Thursday, October 26, 2017

Not for our sins only

1 John is written to a Christian community…Its  concern, as we have seen, is with the sins of Christian believers after their conversion, emphasizing that "the blood of Jesus…purifies us from all sin" (1 Jn 1:7), that "if anybody sins we have an Advocate with the Father" and that he is a propitiation "for our sins" (1 Jn 2:1-2, my italics). But having introduced an explicit theology of atonement to deal with the specific problem of "our" sins now, after conversion and baptism, the author adds, almost as an afterthought, that of course this is God's way of dealing with sin always and everywhere: "and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world". There is not one "propitiation" for us and another for the rest of the world, but Jesus (kai autos) is the only sacrifice, and the only way of salvation for all. The point is not that Jesus died for everyone indiscriminately so that everyone in the world is in principle forgiven, but that all those  forgiven are forgiven on the basis of Christ's sacrificed and in no other way. J. R. Michaels, "Atonement in John's Gospel and Epistles," C. Hill & F. James, eds. The Glory of the Atonement (IVP 2004), 116-17.

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