Archive for the ‘Atonement’ Category

Propitiation in 1 John 2:2

July 21, 2011

(A Doctrinal Study on the Extent of the Atonement)

Dr. Gary D. Long

This article is “Appendix II,” entitled, Definite Atonement, Philadelphia:
Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, 1977, pp 85-101.


In discussing the design or extent of the atonement, there are three key doctrinal terms which are related to the priestly sacrifice of Christ on earth, that is, to the finished work of Christ. These terms are redemption, propitiation and reconciliation. Evangelical Arminians and Calvinistic “four point” universalists or modified Calvinists 1 hold that there is a universal design of the atonement which provides salvation for all mankind without exception or which places all of Adam’s posterity in a savable state. They contend that there is a twofold application of these three doctrinal terms — an actual application for those who believe, a provisional application for those who die in unbelief. The historic “five point” or consistent Calvinist 2 asserts that these terms have no substitutionary reference with respect to the non-elect. In contrast to the former who hold to an indefinite atonement, the consistent Calvinist, who holds to a definite atonement, sees no purpose, benefit or comfort in a redemption that does not redeem, a propitiation that does not propitiate or a reconciliation that does not reconcile, which would be the case if these terms were applicable to the non-elect.

For those who have wrestled with the extent of the atonement, they are acutely aware that there are three problem verses 3 which the five point Calvinist must scripturally answer if he is to consistently sustain a biblical position before the modified Calvinist that the saving design of the atonement is intended by the triune God only for the elect. These verses are II Peter 2:1, which pertains to redemption; I John 2:2, which pertains to propitiation; and II Corinthians 5:19, which pertains to reconciliation. If the particular redemptionist can scripturally establish in any of these verses that God’s design of the atonement does not extend to the non-elect, then the theological case for the unlimited redemptionist crumples. In summary, if universal propitiation in I John 2:2 cannot be biblically established, then what purpose does a universal redemption in II Peter 2:1 or a universal reconciliation in II Corinthians 5:19 serve? Can it be true that God the Son redeemed the non-elect for whom God the Father’s wrath will never be propitiated (satisfied or appeased) by virtue of Christ’s death or that God the Father has been reconciled by virtue of Christ’s death to the non-elect upon whom His condemning wrath eternally abides (John 3:36)?

The purpose of this doctrinal appendix (the second in a series by the author on problem verses relating to the extent of the atonement) is to theologically approach I John 2:2, which relates to propitiation—the second of the three major doctrinal terms. May those who have believed through grace find this appendix of much help in their doctrinal study of the Word of God. Read more»


Augustine on 1 John 2:2

July 13, 2011

In like manner it is said, on the one hand, “the whole world lies in wickedness,” [1 John 5:19] because of the tares which are throughout the whole world; and, on the other hand, Christ “is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world,” [1 John 2:2] because of the wheat which is throughout the whole world.

Itaque et totus mundus in maligno positus est, propter zizania quae sunt per totum mundum; et Christus propitiator est peccatorum nostrorum, non tantum nostrorum, sed et totius mundi, propter triticum quod est per totum mundum.

– Augustine, Letter 93 to Vincentius, Chapter 9, Section 32 (NPNF1, Vol. 1 – J.G. Cunningham translator)(English)(Latin)

