Monday, December 18, 2006
A study of I John 2:2
By Alfred Chompff
These are the words from God through the pen of the Apostle John, the son of Zebedee. John wrote this Epistle in the same profound style in which he wrote the Gospel according to John. In chapter one he wrote a brief summary of the life we have in Christ, and how that life affects our fellowship with God and with one another.
The title of this article is Particular Redemption. So my first question today is:
What Is Redemption?
Does everyone know what that word means?
What is Redemption?
Depending on the Greek word that is used, Redemption means: the payment that Christ made at the cross, or the deliverance of our soul we experience in our lifetime as a result of Christ's payment, or the deliverance from our body we will experience when Christ returns.
1 John 1:1
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of Life;
1 John 1:2
(For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)
1 John 1:3
That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.
1 John 1:4
And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.
1 John 1:5
This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is Light, and in him is no darkness at all.
1 John 1:6
If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:
1 John 1:7
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
1 John 1:8
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:10
If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
In verse 1 Christ is called the Word of Life because He paid the penalty for the guilt of our sins at the cross. He redeemed us at the cross and so secured for us eternal life. That is why He is called the Word of Life. Then we read in verse 5 that God is Light. It is interesting that this follows the same sequence as in the Gospel according to John where we read in chapter 1, verse 4,
In him was Life; and the Life was the Light of men.
Why does Christ as the Light, come after Christ as the Life?
First Christ secured for us eternal life, which He did in 33 AD, and then He gives us of His Light in this century, to understand and believe the Gospel. This is the message of the Gospel: God is Light refers to God the Holy Spirit. We read in:
2 Corinthians 4:6
For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
If God the Holy Spirit indeed has shined in our hearts, then we have fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. Since all the saints are in Christ, we have fellowship not only with God, but also with all the saints. This fellowship with God demonstrates itself in our life: If we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk in darkness, meaning we live in sin habitually and we worship other gods, then we are liars. But if we walk in the Light of God the Holy Spirit, if our life reflects that Christ is indeed our Master and the Bible is our guidebook for life, then the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all unrighteousness. It shows that we have been Redeemed.
What Is Particular Redemption?
Particular Redemption means that the Redemption Christ paid at the cross was not for everyone in the whole world, but was for a particular group of people, called the Elect.
This point of view is also called "Limited Atonement", meaning that Christ's Atonement was limited to a certain group of people, called the Elect. On the other hand, there are people who believe that Christ at the cross paid for the sins of everyone in the whole world. Those people believe in Universal Redemption, or "Unlimited Atonement".
They believe that Christ not actually secured salvation for everyone in the world, but that Christ only provided the possibility of salvation for everyone, and now it is up to us to accept the offer of salvation that Christ provided. But that is contrary to what the Bible teaches and it is nothing less than a works gospel. Beginning with this sermon I want to start a series of sermons that sets this matter straight, once and for all. Let us continue here in:
1 John 2:1
My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:
1 John 2:2
And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
Wow! The Universalists are smiling. There you have it! "For the sins of the whole world"! There God says it so plainly that the Lord Jesus Christ suffered and died on the cross for the sins of the whole world.
Is this not as clear as could be?
Is it true that this is what the Word of God says?
We have to check out the Greek text, and if this is indeed what the Greek text is saying in 1 John 2:2, then I rest my case, and we will have to accept that the Lord Jesus suffered and died for the sins of everyone in the whole world.
When I examine the Greek text of 1 John 2:2, immediately I see that there are four things that stand out. I will make these four things the remainder of my sermon. In the sermon outline I have listed them as the following four questions:
#1 Why are the words "The Sins Of" in italics?
#2 What is the meaning of the word "For"?
#3 What is the meaning of "Propitiation"?
#4 What is the meaning of "The Whole World"?
Now, we should not readily assume that we already know the answers to these questions, but we should derive the answers from the Bible. We will not base this sermon on human intellect, but only upon the purpose and counsel of God as revealed in His Word.
So, my first point is:
#1. "The Sins Of"?
Why are the words "The Sins Of" in italics? It is because these words do not exist in the original Greek text of the Apostle John. Literally the text of I John 2:1-2 reads,
1 John 2:1
My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:
1 John 2:2
And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the whole world.
Some people think that I am changing the Bible. I am not changing the Bible.
What is the Bible?
The German people or the Dutch people do not recognize the English KJV as the Bible. They have a Bible in their own language, and it differs in quite a few places from the English KJV. So then,
who is right?
Where is truth?
The answer is that the original Greek NT and the Hebrew OT are the true inspired Word of God. Our church holds on to the Greek Textus Receptus, and the Hebrew Masoretic Text. Since most people in the US do not know Greek or Hebrew, the English KJV is the next best thing to have, because it is almost a word-by-word translation from the Textus Receptus and from the Masoretic Text.
But we must realize that the KJV is only a translation. It is the work of man and therefore it is not infallible. That is why we find these three words in italics. The translators indicated thereby that these words were not in the original text, and they were just a suggestion from the translators. This is the first error of the advocates of Universal Atonement. They read the English text as if it was the inspired Word of God.
