On the Insufficiency of the Notion of Sufficiency Among Some Calvinists, part 1 of 3

July 23, 2013

by David L. Allen
Dean, School of Theology
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

(Ed’s. note: A careful researcher and Southern Baptist statesman, Dr. Allen does not ascribe a singular view of Christ’s atonement to all Calvinists, universally; however, his sensitive use of qualifying terms provide both clarity and distinction regarding the topic at-hand.)

I. The Problem Stated, or Ambiguity & Equivocation in High Calvinism

Some Calvinists who affirm what is traditionally called Limited Atonement, or what they may prefer to call “Particular Redemption,” or “Definite Atonement,” maintain that Christ’s atonement is sufficient[1] for all people, even though it only satisfied for the sins of the elect. Recent blog and Facebook posts and comments on the subject by High Calvinists (five-point Calvinists) have addressed this issue. While some of these posts and comments are accurate and helpful, I find some contain statements that are either inaccurate or lack proper qualification.

The sufficiency argument of those who hold to limited atonement[2] goes like this: Christ died only for the sins of the elect. Nevertheless, the death of Christ is sufficient for all people. Therefore we should preach the gospel to all people since it is sufficient and since we don’t know who the elect are.

Here is the problem: How can Christ’s substitutionary death be said to be sufficient for the sins of the entire world, when, according to limited atonement, no atonement for sins exists for the non-elect? What strict Calvinists are actually saying is that the atonement would or could be sufficient for all “had God intended it to be sufficient for them.” But God, according to them, did not intend the atonement to be made on behalf of the non-elect, thus, there is no satisfaction made for their sins. Thus, the sufficiency of the atonement can only be understood to be a statement about its infinite intrinsic value, such that it could hypothetically be satisfactory for all, but it is not “extrinsically” or “actually” satisfactory for all.

II. The Problem Unrecognized by Many Calvinists Today

Many Calvinists don’t seem to recognize this issue or are reluctant to address it. One can understand why: it renders the notion of limited atonement theologically problematic beyond repair. The only response to the dilemma is to use sufficiency language in broad, undefined ways in an attempt to cover the problem. Many Calvinists who affirm universal atonement have for centuries pressed this issue with their High Calvinist counterparts and the silence in response is deafening. For example, this very issue was addressed by John Davenant, leader of the English Delegation at Dort, and signatory of the Canons of Dort. Davenant spoke of an “ordained sufficiency,” by which he meant that God designed and intended the atonement to satisfy for the sins of all men and not just the elect. Davenant was one of several at Dort who affirmed a universal atonement in terms of its extent.[3] In fact, it has been demonstrated by both Calvinist and non-Calvinist historians of Dort that the final canon on the extent of the atonement was deliberately worded with ambiguity so that both those who held to a limited satisfaction for sins and those who held to a universal satisfaction for sins could sign it in good conscience.[4]

III. Consequences of the Problem

Several consequences flow from the question of the sufficiency of the atonement and its extent:

1. If limited atonement is correct, Jesus did not substitute himself on the cross for the sins of the non-elect.

2. Therefore, it is impossible that the non-elect could ever be saved since there is no atonement made for their sins. They are in the same unsaveable state they would be if Jesus had never come at all. Or, as others have argued, they are no more saveable than fallen angels.

3. It is impossible that the atonement can ever be described as sufficiently able to save the non-elect in any way other than hypothetical: something can’t be sufficient for anyone for whom it is non-existent. To suggest otherwise is simply to engage in word games, obfuscation, or equivocation.

4. Further complications emerge concerning the preaching of the gospel. How can preachers universally and indiscriminately offer the gospel in good faith to all people, which clearly includes many who are non-elect, when there is no gospel to offer them, that is, when there is no satisfaction for all their sins? The usual response from strict Calvinists is that we don’t know who the elect are, so we offer the gospel to all. But this misses the point and the problem. The issue is not that we don’t know who the elect are. That is a given. The issue is we are offering something to all people, including those who turn out to be non-elect, that indeed does not exist for all to whom the offer is made. An offer made to all sinners entails contradiction as the preacher knows that the satisfaction for sins by Christ on the cross was not made for all to whom the gospel comes, but pretends and speaks as if there is a legitimate offer to all to whom the gospel is preached.

5. The problem is even more acute with respect to the gospel offer by God when it is understood that it is God Himself making the offer through us. Second Corinthians 5:18-20 makes it clear that it is God offering salvation to all people through the church on the grounds of the atonement of Christ. If He Himself has limited that substitution to only the elect, how can He make such an offer genuinely to all people? It would appear such is not possible.

If Christ did not die for the sins of all people, what exactly is it unbelievers are guilty of rejecting? There is no atonement for their sins for them to reject! Unbelief of the gospel by its very definition involves rejection of God’s provision of grace through Christ’s death. The Scripture makes use of universal exhortations to believe the gospel. Limited Atonement deprives these commands of their significance.


[1] “Sufficient”: adequate; enough; as much as needed; equal to what is needed or required; fully capable; ample; plenty; suitable; abundant; made or suited to the purpose of.

[2] I am using the phrase “Limited Atonement” in the traditional sense of a limited satisfaction of sins such that Christ is said to die only for the sins of the elect.

[3] Matthias Martinius, delegate from Bremen, also argued the same position as Davenant. Martinius said, “Nor here will it be enough to assert such a sufficiency of redemption as could be enough; but it is altogether such as is enough, and such as God and Christ have considered enough. For otherwise the gospel command and promise are destroyed.” (See Edward D. Griffin, “An Humble Attempt to Reconcile the Differences of Christians Respecting the Extent of the Atonement,” in The Atonement. Discourses and Treatises [Boston: Congregational Board of Publication, 1859], 371).

[4] It should be noted that though these moderate Calvinists agree with their Arminian and non-Calvinist brothers on the extent of the atonement, they disagree over the intent of the atonement, since all Calvinists argue that God, from eternity, intended only to save the elect.

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Ron F. Hale

Dr. Allen,
I enjoyed your article and I’m looking forward to the next two articles.

Just by reading the Scriptures — most new believers (as they mature) will always arrive at the conviction that: Christ died for all or the world. Teachings like “For God so loved the Elect” … only comes from the already convinced of limited atonement toward the unsuspecting non-Calvinist.

As a teenager, I remember my body rejecting my first attempts at smoking cigarettes. I coughed, hacked, and got dizzy. My body was saying, “This is foreign and not good.”
Upon hearing term “limited atonement” … I could not get past verses like: I Timothy 2:4, 2 Peter 2:1, 2 Peter 3:9. These verses and others pointed me to believe that limited atonement is foreign to Biblical doctrine. Also, it would require a lot of time, energy, and finesse in “explaining away” the many verses that teach that Jesus died for ALL.

