Arminian Today

A Jesus-Centered Arminian Blog

Posts Tagged ‘1 John 2:2

Adam Clarke on 1 John 2:2

I love Adam Clarke’s notes on 1 John 2:2.  While short, they are to the point.

Verse 2. “And he is the propitiation” – The atoning sacrifice for our sins. This is the proper sense of the word as used in the Septuagint, where it often occurs; and is the translation of µa asham, an oblation for sin, Amos viii. 14. tafj chattath, a sacrifice for sin, Ezek. xliv. 27. rwpk kippur, an atonement, Num. v. 8. See the note on Rom. iii. 25, and particularly the note on Luke xviii. 13. The word is used only here and in chap. iv. 10.

“And not for ours only” – It is not for us apostles that he has died, nor exclusively for the Jewish people, but peri olou tou kosmou, for the whole world, Gentiles as well as Jews, all the descendants of Adam. The apostle does not say that he died for any select part of the inhabitants of the earth, or for some out of every nation, tribe, or kindred; but for ALL MANKIND; and the attempt to limit this is a violent outrage against God and his word.

For the meaning of the word paraklhtov, which we here translate advocate, see the note on John xiv. 16.

From these verses we learn that a poor backslider need not despair of again finding mercy; this passage holds out sufficient encouragement for his hope. There is scarcely another such in the Bible, and why? That sinners might not presume on the mercy of God. And why this one? That no backslider might utterly despair. Here, then, is a guard against presumption on the one hand, and despondency on the other.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

12/03/2012 at 4:17 PM

1 John 2:2 and “the World”

Calvinists insist that the word “world” in 1 John 2:2 cannot possibly mean “the whole world” but instead they take “world” and teach that John means “Jews and Gentiles” or those from the world.  They do this because to teach that “world” means “world” would deny limited atonement and they would be forced to embrace unlimited atonement which simply cannot happen otherwise the other four points of Calvinism would be in jeopardy.  To see an example of a Calvinist holding firmly to 1 John 2:2 not being “world” but instead “all types from the world” see this post here.

Let’s do this, let’s look at John’s use of “world” in 1 John to see how John would use the term.  For this study, I will be using Dr. Robert Picirilli’s book, Grace, Faith, Free Will.  The Greek word is “kosmos” and it occurs 23 times in 1 John.  Dr. Robert Picirilli notes the use of kosmos in 1 John as follows:

2:2
2:15-17 (6 times)
3:1
3:13
3:17
4:1-5 (6 times)
4:9
4:14
4:17
5:4-5 (3 times)
5:19

Picirilli notes that the use of “the world” can be used personally by John (3:1, 13) or impersonally (2:15).  The use of “world” in 1 John 2:2 is personal.

John consistently uses “the world” against the Church.  Only four times in 1 John does he use “the world” to not be negative: 1 John 3:17 and 4:17; 4:9; and 4:14 which is the same meaning as in 1 John 2:2.  The Church is not to love “the world” (1 John 2:15-17), does not recognize Jesus nor His disciples (3:1), hates disciples (3:13), has the spirit of the antichrist (4:3-4), is overcome by disciples (5:4-5), and is in the grip of the evil one (5:18-19).

Dr. Picirilli notes at this point that one would be hard pressed to see, given the consistent use by John for “the world”, to mean “the elect of all nations.”

Even stronger is the use of the Greek word “holos” (or “whole”) in 1 John 2:2.  The only other place this word is found in 1 John 5:19.  How can 1 John 2:2 be “the elect from Jews and Gentiles” while “the whole world” in 1 John 5:19 cannot?  I admit that context must determine the usage but Calvinists have greatly read into 1 John 2:2 their own doctrine when it comes to John’s use of “the world” as being only “the elect.”

I also recommend Dr. Picirilli’s remaining comments on the use of the plural “we/us” in 1 John 2:2.  He points out that John is consistent also in his usage of the plural and this strengthens the Arminian argument for unlimited atonement.

