When does the whole world mean only Christian believers?
Answer: When calvinists make the rules!
(And calvinists, if you disagree, why not explain using sola scriptura (the Bible alone) to demonstrate your “truth”. Please state your argument clearly and logically. Or else admit that there can be no argument that may oppose the truth of the Bible!)
Calvinists believe that “the whole world” in 1 John 2:2 means only the calvinist elect (those whom their God has selected to go to heaven).
1 John 2:2 – And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for [the sins of] the whole world.
Because calvinists believe that only those chosen by their God can go to heaven, then those whom their God does not choose cannot ever go to heaven, and therefore it was pointless to die for their sins. The calvinist God chooses who will believe and only these chosen ones will be atoned for on the cross of their Jesus. (But they are wrong, because the Bible demonstrates clearly that “the whole world” has to be a larger group than just all the believers. Therefore “the whole world” includes non-Christians. Jesus died for all the sins of the whole world without exception or qualification!)
High profile calvinist MacArthur says “Jesus on the cross offered an atonement for those in Israel who would repent and believe and those throughout the world who would repent and believe. It is not a universal appeasement of God. Jesus didn’t pay for the sins of Judas because when Judas died, he went to his own place to pay for his own sins. Jesus didn’t pay for the sins of Herod. Jesus didn’t pay for the sins of Pilate. Jesus didn’t pay for the sins of Adolph Hitler. Jesus didn’t pay for the sins of the mob that screamed for His blood.” (Sermon code 62-10)
(So why did Jesus pray “Father forgive them for they know not what they do,” if it were impossible for them to be forgiven? Obviously the calvinist God didn’t have any intention of forgiving them! Did not the calvinist Jesus realise this?)
Note the following from “One Perfect Life: The Complete Story of the Lord Jesus” excerpts from Pages 509 & 510 – By John MacArthur. “And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. …..” (Footnote) FOR THE WHOLE WORLD. This is a generic term, referring not to every single individual, but to mankind in general. Christ actually paid the penalty only for those who would repent and believe.” (Underlining mine)
So let’s look at the context of 1 John 2:2 by studying 1 John 2:1-2 together.
1 John 2:1-2 – 1My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: 2And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for [the sins of] the whole world.
Note the pronouns underlined here. Who is John writing to? Primarily he wrote to the Jewish Christians of his day, yet now we correctly apply “we” in Vs 1 to all genuine Christians today. That same group “we” who have an advocate in Jesus Christ also are the same ones who are propitiated by Jesus Christ. As MacArthur says, “He IS the propitiation. He couldn’t be our Advocate if He wasn’t our propitiation.” (Sermon code 62-10). Thus it is clear that “our sins” (of Vs 2) applies to that same group who are represented by “we” who have an advocate in Vs 1.
Then John says “but not for ours only” … that is, Jesus Christ is the propitiation not only for the sins of the “we” in Vs 1, but “also for the whole world”. Now anyone who can reasonably think will understand that the group represented by “the whole world” must be a larger group than the group represented by “we”, “our” and “ours”. This is very basic logic.
Some extremely misguided (or possibly deliberately deceiving) calvinist “teachers” then try to say that the “our sins” that are propitiated in Vs 2 are specifically Jewish sins, the sins of the nation of Israel, and therefore “the whole world” means the addition of the Christian believers since John’s day. This is absolutely ridiculous! That would mean that “we” who have an advocate of Vs 1 could also only apply to those same Jewish believers and no-one else. Yet the calvinists who claim that Jesus Christ is the advocate of all genuine Christians today also then have to redefine the sins of those genuine Christians as only those of the nation of Israel.
