The Staunch Calvinist

"Absolute sovereignty is what I love to ascribe to God." - Jonathan Edwards

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1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 8: Of Christ the Mediator - Commentary

...; Luke 2:1; 11:42 (“every”); 18:12; Acts 2:17; 10:12; Romans 14:2; 1 Corinthians 1:5; 1 Timothy 2:8; Matthew 9:35. Add to those also the following passages: Jeremiah 13:19 (comp. Jer 39:9-10); Matthew 2:3-4; 3:5; 5:11 (literally "all evil”); Mark 1:5; Luke 3:21; John 4:29; 8:2; Acts 10:39; 17:21; 21:28; 22:15; 26:4; 1 Corinthians 6:12. In all of these places and more, the better understanding of the expression is that it refers to all kinds of things (men, herbs, etc.), or all without distinction instead of all without exception. It is just too simplistic to take these expressions to be speaking of humanity without exception.

1 Timothy 2:4-6 speaks of all sorts of men, and specifically the elect of God. The passage does not speak of God's will of desire, but God's will of decree (see Book IV, chapter 4, see also here). The "all” and “every” in 2 Peter 3:9 is limited by the “you” (in the KJV "us-ward”), who are the elect and the beloved of the epistle (see Book IV, chapter 4, see also here). See also his comments on Hebrews 2:9 (see also here) and on 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 (see also here) in chapter 4.

Comparing the Two Systems

Much more could be said about this work, but I'll leave that task to you to find out by reading it. Let us close with a table which Owen provides[65] (Book IV, chapter 7):

Universalists. Scriptural Redemption.
1. Christ died for all and every one, elect and reprobate. 1. Christ died for the elect only.
2. Most of them for whom Christ died are damned. 2. All those for whom Christ died are certainly saved.
3. Christ, by his death, purchased not any saving grace for them for whom he died. 3. Christ by his death purchased all saving grace for them for whom he died.
4. Christ took no care for the greatest part of them for whom he died, that ever they should hear one word of his death. 4. Christ sends the means and reveals the way of life to all them for whom he died.
5. Christ, in his death, did not ratify nor confirm a covenant of grace with any federates, but only procured by his death that God might, if he would, enter into a new covenant with whom he would, and upon what condition he pleased. 5. The new covenant of grace was confirmed to all the elect in the blood of Jesus.
Christ might have died, and yet no one be saved. 6. Christ, by his death, purchased, upon covenant and compact, an assured peculiar people, the pleasure of the Lord prospering to the end in his hand.
7. Christ had no intention to redeem his church, any more than the wicked seed of the serpent. 7. Christ loved his church, and gave himself for it.
8. Christ died not for the infidelity of any. 8. Christ died for the infidelity of the elect.

Conclusion

John Owen makes a biblically and logically tight case for what is commonly but unfortunately called Limited Atonement. He extensively uses Scripture and Scriptural concepts to argue his case, which makes the case all the more convincing. Adding to the final and primary authority of Scripture, his good use of "sanctified” common sense and logic against universal atonement and for definite redemption. This work, while extensive and verbose, is truly a blessing and a very good case not only for Particular Redemption, but on the whole question of the accomplishment and application of redemption. Owen spent 7 years writing and re...


1 Timothy 2:4 & Titus 2:11, 'desires all people to be saved'

1 Timothy 2:1-6 & Titus 2:11[1]

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. (1 Timothy 2:1-6, ESV)

(For a better and a more recent defense of 1Tim 2:4 see here.)

This is one of the “Arminian Big Three” which you will get almost in every conversation about Calvinism in real life or online. Usually verses 3-4 are just quoted to make the case that God wants to save every single individual. The question is, does “all” in context really mean “every single individual in the world”? Or is this talking about God’s desire not His sovereign decree?

Will of Desire interpretation

There are some people who understand this passage and other passages like 2 Pet 3:9 to refer to God’s will of desire. God’s will of desire being, God’s desire that people should not murder, lie, steal, commit adultery or have other gods before Him (Ex 20), but He doesn’t decree that it should be done so. It is also called His will of precept.

So God’s will of desire refers to the things that God has not decreed in His sovereign plan before the foundation of the world, yet desires. In this interpretation, God would desire that all be saved, but He has not decreed that all should be saved, because He wants to show the full measure of His glory (Rom 9:22-24). I don’t find this interpretation compelling and I believe the following interpretation is more compelling.