Norm Miller

Dr. Allen:

Heretofore I have understood our Lord’s atonement to be efficacious universally, but efficient, individually. Having read your treatise and finding myself in agreement with you, I thought I would revisit my position. So, I sought a definition of efficacious. It is an adjective, and the word means that its object is “successful in producing a desired or intended result.” Synonyms include “effective, effectual, efficient, operative, potent.”

As has oft’ been noted at this blog by myself and others, John 1.29; 3.15-17; and 1 John 2.2 (and numerous other verses) make it patently and exegetically clear that Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, or cosmos. And if God the Holy Spirit meant for cosmos in these verses to mean the elect, as some mistakenly aver, then why did not God inspire that word to be used? Either God made a mistake, or those who interpret “cosmos” as “the elect” are mistaken.

Whereas every analogy eventually fails, one brother explained the atonement this way. God has given everyone in the world a gift, but those who don’t open it will not benefit from it.

Thank you, Dr. Allen, for another stellar contribution/explanation of a traditional, biblical understanding of our Lord’s atonement. — Norm

    dr. james willingham

    Dear Norm: If the whole world of I John 2:2 means everyone without exception, then why does not the whole world of I Jn. 5:19 mean every one with out exception which it clearly does not. After all John certainly did not include himself and those who with him believed in the Lord Jesus Christ as being like the whole world that lieth, passively, in the wicked one? Rev. Frank Beck, Dr. A.J. Gordon’s successor at the church in Boston called attention to this fact about I John 5:19. I could find no real answer to him though I read many across the years.

      Norm Miller

      That is a good question, Jim.
      Since God’s Word is not divided against itself, I accept the two verses “in tension” for the time being, and will resolve the matter through more in-depth study when I have the time.
      I think I have a better question just as interesting, if not moreso: Why do those Calvinists who interpret cosmos as eklektos (the elect) in 1 Jn 2.2 not do so in 1 Jn 5.19?
      Can you imagine this sort of exegesis? “We know that we are of God, and that [all the elect are] in the power of the evil one.”
      Actually, what I cited as exegesis is eisegesis. And if I employed eisegesis in 1 Jn 5.19, then do not others do the same thing elsewhere by saying cosmos really means eklektos?

      Paulo Cesar

      The expression “the whole world” in 1Jn 2.2 and 5.19 does not mean “everyone without exception” but “everyone except the ones mentioned before”. In both verses, John distinguishes “we” from “the whole world”. So, “the whole world” that “lieth in the wicked” does not include the faithful.

Bob Hadley

Dr. Allen,

Thank you for your article. One of the things that I believe many overlook is that atonement is the “finished product”; atonement itself is not complete until it is applied to the individual. I really appreciate your phrase, “satisfaction for sins” for that is exactly what I believe was accomplished on the cross, not atonement itself. The universal satisfaction for sin is as I see it the provision Christ made at Calvary making atonement possible.

I would anticipate some kind of answer to your question regarding one rejecting Christ as those who do not believe are condemned already so rejection is the only response the unregenerate can or will make. Romans 1:18-24 certainly moves your argument into a much different light and I believe you are exactly right. Revelation and reconciliation both of which are God’s stated means of reaching the lost require a response else there would be no need for the process.

I look forward to your subsequent articles. I also appreciate your ability to speak with such powerful subtlety. I wish I had that gift!

    wingedfooted1

    Blessings, Bob.

    You said…..“One of the things that I believe many overlook is that atonement is the ‘finished product’; atonement itself is not complete until it is applied to the individual.”

    You are exactly right.

    Every Christian believes, or should believe, in “limited atonement”. Only those who put their faith in the finished works of Christ actually have their sins atoned for or covered (Romans 3:25). The gospel of the cross is no benefit to those who don’t believe. In other words, no faith, no atonement.

    The problem exists because calvinism (at least in its “high” form) blurs the terms “died for” and “atoned for”. Clearly, and biblically, Christ died for all, but only believers receive the benefits of the cross.

    God bless.

    wingedfooted1

Jonathan Carter

What a great article Dr. Allen! I am looking forward to the follow up articles!

JimP

Working with theology is like doing dental work on a lion except the lion being worked on is alive.

“…only believers receive benefit from the cross” mmmm?

I’m not so sure about that. Christ’s sacrifice appeased God’s wrath over the entire world. The world includes believers as well as unbelievers.
My thoughts are that His wrath being appeased has freed Him to work in the world bringing salvation to a world only deserving of that wrath Christ bore.

    Bob Hadley

    Hey Jim… you are correct; Wingedfoot’s comment contextually was in reference to the atonement; not a general benefit that all receive in the appeasement of God’s wrath as accomplished on the cross in the satisfaction of sin Dr. Allen refers too.

    I have used a similar statement: except I used giving a tiger a root canal with no anesthesia!

    Good to hear from you brother!

Pam Knight

Theo and I are so thankful for you continuing to speak on this issue. We both still believe that is it so important for all of us to keep sharing the Truth of God’s Word with all those who adhere to these 5 points of Calvinism, knowing that it is only The Truth of God’s Word that will set them free from the deception of the enemy. And one other thing we all need to continue to do is to keep them in our prayers daily. Thanks again David
In Christ
Theo & Pam Knight

rhutchin

The Calvinist position is that limited atonement reflects unconditional election which reflects total depravity. Total Depravity says that totally depraved people would not chose salvation. For a person to be saved, God must intervene. God did so and chose those whom He would save; this was God’s unconditional election. All this took place before God created the world. Thus, when God created the world, it was according to His plan that included the salvation of the elect. In that plan, God would provide a sacrifice for the sins of the elect and that sacrifice was Christ. Christ was offered by God as atonement for the sins of the elect. As none but the elect known to God when he created the world are to be saved, the atonement of Christ was intended to save the elect only and thereby is limited.

As the non-elect are not to be saved, and never intended to be saved, there seems no rational for saying that the atonement applies to them.

Norm Miller

“The Calvinist position is that limited atonement reflects unconditional election which reflects total depravity.”
For the Calvinist, this is how it must be for the rest of the system to “work.”
It seems that Calvin’s house of cards is founded entirely upon total depravity, which is understood by many, if not all Calvinists to mean “total inability.”
And that premise Dr. Allen biblically and masterfully diffused in his lecture at the John 3.16 Conference, the MSS of which has been posted on this blog.
So, if one accepts Dr. Allen’s scriptural case that people — even lost people, as the numerous verses he cited indicate — are NOT totally unable to respond to God, then the “total inability” tenet of some Calvinists is totally unable to stand on its own vacuous merits, and therefore the Calvinist premise falls flat on its face.
In my view, the undoing of “total inability” causes every petal of the TULIP to fade and fall uselessly to the ground. — Norm

    wingedfooted1

    Norm,

    You said….. “It seems that Calvin’s house of cards is founded entirely upon total depravity, which is understood by many, if not all Calvinists to mean ‘total inability’.”

