PMT 2013-022 by Benjamin B. Warfield
Jesus Christ the Propitiation for the Whole World
Note: Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield (1851-1921) was perhaps the leading Reformed scholar of his era. He was Professor of Didactic and Polemic Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary (1887-1921). He was a strong proponent of postmillenialism. This is an edited form of his article by the same name.
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 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