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Charles Hodge (1797-1878) on the Death of Christ

March 9, 2008

Introductory comments:

1) The key here is to realize that for Charles Hodge, R.L. Dabney and W.G.T. Shedd, kosmos was not reducible to the elect, but denoted mankind at large. They expressly distanced themselves from the idea that kosmos means elect, or all kinds of elect. Hodge notes Augustinians have no need to wrest the Scriptures in that way. And so for Hodge, it is still true that it was for the sins of the world for which Christ suffered or offered an expiation.

2) With Hodge, there are essentially three questions to be asked with reference to the nature and extent of the death of Christ:

I) Q. For whom did Christ engage as surety in order to effectually save?
A. The elect alone.

II) Q. For whom did Christ die?
A. For all men generally, but for the elect especially.

III) Q. For whose sins did Christ suffer and bear punishment?
A. Christ suffered and bore the punishment for the sins due to every man, that is all men, even the sins of the whole world.

The reader should consider these three questions while reading the following material from Charles Hodge.

3) For Hodge, it appears that when the expiation is considered in reference to persons, he prefers to limit its “proper” intent and design. In doing so, Hodge will even limit the impetration of Christ to those whom it is effectually applied. However, when considering the expiation in reference to imputed sin, Hodge wants to speak in terms of the law’s charge against the categories of sin. The condemnation due to one man was the same condemnation due to the next, and the next, and so on indefinitely. Therefore, the satisfaction performed by Christ being sufficient for the first man, is necessarily sufficient for the second man, for the third man, and so on indefinitely for all men. As Hodge says, Christ suffered the condemnation of the law under which all men lay. And in this way, for Hodge, the expiation is a real and actual atoning sacrifice and satisfaction for the sins of the world. Hodge expressly repudiates the idea that only a fixed amount of sin from a fixed amount of sinners was imputed to Christ. For if that were the case, Hodge would have to concede that 1) had God elected more, the nature of the expiation would have changed, and 2) there can be no commonality with Lutheranism on the nature of the expiation. The effect of this is that we have another version of limited atonement which probably has its source in Jonathan Edwards and other New England theologians. It also probably lies at the back of the distinction made by both R.L. Dabney and W.G.T Shedd, that the expiation is unlimited, while the redemption is limited.

4) This file should not be considered as exhaustive of Hodge’s comments on these issues. I have chosen to include only the most relevant according to my judgement. However, in doing so, I have sought to be true to Hodge’s intent and the context of these quotations.

Hodge’s Explanatory statements:

Removal of legal obstacles

1) In assuming this ground, he is guilty of the same one-sidedness, the same contracted view, which he exhibits in his doctrine concerning the nature of the atonement. It is conceded that the work of Christ does lay the foundation for the offer of salvation to all men. Dr. Beman hence concludes that this was its only end; that it merely opens the way for the general offer of pardon. His theory is designed to account for one fact, and leaves all the other revealed facts out of view, and unexplained. The Bible teaches, however, a great deal more in relation to this subject, than that one fact. It teaches, 1. That Christ came in execution of a purpose; that he suffered, as Dr. Beman expresses it, by covenant, and ratified that covenant with his own blood. 2. That his mission was the result and expression of the highest conceivable love. 3. That it not merely removes obstacles out of the way, but actually secures the salvation of his people. 4. That it lays the foundation for a free, full, and unrestrained offer of salvation to all men. 5. That it renders just the condemnation of those who reject him as their Saviour ; that rejection being righteously the special ground of their condemnation. Charles Hodge, “Beman on the Atonement,” Essays and Reviews, in (New York, Robert Carter & Brothers, 1857), 175.

2) Dr. Beman’s theory, therefore, which denies that the death of Christ had a special reference to his own people, is inconsistent with the plainly revealed facts : 1. That he died in execution of a covenant in which his people were promised to him as his reward, to secure which reward is declared to be his specific and immediate design in laying down his life. 2. That the motive which led to the gift of the Son, and of the Son in dying, was not general benevolence, but the highest conceivable love, love for his sheep and for his friends. 3. That the design of his death was not simply to remove obstacles out of the way of mercy, but actually to secure the salvation of those given to him by the Father ; and that it does in fact secure for them the gift of the Holy Ghost, and consequently justification and eternal life…

These suppositions are made simply to show that, according to our doctrine, the reason why any man perishes is not that there is no righteousness provided suitable and adequate to his case, or that it is not freely offered to all that hear the gospel, but simply because he wilfully rejects the proffered salvation. Our doctrine, therefore, provides for the universal offer of the gospel, and for the righteous condemnation of unbelievers, as thoroughly as Dr. Beman’s. It opens the door for mercy, as far as legal obstructions are concerned, as fully as his: while it meets all the other revealed facts of the case. It is not a theory for one fact. It includes them all; the fact that Christ died by covenant for his own people, that love for his own sheep led him to lay down his life, that his death renders their salvation absolutely certain, that it opens the way for the offer of salvation to all men, and shows the justice of the condemnation of unbelief. No MAN PERISHES FOR THE WANT OF AN ATONEMENT, is the doctrine of the Synod of Dort ; it is also our doctrine. Charles Hodge, “Beman on the Atonement,” in Essays and Reviews, (New York, Robert Carter & Brothers, 1857), 181-2.

3) III. The design of God in giving his Son was that men should not perish but have everlasting life. The perdition to which they were exposed included eternal misery and eternal sinfulness. The salvation includes deliverance from that perdition, and eternal holiness and eternal blessedness.

2. It is here, as well as elsewhere taught, that it was the design of God to render the salvation of all men possible, by the gift of his Son. There was nothing in the nature, or the value, or the design of his work to render it available for any one class of men only. Whosoever believeth, etc. This is not inconsistent with other representations that it entered into God’s design to render the salvation of his people certain by the death of his Son. Charles Hodge, ‘God So Loved the World,” in Conference Papers, (New York, Charles, Scribner’s Sons, 1879), 17.

4) The final test of any theory is its agreeing or disagreeing with the facts to be explained. The difficulty with all the Anti-Augustinian views as to the design of Christ’s death, is that while they are consistent with more or less of the Scriptural facts connected with the subject, they are utterly irreconcilable with others not less clearly revealed and equally important. They are consistent, for example, with the fact that the work of Christ lays the foundation for the offer of the gospel to all men, with the fact that men are justly condemned for the rejection of that offer; and with the fact that the Scriptures frequently assert that the work of Christ had reference to all men. All these facts can be accounted for on the assumption, that the great design of Christ’s death was to make the salvation of all men possible, and that it had to every member of our race. Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, 2:553.


Expiation of Christ adequate for the sins of the world:

1) The Hebrews had been delivered from bondage. So are we. There is a sense in which this is true of all men. The death of Christ is an adequate atonement for the sins of the whole world. His righteousness is appropriate to the justification of all men. It is freely offered to all men. We are at liberty, therefore, to depart out of the house of bondage. The right and the power of Satan to hold us in subjection are as effectually broken aa the right and power of Pharaoh to keep the Hebrews in bondage. Charles Hodge, “Let us therefore fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should see to come short of it. Heb. 4:1,” in Conference Papers, (New York, Charles, Scribner’s Sons, 1879), 350.


General statements regarding the nature of the expiation:

1) We accordingly find that the plan of salvation as unfolded in the New Testament is founded on the assumption that God is just. The argument of the sacred writers is this: The wrath of God is revealed against all unrighteousness and ungodliness of men. That is, God is determined to punish sin. All men, whether Gentiles or Jews, are sinners. Therefore the whole world is guilty before God. Hence no man can be justified by works. It is a contradiction to say that those who are under condemnation for their character and conduct can be justified on the ground of anything they are or can do. Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, 2:492.

2) As this objection is directed against a theory which no Church has ever adopted, and as it attributes to God a form of justice which cannot possibly belong to Him, so it is contrary to those Scriptural representations on which the Augustinian doctrine is founded. The Scriptures teach that Christ saves us as a priest, by offering Himself as a sacrifice for our sins. But a sacrifice was not a payment of a debt, the payment of so much for so much. A single victim was sometimes a sacrifice for one individual; sometimes for the whole people. On the great day of atonement the scape-goat bore the sins of the people, whether they were more or less numerous. It had no reference at all to the number of persons for whom atonement was to be made. So Christ bore the sins of his people; whether they were to be a few hundreds, or countless millions, or the whole human family, makes no difference as to the nature of his work, or as to the value of his satisfaction. What was absolutely necessary for one, was abundantly sufficient for all. Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology 2:555.

