it is written.

Someone might say, Why does the Lord overcome the

resistance of the elect when He works through the means, but

not the resistance of others. To this we may only respond

with Luther:

...Thus, He does not 'will the death of a sinner,'

that is, in His Word; but He wills it by that will
inscrutable. But in the present case, we are to
consider His Word only, and to leave that will
inscrutable; seeing that, it is by His Word, and not by
that will inscrutable, that we are to be guided; for
who can direct himself according to a will inscrutable
and incomprehensible? It is enough to know only, that
there is in God a certain will inscrutable: but what,
why, and how far that will wills, it is not lawful to
inquire, to wish to know, to be concerned about, or to
reach unto--it is only to be feared and adored!
Therefore it is rightly said, 'if God does not
desire our death, it is to be laid to the charge of our
own will, if we perish:' this, I say, is right, if you
speak of God PREACHED. For He desires that all men
should be saved, seeing that, He comes unto all by the
word of salvation, and it is the fault of the will
which does not receive Him: as He saith. (Matt. 23:37)
"How often would I have gathered thy children
together, and thou wouldest not!" But WHY that Majesty

does not take away or change this fault of the will IN

ALL, seeing that, it is not in the power of man to do
it; or why He lays that to the charge of the will,
which the man cannot avoid, it becomes us not to
inquire, and though you should inquire much, yet you
will never find out: as Paul saith, (Rom. 9:20,) "Who
art thou that repliest against God!"133

Atonement and High Priestly Office of Christ

Christ's High Priestly Office, in a special way, at

least as far as certain aspects of it are concerned, pertains

only to His people namely to those who are in Him. As we saw

above, only those who believe in Him, are, through that

faith, in Him. Even those of the elect who, as yet, do not

believe in Him, are not in Him. But are "enemies of God,"

"sinners," and "ungodly", in a word, such as need yet be

called out of the world. (For example Rom. 5:6,8,10) It is

true that Christ prayed "for them also who shall believe on

me through their word," (John 17:20) but there the reference

was to the future when they would believe in Him, and nothing

is prayed for them as pertaining to this present time, this

is clear from "who shall believe," together with the purpose

clause of the prayer, which is connected immediately to it,

namely, "that they all may be one." They can not be one with

believers until such a time when they believe. Thus we see

that Christ's high priestly prayer has to do only with those

who do presently believe, and therefore does not cover even

Martin Luther, The Bondage of the Will, tr. Henry Cole
(Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1977 reprint), 173.

the elect until that they believe. This, of course, is not

to say that Christ, in His priestly office, had not at times

included even unbelievers as objects of for whom He offered

prayers to God.134

It is the Father who does the calling. He calls people

to become partakers of His grace in Christ: "All whom the

Father giveth me shall come to me..." (John 6:37); "...they

shall all be taught of God. Every man therefore that hath

heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me." (John

6:45) (Note: Not only heard, but also learned)

"...he that believeth not God hath made Him a

liar, because he believeth not the record that God gave
of His Son. And this is the record, that God hath
given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son."
(1 John 5:10b,11)

Therefore, when the Bible speaks of "His people" in the

New Testament it always means those who presently believe.135

And it is for them that He intercedes in terms of

intercessio specialis as found example in John 17. In

For example in Luke 23:34. But distinction is made by old
theologians between intercessio generalis and intercessio
specialis, which concern unbelievers and believers, respectively.
Francis Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, 2:382.
For example in Acts 18:10 when Jesus says to Paul, "Be not
afraid, but speak, . . . for I am with thee, and not man shall
set on thee to hurt thee, for I have much people in this city,"
He did not with those "people" whom He had in that city mean all
the elect that resided there, but only those who believed in Him.
It is clear that those who are of the elect, but do not yet
believe, are not at all useful to Christ, but are feared by His
people, just as Saul was until he believed.

Hebrews 7:25 it says, "Wherefore He is able also to save them

to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever

liveth to make intercession for them." Whom is He able to

save? "Them... that come unto God by Him." This can happen

only in faith, for no one can come unto God by Him except by

faith. "But without faith it is impossible to please God,

for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and..."

(Heb. 11:6) And it is then "for them" who have come to Him,

that "He ever liveth to make intercession."

Calvinists make much of Christ, according to His High

Priestly office, dying for "sins," and not for "sin" of the

people,136 whereas the truth of the matter is that both,

Christ dying for "sin," and for "sins" are affirmed in the

Scripture. One example of Christ dying for "sin," is well

known, "Behold, the Lamb of God who taketh (or, beareth) away

the sin ( ) of the world." (John 1:29)

Thus the Calvinists' arguments from the High Priestly

office of Christ do not stand.

All of the above general objections of Calvinists,

which are the most important ones they have to offer, against

the doctrine of universal extent of the atonement, are

nothing but unscriptural human logic and sophistry. If we

were to answer all the objections against the universal

For example, Gary D. Long, Definite Atonement, 29.

atonement which their human reason, which has a show of being

Scriptural, sets forth, we would fail of both time and paper.

Only let the reader himself be aware of this type of

material their pages are flooded with and we are saved of the

trouble of refuting all the obvious intellectual, academic,

rational Calvinistic heresies. It is only a lip service they

pay to the authority of the Scriptures, for if they would,

but read, as it is written, they would see it to themselves,

that, for one thing, Christ died even for them. And thereby

be delivered from such a self examination that they engage

themselves with, so as to see if there are certain, right

"vibrations"137 there, which would allow them to judge

themselves to be of the elect and thereby have certainty of

salvation. That certainty, though, cannot but falter having

been based on something in man be it ever so precious and

indispensable as faith is, yet it can not serve as the basis

of the certainty of one's salvation. For faith in itself is

nothing, but only the gift which it receives, which gift has

its foundation, not on man, but on God and His work in

Christ. Faith saves, not because it in itself is something,

See Chapter I, pp. 1, 2. Also one of their theologians said
in his recent lecture: "The foundation of our whole salvation is
eroded if Peter has Christ die for him, and Judas has Christ die
for him, and Judas finally wounds up in hell. How can we be sure
we won't?... We can not look at a man in hell and ever be sure
that we are not going to wound up there unless we look into
ourselves and find something there that the fellow who went to
hell didn't have." (Emphasis is ours.)

but because of what it receives. And it is then this gift

that changes man's life.

Lutheran understanding of the doctrines of grace

The doctrines of grace in the Lutheran Church are then

as follows:138

1) Justification. Justification of a sinner before God

has two aspects to it. These are called Objective (or,

General) Justification,139 and Subjective (or, Personal)

Justification. The Objective Justification concerns all,

every and each individual of all times and is the very fruit

of the saving work of Christ whereby all people were

reconciled with God, whereby the sins of the whole world were

no longer imputed to them, but were, in other words, forgiven

in Christ. Forgiven, because all our sins, indeed the sins of

the whole world, were on Him on the Cross and for the sake of

which He died.140 We do believe in atonement which atones,

For further reading on these areas, see Francis Pieper's
three volume Christian Dogmatics.
For further reading see, George Stoeckhardt, "General
Justification," Concordia Theological Quarterly, 42 (April,
1978): 139-144; Theodore Mueller, "Justification: Basic
Linguistic Aspects and the Art of Communicating It," Concordia
Theological Quarterly, 46 (January, 1982): 21-38; E. W. A.
Koehler, "Objective Justification," Concordia Theological
Monthly, 16 (April, 1945), 217-235.
John 3:16-17; 4:42; 6:33, 51; 12:32; 2 Cor. 5:14, 15,19; 1
Tim. 1:15; 2:4-6,10; Titus 2:11; 1 John 2:2; 4:9,10,14 and the
like passages.

in redemption which redeems, in reconciliation which

reconciles and in propitiation which propitiates, only it all

is in Christ as the Scripture teaches.141

Each and every individual can then have this

forgiveness which is in Christ as soon as he, as well,

through faith, is in Him.142 The Bible, then, teaches that

only the believers are in Him. Therefore, and as is very

plain from the Scriptures, it is by faith in Christ, and by

faith alone (sola fide), that we are in Him and receive the

forgiveness of our sins. This, for convenience's sake,

Lutherans call "Subjective Justification."

This faith of an individual, which appropriates Christ,

For example Ephesians chapter one: "God... who hath blessed
us with all spiritual blessings... in Christ" (v.3); "...He hath
made us accepted in the Beloved. In whom we have redemption..."
(v.6, 7) "all things in Christ..." (v.10) "In whom we have
obtained inheritance..." (v.11) "...who trusted in Christ..."
(v.12) "In whom ye also whom also... ye were sealed
with that Holy Spirit of promise,..." (v.13) It is also very
telling that the Epistle started with "to the faithful in Christ
Jesus:" (v.1) The redemption is in Christ; therefore only those
who are in Him have redemption. The whole world, even though
redeemed in Christ, do not have the redemption but only those who
through faith are in Him, in Him in whom the redemption is.
Paul writes to Timothy: "Therefore I endure all things for
the elect's sake, that they may also obtain the salvation which is
in Christ Jesus with eternal glory." 2 Tim. 2:10 And in John
3:16 the matter is made very plain: "For God so loved the world,
that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in
Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." The same truth
is also in the previous verse: "That whosoever believeth in Him
should not perish, but have eternal life." The eternal life, the
salvation, the atonement, the redemption, which is in Christ can
be had by believing in Him. It is true that it is God's work in
its totality to impart faith, but this fact ought not make us do
away with faith which is indispensable to salvation.

and with Him all that we have in Him, is not a work and does

not add anything to the redeeming work of Christ, but merely

personally receives the forgiveness which Christ earned,

bought and merited for all so that it can have it.

It was God the Father who in His great love sent Jesus

on earth to redeem us.

2) Nature of man. All men, in an equal measure, since

the Fall, are under sin, totally depraved, spiritually dead,

and enemies of God. No man therefore is able to approach

God, but have an inclination only to evil. Man is not even

able to "decide" to believe in Jesus Christ and thereby be

saved, but only if God gives it to him.

3) Conversion. Because of this corrupted state that

every man is in, God has to do the whole work of converting

people from sin, darkness and spiritual death into

righteousness, light and spiritual life which things for us

are in Christ. This God's work is sola gratia, by grace

alone, and this work God does through the Word by the Holy


4) Particular Election. God has elected, pre-

destinated, in His own counsel, hidden from us, before the

foundation of the world, a certain number of people to

salvation in Christ. These elect are known to God alone and

He will see to it that they will in time be converted, i.e.

come to believe in Christ.

