The Meaning of WORLD kosmov kosmos in John 3:16
1. the Gentiles as contrasted to the Jews (Rom 11:12 etc)
2. of believers only, Joh 1:29; 3:16; 3:17; 6:33; 12:47 1Co 4:9; 2Co 5:19
L Boettner Reformed Doctrine
When it is said that Christ died "not for our sins only but for the sins of the whole world," 1 John 2:2, or that He came to "save the world," John 12:47, the meaning is that not merely Jews but Gentiles also are included in His saving work; the world as a world or the race as a race is to be redeemed. When John the Baptist said, "Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world!" he was not giving a theological discourse to saints, but preaching to sinners; and the unnatural thing then would have been for him to have discussed Limited Atonement or any other doctrine which could have been misunderstood only by saints. We are told that John the Baptist "came for a witness, that he might bear witness of the light, that all might believe trough him," John 1:7. But to say the John's ministry afforded an opportunity for every human being to have faith in Christ would be unreasonable. John never preached to the Gentiles. His mission was to make Christ "manifest to Israel," John 1:31; and in the nature of the case only a limited number of Jews could be brought to hear him.
Sometimes the term "world" is used when only a large part of the world is meant, as when it is said that the Devil is "the deceiver of the whole world," or that "the whole earth" wonders after the beast, Rev 13:3. If in 1 John 5:19, "We know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in the evil one," the author meant every individual of mankind, then he and those to whom he wrote were also in the evil one, and he contradicted himself in saying that they were of God. Sometimes this term means only a relatively small part of the world, as when Paul wrote to the new Christian Church at Rome that their faith was "proclaimed throughout the whole world." Rom 1:8. None, but believers would praise those Romans for their faith in Christ, and in fact the world at large did not even know that such a Church existed in Rome. Hence Paul meant only the believing world or the Christian Church, which was a comparatively insignificant part of the real world. Shortly before Jesus was born, "There went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enroled,".... "and all went to enrol themselves," Luke 2:1,3; yet we know that the writer had in mind only that comparatively small part of the world which was controlled by Rome. When it was said that on the day of Pentecost, "there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven," Acts 2:5, only those nations which were immediately known to the Jews were intended, for verses 9-11 list those which were represented. Paul says that the Gospel was "preached in all creation under heaven." Col 1:23. The goddess Diana of the Ephesians, was said to have been worshipped by "all Asia and the world," Acts 19:27. We are told that the famine which came over Egypt in Joseph's time extended to "all the earth," and that "all countries came into Egypt to Joseph to buy grain," Gen 41:57.
In ordinary conversation we often speak of the business world, the educational world, the political world, etc., but we do not mean that every person in the world is a businessman, or educated, or a politician. When we say that a certain automobile manufacturer sells automobiles to everybody, we do not mean that he actually sells to every individual, but that he sells to every one who is willing to pay his price. We may say of one lone teacher of literature in a city that he teaches everybody, - not that everybody studies under him, but that all of those who study at all study under him. The Bible is written in plain language of the people and must be understood in that way.
Verses like John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have eternal life," give abundant proof that the redemption which the Jews though to monopolize is universal as to space. God so loved the world, not a little portion of it, but the world as a whole, which He gave His only begotten Son for its redemption. And not only the extensity, but the intensity of God's love is made plain by the little adverb "so," - God so loved the world, in spite of its wickedness, that He gave His only begotten Son to die for it. But where is the oft - boasted proof of its universality as to individuals? This verse is sometimes pressed to such an extreme that God is represented as too loving to punish anybody, and so full of mercy that He will not deal with men according to any rigid standard of justice regardless of their deserts. The attentive reader, by comparing this verse with other Scripture, will see that some restriction is to be placed on the word "world." One writer has asked, "Did God love Pharaoh? (Rom 9:17). Did He love the Amalekites? (Exo 17:14). Did He love the Canaanites, whom he commanded to be exterminated without mercy? (Deu 20:16). Did He love the Ammonites and Moabites whom He commanded not to be received into the congregation forever? (Deu 23:3). Does He love the workers of iniquity? (Psa 5:5). Does He love the vessels of wrath fitted for destruction, which He endures with much long - suffering? (Rom 9:22). Did He love Esau? (Rom 9:13.)"
