Archive for the ‘For Whom did Christ Die?’ Category



There is nothing more available for the rectifying of the judgment and understanding of a man in the mysteries of salvation, than a right apprehension and conceit, touching the will of God; to wit, what God is willing to do for him, and what he wills and requires him to do for the obtaining of it. The clear understanding of this, rectifies a man’s faith in matters to be believed, either concerning God, or himself: it regulates his obedience in things to be done, teaching him how to pray aright with confidence to be heard, and that is, when he asks anything according to the will of God,1 directing him to walk aright in the way of life; and that is, when he is neither misled in his way, nor negligent in his work, but applies himself to God in a wise and orderly carriage, suitable to that course of providence that he has taken for his good.

Touching this will of God, there is something delivered in this ensuing treatise, by which every one may take a true scantling of the goodwill and affection that God bears unto him, by those warm expressions of love which he finds in the Gospel. Much more might have been said in this argument, and perhaps in time may.

Meanwhile, for the preventing of all mistakes in that which is said already, be pleased (courteous reader) to take notice, that it is no part of my purpose and intention, in any part of these following discourses and meditations, to enter the lists of that dispute and controversy which is now in agitation among the learned divines of the Reformed churches, touching the will of God in the decree of election. The heat of that contention has already troubled and disquieted the peace of the church too much, and want of moderation in some on both sides, through the indiscreet handling, of that unsearchable depth, does still beget ill blood in the veins of that body, that should grow up unto an holy temple in the Lord. As in all other controversies, so in this, the right stating of the matter in question, helps much for the clearing of the truth; and if that be first done, (I hope) it will fully appear, that the conclusion here maintained touching the will of God, does no way border upon that controversy; for the matter there in question is, whether the decree of election, as it is terminated, and pitched upon particular persons, be absolute, and irrespective, or out of consideration of foreseen faith and perseverance: that is, whether God does equally will the salvation of all, and have no absolute and irrespective purpose of saving one more than another, before he looks at different qualifications in them. It is freely confessed by one that is no stranger to that controversy, nor any ways partially addicted to the Lutheran side, but in his judgment and opinion strong enough against it, that the question of it be rightly stated, is not, whether God does truly, sincerely, and seriously intend the conversion of that man who he outwardly calls, but whether he does equally and indifferently intend and procure the conversion and salvation of all those to whom the Gospel is preached; implying, that both sides agree upon this, that God does seriously will the salvation of all those to whom He makes an offer and tender of it in the ministry of the Word; and that neither part maintains any such decree of purpose in God, touching man’s salvation, as is repugnant and contrary to that will of God which is revealed in the Gospel, but subordinate unto it. And when he [Ames] does positively and professedly set down the position and conclusion which [he] himself and others hold and maintain against their adversaries, he makes this expression of it, namely, that God does not antecedently will the conversion of such as die in their sins, after the same manner, and in the same degree as he does the conversion of others, whom in time he converts; neither does he work equally and indifferently in them both, but that by an antecedent purpose, independent upon anything in the creature, he absolutely intends, and so accordingly effectually procures the conversion of some, leaving others, who lie equally in the same condition with them, and are [in] no ways inferior unto them, save only in that previous purpose of special love, which he is pleased of himself, and for his own sake, to show to one more than to another.

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Alvah Hovey (1820-1903) on the Death of Christ

   Posted by: CalvinandCalvinism


1) Still another question must be briefly considered in this connection: For whom did Christ make his life a propitiatory offering? F or all mankind, or for all the elect ? Or did he suffer, with different ends in view, for the elect, and for all men?1 Turning to the Word of God for light, we learn that Christ died,–

I. To effect the salvation of all the elect. His suffering was to be specially rewarded by their eternal purity, love, blessedness, and homage (John x. 11, 15, 26-28; xi. 52; Eph. v. 25; John xvii. 19; Rom. viii. 32 ; John vi. 39, 40; xvii. 2; Eph. I. 4; I Tim. iv. 10).

Hence (I) God purposed from the first to save certain persons of our race. (2) These persons were given to Christ, in a special sense, to be his flock; and (3) he had their actual salvation particularly in view when he laid down his life.

II. To remove every objective hindrance to the salvation of mankind in general. In other words, to provide for their pardon on condition of faith (I John ii. 2; I Tim. ii. 1-6; Heb. ii. 9; 2 Cor. v. 15, 19, 20; 2 Pet. ii. I; John iii. 16, 17).

Notes. I John ii. 2 (cf. iv. 14; 1 Tim. iv. 10; and John I. 29; vi. 51): hilasmos, propitiation, refers to Christ as himself the atoning sacrifice for sin. The phrase, “for the whole world,” is equivalent to “for the sins of the whole world”; and the expression, "whole world," must here signify all mankind; (1) because kosmos used of men, naturally includes all, unless its meaning is in some way restricted; (2) because, hemeteron and kosmos re here contrasted,–the one referring to Christians, and the other to all men; (3) because the adjective holou is manifestly emphatic.