3) In the second place, the question does not concern the value ot Christ’s satisfaction. That Augustinians admit to be infinite. Its value depends on the dignity of the sacrifice; and as no limit car be placed to the dignity of the Eternal Son of God who offered Him self for our sins, so no limit can be assigned to the meritorious value of his work. It is a gross misrepresentation of the Augustinian doctrine to say that it teaches that Christ suffered so much for so many; that He would have suffered more had more been included in the purpose of salvation. This is not the doctrine of any Church on earth, and never has been. What was sufficient for one was sufficient for all. Nothing less than the light and heat of the sun is sufficient for any one plant or animal. But what is absolutely necessary for each is abundantly sufficient for the infinite number and variety of plants and animals which fill the earth. All that Christ did and suffered would have been necessary had only one human soul been the object of redemption; and nothing different and nothing more would have been required had every child of Adam been saved through his blood.

In the third place, the question does not concern the suitableness of the atonement. What was suitable for one was suitable for all. The righteousness of Christ, the merit of his obedience and death, is needed for justification by each individual of our race, and therefore is needed by all. It is no more appropriate to one man than to another. Christ fulfilled the conditions of the covenant under which all men were placed. He rendered the obedience required of all, and suffered the penalty which all had incurred; and therefore his work is equally suited to all. Charles. Hodge, Systematic Theology, 2:544-5.

4) It is objected that the Protestant doctrine destroys the gratuitous nature of justification. If justice be satisfied; if all the demands of the law are met, there can, it is said, be no grace in the salvation of the sinner. If a man owes a debt, and some one pays it for him, the creditor shows no grace in giving an acquittal. This objection is familiar, and so also is the answer. The work of Christ is not of the nature of a commercial transaction. It is not analogous to a pecuniary satisfaction except in one point. It secures the deliverance of those for whom it is offered and by whom it is accepted. In the case of guilt the demand of justice is upon the person of the offender. He, and he alone is bound to answer at the bar of justice. No one can take his place, unless with the consent of the representative of justice and of the substitute, as well as of the sinner himself. Among men, substitution in the case of crime and its penalty is rarely, if ever admissible, because no man has the right over his own life or liberty; he cannot give them up at pleasure; and because no human magistrate has the right to relieve the offender or to inflict the legal penalty on another. But Christ had power, i.e., the right to lay down his life and “power to take it again” And God, as absolute judge and sovereign, the Lord of the conscience, and the proprietor of all his creatures, was at full liberty to accept a substitute for sinners. This is proved beyond contradiction by what God has actually done. Under the old dispensation every sacrifice appointed by the law was a substitute for him in whose behalf it was offered. In the clearest terms it was predicted that the Messiah was to be the substitute of his people; that the chastisement of their sins was to be laid on Him, and that He was to make his soul an offering for sin. He was hailed as He entered on his ministry as the Lamb of God who was to bear the sins of the world. He died the just for the unjust. He redeemed us from the curse of the law by being made a curse for us. This is what is meant by being a substitute. To deny this is to deny the central idea of the Scriptural doctrine of redemption. To explain it away, is to absorb as with a sponge the life-blood of the Gospel. Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, 3:173-4.


Christ infallibly secures the salvation of his people:

1) This teaches, 1. That the certainty of salvation is secured by the death of Christ. He did not die merely to render salvation possible, but to make it certain. This it does because it is a complete satisfaction of justice. It answers all the ends which our perdition could possibly answer, and therefore it renders that perdition unnecessary. Christ cannot fail to see of the travail of his soul. Those cannot perish for whom he died. That Christ died to render salvation not only possible, but certain, is true, secondly, because the salvation of his people was promised him in that covenant, in the execution of which he laid down his life. Charles Hodge, ‘Christ, His Person and Offices,” in Conference Papers, (New York, Charles, Scribner’s Sons, 1879), 38.

2) In like manner, the express declarations that it was the incomprehensible and peculiar love of God for his own people, which induced Him to send his Son for their redemption; that Christ came into the world for that specific object; that He died for his sheep; that He gave Himself for his Church; and that the salvation of all for whom He thus offered Himself is rendered certain by the gift of the Spirit to bring them to faith and repentance, are intermingled with declarations of good-will to all mankind, with offers of salvation to every one who will believe in the Son of God, and denunciations of wrath against those who reject these overtures of mercy. All we have to do is not to ignore or deny either of these modes of representation, but to open our minds wide enough to receive them both, and reconcile them as best we can. Both are true, in all the cases above referred to, whether we can see their consistency or not…

The opposite, or anti-Augustinian doctrine, is founded on a partial view of the facts of the case. It leaves out of view the clearly revealed special love of God to his peculiar people; the union between Christ and his chosen; the representative character which He assumed as their substitute; the certain efficacy of his sacrifice in virtue of the covenant of redemption; and the necessary connection between the gift of Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit. It moreover leads to confused and inconsistent views of the plan of salvation, and to unscriptural and dangerous theories of the nature of the atonement. It therefore is the limited and meagre scheme; whereas the orthodox doctrine is catholic and comprehensive; full of consolation and spiritual power, as well as of justice to all mankind. Charles. Hodge, Systematic Theology, 2:561 and 562.


The satisfaction of Christ penal not pecuniary:

1) The word satisfaction is the one which for ages has been generally used to designate the special work of Christ in the salvation of men. With the Latin theologians the word is “satisfactio,” with the German writers, “Genugthun,” its exact etymological equivalent, “the doing enough.” By the satisfaction of Christ is meant all He has done to satisfy the demands of the law and justice of God, in the place and in behalf of sinners. This word has the advantage of being precise, comprehensive, and generally accepted, and should therefore be adhered to. There are, however, two kinds of satisfaction, which as they differ essentially in their nature and effects, should not be confounded. The one is pecuniary or commercial; the other penal or forensic. When a debtor pays the demand of his creditor in full, he satisfies his claims, and is entirely free from any further demands. In this case the thing paid is the precise sum due, neither more nor less. It is a simple matter of commutative justice; a quid pro quo; so much for so much. There can be no condescension, mercy, or grace on the part of a creditor receiving the payment of a debt. It matters not to him by whom the debt is paid, whether by the debtor himself, or by someone in his stead; because the claim of the creditor is simply upon the amount due and not upon the person of the debtor. In the case of crimes the matter is different. The demand is then upon the offender. He himself is amenable to justice. Substitution in human courts is out of the question. The essential point in matters of crime, is not the nature of the penalty, but who shall suffer. The soul that sins, it shall die. And the penalty need not be, and very rarely is, of the nature of the injury inflicted. All that is required is that it should be a just equivalent. For an assault, it may be a fine; for theft, imprisonment; for treason, banishment, or death. In case a substitute is provided to bear the penalty in the place of the criminal, it would be to the offender a matter of pure grace, enhanced in proportion to the dignity of the substitute, and the greatness of the evil from which the criminal is delivered. Another important difference between pecuniary and penal satisfaction, is that the one ipso facto liberates. The moment the debt is paid the debtor is free, and that completely. No delay can be admitted, and no conditions can be attached to his deliverance. But in the case of a criminal, as he has no claim to have a substitute take his place, if one be provided, the terms on which the benefits of his substitution shall accrue to the principal, are matters of agreement, or covenant between the substitute and the magistrate who represents justice. The deliverance of the offender may be immediate, unconditional, and complete; or, it may be deferred, suspended on certain conditions, and its benefits gradually bestowed. Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, 2:470-1.

2) 4. The satisfaction of Christ being a matter of covenant between the Father and the Son, the distribution of its benefits is determined by the terms of that covenant. It does not ipso facto liberate. The people of God are not justified from eternity. They do not come into the world in a justified state They remain (if adults) in a state of condemnation until they believe. And even the benefits of redemption are granted gradually. The believer receives more and more of them in this life, but the full plenitude of blessings is reserved for the life to come. All these are facts of Scripture and of experience, and they are all explained by the nature of the satisfaction rendered. It is not the payment of a debt, but a matter of agreement or covenant. It seemed good to the parties to the covenant of redemption that matters should be so arranged. Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, 2:472-3.