L Berkhof Systematic Theology
There are passages, which teach that Christ died for the world, John 1:29; 3:16; 6:33,51; Rom 11:12,15; 2Co 5:19; Joh 2:2. The objection based on these passages proceeds on the unwarranted assumption that the word "world" as used in them means "all individuals that constitute the human race." If this were not so, the objection based on them would have no point. But it is perfectly evident from Scripture that the term "world" has a variety of meanings, as a mere reading of the following passages will prove conclusively, Luk 2:2; Joh 1:10; Act 11:28; 19:27; 24:5; Rom 1:8; Col 1:6. It also appears that, when it is used of men, it does not always include all men, Joh 7:4; 12:19; 14:22; 18:20; Rom 11:12,15; in some of these passages it cannot possibly denote all men. If it had that meaning in John 6:33,51, it would follow that Christ actually gives life to all men, that is, saves them all. This is more than the opponents themselves believe. In Rom 11:12,15 the word "world" cannot be all-inclusive, since the context clearly excludes Israel; and because on that supposition these passages too would prove more than is intended, namely, that the fruits of the atoning work of Christ are actually applied to all. We do find in these passages, however, an indication of the fact that the word "world" is sometimes used to indicate that the Old Testament particularism belongs to the past, and made way for New Testament universalism. The blessings of the gospel were extended to all nations, Mat 23:14; Mar 16:16; Rom 1:5; 10:18. This is probably the key to the interpretation of the word "world" in such passages as Joh 1:29; 6:33,51; 2Co 5:19; 1Jo 2:2. Dr. Shedd assumes that the word means "all nations" in such passages as Mat 26:13; Joh 3:16; 1Co 1:21; 2Co 5:19; and 1Jo 2:2; but holds that in other passages it denotes the world of believers, or the Church, Joh 6:33,51; Rom 4:13; 11:12,15. Kuyper and Van Andel also assume that this is the meaning of the word in some passages.
A Pink Sovereignty of God
The objector comes back to Joh 3:16 and says, "World means world". True, but we have shown that "the world" does not mean the whole human family. The fact is that "the world" is used in a general way. When the brethren of Christ said, "Shew thyself to the world" (Joh 7:4), did they mean show thyself to all mankind? When the Pharisees said, "Behold, the world is gone after him" (Joh 12:19), did they mean that "all the human family" were flocking after him? When the apostle wrote, "Your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world" (Rom 1:8), did he mean that the faith of the saints at Rome was the subject of conversation by every man, woman, and child on the earth? When Rev 13:3 informs us that "all the world wondered after the beast", are we to understand that there will be no exceptions? What of the godly Jewish remnant, who will be slain (Rev 20:4) rather than submit? These, and other passages which might be quoted, show that the term "the world" often has a relative rather than an absolute force.
Now the first thing to note in connection with Joh 3:16 is that our Lord was there speaking to Nicodemus--a man who believed that God's mercies were confined to his own nation. Christ there announced that God's love in giving his Son had a larger object in view, that it flowed beyond the boundary of Palestine, reaching out to "regions beyond". In other words, this was Christ's announcement that God had a purpose of grace toward Gentiles as well as Jews. "God so loved the world", then, signifies, God's love is international in its scope. But does this mean that God loves every individual among the Gentiles? Not necessarily, for the term "world" is general rather than specific, relative rather than absolute. The term "world" in itself is not conclusive. To ascertain who are the objects of God's love other passages where his love is mentioned must be consulted.
In 2Pe 2:5 we read of "the world of the ungodly." If then, there is a world of the ungodly there must also be a world of the godly. It is the latter that are in view in the passages we shall now briefly consider. "For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world" (Joh 6:33). Now mark it well, Christ did not say, "offereth life unto the world", but "giveth". What is the difference between the two terms? This: a thing, which is "offered", may be refused, but a thing "given", necessarily implies its acceptance. If it is not accepted, it is not "given", it is simply proffered. Here, then, is a scripture that positively states Christ giveth life (spiritual, eternal life) "unto the world." Now he does not give eternal life to the "world of the ungodly" for they will not have it, they do not want it. Hence, we are obliged to understand the reference in Joh 6:33 as being to "the world of the godly", i.e., God's own people.
One more: in 2Co 5:19 we read, "To wit that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself". What it is meant by this is clearly defined in the words immediately following, "not imputing their trespasses unto them". Here again, "the world" cannot mean "the world of the ungodly", for their "trespasses" are "imputed" to them, as the judgment of the Great White Throne will yet show. But 2Co 5:19 plainly teaches there is a "world" which are "reconciled", reconciled unto God, because their trespasses are not reckoned to their account, having been borne by their substitute. Who then are they? Only one answer is fairly possible--the world of God's people!