God did not, in His choosing the elect, base His


election on any goodness or worthiness in the elect, not even

"in view of faith," or "in view of perseverance of faith to

the end," but actually the election is a cause of faith in

the elect which God will work through His Word.143

We should not try to pry into the hidden counsel of the

election of God, "and even if you should you could never

find out", as to whether we are elected or not, but we are to

seek our election in Christ in whom salvation is promised by

God to all and every one who believes.

5) Preservation. God will preserve all believers

(excluding the "temporal christians"144) in faith unto life


There is a logical tension145 in Lutheran theology,

which we are of no mind to hide: If there is a universal

redemption and God desires all people to be saved, and

salvation is by grace alone, why, then, does universal

salvation not result? We do not know. We only affirm what

we see the Scripture to affirm and silence our reason which

can not know God or His hidden counsel.146 It is not proper

Lutheran Cyclopedia, Ed. Erwin L. Lueker (St. Louis:
Concordia Publishing House, 1954), "Thirteen Theses," 1057-1058,
(see especially thesis 10, and 11).
Matt. 13:20-22.
"Crux theologorum," Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, 1, 32-33.
This hidden counsel of God, or as Luther called it,
"inscrutable will of God," does not, unlike Calvinists, make us
change His written Word, and His revealed will made manifest
therein, to agree with what we consider that that inscrutable will

for us to try to determine what His hidden counsel must be,

and end with conclusions that militate against His Word.

When the Word has such tensions which we can not reconcile

without perverting the Word, we let them stand.

General comments with respect to Calvinistic method of

Interpretation with our Illustration

The Calvinists restrict or change the meaning of

words from general to particular, and from expressed to

something else of their choice, as they see fit to manipulate

the text according to their own ends.

We shall attempt to show, that if the Calvinist method

were the proper method of interpretation, how any and every

word in the Scripture can be redefined according to our

pleasure, if indeed it so were that we needed not to adhere

to the text and meaning of words as we find them written, nor

to the context, to which, no matter how much lip service

Calvinists pay, they pay no due attention, but, as said

before, in the final analysis it is their general under-

standing of the doctrines of grace which ultimately determine

their interpretation and not words or context of any given

passage (as we saw in Chapter II, and will see further in

this Chapter), not counting some exception.

We shall now illustrate what we perceive to be the

must be.

Calvinistic method of interpretation. Our imaginary premise

is that because Christ supposedly died only for some, then

likewise, only some are sinful human beings, others are

righteous and therefore need no saviour. We do this "study",

however else, but by using the Scripture to which everybody

who wants to have any clout of orthodoxy appeals:

The word "world" in the Scriptures does not always mean

the whole world i.e. "the world containing" and "the world

contained", but sometimes much less, indeed very much less.

Like in John 12:19 "Behold, the world is gone after Him...",

when actually only a great multitude of one small nation had

gone after Christ.147 Or in Rev. 13:3, "All the world

wondered after the beast," but of which "world" Owen says,

"which, whether it be affirmed of the whole universality of

individuals in the world, let all judge."148 We could just

multiply these examples, but these are so evident to any who

has read the Bible, that we need not say a word more. Then
it says in Rom. 3:19, "Now we know that what things soever

the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law, that

every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become

guilty before God." Now it is evident that not all and every

John Owen, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, 195.

Ibid. Obviously Owen was a child of his age and could not
realize the development of and in the technology of communication
equipment and consequent world wide mass media coverage through
TV, radio etc. Now it is a rather easy thing for the whole world
to "behold" anything anywhere in the world.

man is under the law. This also Paul himself acknowledges in

Rom. 2:12, "For as many as have sinned without law...", it is

obvious that if some have sinned without the law they have

nothing to do with the law, nor then can they be under it.

Also, we know that Christians are not "guilty before God,"

for Christ has taken away their guilt in dying in their

stead, and because of their guilt. Of this we see that

Christians are exempt and consequently not to be included

with the word "world" here. Therefore, the "all the world"

does not actually, nor indeed can it, mean each and every

individual in the world of all time. This we can realize

also from the fact that Paul said: "that every mouth may be

stopped", for those who have died long ago do not even have

mouths any longer, their bodies having rotted and become dust

again, this is so evident to all people that we need say

nothing further touching it. Therefore what Paul really is

saying is this: "Now we know that what things soever the law
saith, it saith to those people who now live or will live and

are under the law, that their mouths may be stopped, and all

those people of the world may become guilty before God."

This being so we must likewise understand that the word

"none", and "no, not one" in Rom. 3:10-11 where it reads:

"There is none righteous, no, not one. There is none that

understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.",

actually means: "Of those who are not righteous, there is

none righteous, no, not one. Of them there is none that


understandeth or seeketh after God."149 This is clear for we

just earlier proved how these are to be understood from Rom.

3:19 which is in this same context, for Paul surely wouldn't

contradict himself. But if we were to seek proof from

somewhere else, we can find it from the lips of our dear

Saviour himself who said: "I am not come to call the

righteous, but sinners to repentance", or, that "They that be

whole need not a physician, but they that are sick." We can

from these proofs, and we surely could multiply them in

abundance, see that only some are sinners, but some are

righteous who need not a Saviour, but are on their way to

heaven. That is why the apostle said: "And after this I saw

a great multitude which no one could number..." See, if

there were only those sinners in heaven, anybody could number

them..." Therefore when we read in Rom. 3:23, "For all have

sinned...", it needs to be understood, it being in that same

context and chapter we dealt with above, as "For all of those

who are sinners have sinned...", but this being so obvious

from the preceding verses, as we showed, the apostle needed

not say it again for by now everyone reading these lines

would know what the meaning has to be...

This is exactly how Owen, and all traditional Calvinists,
deal with the words "all" and "world." See his book The Death of
Death in the Death of Christ, 185-197, 205-209 Thus in the
passages which express universal atonement the word "world" means
to him "the world of elect," (see e.g. pp. 209, 213) and "all",
"all sorts of" p.224.

May this suffice to show Calvinistic exegesis.

Surprisingly so, they believe in the total depravity of all

and every individual of all time.150 How, with their method

of interpretation they ever arrived to it is to us a mystery.

The only obvious answer must be that they surely are not

consistent in how, in different passages, they arrive to

their definitions of the words "all" and "world", but let

their premises largely dictate what those words must here and

there mean, and then find means to prove it, even if some

violence is made to the Word. One thing that we have

established, and will further underline, is that context, not

counting some exceptions, surely is not something they take

into account in determining what the words mean.

Miscellaneous Calvinistic Objections met

Redefinition of Words
Owen's attempt151 to defend his redefinition of the word

"world" by Matt. 8:22, "Let dead bury their dead," and by

John 3:6, "That which is born of the spirit is spirit,"

wherefrom he shows that some other words also (here "dead"

and "spirit") assume variant meanings in the same sentence,

Long writes, "It ['world'] is used of all mankind
universally in a context of sin and judgment, but never in a
salvation context." Gary D. Long, Substitutionary atonement, 15.

See Chapter II, p. 38.

is futile. For it is so evident from the passages themselves

whereof these sentences form a part that they should so be

understood. The father of the man who came to Jesus had

died, and he asks permission from Jesus to go and bury his

father and only then follow Him. This Jesus denies from him

with the words above, which indicate that his father was

spiritually dead, and therefore let other spiritually "dead

bury their dead." This does not make the word "dead"

equivocal anymore than the word "world" is made ambiguous by

its use in different contexts which implicate the exact

meaning of the word in its setting, which meaning need not be

imported into a sentence from without, but is found from

within. The same applies to the second passage, where the

first "spirit" is, obviously enough, the "Spirit of God," and

in the second instance, the God-given spiritual life in man.

Neither of the texts, therefore, prove nothing in the matter

of the extent of the atonement with regard of the use of the

words "world" and "all."

Limited Expression does not Necessarily Exclude General One

It must also be clear that a narrower expression does

not exclude a wider one. In the Scripture it is affirmed

that Christ died for the sins of the whole world, this is the

widest expression. Then the Word also tells that Christ died

for the Church, and Paul says that Christ died "for me,"152

or more often "for us." Those narrower truths do not exclude

the fact which is amply evident from elsewhere, as we shall

see, that He died also for all and every man of all times.

Anthropomorphites and Definition of Words

The fact that we ascribe to the words "world" and

"all" their unique meanings, and do not accept Calvinistic

innovations which make them change the meanings of the words

"all" and "world" to "all sorts of" and "the world of elect,"

respectively, (and for which they have no Scriptural or even

other justifiable support whatsoever), does not make us

become anthropomorphites,153 but rather Scriptural who pay

attention to the grammar and words with context in the Word.

The anthropomorphites err simply because they fail to

acknowledge the different types of speech,154 and

anthropomorphism, employed by Biblical writers.

Arguments from Words

If we can not, as Owen holds,155 "attach any strength

"Who loved me, and gave himself for me." Gal. 2:20.
I.e. heretics who attribute to God the Father an actual body
and human emotions because of the use of anthropomorphism as a
Scriptural mode of speech by which the possession of human limbs
and organs is ascribed to God.
Especially such as figurative, and poetic types.
See Chapter II, p. 36.

to arguments" from the word "world" because it supposedly,

according to him, is "so equivocal," nor can we then, indeed,

attach any strength to arguments from most of the words in

the Scripture for they all can, by using Calvinistic methods

of hermeneutics (as outlined in this paper), be shown to be

ever so equivocal as the words like "world" and "all" are.

Therefore, we need to dismiss, not only Calvinistic

conclusions, but also most of their findings. This we have

and will further prove in this paper.

The following passage, for example, proves to

Calvinists how the meaning of the word "world" is to be

restricted: "The world knew Him not," (John 1:10) for surely

the believers knew Him.156 To this we reply: The world,

indeed, knew Him not, for the context just preceding says:

"He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the

world knew Him not." Now, the first "world" means, not some

specific locality on earth, but "world" in contrast to how He

"in the beginning was with God," and that obviously not in

the world, but in heaven. The second "world" means the God

created entity in which we live. And finally the third

"world" means the world as a whole regardless of whether

there are some believers there or not, the point and the

whole irony being, that even though He had made the world,

yet that world knew not its Creator on the basis of it having

See Chapter II, p. 38, 39, 42.

been made by Him. This is what the words in the text tell to

anyone not conditioned by Calvinistic sophistry which amounts

to perversion of God's Word. If only they would read as is

written considering what the writer has desired to convey

with the very words he is employing, and many souls would be

freed from doubts and resulting agony they constantly, if

they follow Calvinistic logic, have to go through in trying

to find certainty from themselves that Christ died for them.