Heb. ii. 9: pantos must here signify everyone of our race, or every believer of our race. The former is the natural meaning, and should therefore be preferred. 2 Peter ii. I (cf. Luke vii. 30; xix. 44 ; Acts xiii. 46; 2 Cor. ii. 15). For the meaning of agorazo with a personal object, see 1 Cor. vi. 20; vii. 23 ; Rev. v. 9 ; xiv. 3, 4. The participle with its object is prefixed to despoten, in order to emphasize their guilt; and it shows that Christ purchased by his blood some who will deny him and perish. And, if he purchased some of this class, he did all, according to the obvious sense of the other passages cited by us.

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Jerome (347-420) on the Death of Christ

   Posted by: CalvinandCalvinism


20.28. “Just as the Son of man did not come be served but serve.” Note what we have frequently said, that he who serves is called the Son of man. "And to give his life as a redemption for many." This took place when he took the form of a slave that he might pour out his blood for the world.": And he did not say "to give his life as a redemption" for all, but "for many," that is, for those who wanted to believe. Jerome, St. Jerome Commentary on Matthew, in The Fathers of the Church, ed., Thomas P. Halton, et al, (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 2008), 117: 229. [Underlining mine.]

On the basis of this comment from Jerome, Michael Haykin, in the recently published book From Heaven He Came and Sought Her, makes this claim regarding Jerome and the doctrine of limited satisfaction:

Here Jerome defines the “many” as “those who wanted to believe.” While there may be some ambiguity here in Jerome’s statement, the words at least hint that Jerome saw Christ’s death to be for a particular group of people–believers.

The question is, can that statement be contextualized in a way that that suggestion, that alleged “hint,” that Jerome believed Christ’s death was particular to the elect alone.1

I think this can be accomplished in three ways. Michael A. G. Haykin, “We Trust in the Saving Blood: Definite Atonement in the Ancient Church, in From Heaven He Came and Sought Her, ed. David Gibson and Jonathan Gibson (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2013), 70. See also John Gill, The Cause of God and Truth (London: CO. Waterford: 1855), 260.

1) It should be noted that within the quotation, itself, Jerome affirms that Jesus poured “out his blood for the world.”

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1) Chapter LXXIV.—The beginning of Ps. xcvi. is attributed to the Father [by Trypho]. But [it refers] to Christ by these words: “Tell ye among the nations that the Lord,” etc.

Then Trypho said, “We know that you quoted these because we asked you. But it does not appear to me that this Psalm which you quoted last from the words of David refers to any other than the Father and Maker of the heavens and earth. You, however, asserted that it referred to Him who suffered, whom you also are eagerly endeavouring to prove to be Christ.”

And I answered, “Attend to me, I beseech you, while I speak of the statement which the Holy Spirit gave utterance to in this Psalm; and you shall know that I speak not sinfully, and that we1 are not really bewitched; for so you shall be enabled of yourselves to understand many other statements made by the Holy Spirit. ‘Sing unto the Lord a new song; sing unto the Lord, all the earth: sing unto the Lord, and bless His name; show forth His salvation from day to day, His wonderful works among all people.’ He bids the inhabitants of all the earth, who have known the mystery of this salvation, i.e., the suffering of Christ, by which He saved them, sing and give praises to God the Father of all things, and recognize that He is to be praised and feared, and that He is the Maker of heaven and earth, who effected this salvation in behalf of the human race, who also was crucified and was dead, and who was deemed worthy by Him (God) to reign over all the earth. As [is clearly seen2] also by the land into which [He said] He would bring [your fathers]; [for He thus speaks]:3 ‘This people [shall go a whoring after other gods], and shall forsake Me, and shall break my covenant which I made with them in that day; and I will forsake them, and will turn away My face from them; and they shall be devoured,4 and many evils and afflictions shall find them out; and they shall say in that day, Because the Lord my God is not amongst us, these misfortunes have found us out. And I shall certainly turn away My face from them in that day, on account of all the evils which they have committed, in that they have turned to other gods.’ Justin Martyr, “Dialogue With Trypho,” in The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1977), 1:235-236. [Some spelling modernized; footnote content original; footnote values modified; and underlining mine.]

2) Chapter LXXXVIII.—Christ has not received the Holy Spirit on account of poverty.