See John himself observing humility. Assuredly he was a righteous and a great man, who from the Lord’s bosom drank in the secrets of His mysteries; he, the man who by drinking from the Lord’s bosom indited of His Godhead, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God:” he, being such a man as this, says not, You have an advocate with the Father; but, “If any man sin, an advocate,” says he, “have we.” He says not, you have; nor says, you have me; nor says, you have Christ Himself: but he puts Christ, not himself, and says, also, “We have,” not, you have. He chose rather to put himself in the number of sinners that he might have Christ for his advocate, than to put himself in Christ’s stead as advocate, and to be found among the proud that shall be condemned. Brethren, Jesus Christ the righteous, even Him have we for our advocate with the Father; “He,” even He, “is the propitiation for our sins.” This whoso has held fast, has made no heresy; this whoso has held fast, has made no schism. For whence came schisms? When men say, “we” are righteous, when men say, “we” sanctify the unclean, “we” justify the ungodly; “we” ask, “we” obtain. But what says John? “And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” But some man will say: then do the saints not ask for us? Then do bishops and rulers not ask for the people? Yea, but mark the Scriptures, and see that rulers also commend themselves to the prayers of the people. Thus the apostle says to the congregation, “Praying withal for us also.” [Colossians 4:3] The apostle prays for the people, the people prays for the apostle. We pray for you, brethren: but do ye also pray for us. Let all the members pray one for another; let the Head intercede for all. Therefore it is no marvel that he here goes on and shuts the mouths of them that divide the Church of God. For he that has said, “We have Jesus Christ the righteous, and He is the propitiation for our sins:” having an eye to those who would divide themselves, and would say, “Lo, here is Christ, lo, there;” [Matthew 24:23] and would show Him in a part who bought the whole and possesses the whole, he immediately goes on to say, “Not our sins only, but also the sins of the whole world.” What is this, brethren? Certainly “we have found it in the fields of the woods,” we have found the Church in all nations. Behold, Christ “is the propitiation for our sins; not ours only, but also the sins of the whole world.” Behold, you have the Church throughout the whole world; do not follow false justifiers who in truth are cutters off. Be in that mountain which has filled the whole earth: because “Christ is the propitiation for our sins; not only ours, but also the sins of the whole world,” which He has bought with His blood.

Videte ipsum Ioannem servantem humilitatem. Certe vir iustus erat et magnus, qui de pectore Domini mysteriorum secreta bibebat; ille, ille qui bibendo de pectore Domini divinitatem ructavit: In principio erat Verbum, et Verbum erat apud Deum: ille talis vir non dixit: Advocatum habetis apud Patrem; sed: Si quis peccaverit, advocatum, inquit, habemus. Non dixit, habetis; nec, me habetis, dixit; nec, ipsum Christum habetis, dixit: sed et Christum posuit, non se; et habemus dixit, non, habetis. Maluit se ponere in numero peccatorum, ut haberet advocatum Christum, quam ponere se pro Christo advocatum, et inveniri inter damnandos superbos. Fratres, Iesum Christum iustum, ipsum habemus advocatum ad Patrem; ipse propitiatio est peccatorum nostrorum. Hoc qui tenuit, haeresim non fecit; hoc qui tenuit, schisma non fecit. Unde enim facta sunt schismata? Cum dicunt homines: Nos iusti sumus; cum dicunt homines: Nos sanctificamus immundos, nos iustificamus impios, nos petimus, nos impetramus. Ioannes autem quid dixit? Et si quis peccaverit, advocatum habemus ad Patrem, Iesum Christum iustum. Sed dicet aliquis: Ergo sancti non petunt pro nobis? ergo episcopi et praepositi non petunt pro populo? Sed attendite Scripturas, et videte quia et praepositi commendant se populo. Nam Apostolus dicit plebi: Orantes simul et pro nobis. Orat Apostolus pro plebe, orat plebs pro Apostolo. Oramus pro vobis, fratres: sed et vos orate pro nobis. In vicem pro se omnia membra orent, caput pro omnibus interpellet. Propterea non mirum quia sequitur hic, et claudit ora dividentibus Ecclesiam Dei. Qui enim dixit: Iesum Christum habemus iustum, et ipse propitiatio est peccatorum nostrorum: propter illos qui se divisuri erant, et dicturi: Ecce hic est Christus, ecce illic; et vellent ostendere eum in parte qui emit totum, et possidet totum; continuo secutus est: Non tantum nostrorum, sed et totius mundi. Quid est hoc, fratres? Certe invenimus eam in campis saltuum, invenimus Ecclesiam in omnibus gentibus. Ecce Christus propitiatio est peccatorum nostrorum; non tantum nostrorum, sed et totius mundi. Ecce habes Ecclesiam per totum mundum; noli sequi falsos iustificatores, et veros praecisores. In illo monte esto qui implevit orbem terrarum: quia Christus propitiatio est peccatorum nostrorum; non tantum nostrorum, sed et totius mundi, quem suo sanguine comparavit.

– Augustine, Homily 1 on 1 John, Section 8, (NPNF1, Volume 7, H. Browne translator) (English)(Latin)