1 JOHN 2:2 & THE EXTENT OF THE ATONEMENT
Dr. David Allen | Dean of the School of Theology
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
**This article was previously posted by Dr. David L. Allen on his website www.drdavidlallen.com and is used by permission.
Dr. Allen is: Dean of the School of Theology, Professor of Preaching, Director of the Center for Expository Preaching, and George W. Truett Chair of Pastoral Ministry at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
UPDATE: 2/25/16 @ 3:10pm
I have followed with interest the comments on this post regarding my sermon. Thank you all for your interaction, which is, I think, healthy.
Let me note several points.
- In the sermon, I gave the reasons why the standard interpretations of “whole world” in 1 John 2:2 (1. Gentiles in distinction from Jews; 2. Some people from all groups of people in the world; 3. the world of the elect) cannot refer to the elect only. There seems to be no refutation of my points here, merely the assertion that “whole world” cannot mean what it appears to say and thus it somehow means a limited group of people, namely, the elect.
- What is glaringly absent in the comment thread by Calvinists is any interaction with the last part of the sermon where I demonstrate the impossibility of offering the gospel to people for whom there is no atonement (the limited atonement position). I would like to hear how my Calvinist brothers who assert limited atonement would respond to that part of my sermon.
- To summarize my claim related to 2 above: if no atonement exists for the non-elect, then it is impossible to offer the gospel to them in good faith because we are offering something that, in fact, does not exist. Not only that, as 2 Corinthians 5:18-21 makes clear, God and Christ themselves are “pleading” with people through the witness and preaching of the apostles and all Christians to be reconciled to God. How can God be offering salvation to people who are hearing the word preached whom God himself knows to be non-elect and hence for whom there is no atonement on the limited atonement scheme?
I am currently serving as the Interim Pastor of First Baptist Church, Irving, TX. A few weeks back I began a series of sermons through 1 John. On Sunday, February 14, I preached on 1 John 2:1-2. Verse 2 says:
And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for those [the sins] of the whole world.
This passage is one of the key texts in the New Testament that clearly affirms Christ died for the sins of all people.
The link below is the video of the sermon. The video is the entire service, but the sermon begins at the 22:45 mark. I begin to deal with the extent question at the 42:45 mark.
In this section of the sermon, I explain why 1 John 2:2 does not and indeed cannot teach limited atonement, but rather clearly affirms that Christ died for the sins of all people. I also demonstrate how it is not possible to offer salvation to someone for whom no atonement exists.
Comments are welcome.