Part 2 Chapter 3

Section 1—Matthew 20:28.

Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

These words not only express the great blessing of redemption, and the Author of it, the Son of man,a character of the Messiah, and the manner of his obtaining it, by giving his life,his own life, a ransom,a redemption price for, in the room and stead of the persons redeemed by him, but also point out the persons ransomed, who are said to be many,not all,and so may be considered as a proof of particular redemption; since, as our opponents themselves allow,[1] that though "all men certainly are many, yet many are not necessarily all." To which the following things are objected.

1st. That[2] "since what is, in some few places, said of many, is not only in more, but in the same places said of all, it is certain that Christ cannot be said to die for many exclusively of all." To which I reply: that we do not say Christ died for many exclusive of all,for then he must die for none; but that he died for many exclusive of some;nor are the places fewer in which he is said to die for many, than those which say he died for all; nor is it true, that what is in some places said of many, is in the same places said of all. But let us consider the passages themselves. And,

1. Begin with the text under consideration, on which this observation[3] is made; "that the same Scripture which saith, Christ gave his life a ransom for many,says also, that he gave himself a ransom for all." This is, indeed, said in the same book of Scripture, but not in the same passage of Scripture; nor is the text referred to (1 Tim. 2:6), to be understood of every individual of mankind, but either of some of all sorts, or of the Gentiles as well as Jews, as has been shown in the former part of this work; and in which sense, perhaps, the word many, in this text, is to be taken, as Grotius[4] himself upon it observes. Moreover, all those for whom Christ gave his life a ransom, are either ransomed by it, or they are not; that all are not ransomed, or redeemed from sin, the law, Satan, and the second death, is evident, since many live under the power of their sins, and, at last, die in them; and, having sinned against the law, are under it, and the curses of it, and will be punished by it; nor are they delivered from the bondage of Satan, but are led captive by him at his will, all their days, and their everlasting portion is the second death.Now, if some persons, for whom Christ gave his life a ransom, are not ransomed, then that shocking absurdity, which follows upon the notion of men's justification by their own obedience to the law, follows upon this, namely, that Christ is dead in vain,that so far he gave his life for a ransom in vain; wherefore it will be rightly concluded, that he did not give his life ransom for every individual man. Besides, such who are ransomed by Christ, are represented as a peculiar people (Titus 2:14; Isa. 35:10; Jer. 31:11); they are called the ransomed of the Lord,to distinguish them from others, and by the name of Jacob,which, when mystically or figuratively understood, only designs the church of nod. Add to this, that such whom Christ gave his life a ransom for, are described by such characters as cannot agree with every individual of mankind, such as the church, the children of God, his sheep and people (Eph. 5:2, 25; John 10:15; 11:51, 52; Matthew 1:21), unless all mankind can be thought to be the church of God, the sheep of Christ, and his special people.

2. It is further observed,[5] that he who said, This is my blood shed for many, for the remission of sins,said also, for that very reason, drink ye all of it,for it was shed for you, for the remission of sins." But it should be considered, that the all Christ bid to drink of the cup were his immediate disciples and apostles; and, should it be extended to others, it can only design such who are the true disciples of Christ; who only share in the remission of sins, and therefore ought only to drink of the cup. If the blood of Christ was shed for the remission of the sins of all mankind, then all their sins would be remitted, or Christ's blood must be shed in vain; but it is certain, that the sins of all men are not remitted; the sins of many will be brought into judgment, and for them, they will be everlastingly punished. And, therefore, there is reason to believe Christ's blood was not shed for them, since there is such an efficacy in that blood, to cleanse from all sin;and God, on the account of it, is just and faithful to forgive us our sin, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:7, 9).

3. "That there is no inconsistence betwixt dying for many and for all, is[6] said to be evident from this consideration, that even in the same chapter the apostle saith, that by one sin of Adam many died, Romans 5:15, and all died, (v. 12); many were made sinners (v. 19), and all sinned (v. 12); and that by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous, di>kaioi katastaqh<sontai, shall be justified (v. 19); and that by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men to justification of life,(v.18)." To which I answer, that it will be readily allowed, that the many that sinned and died in Adam, and through his offense, are the same with the all that sinned and died in him on the account of it, and that these intend all mankind, to whom Adam was a representative head; also it will be granted, that the many who are made righteous by the obedience of Christ, are the same with the all on whom the free gift comes to justification of life; but then these regard not all mankind, but such to whom he is a representative head, and who are his spiritual seed and offspring; for if all mankind, were made righteous and justified by Christ, they would be all saved and glorified; whom he justified, them he also glorified,and none would be condemned; whereas the sentence, go, ye cursed,etc., will not only be pronounced, but executed on many.

4. It is also urged,[7] "that in the same epistle in which it is said, Christ bore the sins of many,it is expressly said, he tasted death for every man."As to the latter expression, it has been made to appear, in the former part of this performance, that it is to be understood not of every individual man, but of the sons, the children, the brethren, the church, and seed of Abraham, spoken of in the context; and as to the former, the many cannot be extended to all mankind; since, if Christ bore, the sins of them all, they must be put away, finished, made an end of, and never be found more; nor shall they be borne by them in a judicial way; whereas the sins of many go beforehand to judgment, of which they will be convicted, and for which they will be righteously punished. Besides, the persons whose sins Christ bore, being laid on him, are represented as particular and peculiar persons, the seed of Christ, and whom he justifies (Isa. 53:6, 11,12; 1 Pet. 2:24).

2ndly It is observed,[8] "That as when the kindness designed by Christ's death to all upon the conditions of the Gospel is expressed, it is said Christ died for all; so when the effect and benefit of it is expressed, the word many is most proper; for his blood shed procures remission of sins only to penitent believers: and in this sense Christ gave his life a ransom only for many, even for as many as would believe and obey his Gospel." But this is to separate the design and effect of Christ's death, and to assert, that it does not reach its designed effect, which is to render it so far in vain. Besides, this makes the efficacy of his death to depend on the faith, repentance, and obedience of men; and, after all, many can only mean some, and not all, since all do not repent, believe, and obey.


[1] Whitby, p. 115; ed. 2.113. So Limborch, p, 325.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Quanquam polloi< interdum omnes significat, puto tames hoc verbum dou~nai, et prepositionem ajnti, cure effectu intelligendum, ideoque agi de credituris in Christum, qui ideo vocentur polloi<, hoc loco et apud Daniel 9:27, µybw. Ut intelligantur ad eum numerum non Judaei tantum sed et alienigenae pertinere. Grotius in loc.

[5] Whitby, p. 115; ed. 2.112.

[6] Whitby, p. 114, 115; ed. 2.112.

[7] Ibid. p. 114, 115; ed. 2.112.

[8] Whitby, p. 116; ed. 2.113.

Gill Index