Definite Atonement (Part 3/3). The Logic of 1 John 2:1-2


“We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:1-2)

I. Biblical data that supports the premises of the two following arguments
Christ is the propitiation for our sins. He intercedes with the Father on the basis of his accomplished his work of atonement. He is the perfect advocate whose intercession with the Father is always successful (I John 2:1; Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25; 9:24-26; John 11:41-42,).

II. Argument 1 from Christ’s intercession
Premise: Christ’s intercession with the Father is always successful.

Outline of argument:
(1) If Jesus intercedes for all, all would actually be saved.
(2) But not all are saved.
(3) Therefore Jesus does not intercede for all.*

III. Argument 2 from “Propitiation”
Premise: Christ as “propitiation” has turned away God’s wrath (1John 2:2).

Outline of argument:
1) If Christ has really bore God’s wrath for everybody, nobody will go to hell, since their punishment has already been born by Christ.
2) But Scripture does testify that the wicked will experience punishment in hell.
3) Therefore Christ is not the propitiation for the sins of everybody

IV. The Logic of the arguments
The two arguments have the same logical form:

If P, then Q
Not Q
Therefore, Not P [modus Tollens]

V. Conclusion
We summarize with the impeccable logical argument of Francis Turretin (1623-1687): “It is gratuitously supposed that a universal intercession can be granted. For as he is always heard by the Father (John 11:42), if he would intercede for all, all would be actually saved” [Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, vol. 2 (Presbyterian & Reformed, 1994), p. 464.]

* For the purpose of the present argument, I am using term for all as a  distributive term, that is, referring singly and without exception to the members of a group. For a different understanding of the term, read the two earlier related posts

Related Posts:
Why Arminians Limit the Atonement More than Calvinists.
Definite Atonement (Part 1/3): Engaging Arminian Proof Texts for Universal Atonement.
Definite Atonement (Part 2/3): Biblical Evidence and Theological Arguments.


2 thoughts on “Definite Atonement (Part 3/3). The Logic of 1 John 2:1-2”

  1. Dr. Kam Weng, thank you for writing on this topic. How can we respond to Arminians if they say “non-believers are going to hell because they choose not to believe, not because Jesus did not die for them.”

  2. Hi SN.
    For Calvinists (and Augustinians), people have already freely chosen to reject God (simple word is ‘sin’) & are under judgment. Why are some unconditionally elected? Scripture is silent on this matter, but what is revealed is that Christ died for the elect. My posts elaborate on why definite atonement is more tenable than general atonement of Arminianism. I think Arminians find my view unacceptable not because they think definite atonement is incoherent or lacks scriptural support, but because they think definite atonement does not do justice to human free will. BUT,

    (1) I agree with Arminians that people *freely* choose hell when they reject God’s salvation. Just that Arminians persist in accusing Calvinist for not believing in free will. This is certainly a misperception. It is just a question of how we define free will – libertarian free will or compatibilism free will. Read Westminster Confession of Faith Chap.9 On Free Will.
    (2) Also issue is whether this free will can respond to God’s call. Calvinists say no unless there is regenerating grace; Arminians say can because of prevenient grace (which I find no scriptural support).
    (3) Arminians claim Calvinists’ teaching ultimate sovereignty & unconditional election makes God’s goodness problematic. I think Arminians cannot escape the same final problem; despite conditional election & molinist middle knowledge & preveniently-assisted free will. If the problem for Calvinist is whether a sovereign God can be acquitted of the charge of direct responsibility for sin/evil, the problem for Arminians is why God chose to create a world where evil exists. Like it or not, the Arminian God is still ultimately sovereign/responsible. Unless Arminians are willing to go the way of Open Theist…which they will not.

    On hell: Here, Arminians & I probably are in agreement although one can never take this issue for granted. There are quite a number of self-professing evangelical scholars who deny eternal punishment of hell out there. I will be writing on this subject one day – though, first things first. I can only do so much. Got a life

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