How could it be that anyone would even suggest that Christ suffered and died for the sins of everyone in the whole world?
Don't they realize what Christ had to suffer?
The Lord Jesus Christ made a vicarious Atonement, which means a substitutionary Atonement. He satisfied the righteousness of God in our place. He had to pay in our place what we would have to pay for our sins. To satisfy the righteousness of God we would have to spend an eternity in Hell. That is what Christ had to pay: the equivalent of an eternity in Hell. That is a whole lot more suffering than the Universalists want us to believe. They believe that Jesus suffered in only in his body, but not in His Soul, or His Spirit being that occupied that body. But that is not what the Bible says. Please turn to the Epistle to the Hebrews, chapter 5, verse 7. In this chapter of the letter to the Hebrews God shows Jesus as our great High Priest. In this context the Father says of the Son:
"Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchisedec".
The Lord Jesus, as our High Priest, already suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane, where He was confronted with the enormous suffering He had to endure. We read in:
Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;
Christ offered up prayers and supplications unto Him that was able to save Him from death. And
He was heard. He that was able to save Him from death heard his prayers and supplications.
What death was this that the Lord Jesus prayed to be delivered from?
Look up that Greek word for death. It was not physical death that He feared, because He knew He would die on the cross. It was the spiritual death, or the second death, the penal consequence of sin. It was the separation from God in a state of torment that He had to endure. His sufferings were so great that they were of infinite value to God, and thus His suffering qualified to be a substitute for the suffering that all the saints would have to endure for their sins.
All the Old Testament animal sacrifices were shadows of the Atonement of Christ. All those animals were burned in the fire on the altar. But when we look at the cross we do not see any fire.
Where was the fire?
The fire was inside Him. Christ in His Soul existence endured the fires of Hell.
How can anyone suggest that Christ endured the torments of Hell for people who themselves are going to Hell?
Was Christ an unsuccessful suffering servant?
Did He want to save people but He could not save them?
Is Jesus crying His eyes out because people reject His salvation and therefore they have to go to Hell? No!
None of those possibilities are true. You see, that would make a mockery out of God, and the Lord Jesus Christ is God. Christ is God, and He saves whom He wants to save, and He saves to the uttermost. He came to earth to save His people. That is why the angel said to Joseph in a dream,
And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
He came to save only His people from their sins and from all the consequences of their sins. His people were not the Jews, like so many Premillenial preachers suggest. The Jews do not believe that they are in need of salvation. They have no need for a crucified Messiah. They believe they are going to heaven on the coattails of Abraham. No! the Jews are not in view in Matthew 1:21 as His people, and not all the people in the world are His people, but His people are all those whom God chose from before the foundation of the world to become saved. His people are all the Elect. And when Christ saves someone by paying for that person's sins on the cross, that person indeed shall be saved.
Now let us go to the second item on the list that I see in I John 2:2.
What Means "For"?
What is the meaning of the word "for"?
The second error of the Universalists lies in not having studied the word "for". There are 25 different Greek words used in the New Testament that have been translated "for". In I John 2:2 the word "for" occurs three times, and all three times it is the same Greek word.
1 John 2:2
And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the whole world.
This is perceived by the Universalists in the sense that Jesus suffered substitutionally for the whole world. This cannot be. It is not true and it is not found here. The preposition that is used here means "in regard to sin", or "relative to sin", or "with a view to sin", or "concerning sin" Remember.
Please turn to the Gospel according to John, chapter 10. Let me explain two of these 25 prepositions that have been translated "for" in the English language. The first one is the Greek word "huper", which means "for" in the meaning of substitution, such as "in place of". Here in John chapter 10 there are two verses that contain the Greek word "huper".
The first one is in verse 11,
I am the good shepherd: The good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
That word "for" is the Greek word "huper" (spell it). Clearly you can see that Jesus is saying: "I am the good shepherd: The good shepherd giveth his life "in the place of" the sheep". Jesus is giving His life in the place of the sheep losing their life. Not only do we see that the word "huper" refers to substitution, but we also see that the Lord Jesus did not give His life for everyone in the world, but only for His sheep, or in the place of His sheep. Now go to verse 15,
As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.
Here again the word "for" is the Greek word "huper". Clearly you can see that Jesus is saying: "As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life "in the place of" the sheep". Jesus is giving His life in the place of the sheep losing their life. The word "for", which is the Greek word "huper", refers to substitution. Here too we see that the Lord Jesus did not give His life for everyone in the world, but only for His sheep, or in the place of His sheep.
Moreover, both in verse 11 and in verse 15 the word "life" should have been translated "soul". That is the Greek word used here. This again reflects clearly that the Lord Jesus Christ did not just suffer in His body, but He also suffered in His Soul, His Spirit, the equivalent of an eternity in Hell. That is why Jesus cried out: "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me"?
