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David Paraeus on the Sufficiency and Efficiency of Christ’s Death

September 5, 2008

1) But are not all redeemed by Christ, died he not for all? Says not the Apostle Peter that he bought these “false prophets,” by whom he is denied? To this Augustine well answers, that all are said to be redeemed, according to the dignity of the price: which would suffice for the redemption of all men, if all by faith did receive the benefit offered. But as many as pass the time of their being in this life in infidelity, they remain unredeemed through their own fault. The sealed therefore are only redeemed, because they alone by faith receive the grace of redemption, through the grace of election, which God vouchsafed them (not to the others) from all eternity. David Pareus, A Commentary Upon the Divine Revelation of the Apostle and Evangelist, John (Amsterdam: Printed by C.P. Anno, 1644), 333-334.

2) Others reconcile these seemingly contradictory passages of Scripture by making a distinction between the sufficiency, and efficacy of the death of Christ. For there are certain contentious persons, who deny that these declarations which speak in a general way, are to be restricted to the faithful alone, that is, they deny that the letter itself, or the simple language of Scripture does thus limit them, and in proof thereof they bring forward those passages in which salvation seems to be attributed, not only to those that believe, but also to hypocrites and apostates, as it is said : “Denying the Lord which bought them.” And, also, when it is said that they “have forgotten that they were purged from their old sins.” (2 Pet. 2:1; 1:9.) But it is manifest that declarations of this kind are to be understood either concerning the mere external appearance, and vain glorying of redemption, or of sanctification; or else of the sufficiency, and greatness of the merit of Christ. That it may not, therefore, be necessary for us to contend much with these captious and fastidious persons concerning the restriction of those passages which speak so generally (although it is most manifest in itself) and that those places which speak of the redemption of hypocrites may the more easily be reconciled, some prefer (and not without reason according to my judgment) to interpret those declarations, which in appearance seem to be contradictory, partly of the sufficiency, and partly of the application and efficacy of the death of Christ.

They affirm, therefore, that Christ died for all, and that he did not die for all; but in different respects. He died for all, as touching the sufficiency of the ransom which he paid; and not for all; but only for the elect, or those that believe, as touching the application and efficacy thereof. The reason of the former lies in this, that the atonement of Christ is sufficient for expiating all the sins of all men, or of the whole world, if only all men will make application thereof unto themselves by faith. For it cannot be said to be insufficient, unless we give countenance to that horrible blasphemy (which God forbid!) that some blame of the destruction of the ungodly results from a defect in the merit of the mediator. The reason of the latter is, because all the elect, or such as believe, and they alone, do apply unto themselves by faith the merit of Christ’s death, together with the efficacy thereof, by which they obtain righteousness, and life according as it is said, “He that believeth on the Son of God, hath everlasting life.” (John 3:36.) The rest are excluded from this efficacy of Christ’s death by their own unbelief, as it is again said, “He that believeth not shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” (John 3:36.) Those, therefore, whom the Scriptures exclude from the efficacy of Christ’s death, cannot be said to be included in the number of those for whom he died as it respects the sufficiency of his death, but only as to its efficiency; because the death of Christ is also sufficient for their salvation, if they will but believe; and the only reason of their exclusion arises from their unbelief.

It is in the same may, that is, by making the same distinction that we reply to those who ask concerning the purpose of Christ, Did he will to die for all? For just as he died, so also he willed to die. Therefore, as he died for all, in respect to the sufficiency of his ransom; and for the faithful alone in respect to the efficacy of the same, so also he willed to die for all in general, as touching the sufficiency of his merit, that is, he willed to merit by his death, grace, righteousness, and life in the most abundant manner for all; because would not that any thing should be wanting as far as he and his merits are concerned, so that all the wicked who perish may be without excuse. But he willed to die for the elect alone as touching the efficacy of his death, that is, he would not only sufficiently merit grace and life for them alone, but also effectually confers these upon them, grants faith, and the holy Spirit, and brings it to pass that they apply to themselves, by faith, the benefits of his death, and so obtain for themselves the efficacy of his merits.

They affirm, therefore, that Christ died for all, and that he did not die for all; but in different respects. He died for all, as touching the sufficiency of the ransom which he paid; and not for all; but only for the elect, or those that believe, as touching the application and efficacy thereof. The reason of the former lies in this, that the atonement of Christ is sufficient for expiating all the sins of all men, or of the whole world, if only all men will make application thereof unto themselves by faith. For it cannot be said to be insufficient, unless we give countenance to that horrible blasphemy (which God forbid!) that some blame of the destruction of the ungodly results from a defect in the merit of the mediator. The reason of the latter is, because all the elect, or such as believe, and they alone, do apply unto themselves by faith the merit of Christ’s death, together with the efficacy thereof, by which they obtain righteousness, and life according as it is said, “He that believeth on the Son of God, hath everlasting life.” (John 3:36.) The rest are excluded from this efficacy of Christ’s death by their own unbelief, as it is again said, “He that believeth not shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” (John 3:36.) Those, therefore, whom the Scriptures exclude from the efficacy of Christ’s death, cannot be said to be included in the number of those for whom he died as it respects the sufficiency of his death, but only as to its efficiency; because the death of Christ is also sufficient for their salvation, if they will but believe; and the only reason of their exclusion arises from their unbelief.

