1 John (3)

Calvinism and 1 John 2, 4, John 1, 4 – “of the world”

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Some argue that Calvinism and 1 John 2:2, 4:14, John 1:19, 4:42 are contradictory because 1 John 2:2, 4:14, John 1:19, 4:42 teach that Jesus died for the sins of “the world” and that he is the Savior of “the world.” They argue that this contradicts the doctrines of limited atonement and unconditional election. However, there is a very reasonable interpretation of these verses that does not at all contradict the doctrines of Calvinism.

Scriptures: 1 John 2:2, 4:14, John 1:29, 4:42 and Calvinism

He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

1 John 2:2

And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.

1 John 4:14

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

John 1:29

They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”

John 4:42

Calvinism’s Answer to 1 John 2:2, 4:14, John 1:19, 4:42

Interpretation of 1 John 2:2, 4:14, John 1:19, 4:42

The argument that the phrase “the world” in 1 John 2:2 and 4:14 refers to every individual person in the world is an interpretation that is not supported by any context. In fact, the context seems to suggest that rather than referring to every individual person, John is actually referring to people from all over the world, or, not just the Jews, but also the Gentiles.

To understand what John is referring to when he uses the term “the world,” John 4:42 may help.

John 4:42 Is Important Context

In John 4:42, when the Samaritans say that Jesus is the “Savior of the world,” they are saying that Jesus is the savior of ”’not only the Jews, but also the Gentiles”’. They are surprised that Jesus would reach out to a ”’Samaritan”’ woman, when Samaritans were looked down upon by the Jews.

It simply makes far more sense to believe that the Samaritans are using the word “world” to refer to not only the Jewish group of people, but also people who were not Jews (for example, the Samaritans), than that they are referring to every individual person in the world.

Then, we can conclude that if John is using the term “the world” in this fashion in John 4:42, it is more likely that he is also using this sense of “the world” (“not just the Jews, but also the Gentiles”, or, people from all groups of people) in other places (for example, in 1 John 2:2 and 4:14) than that he is using it to refer to “every individual person” in other places.

The Meaning of “All” and “World”

The meaning of words such as “all” and “world” is not as simple as Arminians sometimes assert. More often than not, the Bible uses the words “all” and “world” to refer to groups of people, rather than to every single individual person. To read more, see Calvinism and the Meaning of “All” and “World”.

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