XXIII. While Christ’s passion is minimized by the foregoing errors, those who teach that he died for all human beings [pro omnibus et singulis] broaden the object of his passion more than is allowable.

Of course, if we take into consideration the magnitude and worthiness of the merit, we admit that it would suffice for the redemption of ten worlds; but if we take the plan of God and the intention of Christ into consideration, then it is false to say that Christ died for every person. For this reason others say that his death was sufficient for all, but not effective for all;1 that is, the merit of Christ, because of his worthiness, is sufficient for all, but it is not effective for all in its application, because Christ did not die with the intention that his. death be applied to all. Why should he die for those for whom he would not pray? But he told us that he did not pray for the world On. 17 :9). Those who oppose us argue from passages in which there is reference to the whole world, or to all men, [ Timothy 2:4 and 1 John 2:2, in which all men in general are named. But in I John 2:2 the meaning of "the whole world" is, by metonymy, "the elect scattered throughout the whole world," and in 1 Timothy 2: 4 "all men" means men of every sort, whether gentiles or Jews, kings or private citizens, and so not individuals in a class, but classes of individuals, as the words that follow make plain. The word "all" is used in the same sense in Genesis 6: 19 and Joel 2:28.5

1. The other aspect of Christ’s satisfaction is the perfect righteousness which, by his conformity to the law and the perfect obedience which he performed, acquired for us the status of heirs of eternal life. 2. This righteousness is partly original and partly actual. 3. The original righteousness of Christ is the conformity to the law in which he was conceived and born.

Johannes Wollebius, Compendium Theolgiae Christianae trans. John W. Beardslee in Reformed Dogmatics (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1965), 105-106.

[Underlining mine.]

[Notes: 1) Wollebius expresses the revised version of the sufficiency-efficiency formula. 2) The shift from first person to second person is revealing. If we follow Beardslee’ translation, the “others” most likely refer to the Davenantians or earlier Reformed Reformed theologians who had adopted the original formula and its theology.3) Given Wollebius’ exegesis of the following verses, a reasonable supposition would that the doctrine of sufficiency functions minimally in his thology. ]

[Thanks to Michael Lynch for reminding of Wollebius’ comments.]


1The Ross translation of this sentence has:

Hence it is, that he is said to die for all sufficiently, but not effectually, that’s to say, that Christ’s merit is sufficient for all in respect of his dignity, but not effectual in all respect of application, seeing Christ died to that end, that his death should be applied to all…

John Wollebius, The Abridgement of Christian Divinitie trans. Alexander Ross (London: Printed by T. Mabb, for Joseph Nevill, and are to be sold at his Shop at the signe of the Plough in the New-Building in Paules Church-yard, 1660), 149.

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