So in further study the possibility of other deductions have resulted. Currently I am reading a 832 page work entitled, The Extent of the Atonement: A Historical and Critical Review by David L. Allen. Also, I have been reading a variety of commentaries from my Logos Bible Software to examine 1 Jn 2:2 particularly. So as I have been reading and studying, the theological journey becomes deeper and deeper. With that, I will continue. Here is our original verses
1 John 2:1-2
My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.
My notes on vs. 1 seem appropriate and applicable, but I failed to connect them sufficiently with vs. 2. Before I do let’s reexamine vs. 2 limiting our self to what does propitiation for the whole world mean. David Allen sees the atonement in three aspects, extent, intent, and application. To quickly summarize these meanings, here is shore definition of each.
Extent – whose sins did Christ atone for
Intent – who was intended to be atoned for
Application – who is atoned for
Though it may seem confusing, it isn’t that bad, but definitely will promote some theological ramblings and discussions among us. With that being said, whose sins did Christ expiate? Whose sins did he propitiate? Is God’s wrath satisfied and if so is it for all? I have not even talked about the concept of being blotted out of the book of life…What is that all about? So from an alternative view that I have written above a second possibility exists that I believe does not sacrifice the message of the Gospel or scripture.
Christ is the propitiation for the whole world in the fact that his atonement paid for their sins. So the extent of the atonement was universal. How so you may ask. Do we understand that the price for one sinner is the same as for all sinners? So the extent is universal in worth and value of the sacrifice offered. Second, did the Son come intending to propitiate the sins of the whole world? I think so, based on John 3:16 statement of God loving the world that he gave. So the intent was universal as well. However, was the propitiation universal in application? In other words, did the atonement actually expiate, remove defilement, propitiate, cover the sins of the whole world? This is where the conundrum becomes more confusing.
There is one statement that comes to mind. The imputation of sin upon our Savior does not equate to the imputation of his righteousness upon all. So, I ask these questions not sarcastically nor doubting, but still contemplating. Does the Father solely accept us on the basis of removal of sin? I think not. I say this because even if our sin is removed and we are guilt free could we stand in in His presence? Or is the necessary imputation of his righteous needed to be holy, accepted, adopted as his sons (daughters)? These are the thoughts that have driven me further.
Saying this, I look forward to finishing the book on the extent of the atonement, because all to often we look at thing superficially and fail to grasp the depths of some theological foundations that shape our soul in humble, contrite, gratitude and adoration. To be clear, I don’t think vs. 2 promotes universal salvation but explains the extent and intent of the atonement, but the application is in vs. 1. Those who have relationship with Jesus as advocate, friend, savior. Just a few more thoughts…