Thursday, September 20, 2007

Ok, one more.

1 John 2:2 "... and [Christ] Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world."

I know that universalism could be argued down from other passages in the NT, but as I ran across this last night, I asked myself why I had never read it so clearly before. At face value, does this passage, in context, advocate universalism? Or at the very least, a moderated universalism?

It literally says, "Christ paid for the sins of the whole world." If the whole world refers only to the remnant from every tongue, tribe and nation, then who is John referring to as "us"? I would think that he is referring to all believers there.

At the very least, Limited Atonement is not compatible with this verse, at face value.

Thoughts? Rebuttals? Papal bans?


David, T. said...

I think the idea against universalism and passages that seem to apply it is that the one sin that condemns all who are not counted in Christ is their rejection of Jesus as the messiah. The one "unforgivable sin" is said to be the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit - which is mentioned in a few places: Matt 12:31, Mark 4:29.

I think that the Spirit's big confession and action in the gospels is at the baptism of Jesus where the Spirit descends on Jesus as a dove. The symbolism is rich since Jesus is being anointed by the last prophet - John the Baptist, as the last king for Israel and instead of with oil (a symbol and tool of anointing) it is with the Holy Spirit. Thus confessing that Jesus is the messiah, king, Christ.

To be concise,everyone's sin can be forgiven, but the question of "what do you do with my son?" still has to be answered. And most people go against the Spirit's testimony that he is the Messiah. Thus passages can look universal, but not be thus.

I also have a theory that sometimes when the word world is used it is in reference to non-Jews... like when Jesus is talking with Nicodemus in the famous John 3:16-17 passages... and that Jesus is proclaiming Gods love to even the gentiles to Nicodemus who is Pharisaic Jew. It could be that the 1 John 2:2 passage has a similar connotation - although that may not be likely given the context.

Danny Slavich said...

The debate you're talking about Ben boils down to how John uses the word "world" (Gk: cosmos").

However, I think that the term "world" in John's usage might be a qualitative and not quantitative. That is, it might indicate the KIND of world Jesus propitiated -- a sinful world.

Similarly, I think Tato's point is taken well -- that if the usage is quantitative, it refers to Jews and Gentiles. The "whole world" being the ingrafting (to speak Paul's language) of the Gentiles into the people of God.

Ben said...

This guy basically follows the tack you guys are taking ... specifically, an examination of the word kosmos as used by St. John. I didn't find his argument particularly compelling, but he was certainly thorough.

I looked at a few of the supposed examples of John's non-universal usage of kosmos -- including Jn 3:17 as David mentioned. I didn't really feel that they established a possible meaning for the word that removed the universal application of I Jn 2:2.

I can see how the inclusion might mean Gentiles, but that just doesn't make sense to me from the passage. Unless it's a blatant mistranslation, I would categorize this as "weaseling out of the literal meaning of a passage via word study and intellectual calisthenics". Which, btw, is something that happens so often that I think we need a distinct term for it, so I don't have to type that whole phrase every time.

David, T. said...

My other point was that John could be completely true in that statement that the world's sins are forgiven by the action of Christ, but they may not be "included in Christ" - Eph 1:13 or "found in Him" - Phil 3:9 because they have rejected him as the Messiah - thus being the sin that excludes them from the eternal kingdom of God.