Another Calvinists' argument for limitation of the

meaning of the word "world" is from John 8:26, "I (Christ)

speak to the world those things which I have heard of Him,"

for, they say, He did not address the whole world only those

people who lived where He went about.157 Here again the

Calvinists miss the essence of Jesus' words. Jesus indeed

addressed the world, that is, mankind as a whole, even if all

individuals in it did not audibly hear His words. We use the

language in the same way. For example, when a chief of armed

forces commands his generals he is said to command the armed

forces, even though he is commanding only his generals, and

we would be correct in using the language that way, and would

also so convey the truth, for those generals represent the

whole of the armed forces.

Likewise, though in a different sense, people who heard Jesus

also represented the world as a whole. And from Jesus'

See Chapter II, p. 43.

perspective it was the world as an entity that He addressed.

And besides, His words have come even to us. Therefore, not

only in one, but in two senses He addressed the world.

Next we will look into 2 Cor. 5:14,15 of which the

Calvinists have this to say: The Bible teaches that "All for

whom Christ died, also died in Christ. All who died in

Christ rose again in Christ". To die is to die to sin, and

to rise with Him is to rise to a life of new obedience. "The

inference is inevitable that those for whom Christ died are

those and those only who die to sin and live to righteous-

ness." And because it is plain that not all people thus live

for Christ, neither can we then say that "Christ died for all

men." This being so and the death of Christ constituting the

atonement "the conclusion is apparent -- the death of Christ

in its specific character as atonement was for those and

those only who are in due time partakers of that new

life..."158 However, the truth is that the Bible does teach

in this passage that Christ "died for all" and consequently

"were all dead." This "all" means "all," that is both

believers and unbelievers, all people of all times. And why

"He died for all" was "that they who live should not

henceforth live unto themselves, but to Him who died for them

and rose again." The "they who live" refers to those who are

John Murray, The Atonement, 69-72. He advances the
following Scripture to prove his point: Rom. 6:4,5,8,9; Col.

presently spiritually alive, for it is only then that a man

is able to live "unto Him." That is also why the same

apostle elsewhere calls people who as yet do not believe in

Christ as "dead."159 This interpretation does not bring us

into conflict with Romans 6:1-14 where the apostle talks

about the sacrament of the Holy Baptism and its implications.

General comments with respect to Lutheran method of

interpretation with illustrations

First, some general comments as to words and their

definitions. Each and every word has its intrinsic meaning

which most often is only one basic meaning. When

dictionaries in defining the meaning of a word gives

different meanings for one word it actually is only telling

how that one meaning may express itself in different

contexts.160 Greek and Hebrew lexicons, if one does not know

E.g. Eph. 2:1,5.
See for example, the word "little". Funk & Wagnalls'
Standard Desk Dictionary gives following definitions: 1. Small, or
smaller compared to others, in physical size: a little house. 2.
Not long; short; brief: a little time; a little distance away. 3.
Small or relatively small in quantity or degree: little wealth;
little probability. 4. Having small force or effectiveness; weak:
a little effort. 5. Not having great influence, power or
significance; minor; trivial. 6. Narrow or limited in viewpoint;
petty: little minds.
However, in every instance the word "little" had a meaning of
"little." In their illustrations the word always meant "little",
only the word which it modified implied, not that it didn't mean
little, but in what sense it was little, i.e. a context implied
that sense.
Of course there are many words that have more than one basic,
independent, meaning, very different from each other. Then the

how to use them in not knowing, in the first place, how they

were prepared, can cause considerable harm. They were

prepared very much the same way as ordinary English

dictionaries. They paid attention to the context in each

place where any given word occurred and then listed on the

basis of those contexts what kind of different meanings a

word with its context acquired. This, of course, does not

mean that the word on its own has all those meanings, but

only its basic meaning (like as we noted on a word "little"

in footnote #58 above). Therefore, when we come to words

"world" and "all", they mean just that "world" and "all" in

every case, which is simple enough. If we read in some place

for example Christ addressing a crowd and saying to them,

"... unless you repent, likewise you will all perish", we can

not say that one meaning of the word "all" then is "all of

those listening to Christ at that particular time in that

particular place", and next time in text when we meet the

word we'd wonder if it there, or elsewhere, has that

particular meaning. That would be ridiculous to say the

least. Yet this is exactly what Calvinists did and do when

they 'define' words like "world" and "all" (See chapter II).

But "all" means "all" that is, at least the widest possible

first step is, on the basis of the context, to determine which of

those basic meanings apply, and then, as above, to see, again on
the basis of the context, in which sense it is such and such.
This whole procedure, obviously, applies more specifically to
nouns and adjectives.

inclusion of particular things, ideas or persons talked about

in context, unless that particular context force us to

restrict its meaning. The word "all" had the value "all" also

in the above passage, even if those "all" in the text, being

possibly restricted by the context in the same sentence, had

not meant "all people of all times." (But to that matter

those Jesus' words just above concern you and me as well, and
have concerned all people of all times, and will to the end

of age, but even if they had not, our point stands). The

same applies, of course, also to the word "world". To

illustrate let us first take the word "house", because it is

easier for us to grasp with our senses. If we read "he came

into the house", and then notice from the text that he

actually went into the living room. Do we then say the word

"house" here means "a living room", and conclude that thus

the word "house" can also elsewhere mean "a living room."

And when we then read later that "the house burned up", do we

then say, that what is actually meant here is that "the

living room burned up." That is unthinkable and utter

ignorance as to how language is used, and what words mean.

To continue the illustration. What if the text had continued

"and he sat on the couch." Do we say, that from the context

we then realize that the word "house" may here mean "a

couch", and consequently if "the house burned up" it means

"the couch burned up?" Or, if in the same text later we'd

find the words, "...and she entered the house." Would we

say, that what actually is meant is that "she sat on the

couch?" We think not, but judging from how Calvinists use

and interpret Scripture just in that fashion, as we saw in

Chapter II, they could here also answer these questions


Owen should use for himself his appeal to those who

teach universal atonement, namely, to use context, rules of

interpretation, mind the circumstances and scope of the

place. Or, maybe he does in his own mind, only a manner of

treatment of a text, outlined just above in our illustration,

constitutes for him a good use of context, rules of

interpretation etc. It seems that his understanding and use

of the final point of his appeal in his own interpretation,

namely, "notice the different use of the same words in

different places of Scripture," leads him totally astray as

we have seen and also showed with the above illustration.

Anyone who reads his book The Death of Death in the Death of

Christ will see the truth of that our statement for himself.

Scriptural Definition of the word "world"

The word, "world" (In Greek ) in the

Scripture161 means "world" (which word is the word for

In the New Testament the word is used 185 times. By John
105 times (in his Gospel 78 times, in 1 John 23 times and 4 times
in 2 John and Revelation.), by Paul 47 times, and by other writers
33 times.

"world" found in all of the passages which address the scope

of the atonement and have the word "world" in them) in the

following various senses162, context judging in which sense

it is to be taken, or if there should be some special case

like idiomatic expression:163 1. the world as the sum total

of everything here and now, the (orderly) universe. 2. the

world as the sum total of all beings above the level of the

animals 4. the world as the earth, the planet upon which we

live 5. in some instances, like in Rom. 11:12, 15, pagan

world (from the Jewish perspective), i.e. other than a Jew

6. the world as the habitation of mankind 7. earth, the

world in contrast to heaven 8. the world as mankind 9. the

world as the scene of earthly joys, possessions, cares and

Walter, Bauer, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament
and Other Early Christian Literature. Translated and adapted by
W.F. Arndt and F. W. Gingrich. (Chicago: University of
Chicago Press, 1979), 445-447 Besides the meanings listed on
this page Bauer gives also the following: "of all mankind, but
especially of believers, as the object of God's love" and gives
the following Scripture references, John 3:16,17c; 6:33,51; 12:47.
Surely the word in those passages mean "all mankind," but we do
not think the addition: "but especially of believers", is needed.
This will be further discussed below.

Like one in John 12:19 "Behold, the world is gone after
Him..." Here, the form of idiom seems to be hyperbole--i.e.
exaggeration. We use many idiomatic expressions ourselves
especially when we want to emphasize something. If someone has a
lot of money we could say for example "you have enough money to
buy the whole world." Obviously enough that couldn't be literally
true. Likewise the Pharisees wanted to emphasize the
proportionately huge following that Jesus had by using that
expression, which fact surely can not limit the meaning of the
word elsewhere where we meet it even though Calvinists would like
to make us believe so (see p. 43).

suffering; and finally 10. the world, and everything that

belongs to it, appears as that which is hostile to God (and

to His own - to believers) i.e. lost in sin, wholly at odds

with anything divine, ruined and depraved.

Scriptural Definition of the word "all"

The word in Greek is in every instance , the

basic meaning164 of which is "all, every, any," and its other

definitions, (which, you may recall, are derived from the

context), are, as given in Bauer,165 the following: (There

are two main entries, each of which has several subsections)

I. every, each, any. Under this entry are: 1. every kind of,

all sorts of;166 2. Every, any and every, just any, any at

James H. Strong, Strong's Exhaustive Concordance (Grand
Rapids: Baker Book House, 1985 reprint), p. 56 in the Greek
Dictionary section.
Walter Bauer, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and
Other Early Christian Literature, 631-632.
One example given is in Matt. 23:27 _______________
______________________ and here translated "they are full of all
kinds of uncleanness." However the words "kinds of" are not in
the Greek, but are supplied by the translator due to his
interpretation of what the passage should, to his view, be
conveying to us. To our view the supplied words do not belong to
the text, not even by implication, for is it not true, that,
indeed, "all" uncleanness dwells in each and every individual who
is of the world seeing there is a total depravity of human nature.
The King James version does not have the supplied words.
Another example is from Matt. 4:23 ___________________
_______________. Here Jesus is said to have been "healing every
disease and every sickness among the people. Some versions (even
the KJV) adds to the text interpretive words of "all manner
of...," which is not justified by the Greek text. To add those
words into the text changes its meaning, for it is a different
thing if Jesus healed "every sickness and illness" among those

all; 3. full, greatest, all; 4. all, the whole; 5. all

men, every one; 6. the whole, all; 7. all; 8. every one

who, whoever. II. everyone without exception. 1. All,

everyone; 2. all things, everything; 3. all (of them) (in

contrast to a part) 4. the universe.

