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when i drink a whole cup of coffee...i drink the whole thing...not just selected slurps. when i eat a double whopper with chees from bk, i eat the whole thing.....that means all of it!


Keith Schooley

Nice work, Peter. I'm glad that you brought in the other verses referring to "world," avoiding the rhetorical trap of, "You're just cherry-picking one verse that appears to support your position." 1 John 2:2 is emblematic of a whole vein of scriptural teaching.

I'll add some additional thoughts on my own blog, to counter some of the Calvinistic objections we can both anticipate.

Christopher Redman

Hi Peter,

I've gotten through some pressure filled days and now am taking a breath before diving back in.

I appreciate your post and treatment of 1 John 2:2. I can obviously see your point and why you approach the subject of atonement with the focus that you do.

I think there are a couple of short comings in the analysis offered. In the spirit of grace, may share them briefly:

1) In your background analysis of 1 John, you covered the authorship, the date, the key issues addressed by the Apostle...but you did not address to whom the Apostle spoke. Was John's audience Jewish or Gentile? Knowing the audience and the message the author intended to communicate to his audience is crucial in interpreting scripture.

2) And, what about the broader context that includes the Bible itself? The context of any verse is both immediate and inclusive of the whole of scripture. For example, if John was so adamant to emphasize the "whole universal world of humanity", why did He take care, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of course, to communicate the precise words of Jesus in John 10? No other author of the gospels revealed these same words. In this text, Jesus said that He layed His life down "for the sheep" not for the sheep and the goats.

3) I very much liked Morris' definition of propitiation. However, the simple statement offered by Stott (“this cannot be pressed into meaning that all sins are automatically pardoned though the propitiation of Christ, but that a universal pardon is offered for (the sins of) the whole world and is enjoyed by those who embrace it…”)does not adequately address the issue. This is an example of a general atonement scholar attempting to make the Bible support his position. Very much like, I might add, you accuse Calvinists of doing.

If Christ satisfied, in full or in total, the wrath and judgment of God against all sin of all people, indeed of the "whole world", then what is the judgment of sin to the lost?

Do the damned pay the penalty for their sins even though they have already been paid through Christ's propitiation?

To borrow from the legal terminology shared in your post, isn't this "double jeapordy"?

If the atonement of Christ was actual vicarious, substitutionary atonement, for whom did He substitute and suffer judgment for; for those in hell or for those who believe unto everlasting life?

I think Isaiah's prophetic word speaks more to both the nature and the extent of the atonement which includes the propitiation of God's wrath toward "His people".

Isaiah 53:10-12 "Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand. He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities. Therefore, I will divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because He poured out His soul unto death, and He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bore the sins of many, and made intercession for the transgressors."



Keith Schooley


Regarding your enumerated points:

1) How do you think the recipients figure into the present discussion? Are you alleging that John was writing exclusively to Jewish believers, and that therefore "whole world" refers to Gentile believers? I don't know of anyone who thinks that 1 John was written specifically to Jewish believers. John spent much of his later ministry in Ephesus, among mostly Gentile believers, whom he would likely have addressed as "my little children."

2) Yes, the "larger context" of every specific scripture is the Bible as a whole; however, jumping to this "larger context" too easily lends itself to "I want to trump your pet scriptures with my pet scriptures." The question is not whether Jesus laid down his life for the goats (which are not mentioned in John 10; that's being smuggled in from elsewhere) but whether the goats were ever given a genuine opportunity to become sheep.

3) If the application of the atonment is an over-and-done deal (Jesus died to appease the Father's wrath against a certain set of sins committed by a certain set of people), then why is it necessary that we still have an advocate with the Father? Yes, the damned pay the penalty for their sins even though they have already been paid through Christ's propitiation, because they will not consent to having His propitiation applied to their sins. See the parable of the unmerciful servant, who, though he had been forgiven of all of his debt, was subsequently handed over to the torturers "until he should pay back all he owed" (Matt. 18:34). What could enrage the Father more than the rejection of the gift of His Son?



exactly....the fact that people reject what Jesus did for them on the cross..died to pay for thier sins...will make hell hot for them. the fact that people will refuse God and turn from God will cause His anger to be much, much more.

Jesus died for all, but not all receive His gift.


ps. i just drank a full cup of coffee. i drank all of it. that means that i drank all of it.