The second Greek word I want you to remember is the word "peri", which usually means "around". Our English word "perimeter" has been derived from that word "peri". Now go to verse 13,
The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.
Clearly we can see that the word "for", which is the Greek word "peri" does not refer here to substitution. You could translate it by the word "concerning". Thus Jesus is saying: "The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not "concerning" the sheep". Now turn to verse 33,
The Jews answered him, saying: For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.
Two times do we see in this verse the word "for" and both times it is the Greek word "peri". No one would suggest that the word "for" in this verse refers to substitution. Let us use the word "concerning" again. Verse 33 would read as follows: "The Jews answered him, saying: Concerning a good work we stone thee not; but concerning blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God". This makes perfectly good sense. The word "peri" does not mean "in the place of", but rather it means "concerning to" or "applying to". For example, we would say: "This is a good medicine for the wound", without ever thinking that it means a substitution for the wound. We only mean that the medicine is "appropriate to" the wound, or that it is good "as concerns" the wound. When we say: "Echinacea is good for colds", in no way do we mean to substitute a cold with Echinacea. We only mean that to treat a cold it is "appropriate" to use Echinacea. Now turn again to I John 2:2,
1 John 2:2
And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the whole world.
Three times the word "for" is the word "peri". In other words, no substitution is in view here. Think of the example of the medicine and the wound and apply that here. This verse is saying "Christ is the propitiation exactly as we had need of with regard to our sins, or concerning our sins". But we must positively deny anyone the right to deduce from this passage that the sacrifice of Christ would have been intended "in the place of" the sins of the whole world. You can deceive people with a translated version of the Bible, but it will not work for a moment with the original text.
Now let us turn our eyes to the third item on the list
#3. What Is "Propitiation"?
The third error of the Universalists is that they misunderstand this word "propitiation", without checking the difference between "propitiation" found in Romans 3:25 and that found in 1 John 2:2.
What is the meaning of the word "Propitiation"?
The English word "propitiation" is of Latin derivation, and it is a contraction of "provision for pity", or "provision for mercy". This accurately translates the Greek word that is used in:
"Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood".
In Romans 3:25 the word "propitiation" means the "instrument of redemption", and therefore it directly presents Christ as the instrument of redemption, or the sacrifice for sin.
But in I John 2:2, and in I John 4:10, a completely different word is used that does not mean the sacrifice or the instrument through which the redemption was accomplished. Instead, it indicates the contents of the redemption itself.
For example, when Jesus said: "I am the way", He meant by this that apart from Him there is nothing but error and wandering, and that no one comes to the Father but by Him. When Jesus said: "I am the life", He meant that apart from Him there is nothing but death. When Jesus said: "I am the truth", He meant that no one can find truth except those who receive it from Him. When Jesus said: "I am the light", He meant that outside of Him there is nothing but darkness and blackness, so that whoever wants to have light must receive it from Him. Very similarly, in I John 2:2 we read that Jesus is the propitiation, which means that outside of Him there is nothing but an impending wrath of God for all who have sinned, and that no one can find redemption except in and through Him. Briefly stated, the totality of redemption from sin lies only in Him, not only for us but for the whole world.
How does this tie into the context of I John 2:1?
Allow me to paraphrase this context: "My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not", but if any of you feels guilty again, do not on that account despair, because we have with the Father an Advocate, One who pleads our cause, namely Jesus Christ the righteous.
The Apostle John indicates in this way that the Advocate must be perfectly suited for His work. It means that the Righteous One must not look for a redemption elsewhere, He must not propose a redemption that is independent of Himself. The Advocate must propose a redemption of which He himself is the substance, the fullness, and the totality in His own person. He must present Himself as the Redeemer who, in His whole existence as Messiah and Mediator, is redemption. The Advocate is Himself the redemption, not only in regard to the sin that we identify as "our sins", but also with a view to all that is sin within the sphere of this whole world.
Let me summarize this matter of "propitiation" in 1 John 2:2 as follows: There are believing and unbelieving people. Both have sins. This sin lies under the wrath of God. This wrath cannot be stilled except by redemption. And now whoever looks for redemption cannot find it anywhere except in Christ, because Christ and the redemption are one. It does not mean that the redemption is applied to both believing and unbelieving people. It only points to where the redemption can be found.
Therefore it does not mean at all what the Universalists have unjustly made of it. Now, let us turn to the fourth point that I see in I John 2:2,
"The Whole World?"
What is the meaning of "The Whole World"?
The Universalists propose that it means each and everyone in the whole world. That is absolutely ridiculous. Let us see how this expression "the whole world" is used in the Gospels. Please turn in your Bibles to the Gospel according to Matthew, chapter 16. Perhaps you remember that toward the end of the chapter the Lord Jesus says to Peter: "Get thee behind me Satan". And then Jesus begins to teach on "discipleship". Then He said in verse 26,
For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
Can you see here clearly that the expression "the whole world" does not refer to each and every person in the world. We do not become owners of other people in the world. Jesus is not promoting slavery. He is referring to the material things of this world.
