Note: Because of the extended length and scope of From Heaven He Came and Sought Her, this is part two of two summaries covering the book. If you missed the first installment covering chapters 1-11, you can read it here.
12. For Whom Did Christ Die? Particularism and Universalism in the Pauline Epistles
13. The Glorious, Indivisible, Trinitarian Work of God in Christ: Definite Atonement in Paul’s Theology of Salvation
Jonathan Gibson locates the question posed in the title of his essay in the interpreter’s efforts to find coherence in Paul’s teaching across his epistles. That is to say, the answer is found not so much by looking at any one text or letter – each one being produced for a specific occasion and perhaps not addressing such a question directly – but rather by looking at Paul’s teaching across his letters. Definite atonement is then a “biblico-systematic doctrine” which must be understood exegetically by looking at various texts which Gibson puts into four classes: (1) particularistic texts which point toward Christ’s death for a particular group; (2) universalistic texts which relate to Christ’s death for an “undefined, ambiguous group”; (3) “perishing” texts which refer to Christ’s death for those who finally perish; and (4) “doctrinal loci” texts which imply some relation between other important doctrines and the doctrine of the atonement. Gibson deals with the first three classes here arguing that the universalistic elements complement a particularistic reading of Paul’s theology; the fourth class of texts he takes up in the next chapter.
For the particularistic texts, Gibson …
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