As can be seen from the above, there is nothing there

in the language to justify Calvinistic definitions.

Lutheran interpretation of the passages traditionally

seen to teach universal extent of the atonement of Christ

General Introduction

Paul begins the Epistle to the Romans first with

praising the Gospel of Christ, and saying it to be "the power

of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth (Rom. 1:16).

Then the apostle shows how all, both heathen and Jews, are

under God's condemnation (and this he sums up in Rom. 3:9).

The heathen are thus because they "hold the truth in

unrighteousness" (Rom. 1:18) not being obedient to the

natural revelation of God in and through nature, and most

importantly in their conscience. And Jews in not being

obedient to God's law (Romans 2). From the context (Rom. 3:1-

8) we can see that when the apostle in Rom. 3:9 says "What

then? Are we better?", he by the word "we" means "Jews", and

people referred to in the text, or if He healed only "all manner

of sickness and illness." In the first case every one there
present was healed, whereas this is not necessarily true of the
latter case.

being himself also a Jew, he includes himself also (that is

why he said "we"). And he continues "No, in no wise: for we

have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all

under sin; as it is written, There is none righteous, no, not

one...", and he proceeds with a description of what the

sinful "flesh," of which all are partakers since the Fall, is

like. And thus he puts the whole world under sin, and

continues with a description of the way of salvation for all,

and begins then also to distinguish between believers and

unbelievers. "Now we know that what things soever the law

saith, it saith to them who are under the law, that every

mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty

before God." (3:19) Heathen, even though they are "without

law", are surely "under the law", just as criminals, even

though they like to live as if they were without the law, and

might not even know all the laws they have broken, are

nevertheless "under" the law of the land, as citizens of the

same, and if caught will be punished according to that law.

Elsewhere the apostle has made it clear that only believers

are not under the law, for Christ "has redeemed them from

under the law."

Because "by the law is the knowledge of sin" (3:20),

and that universally, therefore by the law "no flesh shall be

justified" (3:20) in God's sight. Then the apostle explains

from where the righteousness of God, the justification of a

sinner before God, does come, and that for all. This he

makes very clear, both from the preceding and succeeding

text where all, that is Jews and Gentiles, are included.167

Sinners, that is, all people, if they desire to be

saved, need to have perfect righteousness before God, but

being just that, sinners, they do not have it of their own.

Therefore, that righteousness needs to come from without.

This is "the righteousness of God, through faithfulness of

Jesus Christ [ ] upon all them

that believe" (Rom. 3:22). We translated as

"faithfulness" as we have the same word in Rom. 3:3

only in a different grammatical form, and

where it must mean, judging from the context, "faithfulness"

of God. Seeing that "through faith of Jesus Christ" would

not seem to make very good sense, and that the word is

capable of a translation "faithfulness," we opted for that

alternative. The "faithfulness" of (genitive) Jesus Christ

then obviously refers to Jesus' faithfulness to God's will to

save us all, both by dying in our stead and by fulfilling the

law of God for us. Rom. 3:22 tells us plainly that those

then who believe it, without any distinction, do receive this

"righteousness of God," "for all sinned [ ] and

came [ ] short of the glory of God." They all,

Paul is here indeed talking with respect of both Jews and
Gentiles, as we showed above, and also in Rom. 3:29 he still
affirms "Is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also of the
Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also..." This becomes clearer yet
as he continues.

both Jews and Gentiles "sinned" (aorist), they sinned in Adam

representatively, as also Calvinists themselves maintain, and

therefore "came" (aorist) "short of the glory [ ] of

God." This means "dignity, glory, honour, praise

and worship"168 When God created man He created him in His

own image, then obviously man did not "fall short of the

glory of God," but he had dignity, honour, and praised and

worshipped God as God, which is a dignifying and honorable

thing indeed. But when he "sinned" he lost this "glory of

God," that is, came short of it. These are now "justified

freely" (literally: "justified giftually," or "as a gift"


Against the above background it will become easier for

us to look into other passages which talk of the atonement in

universal terms.

Passages Where the Word "World" Expresses the Extent

"Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the
sin of the world." (John 1:29)

There is no reason, whatsoever, contextual169 or

Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, p. 24 in the dictionary
And as we saw above, it is the context, and the context
alone, that can: (1) define which meaning (if there are more than
one intrinsic meaning) of a word is applicable in a given context;
(2) limit the scope of a word to be less or more (if possible)
than what its intrinsic sense is; or (3) tell in what sense the
word is what its intrinsic meaning expresses.

otherwise, to take the word "world" here in any other sense

than "mankind." If the elect were meant, is the Holy Spirit

so ignorant as not then be able to use that word? Or, to say

instead "sin of those who believe in Him", but no, He uses

the word "world", and we certainly, by God's grace, know what

that word means, even if Satan with the whole world would

like to deprive us from its true meaning. There is

absolutely nothing in the context to limit the extent of the

word "world," therefore its simple meaning, as "all people,

the whole of mankind," as justified by the language, is to be


For God so170 loved the world, that He gave His

only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth171 in Him

should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God

sent not His Son into the world, to condemn the world,

but that the world through Him might be saved." (John


When one reads this text without letting his

presuppositions dictate what the word "world" must mean, no

great problems are encountered. In the first instance we

realize that "mankind" in general is meant. But even if we

should take mankind together with rest of creation we would

"For God so..." is actually "For God in this way...," or "in
this manner...," (________) "loved the world, that He gave... "
(____________________________= "all the ones believing").

not terribly err, for in Romans (8:19-22) it talks how "the

whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain" and is

waiting and expecting its own delivery "from the bondage of


The second "world" is either "the world as the earth,

the planet upon which we live," or "the world as the

habitation of mankind," which amounts practically to the same


The third "world" means, "the whole of mankind." It

means the same in the fourth instance. There certainly is

nothing in the context, not to speak in the text itself,

which would justify a meaning of "the elect," for the word

"world" in this, or to that matter in any, text of the


We may note that the text did not say "that the world

through Him will be saved." But "that the world through Him

might be saved." The (might be saved) is

aorist, subjunctive, passive, and is here aptly translated.

"Might" indicates a real, and true possibility for the world

now to be saved. This possibility obviously could not exist

if Christ had not died, and thereby atoned, for all, but only

for some. What makes this real possibility an actuality for

Here Owen wanted to limit the "world" to certain locality on
earth. Even though it is true that Christ lived on certain
locality or was born in a stable in Bethlehem, that is not the
import the Scripture has here, but "world" in contrast to "heaven"
from where he came.

any individual is the God created faith which is

indispensable in appropriating this salvation, for "he that

believeth not is condemned already,..." and "he that

believeth on Him is not condemned." These words in John 3:18

also show that unbelievers were included to that world for

which the Father sent His Son and which through Him might be

saved. For the condemning reason is unbelief, not lack of

redemption, or lack in God's will to save.173

The same interpretation applies to:

Now we believe,...and know that this is indeed the

Christ, the Saviour of the world." (John 4:42)

The Samaritans expected a Saviour, just as the Jews

did, but they did not expect a Saviour of the Jews alone

(which had left them outside), but of the "world" and after

hearing Christ talk they recognized Him as the One, "the

Saviour of the world". Any talk of "the world of elect" is a

totally human machination in these passages, there being not

a shred of evidence anywhere in the context, grammar, plain

words, or otherwise, that these passages would, or even

could, mean any such thing.

The passages: "For the bread of God is He which cometh

down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world." (John

6:33), and "...the bread that I will give is my flesh, which

That some for whom Christ died might yet ultimately perish
is implicated also in the following passages, Rom. 14:15 and 1
Cor. 8:11.

I will give for the life of the world" (John 6:51) can be

understood as follows: if Christ had not come, God would have

destroyed the world, or at least the mankind, long ago. In

fact, Adam and Eve, already, had fallen under His righteous

wrath against sin. Therefore, when Christ came, nay, even

the anticipation of His coming, was "for the life of the

world." It goes without saying that there is in Christ that

rather special meaning of eternal life for all believers, but

even the world benefited by His coming in that certain sense

mentioned above.

"...I came not to judge the world, but to save the

world" (John 12:47)

Judging the world was not the reason, or any reason for

His coming, for He could have judged the world from heaven,

but that He came down from heaven, He came "to save the

world", that is the whole of mankind. The fact that people

rejected and that most do reject that salvation is none of

His fault. Of this we will discuss more below, where the

matter of the extent of God's saving will comes up.

"...casting away of them [be] the reconciling of

the world,..." (Rom. 11:15)

The word translated as "casting away,"

can also be translated as "loss" and "rejection"174 The

context makes it clear that the apostle Paul is here talking

Walter Bauer, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and
Other Early Christian Literature, 89.

about how that the Jews, through their unbelief,175 lost

their special status of exclusive claim to Yahweh to whom now

all nations ( ) have been reconciled before God

in Christ. The apostle uses the word "nations" that is

"Gentiles" several times here in the context so as to

distinguish the Jews and their lot from them and theirs,

therefore when he in verse 15 uses the word "world," its

meaning is that of all others, but Jews. It is not possible

to ascribe to it the meaning which the Calvinists give to it,

namely "the elect."

Often when the apostle Paul says, for example,

something to the effect that "Christ saved us", or "redeemed

us", he means with the word "us," people in general. This is

clear also from;

God...reconciled us to Himself by Jesus

Christ...To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling
the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses
unto them... (2 Cor. 5:18-19).

The word "world" here, naturally, by the definition, means

"the whole of mankind", to say the least. Obviously, as said

before, this "not imputing their trespasses unto them" (which

imply forgiveness, for where sins are not "imputed" there

they are, in other words, forgiven) is in Christ, and

therefore an individual will personally have it only when

Rom. 11:20. It is also rather obvious that God wanted to
include all nations (______________), not only the Jews, under the
reconciling work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

through faith they, too, are in Christ.

"And He (Christ) is the propitiation for our sins,

and not for ours only, but also for [the sins of] the
whole world." (1 John 2:2)

To say that "the whole world" here means "the elect of

the whole world", is not only tasteless, but outright

perversion of the clear Scripture.