In like manner, the "world" in Joh 3:16 must, in the final analysis, refer to the world of God's people. Must we say, for there is no other alternative solution. It cannot mean the whole human race, for one half of the race was already in hell when Christ came to earth. It is unfair to insist that it means every human being now living, for every other passage in the New Testament where God's love is mentioned limits it to his own people--search and see! The objects of God's love in Joh 3:16 are precisely the same, as the objects of Christ's love in Joh 13:1: "Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his time was come, that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end." We may admit that our interpretation of Joh 3:16 is no novel one invented by us, but one almost uniformly given by the Reformers and Puritans, and many others since them. It may appear to some of our readers that the exposition we have given above of John 3:16 is a forced and unnatural one, inasmuch as our definition of the term "world" seems to be out of harmony with the meaning and scope of this word in other passages, where, to supply the world of believers (God’s elect) as a definition of "world" would make no sense. Many have said to us, "Surely, ‘world’ means world, that is, you, me, and everybody." In reply we would say: We know from experience how difficult it is to set aside the "traditions of men" and come to a passage which we have heard explained in a certain way scores of times, and study it carefully for ourselves without bias. Nevertheless, this is essential if we would learn the mind of God.
Many people suppose they already know the simple meaning of John 3:16, and therefore they conclude that no diligent study is required of them to discover the precise teaching of this verse. Needless to say, such an attitude shuts out any further light, which they otherwise might obtain on the passage. Yet, if anyone will take a Concordance and read carefully the various passages in which the term "world" (as a translation of "kosmos") occurs, he will quickly perceive that to ascertain the precise meaning of, the word "world" in any given passage is not nearly so easy as is popularly supposed. The word "kosmos," and its English equivalent "world," is not used with a uniform significance in the New Testament. Very far from it. It is used in quite a number of different ways. Below we will refer to a few passages where this term occurs, suggesting a tentative definition in each case:
"Kosmos" is used of the Universe as a whole: Acts 17:24 - "God that made the world and all things therein seeing that He is Lord of heaven and earth." is used of the Universe as a whole: Acts 17:24 - "God that made the world and all things therein seeing that He is Lord of heaven and earth."
"Kosmos" is used of the earth: Joh 13:1; Eph 1:4, etc., etc.- "When Jesus knew that his hour was come that He should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved His own which were in the world He loved them unto the end." "Depart out of this world" signifies, leave this earth. "According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world." This expression signifies, before the earth was founded—compare Job 38:4 etc.
"Kosmos" is used of the world-system: John 12:31 etc. "Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the Prince of this world be cast out"— compare Mat 4:8 and 1Jo 5:19, R. V.
"Kosmos" is used of the whole human race: Rom 3:19, etc.—"Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God."
"Kosmos" is used of humanity minus believers: John 15:18; Rom 3:6 "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated Me before it hated you." Believers do not "hate" Christ, so that "the world" here must signify the world of unbelievers in contrast from believers who love Christ. "God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world." Here is another passage where "the world" cannot mean "you, me, and everybody," for believers will not be "judged" by God, see John 5:24. So that here, too, it must be the world of unbelievers, which is in view.
"Kosmos" is used of Gentiles in contrast from Jews: Rom 11:12 etc. "Now if the fall of them (Israel) be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them (Israel) the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their (Israel’s) fullness." Note how the first clause in italics is defined by the latter clause placed in italics. Here, again, "the world" cannot signify all humanity for it excludes Israel!
"Kosmos" is used of believers only: John 1:29; 3:16,17; 6:33; 12:47; 1Co 4:9; 2Co 5:19. We leave our readers to turn to these passages, asking them to note, carefully, exactly what is said and predicated of "the world" in each place, is used of believers only: John 1:29; 3:16,17; 6:33; 12:47; 1Co 4:9; 2Co 5:19. We leave our readers to turn to these passages, asking them to note, carefully, exactly what is said and predicated of "the world" in each place.
Thus it will be seen that "kosmos" has at least seven clearly defined different meanings in the New Testament. It may be asked: Has then God used a word thus to confuse and confound those who read the Scriptures? We answer, No! Nor has He written His Word for lazy people who are too dilatory, or too busy with the things of this world, or, like Martha, so much occupied with "serving," they have no time and no heart to "search" and "study" Holy Writ! Should it be asked further, But how is a searcher of the Scriptures to know which of the above meanings the term "world" has in any given passage? The answer is: This may be ascertained by a careful study of the context, by diligently noting what is predicated of "the world" in each passage, and by prayer fully consulting other parallel passages to the one being studied. The principal subject of John 3:16 is Christ as the Gift of God. The first clause tells us what moved God to "give" His only begotten Son, and that was His great "love;" the second clause informs us for whom God "gave" His Son, and that is for, "whosoever (or, better, ‘every one’) believeth;" while the last clause makes known why God "gave" His Son (His purpose), and that is, that everyone that believeth "should not perish but have everlasting life." That "the world" in John 3:16 refers to the world of believers (God’s elect), in contradistinction from "the world of the ungodly" (2Pe 2:5), is established and unequivocally established, by a comparison of the other passages which speak of God’s "love." "God commendeth His love toward US" i.e. the saints, Rom 5:8. "Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth"—every son, Heb 12:6. "We love Him, because He first loved US" i.e. believers, 1 John 4:19. The wicked God "pities" (see Mat 18:33). Unto the unthankful and evil God is "kind" (see Luke 6:35). The vessels of wrath He endures "with much long-suffering" (see Rom 9:22). But "His own" God "loves"!!