Christopher Redman


Non-sheep (goats or other) never become sheep. See John 10:26 and following. And note that their belief or lack of belief has nothing to do with it.

John Gill assesses the audience of 1 John to be primarily Jewish. See his commentary online. (I know that Peter says that modern scholarship has blown away Gill's old work but I'm content with Gill, Edwards, Spurgeon, and my old dead friends.)

As far as your #3, my friend, you have just limited the atonement!

(BTW, it's not a certain set of sins, its every single sin, every transgression, every falling short of God's glory, every last one!)

Blessings all!




I am glad you drink the entire cup of coffee. Whole is whole , is it not? Grace. With that, I am...



Brother Chris,

I rejoice to know your work is caught up. We both know, however, that is only a holy illusion God gives to His shepherds to keep them from quitting every Monday :)

As for your comments to me, I appreciate your words. They are well thought out and challenging to say the least. Equally, I am glad our Brother Keith has felt comfortable entering our little chat about 1 John 2.2. And, from his post, I honestly do not know what else to add. He did a
a great service to our further understanding thru his post.

Let me add just a couple of things, if I may. First, you are correct that I did not explicitly identify the recepients of John's first letter. I saw no real need since I gave what most scholars offer as the "occasion" of it--to deal with incipient Gnosticism. Incidentially, John's cyclical pastorate was probably more Gentile than Jew since he was evidently in Ephesus at the time. But that really does not matter as Keith pointed out.

Secondly, I affirm with you the John's words Jesus spoke in his Gospel--"Jesus said that He layed [sic] His life down 'for the sheep'." No question about that.

However, I deny that John recorded what you further suggest Jesus said: "...not for the...goats." Jesus does not say this; rather many Calvinists assume it.

One might respond and say: "Yes, that's quite right. But that's exactly what he meant!" Well, neither of us were there, Chris, so I am wondering if there is a way to know if Jesus meant He died for sheep but not goats.

Perhaps we can ask an eye-witness...one who was there and who took pains years later to record exactly who Jesus did understand His death to be for. John offers us a very good commentary in 1 John 2.2. John says Christ is the atoning sacrifice for "our sins" (that is, sheep) and also for the sins of the "whole world" (goats).
And, unless one is prepared to question John's memory or challenge His Apostolic authority, I suspect we are better off to accept his statement "as is" and leave the theological reasoning about how it works into our other doctrines to eventually tease itself out.

I must go. I am typing this thing on the run. We'll chat again. With that, I am...


Christopher Redman


I too will step back and bury myself into several assignments that are pressing today and tomorrow.

My final comment for the moment is related to your statement, "However, I deny that John recorded what you further suggest Jesus said: "...not for the...goats." Jesus does not say this; rather many Calvinists assume it."

Jesus said, "The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost." The question to answer is did He do it? Did He actually save, by His atoning sacrifice, that which was lost and is now seeking them?

The Bible is rich with illustrations and parables about the "lost sheep" and the shepherd leaving the 99 to rescue the 1, etc.

I believe a careful consideration of John 10 will reveal many things that are pertinent to our discussion.

1) The sheep that belong to Jesus "hear His voice" and they "follow Him". (they come to believe and are saved)

2) Jesus knows them all by name and He calls them by name and they follow Him. (Sounds very much like effectual calling; Rom 8:30, 10:17)

3) Jesus gives His life for the sheep. (vicarious, substitutionary atonement)(v. 11, 15)

4) There are other sheep (belonging to Jesus) that also He will bring and there will be one Shepherd and one flock. (v. 16)Also, see Rev 5:9 (redeemed out of the world) also penned by John.

5) Not everyone is a sheep! "You do not believe because you are not of My sheep..." If they were a sheep, they would believe. (v. 26)

6) The sheep "believe" and Jesus gives them eternal life. (v. 28)

7) The Father has given the sheep to Him and they shall never perish. (election)(v. 29)

Brother Peter, I'm not assuming; I'm reading the text.

Furthermore, you and keith and volfan are all quite comfortable in limiting the atonement apparently without reservation. Let's not mistake this.

You're limiting Christ's atonement by stating that He did not atone for every sin, ie: unbelief. You have limited the efficacy of the atonement. Where I have limited it's extent but not it's efficacy (In my view, no sin is excluded).