What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
If we would own all the material wealth that is available in this world, 1000 trillion dollars worth, it does not stack up to the value of one soul. This tells us the value of evangelism. If in our lifetime we are instrumental in bringing only one soul to Christ, we have helped to rob Satan's treasure chest of more than 1000 trillion dollars. Boy, is he going to be mad.
And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
Here you might say that "all the world" refers to all the people in the world. But that is not what is meant here. Look at the word "in".
What is the gist of this verse?
It is again talking about evangelism. When we go in all the world we are not going into people, but we are going into the many countries of the world and there preach the Gospel of the Kingdom.
In doing so, do we hasten the coming of the end? No!
We are just obedient to His commandment. God has His own timetable. Now go to Matthew 26:13. Mary, the sister of Lazarus, has anointed the Lord Jesus with precious ointment. We read in:
Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.
Look again at the little proposition "in".
What is in view here? Evangelism.
Again we see that the expression "the whole world" does not refer to people but to the countries of the world. And now turn to the Gospel according to Mark, chapter 16. Here we read about the Great commission.
And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
This again speaks of Evangelism. When we go "into all the world", we do not go into people, but we go into different regions, countries, cities, or villages of the earth. When we read in:
¶ First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.
Here again "the whole world" can only mean different regions of the three continents Europe, Asia and Africa. Let us turn again to the First Epistle of John, chapter 5 . Here in this Epistle of John we find two times the expression "the whole world". The first was in I John 2:2, & the second is here:
1 John 5:19
(And) we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.
In this statement "the whole world" does not refer to each and everyone in the world. First of all the believers are excluded from this bunch. Secondly, when Adam sinned God cursed the ground. Therefore, when God says "The whole world lieth in wickedness", God is not only referring to all the people who still are under the wrath of God, but God says that everything they touch is also infected with sin and is under the curse of God. And God demonstrated this dramatically when the Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross:
We read in:
"The earth did quake and the rocks rent", reflecting that the earth also was subject to the wrath of God.
Therefore, "the whole world" in 1 John 2:2 cannot possibly refer to each and everyone in the whole world. The Universalists do not find the least support in this verse for their claim that the Lord Jesus Christ suffered and died for the sins of everyone in the whole world. How is it then possible that the Universalists still want to view it as a settled matter that "the whole world" in 1 John 2:2 must suddenly mean "all as yet unconverted individuals"?
Never is this the meaning elsewhere in Scripture, and even in John's letter itself the expression "the whole world" is used in a way that directly opposes the doctrine of the Universalists. Now, my last point is:
Therefore, if we want to summarize the meaning of 1 John 2:2 we could say: "Christ is a complete redemption for our sins, not only for those sins we personally confess to be our own, but also for this entire world of sin, the guilt of which, in solidarity with Adam, burdens us before God".
It is amazing how many commentaries adhere to the interpretation of the Universalists. Only Matthew Henry has it right. Many so called Bible scholars of the past have stumbled over this verse and have written their errors in commentaries.
Do you realize that all those commentaries have fed the students in seminaries?
They have come out of the seminaries and have propagated this lie that the Lord Jesus Christ died for everyone in the whole world, based on this one verse. One lie leads to another. If Christ died for all the people in the world, then suddenly the burden is upon us to make a decision for Jesus. We must make the final decision, because Christ has done all He could.
Can you see that the Arminian gospel is an outgrowth of this doctrine of Universal Atonement?
It gradually developed over time. But here is where it started: Universal Atonement. Don't blame the KJV translators. They were fallible men like we are. They could not foresee where the church was going.
But where did this doctrine of Universal Atonement originally come from?
It is the doctrine that is confessed by Rome.
They believe in a salvation by our own free will.
A pastor who is preaching this kind of a gospel in a so called Christian church is leading people back to Rome.
Of course, there were attempts in the past to correct this, but those people were not heard, or insufficiently heard. And today the freewill gospels are dominating in most churches; so much so that most people do not even know there is another view of the Gospel of the Bible.
In Deuteronomy 17:14 God gave instructions for a king that the people would set over them. It sounds ludicrous, but did you know that many pastors are ruling as potentates over their congregations, like the Old Testament kings did. Let us read in:
Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the LORD thy God shall choose: one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother.
But he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses: forasmuch as the LORD hath said unto you, Ye shall henceforth return no more that way.
"He shall not cause the people to return to Egypt".
Why would their king do such a thing?
"To the end that he should multiply horses".
In other words, he would sell people into slavery in order to enrich himself.
Why would God write this in the Bible?
We do not read anywhere that a king of Judah or a king of Israel actually sold people back into Egypt.
But is it happening today?
Most definitely it is happening today. Pastors are preaching a freewill gospel that their congregation likes. They do that for their own gain, so that they can build bigger and nicer church buildings. They are in fact selling their people back into Egypt. And even more dramatically, today there are strong forces at work within the Christian denominations to join hands with the Roman church.
