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Thomas Aquinas on the Sufficiency and Efficiency of Christ’s Death

September 2, 2008

Thomas Aquinas:

1) I answer that, He properly atones for an offense who offers something which the offended one loves equally, or even more than he detested the offense. But by suffering out of love and obedience, Christ gave more to God than was required to compensate for the offense of the whole human race. First of all, because of the exceeding charity from which He suffered; secondly, on account of the dignity of His life which He laid down in atonement, for it was the life of one who was God and man; thirdly, on account of the extent of the Passion, and the greatness of the grief endured, as stated above (46, 6). And therefore Christ’s Passion was not only a sufficient but a superabundant atonement for the sins of the human race; according to 1 John 2:2: “He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.”  Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Part 3, Q 48.2.

2) The very least one of sufferings was sufficient of itself to redeem the human race from all sins; but as to fittingness, it sufficed that He should endure all classes of sufferings, as stated above. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Part 3, Q 46.5.

3) 1 John 2:22 He is the propitiation for our sins, for some efficaciously, but for all sufficiently, because the price of his blood is sufficient for the salvation of all: but it has no efficacy except for the elect because of an impediment.  Thomas Aquina, “Commentaria 1 Tim. 2:1-6a,” in Omnes D. Pauli Apostoli Epistolas Commentaria. (Liege: H. Dessain, 1858), 3:68. [Personal translation, Marty Foord.]

David Paraeus citing Thomas:

4) Thomas writes: “The merit of Christ, as to its sufficiency, extends equally to all, but not as to its efficacy, which happens partly on account of free will, and partly on account of the election of God, through which the effects of the merits of Christ are mercifully bestowed upon some, and withheld from others according to the just judgment of God.”   [Source: Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism, 224.]

5) Of the redemption purchased by the passion of Christ we may speak in a double sense & signification, either respecting the sufficiency thereof; & so his passion redeemed all because as concerning himself he delivered all.   [Source: David Paraeus]

John Davenant quoting the same:

6) Aquinas also observes (Quest. disp. de grat. Christi. art. 7, reap. ad 4,) The merit of Christ as to its sufficiency equally regards all men, but not as to its efficacy; which arises partly from free-will, partly from the election of God, through which the effect of the merits of Christ is mercifully conferred upon some, but is by his just judgment withdrawn from others.    [Source: John Davenant, Dissertation on the Death of Christ, 543.]

One Comment leave one →
  1. CalvinandCalvinism permalink*
    September 25, 2008 11:17 am

    Updated Aquinas on the sufficiency of Christ. see entries #3 under Aquinas, and #6 under Davenant.

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