I trust you all will abound in grace!


(I will resist the urge to post again until at least Thursday do to pressing assignements.)

Wayne Smith In His Name

Dance around these verses.

Joh 10:25 Jesus answered them, "I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name bear witness about me,
Joh 10:26 but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock.
Joh 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
Joh 10:28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.
Joh 10:29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand.
Joh 10:30 I and the Father are one."
Joh 10:31 The Jews picked up stones again to stone him.
Joh 10:32 Jesus answered them, "I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?"
Joh 10:33 The Jews answered him, "It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God."

In His Name


Regarding, "5) Not everyone is a sheep! "You do not believe because you are not of My sheep..." If they were a sheep, they would believe. (v. 26)"

Sir, Jesus does not say here that all sheep are his sheep. The picture he gives is of a communal sheepfold where one of the shepherds comes and calls out his own sheep -- who know his voice and come to him, leaving the other sheep behind. Apparently in this instance Jesus is not using the metaphor of two species, sheep and goats, but rather multiple flocks of one species, and Jesus' flock knowing its one true owner/shepherd and coming out from among the rest.


methinks that some five pointers cant see beyond the five points when reading verses, and they think...maybe honestly think....that they see it with no bias. they also.. apparently....believe that thier spins on verses are THE TRUTH..not just thier opinion on those verses... even though thier spin...thier philosophy... does not quite line up with other verses in the bible.
five pointers, you are only seeing one side of the coin. you are emphasizing on certain doctrines to the complete neglect of others. it's causing you to not only not "see it," but it causes you to almost get obnoxious with your constant attempts at converting the sbc to five pointism.

now, there is a debate coming up at liberty. why? this has been debated for centuries. one more debate wont settle a thing. besides, i went to the founders blog, and the five point crowd are almost giddy over the debate happening. good gracious alive! they are absolutely giddy over a debate!!!! i know some others that are thrilled over debate and argueing and causing strife in an attempt to win christians to thier point of view....they are called campbellites, or church of christ. ever heard of them? they are the arminian equivolent of five point calvinists.

whew! i said too much...



Just to have a little fun with volfan's cup of coffee illustration:

When you say you drank a cup of coffee, does that mean...

1. you drank exactly 8 ounces, or

2. was it a mug that held more than 8 ounces and was filled to the brim, or

3. was it a little espresso cup that held 4 ounces, or

4. did you leave a few drops in the bottom of the cup?

All joking aside, this is actually an interesting example of interpretation.


P.S. As I mentioned in Peter's previous post on this passage, there is not universal agreement on the meaning of "world" by men who say they are Calvinists. Some say that "world means world", but that the atonement was effective only for the elect. Others limit the meaning of "world" as Peter has described. They defend this from the context of this passage, the parallel passage in John 11, and from other verses. My point is that Peter's interpretation of this verse, and he has done a good job, doesn't really settle anything.

D.R. Randle


First, let me say that I am glad to see someone who is not a Calvinist engaging other Calvinists in Scripture. However, let me make one thing clear, especially to your posters -- statements like, "Why can't Calvinists see this" and pretty much all of VolFan's latest comment are unnecessary and unhelpful to this discussion. If you guys want to engage Scripture, do so, but leave personal attacks and petty statements at the door. And Peter, your use of the terms "strict" and "rigid" to refer to Calvinists who hold to Definite Atonement (my preferred word, as well as the title of possibly the best book written on the issue, is a misnomer and completely unfair to those like myself. Basically ever Presbyterian and every Particular Baptist from Owen to Spurgeon held to Definite Atonement and to suggest it is "strict" and "rigid" simply because others do not is not only silly, it is historically ignorant and inaccurate. I would hope you would change your wording to reflect a more charitable expression if you hope for honest discussion. Otherwise, what this ends with is grenade tossing and no personal engagement of the text.

Now, as for the text, I think Chris brings up a good point in regards to the original audience, though I would disagree that it has anything to do with Gentile v. Jewish recipients. I think instead the question surrounds the heresy that has popped up, i.e. the precursors to Gnosticism, that have caused his audience great problems.

When John confronts these people in chapter 2, he has already taken a bite out of their theology with his Christological treatise in chapter 1. Now he turns to the function of Christ. I agreed with your assessment of verse 1, but I think your understanding of verse 2 lacks the contextual basis for John's statement.