Ransom as metaphor:

1) Dr Beman’s second objection is, that the system he opposes destroys “all mercy in God the Father, in the salvation of sinners, because it represents God as. totally disinclined to the exercise of compassion, till every jot and tittle of the legal curse was inflicted. On the same principle, grace or pardon in the release of the sinner from future punishment, would be out o the question; for what grace, or pardon, or favour, can there be in the discharge of debtor, whose demand (debt?) has been cancelled to the uttermost farthing?” p. 122. This objection is the staple of his book. On p. 100, he represents us as teaching that “the Son of God endured the exact amount of suffering due on legal principle, to sinners.” On p. 107, he says, “The amount of Christ’s sufferings must consequently be the same as the aggregate sufferings included in the eternal condemnation of all those who are saved by his merit… The agonies which he suffered mere equal to the endless misery of all those who rill be saved by his interposition in their behalf.” On p. 146, he says, “If one soul were to be saved by the atonement, Christ must sustain an amount of suffering equal to that involved in the eternal condemnation of that one soul; and if. a thousand were to be saved a thousand times that mount, and in the same proportion for any greater number who are to be rescued from perdition and exalted to glory. To this scheme there are insurmountable objections.” True enough, but who hold that scheme? Dr Beman attributes it to all who believe in the atonement, and do not adopt his scheme; for he says there are but two. This doctrine, that the sufferings of Christ amounted to the aggregate sufferings of those who are to be saved, that he endured just so much for so many, is not found in any confession of the Protestant churches. nor in the writings of any standard theologian, nor in the recognised authorities of any church of which we have any knowledge. The whole objection is a gross and inexcusable misrepresentation. In a more moderate form it was brought forward by the Socinians, and repelled by the writers of that and subsequent ages. De Moor is generally recognised as the theologian of most authority among the churches of Holland, and Turrettin is admitted to be one of the strictest of the Geneva, school, and they both answer this calumny, by denying that, according to their doctrine, there is any necessity for the assumption that Christ’s sufferings were equal to the sufferings of all his people. Thus Turrettin, after quoting at length the objection from Socinus, answers it, first, by showing that the Scriptures teach that the one death of Christ mas a satisfaction or all; that as by the one sin of Adam, many mere made sinners, so by the, righteousness of Christ, many are made righteous. 2. By insisting on the distinction between pecuniary and penal satisfaction. A piece of money in the hand of a king is of no more value than in the hands of a peasant, but the life of a king is of more value than that of a peasant, and one commander is often exchanged for many soldiers. 3. He says the adversaries forget that Christ is God, and therefore, though his sufferings could not be infinite as they were endured by his finite nature, they were of infinite value in virtue of the infinite dignity of his person. Sin, he says, is an infinite evil, because committed against an infinite God, through the act of a finite nature. So the sufferings of Christ. though endured in his human nature, are of infinite value from the dignity of his person.

Dr Beman, under this head, frequently objects that we degrade the atonement into a mere commercial transaction, a payment of a debt, which, from the nature of the case, excludes the idea of free remission. Our first remark on this objection is, that the Scriptures use this same figure, and therefore it is right it should be used. When it is said, Christ purchased the church with his own blood, that we are redeemed not with corruptible things as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, such language means something. In every metaphor there is a point of comparison; the essential idea involved in the figure, must be found in subject to be illustrated. To purchase is to acquire, and to acquire, by giving or doing something which secures a title to the thing acquired. When it is said that Christ purchased the church, it is certainly meant that he acquired it, that it is his, and that by his death he has secured a title to it, founded in the justice and promise of God. This does not make redemption a commercial transaction, nor imply that there are not essential points of diversity between acquiring by money and acquiring by blood. Hence our second remark is, that if Dr Beman will take up any elementary work on theology, he will find the distinction between pecuniary and penal satisfaction clearly pointed out, and the satisfaction of Christ shown to be of the latter, and not of the former kind. I. In the one, the demand is upon the thing due; in the other case, it is upon the person of the Hence, 2. The creditor is bound to accept the payment of the debt, no matter when or by whom offered; whereas in the case of a crime or sin, the sovereign is bound neither to provide a substitute, nor to accept of one when offered. If he does either, it is s matter of grace. 3. Hence penal satisfaction does not ipso facto liberate; the acceptance is a matter of arrangement or covenant, and the terms of that covenant must depend on the mill of the parties. Dr Beman lapsed into an important truth when he said, “Christ suffered by covenant,” p. 98. What that covenant is, we learn from Scripture, and from the manner in which it is executed. The Bible teaches that, agreeably to that covenant, the merits of Christ do not avail to the benefit of his people immediately; his children remain under condemnation as well as others until they believe; and when they do believe, they receive but the first fruits of their inheritance, they are but imperfectly sanctified, and are still subject to many evils; but being in a justified state, their sufferings are chastisements and not punishments, that is, they are designed for their own improvement, and not to satisfy justice.

The satisfaction of Christ, therefore, being for sin and by suffering, is expressly and formally declared not to be of the nature of pecuniary satisfaction. Charles Hodge, “Beman on the Atonement,” in Essays and Reviews, in (New York, Robert Carter & Brothers, 1857), 163-6.


On double-payment or double-jeopardy:

If the Atonement be limited in Design, it must be restricted in the Offer.

There is still another ground on which it is urged that Augustinians cannot consistently preach the gospel to every creature. Augustinians teach, it is urged, that the work of Christ is a satisfaction to divine justice. From this it follows that justice cannot condemn those for whose sins it has been satisfied. It cannot demand that satisfaction twice, first from the substitute and then from the sinner himself. This would be manifestly unjust, far worse than demanding no punishment at all. From this it is inferred that the satisfaction or righteousness of Christ, if the ground on which a sinner may be forgiven, is the ground on which he must be forgiven. It is not the ground on which he may be forgiven, unless it is the ground on which he must be forgiven. If the atonement be limited in design it must be limited in its nature, and if limited in its nature it must be limited in its offer.

This objection again arises from confounding a pecuniary and a judicial satisfaction between which Augustinians are so careful to discriminate. This distinction has already been presented on a previous page. There is no grace in accepting a pecuniary satisfaction. It cannot be refused. It ipso facto liberates. The moment the debt is paid the debtor is free; and that without any condition. Nothing of this is true in the case of judicial satisfaction. If a substitute be provided and accepted it is a matter of grace. His satisfaction does not ipso facto liberate. It may accrue to the benefit of those for whom it is made at once or at a remote period; completely or gradually; on conditions or unconditionally; or it may never benefit them at all unless the condition on which its application is suspended be performed. These facts are universally admitted by those who hold that the work of Christ was a true and perfect satisfaction to divine justice. The application of its benefits is determined by the covenant between the Father and the Son. Those for whom it was specially rendered are not justified from eternity; they are not born in a justified state; they are by nature, or birth, the children of wrath even as others. To be the children of wrath is to be justly exposed to divine wrath. They remain in this state of exposure until they believe, and should they die (unless in infancy) before they believe they would inevitably perish notwithstanding the satisfaction made for their sins. It is the stipulations of the covenant which forbid such a result. Such being the nature of the judicial satisfaction rendered by Christ to the law, under which all men are placed, it may be sincerely offered to all men with the assurance that if they believe it shall accrue to their salvation. His work being specially designed for the salvation of his own people, renders, through the conditions of the covenant, that event certain; but this is perfectly consistent with its being made the ground of the general offer of the gospel. Lutherans and Reformed agree entirely, as before stated, in their views of the nature of the satisfaction of Christ, and consequently, so far as that point is concerned, there is the same foundation for the general offer of the gospel according to either scheme. What the Reformed or Augustinians hold about election does not affect the nature of the atonement. That remains the same whether designed for the elect or for all mankind. It does not derive its nature from the secret purpose of God as to its application. Charles. Hodge, Systematic Theology, 2:557-8.


Limited representation and substitution (sample):

1) So the righteousness of Christ did not make the salvation of men merely possible, it secured the actual salvation of those for whom He wrought. As it would be unreasonable to say that Adam acted for those who were not in him; so it is unscriptural to say that Christ acted for those who were not in Him. Nevertheless, the act of Adam as the head and representative of his race, was fruitful of evil consequences, not to man only, but to the earth and all that it contains; and so the work of Christ is fruitful of good consequences to others than those for whom He acted. But this does not justify any one in saying that Adam acted as much as the representative of the brute creation, as of his posterity; neither does it justify the assertion that Christ died for all mankind in the same sense that He died for his own people. This is all so clearly revealed in Scripture that it extorts the assent of those who are decidedly opposed to the Augustinian system. One class of those opponents, of whom Whitby may be taken as a representative, admit the truth of all that has been said of the representative character of Adam and Christ. But they maintain that as Adam represented the whole race, so also did Christ; and as in Adam all men die, so in Christ are all made alive. But they say that this has nothing to do with spiritual death in the one case, or with the salvation of the soul in the other. The death which came on all men for the sin of Adam, was merely the death of the body; and the life which comes on all through Christ, is the restoration of the life of the body at the resurrection. The Wesleyans take the same view of the representative character of Christ and of Adam. Each stood for all mankind. Adam brings upon all men the guilt of his first sin and corruption of nature. Christ secures the removal of the guilt of original sin and a seed of grace, or principle of spiritual life, for all men. So also one class of Universalists hold that as all men are condemned for the sin of Adam, so all are actually saved by the work of Christ. Rationalists also are ready to admit that Paul does teach all that Augustinians understand him to teach, but they say that this was only his Jewish mode of presenting the matter. It is not absolute truth, but a mere transient form suited to the age of the Apostles. In all these cases, however, the main fact is conceded. Christ did act as a representative; and what He did secured with certainty the benefits of his work for those for whom He acted. This being conceded, it of course follows that He acted as the representative and substitute of those only who are ultimately to be saved. Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, 2:552.