Therefore, what should we do about it?
We must give God all the glory that belongs to Him, we must pray that He may keep us faithful to give Him all the glory, and we must trust that God will keep His promises and that He will never leave us nor forsake us. Amen.
Canons of Dort, chapter 2
Article 8. For this was the sovereign counsel, and most gracious will and purpose of God the Father, that the quickening and saving efficacy of the most precious death of his Son should extend to all the elect, for bestowing upon them alone the gift of justifying faith, thereby to bring them infallibly to salvation: that is, it was the will of God that Christ by the blood of the cross, whereby he confirmed the new covenant, should effectually redeem out of every people, tribe, nation, and language, all those, and those only, who were from eternity chosen to salvation, and given to him by the Father; that he should confer upon them faith, which together with all the other saving gifts of the Holy Spirit, he purchased for them by his death; should purge them from all sin, both original and actual, whether committed before or after believing; and having faithfully preserved them even to the end, should at last bring them free from every spot and blemish to the enjoyment of glory in his own presence forever.
1 Timothy 2:4
God our Savior, who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
"Who will have all men to be saved"?
Do we understand this?
Clearly we can see that there are many people who died unsaved. In our lifetime we could see the life and death of Adolph Hitler and Joseph Stalin, who definitely died unsaved. Terrorist suicide bombers definitely die unsaved, because they commit murder the last second of their life.
If God wants all men to be saved, why does He not save them?
Is God not almighty in power?
If it is God's will that all men be saved, who can hinder Him to carry out His will?
God demonstrated His power when He stopped Saul of Tarsus on the Road to Damascus, and three days later God saved him. Saul of Tarsus was the archenemy of Christ. If anyone deserved to go to Hell, it was Saul of Tarsus. But God saved him mightily, to the uttermost.
Those who oppose the doctrines of grace are frantically searching the Bible for proof texts to prove that man has a free will, and that people come to Christ out of their own free will.
God has done all He could; Christ has made salvation available to everyone in the world, and now it is up to us to accept that salvation. God has done His part, and now we have to do our part of accepting Christ as our Lord and Savior.
Is this not what is being taught these days in most churches around the world?
In addition, they have the NIV Bible, which is probably the worst one to learn the Gospel from. It is the NIV Bible, which teaches people that they have to accept Christ.
Listen to this example from the NIV:
"I tell you the truth, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me."
That is NOT what the Bible says at all.
The NIV contains muddied waters. But those who oppose the doctrines of grace love the NIV, because it supports their view. Those who believe in a gospel of salvation by their "own free will" are called Pelagians, after the 5th century monk Pelagius, who first suggested this doctrine. The Roman church adopted the philosophy of Pelagius. In fact there were two popes in the 6th century who were so in awe of Pelagius that they called themselves after his name. A close follower of Pelagius was Jacob Arminius, a 16th century professor at the University of Leiden, in the Netherlands, who also taught that natural man is not spiritually dead in trespasses and sins as is taught in Ephesians 2:1, but natural man is still capable of reaching out and accepting Christ as his Savior. His followers are called Arminians. Their starting point is 1 John 2:2, that Christ died for the sins of everyone in the whole world. Well, 1 John 2:2 teaches just the opposite of what the Arminians make out of it.
Arminians are searching the Bible for nuggets of gold that will support their theories. All they find is dust that looks like gold, it shines like gold, but it is only gold dust. In this article I am going to show that 1 Timothy 2:4 is another flake of gold dust.
Why am I teaching you these things?
I am doing that to give you ammunition when you go to battle against those who are called Arminians. Therefore, these are very important lessons to learn, because God left us in this world to do spiritual battle against the forces of Satan.
Let me give you a brief outline of the sermon, and of what 1 Timothy 2:4 teaches:
First, I am going to show that the word "all" usually does not mean "all, inclusive of every individual".
Second, I am going to show that the context of 1 Timothy 2:4 does not allow to interpret the word "all" to mean "all, inclusive of every individual".
Third, I am going to show that the Pastoral Epistles forbid interpreting the word "all" to mean "all, inclusive of every individual".
In order to make my proof as convincing as possible, I will restrict my references to the Pastoral Epistles only. So let us begin with the first point:
The Word "All"
In 1 Timothy 4:4 in your KJV you do not see the word "all" there. That is because the same Greek word that was translated "all" in all the other verses, has been translated here "every".
1 Timothy 4:4
For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:
From its context we understand that this statement refers to food. A believer may eat not only bread and vegetables, but also meat, and even meat that was offered to idols. A believer may eat everything that he wants to eat, but only everything that is edible. We are not allowed to eat lead, or poisonous mushrooms, or human flesh, but we are allowed to eat everything that is edible and that is harmless. Therefore, when we read, "every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused", it does not really mean everything there is.
The word "every" is restricted to that which is edible, and that which is harmless to our bodies, and that which does not conflict with our human dignity. The word "everything" does not mean "everything in the world". Now look at verse 10,
1 Timothy 4:10
For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.
