A Reply by A. E. Knoch
by Arthur W. Pink
It is written: "Faithful is the saying and worthy of all welcome, for for this are we toiling and being reproached, that `We rely on the living God, Who is the Saviour of all mankind, especially of those who believe.' These things be charging and teaching. Let no one be despising your youth..." (1 Tim.4:9-12). It is written again: "Now the Lord's slave ought not to be fighting, but to be gentle to all, apt to teach, bearing with evil, in meekness training those who are antagonizing, if perchance in time God may give them repentance to come into a realization of the truth" (2 Tim.2:24,25).
The reproach which is promised to those who believe that God is the Saviour of all mankind is administered in an article in the March and April numbers of Our Hope, by Arthur W. Pink, entitled "Universalism Refuted, Eternal Punishment Established From the Scriptures." It is introduced by an editorial in the March number by A. C. Gaebelein. It must needs be that this reproach should come, that the Scriptures may be fulfilled. Yet we cannot help a feeling of sorrow that these brethren, whom God has used for the truth, should fall so far from the standard set in the second quotation.
The spirit which pervades the article is but a reflex of the doctrine which it teaches. Those who do not hesitate to consign the majority of mankind to endless torture naturally are not tender of the feelings of any of God's creatures. As God gains so few they care little about convincing or convicting those they deem in error. Let us not judge these brethren too harshly. If we believed as they do, we should probably pursue the same course. We would gladly omit the offensive terms in the following quotations, But they are so interwoven that it is difficult to do so, and we may be misjudged.
We Are Not "Universalists"
That this article is not the ordinary kind but is considered crushing and conclusive by the editor of Our Hope is evident from his editorial concerning it. After suggesting that we believe the lie of the serpent "Ye shall not surely die" (though we teach that the unbeliever dies twice), he continues:
"The article in this issue by Mr. A. W. Pink is an excellent one. It completely annihilates the inventions of old, restated, and dished up in the `Concordant Version of the Bible,' by a Mr. Knoch in Los Angeles. We understand that some believers on the coast have listened to these miserable perversions of the faith. We hope the article will be used in their deliverance."
As we will reprint the greater part of the article in our reply, little need be said by way of introduction. After several pages of appeal to the prejudices of his readers, he seeks to show that the justification of all mankind in the fifth of Romans is confined to the elect, that the vivification of all in the fifteenth of first Corinthians is confined to the resurrection of the saints, and that the reconciliation of the universe in the first of Colossians is limited to the things (not persons) in earth and heaven. This is followed by putting "the ending of the ages" in the past, and a discussion of the word "eternal."
We are grievously slandered by being called "Universalists." Lest we should be guilty of the same sin, and misrepresent the writer of this article, we sent for another of his pamphlets on this same subject, "Universalism Examined and Refuted." In it, he gives his definition of "Universalism" again and again, by telling what they believe. On almost every point we do not hold what he attributes to Universalists. Is it honest for him to call us by this name, knowing that in so doing he is fastening on us a stigma which will prejudice his readers against us? He says "They insist on the Fatherhood of God and universal Brotherhood of man." They believe that Christ suffered at the hands of men, but deny that He suffered at the hand of God." "They deny that Christ died to satisfy the demands of God's broken law..." They "insist that an age spent in the Lake of Fire will remove the dross from and refine the character of the one who is sent there by God." They say "there is something good still within man, something that is capable of being educated by punishment." Now he knows that we do not hold any of these things. We would be glad to think the slander a matter of ignorance. But since he knows what Universalists teach and knows what we teach--
We feel this matter very keenly, for, while we are glad to suffer reproach for the sake of God's truth, we cannot bear to be classed with those who, according to their reputed teaching, dishonor our Saviour, and our God. May God forgive him this wrong!