It is certainly true that the Jews, even some apostles

(like Peter) had hard time in fully realizing that the Gospel

was as much to the Gentiles as to the Jews, or rather, that

it was to the Gentiles at all.176 Owen holds this to have

been the reason for John using the expression "of the whole

world" in the above text to make a point for the Jews that

"realize that this is for the elect of the whole world, and

not only for the elect in Israel."177 But the fact is that

this problem was limited to the early stages of the spread of

the Christianity (up until about A.D. 42) as we can attest

from the Acts of the Apostles, where after the Herod's

persecution of the church (Acts Chapter 12) we do not hear

anything of this problem, but Gentiles were accepted as a

natural part of the church. By the time John wrote his First

Epistle somewhere between 80-110 A.D.178, when the Gentiles

E.g. Peter, other Jews, and Cornelius, a Roman centurion,
Acts 10 (pay attention especially also to verses 45-48). See also
Acts 11:1-19.
See Chapter II, p. 36.
See for example Donald Guthrie, New Testament Introduction

already formed a great majority of Christians, this was a

dead issue. Therefore, it should have been clear to all,

even without that historical argument, that when John wrote,

"And He (Christ) is the propitiation for our sins, and not

for ours only, but also for [the sins of] the whole world,"

the natural understanding of the word "world" should be

taken. We are to leave the Biblical text as it stands

without using any Owenistic sophistry, for we need not doubt

God's clear Word as it is written and make it a suspect in

its clear form.179

The arguments that Long put forward180 to defend

Calvinistic definition of the word "world," can not stand.

First, we grant that the word in a great majority of cases

out of 23 where John uses the word in his epistles refer to

the world in a sense of "the scene of earthly pleasures and

cares," or "the world of lusts and passions; the sinful

world" in which the people of the world are implicated.

However, this observation should lead to another kind of

conclusion than that of Long's, even and especially when we

(Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1970), 883-884. Guthrie

himself suggests date between 90-95 A.D. and quotes E. F. Scott
who ascribes date for the Epistle to the beginning of the second
century, and T. Henshaw who favors date around 80 A.D.
Errors happen when people who do not understand a text as
it stands begin to "wrest" them. Owen's sophistry, in our opinion,
is one of the worst type of "wresting" of clear text of Scripture.

See Chapter II, p. 43.

use 1 John 5:19, where the expression "the whole world," like

as in John 2:2, is found, with John 2:2. This only

underlines the universalists' position, for it, together with

the frequency that the word "world" is used of "the sinful

world" by John, leads us rather to conclude that Christ died

for that "whole world" which "lieth in wickedness." If Long,

as he has expressed, now wants to exclude, on the basis of

John 5:19, believers from that "world" in this particular

context, we do not argue with him, for then the point that

the apostle here in this text made becomes all the more

plain, "He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours

only, but also for [the sins of] the whole world."

"And we have seen and do testify that the Father

sent the Son [to be] the Saviour of the world." (1
John 4:14)

Here again, if we were to judge by the use of John of

the word "world" what the intended sense of the word is here,

we would be compelled to take it in a sense of "a sinful

world," which of course at least included, if not consisted

of sinners. As we have shown before, at least also those of

the elect who did not, or do not, presently believe, are

included in that "world," being as yet, enemies of God etc.

Whether we here, in this passage, should exclude even those

of the elect who do presently believe, is debatable. But the

contention that the word "world" here would include only the

elect is a sheer illusion, which cannot be supported by any


sound exegesis. Long's findings lead, not to his, but to our


Any talk of 1 John 2:2 as referring to "eschatological

universalism" is a pure fantasy. That idea is clearly brought

from outside to the text, for not only that verse, but the

whole context which talks about the forgiveness of sins

(preceding context) and of keeping His commandments

(succeeding context), has nothing to do directly with any

future world. John does not even use a future tense, but

present "He is the propitiation... for the

whole world."

As far as Long's "ethnological universalism" in this

passage goes, because he stated that eschatological

universalism is an aspect of his ethnological universalism,

we can, on the basis of our refutation of eschatological

universalism (above), conclude that at least that aspect of

his idea of ethnological universalism is faulty. But it can

be shown that it does not even otherwise have much

credibility. If we go again back to John's use of the word

"world" we can state, with Long's argument, that since John

uses the word 21 times out of the 23 times that he uses the

word in his epistles in a sense other than "the elect," the

burden of proof rests on the one who would in 1 John 2:2 or

in 1 John 4:14 interpret that word to mean "elect." Or, does

Long accept his attempted refutation of the generic

interpretation of the word in those passages, but does not

accept our refutation on the precisely same premise of his

argument for the word's definition as "the elect among

Gentiles," which is even more unnatural, and surely forced,

rendering of the word.

Long's argument (where he quotes Pink) of John having

written his first epistle to the Jews dispersed among the

Gentiles is groundless. First, by the late first century or

early second when John wrote his epistle, the Gentiles were

so integrated into the New Testament Church, and indeed were

a clear majority, that it had been unjustifiable, needless,

unnatural, without reason, and perceivably undue limitation

of audience had John had only Jews in mind in writing his


To say that "from the beginning" in 1 John 2:7 refers

to the same "beginning" which we have in 1 John 1:1 can not

plausibly be defended. Rather one should see the reference

in 1 John 1:1 to be, not to the beginning of Jesus' public

ministry (as Long would have it refer to), but to the same

beginning which we have both in Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1.

Besides, it was not in the beginning, but in the end of

Jesus' ministry that Jesus gave that "old commandment,"181

which is the same as the "new commandment" John gives here,

namely a commandment for us to love one another. If Long's

John 15:12ff.

argument were valid then he should, according to the same

logic, also say, that the devil sinned only from the

beginning of Jesus' ministry.182

There is no reason to say that "the beginning" in 1

John 1:1 or 1 John 3:8 has to be the same as it is in 1 John

2:7. We can not just randomly pull words together like that

and say, without appropriate attention to a context in which

these words occur, that they must refer to the same thing or

event because they are same words. No one uses any language

in that manner, nor is it understood in such a fashion even

by Calvinists in their everyday speech, else one could not

even communicate effectively. "The beginning" in 1 John 2:7

with a great likelihood, being the best alternative of all,

refers to the time when each reader first believed. Without

doubt the early Christians, as they spread the Gospel, also

made sure they delivered the Christ's command for Christians

to love one another to their hearers, especially seeing their

mutual plight under the persecution.

Also it is groundless to say that with the "fathers,"

in the Chapter 2 of John's first epistle, is meant "Jewish

believers," for it was only the Jewish religious leaders who

likely were referred to by the term "fathers,"183 but seeing,

one, that there were very few of those who became Christians,

1 John 3:8.
For example, Acts 22:1.

and, two, when they did, they were not probably called

"fathers" anymore.184 (Obviously, the term "fathers" was in

the New Testament extensively used of the Old Testament

patriarchs, but even Long would probably not suggest that

John wrote to them.) The context seems to direct us to a

conclusion that John is here using a some kind of metaphor,

or figurative language, for a question, as to whom does he in

this same context refer to by the "young men," and the

"little children," presents itself. The only obvious

answer185 excludes the term "fathers" from referring to the

Jews exclusively.

As to the "antichrists," they did not in the New

Testament sense so much refer to false Messiahs as such, but

rather to false prophets and teachers, who "deny that Jesus

is the Christ," or do not confess, that "Jesus Christ is come

in the flesh."186 And these there were both from the

Gentiles and Jews. Some went out "from us," that is from
among believers, not necessarily from among the Jews as such.

The Father indeed "sent the Son to be the Saviour of

the world," and that is why there is no other Mediator

Matt. 23:9.
We take the reference here to be to Christians of varying
maturity, and so figuratively from the "little children" to the
1 John 2:22-23; 4:1-3.

between God and men, but Christ Jesus.187

The fact why God allows, though does not will, the

greater part of the mankind to insist on their own way which

leads to destruction is not a subject for us to ponder.

Passages Where the Word "All" Expresses the Extent

In all of these passages the Greek word for "all" is

, unless otherwise noted.

"And I [Jesus], if I be lifted up form the earth,

will draw all men unto me." (John 12:32)

This does not imply universal salvation, but is, it

seems, to be used with "It is written in the prophets, And

they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that

hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me."

(John 6:45) Note, not only "heard," but also "learned."

" one man sin entered into the world, and

death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for

that all have sinned [Greek: "inasmuch as all sinned"

] ...but not as the

offence, so also [is] the free [gift]. For if through

the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of

God, and the gift by grace by one man, Jesus Christ,

hath abounded unto many. And not as [it was] by one

that sinned, [so is] the gift: for the judgement [was]

E.g. 1 Tim. 2:5; Acts 4:12.

by one to condemnation, but the free gift is [of] many

offenses unto justification.... ....Therefore as by the

offence of one [judgement came] upon all men to

condemnation even so by the righteousness of one [the

free gift came] upon all men unto justification of

life. For as by one man's disobedience many were made

sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made

righteous...." Rom. 5:12,15-16,18-19

Here contrast is made between what was lost by the

whole mankind (the posterity of Adam) in Adam through his

sin, and what was gained for that same mankind through

obedience of One, Jesus Christ. The text is sufficiently

clear on this. It is clear, that by one man, namely by Adam,

sin and its consequence, death, entered the world-- not only

all humanity, but even the whole of creation "was subjected

to corruption." Also in this text the fact that all Adam's

posterity "sinned" in him is brought forth: "inasmuch as all

sinned." That indeed is what Greek says, and not "all have

sinned," even though it also is true as such, yet that is not

the message which is here put across, but rather that, as

said before, what on the one hand was lost for all in one

man's sin, and on the other hand, what was gained for all by

another man's obedience. And the idea is that more was

gained by Jesus' obedience, than lost by Adam's sin, which

fact is indicated by such statements and words as "not as the

offence, so also is the free gift," and then by such words as

"much more," "abounded," the "free gift" is magnified over

the offence. By one offence came condemnation, but "the gift

is of many offenses unto justification." The use of the word

"many" ("many be dead", "abounded unto many") equally and

simultaneously in a same clause on both sides of the fence

shows, it seems, that it can, at least here, be equated with

"all," or possibly translation is to be "the men will be

constituted sinners/righteous altogether," which seems to be

a valid the translation of those sections of the text. For

we already know that "all" were dead, or that "death passed

upon all men" from the earlier part of the text.

The fact that the text does not speak anything about

faith seems to make it clear that it is here talking about

the Objective Justification which has to do with all people.