John OWEN Death of Death
The Universalists exceedingly boast; for which we are persuaded they have so little cause, that we doubt not but, with the Lord's assistance, to demonstrate that it is destructive to their whole defence: to which end I will give you, in brief, a double paraphrase of the words, the first containing their sense, the latter ours. Thus then, our adversaries explain these words:" 'God so loved,' had such a natural inclination, velleity, and propensity to the good of 'the world,' Adam, with all and every one of his posterity, of all ages, times, and conditions (whereof some were in heaven, some in hell long before), 'that he gave his only-begotten Son,' causing him to be incarnate in the fullness of time, to die, not with a purpose and resolution to save any, but 'that whosoever,' what persons soever of those which he had propensity unto, 'believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life,' should have this fruit and issue, that he should escape death and hell, and live eternally." In which explication of the sense of the place these things are to be observed:
First, What is that love which was the cause of the sending or giving of Christ; which they make to be a natural propensity to the good of all. Secondly, Who are the objects of this love; all and every man of all generations. Thirdly, Wherein this giving consists; of which I cannot find whether they mean by it the appointment of Christ to be a recoverer, or his actual exhibition in the flesh for the accomplishment of his ministration. Fourthly, Whosoever, they make distributive of the persons in the world, and so not restrictive in the intention to some. Fifthly, That life eternal is the fruit obtained by believers, but not the end intended by God.
Now, look a little, in the second place, at what we conceive to be the mind of God in those words; whose aim we take to be the advancement and setting forth of the free love of God to lost sinners, in sending Christ to procure for them eternal redemption, as may appear in this following paraphrase:
" 'God' the Father 'so loved,' had such a peculiar, transcendent love, being an unchangeable purpose and act of his will concerning their salvation, towards 'the world,' miserable, sinful, lost men of all sorts, not only Jews but Gentiles also, which he peculiarly loved, 'that,' intending their salvation, as in the last words, for the praise of his glorious grace, 'he gave,' he prepared a way to prevent their everlasting destruction, by appointing and sending 'his only-begotten Son' to be an all-sufficient Saviour to all that look up unto him, 'that whosoever believeth in him,' all believers whatsoever, and only they, 'should not perish, but have everlasting life,' and so effectually be brought to the obtaining of those glorious things through him which the Lord in his free love had designed for them."
In which enlargement of the words, for the setting forth of what we conceive to be the mind of the Holy Ghost in them, these things are to be observed:
First, What we understand by the "love" of God, even that act of his will which was the cause of sending his Son Jesus Christ being the most eminent act of love and favour to the creature; for love is velle alicui bonum, "to will good to any." And never did God will greater good to the creature than in appointing his Son for their redemption. Notwithstanding, I would have it observed that I do not make the purpose of sending or giving Christ to be absolutely subordinate to God's love to his elect, as though that were the end of the other absolutely, but rather that they are both co-ordinate to the same supreme end, or the manifestation of God's glory by the way of mercy tempered with justice; but in respect of our apprehension, that is the relation wherein they stand one to another. Now, this love we say to be that, greater than which there is none.
Secondly, By the "world," we understand the elect of God only, though not considered in this place as such, but under such a notion as, being true of them, serves for the farther exaltation of God's love towards them, which is the end here designed; and this is, as they are poor, miserable, lost creatures in the world, of the world, scattered abroad in all places of the world, not tied to Jews or Greeks, but dispersed in any nation, kindred, and language under heaven.
Thirdly, "that every believer," is declarative of the intention of God in sending or giving his Son, containing no distribution of the world beloved, but a direction to the persons whose good was intended, that love being an unchangeable intention of the chiefest good.