Does the Word of God affirm the everlasting punishment of those who die in their sins? That it does has been the firm and settled conviction of a host of godly men all through the centuries of this Christian era. That it does is the expressed declaration of the 1611 translation of the Scriptures. But today both the piety and the scholarship of Christian leaders of the past is being called into question. We are told that they held views of God which reduces Him to a heartless Fiend, a Monster comparable to the worst of the gods of the heathen. We are asked to believe that all of these Christian scholars of the past were so ignorant of Hebrew and Greek, and so careless in their searching of the Scriptures to ascertain the exact force of its terms, that their translations and interpretations are not only egregiously faulty, but a slander upon the Lord God.
In the present day, there are a number of men so filled with conceit that they hesitate not to dismiss with a wave of the hand the concentrated and consecrated studies of all who have gone before them. Not content with branding as damnable heresy the doctrines proclaimed by such men as Luther, Whitefield, Edwards, Spurgeon, etc., they declare that the 1611 translation of the Scriptures -- which God has so markedly and marvelously honored - is full of serious mistakes. We are told that its translators were so bound by the traditions of men, so prejudiced in their views, so tied down by theological systems, that, wittingly or unwittingly, their labors have resulted in traducing the character of God and caricaturing His truth.
Tradition is Not Truth
In these opening paragraphs, the writer bares the principles which pervade his protest. In it he denies the solemn truth that we are living in an era when men turn away from the truth (2 Tim. 4:4). As he does not believe God's express declarations as to this matter, we find him continually turning away from the Scriptures themselves to find some human authority on which to lean. The tradition of the elders is, to him, the voice of God.
The second principle which permeates and vitiates almost all he says is a lamentable looseness in dealing with the words of God. Paul's exhortation to Timothy is unheeded, for there is no attempt at a pattern of sound words (2 Tim.1:13). Unsound theological terms are defended. The 1611 translation of the Bible does not "affirm the everlasting punishment of those who die in their sins." This is said of the nations at the left hand of the Son of Man when He comes in His glory (Matt.25:31-46), not of untold billions "who die in their sins."
Those who degrade the word of God below the words of men, or so pervert the word of God as to apply a statement made to a particular class at a special time to all men at all times, deserve to be in darkness. We would not speak of this opening statement if it stood alone. But the principles involved are at the base of his whole position. We are told that, in Romans, all men does not mean all men, but only the elect. In Corinthians "in Christ all" means "all in Christ." In Colossians "the all" means "all things." He deals loosely with God's inspired words yet insists on hanging all on human perversions.
Before entering into details let us weigh thoroughly some of the general issues involved. To begin with, let us ask the question, Is it thinkable that the God of the Scriptures would have suffered His holy Word--which He had magnified above all His name (Psa.138:2) and which He has so graciously and so wondrously preserved during the centuries--to be thus abused? God knew all that was involved in the making of that 1611 translation. He knew that it would be, for centuries, the only transcript of His mind which countless numbers in the English-speaking world (who had no access to the Hebrew and Greek originals) would have. He knew that this 1611 translation would form the basis of hundreds of others into as many different tongues. Is it thinkable, then, we ask, that God would ever permit that translation to give such a radically misleading view of His character and an utterly erroneous setting forth of the final destiny of probably the greater part of the human race? That there should be inaccuracies in it was only to be expected; for it is human to err. But that God should allow such inaccuracies that completely mislead its countless readers concerning the two most vital of all subjects -- the character of God and the destiny of men -- is to us, and we doubt not to all reverent and honest minds, utterly unthinkable.
Reverent and honest minds will remember what God has said concerning the apostasy of the end time and will believe God that the errors of the last days will be very grave. It is not a question to be decided by mental incapacity but by a written revelation.
Whenever a writer begins by creating a prejudice in the minds of his readers in favor of a doctrine for which he cannot find sufficient support in the word of God, he reminds them of the crime of differing from godly men. It is perfectly proper for good men to differ among themselves, it is quite commendable that he should differ from them in many matters, but for anyone else to appeal to the Scriptures themselves--that is the height of heresy! We shall see that, in differing from such men as Calvin on the subject before us, our brother has classed himself as a criminal in this indictment! These godly men all had much truth and some error. Does our brother believe Luther's doctrine that the bread and the wine are transformed into the actual body and blood of the Lord? That the epistle of James is not inspired?