2) There is another argument on this subject generally presented, which ought not to be overlooked. The unity of the priestly office rendered the functions of the priesthood inseparable. The high-priest interceded for all those for whom he offered sacrifice. The one service did not extend beyond the other. He bore upon his breast the names of the twelve tribes. He represented them in drawing near to God. He offered sacrifices for their sins on the great day of atonement, and for them he interceded, and for no others. The sacrifice and the intercession went together. What was true of the Aaronic priests, is true of Christ. The former, we are told, were the types of the latter. Christ’s functions as priest are in like manner united. He intercedes for all for whom He offered Himself as a sacrifice. He himself, however, says expressly, “I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me.” (John xvii. 9.) Him the Father heareth always, and, therefore, He cannot be assumed to intercede for those who do not actually receive the benefits of his redemption. Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, 2:553.


Christ died especially for his people:

1) That if one died for all. The contrast presented, especially in the epistle to the Hebrews, between the priest and sacrifices of the old economy on the one hand, and the high priest and sacrifice of the gospel on the other, is that those were many, these are one. The ancient priests could not continue by reason of death. Our high priest, being a divine person, and therefore possessed of an endless life, ever lives to save. The sacrifices of the law were daily repeated, because it was impossible that they should take away sin; Christ by the offering up of himself hath forever perfected them that are sanctified. His blood cleanses from all sin. The apostle here presents him as the one priest and the one sacrifice.

Died for all. The words are huper paton. That the preposition huper, may have the general sense for the benefit of, in behalf of, or the stricter sense, in the place of, as in v. 20 of this chapter. Philem. 13. Eph. 6, 20. In many places the choice between these senses depends on the context. In all those passages in which one person is said to die for another, as Rom. 5, 6. 7. 8. 14, 15. 1 Thess. 5, 10. Heb. 2, 9. Comp. Luke 22, 19. 1 Tim. 2, 6. Titus 2, 14. etc., etc., or in which the reference is to a sacrifice, the idea of substitution is clearly expressed. The argument does not rest on the force of the preposition, but on the nature of the case. The only way in which the death of the victim benefitted the offerer, was by substitution. When, therefore, Christ is said to die as a sacrifice for us, the meaning is, he died in our stead. His death is taken in the place of ours so as to save us from death. That the preposition huper, in this and similar passages, does mean instead of, is admitted by the great body of even Rationalistic commentators. See De Wette, Ruckert, &c. Christ, it is said, died for all, i.e. for all the subjects of redemption. This limitation is not an arbitrary one, but arises of necessity out of the nature of the case, and is admitted almost universally. He did not die for all creatures; nor for all rational creatures; nor for all apostate rational creatures. The all is of necessity limited by what the Scriptures teach of the design of his death. If his death was merely didactic, intended to reveal and confirm some truth, then he maybe said to have died for all benefitted by that revelation, and therefore for angels as well as men. If designed to make it consistent with the interests of God’s moral government for him to pardon the sins of men, then he may be said to have died equally for all men. But if his death was intended to save his people, then it had a reference to them which it had not to others. The true design of the death of Christ is to be learned from express assertions of Scripture, and from its effects. It is so obvious that the death of Christ was designed to save those for whom it was offered, that many of the recent as well as ancient commentators justify their explaining huper panton as meaning all men, by attributing to Paul the belief that all men are to be saved. This is an admission that the all for whom he died, are the all who are saved by his death. One of its effects is stated in the following clause; “Then were all dead,” or, “Then all died.” The word is apethanon. It is the same verb, and in the same tense. ‘If one died, (apethanen) then all died, (apethanon).’ The word must have the same sense in both clauses. It cannot mean were dead, because that is inconsistent with the force of the aorist. All, (literally, the all, oi pantes,) i.e. the all for whom the one died. His death involved, or secured their death. This was its design and effect, and, therefore, this clause limits the extent of the word all in the preceding clause. Christ died for the all who died when he died. The meaning of this expression has, however, been variously explained. 1. It is made to mean, ‘Then all died to themselves and sin.’ His dying literally, secured their dying figuratively. 2. Others say the true meaning is, ‘Then all ought to die.’ But this is not included in the words. The aorist does not express obligation. 3. Chrysostom, Theodoret, Beza and others, give the same explanation which is implied in our version, ‘If one died for all, then were all subject to death.’ That is, the vicarious death of Christ proves that those for whom he died were in a state of condemnation. But this suits neither the meaning of the word nor the context. It was not to Paul’s purpose to prove that men were in a state of death. It was not what they were, but what the death of Christ caused them to become, that he evidently intended to express. 4. The simple meaning of the passage is, that the death of one was the death of all. If one died for all, the all died. The Scriptures teach that the relation between Christ and his people is analogous to that between Adam and his posterity. Horn. 5, 12-21. 1 Cor. 15, 21. 22. The apostasy of Adam was the apostasy of all united to him; the work of Christ was the work of all united to him. In the one, all died; in the other, all are made alive. As the sin of Adam was legally and effectively the sin of his race; so the death of Christ was legally and effectively the death of his people. This doctrine underlies the whole scheme of redemption. It is, so to speak, the generic idea of the Epistle to the Romans. The apostle shows that man, ruined by the sin of Adam, is restored by the work of Christ. His people are so united to him that his death is their death, and his life is their life. “If we be dead with him, we shall also live with him,” Rom. 6, 8. Hence believers are said to be crucified with Christ, to rise with him, to reign with him. Gal. 2, 20. Eph. 2, 5. 6. The simple meaning of the words, “If one died for all, then all died,” therefore is, that Christ’s death was the death of his people. This as we have seen is according to the analogy of Scripture; and is also entirely pertinent to the design of ths passage. The apostle denied that he lived for himself. lie asserts that, he lived for God and his people. For, he adds, I died in Christ. This is precisely the argument which lie uses in Rom. 6. Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Far from it, he says, How shall they who have died on account of sin live any longer therein? If united to Christ in his death, we must be united to him in his life. Another consideration in favour of this interpretation is that it comprehends the others. They are objectionable, not be they are erroneous, but because they are defective. Death on account of sin, is death to sin. Dying with Christ, involves death to self and sin; and of course includes the obligation so to die. The death of Christ reconciles us to God; and reconciliation to God secures a life of devotion to his service. This is the doctrine set forth in the Epistle to the Romans, ch. 7. Charles Hodge 2 Corinthians, (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1860), 2 Cor., 5:14, 134-137.

Christ bore the sins of his people (sample):

1) Christ’s bearing our sins did not make him morally a sinner, any more than the victim was morally defiled which bore the sins of the people; nor does Christ’s righteousness become subjectively ours, it is not the moral quality of our souls. This is what is not meant. What is meant is equally plain. Our sins were the judicial ground of the sufferings of Christ, so that they were a satisfaction of justice; and his righteousness is the judicial ground of our acceptance with God, so that our pardon is an act of justice. It is a justification; or, a declaration that justice is satisfied. We are set free by no mere act of sovereignty, but by the judicial decision of the infinitely just. Charles Hodge, 2 Corinthians, (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1860), 5:21, 151.

2) Again there is a real difference of doctrine and not a mere difference of terms between the statement that Christ’s work opens the way for pardon by the moral impression which it makes, and the statement that it was a full and proper satisfaction to the law and justice of God. Here again is a difference which affects the whole scheme of redemption, and consequently the whole character of our religion. According to the one representation the believer is simply pardoned and restored to the favor of God; according to the other he is justified. When a criminal is pardoned and restored to his civil rights, does any one say, he is justified? The word justification expresses far more than the remission of the penalty of the law and the restoration of the offender to favor. And those who teach that the sinner is justified by the imputation of the righteousness of Christ, teach something very different from those who make Christ’s work the mere occasion of good to his people, by rendering their pardon and restoration to favor consistent with the interests of God’s government. According to the one system, the deliverance of the believer from condemnation is an act of a judge; according to the other, it is an act of the sovereign. In the one case, the law is set aside; in the other case, it is satisfied. To remit a debt without payment, out of compassion for the debtor, for the sake of example, or out of regard to the goodness or request of a third party, is a very different thing from the discharge of the debtor on the ground that full payment has been made in his behalf. No less different is the doctrine that Christ’s work renders the remission of sin possible, and the doctrine that he has made a full satisfaction for the sins of his people. As these doctrines are different in their nature, so they differ in their effects. Charles Hodge,’The Theology of the Intellect,” in Essays and Reviews, (New York, Robert Carter & Brothers, 1857), 595-596.

3) Zuingle says: “The Lord’s Supper is nothing else than the food of the soul, and Christ instituted the ordinance as a memorial of himself. When a man commits himself to the sufferings and redemption of Christ, he is saved. Of this he has left us a certain visible sign of his flesh and blood, both which he has commanded us to eat and drink in remembrance of him.” This is said in a document, presented to the council of Zurich, in 1523. In his LXVII Articles published in 1523, he says, briefly on this subject, in article 17, “Christ who offered himself once upon the cross is the eternally sufficient offering and sacrifice for the sins of all believers. Whence it follows that the mass is not a sacrifice, but the commemoration of the sacrifice made upon the cross, and, as it were, a seal of the redemption effected by Christ.” Charles Hodge, ‘The Doctrine of the Reformed Church on the Lord’s Supper,” in Essays and Reviews, (New York, Robert Carter & Brothers, 1857), 345.