Clearly, John was not trying to speak about the extent of the atonement here in regards to a Calvinistic/Arminian debate, but rather in regards to a Christian/pre-Gnostic debate. So we need to understand what the view of pre-Gnostics and Docetics were. Gnostics believed that they were a select group of people who were enlightened with a knowledge that allowed them to transcend the physical. However, they were the only ones who could do this. All other humans were merely material persons who had no hope of salvation. In the Gospel of Thomas, an early Gnostic text, there is even a suggestion that women could not be saved, but rather only men. The pre-Gnostics and Docetics likely held this type of view, given that they emphasized a secret knowledge about Jesus and were causing the people enough distress that John was led to write to them. In fact, it is highly likely that part of the problem is that they were convincing the community of Christians that many of them were not truly saved and that they had not had their sins forgiven them because of their "materialiasm" and lack of knowledge.

So when we approach this text, the first thing we must understand is that John is writing with authority, an authority that all of the congregation would have respected. He was, after all a disciple, an apostle, and "the Beloved." So when he testifies of his experience with Jesus, that he touched Him and beheld Him, he essentially blows away the Docetic view of Jesus' immaterialism. And when he speaks of Himself having truth, the Gnostics and the congregation respect his authority. So, when he says, "He is the propitiation of our sins, and not ours only, but also the sins of the whole world" he is directly speaking to the idea that Christ only propitiated for the sins of those with this special knowledge. He is clearly NOT dealing with the issue of the elect v. the non-elect, but rather the pre-Gnostics/Docetics v. the congregation (after all it was the congregations that were being disrupted, not those outside of it). That is why he follows up his statement on the atonement by adding, "And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments." This deals two blows to the pre-Gnostics and Docetics - 1) It clearly takes away their insistance that salvation comes by a secret knowledge and is given to only a few and 2) It addresses the antinomianism that you, yourself, pointed out was characteristic of this group of heretics.

So in the end, he is not making a statement about whether all sins by all people are paid for on the cross or not, so much as he is debunking the view that only those with a special knowledge of Jesus and are the "immaterial" ones have had their sins expiated.

Finally, this text is clearly not enough of a prooftext to conclude that definite atonement is illegitimate, especially given that at the least this text does not speak to the issue of election. As others have pointed out, there are a great many texts that seem to indicate that the atonement is limited to some degree. And as Chris pointed out, even you, yourself, have limited it in some way.

I think if you want to deal with the atonement, you must begin with a fundamental question and that is, "Why do people go to Hell?" Maybe you should deal with that issue in your next post.


Scott, My Brother,

I'm glad you are here. Thank you for your warm words (and also for "cutting up" with Volfan. Nothing like a good chuckle).

I would like to point out, however, that I really possess no purpose to necessarily "prove anything." I'm simply, as best I know how offering what I believe is a very plausible explanation of the 1 John 2.2. Unfortunateyly, most of the objectors have been unsuccessful in offering a suitable alternative, at least from my perspective.

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



Dear D.R.,

Welcome. Thank you for stopping by. I very much appreciate your participation.

First, allow me to say, my Brother D.R., that, with all due respect, your casting of Volfan's comments as "unnessary" and "unhelpful to this discussion" seem to demonstrate quite nicely the opposite of your exhortation to me about "...wording to reflect a more charitable expression..." His words may not resonate with you or me or anyone else. And, you have my express permission, my brother, to just ignore them.

In additon, though I rarely find myself in the awkward position of defending myself, I cannot resist a brief word here, if, for no other reason, than the humor I find in it. You write: "Peter, your use of the terms "strict" and "rigid" to refer to Calvinists who hold to Definite Atonement...is a misnomer and completely unfair...and...is not only silly, it is historically ignorant and inaccurate."

To argue as do you, D.R., that my employing strict/rigid to neatly distinguish, for my purposes, between Five Point Calvinists and Four Point Calvinists is a "misnomer","completely unfair", "silly","historically ignorant" and "inaccurate" seems fantastic. I frankly never knew I could be so darn misguided, or, in your words, my Brother D.R., so uncharitable (implied, of course) in such a tiny little word.
However, until a better word for me comes along, I'm afraid I'm stuck with this one.

