I am currently serving as the Interim Pastor of First Baptist Church, Irving, TX. A few weeks back I began a series of sermons through 1 John. On Sunday, February 14, I preached on 1 John 2:1-2. Verse 2 says:

And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for those [the sins] of the whole world.

This passage is one of the key texts in the New Testament that clearly affirms Christ died for the sins of all people.

The link below is the video of the sermon. The video is the entire service, but the sermon begins at the 22:45 mark. I begin to deal with the extent question at the 42:45 mark.

In this section of the sermon, I explain why 1 John 2:2 does not and indeed cannot teach limited atonement, but rather clearly affirms that Christ died for the sins of all people. I also demonstrate how it is not possible to offer salvation to someone for whom no atonement exists.

Comments are welcome.


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7 thoughts on “1 JOHN 2:2 & THE EXTENT OF THE ATONEMENT

  1. Exactly! Couldn’t agree more. Nice way to illustrate the point. The bigger problem for the evangest is in even offering an invitational appeal to the gospel to someone I’m not even sure qualifies for God’s atoning work. What a conundrum for the soul winner! Thanks for sharing

    • Shawn Nichols writes, “The bigger problem for the evangest is in even offering an invitational appeal to the gospel to someone I’m not even sure qualifies for God’s atoning work.”

      From our human perspective, each and every person qualifies for God’s atoning work because all have sinned and are in need of salvation. The evangelist makes a straightforward presentation of the gospel to everyone and then challenges them to deny the truth of the gospel. What is so remarkable is that so many people are willing to deny the truth of the gospel outrightly or in the way they live. One could conclude that the gospel is nothing more than foolishness to most people.

      There is no conundrum for the soul winner. He knows that he is partner with God to save souls. He preaches and God uses his preaching as the vehicle to save. The preacher does the work; God gets the glory – no preacher complains about that.

  2. 2:2 expands on 2:1 – Christ is the advocate for believers (who can also be called God’s elect) because He is the propitiation for their sins thereby allowing Him to serve as their advocate when they sin. In fact, Christ is able to advocate for the whole world as His propitiation for sin extends to all sin even though His advocacy extends only to God’s elect (believers). Thus the Calvinist claim that it is only God’s elect who benefit from Christ’s propitiation for sin, and effectively, it is only the elect in the whole world who benefit from both Christ’s propitiation for sin and His advocacy.

    In your sermon, you have Sean and Victoria representing a reprobate person and an elect person. You are God’s instrument to present the gospel to each. Then you kind of manipulate the situation. While you are God’s vessel to present the gospel, the Holy Spirit works with you to convict the person of sin. The Holy Spirit will not convict a person who is not one of God’s elect. Thus, from 1 Corinthians 1, we see that such people respond to your presentation of the gospel by concluding that it is foolishness. Should a reprobate person respond as you depicted in your sermon by admitting their sin, we can conclude that they do so to advance their own cause without true conviction of sin. Regardless, your portrayal of a reprobate person responding with godly sorrow to the gospel is something that preachers say to excite their audience and has nothing to do with the work of the Holy Spirit. Does it?

    Although propitiation/atonement is in view in 2:1-2, the focus of the reader’s attention is on Christ’s advocacy for the believer when they sin. It is because Christ has dealt with their sin that He can now be their advocate. It is because of Christ’s advocacy that the believer is able to say that those sins he will commit in the future have been forgiven.

    Less the reader get the wrong impression, John then says, “We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands.” The believer does not take Christ’s advocacy as a license to sin.

  3. Dr. Allen,
    Thank you for your post. I really appreciate a lot of you work, especially your commentary on Hebrews. One question that I think will clear up a lot of issues for me on this passage is on universalism. You said something along the lines of “Jesus is the propitiation for the sins of the unbelievers not just those who would believe in them.” You also defined propitiation as God’s wrath and justice satisfied by Christ’s atoneing death (a rough paraphrase, mind you). So how can one believe Christ satisfied God’s wrath for unbelievers and at the same time not be a universalist?

    Perhaps I’m looking at it too logically per se, but it seems the following is quite coherent:
    Satisfied wrath = no judgement
    No judgement = salvation
    All have God’s wrath satisfied = all have salvation.

    Perhaps though I am missing something quite plain or exercising eisegesis of western philosophical thought. I look forward to your response, thanks!

  4. Hi Dr. Allen,

    The problem with your analogy (from a Calvinist perspective) is that Sean could never have accepted the gospel for the very reason that God did not choose him for election. God must send irresistible grace to someone in order for them to believe the gospel and God only sends such irresistible grace upon His Elect. He would never send irresistible grace to those for whom He did not provide atonement.

    This is why I concur with George Bryson et. al who state that the only consistent Calvinists (as far as they can be) are 5-point Calvinists. Regardless, Calvinism is not just horrendously bad theology, it’s a false gospel.

    God Bless!

    Mike Allen

    • Whoa! How exactly does Reformed Theology qualify as a false gospel? That’s a pretty strong statement (Galatians 1:6-9)!

  5. I am not a big bible scholar, but if you begin at the beginning of chapter 2 it starts with, My children. I believe God knows who will come to Him and who will reject Him. Jesus died for all sins, potentially. The atonement isn’t limited in its effectiveness. We limit the affectiveness.IMO

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