An Appeal to Apostasy
But, suppose that we are so constituted that we must have something besides the revelation God has given, what should our reason recommend? Seeing that the Scriptures plainly teach that this economy will end in apostasy, the presumption is that all doctrines which are commonly received throughout Christendom, are false. They should be viewed with suspicion. None should be received without first being tested by God's word. Such, for instance, is the orthodox dogma of inherent immortality. The overwhelming majority of men, including the great and good, believe it. Yet the Scriptures emphatically deny it. It is not conceit but faith that follows the word of God.
Or, if we cannot see the appalling plight of the apostasy, we should fall back upon the simple, clear statements concerning God Himself, and the spirit which He has given us. God is love, and the spirit He has given us is one of grace. The nature of God and the new life of the believer are utterly opposed to hatred. We are to love even our enemies and do them good because this is what God does. Suppress it, stifle it, denounce it we may, but no real believer has ever escaped the thought, "How can God torture His creatures forever and ever?" Every honest heart will bear witness to this. This does not prove eternal torment to be wrong, but it does cast a cloud of suspicion upon it. What is so contrary to the spirit which we have received from God demands investigation. If it is of God, let us cling to it: if not, let us repudiate it. Its nearly universal spread proves that it is a part of the apostasy if it proves anything.
But even those who have the mind of Christ cannot be the final arbiters of truth, for they differ among themselves. Truth should be viewed in the light of the revealed character of God. Both His attributes and His essence are irrevocably arrayed against eternal torment. It outrages His love, it sullies His holiness, it robs Him of His justice. Limited suffering satisfies love, and fully answers the demands of justice and holiness. It was so in the case of Christ. If eternity alone can suffice for sin, why does not the Saviour suffer eternally?
That the 1611 version is not perfect is freely granted. That there is room for godly men, possessing the requisite scholarship, to correct its flaws is doubtless true. And during the last three hundred years there have been many such who have reverently and painstakingly studied the Hebrew and Greek texts. These men have earnestly and prayerfully sought God's mind. The results of their labors have appeared in print, and thousands of believers have been helped thereby. But now we are asked to believe that their translations, at least where certain truths are involved, are misleading and erroneous. They, too, were so blinded by prejudice that they could not see the truth; or so cowardly, they were afraid to herald it; or so dishonest, they deliberately perverted it. This may pass with the credulous and thoughtless, but sober-minded men and women will be slow to believe it.
This paragraph is a deliberate attempt to create the false impression that we invariably change the accepted versions to suit our teaching. But what are the facts? He (not we) wants to alter "all men" to "all the elect" (Rom.5:18). He actually does corrupt "in Christ all" to "all in Christ" (1 Cor.15:22). Worse than this, in order to undermine our more accurate rendering, "the universe" for "all things," he actually offers misleading and false evidence and suppresses the true! We do not need to change these passages. He does. We are willing to leave them as they are.
With regard to the word for the ages, is there a single modern translator or expositor who does not, in some passage, give the true meaning? Newberry calls attention to it. Rotherham has two long notes on it and, I believe, always has age or age-abiding. The Revisers have age in the margin half of the time. We have taken the most straightforward course possible in a case like this, and have simply transliterated the Greek, leaving the interpretation to the reader. Nay, more than that, we venture to say that our brother himself refuses such phrases as "the end of the world." So that our real crime lies in doing just as he does--only doing it consistently.
The next few pages are so contradictory that they cancel themselves, hence we shall not transcribe them. On one page we are told that good men have searched the Scriptures "with the hope they might discover something which would at least modify" that "against which their own sentiments revolted," on another eternal torment commends itself "to the consciences of His children." If the unction they received approved of the teaching of eternal torment, why did they try to find some escape from it?
As, however, we build nothing on such broken reeds as these, we will not even attempt to answer these appeals, lest it may seem that we also depend on such methods of shoring up the truth. The word of God is sufficient for us and does not need the props of a perverted "conscience" or a spurious spirituality.
