A Case for Atonement

1 John 2:2 – He himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for those of the whole world!

Let’s look at this verse and try to understand it. There are basically two ways to think of this…

  1. Jesus provided a potential for forgiveness for everyone. Unlimited Atonement.
  2. Jesus didn’t really die to save everyone, he only died to save certain people. Limited Atonement.

Two reasons that this is worth studying. We will find ourselves hearing about this kind of thing and it touches on the nature of God. Does God really want all the sinners out there to be saved?

What did God intend to do when he sent his son to die on the cross? Did he intend to save only the elect or did he intend to save those who would choose salvation?

Limited Atonement

There are three main arguments we’ll look at on the “for limited atonement” side of things.


  • John 1:29 – The word “world” doesn’t mean the entire world, instead it is referring to the fact that salvation isn’t just for Jews.
  • 1 John 4:14, John 12:47 – How can Jesus be the savior of those he didn’t save?
  • John 6:33, John 6:51 – Does every individual in the world get some of this bread sent from heaven?
  • 1 John 2:2 – Have everyone’s sins, in the entire world been removed?

Is it somewhat odd that the natural meaning of the word “world” should mean “not only the Jews, but the Gentiles also” in all of these places.

Can Jesus be the savior of people he didn’t save?


  • Matthew 20:28 – Jesus died to save many. Not everyone. If the writer meant everyone he should have said everyone.

Daniel 12:2 – If what Jesus did on the cross talk about only “many” this argument would make more sense. Many doesn’t have to mean just “some,” it can also mean “all.”

What happened on the cross?

  • Hebrews 9:12 – Jesus actually saved and secured certain people’s salvation on the cross. He didn’t just give the “possibility” he actually did the salvation.
  • 2 Corinthians 5:19 – While Jesus was on the cross he was reconciling people to himself.

This sacrifice brings reconciliation, he had us in mind when he died on this cross. In 2 Corinthians 5:20 there is a call to “be reconciled to Christ.”

Unlimited Atonement

  • Hebrews 2:9 – Jesus tasted death… for everyone.
  • 1 Corinthians 8:11 – Paul is introducing a scenario where a person was once saved and lost his salvation.
  • Hebrews 10:28-29 – Talking about someone who was sanctified, but has trampled the blood of the covenant and has fallen away. Christ did die to save this person… but he wasn’t saved in the end.
  • 1 Timothy 2:1-6 – Prayers and supplications for “all people.” Christ desires “all people” to be saved.
  • 2 Peter 3:9 – Peter is talking to a group of people who have “like precious faith.” Wouldn’t they have already come to repentance?
  • 2 Peter 2:1 – Jesus suffered and died for those who are against him.
  • 1 Timothy 4:10 – The savior of all people… especially those who believe. Jesus is still the savior to those who don’t believe, he is their source of salvation.
  • 1 John 3:16-18 – If you have the kind of love that God has you won’t just say nice things, you’ll also help people if you can. God does what he can for those he loves. Does God love everyone?


Christ is offering salvation, not to just us, but for the entire world. God sent his son to die for us because he loves us.

God really loves the lost. Even if someone doesn’t recognize, or hasn’t heard about Jesus… Jesus is still their savior. He is offering salvation to them.

1 John 4:10 – God loved us. He sent his son to be the propitiation for our sins.