Great Quotes: Robert Picirilli

Calvinists typically argue that “all”-in those passages that say that Jesus died for all-doesn’t really mean each and every person in the history of the world. Instead, they mean that God wills for the elect among all peoples and classes and ethnic groups in society be saved: God loves and saves the elect whether Jew or Gentile, whether in one nation or another, whether rich or poor, old or young.

I think that such attempts fail to grapple seriously with those verses, and in conclusion I want to emphasize 1 Jn. 2:2.

1 John 2:2, “This verse is one good example of the final reason, above, for universal atonement: “And he is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.”

What does John mean by “world”? He uses this word 23 times in this short letter, consistently indicating the very opposite of the people of God. Consider 2:15-17; 3:1, 13; 4:1-5; 5:4,5, 19. The people of God and “the world” are two different peoples, hostile to each other. Surely John uses “world” in 2:2 in the same way, and not as a reference to the rest of the elect in the world.

The other places in this letter where “we” or “us” stands in comparision to “the world,” as here in 2:2, also make this clear. There are four such places: 3:1; 4:5,6; 5:4,5; and 5:19: “We are of God, and the whole world lies in the evil one.” This seals the point beyond argument. “We” and “the world” are two different realms. But we must not be proud: Jesus died not only for us, but for those who hate us, not only for us but for those who are in the grip of the evil one. Not only for us, but for the wicked world that has rejected Him.

And it is therefore our responsibility to tell that world that He died for them.

From: The Extent of the Atonement

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6 Responses

  1. Picirilli states:

    “What does John mean by “world”? He uses this word 23 times in this short letter, consistently indicating the very opposite of the people of God. Consider 2:15-17; 3:1, 13; 4:1-5; 5:4,5, 19. The people of God and “the world” are two different peoples, hostile to each other. Surely John uses “world” in 2:2 in the same way, and not as a reference to the rest of the elect in the world.”

    This is an important observation, that in John’s writings there are two groups of people: those who are believers who have come out of the world, and the world. If we view these as two sets of people, then a key question becomes concerning the second set of people/ “the world”: does every person who is part of that set eventually come to saving faith in Jesus Christ?

    If Yes, then, universalism is true and everyone will eventually be saved. If No, then “unlimited atonement” is true and the necessitarian doctrine of “limited atonement” is false.

    We can rule out universalism rather quickly and easily based upon what other scriptures say. So the correct and only answer is that: No, not every person, who makes up the set of the world, eventually becomes a believer.

    But if not all eventually become saved, then some are people of whom it can be rightly said that Jesus died for them and yet they never came/or will come to faith in Jesus Christ. I believe John had the same meaning in mind for “world” in both 1 Jn. 2:2 and John 3:16. So these two scriptures absolutely and unequivocally declare that Jesus died for the world, a set of people, some of which will eventually become believers and some of which will never become believers. And concerning this latter group, if the reasoning here is correct, then most definitely Jesus died for some who will never become believers.

    I do not believe the necessitarian can escape this conclusion, nevertheless, due to their commitment to their false system of exhaustive determinism they will continue to present the false and unbiblical doctrine of “limited atonement”/declaring contrary to the scripture, that Jesus did not die for the world (a set of people which includes both those who eventually come to faith in Christ, and those who will never eventually become believers) but only for the elect.

    Robert

  2. This is an important observation, that in John’s writings there are two groups of people: those who are believers who have come out of the world, and the world.

    Well said.

  3. I have not quite understood how Calvinists can insist on the importance of Scripture and that it is inerrant but then turn around and deny that the word “all” means “all.” I agree with Calvinists that we must examine the context for “all” but in 1 John, as Picirilli points out, “all” means “all.” The same is true of 1 Timothy 2:4.

  4. Roy,

    I agree with you. In 1 John 2:2, there can be no question that world means world (even “whole world”). If God wanted to express in Scripture that the atonement’s provision is unlimited I don’t know how else He could do it. Universal language is all over nearly every atonement passage that speaks directly to the scope of the atonement. It seems that however the Spirit might like to communicate unlimited atonement, the Calvinist can still find a way around it. You certainly can’t question their creativity when it comes to passages like this.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  5. Roy wrote:

    “I have not quite understood how Calvinists can insist on the importance of Scripture and that it is inerrant but then turn around and deny that the word “all” means “all.” I agree with Calvinists that we must examine the context for “all” but in 1 John, as Picirilli points out, “all” means “all.” The same is true of 1 Timothy 2:4.”

    Ben responded:

    “Universal language is all over nearly every atonement passage that speaks directly to the scope of the atonement. It seems that however the Spirit might like to communicate unlimited atonement, the Calvinist can still find a way around it.”

    Roy the answer is very simple: the necessitarian is so committed to his false system of theology, that he will “interpret” the bible according to his system rather than vice versa.

    When I was in seminary, I was at a school that for the most part held to dispensationalism. What I saw firsthand, which made an impression that I have never forgotten is this: those committed to the dispensational system of eschatology would interpret all eschatology/end times/prophecy verses **according to** or in line with their dispensationalism system. Some of these men were extremely intelligent, so it is an error than even the most intelligent can (and do) make. I saw them do it with prophecy bible verses.

    Well the necessatarians do exactly the same thing with soteriology/salvation verses. Everything is made to fit the system of the necessitarian. So sometimes obvious and plain meanings of bible verses, the intended meanings of the bible writers, are jettisoned for the sake of allegiance to the necessitarian system. That is why they can take clear and easy to understand bible verses such as John 3:16 and 1 John 2:2, etc. and misinterpret them so badly. When Ben speaks of them “finding a way around it”, he means they will always find an interpretation that fits their false necessitarian system and in doing so, they will “find their way around” the intended meaning of the biblical writers and miss the proper interpretations of some of the easiest and clear bible passages.

    Robert

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