Christ bore the sins of men (sample):

1) He who died for the sins of men is to sit in judgment upon sinners. This is a just ground of fear to those who reject his offered mercy, and of confidence to those who trust in his righteousness, ver. 16. Charles, Hodge, Romans (New York, Robert Carter & Brothers, 1886), 2:17-19, 90/59.[1]

2) God has publicly set forth the Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of the intelligent universe, as a propitiatory sacrifice for the sins of men. It is the essential idea of such a sacrifice, that it is a satisfaction to justice. It terminates on God. Its primary design is not to produce any subjective change in the offerer, but to appease God. Such is the meaning of the word, from which we have no right to depart. Charles, Hodge, Romans (New York, Robert Carter & Brothers, 1886), 3:25, 144/93.[2]

3) The preaching of the cross, or, the doctrine (ho logos) of the cross, that is, the doctrine of salvation through the crucifixion of the Son of God as a sacrifice for the sins of men. Charles Hodge, 1 Corinthians, (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1860), 1:18, 18-19.[3]

5) Footnote: 1″We see ourselves obliged,” says Tholuck, “to admit, in this place, the idea of distributive justice (vergeltende Gerechtigkeit).” He afterwards says that the loss of that idea in theology has occasioned “unspeakable evil,” and that the doctrine of atonement “must remain sealed up until it is acknowledged.” See his Romer-brief, ed. 1842. He refers with approbation to Usteri’s exposition of this passage in his Paulinischer Lehrbegriff. On turning to that author, we find he says, his object is to prove “that the representation contained in Rom. iii. 24, 25, viz., that God, to declare his righteousness, laid on Christ the punishment of the sins of men, is the doctrine of Paul.” And he accordingly goes on to prove it, particularly from Rom. viii. 3. Usteri is one of those writers who do not feel called upon to believe what the Scripture teaches, though they make it a point of honor to state its meaning fairly. Charles Hodge, “Beman on the Atonement,” Essays and Reviews, in (New York, Robert Carter & Brothers, 1857), 143.

6) The sufferings of Christ were unutterably great; still with one voice, Papists, Lutherans, and Reformed, rebutted the objection of Socinus, that the transient sufferings of one man could not be equivalent to the sufferings due to the sins of men, by referring, not to the degree of the Saviour’s anguish, as equal to the misery due to all for whom he died, but to the infinite dignity of his person. Charles Hodge, “Beman on the Atonement,” Essays and Reviews, in (New York, Robert Carter & Brothers, 1857), 152-153.


Christ died for all, and the various which in which that can be said:

1) So God’s telling the elect that if they apostatize they shall perish, prevents their apostasy. And in like manner, the Bible teaching that those for whom Christ died shall perish if they violate their conscience, prevents their transgressing, or brings them to repentance. God’s purposes embrace the means as well as the end. If the means fail, the end will fail. He secures the end y securing the means. It is just as certain that those for whom Christ died shall be saved, as that the elect shall be saved. Yet in both cases the event is spoken of as conditional. There is not only a possibility, but an absolute certainty of their perishing if they fall away. But this is precisely what God has promised to prevent. This passage, therefore, is perfectly consistent with those numerous passages which teach that Christ’s death secures the salvation of all those who were given to him in the covenant of redemption. There is, however, a sense in which it is scriptural to say that Christ died for all men. This is very different from saying that he died equally for all men, or that his death had no other reference to those who are saved than it had to those who are lost. To die for one is to die for his benefit. As Christ’s death has benefited the whole world, prolonged the probation of men, secured for them innumerable blessings, provided a righteousness sufficient and suitable for all, it may be said that he died for all. Charles Hodge, 1 Corinthians, (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1860), 8:11, 149.[4]

2) Besides the arguments already mentioned in favour of the unity of mankind, next to the direct assertion of the Bible, that which after all has the greatest force is the one derived from the present condition of our moral and spiritual nature. Wherever we meet a man, no matter of what name or nation, we not only find that he has the same nature with ourselves; that he has the same organs, the same senses, the same instincts, the same feelings, the same faculties, the same understanding, will, and conscience, and the same capacity for religious culture, but that he has the same guilty and polluted nature, and needs the same redemption. Christ died for all men, and we are commanded to preach the gospel to every creature under heaven. Accordingly nowhere on the face of the earth are men to be found who do not need the gospel or who are not capable of becoming partakers of the blessings which it offers. The spiritual relationship of men, their common apostasy, and their common interest in the redemption of Christ, demonstrate their common nature and their common origin beyond the possibility of reasonable or excusable doubt. Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, 2:90-1.

3) The whole question, therefore, concerns simply the purpose of God in the mission of his Son. What was the design of Christ’s coming into the world, and doing and suffering all He actually did and suffered? Was it merely to make the salvation of all men possible; to remove the obstacles which stood in the way of the offer of pardon and acceptance to sinners? or, Was it specially to render certain the salvation of his own people, i.e., of those given to Him by the Father? The latter question is affirmed by Augustinians, and denied by their opponents. It is obvious that if there be no election of some to everlasting life, the atonement can have no special reference to the elect. It must have equal reference to all mankind. But it does not follow from the assertion of its having a special reference to the elect that it had no reference to the non-elect. Augustinians readily admit that the death of Christ had a relation to man, to the whole human family, which it had not to the fallen angels. It is the ground on which salvation is offered to every creature under heaven who hears the gospel; but it gives no authority for a like offer to apostate angels. It moreover secures to the whole race at large, and to all classes of men, innumerable blessings, both providential and religious. It was, of course, designed to produce these effects; and, therefore, He died to secure them. In view of the effects which the death of Christ produces in the relation of all mankind to God, it has in all ages been customary with Augustinians to say that Christ died sufficienter pro omnibus, efficaciter tantum pro electis;” sufficiently for all, efficaciously only for the elect. There is a sense, therefore, in which He died for all, and there is a sense in which He died for the elect alone. The simple question is, Had the death of Christ a reference to the elect which it had not to other men? Did He come into the world to secure the salvation of those given to Him by the Father, so that the other effects of his work are merely incidental to what was done for the attainment of that object? Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, 2:545-6.

4) The sin of Adam did not make the condemnation of all men merely possible; it was the ground of their actual condemnation. So the righteousness of Christ did not make the salvation of men merely possible, it secured the actual salvation of those for whom He wrought. As it would be unreasonable to say that Adam acted for those who were not in him; so it is unscriptural to say that Christ acted for those who were not in Him. Nevertheless, the act of Adam as the head and representative of his race, was fruitful of evil consequences, not to man only, but to the earth and all that it contains; and so the work of Christ is fruitful of good consequences to others than those for whom He acted. But this does not justify any one in saying that Adam acted as much as the representative of the brute creation, as of his posterity; neither does it justify the assertion that Christ died for all mankind in the same sense that He died for his own people. This is all so clearly revealed in Scripture that it extorts the assent of those who are decidedly opposed to the Augustinian system. Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, 2:551-2.

5) Admitting, however, that the Augustinian doctrine that Christ died specially for his own people does account for the general offer of the gospel, how is it to be reconciled with those passages which. in one form or another, teach that He died for all men? In answer to this question, it may be remarked in the first place that Augustinians do not deny that Christ died for all men. What they deny is that he died equally, and with the same design, for all men. He died for all, that He might arrest the immediate execution of the penalty of the law upon the whole of our apostate race; that He might secure for men the innumerable blessings attending their state on earth, which, in one important sense, is a state of probation; and that He might lay the foundation for the offer of pardon and reconciliation with God, on condition of faith and repentance. These are the universally admitted consequences of his satisfaction, and therefore they all come within its design. By this dispensation it is rendered manifest to every intelligent mind in heaven and upon earth, and to the finally impenitent themselves, that the perdition of those that perish is their own fault. They will not come to Christ that they may have life. They refuse to have Him to reign over them. He calls but they will not answer. He says, “Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out.” Every human being who does come is saved. This is what is meant when it is said, or implied in Scripture, that Christ gave Himself as a propitiation, not for our sins only, but for the sins of the whole world. He was a propitiation effectually for the sins of his people, and sufficiently for the sins of the whole world. Augustinians have no need to wrest the Scriptures. They are under no necessity of departing from their fundamental principle that it is the duty of the theologian to subordinate his theories to the Bible, and teach not what seems to him to be true or reasonable, but simply what the Bible teaches. Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, 2:558-9.