In my response recently with the same Calvinist author above over his views regarding limited atonement (in which he argued that one must embrace universalism if you hold to an unlimited view), I asked him to show me one verse in the Bible that says Christ died only for the elect.  To merely state a verse where it says that Jesus died for someone (or something) does not mean then that He died only for that which it mentioned.  Scripture says that Jesus died for the Church (Ephesians 5:25), the sheep (John 10:11), us (Galatians 1:4), or Paul but it never says in the New Testament that Jesus died only for the elect.  Take Galatians 2:20 where Paul says that Christ died for him.  Are we to assume that Jesus died only for Paul?  In John 10 where Jesus says that He lays down His life for the sheep, are we then to conclude that He lays down His life for the Church or His friends?  To merely assume since someone is not mentioned in the text does not mean that He didn’t die for them when in fact it is clear that Jesus did die for all in places such as 1 John 2:2.  I replied to the Calvinist brother, “If I asked you if Jesus died for the church you would say yes and point to Ephesians 5:25.  If I asked you if Jesus died for the sheep you would say yes and point to John 10:11.  If I asked you if Jesus died for Paul you would say yes and point to Galatians 2:20.  But when I point out that Jesus died for the world in places such as 1 John 2:2, you turn and deny this simply because your theology will not allow it and not because of your conviction from Scripture.”  Again, Scripture is clear that Jesus died for the sheep, the Church, Paul, us, the world, etc. but not once do we find that He died only for the elect.  This must be implied through doctrinal positions instead of Scripture.

One final note is this issue of double jeopardy.  Calvinists like to argue that if Christ died for all men’s sins then they should be atoned for when they die since God cannot be just in punishing them for the sins He laid upon Christ on the cross.  First of all, no one is saved merely by the atonement of Christ.  That Jesus died on the cross or shed His blood saves no one.  Even Calvinists acknowledge this.  We are saved by grace through faith in the saving work of Jesus Christ (Romans 3:23-26).  Scripture is clear that we are justified by faith (Romans 5:1; Ephesians 2:8-9).  If Christ died for the elect only then it logically follows that the elect are born saved, regenerated, and sinless.  Yet all Calvinists agree that they were sinners and now are saved by grace through faith.  How can this be if Christ died for the sins on the cross and paid their sin debt?  How can God place the sins of the elect on Christ and then still call people to repent of sins that He has already forgiven them of and did not see because they were in Christ?  It is illogical.

The atonement, by itself, saves none.  It is faith in the atonement that saves.  In this sense, Jesus is the Savior of the whole world in that He died for all and made provision for their forgiveness but He saves only those who believe (1 Timothy 4:10).  Only those who appropriate His atonement are redeemed and forgiven.  The elect then are those who place their faith in Jesus, those foreknown by God (Romans 8:29; 1 Peter 1:2).

In closing, I asked the same author above when he got saved.  He didn’t really answer me for he knew my question was a trap.  We get saved when we place our faith in Jesus.  This is clear in Scripture (John 3:1-7).  The Calvinist will argue that all of salvation is a work of God and no Arminian would disagree.  I have been saved for over 20 years and have never heard one person say that they saved themselves when they were saved by faith.  While salvation is a work of God (Titus 3:5-7), God does not believe for us.  Even Calvinist theologians acknowledge this.  Certainly we Arminians agree that the Spirit of God must help a person to place their faith in Jesus.  But we believe that the will of God is for all to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4) and that He has graciously given His Son for this purpose (John 1:29; 3:16).  We further believe that God has sent His Spirit to convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgement to come (John 16:8-11).  What would be the point of the Holy Spirit convicting the world if in fact God already had sent His Son to die only for the elect?

It is clear that we all are saved by grace through faith.  You didn’t get saved when Jesus died on the cross.  You didn’t get saved when Jesus rose from the dead.  You didn’t get saved when the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost.  You were saved when you placed your faith in the saving, precious, shed blood of Jesus that forgives sins (Acts 13:38-39).  In Acts 16:30-34 we read of the conversion of the Philippian jailer and we read in verses 30-31:

Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

Notice what Paul didn’t say.  He didn’t say that this man was already saved (through the cross or universalism) nor did he say that he was already saved to believe (regeneration before faith) but he tells him to believe in the Lord Jesus and he would be saved.  This man demonstrates his repentance and is baptized (v.33).  The work of salvation was accomplished by Christ and for the glory of God but the man was not saved until he exercised faith in Jesus who alone saves (Acts 4:12).

Arminian Thoughts on 1 John 2:2

He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
1 John 2:2

1 John 2:2 is one of the most powerful passages for teaching the glorious atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ.  This verse alone implies several key points that Arminians affirm.  First, the verse implies that the atonement was for us, those who are the elect of God through faith in Christ.  We who believe in Jesus, trust in His grace to save us, believe that His blood was shed for our forgiveness and for our salvation (Isaiah 53:4-6).  We have come to see that Jesus is a wonderful Savior and that His blood is sufficient for our eternal salvation (Ephesians 1:7).  His blood cleanses us from all sins (Hebrews 9:14).  When Jesus uttered that it was finished in John 19:30, it was finished!  The work of salvation was complete in Jesus.  We can only be saved through faith in Him and by His grace (John 14:6; Acts 4:12) and salvation comes not by works on our part but through faith in Him and His shed blood (Acts 13:38-39; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5-7).