Now for a few comments to your analysis, D.R. First, the background/ocassion you cited was essentially the same as did I. Most scholars appear to view the problem John faced as incipient-Gnosticism. However, D.R. I did not find, in my research any such jelled ideas as you appear to propose. Indeed, most NT scholars I consulted remained extremely cautious about making forged judgments about the rogue community with whom John contended. Most of their citations were chatacteristics gleaned from John himself as my first post documents.

Unfortunately, you did not use such precaution. You even cite the Gospel of Thomas, which can be dated no earlier than the mid-second century, as evidence for what John's opponents believed. Yet Thomas' audience was a full generation after John. This seems much too hopeful for gaining at all an accurate picture of 1 John's heretics. You even cite a Gnostic belief that only men could be saved and not women. Yet we find not a shread of this in 1 John.

For me, D.R., your approach in utlizing extra-Biblical sources seems to stand in stark contrast to the NT scholars I consulted. They seemed to allow extra-biblical history, etc a role in "enlightening" Scripture. However, if I have read you correctly, you appear to designate extra-biblical sources a much more hearty role. Perhaps it's not too much to say a "determinative" role.

You write: "So, when he says, "He is the propitiation of our sins, and not ours only, but also the sins of the whole world" he is directly speaking to the idea that Christ only propitiated for the sins of those with this special knowledge. He is clearly NOT dealing with the issue of the elect v. the non-elect, but rather the pre-Gnostics/Docetics..."

Not only have you overstated our understanding of "pre-Gnosticism", D.R.,by reading 2nd Century Gnostic ideas back into John's day, but you also have allowed your extra-biblical construction--as questionable as it is--to determine John's exact meaning of propitiation, not to mention the precise beneficiaries. This, my Brother D.R., is not convicing to me. Nor, from my research, are the bulk of NT scholars as optistic about your idea as you are.

Also, you write: "he is not making a statement about whether all sins by all people are paid for on the cross or not, so much as he is debunking the view that only those with a special knowledge of Jesus and are the "immaterial" ones have had their sins expiated."

I simply ask readers of this post to compare that ingenius proposal with John's clear words: “He Himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only for ours but the sins of all the world (NLT)”. As I said pertaining to our beloved old Warrior, Warfield himself, who ingeniously tied the world John spoke of here with the millenial world, you can't blame Calvinists for not trying.

Finally, my Brother, D.R., you write that 1 John 2.2 is "clearly not enough of a prooftext to conclude definite atonement is illegitimate..." From my vantage point, I agree. I never said it was. But there is no gain in skipping to other texts when we fail to treat John fairly on his own turf.

And to suggest that "unlimited redemptionists" limit the atonement "in some way" only muddies the water. Are their no real differences between the two views--Calvinist/non-Calvinist? If so, then we must choose language that best helps us. Historically, "Limited" or "Particular" vs. "Unlimited" or "General" seems to have served us well even though we know none are perfect. They are not meant to be. They are meant as "summaries". So, it would be best if the waters were clear--at least that's my take on it.

Have a grace-filled day, D.R.. With that, I am...




i am sorry that i am not as intelligent as you. i am sorry that i am not as spiritual as you. you obviously have arrived at a very high spiritual plain, and you have come in here to enlighten all of us with things we have never heard before.

boy, i just wish that i could be as intelligent and spiritual as dr.

also, scott, whether it was 4 ounces or 45 ounces, i still drank all of it. and all of it still means all of it. boy, 45 ounces would have you hyper....wouldnt it? oooops, there's that word again.


D.R. Randle

Guys, let me address first your concerns about my comments regarding labeling and what I see as unfair and condescending statements. I did not mean to offend when I made those statements about what I saw as unfair, uncharitable, and inaccurate comments. My tone was not meant to be an angry, condescending, or holier-than-thou one, but I realize that the tone I did choose (matter-of-fact or direct) often comes across as such. I use this to avoid using a subservient-sounding persuasive tone because it does not fit my personality and to me often sounds patronizing (and in fact ofen is when I try to employ such). Thus, I am often accused of exactly what Volfan wrote in his latest post. Let me assure you that is not what I meant to do. The use of the term "ignorant" was meant to be descriptive and benign, though I realize that it is often associated with insult and is generally negative and so I apologize for that. I simply wanted to convey the fact that these terms do more harm than good and I thought you would like to know that given that you guys are doing something here that very few other non-Dortian Calvinists would do and that is actually engaging in a scholastic discussion on the merits of Definite Atonement, and I applaud you for that, immediately holding you in higher regard than all other critics of Calvinistic thought.