Fourthly, "Should not perish, but have life everlasting", contains an expression of the particular aim and intention of God in this business; which is, the certain salvation of believes by Christ. And this in general, is the interpretation of the words which we adhere unto, which will yield us sundry arguments, sufficient each of them to evert the general ransom; which that they may be the better bottomed and the more dearly convincing, we will lay down and compare the several words and expressions of this place, about whose interpretation we differ, with the reason of our rejecting the one sense and embracing the other:
The first difference in the interpretation of this place is about the cause of sending Christ; called here love. The second, about the object of this love; called here the world. Thirdly, concerning the intention of God in sending his Son; said to be that believers might be saved.
For the First, By "love"- in this place all our adversaries agree that a natural affection and propensity in God to the good of the creature, lost under sin, in general, which moved him to take some way whereby it might possibly be remedied, is intended. We, on the contrary, say that by love here is not meant an inclination or propensity of his nature, but an act of his will (where we conceive his love to be seated), and eternal purpose to do good to man, being the most transcendent and eminent act of God's love to the creature.
That both these may be weighed, to see which is most agreeable to the mind of the Holy Ghost, I shall give you, first some of the reasons whereby we oppose the former interpretation; and, secondly, those whereby we confirm our own.
First, If no natural affection, whereby he should necessarily be carried to any thing without himself, can or ought to be ascribed unto God, then no such thing is here intended in the word love; for that cannot be here intended which is not in God at all. But now, that there neither is nor can be any such natural affection in God is most apparent, and may be evidenced by many demonstrations. I shall briefly recount a few of them:
Firstly, Nothing that includes any imperfection is to be assigned to Almighty God: he is God all sufficient; he is our rock, and his work is perfect. But a natural affection in God to the good and salvation of all, being never completed nor perfected, carries along with it a great deal of imperfection and weakness; and not only so, but it must also needs be exceedingly prejudicial to the absolute blessedness and happiness of Almighty God. Look, how much any thing wants of the fulfilling of that whereunto it is carried out with any desire, natural or voluntary, so much it wants of blessedness and happiness. So that, without impairing of the infinite blessedness of the ever-blessed God, no natural affection unto any thing never to be accomplished can be ascribed unto him, such as this general love to all is supposed to be.
Secondly, If the Lord hath such a natural affection to all, as to love them so far as to send his Son to die for them, whence is it that this affection of his doth not receive accomplishment? Whence is it that it is hindered, and does not produce its effects? Why does not the Lord engage his power for the fulfilling of his desire? "It does not seem good to his infinite wisdom," say they, "so to do." Then is there affection in God to that which, in his wisdom, he cannot prosecute. This among the sons of men, the worms of the earth, would be called a brutish affection.
Thirdly, No affection or natural propensity to good is to be ascribed to God, which the Scripture nowhere assigns to him, and is contrary to what the Scripture doth assign unto him. Now, the Scripture doth nowhere assign unto God any natural affection whereby he should be naturally inclined to the good of the creature; the place to prove it clearly is yet to be produced. And that it is contrary to what the Scripture assigns him is apparent; for it describes him to be free in showing mercy, every act of it being by him performed freely, even as he pleases, for "he hath mercy on whom he will have mercy." Now, if every act of mercy showed unto any does proceed from the free distinguishing will of God (as is apparent), certainly there can be in him no such natural affection. And the truth is, if the Lord should not show mercy, and be carried out towards the creature, merely upon his own distinguishing will, but should naturally be moved to show mercy to the miserable, he should, first, be no more merciful to men than to devils, nor, secondly, to those that are saved than to those that are damned: for that which is natural must be equal in all its operations; and that which is natural to God must be eternal. Many more effectual reasons are produced by our divines for the denial of this natural affection in God, in the resolution of the Arminian distinction (I call it so, as now by them abused) of God's antecedent and consequent will, to whom the learned reader may repair for satisfaction. So that the love mentioned in this place is not that natural affection to all in general, which is not. But,--
Secondly A, It is the special love of God to his elect, as we affirm, and so, consequently, not any such thing as our adversaries suppose to be intended by it, - namely, a velleity or natural inclination to the good of all. For:
