“Jesus Christ the Propitiation for the Whole World” (3)
PMW 2021-083 by Benjamin B. Warfield
[Gentry note: This is part 3 of an excellent article by renowned postmillennial Princeton scholar, B. B. Warfield.]
The Meaning of “Propitiation”
The expedient made use of by many commentators in their endeavor to escape from this maze of contradictions is to distinguish between Christ as our “Advocate” and Christ as our “Propitiation,” and to connect actual salvation with him only in the former function. Thus Richard Rothe tells us that “the propitiation in Christ concerns the whole world,” but “only those in Christ have an advocate in Christ,” with the intimation that it is Christ’s advocacy which “makes the efficacy of his propitiation effective before God.” In this view the propitiation is conceived as merely laying a basis for actual forgiveness of sins, and is spoken of therefore rather as “sufficient” than efficacious—becoming efficacious only through the act of faith on the part of the believer by which he secures Christ as his Advocate. This is the view presented by B. F. Westcott also, according to whom Christ is advocate exclusively for Christians, while he is a propitiation for the whole world. His propitiatory death on earth was for all men; his advocacy in heaven is for those only who believe in him. Here, there is a universal atonement taught, with a limited application, contingent on actual faith: “the efficacy of his work for the individual depends upon fellowship with him.” Continue reading
“Jesus Christ the Propitiation for the Whole World” (2)
PMT 2021-082 by Benjamin B. Warfield
[Gentry note: This is part 2 of an excellent article by renowned postmillennial Princeton scholar, B. B. Warfield.]
“And he is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the whole world.”
(1 John 2:2)
The Problem of “the World”
The search for John’s meaning naturally begins with an attempt to ascertain what he intends by “the world.” He sets it in contrast with an “our” by which primarily his readers and himself are designated: “And he is himself a propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but for the whole world.” John’s readers apparently are immediately certain Christian communities in Asia Minor; and it is possible to confine the “our” strictly to them. In that case it is not impossible to interpret “the whole world,” which is brought into contrast with the Christians specifically of Asia Minor, as referring to the whole body of Christians extended throughout the world. Continue reading
PMW 2021-065 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
I have been presenting the postmillennial understanding of the millennial hope in this five-part series. Hopefully this series will be useful as an introduction to postmillennialism for those unfamiliar with it or, as yet, unpersuaded by its argument.
In this article we will very briefly consider one of the key texts in Paul’s writing, from the vitally important fifteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians. Continue reading
PMW 2021-051 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
As we enter the New Testament record Christ’s birth immediately confronts us. The birth of “the Son of David, the Son of Abraham” (Mt 1:1) gloriously echoes the Old Testament victory theme, showing that his first coming begins the fruition of the promises (Lk 1:46–55, 68–79). The fullness of time comes in the first century through Christ’s incarnation (Gal 4:4; Eph 1:10; Tit 1:2–3).
Christ’s covenanted kingdom comes near in his early ministry because the “time was fulfilled” for it to come (Mk 1:14–15; Mt 3:2). Thus, John Baptist is something of a marker separating the fading Old Testament era from the dawning kingdom era (Mt 11:11–14; Mk 1:14–15; Jn 3:26–30). Continue reading
PMW 2020-041 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
In Matthew 16:18 our Lord spoke these famous words to his leading disciple:
“And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it.”
This passage has generated significant debate because of grammatical difficulties within it. Some scholars even emend the text to “straighten out the problem.” There is an awkwardness in having stationary gates actively attempting to prevail or conquer the church. How can gates attack?
Another problem is determining what Jesus means by hades. This Greek word is the common translation for the Hebrew word sheol in the OT. Sheol (and therefore, its Greek translation hades) can refer to the place of the dead, signifying either the place of rest for God’s people or the place of torment for the sinner (hell). Or it may simply mean “the grave,” without any other connotation one way or the other (it represents death irrespective of reward or punishment). The NT uses each of these meanings in various places. Continue reading
PMT 2015-052 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
One of the greatest postmillennial teachers was the person who made the postmillennial hope possible: our Savior, Jesus Christ the Lord. Though postmillennialism seems to some Christians to depend mostly on the Old Testament, Jesus himself has much to say to encourage us to hope for the conversion of the world.
And this was the case even as his ministry opened.
The Kingdom Announced
Christ is introduced to Israel and the world through the ministry of John Baptist, who was prophesied in the Old Testament to be Messiah’s forerunner (Isa 40:3; Matt 3:3). John prepares the way for him by preaching: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt 3:2). Jesus picks up this theme in Mark 1:14–15:
And after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the gospel.”
I will note three crucial aspects of this declaration. Continue reading
PMT 2015-012 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
2 Tim 3 seems to undermine the postmillennial hope with it’s warning of “difficult times” (v 1), “arrogant revilers” (v 2), and “men of depraved mind” (v 8). But it actually does not — when properly interpreted.
In my last article I argued that Paul was specifically warning Timothy about evil people he is facing. In addition, I noted that the evil he must expect was not from external persecution, but internal defection by false teachers in the Ephesian church (as was Titus’ situation in Crete). And I observed that this is precisely what Paul predicted to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:29–31:
“I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears.”
In 2 Tim 3:2-5 Paul presents a vice list which, as we will see, applies to the “savage wolves” who are “speaking perverse things” in the Ephesian church “to draw away the disciples after them” (Acts 20:29–31). Continue reading