I'm still uncertain what is the hubbub about his saying Christ redeemed the whole world. Is this really new to people?
1 John 2:2 ESV "He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world."
Francis is in the company of the Apostle John. That's not really a bad place to be.
Thank you, xzins!
I don’t believe that verse has the universal meaning that you and others give it.
“He is the propitiation for our sins and not for ours only but also for those of the whole world.” How are we to understand that? This is obviously a critical question.
Is this universalism? Does this mean that Jesus has literally propitiated God for the whole world? Does the whole world mean the whole world? Has Jesus actually satisfied God’s justice for everybody who has ever lived? If so, then where is hell in that? Where is condemnation? Why are all the warnings and why preach the gospel?
The answer is this is not a statement of universalism. It is not telling us that the atonement was literally made for everyone. What is it saying? I’ll tell you what it’s saying. John was in particular Jewish and primarily wrote to a Jewish audience. In Galatians 2:9 the Apostle Paul describes his first meeting with the other Apostles. He writes, “When James, Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship that we should go to the heathen and they to the circumcision.” Did you get that? So in Galatians 2:9, James, Peter and John make it clear that their ministry is to the circumcision, to the Jews.
John was an Apostle to the Jews. The recipients of his epistles would be predominantly, if not completely, Jewish. He is saying to this Jewish audience, who completely understand propitiation because they understand the sacrificial system, they understand the function of the Mercy Seat, they understand Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. And what they understand about it is to be learned from several verses in Leviticus, listen to this, verse 17 of chapter 16, “When the high priest goes in to make atonement, no one shall be in the tent of meeting until he comes out that he may make atonement for himself, for his household...listen carefully...and for all the assembly of Israel.” The Day of Atonement had limitations. It applied only to Israel, only to the people of Israel. It was a sacrifice for Israel. It went on for centuries as their unique Day of Atonement. John says here, “Jesus Himself is the propitiation, Jesus Himself is the sacrifice, Jesus Himself is the bloody offering upon the Mercy Seat of God and not for our sins only, but for the sins of the whole world.” The normal, national, limitation of the Day of Atonement for Israel is no more. In the Jewish context, they understood Day of Atonement, they understood the language of propitiation. John is telling them that the sacrifice that Jesus offered is not just for the nation Israel, it’s now for the world because the Lord is calling out a people for His name from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.
Jesus on the cross offered an atonement for those in Israel who would repent and believe and those throughout the world who would repent and believe. It is not a universal appeasement of God. Jesus didn’t pay for the sins of Judas because when Judas died, he went to his own place to pay for his own sins. Jesus didn’t pay for the sins of Herod. Jesus didn’t pay for the sins of Pilate. Jesus didn’t pay for the sins of Adolph Hitler. Jesus didn’t pay for the sins of the mob that screamed for His blood. Jesus didn’t pay for the sins of all that mass of humanity that show up at the Great White Throne and are cast into the Lake of Fire forever and ever where they will give their satisfaction to the offended Law of God. But He did pay for the sins of all who will believe in Israel and the world. The point is, it went beyond their normal provincial idea of propitiation. And He didn’t just make salvation an option, He actually purchased salvation for all who repent and believe because they are called by God. It was an actual substitution.