6) There is another class of passages with which it is said that the Augustinian doctrine cannot be reconciled; such, namely, as speak of those perishing for whom Christ died. In reference to these passages it may be remarked, first, that there is a sense, as before stated, in which Christ did die for all men. His death had the effect of justifying the offer of salvation to every man; and of course was designed to have that effect. He therefore died sufficiently for all. In the second place, these passages are, in some cases at least, hypothetical. When Paul exhorts the Corinthians not to cause those to perish for whom Christ died, he merely exhorts them not to act selfishly towards those for whom Christ had exhibited the greatest compassion. The passage neither asserts nor implies that any actually perish for whom Christ died. None perish whom He came to save; multitudes perish to whom salvation is offered on the ground of his death. Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, 2:560-1.


How Christ died for Judas:

1) So Dr. Cox, in his introductory chapter, speaks of “the limitation of the nature” of the atonement, and represents those whom he opposes as holding that it is as “limited in its nature as in its application.”–Pp. 16, 17. If these gentlemen would take the trouble to read a little on this subject they would find that this is all a mistake. They are merely beating the air. Those who deny that Christ died for Judas’ as much as for Paul, for the non-elect as much as for the elect, and who maintain that he died strictly and properly only for his own people, do not hold that there is any limitation in the nature of the atonement. They teach as fully as any men, that “an atonement sufficient for one is sufficient for all.” It is a simple question relating to the design, and not to the nature of Christ’s work. That work, as far as we know or believe, would have been the same had God purposed to save but one soul or the souls of all mankind. We hold that the atonement as to its value is infinite, and as to its nature as much adapted to one man as to another, to all as to one. The whole question is, for what purpose did he die ? What was the design which God intended to accomplish by his mission and death? That this is the true state of the question is obvious from the fact that the Reformed and Lutherans do not differ at all as to the nature of Christ’s satisfaction, though they do differ as to its design. Charles Hodge, “Beman on the atonement,” in Essays and Reviews, in (New York, Robert Carter & Brothers, 1857), 170-1.

“Sins of the world” cited by Charles Hodge in non-controversial statements:

1) “The Society of Friends have uniformly declared their belief in the divinity and manhood of the Lord Jesus: that He was both true God and perfect man, and that his sacrifice of himself upon the cross was a propitiation and atonement for the sins of the whole world, and that the remission of sins which any partake of, is only in, and by virtue of, that most satisfactory sacrifice.” Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, 1:90.

2) According to this view of the plan of God, he decreed or purposed, (1.) To permit the fall of man. (2.) To send his Son to make a full satisfaction for the sins of the whole world. (3.) On the ground of that satisfaction to remit the guilt of Adam’s first transgression and of original sin, and to impart such a measure of grace and light to all and every man as to enable all to attain eternal lite. (4.) Those who duly improve that grace, and persevere to the end, are ordained to be saved; God purposes from eternity, to save those who He foresees will thus persevere in faith and holy living. Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, 2:330.

3) The decision of the Synod of Dort, condemnatory of the Arminian doctrines, was unanimous. That Synod included delegates from all the Reformed churches except that of France, whose delegates were prevented from attending by an order from the King. The established churches of England and Scotland, as well as those of Holland, Germany, and Switzerland were represented. The judgment of the Synod was therefore the judgment of the Reformed Church. In accordance with the acknowledged Symbols of that Church, the Synod decided, (1.) That “all mankind sinned in Adam and became exposed to the curse and eternal death. That God would have done no injustice to any one, if He had determined to leave the whole human race under sin and the curse.” (2.) “That God out of the human race, fallen by their fault into sin and destruction, according to the most free good pleasure of his own will, and of mere grace, chose a certain number of men, neither better nor worthier than others to salvation in Christ.” (3.) That this decree to elect “a certain number” to eternal life, involves of necessity and according to the teaching of Scripture, a purpose to pass by, and leave those not elected to suffer the just punishment of their sins. (4.) That God out of infinite and unmerited love sent his Son “efficaciously to redeem” all those “who were from eternity chosen unto salvation and given to Him by the Father.”(5.) That Christ makes satisfaction for us, being “made sin and a curse upon the cross for us, or in our stead,” and that “this death of the Son of God is a single and most perfect sacrifice and satisfaction for sins, if infinite value and price abundantly sufficient to expiate the sins of the whole world.”[5] Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, 2:724-5.

4) As to the other point, the nature of the satisfaction rendered it was not a real equivalent, which by its intrinsic value met the obligations of the sinner, but it was something graciously accepted as such. Although Grotius rejects the use of the word “acceptilatio,” and endeavours to show that it does not express his meaning, nevertheless, though he repudiates the word, he retains the idea. He says, “Ea est pretii natura, ut sni valore aut aestimatione alterum moveat ad concedendam rem, aut jus aliquod, puta impunitatem.” This amounts to the principle of Duns Scotus that a thing avails (is worth) for what God pleases to take it. Although Grotius does not carry out the principle to the length to which the Schoolmen carried it, and say that God might have accepted the death of one man as a satisfaction for the sins of the world, or the blood of bulls or of goats as a real expiation, nevertheless, he teaches that God graciously accepted “aliquid pro aliquo,” the death of Christ for the death of all the world, not because of its being a real equivalent in itself, but because as ruler, having the right to remit sin without any satisfaction, He saw that the interests of his government could thereby be promoted. Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, 3:188-9.

Sins of the world” used in controversial statements, entailing an unlimited expiation and sin-bearing:

1) Christ himself therefore is called the Lamb of God who bore our sins; his blood is the object of faith or ground of confidence, by which, as the blood of a sacrifice, we are redeemed, 1 Pet. 1:1, 18. 19. He saves us as a priest does, i.e. by a sacrifice. Every victim ever slain on Pagan altars was a declaration of the necessity for such a sacrifice; all the blood shed on Jewish altars was a prophecy and promise of propitiation by the blood of Christ; and the whole New Testament is the record of the Son of God offering himself up as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. This according to the faith of the church universal, is the sum of the Gospel–the incarnation and death of the eternal Son of God as a propitiation for sins. There can, therefore, be no doubt as to the sense in which the apostle here declares Christ to be an offering and a sacrifice. Charles Hodge, Ephesians, (New York, Robert Cater & Brithers, 1860), 5:1-2, 278-279.

2) This verse is an explanation and confirmation of what precedes. According to our version, and to the common interpretation, it is an explanation of the last clause of v. 18, i.e. of the ” reconciliation” there spoken of. ‘He hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation because God was reconciling the world unto himself, &c.’ To this it is objected by Meyer and others, that the position of the word theos (God) requires the emphasis to be thrown on that word; and secondly, that the two following clauses must, in that case, explain the mode of that reconciliation. Paul would then say, ‘God was reconciling the world unto himself, having committed to us the word of reconciliation.’ But our reconciliation to God is not the ministry of reconciliation. The former does not consist in the latter; nor is the first the consequence of the second. This verse therefore is referred to the first clause of v. 18. ‘All things are of God, &c., because God was reconciling, &c.’ The words os oti, rendered to wit, mean here seeing that, or because. They are equivalent to the simple oti. The expression is explained either as a pleonasm, or as the mixture of two constructions, os theou ontos, and oti theos esti The principal difference among interpreters in the explanation of this verse relates to the question whether (en) was is to be referred to (en Christo) in Christ, or to (katallasson) reconciling. Our version favours the former mode of construction, which is adopted both by Luther and Calvin. The sense then is, ‘God was in Christ, when he reconciled the world unto himself;’ or, as Luther renders it, “God was in Christ, and reconciled the world with himself, and imputed not to them their sins, &c.” This breaks up the verse into distinct propositions, turning all the participles into verbs. Calvin says that by God we are not to understand the divine nature, or “the fulness of the Godhead,” but God the Father; and refers to John 10.38, “The lather is in me,” as a parallel expression. He thinks the design of the apostle is to assure believers that in having Christ, they have the Father also; that Christ is the true Immanuel, whose advent is the approximation of God to man. But all this is foreign to the context. What follows is no proof that ” God was in Christ,” but it is a proof of his being engaged, so to speak, in the great work of reconciling the world unto himself. Most interpreters, therefore, adopt the other construction, ‘God was reconciling the world unto himself in Christ.’ As in v. 18 it is said that God reconciled us to himself dia christou (through Christ), here it is said to be ev christo (in Christ). The imperfect en katallasson, was reconciling, expresses either contemporary or continuous action. The sense may be, “God was, when Christ died, reconciling the world unto himself;” that was what he was doing and designed to do when he gave his Son up for us all. So Meyer and others. Or, the reference is to what follows; He reconciled the world, not imputing unto men their sins, &c.’ That is, ‘ While not imputing, &c.’ But this is impossible, because the next clause, ‘ and given to us the word of reconciliation,’ cannot express what was contemporaneous with the reconciling. Others say that the imperfect is used for the aorist. The first explanation is to be preferred. God was reconciling the world unto himself, means God was making atonement for the sins of the world. He set Christ forth as a propitiation. Theodoret explains en katallasson by karollagas epoiesato. By the world (kosmos without the article) is meant man, mankind. The reference or statement is perfectly indefinite; it merely indicates the class of beings towards whom God was manifesting himself as propitious. In the same sense our Lord is called the Saviour of the world, or, the Saviour of men, Jesus Salvator Hominum. To reconcile unto himself, does not mean to convert, or to render friendly to himself! This is plain first, because this reconciliation is said to be effected by the death of Christ as a sacrifice; and secondly, because what follows is not a proof of God’s converting the world, but it is a proof of his being propitious. The proof that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ (i.e. in his death) is that he does not impute to men their trespasses, and that he has established the ministry of reconciliation. The forgiveness of sin and the institution of the ministry are clear evidence that God is propitious. Not to impute sin, is to forgive it. Rom. 4, 5. 2 Tim. 4, 16. In Col. 2. 13, the same idea is expressed by saying, “hath forgiven you all trespasses.” The participle me logizomenos, not imputing, is in the present because continuous action is intended; whereas in the next clause, themenos, having committed, is a past participle, because the institution of the ministry was done once for all. To them, i.e. to men, as included in the kosmos, world. When God is said to forgive men it of course does not mean that all men, penitent and impenitent, believing and unbelieving, are forgiven; but here, as before, the class of beings is indicated towards whom forgiveness is exercised. God is propitious to men, as is manifest by his forgiving their trespasses. “And hath committed unto us,” kai themenos en hemin, i.e. having deposited in us. This may mean, ‘having put within us,’ i.e. in our souls. Or the idea maybe, ‘having placed upon us.’ If the former, then the following words, ton logon tes katallages, must mean ‘the doctrine of reconciliation.’ That is, God hath instructed us apostles in the doctrine of reconciliation. If the latter, then the clause just quoted means, ‘the word of reconciliation,’ i.e. the preaching of reconciliation, as in 1 Cor. 1.18, ho logos ton staurou means ‘the preaching of the cross.’ This latter view is to be preferred. The evidence that the death of Christ has been accepted as an expiation for sin, of infinite value and efficiency, is the fact that God hath commissioned his ministers to announce to all men that God is reconciled and ready to forgive, so that whosoever will may turn unto him and live. Charles Hodge 2 Corinthians, (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1860), 5:19,144-145.[6]