Is God here described as the Savior of ALL men?
Does this refer to each and everyone in the world?
God added the phrase: "especially of those that believe", which means that the force of "All men" is directly restricted to only those that believe.
1 Timothy 5:20
Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.
Does this refer to all the people in the world?
The word "all" cannot mean all individuals in the world. It only refers to all those who were involved in this particular sin.
1 Timothy 6:13
I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession;
1 Timothy 6:14
That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ:
Do you see that in verse 13?
"God, who quickeneth all things".
Does this mean that God will make everything alive on the Last Day?
The rocks will not be made alive. And if this is to be understood spiritually, we know that Satan is dead forever. Therefore, "all things" does not mean all things that have been created. In this context "all things" refer to everything that is alive has been made alive by God.
2 Timothy 1:15
This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes.
"All they which are in Asia"?
We know that this cannot refer to all the millions of people which live in Asia. Even if we consider just the province in Asia Minor called Asia, we understand that Paul could not possibly have known all the people who live in that province. Besides, Paul could not have known if there were some in Ephesus, or in Laodicea, or in Troas who were still on his side. Therefore, what it means is this: "All the friends from Asia who were of Paul's company, have forsaken him". The Apostle Paul wrote this letter from his last imprisonment in Rome.
2 Timothy 2:7
Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.
Does this mean that "the Lord will give Timothy understanding in all things" such as shipbuilding, and diamond cutting?
This does not mean all the things in the world. The meaning of this verse is this: "The Lord will give you understanding in all the things that you have need of".
For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
"The grace of God that bringeth salvation" has not literally appeared to all men, because all men are not saved. It cannot refer to men living before the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. It also cannot refer to people who have not been born yet when Paul wrote this letter.
What then does this verse mean?
It can only refer to the thousands of people who were contemporaries of Paul, and who heard the preaching of Paul or heard those whom Paul sent out into the mission fields of Asia and Greece. The context makes it clear that this verse means: "The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to free men and to slaves, to people of various classes and various standings in society".
To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.
"Showing all meekness unto all men" cannot refer to all men in the world. In this context "all men" refers to those few who come in contact with you and who will try to seduce you into sin.
So we see that, as a rule, the word "all" generally does not mean the sum of all the individual parts. Therefore, "all men" in 1 Timothy 2:4 does not refer to each and every person in this world.
1 Timothy 2:4
Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
What then does "all men" mean in 1 Timothy 2:4?
First of all, we have learned from the eight examples that I have given, that the context dictates what the interpretation must be. I would like to broaden the context to the Pastoral Epistles and take a passage from 2 Timothy 1:9-11.
What Is God's Plan?
Is it God's plan that all men be saved?
God's plan is summarized in 2 Timothy 1:9-11:
2 Timothy 1:9
Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,
2 Timothy 1:10
But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:
2 Timothy 1:11
Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.
What does this passage say?
First of all, our salvation is not according to our works.
It is because all our works are at least tainted with sin. The Bible declares this, and it is also easy to see. Take anything that you have done today. For example you drove your car to church. Have you done it so perfectly that it could not be improved. No! It could have been done better. It means you made a few mistakes. In God's vocabulary there are no mistakes; they are all sins. Anything you do, if it is not done as perfectly as when God Himself would have done it, is imperfect, which means it is tainted with sin. There is sin all around us and within us. That is why our salvation is not according to our works. Suppose for example that our salvation depends on saying the sinner's prayer, or it depends on our acceptance of the Lord Jesus.
Don't you think that our sincerity enters into the picture?
What if you are not sincere enough?
That is sin.
What if you do not have enough faith?
That is sin, and so on.
Can you see that we have nothing to offer that is free from sin?
Secondly, We have nothing to offer to God, and that is why our salvation is "not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began". Our salvation was given us. It was a free gift from God in Christ. God gave this gift to whomever He wanted to give it to. God did not make those decisions at the spur of the moment, but God decided whom to give it to before the world began.
Definitely God did not look down the corridors of time to bestow His grace on those who would turn to the Lord Jesus in faith. That is not grace, and then we would be back into a salvation by works again. God chose those on whom He would bestow this gift of grace. Grace means unmerited favor.
How can you merit unmerited favor?
It is impossible to deserve unmerited favor, otherwise grace is no more grace. Those whom God chose to give this gift of grace to are called "the elect of God". A problem: the elect are all humans; they are full of sin.
Thirdly, verse 9 starts with the words: "Who hath saved us".
How has God saved US?
God did not plan to save all the people in the world, but God planned to save only His people, the elect of God. Also, Verse 10 says: "But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death".
How did the Lord Jesus Christ become our Savior, and how did He abolish death for US?
All these questions focus on the cross of Christ and find their answer in the Atonement of Christ on the cross.
What did the Lord Jesus Christ accomplish there on the cross?
1) Christ saved US, is the same as Christ redeemed US. In order to become our Savior, or our Redeemer, He first had to become our Kinsman. That is why the Hebrew word for Redeemer is the same word as for Kinsman.