"...that if one died for all, then were all dead:

and [that] He died for all, that they which live should

not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which

died for them, and rose again." (2 Cor. 5:14, 15)

Here on the first part of the text the apostle is

having his reference to the Objective Justification: Because

Christ died for all people, then (in Christ, because He was

the One who died under the curse and condemnation of the sins
of all people) all are dead. "And [that] He died for all,

that they which live [that is those who are spiritually

alive--those who are not, could not live, but for themselves]

should not henceforth live unto themselves..."

Murray's statements188 concerning this passage are

flawed. He made a statement, that "All for whom Christ died,

also died in Christ. All who died in Christ rose again in

Christ." His contention is that the "all," in the above

quote from him, can refer only to the elect, for only the

elect can rise to a life of new obedience. However, he has

to concede that even the elect do not rise up to the "new

obedience" until that they believe, and thereby his argument

is defeated. The first part of his statement is true, but

only one must, according to the Scripture, include all people

into that "all" for whom Christ died, whereas only those who

presently believe to the second part. This does not,

contrary to Murray's contention, "bring us into conflict with

Romans 6:4-8," where the apostle, having sanctification in

view, is addressing those who do believe and has his

reference to the Holy Baptism, whereas in 2 Cor. 5:14 he with

the words, " died for all," has his reference to

Objective Justification.189

See Chapter II, pp. 46-47.
One can not simply take passages and make them parallel if
they merely have some common words in them, but also the subject
matter, audience, purpose etc., are to be taken into

"And having made peace through the blood of His

cross by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself, by
Him, whether things in earth, or things in heaven. And
you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in mind
by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled in the body
of His flesh through death, to present you holy and
unblamable and unreprovable in His sight, if you
continue in the faith..." Col. 1:20-23

Here Christ is not talked of as having reconciled only

all people, but even "all things," both "in earth and in

"...God our Saviour who will have all men to be

saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
For there is one God, and one mediator between God and
men, the man Christ Jesus who gave himself a ransom for
all ,..." I Tim. 2:4-6

The first sentence of the text will be dealt with below

when the extent of God's saving will will be discussed. It

is provided here only for the context.

The text clearly contrasts "God" and "men," which is

clear indication, besides the plain text, that "men" is here

meant in a universal sense of "all people."190 "There is one

God," there are "men," and as all men are sinful, a mediator

between the two parties is needed, and He is "the man Christ

Jesus." And He can be a mediator, because He satisfied God's

righteous judgment against sin of all people in that He "gave

Himself a ransom for all..." What more need be said?

Here English, as is the case in Greek, uses "men" in a sense
of "mankind," including both males and females.

"...we trust in the living God, who is the

Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe."
(I Tim. 4:10)

Also here Calvinists cannot say, "the 'all men' here

means 'all sorts of men' as also elsewhere," for there is

nothing in the context to support such a contention. The

only reasonable way is to take the text as it is written,

"all men" meaning just that "each and every man." If God had

wanted to say "all sorts of men," or "elect" He had said it

plainly, but now He said plainly something else, namely that

He "is the Saviour of all men," in that all are redeemed.

Christ saved one as well as another by His death. But only

those who believe have this salvation in being through faith

in Him, therefore He is the Saviour "specially of those that


"For the grace of God that bringeth salvation

hath appeared to all men,..." (Titus 2:11)

The grace of God has appeared to all men in the

preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ wherefrom we can

ascertain that He died for all.

"But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower

than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned
with glory and honour, that He by the grace of God
should taste death for every man ( )
.... make reconciliation for the sins of the
people." Heb.2:9,17b

Here again we have the same truth, that of Christ dying

for every man, expressed. And there certainly is nothing

whatsoever in the context to limit the extent of for whom He

tasted death to anything less than "for every man." Should

that possibly be a reason why Calvinists have left the

passage without treatment?

Another important point here is that the priesthood of

Christ, it seems, at least in its aspect of reconciliation,

needs to be seen as covering "every man" (Heb. 2:9), not just

the elect.191

Special case of 2 Peter 2:1

A good article, in terms of effectively refuting Long's

thesis stated in Chapter II concerning 2 Peter 2:1, is

already in print authored by Andrew D. Chang,192 therefore we

Cf. 2 Cor. 5:19, "God was in Christ reconciling the world
unto Himself,..."
Andrew D. Chang, "Second Peter 2:1 and the Extent of the
Atonement," in Bibliotheca Sacra, January-March 1985, pp. 52-63.
Though we agree with his refutation of Long's arguments, we might
not completely agree with Chang's "Spiritual redemption" view, in
that it, too, might fail to realize that there is actual
forgiveness in Christ, except and unless that when he contends,
with the quote from Chafer, that "Christ's death of itself
forgives no sinner," subjective and not objective forgiveness is
meant. In any case the Calvinists' error in not distinguishing
between the redemption and salvation, which is the same as the
distinction between the redemption and its application is not
committed here. However, the language which Chafer, quoted
approvingly by Chang (pp. 59-60), uses in saying that Christ's
work of redemption "renders all men [only] salvable," but does not
provide the actual salvation (even though this work of redemption
was essential, foundational and indispensable in being a cause for

do not see it necessary to reproduce it here either in the

terms of very lengthy quotes or by duplication of study, but

only state the main findings and refutations found in it, and

expand where deemed needful.

First, the Christian Charity view. This view which

supposes that Peter, out of Christian charity, on the basis

of the false teachers' external confession of Christ, wrote,

that the Lord "bought" the false teachers, "is a novel

interpretation, and the text gives no support to this

view."193 Chang is correct in his statement. One, how could

Peter, who wrote that the false teachers were "denying the

Lord," have believed, out of Christian charity or otherwise,

their confession of Christ, for these two things are mutually

exclusive, for to confess Christ is surely opposite to

denying the Him. Two, how could Peter have entertained a

Calvinistic view of the atonement, take the false teachers'

external confession of Christ seriously (out of Christian

love), and then state that these false teachers "bring upon

themselves swift destruction," for these three elements are

incompatible, again, in being mutually exclusive, which fact

is readily evident to the discerning reader. Besides, how

the application by God of this redemption to the elect to follow

which then results in actual salvation) can be misunderstood to
mean that man has still to contribute something so that his actual
salvation can actually take place, which, though, does not seem to
be what Chafer or Chang meant.
Ibid., 60.

can Long write, that given certain conditions, the Christian

Charity view is compatible with his Sovereign Creation view,

for there is no meeting point between the two views for, for

one thing, the former is soteriological whereas the latter is

not. The only touching point is that they both are

endeavoring to force the passage into a Calvinistic mold to

which it, to use a mild expression, ill fits.

Second, as to the Temporal Deliverance view, according

to which the false teachers, because of their confession of

Christ, are externally delivered from "the pollutions of the

world," we can reiterate what we said above about the

compatibility of confessing and denying the Lord. Also,

again, the text gives no evidence of the false teachers'

confession of Christ.

The Temporal Deliverance view, even though

nonsoteriologial, does not, against Long's contention, have

any compatibility with the Sovereign Creation view any more

than the Christian Charity view, as one can observe from

below, seeing their premises and defence depend on different

arguments. The only touching point again being that they

both, with the Christian Charity view, seek to defend

Calvinistic limited atonement theology.194

Sovereign Creation view. This is the view which Long

Possibly Long was reluctant to dismiss them altogether in
order to have a safety net, if his view fails, as it does, to
convince any discerning reader.

seeks to defend. Chang finds weaknesses in Long's word

studies. First, he positively shows how the word


is employed 10 times in the New Testament, 5 of

which are used of men. Four of these are clearly used
in the sense of slave owner, or lord in contrast to
slave (1 Tim. 6:1-2; Tit. 2:9; 1 Pet. 2:18)... nuance
of slave owner is also present in 2 Tim. 2:21, at least
in a metaphorical sense. ...The word
(despot, lord) is used of God the Father three times.
In Luke 2:29... Acts 4:24... Rev. 6:10. ...The word
is also used of Christ... Jude 4. This
construction seems to fit nicely into the Granville
Sharp rule, thus it can be taken that and
are referring to the same
person [that is to Christ].195

Although Long correctly shows that the word

is never used of Christ as the mediator, yet that discovery

does not make the passage to support Calvinists' limited

atonement scheme, for here in 1 Pet. 2:1 the use of the word

puts emphasis "on the redemption as a change of

Chang writes that the word is used 31

times in the New Testament.

Twenty-five times it is used in the sense of

commercial purchases and five times it is used in a
soteriological sense (1 Cor. 6:20; 7:23; Rev. 5:9;
14:3-4). One interesting observation is that when the
object of purchase is nonhuman, the word
is always used in the nonsoteriological sense (Matt.
Ibid., p. 53.
Ibid., 54. Here Chang is quoting from Howard Marshall, "The
Development of the Concept of Redemption," in Reconciliation and
Hope, ed. Robert Banks (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974), 159.

13:44; 21:12; Mark 6:36; Luke 9:13; John 6:5; 1 Cor.

7:30; Rev. 13:17; 18:11; etc.). When the object is a
human being, it is always used in the soteriological

Chang concludes by stating that then the word

also in 2 Pet. 2:1 is "to be taken in the soteriological

sense because the object of purchase is obviously human


Long's argument that wherever the word is

used redemptively the purchase price is always either stated

explicitly or made clear in the context is not correct, for

in Rev. 14:3-4 the word is used twice and in the verse 4

reference is made to "the Lamb," which no one can deny, is

Christ's soteriological title. And even if someone thought

this to prove but little, Chang's statement, "If one out of

six uses of a word proves that its use is different, it is

legitimate to establish another category," stands.

Long says that the word is never used in

the Scripture where the purchase does not actually take

place. This we do not even desire to counter--it is

Lutherans who teach that the purchase has taken and actually

did take place, but there is a difference between the

Lutheran and Calvinistic understanding of what implications

this has. For even though Calvinists, too, hold that the

purchase did actually take place, they limit its scope to the

elect. This they do, as we have stated before, because of

Ibid., 55.

their failure to distinguish between the atonement and its

application. But just as they would say that even those of

the elect who do not, as yet, believe, were purchased by

Christ, we, too, say the same, but concerning all people.

The fact that "the two great redemptive words

and are not translated with the word

in Septuagint carries very little weight, for those

words have better Greek equivalents than . Yet,

this does not undermine the meaning which does

have, and its use in the New Testament as shown above. The

fact that the reference in each case here in these passages,

(and in many of the New Testament passages in general where

redemption, salvation and sanctification are addressed), is

to believers, is rather natural, for each and every epistle

is, if the addressee is mentioned, written to the church, "to

saints and faithful in Christ Jesus."198 Therefore, not a

number of times that any given word occurs in any given

context in the whole of the Scripture, but the text itself

and the very words used in them, are to be the decisive

factor in determining what the text says. This point should

be quite obvious.199 Therefore, where the text touches, for

Or some other phrase which carries the same implication.