Firstly, The love here intimated is absolutely the most eminent and transcendent love that ever God showed or bare towards any miserable creature; yea, the intention of our Saviour is so to set it forth, as is apparent by the emphatical expression of it used in this place. The particles "so," "that," declare no less, pointing out an eximiousness peculiarly remarkable in the thing whereof the affirmation is [made], above any other thing in the same kind. Expositors usually lay weight upon almost every particular word of the verse, for the exaltation and demonstration of the love here mentioned. "So," that is, in such a degree, to such a remarkable, astonishable height: "God," the glorious, all-sufficient God, that could have manifested his justice to eternity in the condemnation of all sinners, and no way wanted them to be partakers of his blessedness: "loved," with such an earnest intense affection, consisting in an eternal unchangeable act and purpose of his will for the bestowing of the chiefest good (the choicest effectual love): "the world," men in the world, of the world, subject to the iniquities and miseries of the world, lying in their blood, having nothing to render them commendable in his eyes, or before him: "that he gave," did not, as he made all the world at first, speak the word and it was done, but proceeded higher, to the performance of a great deal more and longer work, wherein he was to do more than exercise an act of his almighty power, as before; and therefore gave "his Son;" not any favourite or other well-pleasing creature; not sun, moon, or stars; not the rich treasure of his creation (all too mean, and coming short of expressing this love); but his Son: "begotten Son," and that not so called by reason of some near approaches to him, and filial, obediential reverence of him, as the angels are called the sons of God; for it was not an angel that he gave, which yet had been an expression of most intense love; nor yet any son by adoption, as believers are the sons of God; but his begotten Son, begotten of his own person from eternity; and that "his only-begotten Son;" not anyone of his sons, but whereas he had or hath but one only-begotten Son, always in his bosom, his Isaac, he gave him:--than which how could the infinite wisdom of God make or give any higher testimony of his love? especially if ye will add what is here evidently included, though the time was not as yet come that it should be openly expressed, namely whereunto he gave his Son, his only one; not to be a king, and worshipped in the first place,--but he "spared him not, but delivered him up" to death "for us all," Rom 8:32. Whereunto, for a close of all, cast your eyes upon his design and purpose in this whole business, and ye shall find that it was that believers, those whom he thus loved, "might not perish,"--that is undergo the utmost misery and wrath to eternity, which they had deserved;--"but have everlasting life," eternal glory with himself, which of themselves they could no way attain; and ye will easily grant that "greater love hath no man than this." Now, if the love here mentioned be the greatest, highest, and chiefest of all, certainly it cannot be that common affection towards all that we discussed before; for the love whereby men are actually and eternally saved is greater than that which may consist with the perishing of men to eternity.
Secondly, The Scripture positively asserts this very love as the chiefest act of the love of God, and that which he would have us take notice of in the first place: Rom 5:8, "God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us;" and fully, 1 John 4:9, 1 John 4:9,1 0, "In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only-begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins:" In both which places the eminency of this love is set forth exceeding emphatically to believers, with such expressions as can no way be accommodated to a natural velleity to the good of all.
Thirdly, That seeing all love in God is but velle alicui bonum, to will good to them that are beloved, they certainly are the object of his love to whom he intends that good which is the issue and effect of that love; but now the issue of this love or good intended, being not perishing, and obtaining eternal life through Christ, happens alone to, and is bestowed on, only elect believers: therefore, they certainly are the object of this love, and they alone;--which was the thing we had to declare.
Fourthly, That love which is the cause of giving Christ is always the cause of the bestowing of all other good things: Rom 8:32, "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" Therefore, if the love there mentioned be the cause of sending Christ, as it is, it must also cause all other things to be given with him, and so can be towards none but those who have those things bestowed on them; which are only the elect, only believers. Who else have grace here, or glory hereafter?
Fifthly, The word here, which is AGAPE, signifieth, in its native importance, valde dilexit,--to love so as to rest in that love; which how it can stand with hatred, and an eternal purpose of not bestowing effectual grace, which is in the Lord towards some, will not easily be made apparent. And now let the Christian reader judge, whether by the love of God, in this place mentioned, be to be understood a natural velleity or inclination in God to the good of all, both elect and reprobate, or the peculiar love of God to his elect, being the fountain of the chiefest good that ever was bestowed on the sons of men. This is the first difference about the interpretation of these words.
Secondly B, The second thing controverted is the object of this love, pressed by the word "world;" which our adversaries would have to signify all and every man; we, the elect of God scattered abroad in the world, with a tacit opposition to the nation of the Jews, who alone, excluding all other nations (some few proselytes excepted), before the actual exhibition of Christ in the flesh, had all the benefits of the promises appropriated to them, Rom 9:4; in which privilege now all nations were to have an equal share. To confirm the exposition of the word as used by the Universalists, nothing of weight that ever yet I could see, is brought forth, but only the word itself; for neither the love mentioned in the beginning, nor the design pointed at in the end verse, will possibly agree with the sense which they impose on that word in the middle. Besides, how weak and infirm an inference from the word world, by reason of its ambiguous and wonderful various acceptations, is, we have at large declared before.
