Limited Atonement

Continuing in the elements of Calvinism series, we’ve reached the idea of “Limited Atonement”. This idea is contradictory to the Bible’s teaching about God’s offering of grace and His desire to save everyone who answers the invitation of salvation.

The concept of Limited Atonement is based on the previously discussed idea of Unconditional Election—that there are only a chosen number of who is saved. Limited Atonement or “definite redemption” is described as “the work of redemption specifically with a view to providing salvation for the elect, and that Christ died for His sheep and laid down His life for those the Father had given to Him” (Sproul, 2021). Sproul goes on to quote 2 Peter 3:8-9 “But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. 9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”. He boldly claims that there is a logical word “of us” that Paul must have intended to imply following the word “any”. He claims Paul is “not speaking of all mankind indiscriminately, the us is a reference to the believing people to whom Peter is speaking”. The original greek word for “any” in this passage means “a certain, a certain one, some” with no reference to a specific chosen group of people.  

If you look at 2 Peter 3:8-9 and take it as it is written, God does not want any to perish. He is giving everyone more time to accept the salvation He laid out, by putting off judgment another day. There are verses throughout the New Testament that make it clear, Jesus “died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf” (2 Corinthians 5:15). He died for everyone and it is those who enter into His Testament, through baptism, that rise again spiritually and live for Christ.  

Paul told Timothy to pray for all men and those in power. “This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3-4). If God intended only to save a select few, who he imposed His salvation on, Jesus would have been more specific in whom He came to save. He says “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17). Why call at all if God would select those whom He would save? Salvation is inclusive, not exclusive. It is all those who have faith and obey Jesus who are saved.  


Sproul, R.C. “TULIP and Reformed Theology: Limited Atonement” (8 Apr. 2021).


Credit to Georgia Williams “Calvinism is Not of God”