3) In either case the thing here asserted is that Christ was without sin. This was one of the indispensable conditions of his being made sin for us. Had he not been free from sin, he could not have taken the place of sinners. Under the old dispensation the sacrifices were required to be without blemish, in order to teach the necessity of freedom from all sin in him who was to bear the sins of the world. See Heb. 4, 15. 1 Pet. 2, 22. 1 John 3, 5. Charles Hodge 2 Corinthians, (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1860), 5:21, 148.[7]

4) As a work of art produces an impression more powerful than a formula; so Christ viewed as a sacrifice, as a ransom, as a propitiation, produces the impression of the sanctity of the law more powerfully than any didactic statement of its holiness could do. It is in this “artistic” form that the truth is effectually conveyed to the mind. This mode is admitted to be essential. Vicarious atonement, sacrifice, sin-offering, propitiation is declared to be “the DIVINE FORM of Christianity, in distinction from all others, and is, in that view, substantial to it, or consubstantial with it.” “It is obvious,” he adds, “that all the most earnest Christian feelings of the apostles are collected round this objective representation, the vicarious sacrifice of Christ, for the sins of the world. Charles Hodge, “God in Christ,” in Essays and Reviews, (New York, Robert Carter & Brothers, 1857), 437-438.

5) In the one church, therefore, truth has a paramount importance; in the other ignorance is regarded as the mother of devotion. If a man trust in the cross, the Romish system tells him he need not know what the cross means. It matters not whether he thinks he is saved by the wood of the cross, by the magic influence of the sign, or by Christ as crucified for the sins of the world. Christ as crucified for the sins of the world. These are different expressions of the feeling of confidence. A distinguished Unitarian clergyman once said to us, that there was no difference between his doctrine as to the method of salvation and that of the orthodox. Both believe that we are saved through Christ, and even by his death. Charles Hodge, “The Theology of the Intellect,” in Essays and Reviews, (New York, Robert Carter & Brothers, 1857), 609.

6) I. The Lord’s Supper is a proof of the fact that Christ died. Any commemoration of an historical fact, when such commemoration dates back to the time immediately subsequent to the event, involves of necessity the truth of the fact. As this commemoration has been uninterrupted and universal, it is the testimony of each succeeding generation to the great fact in question. We should so regard it. It i» one important end to be accomplished by the ordinance, and it is a great honor to be of the number of those appointed to keep alive the knowledge of the fact.

II. It is a continued proof that the death of Christ was the culminating point of his work. Had it been simply designed to keep Christ in mind, it might have been his birth, or his life, or his history that it commemorated. So it has been with other great benefactors of our race. But the fact that his death was selected by Christ himself to be perpetually

celebrated, shows that his death was his great work. He came into the world to die. All else was subordinate to this. He was to be remembered not as teacher or healer, but as dying.

III. The Lord’s Supper commemorates the manner and nature of Christ’s death. It was not an ordinary death, brought about by sickness or decay ; but it was a death in which his body was broken and his blood shed. Neither was it a death by lawless violence, only a casualty, but a death judicially inflicted. He was condemned to die, by the man who had the power of life and death in his .hands. But this mere human judgment was only the form and instrumentality

under and by which a divine judgment was pronounced. It was by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God that he was crucified and slain. This is true not only in the sense in which all things come to pass according to the counsel of the divine will, but also in the sense that God delivered him up. He laid on him the iniquity of us all. Christ regarded his sufferings and death as imposed by the hand of God. It was to him that he looked. We are to regard the death of Christ as the offering up of his Son by the Father for the sins of the world.

IV. It sets Christ’s death forth as voluntary. He was led, but he was led unresistingly. He laid down his life of himself. He had power to lay it down and power to take it again. Thus he is exhibited in the prophets and thus also in the evangelists.

V. It sets forth his death in the twofold light of a sin offering and a federal offering. The latter is the former, but the former is not always the latter.

1. As the victim bore the sins of the offerer, so Christ bore our sins.

2. As the death of the victim took the place of that of the offerer, so Christ’s death was vicarious.

3. As the effect of a sacrifice was expiation and propitiation, so was Christ’s death. It removed our guilt; it renders God propitious.

4. As the offerer was certainly pardoned and restored, so is the death of Christ certainly efficacious. It not merely renders salvation possible, but certain.

As a federal offering, 1. It ratifies the covenant. It is the pledge on the part of God that he will fulfill his promise. 2. Therefore it secures for the believer all the benefits of the covenant of grace.

VI. Aa it sets forth Christ’s death under these two aspects, or as Christ’s death was in fact both a sin offering and a federal offering, so the Lord’s Supper is a commemoration of his death as a sin offering and as a federal offering. It is so to the Church, to the spectators, and to the world. It is a continued testimony to all men that Christ died for the sins of the world, the just for the unjust; that his blood is sacrificial and cleanses from all sin.

VII. But to the believing communicant it is more than this. It is the actual reception of the body and blood of Christ, i.e., of their sacrificial benefits. He then and there, as he receives the bread and wine, receives Christ, and all his benefits for his spiritual nourishment and growth in grace. This act of appropriation is not an emotional act; it does not imply any special elevation of devout feeling, however desirable that may be; it is not an act of the understanding merely; but it is an act of faith, i.e., believing, 1. That Christ died. 2. That he died a death of pain and blood. 3. That he died judicially. 4. That he died by the appointment of God. 5. That he died for the sins of men, as a sacrifice, and has been accepted as such. 6. That we are partakers of the benefits of his death. We receive them as freely offered. Charles Hodge, “The Lord’s Sapper in Relation to Christ’s Death,” in Conference Papers, (New York, Charles, Scribner’s Sons, 1879), 336

7) The Mediator between God and man must be sinless. Under the law the victim offered on the altar must be without blemish. Christ, who was to offer Himself unto God as a sacrifice for the sins of the world, must be Himself free from sin. The High Priest, therefore, who becomes us, He whom our necessities demand, must be holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners. (Hebrews vii. 26.) He was, therefore, “without sin.” (Hebrews iv. 15; 1 Peter ii. 22.) A sinful Saviour from sin is an impossibility. He could not have access to God. He could not be a sacrifice for sins; and He could not be the source of holiness and eternal life to his people. This sinlessness of our Lord, however, does not amount to absolute impeccability. It was not a non potest peccare. If He was a true man He must have been capable of sinning. That He did not sin under the greatest provocation; that when He was reviled He blessed; when He suffered He threatened not; that He was dumb, as a sheep before its shearers, is held up to us as an example. Temptation implies the possibility of sin. If from the constitution of his person it was impossible for Christ to sin, then his temptation was unreal and without effect, and He cannot sympathize with his people. Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, vol 2, p., 457

8) The passages in which Christ is represented as a sacrifice for sin, are too numerous to be here specially considered. The New Testament, and particularly the Epistle to the Hebrews, as before remarked, declares and teaches, that the priesthood of the old economy was a type of the priesthood of Christ; that the sacrifices of that dispensation were types of his sacrifice; that as the blood of bulls and of goats purified the flesh, so the blood of Christ cleanses the soul from guilt; and that as they were expiations effected by vicarious punishment, in their sphere, so was the sacrifice of Christ in the infinitely higher sphere to which his work belongs. Such being the relation between the Old Economy and the New, the whole sacrificial service of the Mosaic institutions, becomes to the Christian an extended and irresistible proof and exhibition of the work of Christ as an expiation for the sins of the world, and a satisfaction to the justice of God. Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, 2:506-7.

