Food for thought from Johnny C.

calvinSome of Calvin’s own words on the extent of the atonement:

Isa. 53:12 – “ He bore the sin of many. I approve of the ordinary reading, that He alone bore the punishment of man, because on Him was laid the guilt of the whole world.   It is evident from other passages, and especially from the fifth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, that ‘many’ sometimes denotes ‘all’.”

Mark 14:24 – “The word many does not mean a part of the world only, but the whole human race.”

John 1:28 – “And when he says the sin of the world he extends this kindness indiscriminately to the whole human race.”

John 3:16 – “He nevertheless shows He is favorable to the whole world when He calls all without exception to the faith of Christ, which is indeed an entry into life.”

John 3:17 – “The word world comes again so that no one at all may think he is excluded.”

John 4:17 – “He declared that the salvation He had brought was common to the whole world, so that they should understand more easily that it belonged to them also.”

John 12:47 – “For He delayed pronouncing judgment on them, because He had come rather for the salvation of all.”

John 14:30 – “For the word world here embraced the whole human race.”

John 16:8 – “I think that under the word world are included both those who were to be truly converted to Christ and hypocrites and reprobates.”

John 17:9 – “He openly declares that he does not pray for the world, for He is solicitous only for His own flock which He received from the Father’s hand.”

Rom. 5:18 – “Although Christ suffered for the sins of the world and is offered by the goodness of God without distinction to all men, yet not all receive him.”

Gal. 5:12 – “For God commends to us the salvation of all men without exception, even as Christ suffered for the sins of the whole world.”

Col. 1:14 – “He says that this redemption was procured by the blood of Christ, for by the sacrifice of His death all the sins of the world have been expiated.”

Heb. 2:9 – “He suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for every man.”

Heb. 8:4 – “He made atonement for the sins of the world as a Priest.”

Heb. 9:28 – “He says many meaning all, as in Rom. 5:15.”

“God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them” (2 Cor. 5:18, 19) “reaches to all, but that it is not sealed indiscriminately on the hearts of all to whom it comes so as to be effectual.”

Rom. 5:10  For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.By saying that we were reconciled to God by the death of Christ, he means, that it was the sacrifice of expiation, by which God was pacified towards the world, as I have showed in the fourth chapter.

    Rom. 5:18  So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.

He makes this favor common to all, because it is propounded to all, and not because it is in reality extended to all; for though Christ suffered for the sins of the whole world, and is offered through God’s benignity indiscriminately to all, yet all do not receive him. {2}

    1 Tim. 2:5  For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6  who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.

The phrase, for all, which the Apostle had used, might have given rise to the question, “Why then had God chosen a peculiar people, if he revealed himself as a reconciled Father to all without distinction, and if the one redemption through Christ was common to all?” He cuts off all ground for that question, by referring to the purpose of God the season {3} for revealing his grace. …Shall we accuse God of instability, because he brings forward, at the proper time, what he had always determined, and settled in his own mind?

    2 Pet. 2:1 “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.”
    …Christ redeemed us, that he might have a people separated from all the pollutions of the world, and devoted to holiness ,and innocency. They, then, who throw off the bridle, and give themselves up to all kinds of licentiousness, are not unjustly said to deny Christ by whom they have been redeemed.

That, then, is how our Lord Jesus bore the sins and iniquities of many. But in fact, this word “many” is often as good as equivalent to “all“. And indeed, our Lord Jesus was offered to all the world. For it is not speaking of three or four when it says: ‘For God so loved the world, that he spared not His only Son.” ….Our Lord Jesus suffered for all, and there is neither great nor small who is not inexcusable today…. For how will they excuse their ingratitude in not receiving the blessing in which they could share by faith? John Calvin, Sermons on Isaiah’s Prophecy of the Death and Passion of Christ, 52:12, p., 140-1.

We must make every effort to draw everybody to the knowledge of the gospel. For when we see people going to hell who have been created in the image of God and redeemed by the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, that must indeed stir us to do our duty and instruct them and treat them with all gentleness and kindness as we try to bear fruit this way. “John Calvin, Sermons on Acts 1-7, Sermon 41, Acts 7:51, pp., 587-588.

(Numerous other quotes of Calvin on the extent of the atonement available at and other sources as well.)

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