    But our arminian brothers cling to the calvinistic notion of total depravity as well. For both calvinists and arminians (or 1 point calvinists) a rejection of “total depravity/total inability” puts us in the, dare I say, Pelagian camp (Yikes!).

    God bless.

    wingedfooted1

    rhutchin

    Actually, the Calvinist house of cards begins with God and His attributes, of which omniscience plays a key role. Because God is omniscience, God knows the elect and the non-elect before He creates the world. This provides the foundation for TULIP – or the description of God’s plan to bring the elect to salvation.

    If we accept the validity of Dr. Allen’s analysis of Total Depravity, we still know that only the elect will be saved and the non-elect will not. Thus, it is still true that God had to send Christ to die on the cross as atonement for the elect and not the non-elect. The atonement still had a limited purpose in God’s plan.

    Given that the non-elect, according to Dr. Allen, have the ability to respond positively to the gospel (presumably absent grace) but all reject that gospel, while the elect all accept that gospel, the question might be asked, Why? The Calvinist position is that they were not able to accept the gospel. The alternative is what? That they were too dumb? Total Depravity explains the otherwise unexplainable.

      Bob Hadley

      Norm, clever is actually a high compliment and one that is probably not warranted. Actually, “the calvinist begins with God and His attributes, of which omniscience plays a key role.”

      Here is my problem with that statement and for the record I do believe you are absolutely correct. Here is the problem with this position. You are forcing your limited understanding of omnipotence on God in His self stated attributes and you are giving THIS attribute a LOT MORE weight than you do His other attributes. This is the real problem that calvinism poses. As you state, God knows the elect and He knows the non-elect before He created the world. This provides the foundation for the TULIP.”

      No one has made any connection to God’s KNOWING what men will do and His having ANYTHING to do with them ACTUALLY DOING IT. Omniscience does not dictate determinism and in fact the Bible never makes that connection. You have to bring your philosophy TO the text as opposed to taking your theology FROM the text otherwise calvinism would never get off the ground.

        Steven Ball

        “You have to bring your philosophy TO the text as opposed to taking your theology FROM the text otherwise calvinism would never get off the ground.”

        Exactly, Bob. Calvinism is more a product of philosophical assumptions than careful exegesis.

        Norm

        Thx, Bob. If one wants to question C’ism, then one is also questioning the attributes of God — that is IF the tenets of C’ism are drawn from God’s attributes. That’s what I meant by ‘clever.’ Despite rhutchins’ bait-n-switch attempt, the point remains that if total inability is not sustainable, then neither is the rest of the TULIP. And God’s attributes remain intact and true.
        BTW: Love is not one of God’s attributes; it is his very nature: “God is love.”
        “For God so loved the world (cosmos, not the elect only) …”

          Bob Hadley

          Love is not one of God’s attributes; it is his very nature: “God is love.”
          “For God so loved the world (cosmos, not the elect only) …”

          Grand Slam!

    Mary S.

    Norm,

    We do not accept Dr. Allen’s assumption. We reject it. Rather, we accept Jesus’ word on the matter. No one is able–no one is capable–of coming to Him unless the Father first draw him. (John 6:44; 65). Jesus taught total inability, so we accept Jesus’ word on the matter and reject that of Dr. Allen.

      Norm Miller

      Like Dr. Allen and you, I embrace Jn. 6.44; 65 for what they say. I know of no one who denies that the Spirit of God woos the lost soul. There is much disagreement on just exactly what this wooing, or drawing actually is and does, and whether humans may resist it. Furthermore, having known Dr. Allen for decades now, I have come to trust his commitment to the inerrant Scriptures and his humble approach to “rightly dividing the word of truth.” And, whereas I hold the Bible categorically in much higher esteem and respect than I do Dr. Allen’s efforts to exegete it, I do not find his assumptions about the Bible and what the Bible actually states to be mutually exclusive. — Norm

Norm

That is clever to attach the tenets of Calvinism to the attributes of God, and also presumptuous.

JimP

Hello Bob,

I appreciate your reply but consider this verse, John 6;44, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him…” People were flocking to Christ at the time He spoke these words. What of today and unbelievers. Isn’t this not a benefit of Christ’s atonement toward unbeliever prior to them personally knowing Christ’s atonement in their lives?

In addition, that the promises to Abraham will one day be fulfilled through by the Jews, suggesting a far more reaching application of the atonement then salvation of individuals.

Food for thought.

Peace brother, Jim

    Bob Hadley

    Jim,

    You are absolutely correct… in BOTH of your comments. I was not in the least taking away from what you said; I was simply relating your objection to what Wingedfoot was saying. I felt you missed HIS point where his comment was related to the atonement itself not a general reference to the “benefits of the cross” that you mentioned earlier and here as well.

dr. james willingham

Dear Dr. Allen: If as you say and as many others have said, the atonement is not one sufficient but was an actual work done for all without exception, then why did Jesus stress the limited nature of His mission to the woman of Canaan in Mt. 15:21-28? Her response to the idea that He was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel was one of worship. When he used the same approach to his fellow citizens of Nazareth, that of a paradoxical opposite as in the woman’s case, Elijah met the needs of no widow in Israel, but he did meet the needs of a widow from the same area as the woman in Mt. 15, Tyre and Sidon, and Elisha healed no leper in Israel, but he did heal Naaman the Syrian, they tried to murder him. Could there be some merit in the idea of therapeutic paradoxes, that God has done something for others but no work is mentioned for the one addressed? Or how about the message of Jonah to the city of Nineveh. There is not one promise of, “if you repent, God will spare you.” Instead, the prophet does not want the city saved. In fact, he was quite put out with God having the audacity to send him to an enemy of Israel, and yet the people of that city with the King began to repent under the bare notion, “Who can tell?” We all know the results, but the whole affair utter demolished my pre-trib, pre-mill eschatology some seven years after the wisest man I ever met (one who had spent 10 years reading the minutes of the Baptist Churches and Associations from the 1700s and 1800s) asked me” “Have you ever thought about the fact that at any one time every last soul on the face of the earth could be the elect of God?” I answered no, because with my eschatology I could not see such thing. Then came Jonah 3 some six-seven years later and blew it all to smithereens. Now, with the aid of the great limited atonement fellow, Dr. John Owen and his Death of Death in The Death of Christ along with Andrew Fuller’s Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation, I came to see that with the list of prophetic promises provided by Jonathan Edwards’ Humble Attempt, there could be the possibility of a 1000 genereations of the elect in which every last soul on earth could be saved. I also was moved by the limited atonement, particular redemptionist fellow, C.H. Spurgeon praying for the conversion of the whole earth on Aug.6 and Dec. 24 in his Evening by Evening Devotions. Why were the Calvinists the folks who really got the Great Century of Missions rolling?

