Nov 19, 2012

Definite Atonement XV

Christ Died For All

"But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee."  (Heb. 2: 9-12)

The fact that the KJV says that Christ died "for every man" is no proof that "every man" means all men without exception. 

John Owen wrote:

"Secondly, The assumption, or minor proposition, we absolutely deny as to some part of it; as that Christ should be said to give himself a ransom for every man, it being neither often, nor once, nor plainly, nor obscurely affirmed in the Scripture, nor at all proved in the place referred unto: so that this is but an empty flourishing. For the other expression, of “tasting death for every man,” we grant that the words are found Heb. 2:9; but we deny that every man doth always necessarily signify all and every man in the world. Nouqetounte" panta anqrwpon didaskonte" panta anqrwpon, Col. 1:28—”Warning every man, and teaching every man.” Every man is not there every man in the world; neither are we to believe that Paul warned and taught every particular man, for it is false and impossible. So that every man, in the Scripture, is not universally collective of all of all sorts, but either distributive, for some of all sorts, or collective, with a restriction to all of some sort; as in that of Paul, every man, was only of those to whom he had preached the gospel. Secondly, in the original there is only uper panto", for every, without the substantive man, which might be supplied by other words as well as man,—as elect, or believer.

Thirdly, That every one is there clearly restrained to all the members of Christ, and the children by him brought to glory, we have before declared. So that this place is no way useful for the confirmation of the assumption, which we deny in the sense intended; and are sure we shall never see a clear, or so much as a probable, testimony for the confirming of it."  (The Atonement - see here)

Owen clearly shows that the term "every man" does not always mean every man without exception, citing Col. 1: 28 as an example.  I do not know of any advocate of general atonement who will insist that "every man" in Col. 1: 28 literally means every man without exception;  And, if they admit that "every man" does not always mean every man without exception in certain passages, then how can they insist that "every man" means such in Hebrews 2: 9?  All they can say is that the context determines whether "every man" means every person in the world.  But, what is there in the context of Hebrews 2: 9 that forces us to interpret "every man" to mean every person without exception? 

It would give weight to the general atonement view if "anthropos" (man) were actually used in the original Greek, as the KJV seems to imply.  But, its absence takes away support from such a view.  Christ tasted death "for each."  But, each of what class?  From the class of men in general?  Does the context support that supposition?  It seems to me that there is greater weight for supposing that the group alluded to is the elect and not mankind.  Paul says that the purpose of Christ becoming incarnate was in order to "bring many sons unto glory," those who compose the "church" or "brethren" of Christ.  Again, it would be absurd to think that Christ tasted death for Cain, Pharoah, Baalim, and Esau. 

When Paul said that he preached to "every man," he did not mean that he did this to every person of the human race, but that he preached the Gospel to all men he met, without any restriction.  Thus, as the advocates for special atonement aver, "every man" and "all men" are terms that often mean "all without distinction" and not "all without exception." 

Died Once For All

"For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit."  (I Peter 3: 18 NASB)

"By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."  (Hebrews 10: 10 KJV)

"For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God."  (Rom. 6: 10 NASB)

These are a few of the verses that speak of Christ dying once for all.  Some cite them as if they mean that Christ died once for all men, but the meaning is not "once for all" people, but "once for all" time.

Died For All The Dead?

"For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again."  (II Cor. 5: 14-15)

"Then all were dead" is not the best translation but rather "then all died."  It is aorist tense.  Other translations have improved upon the KJV and have translated it correctly as "all died."  However, some still cite the verse as the KJV has it and argue that Paul is affirming that Christ died for everyone who is spiritually dead.  But, the text is saying that the "all" for whom Christ died also died when Christ died, and were also raised when Christ was raised, a truth stated in other new testament passages.  All for whom Christ died not only died, but also rose with Christ and are therefore viewed as alive. 

What is this death that all for whom Christ died experienced vicariously?  It is death to sin.  All men are dead in sin but not all men are dead to sin and alive to righteousness. 

It seems clear that the context of the above words show that the "all" Paul has in mind are the all for whom Christ died, which are those who are actually saved in conversion.  Paul concludes this chapter by saying "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."  (vs. 21)  Clearly the "us" denotes believers.  They are the "all" for whom Christ died.  They died to sin when Christ died to sin. 

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