Two books lie before us as we write, `The Divine Mysteries: The Mystery of the Gospel' and `All in All: the Goal of the Universe'--which are the occasion of this brochure. The former is written and published by a Mr. Knoch of Los Angeles, the latter published by the same man contains a number of articles from different authors and several from the pen of its editor. We shall here notice only those written by Mr. Knoch.
"The above books present a system of Universalism, for they teach the ultimate salvation of every creature of God. But like the majority of those who contend for the ultimate salvation of every one of God's creatures, Mr. Knoch is not a consistent Universalist. His later writings--from which we quote at the conclusion of this paper--contains not a little which he has borrowed from Annihilationists. The arguments made have, almost all of them, been presented many times before, though no acknowledgment is paid to those from whom they have been borrowed. These arguments have been repeatedly examined during the last two hundred years by the servants of God, and being weighed in the balances of Holy Writ have been found wanting. But many of the present generation are more or less ignorant of this and know little or nothing of the ease with which "other students of the Word have exposed and refuted these sophistries of Satan. This is our chief reason for engaging in the present service.
We Have Borrowed From the Bible!
An amusing incident has occurred in connection with the charge that no acknowledgment is paid to those from whom we are supposed to have borrowed our arguments. Speaking on the subject of vivification in a public gathering, we asked if anyone had heard or read any similar exposition of the theme. For a while no one spoke and all seemed to indicate that they had never known of it before. But, at last, one brother, holding up a book, so that all could see, shouted, "I have a book that has it!" The audience turned to see. He was holding up a Bible! So we humbly retract any claim we are supposed to have made as to originality. It is all borrowed from the Bible!
Our main testimony is concerned with the universal reconciliation and the various mysteries. We know that our teaching on these themes has been derived fresh from the word of God. We do not know of anyone else who teaches the same. Others have taught the salvation of all mankind or a kind of "restitution." But where is the record of anyone teaching the justification of all mankind, the vivification (not resurrection) of all mankind, the reconciliation (not salvation) of the universe? Who has presented the mystery of Babylon as we have? Who teaches as we do concerning the present secret economy? We do not ask this merely to show that we have not "borrowed" from others, but we would gladly know of others who have found these treasures in God's holy word.
If then, what we have presented has been practically unknown, how can it be that it has been repeatedly examined and answered? Answers to Universalism there are, not doubt, in plenty. But, as we have been told by those who had belonged to the Universalist church that our teaching was as different from theirs as could be, they do not cover our case. We base all blessing on Christ. They build on character.
"The Mystery of the Gospel" originally contained the following: "The underworld, though not sharing in the universal reconciliation, will be powerless to prevent and impotent to infringe upon that perfect bliss" (See page 187). It can hardly be the purpose of a book to prove that which its author did not believe when he first wrote it. Yet the above statement of our critic is an admirable summary of "All in All."
Really, all that is needed to refute any system of Universalism is to demonstrate that the Scriptures do expressly affirm the endless punishment of the lost, for truth is always consistent, and as God's Word is "truth" it cannot contain any contradictions; therefore, it is evident that though certain passages may at the first glance seem to teach the salvation of all, yet in fact they can not do so. However, it may help some if we expose the various glosses which Mr. Knoch has placed upon the passages he appeals to in support of his heretical dogmas.
The Scriptures Cannot Teach What They Seem To!
All that is necessary to refute the doctrine of endless punishment is to quote a single passage of Scripture which affirms the contrary (Col.1:20). One argument is as good as the other, only that in favor of ultimate reconciliation is immeasurably better, for its conclusion is in harmony with the revealed character of God and the spirit of love which He has implanted in His saints. Our brother asserts this when he protests that many have made a study of the Scriptures "with the hope that they might discover something which would at least modify" this doctrine. If it appealed to their hearts and consciences and the spirit God had given them, why did they seek to modify it? We are not seeking to alter the universal reconciliation.