Shane Dodson

“If Christ did not die for the sins of all people, what exactly is it unbelievers are guilty of rejecting? There is no atonement for their sins for them to reject!”

This author assumes that sinners are condemned because of their rejection of the atonement. This error hits a little TOO close to the very nature of the Gospel itself.

Sinners are condemned because we are sinners. We have broken the laws of God. THAT is what establishes our guilt. “The wages of sin (which we know from 1 John 3:4 is LAWLESSNESS) is death.”

If the author seriously believes that it is the rejection of the atonement that establishes guilt, then why on earth is he a member of the Southern Baptist Convention, who sends missionaries to the farthest corners of the world in order to call all people to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ? Better to NOT share with them an atonement that–if they reject–will render them guilty in the eyes of God.

I urge the author to rethink his position and repent of his distortion of the Gospel.

    Tony

    You cut your citation of Allen short, Shane. Allen said this in the next sentence:

    Unbelief of the gospel by its very definition involves rejection of God’s provision of grace through Christ’s death.”

    Allen is *clearly* talking about unbelief OF THE GOSPEL. The proper way to read the first two sentences are as follows, given the context:

    “If Christ did not die for the sins of all people, what exactly is it unbelievers [who have heard the gospel] are guilty of rejecting? There is no atonement for their sins for them to reject!”

    Allen is well aware of the fact that there are two kinds of sinners who finally perish: 1) those who have *not* heard the gospel call and 2) those who have heard the gospel call. Obviously, those in the first class perish for their sin against God or whatever degree of light they have received through general revelation. The second class have the additional sin of rejecting the gospel. Allen has this second class in mind, which is why he specifically said “unbelief of the gospel” in the context. He then asks of that second group, “If Christ did not die for the sins of all people, what exactly is it unbelievers [who have heard the gospel] are guilty of rejecting?”

    Rather than read to refute, try reading to understand next time with a view to answering the actual issue at hand. The question for the Calvinists who hold to the narrow view of Christ’s death, or a limited quantitative imputation of sin to Christ, is this: What are the non-elect who have heard the gospel guilty of rejecting since Christ did not satisfy for their sins? They don’t have an applicable remedy in Christ since he allegedly only substituted himself for the elect. If it is absurd to offer salvation to non-elect angels for whom Christ did not die, then why isn’t it just as absurd to offer salvation to the non-elect through the gospel call when they are in the same unsaveable state as they would have been had Christ not come at all? This is the point Allen is driving at.

      Tony

      Correction: “If it is absurd to offer salvation to non-elect angels for whom Christ did not die, then why isn’t it just as absurd to offer salvation to the non-elect *HUMANS* through the gospel call when they are in the same unsaveable state as they would have been had Christ not come at all?”

        Shane Dodson

        “What are the non-elect who have heard the gospel guilty of rejecting since Christ did not satisfy for their sins? They don’t have an applicable remedy in Christ since he allegedly only substituted himself for the elect. If it is absurd to offer salvation to non-elect angels for whom Christ did not die, then why isn’t it just as absurd to offer salvation to the non-elect through the gospel call when they are in the same unsaveable state as they would have been had Christ not come at all? This is the point Allen is driving at.”

        I’m sorry, but this is a non-issue insofar as my Calvinist self is concerned. I have no way of knowing who is elect and who is not; I did not make the decree from eternity past.

        God did.

        I do not know who His elect are. I DO know that I am commanded to make disciples of all nations, which beings with (but is not limited to) the preaching of the Gospel to Jew and Gentile alike.

        “Unsaveable state?” What on earth does that mean? Is there anything inherently good within anybody that would make someone “saveable?”

        Tim Rogers (@Timothy_Rogers)

        Tony,

        Great insight. I just returned from a mission trip to Honduras where we presented the Gospel and I used this exact understanding of two groups of sinners. You have stated exactly what needs to be stated. Thank you for accurately reading Allen. When I first read rhutchins statement the first thought that went through my mind was his statement rejected John 3:17-18 and even his reference to 1 John3:4 did not take into account verse 5 & 6 also.

dr. james willingham

Note: line 4 from the bottom should read “kin to C.H. Spurgeon” and line two from the bottom, “He can crack a jok…not job.”

David

Dr Willingham, a question. Does the term “lost sheep” of Israel refer to the elect alone or the whole house?

dr. james willingham

Dear David: The woman would have understood Jesus to be referring to the Jews, something she could not explain, and still it led her to fall down before Him in worship at what she could not understand. Humility is not exactly one of our sterling (sp) points. In fact, we are noted for our arrogance and pride. Consider her response when referred to as a dog, an insulting term to one in the Middle East, even then. What is your response to his being sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel? What is your response to being identified as a dog, even a little dog, the animal that returns to its vomit? Consider her responses.

David

Hey James, you didnt answer my question. What do you think the term refers to? If the lost sheep of the house of Isreal refers to the whole house, even as she understood it, then that means that here is no support for the idea that Christ suffered for the sins of the elect alone, but that something is kicking in here which induces Jesus to make this statement.

So if you would, could you tell me what you think its referring to?

Thanks for your time,
David

    dr. james willingham

    David: While I have no doubt about the lost sheep of the house of Israel as referring to all of the elect of God, that still does not obviate the necessity for understanding that the woman would have understood our Lord as referring to the house of Israel as it then existed and of which she then was a not a part. You are trying to evade and dodge the implication of limited atonement being preached so that she could hear and understand it, and this was to make manifest her response (one of worship, where she fell down before the Lord). The Gospel can be considered for presentation in two ways: 1) It can be considered as an offer as it is so presented in Scripture. 2) It can be considered as exaltation or lifting up of Christ before the eyes of the listeners, leaving to Him to make known His will in their case. Therapeutic paradoxes are a well known technique in counseling therapies. Surely, God is as profound in His dealings with sinful human beings as we are, nay, more profound. Remember it was the limited atonement folks, Jonathan Edwards, Andrew Fuller, William Carey, John Thomas, Luther Rice, Richard Furman, Basil Manly, Sr.,James Petigru Boyce, etc. who got the great century of missions rolling and/or kept it rolling.

David

Hey James,

You say: While I have no doubt about the lost sheep of the house of Israel as referring to all of the elect of God, that still does not obviate the necessity for understanding that the woman would have understood our Lord as referring to the house of Israel as it then existed and of which she then was a not a part.

David: There are two layers here. The layer of what the woman may have “thought” Jesus meant, but could have been wrong. And then there is the layer of what you think Jesus meant.