And Peter, you are right that I could have ignored certain comments and characterizations and maybe that would have proven best for a time. However, I think it hinders honest and frank discussion when those holding to one position are made to feel like they are on the defensive and are cast in a negative light. Terms like "strict" and "rigid" do indeed project a negative connotation. It would be uncharitable of me to suggest anyone here is a stict Arminian, since that casts images of Open Theism. In this same way, a strict or rigid Calvinist casts a image of a Hyper-Calvinist, or at the least suggests a type of legalistic or Pharisaical behavior not characteristic of the typical 5-pointer. Also, when you put a face behind those terms it is hard to see a man like J.I. Packer being labeled stict or rigid, or even Chuck Colson, given that both support dialogue with Catholics, something that many non-Calvinist Evangelicals are against (or Joni Erickson Tada, or Tremper Longman III, or Charles Spurgeon - we could go on and on). I hope you can see my point of how these words tend to divide and cause problems rather than stir the pot of honest discussion, which I believe to be the case here. And I would rather get that out in the open now. I don't believe one side being allowed to make statements or use labels that would not be employed by the other side makes for a healthy dialogue. I have seen this in other places and eventually the discussion denegrates to name-calling or an unwillingness of one or either side to discuss their differences. When I see it on a board as promising as this is for open discussion of Scripture, it leads me to want to level the playing field and that is all I was doing. I did not mean to offend and I apologize that this was the result.

I realize Peter that there are few terms that can be employed to convey 5-point Calvinism, but I think terms like "5-pointers", "Dortian Calvinists", and "Particular Redemptionists" are more appropriate, more charitable, and though bulkier are fairer and more historically accurate. My honest request as a Christian brother is that you do not use the terms "strict" and "rigid" as they portray my views in a negative light.


My comments regarding your recent post were short and I never meant to suggest that I was more intelligent or more spiritual than you - simply that I felt they were personally offensive to Calvinists and were uncharitable to the 5-Point position. I realize that you have some animosity toward Calvinists and I do hope that does eventually wane, but in the meantime I simply wanted to convey that statements like yours are personally offensive to me and other 5-pointers who have yet to prove to be uncharitable to your own positions. As a brother in Christ I do take seriously your interpretation of what I said and I apologize for coming across as holier-than-thou. That was not my intention, but I understand your arrival at that conclusion. I do not wish to berate you or embarass you, but I do hope that you will be able to discuss openly with me about your disagreements on Calvinistic doctrine. A theological system is not true or false based on the personality of those who adhere to it, but rather on the basis of its merits. If that were not true Luther would never have grown the spark of the Reformation into a fire, since he is well known to have been quite a jerk and in his later days anti-Semitic. However, that being said, I understand that the effectiveness of communicating a theological position and the possibility that it will be accepted is related to the character of its adherents. I am sure that at least some of your animosity toward Calvinism is due to consistent run-ins with tough-driving 5-pointers who have berated you and made you feel less spiritual and intelligent than they. Please do not assume that this is what I am doing in suggesting that your comments were uncharitable and unfair. Rather, I am hoping that you will see the way I view you and that will spur you on to not be like the Calvinists with whom you have had previous experience. For all of us theology is personal, the problem comes when we let our personal feelings get in the way of our ability to evaluate ours and others' theological positions. So again that is why I made the statement - hopefully to end any animosity and begin to actually engage in a discussion on the text itself. I hope that this is what you desire as well.

So Gentlemen I apologize and hope that now we can actually engage in a robust discussion of this great doctrine of the atonement. I will post my thoughts on Peter's assessment when I get a chance. Thanks again for opening up this discussion and engaging my view.


Good Afternoon Peter,

I hope you are well and prospering in His marvelous grace today, and finding occasional rest for your weary feet!

Thanks for another thought-provoking post which hopefully will cause those who love the gospel to think of it more deeply and affectionately, and hence, stand in greater awe of its Author. I hope my meager comments may add to our mutual understanding of particular (pun intended) points addressed in your post.