The first passage he summons to his aid is Rom.5:12-21. Upon the first verses Mr. Knoch comments as follows: `Sin fixes its fangs firmly on every one of Adam's sons. There is no escape for anyone. Sin is not evil theoretical, but actual and practical. It is not presented as a matter of choice. It is powerful and sovereign. The grand proof of this is Death. Death can enter only through sin. But Death claims every single son of Adam. These universal results have come through a single offense.
"For the present at least, the acceptance of the conciliation is not universal. But Adam's offense did not merely make it possible for men to sin and merit condemnation, it made it impossible for them to do otherwise. And we dare not refuse to believe that the work of Christ is "THUS ALSO." So that it is beyond denial that Christ's one righteous act is the basis upon which all mankind will yet be freed from every effect of Adam's offense. Truly, God locks up all in distrust in order that He may be merciful to all (Rom.11:32). And we may ask, Upon what other grounds could God justify the inclusion of all under sin? In order that He might condemn them? Never! But in order that He might create conditions in which He can reveal His love to them?
"Here the Universalist dogma is plainly set forth; upon the basis of Christ's one righteous act "all mankind" will yet be freed from every effect of Adam's offense." Mark how in the closing sentences of this quotation (from "The Divine Mysteries," pages 65 and 66) Mr. Knoch disposes of the mystery of evil and undertakes to fathom the ways of the Almighty. `Upon what other grounds,' he asks, `could God justify the inclusion of all under sin? In order that He might condemn them? Never! But in order that He might create conditions in which He can reveal His love to them.' What an arrogant replying against the Creator is this!
"Commenting on the singleness of the acts of Adam and Christ and upon the universal (?) effects of these, Mr. Knoch says (page 56), `And right here we challenge all who reverence the Word of God to array their strong reasons against a universal reconciliation before the adamantine fortress which these words provide.' It is needless for us to call attention to the spirit which such language displays. But what follows is far worse. On page 67 the venom of the Serpent is plainly observable: `The damnable dogmas of interminable sin, of estrangement irreconcilable between God and man, of endless torment, of a vindictive God--all these, shuddering, flee before these verities like foul vapors before the ascending sun.' We verily trust that all who read these lines will `shudder' at such `foul' language!
"There is a certain plausibility about Mr. Knoch's statements which is well calculated to beguile the unbeliever. Unless the true scope and meaning of Rom.5:12-21 be clearly perceived it is well nigh impossible to detect the fallacies in the Universalist's reasonings. That the apostle is not treating of a numerical contrast is freely granted; that he is not drawing an antithesis between one part of the Adamic race and another part of that same race as such we fully allow. But when Mr. Knoch, commenting on these verses, says, `Christ's work has no limits, either in power or extent! It restores far more than sin has taken away! It vitally affects all humanity who were mortally affected by Adam's sin,' he greatly errs."
Little need be said concerning this extract except that he deserves credit for giving a very fair presentation of our position. Our error consists in refusing to limit the work of Christ. We are content to have it so. He now proceeds to prove by a somewhat lengthy and involved process, that Christ's work has limitations, that Romans does not deal with "all men" (as it says) but with all the elect.
It would require too much space to give here a complete and detailed exposition of this most important passage in Rom.5, yet we must try and say enough to bring out its central teachings and enable the reader to see how thoroughly unfounded are Mr. Knoch's reasonings upon it.To begin with, a word needs to be said concerning the relations of Rom.5:12-21 to the context. In the previous chapters the Holy Spirit had dealt at length with the depravity and sinfulness of men, both Gentiles and Jews--even in the first half of Rom.5 this is further brought out by such expressions as `without strength;' `ungodly,' `sinners' (verse 6), `enemies' (verse 10). But now in the second half of Rom.5, we are conducted to the fountain-head and shown the cause of all this--the fall of Adam. This, then, explains why `Adam' is referred to here.
