by Jerry Shugart
The Sins of the Whole World
Those who teach that the Lord Jesus died as a substitute for believers as well as unbelievers say that the following verse teaches "that Christ by His death on the cross satisfied the demands of divine justice not only for the sins of believers but for the sins of all the unbelievers":
"And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world" (1 Jn.2:2; KJV).
The word "propitiation" is translated from the Greek word hilasmos, and that word is from the family of Greek words that relate to the Day of Atonement. One of the meanings of that word is "the means of appeasing" (Thayer's Greek English Lexicon).
In the Septuaigint (LXX), the Greek version of the Old Testament, hilasmos appears at Numbers 5:8 in the expression "ram of the atonement."
On the Day of Atonement the hilasmos was the one of the two goats which was sacrificed. The Greek word hilaskomai is the verb form of this word, and it means "to make propitiation for" (Thayer's Greek English Lexicon) and hilasterion is "the mercy seat" where the blood of the atoning sacrifice was sprinkled. All these words have the same stem (hilas) and they all relate to the events of the Day of Atonement.
Let us look at another translation of 1 John 2:2:
"He is the atoning sacrifice (hilasmos) for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world" (1 Jn.2:2:; NIV).
At 1 John 2:2 the Apostle John is making reference to the goat described as being the "sin offering" on the day of atonement (Lev.16:9), and this goat was in regard to "God's requirements." Ada R. Habershon writes:
"On the Day of Atonement there were 'two goats': the one, God's lot which was killed, the blood being taken inside the vail ; and the other, the scape-goat that bore away the iniquity of Israel to the land not inhabited--the first speaking to us of God's requirements, the second of man's need" [emphasis added] (Habershon, Study of the Types [Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1993], p.22).
Henry W. Soltau states that one aspect was in regard to satisfy the Lord, or as Habershon says, "God's requirement":
"It is important here to remark that the two goats were 'one' sin offering, and the apparent object of having 'two' was, to present two aspects of the same offering for sin. An atonement accomplished for the Lord to satisfy Him ; and this atonement made manifest to the people in the scapegoat sent into the wilderness" [emphasis added] (Henry W. Soltau, The Tabernacle; The Priesthood and the Offerings, [Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Classics, 1998], p.429).
Once the goat was sacrificed to fulfill God's requirement and to satisfy the Lord the sins of no one was atoned for until, by faith, the priest took the blood of that sacrifice and sprinkled it upon the mercy seat.
Of course on the Day of Atonement the ceremony was strictly in regard to the nation of Israel. John, at 1 John 2:2, takes the imagery of the day of atonement and expands it to the whole world.
According to John the Lord Jesus is the sacrifice which is the means of satisfying the Lord in regard to the sins of the whole world. But as in the case of the day of atonement, no one received the benefit of the sacrifice until, by faith, the blood was sprinkled upon the mercy seat. The Lord Jesus' death upon the Cross is a sacrifice that is sufficent to satisfy God in regard to the sins of the whole world, but it is not until a sinner appropriates the blood of that sacrifice by faith that the demands of divine justice are satisified.
Denying the Lord That Bought Them
The following verse is often quoted by sincere Christians to support the idea of Universal Redemption. According to this view both the saved and the unsaved are redeemed by the blood of the Lord Jesus:
"But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction" (2 Pet.2:1).
Here Peter talks about false teachers who were "bought" by the Lord. And obviously these false teachers are unsaved people.
The word "bought" is translated from the Greek word agoraz, and that word means "to buy in the market place." It is also true that the word agoraz was often used in the first century in reference to buying a person out of slavery. Therefore, we can understand that Peter is saying that these false teachers were bought out of the market place of slavery.
All Jews, throughout history, saved or unsaved, can be said to have been bought or redeemed out of the slavery which Israel endured in Egypt. The following words were addressed to the nation of Israel by the Lord hundreds of years after the children of Israel were redeemed by the blood of the passover lambs in Egypt:
"O my people, what have I done to you? In what have I wearied you? Answer me! For I brought you up from the land of Egypt, and redeemed you from the house of bondage; and I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam" (Micah 6:3-4; RSV).
The following verses are in regard to the idea that the children of Israel were "bought" and "purchased" by the Lord:
"Do ye thus requite the LORD, O foolish people and unwise? is not he thy father that hath bought thee? hath he not made thee, and established thee?" (Deut.32:6).
"Remember thy congregation, which thou hast purchased of old; the rod of thine inheritance, which thou hast redeemed; this mount Zion, wherein thou hast dwelt" (Ps.74:2).
The original audience to whom Peter's epistles were addressed were the dispersed Jews: "THE EPISTE OF PETER is the fulfillment of the commission given to Peter by Christ in Lk.22:31-32. Compare 1 Pet.1:1 with Jas.1:1. Peter was a minister of the circumcision (Gal.2:9), so he writes to the dispersed Jews" (The New Scofield Study Bible, "Introduction to The First Epistle of Peter"). The audience that received Peter's first epistle was the same that recevied his second epistle (2 Pet.3:1).
This idea that Second Episle of Peter was written to Jews is also supported by the context:
"For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction" (2 Pet.1:21; 2:1).
The words "holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" are in reference to Israel's prophets who spoke among the children of Israel. And the "false teachers" referred to by Peter will "also" be among the same people, the children of Israel. So when Peter speaks of the "false teachers" that shall be "among the people" we can understand that Peter is referring to Jewish false teachers who will be among the Jews. Therefore when Peter speaks of the false teachers who will deny the Lord that "bought" them the reference is to the Lord's act of buying the children of Israel out of the house of bondage in Egypt.
"All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all" (Isa.53:6).
Some sincere Christians quote this verse and say, The iniquity of all men was laid on the Lord Jesus. However, Sir Robert Anderson points out that "Isaiah liii is the utterance of the covenant people in the day of their repentance" (Anderson, Redemption Truths [Grand Rapids, I: Kregel Publications, 2003], p.113).
The following verses are describing the events which will happen on the day of their repentance:
"And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn" (Zech.12:10).
Indeed, by the time of Israel's day of their repentance only believers will be left in the land:
"And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the LORD, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God" (Zech.13:8-9).
It will be only believers whose iniquities are laid upon the Lord Jesus. From the "context" in which Isaiah 53 was written it is clear that the words in that chapter are referring to the time when Israel will be restored to divine favor and the restored wife of the Lord:
"Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more. For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called" (Isa.54:4-5).
The Gospel - Getting it Right
"For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?" (Ro.10:13-14).
The unsaved are dependent upon the gospel for eternal salvation so therefore those who preach the gospel have a great responsibility to preach a pure and undefiled gospel. Any minister who proclaims to the unbeliever that the blood of Christ is the total payment for his sins is not preaching the true gospel. Let those who minister the gospel remember that they are ministers either unto life or unto death:
"For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things? For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ" (2 Cor.2:15-17).