It is in the same may, that is, by making the same distinction that we reply to those who ask concerning the purpose of Christ, Did he will to die for all? For just as he died,so also he willed to die. Therefore, as he died for all, in respect to the sufficiency of his ransom; and for the faithful alone in respect to the efficacy of the same, so also he willed to die for all in general, as touching the sufficiency of his merit, that is, he willed to merit by his death, grace, righteousness, and life in the most abundant manner for all; because would not that any thing should be wanting as far as he and his merits are concerned, so that all the wicked who perish may be without excuse. But he willed to die for the elect alone as touching the efficacy of his death, that is, he would not only sufficiently merit grace and life for them alone, but also effectually confers these upon them, grants faith, and the holy Spirit, and brings it to pass that they apply to themselves, by faith, the benefits of his death, and so obtain for themselves the efficacy of his merits….

Lastly, the orthodox Fathers and Schoolmen, also distinguish and restrict the above passages of Scripture as we have done; especially Augustine, Cyril and Prosper. Lombard writes as follows: “Christ offered himself to God, the Trinity for all men, as it respects the sufficiency of the price; but only for the elect as it regards the efficacy thereof, because he effected, and purchased salvation only for those who were predestinated.” 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.” Other Schoolmen, also, speak in the same manner, from which it is evident that Christ died for all in such a may, that the benefits of his death, nevertheless, pertain properly to such as believe, to whom alone they are also profitable and available. David Pareus, Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism, Q 40; pp., 222-223 and 224 (Williard translation). [For more of Paraeus, see here.]

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Mark Gunkel permalink
    September 26, 2009 8:45 pm

    First let me say thank you for all your work. I never thought I could be a “proper” Calvinist unless I held to Owen’s view of the atonement (which I just couldn’t make square with scripture). It was your site in particular that made me realize that I was in good company in accepting some form of dual intent or hypothetical universalism. I always enjoy seeing “David” pop on Puritan Board or Heidelblog.

    Second I just want to point out that there are some typographical errors on “David Paraeus on the Sufficiency and Efficiency of Christ’s Death”

    First the “It is in the same way, that is” and the “They affirm, therefore” paragraphs are repeated
    Second, I think “It is in the same may “should be “It is in the same way”

    Lastly, could you please answer a question? I have been reading Williard’s translation of Ursinus’s commentary on the Heidelberg and reading commentary on the commentary. Often someone will state that a certain passage is ascribed to Paraeus, as if Ursinus didn’t say it. If I understand Nevin’s preface, Paraeus compiled student lecture notes and made the commentary. It would seem impossible to know if Paraeus added anything unless he said so. Is there something missing from Williard’s translation that would show which parts Paraeus added?

  2. CalvinandCalvinism permalink*
    September 27, 2009 4:32 pm

    Hey Mark,

    If Ive got the right Mark Gunkel on Facebook I sent you an invite thingie.

    If I read the first sentence there, and if I am reading it correctly, I
    sense that whats been happening in the background is a feeling of
    exclusion. If you are not saying that, I say it this anyway. :-) One of
    the main prevailing myths out there in WWW is the idea that what most folk know as 5 point Calvinism, and that interpreted through through a Owenic grid, is the only Calvinism that ever was. This often then produces a few interesting social dynamics: arrogance, pride, exclusivity etc. This often lead to a further dynamics of intimation and bullying. The problem is that the historical facts speak against all such claims to exclusivity, and they refute all intimidation attempts we see so often see on the Net.

    Moving on, I don’t post on Puritanboard any more. My estimation that forum is that its hardly Puritan, and mostly hypercalvinist. I shall tell you a little more of my time there privately if you like. Heidelblog was interesting. Clark didn’t really seem interested in checking his historical facts. I realized later that he appears to have just uncritically relied on Blacketer’s faulty historical work.

    The Typos. Thanks for that. I hate that I make typos but given the circumstances its going to be an ongoing problem. I rectify all typos as soon as they come to my attention. I will fix the ones youve spotted tomorrow.

    Regarding Paraeus, as I recall, Ursinus died before completing all the work. In one place, specifically, Paraeus himself filled in a section. There is no question that the section mirrors Ursinus’ own theology, even Nicole concedes this. As far as I know the only section where Paraeus filled in was on:

    Q 40: Why was it necessary for Christ to suffer “death”? A40: Because the justice and truth of God required that satisfaction for our sins could be made in no other way than by the death of the Son of God.

    III Did Christ die for all?

    The original Latin and Dutch had the side-header or header that the following was from Paraeus. unfortunately, Willard declined to include this. You will find the inserted section in the Paraeus file itself.

    Thanks for stopping by Greg. And I am glad the C&C site has been helpful to you. If you have any questions you can contact me through facebook or by email.

    Thanks and take care,
    David

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