My response is direct to the second layer: what *you* think Jesus meant.

And so to that, I ask, how do you know that the House of Israel refers to the elect of Israel alone? What is the basis for that assumption?

You say: You are trying to evade and dodge the implication of limited atonement being preached so that she could hear and understand it,

David: What I am trying to do is find the basis or bases for your claims. If those bases are without warrant, then your counter to Allan begs the question.

You say: and this was to make manifest her response (one of worship, where she fell down before the Lord). The Gospel can be considered for presentation in two ways: 1) It can be considered as an offer as it is so presented in Scripture. 2) It can be considered as exaltation or lifting up of Christ before the eyes of the listeners, leaving to Him to make known His will in their case.

David: Well okay… this was your opening thesis statement:

“Dear Dr. Allen: If as you say and as many others have said, the atonement is not one sufficient but was an actual work done for all without exception, then why did Jesus stress the limited nature of His mission to the woman of Canaan in Mt. 15:21-28?”

Note the conditional ““if” as you say…” which I can paraphrase: “if as you say the atonement was done for all without exception.” Then comes your question” Why then did Jesus limit his mission to the house of Israel.”

We can put all that together now: “If as you say… the atonement … was an actual work done for all without exception, then why did Jesus stress the limited nature of His mission?”

David: the question posits that the fact that Jesus limited his mission to the house of Israel, this, then, (somehow) precludes an unlimited satisfaction for all men. And so, allegedly by means of this question, limited atonement is established.

Now, all I need to ask at this point is, on what basis do you suggest that the term “house of Israel” refers to the elect of Israel?

For if the term refers to the entire nation, consisting of elect and non-elect, then this is not proof for limited atonement, but rather, with regard to the woman, and the text, and the work of Christ, some other dynamic is driving Jesus’ words to her and why it was recorded in Scripture.

So now you have claimed it refers to the elect of Israel alone. Okay, that’s good, now can you tell me how you know that?

Rest cut

Thanks for your time,
David

    dr. james willingham

    Dear David: Ever hear of the spiritual Israel? You know as in like “he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and that circumcision is that of the heart in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.”(Roms.2::29) And “the Israel of God” of which Paul writes in Gals.6:16 after pointing out in vs.15 that neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature/creation. In Gals.3:28, Paul points out that: “there is neither Jew, nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” then he speaks of the Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.” and that “Now we, brethre as Isaac was, are the children of promise.” 4:28. Next we turn to Ephs.5:25, “Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.’ Interestingly enough, the Mt. Pisgah Church from which came the first missionary of Southern Baptists to China, Matthew T. Yates, had it in their founding Articles of Faith, adopted in 1814, under which articles they joined and were accepted by the Sandy Creek Baptist Assn., that “Christ died for the Church.” Nothing was said about Him dying for the world.

    I notice that you do not reply to the historical examples of the founders and the beginning of the Great Century of Missions being owed to the Particular Redemptionists. Why is that? I remember many years ago going through all of the arguments, pro and con, and the Calvinists who advocated limited atonement, to my mind, had the better part of the exposition of Scripture. However, I am willing to allow for a sufficiency due to the infinite value of Christ’s blood. But it is another thing to say as one of the Bible Baptists said in Springfield, Mo., That there multitudes in Hell whom even the precious blood of Christ could not save. That statement turned my stomach. The blood of Christ was not shed in vain.

    My discussion is really with Dr. Allen, but I am willing to some extent to answer you. One is the great issue of inability. That is the sticking point, and it requires an irresistible work to overcome man’s sinful inability. It is like the resurrection of Lazarus. In fact, our Lord made the comparison liking salvation to the resurrection of the dead in John 5:25. And the MANY for whom He died will be redeemed; His Spirit will quicken them; they will be regenerated, and then converted, so argues James Petigru Boyce, and John Gano rather plainly speaks of efficacious or effectual grace in his Circular for the Philadelphia Assn sometime in the 1780s or 90s (I forget the exact year) Boyce’s argument is set forth in his Abstract of Systematic Theology. Many as in Mk.10:45, where Jesus said, He came “to give his life a ransom for many>’ Many does not mean every one without exception. There is also the man of I Cors.`:26 where it says, “Not man wise men after the, not many mighty, not many noble are called.” A noble of England upon being converted was asked that made the difference, and he answered one letter, the letter, “M.” He was thankful he said for that m, for it could have said, not any noble are called. The point of the desire for Christ to die for every one is that it does not seem fair that He should die only for the elect, but that is to assume that every one deserves to have an atonement made for his or her sins. The truth is otherwise. Sinners do not deserve to be saved; it is an act of sheer pure unconditional favor, which we call grace (that is what the word means). Besides I believe the many will do far more to reach souls along with Christ insistence that he is sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, or, in other words, the many of the election will far outnumber those who perish, being a number no one can number (Rev.7:9).

    Your careful analysis is commendable. I am most happy when I see some one who can carry on a discussion without rancor, and you have done so. I trust that I have returned the failure. I must quit, lest I exceed the limit.

    dr. james willingham

    correction last line of the above “returned the favor”

David

You say: Ever hear of the spiritual Israel? You know as in like “he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and that circumcision is that of the heart in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.”(Roms.2::29) And “the Israel of God” of which Paul writes in Gals.6:16 after pointing out in vs.15 that neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature/creation. In Gals.3:28, Paul points out that: “there is neither Jew, nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” then he speaks of the Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.” and that “Now we, brethre as Isaac was, are the children of promise.”

[cut cut]

David: that’s interesting. So then for you, ever instance of the phrase, “House of Israel” refers to the elect.

I would rather say that in some instances it refers to the Church, the body of beleivers, aka the body of Christ.

But there are problems with your interpretation.

1) Normally its standard Semitic idiom that when something is said to be the house of something it includes the whole people of the house, not just some of the house. There are plenty of examples of this in the OT.

The problem with your line of reasoning is the assumption that every instance of the term “House of Israel” means the elect. However, for contrary examples, Acts 2:36: “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ– this Jesus whom you crucified.”

Here it means the national house of Israel. And again, Acts 7:42 “But God turned away and delivered them up to serve the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, ‘It was not to Me that you offered victims and sacrifices forty years in the wilderness, was it, O house of Israel?

2) Also, all the references you cite refer to believes in the New Covenant. Here the New Covenant has not been established, and the “Church” has not even be instituted as the Church of the New Covenant yet. Here in Matt 10, we have a reference to the Jews, prior to and outside of the New Covenant, who were to be called into it.

3) Next the context of Matthew 10. Compare for example: v5 These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them, saying, “Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans.”