If the former premise were used as a general rule in
communications a disaster would result. (Think of a pharmacist
who receives prescriptions from a doctor. Should he fill every
prescription with the medication the doctor has prescribed most
often. Or think about a soldier who most of the time in war

example, unbelievers, even if it were just once, we are to

take the text as it is written.200

Long's argument, that Peter, in this passage

"intentionally alludes" to Deuteronomy 32:6, and his

consequent redefinition in 1 Pet. 2:1 of the word "bought" to

"made," or "created," which words occur in the immediate

context of Deut. 32:6, is totally novel. He made his

argument on the basis that the word "bought" occurs in both.

How such a weak connection can serve as a basis for saying

that Peter "alluded" to that passage, not to speak of the

consequent redefinition, by Long, on such a basis, of the

word "bought," this Long did not show in his presentation.

Also Long uses other wider context of Deut. 32:6, which talks

or implies covenant of God with Israel, in order to say that

God made a covenant, according to the flesh, with even those

false teachers of 2 Peter. Chang writes concerning these

Long's arguments,

[Long's] argument is without any ground. Any

student of the Bible who has compared 2 Peter 2:1 with

exercises uses harmless ammunition, should he then when and if a

real war should start do the same? Etc.).
Word studies are used mainly only to help us understand, by
the use of context, the meaning of words the meaning of which is
obscure and not sufficiently established due, mainly, to their
rare occurrence. But none of the words covered in this paper fall
into that category, for their meanings are rather well
The apostle Paul also writes, "For we write none other things
unto you, than what ye read or acknowledge [perceive]..." 2 Cor.

Deuteronomy 32:6 seriously wonders how one gets the

idea that Peter here was alluding to Deuteronomy 32:6.
The Nestle-Aland Greek text (25th ed.) indicates all
allusions to and quotations from the Old Testament, but
it does not include any Old Testament passage in
reference to 2 Pet. 2:1. The United Bible Societies
Greek text (3 ed.) also makes no mention of this in its
apparatus. The writer has consulted more than a dozen
commentaries, but he could find none that makes mention
of this supposed allusion. Any argument based on such
a dubious ground carries no weight. Moreover, it is
doubtful whether the Bible gives any support to the
idea that God made a covenant with the wicked one like
those mentioned in 2 Peter 2:1 and made them a
privileged people in the flesh.201

The above argument of Long's is the very heart of the

Sovereign Creation view, receiving even its name from this

supposed Old Testament allusion.202

The Extent of God's Saving Will

"...God our Saviour, who will ( ) have

all men ( ) to be saved, and to
come unto the knowledge of truth. For there is one God,
and one mediator between God and men ( ), the
man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all (
), to be testified in due time." 1
Tim. 2:3b-6
Before dealing with the text as such we note that the

Greek word , here translated "men," means, as

"men" did in English, human beings in general.

First, as to the division of God's will into "his will

intending," and "his will commanding," we have earlier in

Chang, Second Peter 2:1 and the Extent of the Atonement, 58.
For, Long says the Hebrew word translated in Deut. 32:6 as
"made," is capable also of translation, "created."

this paper203 dealt with that and feel have sufficiently

shown uselessness, and fallaciousness of that distinction

especially as far God's revealed will in the Word is

concerned, therefore we proceed to show other weaknesses in

Calvinistic interpretation of this passage.

The word , here translated "wills," can

better be translated as "wishes to have, desires,"204 which

word better shows what we have here in this passage conveyed

to us, namely God's desire to save all. But obviously He

saves people only through Christ, through faith in Him.

Those who resist this ordination of God, even though God

would not like them to, but desires them to be saved, will

perish. When the use of this word is studied in the

Scriptures, where it is used some 47 times,205 one can notice

that this what is willed or desired does not necessarily come

to pass, but shows only a desire of mind or heart toward

something, not the absolute will of God, which can not be

resisted.206 Therefore, Owen's premise which gave only the

two alternatives, is faulty, for the passage here addresses

Pp. 55-60. There these wills were called the hidden will
and the revealed will of God, respectively.
Walter Bauer, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and
Other Early Christian Literature, p. 354.
Twenty-four times the word is used of God's (i.e. of any
persons in the Trinity) will or desire.
Another example is in Matthew 9:13, "I will (desire) to have
mercy and not sacrifice,..." However, we know that, nevertheless,
the Jews offered sacrifices to God, but did not show mercy toward

neither what He will absolutely do, nor what we are to do,

but what He desires that would happen.

Thus we are not forced to limit the scope of the "all

men," whom God desires to save, but can affirm the apostle to

mean "all men without exception." Nor does the context force

on us any such thing as Owen sets forth, for the context,

the text just preceding our text, is as follows:

V. 1 "I exhort therefore, that, first of all,

supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of
thanks, be made for [ = for, on behalf of] all
V. 2 for [ ] kings, and for [this "for" is not
in Greek] all that are in authority [actually: and all
that are in high position], that we may lead a quiet
and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.

V. 3 for this is good and acceptable in the sight of

God our Saviour."

There are two different elements to the apostle's

exhortation, one, the "first of all," or literally "firstly,"

( ), which is stated in the verse one, and which

is "for all men." The second one is introduced with the

second "for" and forms the verse two. The special purpose of

prayer for those in government is mentioned in that same

verse: "That we may lead peaceable life etc.," whereas the

purpose of the prayer "for all men" (including those in

authority) is found in verses three to six, namely that they

could "be saved and come unto the knowledge of truth, for

there is one God and one mediator between God and men,...

their neighbor, even though God desired them to.


Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all."

Owen's reference to Jeremiah 29:1,2 is totally invalid,

for he has perverted the text there to read, "Nebuchadnezzar

carried away all the people captive to Babylon,... the king,

and the queen, and the eunuchs, etc.," to fit his ends. The

actual translation is: "...all the people whom (

) Nebuchadnezzar had carried away from

Jerusalem to Babylon after Jeconiah, the king, went out, and

the queen, and the eunuchs, and etc." This word "whom,"

which the text has, makes a difference. Among those

particular "all the people whom," there happened to be people

of different ranks. However, this obviously is not to lead

into any kind of redefinition of the word "all" to always

mean people of different ranks in terms of, "all without

distinction", here nor elsewhere.

The above probably was the most important passage

which showed God's universal desire to save all people,

therefore we feel that there is no need to cover other

passages of the same nature. And by now the reader is, we

trust, quite familiar with what we have called "Calvinistic

or Owenistic sophistry," so as to enable him to see through

it, and thereby dissolve that sophistry as it manifests

itself in their interpretation of other passages. We can

here only conclude, that wherever the Scripture uses the

words "all," or "world" we can, unless the immediate context

clearly defines the meaning to be something less, take them

to mean "each and every one," and "all people" respectively.

Reply To The Arguments From The Passages Which Supposedly

Imply Limited Extent Of The Atonement

These are the passages which state that, Christ

gave Himself for His "people" (Matt.1:21), for His "friends"

(John 15:13), for His "sheep" (John 10:11,15), for His

"church" (Eph. 5:23-26; Acts 20:28)207 and thus not

supposedly for those who are not His people, or are His

enemies, or wolves, or are not part of the Church.

Matthew 1:21 relates to us some of the words

(concerning Mary) of an angel who appeared to Joseph in a

dream: "And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call

His name Jesus: for he shall save His people from their

Now this is exactly what we said earlier in this

paper208. He indeed saves only His people, that is those who

are in Him through faith, for only those are His people.

It is only these that salvation belongs to, even though

redemption was for all men. Of others He says, "Ye are of

Gary D. Long, Definite Atonement, p. 33.
Pages 76, 102, 114.

your father the devil,..."209 But then we need also to

remember Jesus' words to Saul as regarding the work that

Christ gave him to do,

To open their (i.e. Jews' and Gentiles') eyes, and

to turn them from darkness to light, and from the
power of Satan unto God, that they may receive
forgiveness of sins,... by faith in me.210

Therefore we can readily see that this passage creates

no tension with regard to universal redemption.

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay

down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)

This passage does not, any more than other passages

which talk of Christ dying for anything less than the whole

world (for example Paul saying: "He died for me."), limit the

wider extent of His atoning death. In other words, a

narrower expression, unless it has some exclusive claim, for

example, "I died only for you, my friends," can not be used

to defend limited atonement.

Jesus in this passage addresses only His disciples,

that therefore accounts for those expressions of limited

extent. But nowhere does Christ exclude the possibility of

anyone becoming His friend, as the apostle says, "...when we

were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His

Son." (Rom. 5:10)

John 8:44.
Acts 26:18.

Very much the same argumentation applies for John

10:11,15, where Jesus says that He lays down His life "for

the sheep." In addition to what was said above about a

narrower expression not excluding the wider, we need to pay

attention to the context here in order to see what made

Christ here use that particular narrower expression. In this

we need not look from far, for the context (especially verses

10-13) shows how Christ is comparing what "the thief," or

"the hireling" does with what He does. Whereas the thief

comes not, "but to steal, and to kill, and to destroy," He,

as the Good Shepherd, lays down His life "for the sheep";

whereas a hireling, "because he is an hireling, and careth

not for the sheep," when he seeth the wolf coming, "leaveth

the sheep, and fleeth," the Good Shepherd lays down His life

"for the sheep." Thus Christ distinguishes "the Good

Shepherd" from both "the thief," and "the hireling." This is

the main, if not the only, point of this parable of our Lord.
In the passages where Christ is said to have died for

His church (e.g. Eph. 5:23-26; Acts 20:28) there, again, is

no exclusive statement there to say that He died "only for

the Church." Therefore we uphold also to other passages

where He is said to have died "for the world," or "for all,"

or "for every man." This creates no tensions, but the view

of limited redemptionists do in abundance, for they cannot

accommodate universal redemption passages into their system

without doing violence to the Scriptures as we have seen, but

we can accommodate, with natural understanding of the text,

also the passages of seemingly limited extent into our

system. To quote the Calvinists, we say, "Let the reader

judge for himself," what the truth is.



In weighing the evidence of this study one can come

to certain conclusions concerning, at least the five-point,

Calvinistic theology.