The “all kinds of people” interpretation

The major Reformed interpretation takes the position that the word “all” in this context means “all kinds of people,” not every single individual, why do we say that? Because there are times in Scripture when “all” is used in the sense of “every single individual in the world”, but there are times which it isn’t used like that, but limited according to the context. Let’s look at a few verses, shall we? The portion we’re going to look at is in Titus 2. Here we see that Paul is telling Timothy to teach “sound doctrine.” Then we see him list types/groups of people:

2. Older men are to be sober-minded…

3. Older women likewise…

4. so train the young women to love their husbands and children

6. …urge the younger men

9. Slaves

11. For the grace of God has appeared bringing salvation for all people,

12. training us to renounce ungodliness

13. waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,

14. who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

We see that Paul in verse 11 says that salvation has been brought for all people, but considering the context we can safely say that it means “all kinds of people,” since in the previous verses he was talking about kinds of people (men, women, slaves, etc..). We can reasonably say that what Paul is saying through “all people” is “all kinds of people,” (as we understand that in our individualistic society) just as those kinds...


John Owen's Case For Particular Atonement

...pare John 6:37-44); Luke 2:1; 11:42 (“every”); 18:12; Acts 2:17; 10:12; Romans 14:2; 1 Corinthians 1:5; 1 Timothy 2:8; Matthew 9:35. Add to those also the following passages: Jeremiah 13:19 (comp. Jer 39:9-10); Matthew 2:3-4; 3:5; 5:11 (literally "all evil”); Mark 1:5; Luke 3:21; John 4:29; 8:2; Acts 10:39; 17:21; 21:28; 22:15; 26:4; 1 Corinthians 6:12. In all of these places and more, the better understanding of the expression is that it refers to all kinds of things (men, herbs, etc.), or all without distinction instead of all without exception. It is just too simplistic to take these expressions to be speaking of humanity without exception.

1 Timothy 2:4-6 speaks of all sorts of men, and specifically the elect of God. The passage does not speak of God's will of desire, but God's will of decree (see Book IV, chapter 4, see also here). The "all” and “every” in 2 Peter 3:9 is limited by the “you” (in the KJV "us-ward”), who are the elect and the beloved of the epistle (see Book IV, chapter 4, see also here). See also his comments on Hebrews 2:9 (see also here) and on 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 (see also here) in chapter 4.

Comparing the Two Systems

Much more could be said about this work, but I'll leave that task to you to find out by reading it. Let us close with a table which Owen provides[35] (Book IV, chapter 7):

Universalists. Scriptural Redemption.!--cke_bookmark_655S--!--cke_bookmark_655E--
1. Christ died for all and every one, elect and reprobate. 1. Christ died for the elect only.
2. Most of them for whom Christ died are damned. 2. All those for whom Christ died are certainly saved.
3. Christ, by his death, purchased not any saving grace for them for whom he died. 3. Christ by his death purchased all saving grace for them for whom he died.
4. Christ took no care for the greatest part of them for whom he died, that ever they should hear one word of his death. 4. Christ sends the means and reveals the way of life to all them for whom he died.
5. Christ, in his death, did not ratify nor confirm a covenant of grace with any federates, but only procured by his death that God might, if he would, enter into a new covenant with whom he would, and upon what condition he pleased. 5. The new covenant of grace was confirmed to all the elect in the blood of Jesus.
Christ might have died, and yet no one be saved. 6. Christ, by his death, purchased, upon covenant and compact, an assured peculiar people, the pleasure of the Lord prospering to the end in his hand.
7. Christ had no intention to redeem his church, any more than the wicked seed of the serpent. 7. Christ loved his church, and gave himself for it.
8. Christ died not for the infidelity of any. 8. Christ died for the infidelity of the elect.

Conclusion

John Owen makes a biblically and logically tight case for what is commonly but unfortunately called Limited Atonement. He extensively uses Scripture and Scriptural concepts to argue his case, which makes the case all the more convincing. Adding to the final and primary authority of Scripture, his good use of "sanctified” common sense and logic against universal atonement and for definite redemption. This work, while extensive and verbose, is truly a blessing and a very good case not only for Particular Redemption, but on the whole question of the accomplishment an...