So Jesus and John the writer here, contrast the Gentiles and the Samaritans (which is about everyone non-Jewish possible) with the House of Israel. Indeed, then the next verse says: v6 “but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

This is further supported by what he says in v11: “And into whatever city or village you enter, inquire who is worthy in it; and abide there until you go away.

Clearly Jesus was not commanding the 12 to go to the “elect”, even the elect of Israel.

According to the principles of the grammatical-historical exegesis, here in Matt 10, the “house of Israel” refers to the Jews, as a geo-national body, which is opposed to the Gentiles and Samaritans.

So he is talking about the national physical Israel.

4) What Jesus is doing is what Paul says, that Salvation first went to the Jews, and then to the Gentiles (Rom 1:16, etc). There is an order of ministry, to the Jews first, and then to the Gentiles.

So if we go back to your thesis statement: “Dear Dr. Allen: If as you say and as many others have said, the atonement is not one sufficient but was an actual work done for all without exception, then why did Jesus stress the limited nature of His mission to the woman of Canaan in Mt. 15:21-28?”

Given the context of Matt 10, the House of Israel refers to the national house of Israel. And given that fact, your thesis statement to Allan does not follow.

Let me digress a little and go back to your closing lines in the first paragraph.

You : 4:28. Next we turn to Ephs.5:25, “Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.’ [. . .] “Christ died for the Church.” Nothing was said about Him dying for the world.

David: That is off-point too. It is obviously true that Christ gave his life for the Church so that she may be perfected. Who would disagree with that? But of course there are verses which speak to the truth that Christ also came and gave his life for the world at large, John 1:29, 1Jn 2:2; Jn 6:32-33, for example. However getting into that would derail you.

The rest I’ve cut cos it has no bearing on the discussion at hand.

So then, as it stands, your thesis statement has no justification. Nor is it likely that in Matt 10, “The House of Israel” refers to the elect. That has no credibility given the context.

Thanks for your time,
David

dr. james willingham

Dear David: It is very easy to disregard and count as of no relevance various and sundry facts, when one has set up certain meanings and parameters and followed through with a cool logic to certain conclusions. However, there is also the problem of group think and other like problems. Consider the spiritual Jew and the fact that Paul refers to Gentiles as having been circumcised with the circumcision not made with hands, but the circumcision of the heart, surely that makes them spiritual Jews. And the usage of words like house of Israel, depends upon the context. That of the woman of Canaan suggests that while she did not know of a spiritual Israel, she was one of the elect. After all, she was said to have great faith, something that was never said of any of the disciples in the four Gospels. When you disregard the historical background of the denomination in which we both serve, the church that sent out the first missionary to China holding that Christ died for the Church with not a word about Him dying for the world, you are demonstrating one of the problems of Bible believers common in our day and time, namely, of being unable to grasp an asystematic, intellectual, and synthetical work. I hold to verbal inspiration, inerrancy, and infallibility, as I am sure you do. However, long ago, in dealing with this book, I discovered that since it is inspired by the Omniscient God, its profundity and depth of wisdom is commensurate with such a source. As one of the Puritan’s declared, “The problem is its perspicuity.” I.e., clarity. When I was a Landmarker, I discovered, much to my distress, that being so logical, etc., did not really reach the extent of the rationale of the word of God. For example, I found out that the Bible also teaches a doctrine of a Universal, Spiritual Body, another facet of the church, along with that of the local visible body, the ekklesia or assemply that we know as a Baptist church. So with the Spiritual Israel, the Church, the Spiritual Jew, we are, as Paul says of the Gentile and the Jew, one in Christ Jesus.

Your logical analysis excludes my reasons, so I call attention to the fact that such approach has its limits, especially as it fails to grasp the two-sidedness of the doctrines of God’s written word. I wrote a thesis in Intellectual History on our doctrine of ministerial qualifications at Morehead State, two papers, one on Aristotle’s Unmoved Mover and the Calvinistic Concept of God at the Univ. of S. Carolina, Aristotle’s Unmoved Mover and Augustine’s Concept of God at SEBTS, plus various other papers dealing with subjects like verbal inspiration (which almost got me kicked out of SEBTS back in those days). My lifelong fascination (at least from age 16 on) with theology and with my six years of research in church history plus many other areas has led me in my biblical pilgrimage to the conclusion that we might have a Third Great Awakening (fpr which I have been praying for nearly 40 years – it will be this fall), beginning, hopefully, in this generation and reaching every soul on earth, and continuing for a 1000 generations in order for God to make the humorous remark about he number of the redeemed being a number no one can number (though he knows each one by name) to cheer His distressed followers, when they feel down. We have but begun the work of exploring this Holy Book that has such an origin (an Omniscient God), and its depth is like that of the Mariannas Trench, the deepest swimming hole on earth (1U.S.Navy Captains stop their ships and invite their young sailors to take a swim in it). Even when the Bible is so clear as one friend of mine saw the bottom of a mountain stream, and, because he could see the grains of sand rolling along the bottom guessed its depth at 2-3 feet, he stepped off in to a mountain stream 18-21 feet deep and nearly drowned. When we look in the Bible, it is like looking into a clear mountain stream. We are sure we can see the bottom and understand and grasp its depth, but the truth is we are in over our heads. You might want to read Dr. Patterson’s comments on election on this blog last fall and my response this past May, Patterson’s Points….

Anyway, I tire easily, having fell dead Memorial Day weekend, and would have been so had it not been for a defibilator giving me a shock and starting my heart back to beating. So if I ramble somewhat don’t be surprised, but do realize that I take much different approach to Scripture that you do, one that I discovered they used unconsciously used back in the 1700s, a two-sided approach, willing to let the Bible speak for itself in all of its two-sided presentations.

David

Hey James,

You say: It is very easy to disregard and count as of no relevance various and sundry facts, when one has set up certain meanings and parameters and followed through with a cool logic to certain conclusions.

David: please don’t go all anti-intellectual on me and apart from that, it really is always best to not engage in ad hominems, that is: to the man. Please stay with the logic or reason of the arguments put on the table for discussion.

You say: However, there is also the problem of group think and other like problems. Consider the spiritual Jew and the fact that Paul refers to Gentiles as having been circumcised with the circumcision not made with hands, but the circumcision of the heart, surely that makes them spiritual Jews. And the usage of words like house of Israel, depends upon the context. That of the woman of Canaan suggests that while she did not know of a spiritual Israel, she was one of the elect. After all, she was said to have great faith, something that was never said of any of the disciples in the four Gospels.

David: So what the woman may have thought may be correct or incorrect. Of course, I think she understood correctly and that John as the author intended her meaning to be meaning his readers should come to.

