Does 1 John 2:2 teach unlimited atonement?

And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world (1 John 2:2)

I'm not teaching this Sunday but this will be the text before our SS class (1 John 1:5-2:2). Of course this is one of the oft used proof texts for unlimited atonement (in contrast with limited atonement). I actually prefer the term particular redemption to limited atonement!

Here are my own problems with the unlimited atonement view (none really original with me!)

  • What does the term "whole world" mean. Does it mean every human being? Here's the Greek: ἀλλὰ καὶ περὶ ὅλου τοῦ κόσμου. This very phrase occurs later in 1 John 5:19, "We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one". Questions: Are believers "under the sway of the wicked one"? If one concludes that the "whole world" in 2:2 is every human being then logically one would have to conclude the same for 5:19. I can't do that! Additionally (not developed here) there are many instances in the NT where "cosmos" (the world) does not mean every human being!)
  • I view 1 John 2:2 as a parallel passage to John 11:51-52, "Now this he did not say on his own authority; but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for that nation only, but also that He would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad. "

  • The Atonement of Jesus Christ is not limited in its power to save, but in the extent to which it reaches and will save certain individuals.

  • As the Maxim goes: God imposed his wrath due unto, and Christ underwent the pains of hell for either:
    1. All of the sins of all men - which means all men are saved.
    2. Some of the sins of all men - which means men are still in their sins.
    3. All of the sin of some men - which is the biblical position.
Resources I have found helpful: PROPITIATION IN I JOHN 2:2 And Understanding 1 John 2:2 And Limited Atonement

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