Secondly, the Arminian sees the vastness of this great atonement.  We don’t just see our salvation and we bless God for saving us in Christ (Romans 6:23) but we also see the importance of taking the gospel to all nations because Jesus died for all so that all can come and be saved in Him (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16).  We believe in the doctrine of unlimited atonement meaning that Jesus shed His blood not just for the sins of the elect as taught in Calvinism but we believe He shed His blood for all people (John 3:16).  The will of God is not for any to perish (2 Peter 3:9) but that all would be saved in Christ (1 Timothy 2:4).  In this sense, Jesus came to bear the sins of all (Romans 5:18) so that all can come and be saved (1 Timothy 4:10) and become the elect of God through His foreknowledge (Romans 8:29).

When it comes to 1 John 2:2, this verse is tough on many Calvinist theologians.  Even R.C. Sproul states, “On the surface this text seems to demolish limited atonement.”

Albert Barnes explain 1 John 2:2:

This is one of the expressions occurring in the New Testament which demonstrate that the atonement was made for all people, and which cannot be reconciled with any other opinion.  If he had died only for a part of the race, this language could not have been used.  The phrase, “the whole world,” is one which naturally embraces all people; is such as would be used if it supposed that the apostle meant to teach Christ died for all people; and is such as cannot be explained on any other supposition.

Yet we find Calvinist commentator John Gill saying,

Now let it be observed. that the phrases, all the world, and the whole world, are often used in scripture to be taken in a limited sense…in this epistle of John, the phrase is used in a restrained sense…in the text under consideration, it cannot be understood of all men…what may be observed and will lead more clearly into the sense of the passage before us, is, that the apostle John was a Jew, and he wrote to Jews: and in the text speaks of them, and of the Gentiles, as to be distinguished; and therefore says of Christ, he is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, for the sins of us Jews only; but for the sins of the whole world; of the Gentiles also, of all the elect of God throughout the Gentile world.

In this sense, Gill reads into 1 John 2:2 what he wants to see and that is limited atonement.  Instead of allowing the text to speak for itself, Gill has to make the text not say what it clearly seems to say, that the atonement was for all.

Imagine taking 1 John 2:2 to someone who have never heard of Calvinism or Arminianism.  If we were to ask them to read the passage and then tell us what it means, even a child could see that John the Apostle is saying that Christ died to be the propitiation for the sins of the whole world.  If I asked them, “What does whole world mean?”  Again, a child would say it means all.  It would take someone telling you that Christ died only for the sins of the elect and thus a limited atonement in order for you to believe that 1 John 2:2 doesn’t mean all.

The Calvinist work of Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown states this about 1 John 2:2:

Christ’s “advocacy” is limited to believers (1Jo 2:1; 1Jo 1:7): His propitiation extends as widely as sin extends: see on 2Pe 2:1, “denying the Lord that bought them.” “The whole world” cannot be restricted to the believing portion of the world (compare 1Jo 4:14; and “the whole world,” 1Jo 5:19). “Thou, too, art part of the world, so that thine heart cannot deceive itself and think, The Lord died for Peter and Paul, but not for me” [Luther].

I agree.  Christ is the Savior only of those who believe (1 Timothy 4:10).

In closing, let me answer a brief reply I know that some Calvinists will then offer.  Some Calvinist theologians will state that in Arminianism, Jesus died to save no one for His blood only makes people savable.  In Calvinism, Jesus actually died for the salvation of the elect.  The problem with this is that both Arminianism and Calvinism believe that same here about Jesus’ death on the cross mainly that only those who believe are saved.  Salvation is by grace through faith (Romans 5:1).  Both Arminians and Calvinists teach that a person is only justified through faith in Jesus Christ thus no one is saved simply because Jesus died.  There has to be personal faith in Jesus’ shed blood to be saved.

Notice the wording of Romans 3:21-26:

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Notice that all of this work of Christ is given to those who believe!  Certainly one can build a case that Jesus died for the elect (Galatians 1:4) but we can also build a case that He died only for Paul (Galatians 2:20) or the whole world (1 John 2:2).  Let us proclaim Christ to the lost and allow the Lord to draw in those whom He foreknew.  Let us not seek to limit the work of Christ when Scripture clearly does not.

HT: The Dark Side of Calvinism by George Bryson.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

09/26/2012 at 10:00 AM

%d bloggers like this: