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The simple key to 1 Jhn. 2:2

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"He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world"(1 Jhn. 2:2).

"He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad"(Jhn. 11:51-52).

Many Calvinists are understandably intimidated by the Arminian use of 1 Jhn. 2:2 to demonstrate the truth of general atonement. It is for this reason that I immediately juxtaposed the two passages at the beginning of this article in order to drive the point home immediately. The literary parallel is undeniable. "World" in 1 Jhn. 2:2 does not refer to every single person without exception, but refers, as is clear from Jhn. 11:51-52, to all nations without distinction.

What makes a general atonement interpretation of 1 Jhn. 2:2 so prima facie convincing is that John seems to be saying that Christ is a propitiation not only for the Church, but also for those who are not members of the Church. There is therefore one more consideration, apart from the aforementioned literary parallel with Jhn. 11:51-52, that needs to be kept in mind:

"and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised"(Gal. 2:9).

John's congregation was Jewish. It is therefore perfectly legitimate to understand John to be saying in 1 Jhn. 2:2 exactly what he is saying in Jhn. 11:51-52: That Christ died not only for Jews, but also for Gentiles. Indeed, John's Gospel is in large measure a sustained polemic against "the Jews" who fancied themselves the sole recipients of God's grace, or at least privileged recipients based solely on their biological descent from Abraham. In light of such a context, such a statement makes perfect sense, and says nothing in favor of general atonement.



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