Just think it through and see the stupidity of such teaching. According to calvinists, in 1 John 2:1, “we’ is all Christians, yet in 1 John 2:2 they are now Jewish Christians only (“our sins”, “ours”). And that’s not all folks! Just 2 verses earlier, John says that if “we” confess “our sins” God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins. This is clearly the same group that John is talking to just 2 verses later in 1 John 2:1, and whose sins (“our sins”) in 1 John 2:2 are now only the sins of Israel! Is it only Jewish Christians who may confess and be forgiven? Calvinists, you are all over the place with your reasoning here. You jump in and out of various explanations as it pleases you. If “our sins” in 1 John 1:9 may be applied to the sins of all Christians for all time, then “our sins’ in 1 John 2:2 must likewise be applied to all Christians for all time. Likewise, if the “we” who have an advocate, Jesus Christ the Righteous, in 1 John 2:1 applies to all Christians of all time, then “our sins” in 1 John 2:2 must also apply to all Christians of all time.
And, here’s the part the calvinists just hate about this passage. If Jesus Christ is the propitiation for “our sins” in 1 John 2:2, then “and not for ours only, but also for [the sins of] the whole world“ must apply to a larger group than the all Christians of all time who may claim forgiveness of sins (1 John 1:9) and Jesus Christ as advocate (1 John 2:1). That is, it not only includes all those represented by “we” but also (that is, added to the number) others not represented by “we“. And, if “the whole world” is a bigger group than all Christians of all time, then it must include non-Christians! Primary school children can understand this, so why can’t the calvinists? The answer is that they probably do understand this, yet they don’t want to admit that they have got it totally wrong. Calvinists can never be wrong! Therefore, no matter how clearly one spells out the truth, they just will not see it, in fact, will refuse to see it.
So “the whole world” must include non-Christians or else it makes a bigger group equal in size to a smaller group (which is ridiculous). No matter how you explain it, it cannot make sense unless non-Christians are included in “the whole world”.
MacArthur, as a calvinist, demonstrates his need to propagate the lie that the atonement was only for those who believe. He says: John was an Apostle to the Jews. The recipients of his epistles would be predominantly, if not completely, Jewish. ….. John is telling them that the sacrifice that Jesus offered is not just for the nation Israel, it’s now for the world because the Lord is calling out a people for His name from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. ….. First John 2:2, that He is the propitiation for our sins as a nation, Israel. But not for ours only but also for all the sins of the world, or the sins of the whole world. …. Jesus dies not for the nation only, but for the children of God scattered abroad (Sermon code 62-10) But where does it say this in the Bible??
That is, MacArthur’s Jesus died, not only for the sins of the nation Israel, but also for the sins of all the other Christians for all time. Not one more than that, though! He didn’t pay for the sins of Judas because when Judas died, he went to his own place to pay for his own sins. Jesus didn’t pay for the sins of Herod. Jesus didn’t pay for the sins of Pilate. Jesus didn’t pay for the sins of Adolph Hitler. Jesus didn’t pay for the sins of the mob that screamed for His blood. (Sermon code 62-10) The calvinist Jesus didn’t die for anyone unless they were on his list of chosen ones headed for heaven.
Of course, there’s the other calvinist camp which teaches that “the whole world” means Christians from all nations of the world. Piper says: The “whole world” refers to the children of God scattered throughout the whole world. (“What We Believe About the Five Points of Calvinism” Revised March 1998) However, it doesn’t take much intelligence to realise that even then, “the whole world” still has to be a larger group of people than just the Christians of the world. There’s just no escape from this logic.
The biblical Jesus died for all the sins of the whole world without exception or qualification. Then the calvinist will say that if Jesus died for all mankind, then all must be going to heaven. What? Where does the Bible say that? They claim that no-one whose sins were paid for will go to hell, for that would be double jeopardy. (Again, where does the Bible teach this? Nowhere!) However, those who go to hell go there because of their lack of works, not to pay for their sin. They go to hell in spite of the sacrifice that paid for their sins, because they rejected the gift of that payment for their sins. They were offered a free pardon for sin, yet refused because they wanted to do things their way. You believe by faith and go to heaven, or you trust in your works and go to hell (Romans 4:4-5).
Matthew 15:14 – Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.
For further information, please see my document 1 John 2:2.