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Albert Barnes Note on 1 Timothy 2:4

Verse 4. Who will have all men to be saved.

That is, it is in accordance with his nature, his feelings, his desires. The word will cannot be taken here in the absolute sense, denoting a decree like that by which he willed the creation of the world, for then it would certainly be done. But the word is often used to denote a desire, wish, or what is in accordance with the nature of any one. Thus it may be said of God that he “wills” that his creatures may be happy—because it is in accordance with his nature, and because he has made abundant provision for their happiness—though it is not true that he wills it in the sense that he exerts his absolute power to make them happy. God wills that sickness should be relieved, and sorrow mitigated, and that the oppressed should go free, because it is agreeable to his nature; though it is not true that he wills it in the sense that he exerts his absolute power to produce it. A parent wills the welfare of his child. It is in accordance with his nature, his feelings, his desires; and he makes every needful arrangement for it. If the child is not virtuous and happy, it is his own fault. So God wills that all men should be saved. It would be in accordance with his benevolent nature. He has made ample provision for it. He uses all proper means to secure their salvation. He uses no positive means to prevent it, and if they are not saved it will be their own fault. For places in the New Testament where the word here translated “will” (yelw) means to desire or wish, Lu 8:20; 23:8; Joh 16:19; Ga 4:20; Mr 7:24; 1 Co 7:7; 11:3; 14:5; Mt 15:28.

This passage cannot mean, as many have supposed, that God wills that all kinds of men should be saved, or that some sinners of every rank and class may be saved, because

(1.) the natural and obvious interpretation of the language is opposed to such a sense. The language expresses the desire that “all men” should be saved, and we should not depart from the obvious sense of a passage unless necessity requires it.

(2.) Prayer and thanksgiving 1 Ti 2:1 are directed to be offered, not for some of all ranks and conditions, but for all mankind. No exception is made, and no direction is given that we should exclude any of the race from the expressions of our sympathy, and from an interest in our supplications. The reason given here for that prayer is, that God desires that all men should be saved. But how could this be a reason for praying for all, if it means that God desired only the salvation of some of all ranks?

(3.) In 1 Ti 2:5,6, the apostle gives reasons showing that God wished the salvation of all men, and those reasons are such as to prove that the language here is to be taken in the most unlimited sense. Those reasons are,
(a) that there is one God over all, and one Mediator between God and men—showing that God is the Father of all, and has the same interest in all; and
(b) that Christ gave himself a ransom for all—showing that God desired their salvation.

This verse proves:

(1.) that salvation is provided for all —for if God wished all men to be saved, he would undoubtedly make provision for their salvation; and if he had not made such provision, it could not be said that he desired their salvation, since no one can doubt that he has power to provide for the salvation of all;

(2.) that salvation should be offered to all men—for if God desires it, it is right for his ministers to announce that desire, and if he desires it, it is not proper for them to announce anything contrary to this;

(3.) that men are to blame if they are not saved. If God did not wish their salvation, and if he had made no provision for it, they could not be to blame if they rejected the gospel. If God wishes it, and has made provision for it, and they are not saved, the sin must be their own—and it is a great sin, for there is no greater crime which a man can commit than to destroy his own soul, and to make himself the eternal enemy of his Maker.

And to come unto the knowledge of the truth. The truth which God has revealed: the “truth as it is in Jesus.”

Written by The Seeking Disciple

08/29/2013 at 12:37 PM

Albert Barnes on Matthew 26:28

I found Dr. Albert Barnes’ note on Matthew 26:28 to be rich and made me want to shout!  That Jesus shed His blood for our salvation is acknowledged but it should be a truth that makes us full of joy to know that He took our sins away by His own blood that He shed upon the cross.

Dr. Barnes writes:

Verse 28. For this is my blood. This represents my blood: as the bread did his body. Luke and Paul vary the expression, adding what Matthew and Mark have omitted. “This cup is the new testament in my blood.” By this cup, he meant the wine in the cup, and not the cup itself. Pointing to it, probably, he said, “This—wine represents my blood about to be shed.” The phrase, “new testament,” should have been rendered new covenant, referring to the covenant or compact that God was about to make with men through a Redeemer. The old covenant was that which was made with the Jews by the sprinkled of the blood of sacrifices. See Ex 24:8. And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant which the Lord hath made with you, etc. In allusion to that, Jesus says, this cup is the NEW covenant in my blood; that is, ratified, or sealed and sanctioned by my blood. Anciently, covenants or contracts were ratified by slaying an animal; by the shedding of its blood; imprecating similar vengeance if either party failed in the compact. So Jesus says the covenant which God is about to form with men, the new covenant, or the gospel economy, is sealed or ratified with his blood.

Which is shed for many for the remission of sins. In order that sins may be remitted, or forgiven. That is, this is the appointed way by which God will pardon transgressions. That blood is efficacious for the pardon of sin:

(1.) Because it is the life of Jesus; the blood being used by the sacred writers as representing life itself, or as containing the elements of life, Ge 9:4; Le 17:14. It was forbidden, therefore, to eat blood, because it contained the life, or was the life, of the animal. When, therefore, Jesus says his blood was shed for many, it is the same as saying that his life was given for many. See Barnes “Ro 3:25”.

(2.) His life was given for sinners, or he died in the place of sinners, as their substitute. By his death on the cross, the death or punishment due to them in hell may be removed, and their souls be saved. He endured so much suffering, bore so much agony, that God was pleased to accept it in the place of the eternal torments of all the redeemed. The interests of justice, the honour and stability of his government, would be as secure in saving them in this manner, as if the suffering were inflicted on them personally in hell. God, by giving his Son to die for sinners, has shown his infinite abhorrence of sin: since, according to his view, and therefore according to truth, nothing else would show its evil nature, but the awful sufferings of his own Son. That he died in the stead or place of sinners, is abundantly clear from the following passages of Scripture: Joh 1:29; Ep 5:2; Heb 7:27; 1 Jo 2:2; 4:10; Isa 53:10; Ro 8:32; 2 Co 5:15.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

08/08/2013 at 5:14 AM

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

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