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Hello Peter,

I had been lurking at SBC Tomorrow. Sorry to hear you had so many technical problems.

While it is certainly true that "world" as used in the NT does not always refer to every person, as you have pointed out such a definition is not universally adopted by Calvinists. In my opinion, those who take this stance are to some degree motivated by their doctrine of limited atonement. Yet, one can hold to a more natural interpretation of "world" and still subscribe to limited atonement.

This isn't to say that the limited interpretation of "world" is incorrect, just that I don't believe it is essential to Calvinist theology. As you well state, Calvin himself didn't have the narrow interpretation.




Thanks for your comment (as well as your techno-sympathy :-).

I think you are essentially correct, Scott. One's definition of "world" is not necessary for adhering to Particular Atonement.

Nevertheless, not only do polemical Calvinists raise suspicions about their commitments to responsible exegesis by reading their prior theological presuppositions into individual terms that pose potential threats to their position, but also tend to overstate their very debatable position by arguing that their view is "the" Reformed view.

Unfortunately, the otherwise scholarly James White is notoriously known for such overstatement in his many writings.

BTW, I am planning a future post on the scope of the Atonement. Have a grace-filled afternoon. With that, I am...


Keith Schooley

Hi, Peter!

Sorry about the spam attacks you were getting. Were they on the site itself or your personal email? I find that an adaptive spam filter (used by Yahoo mail and also by Thunderbird email client) take care of most of my spam problems.

Anyway, while I was at Gordon-Conwell, I had the following note tacked up to my door. No one ever challenged it:

"For God so loved that portion of the world that He called His elect that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever from among those whom He called His elect believeth on Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.
--16th century Swiss Manuscript"

The cool thing was, we could argue as brothers and part as friends, and still have respect for one another even though we disagreed theologically.



The quote is, without a doubt, one of the best ones I've encountered.

I too possess passion that we should be able to openly participate in honest dialogue without drawing swords toward one another.

Have a great evening. I am...



amen, peter.......great insight. i preached on john 3:16 this past sunday. i preached that God loved everyone that has ever breathed, and is breathing right now. He loves the world.

i have always said that these modern day, five point calvinists are more calvinistic than calvin was.

hoping for gator meat for my gumbo this saturday,


Christopher Redman


I think it interesting to note that Piper has stated publicly in his preaching on "Let the Nations Be Glad" that he does not limit "the world" in John 3:16.

I sometimes speak of John 3:16 as "For God so loved a world of sinners..." and I don't feel that is a problem.

The real question is does God love the whole world in the exact same way or degree as He loves the elect. Jesus sheds light in John 17, especially v. 9 and v. 23.

Additionally, 1 John 2:2 is used to combat Particular Redemption but the context demands a limitation on the "world" in this text. See also 1 John 2:1.

I'm going to post on the subject of the atonement soon as well.


Jerry Grace


From my perch on the world where the forest and the trees are the same, the argument over John 3:16 in terms of interpretation of individual words gives rise to the notion of a Bible Code. He must still be hiding from us and one day we will finally discover Him when all the words are finally deciphered from some yet to be discovered ancient writing.

Or we can take the viewpoint that the "intellectual jump" is the only real way to know who He is and what He is about. The problems with jumps, however is the danger in falling into the chasm.

Or we can take the viewpoint that our God recognized that not all of us would have the same access to the tools of the intellectual jump. In doing so John 3:16 the most memorized verse in the Bible provides with the greatest economy of words the greatest of truths to the greatest possible number of people whether literate or illiterate, educated or uneducated, rich or poor.

I cannot accept the idea of a code where only the well educated can find God and where words capable for such a succinct presentation would be rendered meaningless through centuries of misinterpretation.

I see the trees through the Words of God and the forest as well through His Character, the knowledge of which is consistent, unfailing, and available by which to judge all human encounters. That Character can be as equally understood by the janitor as it is by the chairman of the board. Although we as Baptists no longer use Jesus as the standard by which we judge scripture or so the BSF&M says, His Character still speaks, still defines, and bears witness to what is true.

John 3:16, God's soundbite written thousands of years before we knew what one was or that we needed it.

Christopher Redman

May we please remember that Jesus did not condescend down to man, take on flesh and blood, dwell among us, and boldly proclaim John 3:16, die on the cross, resurrect, and assend into glory. (2 Tim 3:16?!?)

In fact, the entire conversation with Nicodemus should be considered. The conversation speaks volumes on the subject of God's sovereignty in salvation along with man's responsibility to believe, which by the way is what verse 16 points to.



Thank you for your comment. And, known I think you are essentially correct in your insight that many modern calvinists seem to be more interested in "system" than in Scripture.

Further, it is at least debatable whether Calvin himself believed in Limited Atonement as developed by post-Calvin Calvinism.

Preach well tomorrow. With that, I am...




My brother, your insight is exquisite. Our sophism imposed on God's infallible Word unforgivable. God meant His revelation, at least from my perspective, to be revealed to the masses, not exclusively to the elite.

God's peace this weekend. With that, I am...


Christopher Redman


If you would like to follow my exploration into the merits of Particular Redemption -




Sorry I have not responded back. I intended to this evening.

Actually I have already visited your blog and noted your first installment. I think it will be very good.

I look forward to chatting with your about your posts.

Preach well tomorrow, my Brother, is my prayer for you. With that, I am...



i went from the agony of defeat to the thrill of victory. last nite, my beloved vols went down to the toothless, ugly, no good, cheatin, lyin gators.

this morning..sunday...the Lord truly blessed in a great way. looking forward to tonite.

i have been preaching thru the gospel of john. i have been in john 3:16 the last couple of sundays. it's been a joy to preach it.

still smilin(without the aid of moonshine),


Jazzy Cat

For Exxon so loved people worldwide that they gave all who drive in to a station ten gallons of free gas.

This free offer of gas to everyone does not speak to the ability of everyone to get to a station with a vehicle and take advantage of this offer. Likewise John 3:16 does not speak to everyone's ability to believe. It is a perfect example of a verse that gives the external call of God. Salvation comes by faith in Jesus Christ not by trying to figure out who the elect are. The elect will respond in due course to the Word of God. The external call should go out to everyone and those that are regenerated by the Holy Spirit will respond.


Jazzy Cat,

Glad you dropped by even if it is a little late. Unfortunately, you must have read the post on the run for you address what I did not attempt to address.

The question in this particular post is not about the identity of the "whosoever", not to mention whether the whosoever has any ability at all. Rather, the post questioned who the world was for whom God loved so much He gave His Son.

Many Calvinist exegetes play footies with the "kosmos" as even many Calvinists concede, one such Calvinist of whom I identified was Carson.

But I liked your Exxon analogy anyway, even if it was irrelevant. It shows some very good creativity.

Have a great day. With that, I am...


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