2) Also, there is no redemption possible unless there was first bondage. The Bible says that all mankind came into the world in bondage to sin and to Satan: "In sin did my mother conceive me", which means that I was already in bondage to sin at the moment of my conception.
3) Next, there is no redemption possible unless there is a ransom. The Lord Jesus said that He came into the world "to give His life a ransom for many", that is, the many who belong to the elect of God.
4) Next, there is no redemption possible unless there is deliverance. The Bible says that God has "delivered us from the power of darkness and has translated us into the Kingdom of His dear Son". God could only do that legitimately after He has cleansed us from our sins.
How did God cleanse us from our sins?
God sent the Second person of the Triune Godhead into the world as our Kinsman. He came into the world "to save His people from their sins". He remained fully God but He also took on a human body. That is why He qualified to be our Savior, to save us from our sins and from all the bad consequences of our sins. He qualified to be the sinless, spotless, Lamb of God to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.
How did He become our atoning sacrifice?
He took our place to bear the wrath of God for our sins.
2 Corinthians 5:21
For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
That is how Christ saved His people from their sins. When He redeemed US, He saved us mightily; "He saved us to the uttermost". Arminians do not believe that Christ actually redeemed anyone, but that He only provided the possibility of redemption, but that is contrary to what the Bible declares.
Fourthly, We read in verse 9: "He saved us and called us with an holy calling".
What does that mean?
The word "holy" means "separate, or special". "He called us with a special calling". The general call to come to Christ goes out to the entire world. The special call comes only to God's elect people. The special call is the effective call empowered by God's grace, which no one can resist. "Many are called, but few are chosen". God the Holy Spirit arranges the affairs of this world in such a way that all those who are God's elect will come under the hearing of the Gospel, and they will be irresistibly drawn to believe. They do not believe out of their own initiative, because the Lord Jesus said in John 6:
"No man CAN come to Me except the Father, which hath sent Me, draw him".
Fifthly, Christ redeemed US "and abolished death for US", meaning He abolished death for the elect of God.
Why did He abolish death?
When the Lord Jesus Christ endured the payment for our sins He actually purchased us out of the power of Satan, and He purchased us body and soul. Our deliverance occurs in two steps. The first step occurs in our lifetime when our soul is totally delivered: God the Holy Spirit gives us a new soul, which means that we have been Born Again, and that soul will live forever. Our body is also delivered from the power of Satan at the same time, but our body is still the old Adamic body that is inclined to sin. When God made a new soul within us, God gave us eternal life. Eternal life means it is life forever; there is no more death. Therefore, what God has done in our soul cannot be undone by anyone, not even by ourselves. The saints will persevere unto the end of their life on this earth. Therefore, once we have been saved in our soul, the redemption of our body is sure. The second step, the deliverance of our body from this sinful world occurs when Christ comes for the second time, and then He will give us a new glorified body that is able to stand in the presence of God. Then our deliverance will be complete. But when this sinful body dies and is put in the grave, our soul goes immediately to live and reign with Christ in heaven. We glorify God on this earth, but we never stop glorifying God, even when this old body dies. And when we have received our glorified body we will glorify Him even more for all eternity.
Therefore, we can see from 2 Timothy 1:9-11 that God did not plan to save all men, and therefore Christ did not suffer and die for the sins of those people who themselves are going to Hell. Now, let us turn to the second point that I promised way in the beginning, that is: I promised to show that the context of 1 Timothy 2:4 does not allow to interpret the word "all" to mean "all, inclusive of every individual in the world".
What Is the Context?
1 Timothy 2:1
I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
1 Timothy 2:2
For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
1 Timothy 2:3
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;
1 Timothy 2:4
Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
1 Timothy 2:5
For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
1 Timothy 2:6
Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
1 Timothy 2:7
Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.
Let us first suppose that the Arminians are right in assuming that the word "all" in verse 4 means "all individuals in the entire world without exception". Now look at verses 4 and 5, and remember that the two verses are linked by the word "For", which means literally "Because".
What is the meaning of this context?
"God our Savior, who will that all individuals without exception be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. Because there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus".
What is the meaning of connecting verses 4 and 5?
There is none! It sounds like nonsense.
It is just a stringing together of disjointed words. That is not what God hath joined together here in this passage. God could not have said that. And remember that these two sentences, as they stand, are not unrelated. They are directly joined by that little word "For", meaning "Because". "Because there is one God"? The Arminian supposition that the word "all" in this text would mean "all men without exception" takes away the meaning of the "Because", and what we have left are words without meaning. This cannot be the correct interpretation.
On the other hand, let us learn from the Pastoral Epistles and understand that the word "all" in 1 Timothy 2:4 does not mean "all individuals in the entire world without exception", but it means "all the elect, who were all kinds of men, chosen from all classes of people, from every tribe or nation or kindred or tongue".