Three poor shifts I find in the great champions of this course, to prove that the word world doth not signify the elect. Justly we might have expected some reasons to prove that it signified or implied all and every man in the world, which was their own assertion; but of this ye have a deep silence, being conscious, no doubt, of their disability for any such performance. Only, as I said, three pretended arguments they bring to disprove that which none went about to prove,--namely, that by the world is meant the elect as such; for though we conceive the persons here designed directly men in and of the world, to be all and only God's elect, yet we do not say that they are here so considered, but rather under another notion, as men scattered over all the world, in themselves subject to misery and sin. So that whosoever will oppose our exposition of this place must either, first, prove that by the world here must be necessarily understood all and every man in the world; or, secondly, that it cannot be taken indefinitely for men in the world which materially are elect, though not considered under that formality. So that all those vain flourishes which some men make with these words by putting the word elect into the room of the word world, and then coining absurd consequences, are quite beside the business in hand. Yet, farther, we deny that by a supply of the word elect into the text any absurdity or untruth will justly follow. Yea, and that flourish which is usually so made is but a bugbear to frighten weak ones; for, suppose we should read it thus, "God so loved the elect, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish;" what inconvenience will now follow? "Why," say they, "that some of the elect, whom God so loved as to send his Son for, may perish." Why, I pray? Is it because he sent his Son that they might not perish? or what other cause? "No; but because it is said, that whosoever of them believeth on him should not perish; which intimates that some of them might not believe." Very good! But where is any such intimation? God designs the salvation of all them in express words for whom he sends his Son; and certainly all that shall be saved shall believe. But it is in the word whosoever, which is distributive of the world into those that believe and those that believe not. Ans. First, If this word whosoever be distributive, then it is restrictive of the love of God to some, and not to others,--to one part of the distribution, and not to the other. And if it do not restrain the love of God, intending the salvation of some, then it is not distributive of the fore-mentioned object of it; and if it do restrain it, then all are not intended in the love which moved God to give his Son. Secondly, I deny that the word here is distributive of the object of God's love, but only declarative of his end and aim in giving Christ in the pursuit of that love,--to wit, that all believers might be saved. So that the sense is, "God so loved his elect throughout the world, that he gave his Son with this intention, that by him believers might be saved." And this is all that is by any (besides a few worthless cavils) objected from this place to disprove our interpretation; which we shall now confirm both positively and negatively:--
Firstly, Our first reason is taken from what was before proved concerning the nature of that love which is here said to have the world for its objects which cannot be extended to all and every one in the world, as will be confessed by all. Now, such is the world, here, as is beloved with that love which we have here described, and proved to be here intended;--even such a love as is, first, the most transcendent and remarkable; secondly, an eternal act of the will of God; thirdly, the cause of sending Christ; fourthly, of giving all good things in and with him; fifthly, an assured fountain and spring of salvation to all beloved with it. So that the world beloved with this love cannot possibly be all and every one in the world.
Secondly, The word world in the next verse, which carries along the sense of this, and in a continuation of the same matter, being a discovery of the intention of God in giving his Son, must needs signify the elect and believers, at least only those who in the event are saved; therefore so also in this. It is true, the word world is three times used in that verse in a dissonant sense, by an inversion not unusual in the Scripture, as was before declared. It is the latter place that this hath reference to, and is of the some signification with the world in verse 16, "That the world through him might be saved,"--HINA SOZO, "that it should be saved!" It discovers the aim, purpose, and intention of God, what it was towards the world that he so loved, even its salvation. Now, if this be understood of any but believers, God fails of his aim and intention, which as yet we dare not grant.
Thirdly, It is not unusual with the Scripture to call God's chosen people by the name of the world, as also of all flesh, all nations, all families of the earth, and the like general expressions; and therefore no wonder if here they are so called, the intention of the place being to exalt and magnify the love of God towards them, which receives no small advancement from their being every way a world. So are they termed where Christ is said to be their Saviour, John 4:42; which certainly he is only of them who are saved. A Saviour of men not saved is strange. Also John 6:51, when he is said to give himself for their life. Clearly, verse 33 of the some chapter, he "giveth life unto the world:" which whether it be any but his elect let all men judge; for Christ himself affirms that he gives life only to his "sheep," and that those to, whom he gives life "shall never perish," chap. 10:27, 28. So Rom 4:13, Abraham is said by faith to be "heir of the world;" who, verse 11, is called to be father of the faithful. And Rom 11:12, the fall of the Jews is said to be "the riches of the world;" which world compriseth only believers of all sorts in the world, as the apostle affirmed that the word bare fruit "in all the world," Col 1:6. This is that "world" which "God reconcileth to himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them," 2Co 5:19; which is attended with blessedness in all them to whom that non-imputation belongeth, Rom 4:8. And for divers evident reasons is it that they have this appellation; as,--First to distinguish the object of this love of God from the nature angelical, which utterly perished in all the fallen individuals; which the Scripture also carefully doth in express terms, Heb 2:16, and by calling this love of God PHILANTHROPIA, Titus 3:4. Secondly, To evert and reject the boasting of the Jews, as though all the means of grace and all the benefits intended were to them appropriated. Thirdly, To denote that great difference and distinction between the old administration of the covenant, when it was tied up to one people, family, and nation, and the new, when all boundaries being broken up, the fulness of the Gentiles and the corners of the world were to be made obedient to the sceptre of Christ. Fourthly, To manifest the condition of the elect themselves, who are thus beloved, for the declaration of the free grace of God towards them, they being divested of all qualifications but only those that bespeak them terrene, earthly, lost, miserable, corrupted. So that thus much at least may easily be obtained, that from the word itself nothing can be opposed justly to our exposition of this place, as hath been already declared, and shall be farther made manifest.