9) What Paul teaches so abundantly of the sacrificial death of Christ is taught by the Apostle John (First Epistle, ii. 2). Jesus Christ “is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” The word here used is hilasmos, propitiation, expiation; from hilaskomai, to reconcile one’s self to any one by expiation, to appease, to propitiate.” And in chapter iv. 10, it is said, “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” The inconsistency between love, and expiation or satisfaction for sin, which modern writers so much insist upon, was not perceived by men who spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. In chapter i. 7, this same Apostle says, “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” To cleanse, katharizein, kathairein, katharismon poiein, agiazein, louein (Revelation i. 5) are established sacrificial terms to express the removal of the guilt of sin by expiation. Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, 2:511.

10) This is what is meant when it is said, or implied in Scripture, that Christ gave Himself as a propitiation, not for our sins only, but for the sins of the whole world. He was a propitiation effectually for the sins of his people, and sufficiently for the sins of the whole world. Augustinians have no need to wrest the Scriptures. They are under no necessity of departing from their fundamental principle that it is the duty of the theologian to subordinate his theories to the Bible, and teach not what seems to him to be true or reasonable, but simply what the Bible teaches. Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, 2:558-9.

11) All the arguments presented on the preceding pages, in favour of the doctrine of expiation, are of course arguments against a theory which rejects that doctrine. Besides, this theory evidently changes the whole plan of salvation. It alters all our relations to Christ, as our head and representative, and the ground of our acceptance with God; and consequently it changes the nature of religion. Christianity is one thing if Christ is a sacrifice for sin; and altogether a different thing if He is only a moral reformer, an example, a teacher, or even a martyr. We need a divine Saviour if He is to bear our iniquities, and to make satisfaction for the sins of the world; but a human saviour is all that is needed if the moral theory of the atonement is to be adopted. Gieseler says, what every Christian knows must be true without being told, that the fathers in treating of the qualification of Christ as a Saviour, insisted that He must be, (1.) God; (2.) a man; and (3.) as man free from sin. It is a historical fact that the two doctrines of the divinity of Christ, and expiation through the blood of the Son of God, have gone hand in hand. The one has seldom been long held by those who deny the other. The doctrine of expiation, therefore, is so wrought into the whole system of revealed truth, that its rejection effects a radical change, not only in the theology but also in the religion of the Bible. vol2, p., 572. That it is not to be inferred because certain writers are quoted as setting forth one particular theory, that they recognized the truth of no other view of the work of Christ. This remark is especially applicable to the patristic period. While some of the fathers speak at times of Christ’s saving the world as a teacher, and others of them say that He gave himself as a ransom to Satan, and others again that He brings men back to the image of God, this does not prove that they ignored the fact that he was a sin offering, making expiation for the guilt of the world. It is characteristic of the early period of the Church, before special doctrines had become matters of controversy, that the people and the theologians retain the common language and representations of the Bible; while the latter, especially, dwell sometimes disproportionately on one mode of Scriptural representation, and sometimes disproportionately on another. The fathers constantly speak of Christ as a priest, as a sacrifice, and as a ransom. They ascribe our salvation to his blood and to his cross. The ideas of expiation and propitiation were wrought into all the services of the early Church. These Scriptural ideas sustained the life of the people of God entirely independently of the speculations of philosophical theologians. Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, 2:589-90.

12) As to the other form of this objection, it has the same foundation and admits of the same answer. It is said that the obedience and sufferings of Christ, being the obedience and sufferings of a mere man, or at best of only the human element in the constitution of his person, could have only a human, and, therefore, only a finite value, and consequently could be no adequate satisfaction for the sins of the whole world. Charles. Hodge, Systematic Theology, 3:176-7.

13) Another consequence of the union with Christ effected by faith, is the indwelling of the Spirit. Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law by being made a curse for us, in order that we might receive the promise of the Holy Ghost. (Gal. iii. 13, 14.) It was not consistent with the perfections or purposes of God that the Spirit should be given to dwell with his saving influences in the apostate children of men, until Christ had made a full satisfaction for the sins of the world. But as with God there are no distinctions of time, Christ was slain from the foundation of the world, and his death availed as fully for the salvation of those who lived before, as for that of those who have lived since his coming in the flesh. Charles. Hodge, Systematic Theology, 3:227.


Lamb of God references (sample):

1) The two advents are often spoken of in connection, the one illustrating the other. He came the first time as the Lamb of God bearing the sins of the world; He is to come “the second time, without sin, unto salvation.” (Heb. ix. 28.) God, said the apostle Peter, “shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.” (Acts iii. 20, 21.) Charles. Hodge, Systematic Theology, 3:794.

2) We have reason to believe, as urged in the first volume of this work, and as often urged elsewhere, that the number of the finally lost in comparison with the whole number of the saved will be very inconsiderable. Our blessed Lord, when surrounded by the innumerable company of the redeemed, will be hailed as the “Salvator Hominum,” the Saviour of Men, as the Lamb that bore the sins of the world. Charles. Hodge, Systematic Theology, 3:879-80.

3) As the Passover was a perpetual commemoration of the deliverance out of Egypt, and a prediction of the coming and death of the Lamb of God, who was to bear the sins of the world; so the Lord’s supper is at once the commemoration of the death of Christ and a pledge of his coming the second time without sin unto salvation. Charles Hodge, 1 Corinthians, (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1860), 11:26, 229-30.[8]


[1]The second number refers to the page in the Eerdman’s edition.
[2]The second number refers to the page in the Eerdman’s edition.
[3]The number here holds good for the Banner edition of the combined volumes.
[4]Banner of Truth edition: 149.
[5]Hodge footnotes Dort, Chapter, 2, art 3 for this remark.
[6]Banner of Truth edition: 519-1.
[7]Banner of Truth edition: 523.
[8]Banner of Truth edition: 229-30.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. March 10, 2008 11:59 am

    There you go “cherry picking” those isolated quotes again! :)

    Very good work.

    You have done a good job returning to the core concerns of the reformation which became distorted and “sectarian” in many ways.

  2. CalvinandCalvinism permalink*
    March 10, 2008 12:40 pm

    Hey there,

    When I first saw your note in pending, I thought you were serious. The cherry-picking charge is hard to defeat. It carries with it a ring of arbitrariness and evasiveness. To me it would be true if I tried only to represent C Hodge as affirming unlimited sin-bearing. But I have not. I have included samples from the other side of the coin too.

    With regard to Calvin, this was also done. The infamous Heshusius comment has been listed on this cite and discussed in more detail than nearly anywhere else that I know of. The Calvin citations from 1 Jn 2:2 were actually included in the file itself. Its not as if I left them out.

    Thanks for stopping by and posting. I welcome friendly comments and interaction.

    David

  3. March 10, 2008 1:14 pm

    That’s why I put the :) to show I was kidding.

    Steve Wedgeworth quoted one of your articles and someone said “You can prove anything by cherry picking”!

    So I couldn’t resist!

    Obviously I don’t believe you are cherry picking on this topic.

    And really your work shows that the variety of thought regarding predestination was as broad on the continent as within Anglicanism as shown by White’s Predestination, Policy and Polemic.

    I believe the same might be shown of early Scots theology if one looked for there were great changes… Knox wouldn’t have been ordained by some later Scots just as some would not ordain Calvin today – and not just the “liberals”!

  4. CalvinandCalvinism permalink*
    March 10, 2008 1:35 pm

    You are right here.

    For the Scotts, Robbert Rollock is exceptionally and undeniably clear. Scope out Rollock. See also the meta-links page above.

    I have Knox signing off to a confession written by the English in Geneva which affirms unlimited sin-bearing. There are some other little hints but not enough. There are other early Scots that need to be looked at too. Robert Bruce perhaps and Blair.

    For the cherry-picking, what we on our side really wish is for folk who agree with Nicole etc to really try and engage the material and us. For the last 8 years now we have been getting this simple comment “Have you read Nicole?” We have and more. What’s behind the question is the assumption that no new evidence from Calvin could ever be found. And that an article written in the mid-’80s has some sort of timeless efficacy about it. :-) Oh well…

    Thanks again,
    David

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