Then the text of 1 Timothy 2:4-5 says, paraphrased:
"God wills that all kinds of men be saved of every people and nation, of every position and class. For example, it refers to people not only from the Jews, but also from among the heathen, for one God rules over all nations together, and between God and all those nations only one Mediator mediates, who is not a Jew, nor a Greek, but He is the man Christ Jesus".
Historically, every nation had their own gods. The Jews had Jehovah, who they did not want to share with other nations who had their own gods. God the Holy Spirit opposed this foolish concept of God by sending out the Apostle Paul, declaring that there are not many gods, but there is only one living God for all the nations. Therefore there is only one Mediator between God and all the nations. Christ is the Mediator, not because He is a Jew, but because He became a man.
Now look how verse 7 precisely fits that context: "Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (which means one who is sent out) a teacher of the Gentiles". And look how this interpretation fits the first three verses of this chapter.
"I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for "all men"; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth."
The words "all men" in verse 4 clearly refers to the words "all men" in verse 1. It is obvious that the words "all men" in verse 1 do not refer to all the people in the world, but these "all men" are specified in verse 2: "Kings and all that are in authority".
And why do we pray for them?
We pray for them "that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty".
This is a promise of God. Our praying does not accomplish anything by itself. Our prayers must rest upon God's promises, and God's promises rest firmly in the decree of God's counsel, and the decree of God's counsel includes "all men". God's promises do not float in the sky, but God's promises come forth out of God's eternal decrees, and God's promises are themselves the revelation and the declaration of those decrees.
What is God's eternal decree for "all men"?
That All the Gentiles Might Hear
2 Timothy 4:17
Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. (The lion representing Satan.)
2 Timothy 4:18
And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
What is God's decree and what is God's promise here?
God's decree is that all the Gentiles might hear the preaching of the Gospel. That is why God left us in this world that we may bring the Gospel to every tribe and nation and people and tongue. We simply must be faithful in declaring that Gospel.
What is God's promise here?
It is that "the Lord shall deliver us from every evil work". God will not abandon His faithful workers. It does not mean that our body shall be preserved. Our body is not faithful. But it means that God shall protect our souls from being overtaken by evil attacks of Satan.
Now, let us turn to the third point that I promised way in the beginning, that is: I promised to show that the Pastoral Epistles forbid interpreting the word "all" to mean "all, inclusive of every individual in the world". I do not have the time to list all the relevant passages, so I will only use two.
A Peculiar People
Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem US from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people zealous of good works.
What does it mean, "A peculiar people"?
It means "a special people", a people redeemed by Christ for his own possession. It certainly does not mean that Christ purified everyone in the world, but it refers to those who have been purchased, or redeemed by Christ on the cross. And since they are Christ's possession, the Spirit of God indwells them; therefore they are "zealous of good works".
Who is God speaking about?
God is speaking about the elect of God.
But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, (the cross)
Not by works of righteousness which WE have done, but according to his mercy he saved US (past tense), by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
Which he shed on US abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;
That being justified by his grace, WE should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Who is God speaking about?
God speaks about those whom Christ saved, past tense, using the pronouns WE and US.
Who are WE and US?
Certainly God does NOT speak about all the people in the world. God speaks about a select group of people for whom Christ became the Savior when He went to the cross and paid for their sins. And then, in our lifetime "He saved us by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost". God did all of that 100%. We did not contribute one iota toward our salvation. Verse 7 says that we are justified by His grace. Let us be clear on this that we are not justified by our faith, but we are justified by His grace. It is 100% a free gift.
Whom is God speaking about?
He is speaking about the elect of God.
Let us sum it up: When we preach that it is NOT God's will that all men be saved, we will be maligned and persecuted, we will be shunned and parents point their fingers at us, telling their children: Do not follow that cult. But we must obey God rather than man.
For I Know Whom I Have Believed
We have already looked at the preceding verses, verses 9-11. Now look at verse 12,
2 Timothy 1:12
For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.
Paul writes: I suffer these bonds and these afflictions because I am a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. Because I preach the liberty we have in Christ, I am persecuted.
Nevertheless, "I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day".
I did not see a Bible until I was 40 years old; then I began to read. As the years enfold God made me realize that He is the one who helps us in every chapter of our life.
Sometimes He brings us a lot of hardship, but then He also teaches us that He will carry us through. If we feel the sorrows are so overwhelming that it feels like we cannot hang on, then we learn that God in His faithfulness will not let us go. And then we learn that He is able to keep us regardless of our circumstances. He teaches us that His Word is so true when He says:
"I will never leave thee nor forsake thee". And then we can thank God for bringing us through the valleys. What we learn is that God never makes a mistake. We do not know what the future holds, but we know who holds the future.
God saves us by His grace, and God chose whom He would save out of this mess of mankind. Let me read to you the first stanza:
I know not why God's wondrous grace to me He had made known,
Nor why, unworthy (me), Christ in love redeemed me for His own.
But I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able
To keep that which I 've committed unto Him against that day.
By Alfred Chompff