Fourthly, If every one in the world be intended, why doth not the Lord, in the pursuit of this love, reveal Jesus Christ to every one whom be so loved? Strange! that the Lord should so love men as to give his only-begotten Son for them, and yet not once by any means signify this his love to them, as to innumerable he doth not!--that he should love them, and yet order things so, in his wise dispensation, that this love should be altogether in vain and fruitless!--love them, and yet determine that they shall receive no good by his love, though his love indeed be a willing of the greatest good to them!
Fifthly, Unless ye will grant: first, Some to be beloved and hated also from eternity; secondly, The love of God towards innumerable to be fruitless and vain; thirdly, The Son of God to be given to them who, first, never hear word of him; secondly, have no power granted to believe in him; fourthly, That God is mutable in his love, or else still loves those that be in hell; fifthly, That he doth not give all things to them to whom he gives his Son, contrary to Rom 8:32; sixthly, That he knows not certainly beforehand who shall believe and be saved;--unless, I say, all these blasphemies and absurdities be granted, it cannot be maintained that by the world here is meant all and every one of mankind, but only men in common scattered throughout the world, which are the elect.
The Third difference about these words is, concerning the means whereby this love of the Father, whose object is said to be the world is made out unto them. Now, this is by believing, --"that whosoever believeth," or "that every believer." The intention of these words we take to be, the designing or manifesting of the way whereby the elect of God come to be partakers of the fruits of the love here set forth, --namely, by faith in Christ, God having appointed that for the only way whereby he will communicate unto us the life that is in his Son. To this something was said before, having proved that the term whosoever is not distributive of the object of the love of God; to which, also, we may add these following reasons:--
Firstly, If the object be here restrained, so that some only believe and are saved of them for whose sake Christ is sent, then this restriction and determination of the fruits of this love dependeth on the will of God, or on the persons themselves. If on the persons themselves, then make they themselves to differ from others; contrary to 1Co 4:7. If on the will of God, then you make the sense of the place, as to this particular, to be, "God so loved all as that but some of them should partake of the fruits of his Love." To what end, then, I pray, did he love those other some? Is not this, "Out with the sword, and run the dragon through with the spear?"
Secondly, Seeing that these words, that whosoever believeth, do peculiarly point out the aim and intention of God in this business, if it do restrain the object beloved, then the salvation of believers is confessedly the aim of God in this business, and that distinguished form others; and if so, the general ransom is an empty sound, having no dependence on the purpose of God, his intention being carried out in the giving of his Son only to the salvation of believers, and that determinately, unless you will assign unto him a nescience of them that should believe.
These words, then, whosoever believeth, containing a designation of the means whereby the Lord will bring us to a participation of life through his Son, whom he gave for us; and the following words, of having life everlasting, making out the whole counsel of God in this matter, subordinate to his own glory; it follows that God gave not his Son
1. For them who never do believe;
2. Much less for them who never hear of him, and so evidently want means of faith;
3. For them on whom he hath determined not to bestow effectual grace, that they might believe.
Let now the reader take up the several parts of these opposite expositions, weigh all, try all things, especially that which is especially to be considered, the love of God, and so inquire seriously whether it be only a general affection, and a natural velleity to the good of all which may stand with the perishing of all and every one so beloved, or the peculiar, transcendent love of the Father to his elect as before laid down; and then determine whether a general ransom, fruitless in respect of the most for whom it was paid, or the effectual redemption of the elect only, have the firmest and strongest foundation in these words of our Saviour; withal remembering that they are produced as the strongest support of the adverse cause, with which, it is most apparent, both the cause of sending Christ and the end intended by the Lord in so doing, as they are here expressed, are altogether inconsistent.