Your observation that the phrase, "and not only for our sins but the sins of all the world" constitutes a "rock of contention" and a "hurdle to jump" for the particularist is a conclusion neither necessary nor foregone. You, in fact, demonstrate this further down in your post by making passing reference to the use of the word "world" in the lexicons and men like Stott and Berkhof. Stott's quote - "this cannot be pressed..." - can easily be understood as a tacit rejection of the interpretation you take in your post. One appreciates the cautious note which Stott sounds here.

That no one denies the varied meanings of "world" in Scripture does not leave us free to determine that meaning based on our own idiosyncratic sensibilities, which is far to common in modern hermeneutical practices and which might lie beneath anyone's desire (not the least my own!) to let the phrase stand at our sense of its "face value." Our brother Volfan seems to imply just that in his coffee analogy (how can you go wrong with coffee? :~).

In order not to over burden this blog, I will just state on my own research (which is easily verified by anyone with a concordance), that both "world" and "whole world" are commonly used in Scripture to denote anything from all inhabitants of the earth to only those in the Roman empire, from all those distinguished from the disciples to all the nations as distinguished from Israel. "Whole world" is most often used to mean either 'all places around the globe' (global vs local) or 'all peoples on the earth' (again, with reference to one group of people as opposed to people all over the earth). Your mention of Jn 4:42 is a case in point, further illustrated in Acts 8 and 15: Samaritans, who were considered by the orthodox community as ethnic and religious bastards with no claim to Jerusalem, happily find themselves on the list of the families who would now be included in the Messianic (new) covenant. Can it be?

Further, the Old Testament not infrequently uses the term "world" to refer to the nations or families which are distinct from the nation of Israel. John is undoubtedly no stranger to this prophetic sense of the term, and I would suggest that when we speak of "face" value here, this is the face we should see. Hence, I think the particularist view is not strained in the least, has no reason to jump, is not crushed upon a rock of contention and in fact finds good support running throughout the whole of Scripture. :~) Those particularists who feel compelled to append "of the elect" to "world" must simply be unaware or unconfident of the strength of the biblical evidence.

While I do not claim an iron-clad refutation of a general Atonement view of John's verse here, I am certain the particular view has done no violence whatsoever to the actual text and theology of the Apostle John and has no apologies to make for seeing the face that John presents to his children. And this is so without even touching the meaning of the word "atonement." (aren't you glad of that, Volfan?) :-)

Grace and peace,




Thank you, my Brother for your warm words. And while I simply fail to comprehend how strict/rigid in any way can be seen as inappropriate, that is my problem, not yours. Therefore, I happily honor your request. I will use DAs and PRs.

I anticipate some helpful dialog. Have a great afternoon, D.R. With that, I am...




Good to hear from you. Great Scot! We've broken our silence! Textual arguments, not theo-reasoning!

I do apologize however. I cannot come out and play right now. I have some chores. But I will get my ball and bat and come over later :)

Peace to you and Abounding Grace. With that, I am...




Please be patient with me as I have apparently not explained myself well. My point about the cup of coffee analogy is that when someone says they drank a whole cup of coffee, while we understand what they mean in general, there are some details open to interpretation. Related to the various "world" passages, you don't really think every time the word "world" is found in scripture that it refers to every single human being do you?



Dear Timotheos,

Good morning. I trust our Lord gave you a well spent sleep.

I think you always, Timotheos, do our conversations a grand old service. That is, you make us dig a little. I do not quite know how others feel in this conversation, but I do know I need sometimes that extra little "push" to look again...perhaps I missed something.

So I did. I relooked again at "world" in Scripture. And as your post to me indicated that your study bore some good crops for you, mine also did for me. The difference is, you got corn and I got potatoes.

In a lengthy portion, you state: "both 'world' and
'whole world' are commonly used in Scripture to denote anything from all inhabitants of the earth to only those in the Roman empire, from all those distinguished from the disciples to all the nations as distinguished from Israel. "Whole world" is most often used to mean either 'all places around the globe'...or 'all peoples on the earth'...Further, the Old Testament not infrequently uses the term "world" to refer to the nations or families which are distinct from the nation of Israel..." That's your corn. Here's my potatoes. Try some.