“Now, it is possible to see amongst us women and men who possess gifts of the Spirit of God; so that it was prophesied that the powers enumerated by Isaiah would come upon Him, not because He needed power, but because these would not continue after Him. And let this be a proof to you, namely, what I told you was done by the Magi from Arabia, who as soon as the Child was born came to worship Him, for even at His birth He was in possession of His power; and as He grew up like all other men, by using the fitting means, He assigned its own [requirements] to each development, and was sustained by all kinds of nourishment, and waited for thirty years, more or less, until John appeared before Him as the herald of His approach, and preceded Him in the way of baptism, as I have already shown. And then, when Jesus had gone to the river Jordan, where John was baptizing, and when He had stepped into the water, a fire5 was kindled in the Jordan; and when He came out of the water, the Holy Ghost lighted on Him like a dove, [as] the apostles of this very Christ of ours wrote. Now, we know that he did not go to the river because He stood in need of baptism, or of the descent of the Spirit like a dove; even as He submitted to be born and to be crucified, not because He needed such things, but because of the human race, which from Adam had fallen under the power of death and the guile of the serpent, and each one of which had committed personal transgression. For God, wishing both angels and men, who were endowed with free-will, and at their own disposal, to do whatever He had strengthened each to do, made them so, that if they chose the things acceptable to Himself, He would keep them free from death and from punishment; but that if they did evil, He would punish each as He sees fit. For it was not His entrance into Jerusalem sitting on an ass, which we have showed was prophesied, that empowered Him to be Christ, but it furnished men with a proof that He is the Christ; just as it was necessary in the time of John that men have proof, that they might know who is Christ. For when John remained6 by the Jordan, and preached the baptism of repentance, wearing only a leathern girdle and a vesture made of camels’ hair, eating nothing but locusts and wild honey, men supposed him to be Christ; but he cried to them, ‘I am not the Christ, but the voice of one crying; for He that is stronger than I shall come, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear.’7 And when Jesus came to the Jordan, He was considered to be the son of Joseph the carpenter; and He appeared without comeliness, as the Scriptures declared; and He was deemed a carpenter (for He was in the habit of working as a carpenter when among men, making ploughs and yokes; by which He taught the symbols of righteousness and an active life); but then the Holy Ghost, and for man’s sake, as I formerly stated, lighted on Him in the form of a dove, and there came at the same instant from the heavens a voice, which was uttered also by David when he spoke, personating Christ, what the Father would say to Him: ‘Thou art My Son: this day have I begotten Thee;’8 [the Father] saying that His generation would take place for men, at the time when they would become acquainted with Him: ‘Thou art My Son; this day have I begotten thee.’”9 Justin Martyr, “Dialogue With Trypho,” in The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1977), 1:243-244. [Some spelling modernized; footnote content original; footnote values modified; and underlining mine.]

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1) 24. In what remains we have the appointment of the Father’s will. The Virgin, the birth, the Body, then the Cross, the death, the visit to the lower world; these things are our salvation. For the sake of mankind the Son of God was born of the Virgin and of the Holy Ghost. In this process He ministered to Himself; by His own power–the power of God–which overshadowed her He sowed the beginning of His Body, and entered on the first stage of His life in the flesh. He did it that by His Incarnation He might take to Himself from the Virgin the fleshly nature, and that through this commingling there might come into being a hallowed Body of all humanity; that so through that Body which He was pleased to assume all mankind might be hid in Him, and He in return, through His unseen existence, be reproduced in all. Thus the invisible Image of God scorned not the shame which marks the beginnings of human life. He passed through every stage; through conception, birth, wailing, cradle and each successive humiliation. Hilary of Poitiers, “De Trinitate” in Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, ed., Philip Schaff (Grand Rapids, MI.: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1963), series 2, 9: 59. [Underlining mine.]

2) 31. But the words of the Gospel, For God is Spirit, need careful examination as to their sense and their purpose. For every saying has an antecedent cause and an aim which must be ascertained by study of the meaning. We must bear this in mind lest, on the strength of the words, God is Spirit, we deny not only the Name, but also the work and the gift of the Holy Ghost. The Lord was speaking with a woman of Samaria, for He had come to be the Redeemer for all mankind. After He had discoursed at length of the living water, and of her five husbands, and of him whom she then had who was not her husband, the woman answered, “Lord, I perceive that Thou art a prophet. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” The Lord replied, “Woman, believe Me, the hour cometh when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall ye worship the Father. Ye worship that which ye know not; we worship that which we know; for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship Him. For God is Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship in the Spirit and in truth, for God is Spirit.” Hilary of Poitiers, “De Trinitate” in Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, ed., Philip Schaff (Grand Rapids, MI.: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1963), series 2, 9: 60. [Some reformatting and underlining mine.]

3) 9. The Son of God, therefore, having the charge of mankind, was first made man, that men might believe on Him; that He might be to us a witness, sprung from ourselves, of things Divine, and preach to us, weak and carnal as we are, through the weakness of the flesh concerning God the Father, so fulfilling the Father’s will, even as He says, “I came not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me.” It was not that He Himself was unwilling, but that He might manifest His obedience as the result of His Father’s will, for His own will is to do His Father’s. This is that will to carry out the Father’s will of which He testifies in the words: “Father, the hour is come; glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son may glorify Thee; even as Thou hast given Him power over all flesh, that whatsoever Thou hast given Him, He should give it eternal life. And this is life eternal, that they should know Thee the only true God, and Him Whom Thou didst send, Jesus Christ. I have glorified Thee upon earth, having accomplished the work which Thou gavest Me to do. And now, O Father, glorify Me with Thine own Self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was. I have manifested Thy Name unto the men whom Thou hast given Me.” In words short and few He has revealed the whole task to which He was appointed and assigned. Yet those words, short and few as they are, are the true faith’s safeguard against every suggestion of the devil’s cunning. Let us briefly consider the force of each separate phrase. Hilary of Poitiers, “De Trinitate” in Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, ed., Philip Schaff (Grand Rapids, MI.: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1963), series 2, 9: 64. [Some reformatting and underlining mine.]

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