Here is the context:

Matthew 10:1 And having summoned His twelve disciples, He gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. 2 Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax-gatherer; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him. 5 These twelve Jesus *sent out* after instructing them, saying, “Do not go in the way of the *Gentiles,* and do not enter any city of the *Samaritans;* 6 but rather go to the *lost sheep* of the *house of Israel*. 7 “And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 8 “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons; freely you received, freely give. 9 “Do not acquire gold, or silver, or copper for your money belts, 10 or a bag for your journey, or even two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for the worker is worthy of his support. 11 “And into whatever city or village you enter, inquire who is worthy in it; and abide there until you go away. 12 “And as you enter the house, give it your greeting. 13 “And if the house is worthy, let your greeting of peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your greeting of peace return to you. 14 “And whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake off the dust of your feet. 15 “Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city.

David: It should be clear what is going on here. The term, the lost sheep of the House of Israel” refers to national Israel, living at the time of Jesus and the 12 (as least them).

If we want to cite a Calvinist authority to show that I am not alone interpretation of this phrase, we have this, no less:

“At the same time, under the figure of this nation, Christ taught what is the condition of the whole human race. The Jews, who were near to God, and in covenant with him, and therefore were the lawful heirs of eternal life, are nevertheless pronounced to be lost, till they regain salvation through Christ. What then remains for us who are inferior to them in honor? Again, the word sheep is applied even to the *reprobate,* who, properly speaking, did not belong to the flock of God, because the adoption extended to the whole nation; as those who deserved to be rejected, on account of their treachery, are elsewhere called the children of the kingdom, Matthew 8:12.) In a word, by the term sheep, Christ recommends the Jews to the apostles, that they may dedicate their labors to them, because they could recognize as the flock of God none but those who had been gathered into the fold.” John Calvin Matthew 10:6.

You say: When you disregard the historical background of the denomination in which we both serve, the church that sent out the first missionary to China holding that Christ died for the Church with not a word about Him dying for the world, you are demonstrating one of the problems of Bible believers common in our day and time, namely, of being unable to grasp an asystematic, intellectual, and synthetical work.

David: My church background is completely irrelevant, or yours, or the SBC’s when it comes to rightly understanding Scripture and this discussion between us. Please stay with the topic and do not assume anything about my background as I do not assume anything about your background.

The rest I just deleted. It may be well and good and all, but in terms of this topic, it has no bearing. Like I said, its best if you don’t make this about me or you.

So back to your thesis statement: “Dear Dr. Allen: If as you say and as many others have said, the atonement is not one sufficient but was an actual work done for all without exception, then why did Jesus stress the limited nature of His mission to the woman of Canaan in Mt. 15:21-28?”

This must cut both ways. If it turns out that Jesus had a limited mission, to save the elect alone (I assume) then this would support limited satisfaction (aka limited atonement), granted. However, the converse is true also, if this verse supports an unlimited ministry of Christ, to elect and non-elect, within the House of Israel at least, then this supports the doctrine of unlimited satisfaction.

Do you concede that your thesis statement is incorrect? That is, without warrant or justification or biblical support?

Thanks for your time,
David

dr. james willingham

Dear David: I concede nothing, regardless of the citation of a Calvinist. Like everyone else, the Calvinist can err in his understanding – even John Calvin whom I never read much until years after I had changed my theology due to a study of the meaning and usage of the words involved.. The limited mission of our Lord is spelled out in “many”. Your logic and rationality are like blinders on horses we used in my childhood them to keep the horses focused on the rows ahead of them instead of shying from things off to the side. Your drive to your conclusion like a straight arrow which works fine in some instances until, like my friend, you come to a depth beyond the grasp of limited methodologies> you are cognizant of little else besides your single minded drive to your objective. Sorry, my approach is a bit more supralogical, something I learned in the days of becoming acquainted with the depth of the book in which we both believe. Try intellectual and synthetical as an approach to Scripture instead of someone’s pre set filters which predetermine your conclusion. I am trying to get you to realize that there are other ways of looking at Scripture, ways that are as respectful of verbal inspiration, inerrancy, and infallibility as those the Traditionalists advocate.

I walked into my library a few minutes ago and picked up a book which cited the early church fathers as holding to the fact that we are Abraham’s seed. We are spiritual Israel. Where in the world did they get such ideas? After all, they read the same Bible as we do. I really have to stop for supper and other responsibilities. I am mindful that I have no satisfied your logical approach. And you make a few ad hominems, but I defer to your superior logic to find them. I regret that I cannot continue for now, but will try later to introduce some examples where Israel is spiritual….

David

Hey James,

You say: Dear David: I concede nothing, regardless of the citation of a Calvinist.

David: You’ve not offered any exegetical counter-argument regarding the phrase “lost sheep of the House of Israel” so basically we are done here.

Just one small point want to point to my “logic” and “rationality” when all I have done is point you to Scripture.

Thanks for time, have a good weekend,
David

dr. james willingham

Dear David:

Yes I did offer some exegetical arguments which you disregarded or tried to explain away. Please remember the seed of Abraham preceded Israel, the nation by some few years, and as Irenaeus has observed, “now I have shown a short time ago that the church is the seed of Abraham” which as one fellow observed, “And he got that, of course, from what Paul said in Galatians, “If ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed.”(Galatians 3:29).” Again, observe that in Roms.2:28-29, it says, “for he is not a Jew, which is on outwardly/” No. it is one who is a Jew inward, one who is circumcised in heart with the circumcision not made with hands. Justin Martyr said, “As therefore Christ is the Israel and the Jacob, even so we who have been quarried out from the bowels of Christ, are the true Israelitish race.” In Galatians 3:6-7 it says, “Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.” And 3:9, “So they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.” Note that in 3:8 it identifies such believers as from “all nations.” Dr. G. Campbell Morgan wrote two years before he died, “I am convinced that all the promises made to Israel have found, are finding, and will find their perfect fulfillment in the Church. It is true that in the past, in my expositions, I gave a definite place to Israel in the purposes of God. I have now come to the conviction, as I have just said, t is the new and spiritual Israe; that is intended.”

Philip c

The more I’ve thought about it the more I have come to the conclusion that this is the battering ram that knocks down the stronghold of exclusive atonement. It’s a great article.

dr. james willingham

Humm, a great battering ram to knock down our Lord’s words: “A ransom for many.” Obviously, many does not mean all without exception. How about the idea that He is not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel being a battering ram to reach a woman of Canaan, a woman who was no Jew. And then there was our Lord’s words to his own fellow citizens of Nazareth about Elijah being sent to no widow in Israel but to a widow of the same area as the woman of Canaan and Elisha healing no leper in Israel but he did heal the leper, Naaman the Sytria. In the woman’s case, she worshipped. In the case of His fellow Nazarites, they tried to murder Jesus for his suggestion of exclusivity, one not including the jews but definitelty including two Gentiles. Evidently, the idea of our Lord about therapeutic paradoxes is a negativity for you, Philip c.