First, you state that the OT not infrequently employs "world" in contrast to Israel. So far so good. But in the OT, the term "world" is not at all comparable to the NT: "The OT knows of no word for the world corresponding to the GK.’kosmos'" (New International Dict. of NT Theology, Vol.1, p.522). Indeed, it was under the influence of Hellenistic Judaism that the Hebrew word 'olam', meaning 'age'-- itself influenced by Greek philosophy--came to acquire the meaning of 'world', 'universe', 'the world of men'. (p.523). This sets it up nicely for the NT era. Do you like gravy with potatoes?

Secondly, the word translated 'world'--kosmos--is used 185 times. Significantly, John employs the term, if we count the three times in the Apocalypse, 108 times. Thus, John uses the term more than all the other writers in the NT combined.

Further, the noun 'kosmos'--which is the form found in 1 John 2.2--displays three different nuances: 1) the universe 2) the sphere of human life 3) humanity...the world of men (p.524).

And, given that background, while looking at John's usage particularly, it seems odd to me--even desperate, if I am totally transparent--to argue that all of these "various usages" of 'world' in the Bible could make it difficult to understand 1 John 2.2 and John's intent. In fact, the NIDNT concluded that, from John's standpoint, especially in the Gospel, "'kosmos' almost always means the world of men" (p.525).

More interesting is, John only uses "holos kosmos" (whole world) twice, and that in 1 John. One is the text under discussion, 1 John 2.2. The other reference is 5.19: "We know we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one". Is this meaning vague? Does one geographical area lie under the enemy's sway and not another? Is one portion of unsaved humanity under the sway of the wicked one but not another portion of unsaved humanity? May we legitimately slice up the "whole world" outside Christ?

Understand: just because John uses "whole world" in a comprehensive sense in 1 John 5.19, does not necessarily mean he also must use "whole world" in a comprehensive sense in 1 John 2.2. Granted. However, one must be able to marshal some pretty dog-gone good evidence why we should not conclude the two times John employs the phrase should not be identical, given the NT evidence, particularly John's own usage.

Have a wonderful day, Timotheos. I loved your corn. I hope you like my potatoes :)

With that, I am...



Mon Frere,

Your potatoes are delicious, and are the perfect compliment to my corn. In fact, your potatoes make my meal of corn all the more satisfying, which is to say, they do not change at all the flavor and nourishment of the corn. Ok, enough of the veggies...

I find myself in complete agreement with your entire post, and am grateful for the additional info. It is unfortunate that I have come off as desperate in noting the various ways that the term "world" is used. I was not grasping, but only noting that when we speak of the "face value" of John's words, we often mean the ordinary meaning of something as it appears to us. I think that many (if not most) of those who hold to general atonement take this very approach without due consideration to the uses I noted. John would not have taken such an approach, as he was writing under the direction of the One who has employed and defined the term variously across both Testaments.

Far from the Apostle being difficult to understand, you echo accurately my own understanding of what John means - "the world of men." That this of necessity (or logic, or whatever) means each and every man ever to have lived simply does not follow, either from previous usage of the term or its connections with the rest of the passage. Indeed, the passage in 5:19 appears to me to establish my point, as the "whole world" certainly does not include the people to whom John writes. But again, my only point - desperate as it appears - was only to show that the common understanding of the face value of that phrase - then and now - is often quite disparate :~).

John's conception was undoubtedly informed by its biblical uses, which as I tried to show, causes no problems for a particular understanding of 2:2, especially in light of its connection to the term "hilasmos."

Grace to you,




Thank you. I honestly could not make out if you were actually agreeing with me or not, but no matter. Even if you did, Im quite sure it probably would not matter, do you agree?:)

One quick statement. You write: "John's conception was undoubtedly informed by its biblical uses..." The question is, what biblical uses? There were none.

Mercy. With that, I am...




He he he, how can I write so obtusely? I said I thought your potatoes were delicious, not repugnant. Doesn't that sound like agreement? The problem, my friend, is you didn't really like my corn ;>)

No biblical uses? Notwithstanding those relativizing Hellenists, does the Old Testament count? Could John's understanding, Jewish as it was, have been informed by the Old canon? I suggest it was...

Double mercy.




I like suggestions. But I must say I prefer scholarship. Later, I am...


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