62. What about the passages that speak of Christ's work being for the whole world?

Proponents of what is (misleadingly) called “unlimited atonement” are quick to point out the many passages that speak of Christ's death as being for “all the world,” and other similar phrases. The bible is, in fact, clear that Christ's death was intended to save “all” in a variety of contexts: it was intended to save “all” who believe (John 3:16); it was intended to save people from “all” kindreds, tribes, tongues, and nations (Rev. 5:9); it was intended to save persons from “all” classes, rich or poor, slave or free, king or peasant, man or woman, Jew or Greek (Gal. 3:28; 1 Tim. 2:1-6). Thus, his death is spoken of in a variety of places as being intended for “all,” or “the world”. For example, John 1:29; Tit 2:11-14 [in the context of “all men” is the delimiting concept of a peculiar people, zealous of good works]; Heb 2:9-10 [notice that the many sons whom Christ brings to glory gives a contextual delimiter to the term “every”]; 2Pe 3:9 [note that this desire is explicitly limited to “us” (Peter was writing to fellow-believers) in the context]; 1Jo 2:2 [propitiation means “appeasement of wrath”; either Jesus appeases God's wrath against all, and therefore hell (which is the place where God's wrath resides) is non-existent; or the “whole world” means something different than “every individual who ever lived”. See John 11:51-52 for a clear verbal parallel that gives strong support of the Johannine emphasis on Christ's death being, not just for ethnic Jews, but for people across the whole world].

In sum, yes, the bible often speaks of Christ's death as being for the whole world; and that is because of the paradigm-shattering reality that, when Christ came to redeem a people, he intended to redeem that people from every nation under heaven, quite out of keeping with the expectations of the majority of the Jewish people.

As a final note, it is instructive to look at other ways in which the terms “world,” “all,” etc., are used throughout the New Testament. The word “all” is often used to indicate all of a set, or even many representatives of a set (Mat 10:22; 1Co 6:12; 15:22; Mat 2:3; Joh 4:29; Act 10:39; 17:21; 21:28; 26:4); or, to indicate all “classes” or “nations,” not all individuals (Mat 5:11; Act 2:17; 10:12). The word “world” is often used in the sense of “many,” or “all of a set” (Luk 2:1-2; Joh 6:33; 12:19; Act 19:27; Rom 1:8).

Related Resources
Understanding 1 John 2:2 by Pastor John Samson
For Whom Did Christ Die? by John Piper
1 John 2:2 and Limited Atonement

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