It is an inescapable conclusion that the Calvinistic

theology of limited atonement is conditioned by rational

presuppositions.211 An attempt is then made by them to

defend these presuppositions. And in being unable to defend

them by way of any other method, a rational interpretation of

the Scriptures ensues.

The main rational Calvinistic presupposition that comes

to bear in the matter of atonement, as we have shown, is

The Calvinistic tendency to begin, or condition, their
theology with rational presuppositions in general, and in the case
of limited atonement in particular, is not a new finding. When
they, in Christology, teach about the communication of attributes,
there very heavily looms their axiom, "finite is not capable of
infinite." It is then according to this principle that they
interpret the passages that deal with a communion of natures or
communication of attributes between Christ's human and divine
nature. When they, with regard to the means of grace, determine
whether God uses those means to create faith, the premise, "Since
regeneration is effected by divine omnipotence, there is in
regeneration 'no place for the use of means'." This leads them,
in interpretation of Scripture, to pervert the passages which
teach that God uses those means in regeneration, to read "without
or alongside of the means of grace." And in the matter of the
real presence of the Lord's body and blood in the Sacrament of the
Altar, their notion that "always only a visible and local presence
may be ascribed to the human nature of Christ," leads them, in
their interpretation of the Scripture, to say that in the word of
the Lord, "This is my body," "This is my blood," the word "is"
actually means "signify." Francis Pieper, Christian Dogmatics
(St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1953), 3:322-324.

their contention that we can judge from results what God's

sovereign will is. This in turn leads them to interpret the

passages which plainly and clearly teach universal atonement

so as to arrive to an understanding of them in a sense

compatible with their above premise which requires that the

atonement be understood in a limited sense, because all

people, obviously, are not saved. We feel we have shown,

with a detailed study of the pertinent passages, how

Calvinistic forced redefinitions of the words such as "all,"

and "world," to mean "all sorts of people; some of all

sorts," and "the world of elect; other than a Jew; some of

all nations," respectively, are just human machinations

brought about by Calvinistic sophistry, based on their above

premise, and cannot be based on the context, whether

immediate or wider, where those words occur.

If indeed we were to redefine the meaning of words and

understand the Word in the Calvinistic fashion, why should

such redefinitions be limited to the above words in that

particular context where they has to do with the extent of

the atonement, and not as well, for example, where the

Scripture teaches universal corruption of human race,

stating, for example, that "all have sinned." If we were to

read Scriptures without knowing that we are to remain in a

simple understanding of the words and context where they

occur, how could we ever develop (that is, state) any dogma,

for one could doubt any word whether it means what its

definition expresses.

Where we can give credit to Calvinists is that they

oppose Arminian synergism, which ought to be opposed.

Unfortunately they do it with the method which, if carried

out consistently, would destroy the comfort of the Gospel,

the means of grace, and the integrity of the Scriptures:

comfort of the Gospel, seeing no one can find comfort in the

external word of the Gospel because he can not know if it is

for him; soul searching which such a Calvinist has

constantly to pursue can lead only to despair if they fully

understand what they are to seek for, namely, certainty from

themselves that they are God's elect, of which no external

word exits; the means of grace, because there is no use of

the revealed Gospel of Christ, whether in the Scriptures or

in the Sacraments, of which one can not tell if it is for

him; the integrity of the Scriptures, because their method

of interpretation undermines the credibility of the

Scriptures in not allowing us to take the words in their

proper sense.

Another Calvinist invented notion, which has great

implications on their understanding of the atonement of

Christ and make them favour limited scope of it, is the

intrinsic relationship of redemption and salvation, which,

however, is nowhere to be found in the Scriptures. We grant,

that for the elect, according to God's design of their

salvation, calling by the Gospel, justification and


glorification (Rom. 8:29,30) follow their redemption, but

this truth lends no support to their notion that for whom one

(redemption) is true, for him also the other (salvation) has

to be true. We have also noted how this their scheme does

away with faith against so many passages of the Scripture to

the contrary. For they hold that if Christ died for all

sins, then He died also for the sin of unbelief; Therefore,

they say, the sin of unbelief can not hinder people from

attaining salvation any more than their other sins do, but

because not all are saved, therefore Christ did not die for

all. However, in this their reasoning they fail to realize

that the same reasoning must hold good as well for the elect,

for whom only they say Christ died, thus it would follow that

the elect need not believe. This obviously flies on the face

of the Scriptures, which testify that in order to be saved

one is to receive salvation, completed by Christ, by faith,

which is not work, but a God imparted gift through the Gospel
of Jesus Christ.

Passages of Scripture, such as those where Christ is

said to have died for the Church, for Christians, for the

sheep or for His friends, and to which passages Calvinists

also make their appeal for the limited extent of the

atonement, were also here shown to create no tensions, when

rightly understood, with universal redemption.

Also this study has shown that some other approaches

employed by Calvinists to defend their limited atonement


scheme, such as Christ's high priestly office, the doctrine

of Trinity, or the unique New Testament situation where, for

the first time, the Word of God was freely preached also to

the Gentiles, do not stand a closer examination.

In addition, it has here been demonstrated that

Calvinists in their definition of the words "all" and "world"

are not consistent to their own method of deriving meanings

to those words. In the passages which deal with the

universal redemption they want to limit the scope of those

words to include only the elect, but in the passages which

teach the universal corruption they take those same words in

their proper universal sense.

In summary then, this study has shown both Calvinist

presuppositions and their interpretation of specific passages

concerning the extent of the atonement to be flawed,

unscriptural and therefore unfounded.

Suggestions for Further Study

Nature of the atonement of Christ and the extent of the


Calvinists found it objectionable to think that Christ

had had even the sins of those who had already perished on

Him on the Cross.

Christ having the very sins of all people on Him when

He died on the Cross is indeed the way of speaking that we,

together with the most of the Protestant community as a


whole, have used. However, we wonder, if that corresponds

with the Scriptural way of speaking. The only passage in the

Scripture which uses such a language, that we can think of,

is that of Isaiah 53, and there especially the 53:6, "...and

the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all." However,

the Hebrew word which has here been

translated as "hath laid on" is actually only an

interpretation of what the actual word means, namely, "hath

made meet."212 Also the preposition which means "in

Him," was translated "on Him." Taking, then, these

corrections into account, the passage reads as follows: "the

Lord hath made meet (together) in Him the iniquity of us

all." Now if we did consider, that Christ, instead of having

all the specific sins of all people of all time on Him,

simply died under the full curse of the law "once for all,"

especially seeing that general sinfulness of human beings,

not merely individual sins alone, as such, renders us evil,

we would, all the more, be able to refute the Calvinistic

view of intrinsicality of salvation to redemption, besides

providing further understanding of Christ's atoning work.

When together with this we consider the fact that we can not

say, that Christ suffered and died a little bit less for this

person, and a little bit more for this one, the reason being

Other applicable meanings the word has are, fall (upon),
encounter, interpose. The New Brown - Driver - Briggs - Gesenius
Hebrew and English Lexicon (Peabody: Massachusetts: Hendrickson
Publishers, 1979), 803.

that the one was a little bit less sinful, and the other a

little bit more sinful, respectively. But we have to say

that even if there had been only one sinner in the whole

world, Christ, to redeem him, should have suffered just as

much as He suffered for all. Likewise every sinner, to be

saved, needs just the same "amount" of righteousness before

God, namely that of Christ's perfect righteousness. Now, if

these things be so, then the question as to whom Christ died,

for all or for some only, as well as the question, for whom

did Christ fulfill all righteousness, for all or only for

some,213 become irrelevant there being in Christ a full

standard forgiveness and righteousness for every sinner that

comes to Him in faith. Also Isa. 53:4,5,8,11,12 should be

closely checked with regard to this nature of atonement.

The Old Testament scapegoat figure (Lev. 16:20ff.) of

Christ would also need to be examined, as well as different

sin offerings such as those in Chapters 4-7 of Leviticus.

These seem to indicate atonement/forgiveness of specific

sins, but even so, do these "shadows of the things to come,"

necessarily mean that the real thing, Christ crucified, need

to follow their pattern in every detail? Therefore it seems

imperative that the New Testament teaching concerning the

matter be examined. But this we then leave for others to


This likely corresponding to cover the same people for whom
He died.

Further we suggest, that a study of relationship of

Christ to His people be investigated in terms of its possible

implications, if any, to the extent of the atonement.214

This ties very closely to the following (and therefore should

be covered with it): Covenant of Redemption approach:

implications to the extent of the atonement. (On what premise

is the Calvinistic presupposition of existence of such a

covenant based? Is it Scriptural?) This is supposedly

eternal covenant from eternity, based on Heb. 13:20,

"...through the blood of the everlasting covenant

(testament). But is this covenant eternal only to forward,

and not backward, for Christ said, "This cup is the New

testament in my blood..." (1 Cor. 11:25).

It could be helpful also to undertake a historical

study of both the development of the teaching of the limited

atonement, starting from John Calvin to the present day, and

teaching of the extent of the atonement (if any215) in the

Gary D. Long, for example, in his, Definite Atonement
(Nutley, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1976), p.
21 interprets Scripture so as to enable him to say, that the elect
only were in Christ when He died, and none other.
Most likely this can be developed only by inference from and
by implications of, what the Early Church fathers taught
concerning the atonement.

Early Church.216

Study of, "Why some are not saved?," regardless of

the universal atonement of Christ, could be of help. The

Calvinistic doctrine of reprobation should also, obviously,

in this context be covered. A more detailed study of the

extent of God's saving will could possibly be integrated here

as well, including the study of the passages like Ezek. 33; 2

Pet. 3:9; Matt. 23:37.

A study of God's love could be undertaken: Is there

in God some "special love" toward the elect? This is what

Calvinists say.217

Does the "for us," phrase in the atonement passages

mean Christians, the elect, or also people in general? A

detailed study in this area, even including the use and

understanding of the term by our theologians, could help

contribute to understanding of the extent of the atonement.

Implications of the teaching of the limited extent

John Owen has appended to his Death of Death in the Death of
Christ (Carlisle, PS: Banner of Truth Trust, 1985 reprint), 310-
312, "Some Few Testimonies of the Ancients," none of which prove
what he wants to prove, namely limited extent of the atonement.
For example, Gary D. Long, Definite Atonement, 59; Kuiper,
For Whom Did Christ Die?, 62-77.

of the atonement to the Sacraments, especially of the Holy

Baptism, should be investigated.