David

Hey James,

There is a little problem with your reference to “the many”. Its often standard in limited satisfaction circles to argue that the “many” is opposed to “all” and so means “some.”

The problem is that the Greek for many, “pollon,” is the equivalent of the Hebrew, which is the plural of “rab.” The “many” in Hebrew and, therefore, Greek, can denote “all” and this is who we find it in Rom 5:15, etc, where Paul says “the many” in Adam and so uses it interchangeable with “all in Adam,” etc.

The bottom line is one cannot just assume that the phrase “the many” means some as opposed to all, and not “all.” What is more, it appears that Paul paraphrases Jesus’ original statement in Mark 10:45 (or Matt 20:28); compare:

Mark 10:45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
1 Timothy 2:6 who gave himself as a ransom for all men

So with all this, its probably the case that the Synoptic use of the “the many” is reflective of the Hebrew use of the plural of “rab”, which along with Paul’s own use of the Greek “pollon”, therefore, means “all.” And so it would be bad of you to just beg the question on this point.

Hope that helps,
David

dr. james willingham

David, in your enthusiasm to get off the hook, you over looked one little problem. “All” also does not mean everyone without exception. I will simply mention that Pink and Beck (Frank, A.J. Gordon’s successor in Boston) have explained the context of I Tim.2:6 to which you refer. It is like the phrase, “whole world,” in I Jn.2:1,2. We find the phrase used in I Jn 5:19, clearly demonstrating that it did not mean every one without exception, for John and those with him were not a part of that whole world lying passive in Satan’s grasp.

David

Hey James

You say: David, in your enthusiasm to get off the hook, you over looked one little problem. “All” also does not mean everyone without exception.

David: In terms of the meaning of “the many” your assumption that many means “Some” begs the question. Formally speaking, you assume what you need to prove (petitio principii). I demonstrated that it is probably the case that “the many” means “all” or at the very least that it is allowable.

So what do you do? You say nothing about my reply based on Scripture evidence, but you change the topic to assert that All does not mean ALL, etc.

You new thesis statement is that All does not mean everyone without exception.

The problem is that again you beg the question, *again*.

Clearly *sometimes* “all” does mean *all*. For example: Romans 5:18 Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men.

From this text we can affirm at least: All in Adam die. That is all without exception.

Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Surely I do not have to labour at this showing the many verses wherein, without doubt, all means ALL?

So as it stands, you’ve not refuted my claim that in Hebrew and for Paul and Jesus, “many” sometimes means “all.”

You say: I will simply mention that Pink and Beck (Frank, A.J. Gordon’s successor in Boston)

David: I would encourage you to get some serious modern academic commentaries.

You say: have explained the context of I Tim.2:6 to which you refer. It is like the phrase, “whole world,” in I Jn.2:1,2. We find the phrase used in I Jn 5:19, clearly demonstrating that it did not mean every one without exception, for John and those with him were not a part of that whole world lying passive in Satan’s grasp.

David: So the argument is that “all” in 1 Tim 2:6 cannot refer to all men without exception. And that it is like the term “world” in 1Jn 2:2, 5:19.

Let me deal with John’s use of “world” first.

1) For John, the “world,” especially in the epistles, means the world of apostate humanity. For example, check out these uses of “world” in John’s epistles and Revelation: 1 Jn. 2:2, 15; 3:1, 13, 17; 4:1, 3, 9, 14, 17; 5:4f, 19; 2 Jn. 1:7; Rev. 11:15; 13:8; 17:8

Take out 1 John 2:2 as its contentious in your mind.

For John, the common and primary meaning is that world of unbelieving living human beings living in opposition to God and his Church. The people of God, says John, are hated by the world, persecuted by the world, the world lives in darkness, while the Church is in the light; etc etc.

In 1 John, the phrase “whole world” only happens twice in 2:2 and 5:19, the world is contrasted to the faithful. It is not that for John “world” means all men without exception or even the elect or anything like that, but people out there in darkness and unbelief.

So in 1 Jn 5:19 “1 John 5:19 We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one,” we have the children of God contrasted to the world. The world, cannot include the children of God or the believers in heaven, or even those who do not yet exist. It does not even include the unbelieving dead, as they are not under the control of the devil in Hades.

In 1 Jn 2:2 we have the same form and contrast, “our sins,” believers, and “the world,” that is apostate mankind.

Nowhere in John does “world” mean elect or all kinds of elect, etc, etc.

2) Now to “all.” Just grab the New Englishman’s lexicon or Bible Works or Logos and check out the use of “all” in the NT. It can mean all sorts of things. All in a given place, all nations in a given place, all without exception, or all without any distinction.

My last sentence gets to the heart of the matter. “All” in some of the critical texts can either mean, all without any exception, or all without any distinction. However, “all” never means some of all without distinction.

When Paul ethnic contrast, he means to say all without this or that distinction, namely ethnic or gender. Other times, however, Paul means all without exception, simply considered, as in Rom 3:23. On the other hand, here, Romans 10:12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile– the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, he means all without any ethnic distinction. He does not mean, some Gentiles, and some Jews who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved, as opposed to some Gentiles and some Jews who call upon the name of the Lord who will not be saved.

There is no TEXTUAL reason to imagine that in the critical passages, such as 1 Tim 2:6, that Paul means anything less than all men without any distinction or any exception.

I should note, too, that “world” for John, has a different function than does “all” for Paul, therefore it is completely incorrect to say that “world” is like (functions like??) “all” for Paul.

3) For further reading I have a short essay on the uses of “all without distinction” and “all without exception” here: http://calvinandcalvinism.com/?p=12502

So to conclude, once again, you should not simply beg the question.

Thanks for your time,
David

dr. james willingham

Dear David: In reading over your comment, I noticed that I had missed your invitation to read some serious modern commentaries. I should remark that my son wrote to thank the Good Hope Church, where we were members, who supplied some 20-30 members along with 50 some members supplied by our son’s church to help us move (my wife is an invalid and I have a heart condition which caused me to collapse the day of my move (my heart stopped beating and if it had not been for a defibilator which shocked it I would not be here). Anyway, our son wrote to the good folks of Good Hope, “You really did not believe him, when he said he had 15,000 volumes, did you?” They got a real laugh from that, for they surely believed it by then…and my commentaries are slowly getting put on the shelves…but I have two rooms full of boxes and a 101 boxes in the basement. Any way, (I run anywhere from 20-70 volumes of commentaries on various books of the Bible, especially on the NT books., and they range from the first century to the past few years, including every variety of scholar. However, I no longer have the money to collect the most recent commentaries..though my son does and I can borrow from except health will not permit intensive studies).

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