Again; in the second section of this Epistle (which begins at 3:21) a brief exposition is given of God's way of salvation -- see 3:21-26). In chapter 4 this is illustrated at length by the case of Abraham. God's way of salvation is by imputing righteousness (made possible by the death and resurrection of Christ) to everyone that believeth. That this principle of imputation is neither novel nor exceptional, but basic and universal, is now proven in chapter 5 by an appeal to the case of Adam, where we are thus taken back to the very beginning of God's governmental dealings with the human race.
The dominant purpose of Rom.5:12-21 is to illustrate the doctrine of the justification of sinners on the ground of Christ being made the righteousness of God to everyone that believeth. From the beginning of the Epistle the Holy Spirit has been engaged in inculcating one dominant truth, namely, that the ground of the sinner's acceptance before God is not anything in him or from him, but instead, solely by what Christ has done. This comes out clearly in 5:9,10,11. But as this idea of men being treated and regarded not according to their own doings, but on the merits of Another, is altogether contrary to the thoughts of the carnal mind, and is particularly offensive to the self-righteous desire of fallen man to win the Divine favor, God moved the apostle to illustrate and enforce this vital principle and truth by a reference to the great analogous fact of the fall of Adam and the consequent ruin of his race; a ruin brought about not by anything done personally by the members of that race, but accomplished solely by the acting of one outside of themselves.
So much then for the central design of our passage. Let us next point out the key which unlocks it. It should be obvious to all who have given it much study that the clause which illuminates the whole paragraph is the one found at the close of verse 14. There we are told that Adam was `the figure of Him that was to come.' What this signifies is made clear by what follows: It means that the first Adam, like the last Adam, was appointed by God as the FEDERAL HEAD of a race. Like the words `The Holy Trinity' and `Substitution,' `Federal Headship' is a theological term, and it is an idle cavil to object that these terms are not found in Scripture. The words themselves may not be, but the truths they express certainly are. The principle of representation, of one acting for the many, of the many being looked at as in the one and as that one legally standing for them, is illustrated in the Word of God again and again; for example, the High Priest representing the whole house of Israel on the annual day of atonement. It is in this sense our passage presents Adam as `a figure,' or type, of Christ. So in 1 Cor.15:47 Christ is termed `the second Man,' which can only mean the second Federal Head.
Now the all-important question arises, Whom did Christ represent, of what race is He the Federal Head? I answer, all who believe on Him to the saving of their souls. THESE constitute the new race, the new creation, the `one new man' (Eph.2:15).
There is, therefore, no difficulty whatever in harmonizing the so-called universal terms of Rom.5:15-19 with the fact that a multitude of Adam's race will be eternally lost. The `many' unto whom the gift of God's grace abounds (verse "15) are the same `many' as in John 17:2 and Acts 13:48. The `all men' unto whom comes the free gift `unto justification of life' (verse 18) are the `all men' that the last Adam represented, namely, God's, elect; each of which is brought to `receive' Christ as a personal Saviour (John 1:12). In short, the second `all' and the `the many' are those legally and vitally connected with Christ, as the first `all' and `many' are those who are legally and vitally connected with Adam.
Adam's Transgression Is the Ground of the Type
There is much to commend in this, especially the central sentence, "this idea of men being treated and regarded, not according to their own doings, but on the merits of Another, is altogether contrary to the thoughts of the carnal mind...the great analogous fact of the fall of Adam and the consequent ruin of his race; a ruin brought about not by anything done personally by the members of that race, but accomplished solely by the acting of one outside of themselves." It is racial, then. It was the race that was ruined by Adam's fall. But of course, it is not the race which is restored by Christ!
We might object (as he himself does) to the unscriptural term, "Federal Head." Christ is the Head of the body (Col.1:18). In the natural sphere He is the Head of every man (1 Cor.11:3). He is the Head of every sovereignty and authority (Col.2:10). He will be the Head of the universe (Eph.1:10). But I have not been able to find any passage to support the statement that He is the Federal Head of "all who believe on Him to the saving of their souls." He is never spoken of as the Head of the new humanity (Eph.2:15). It is a very misleading expression to impose on this passage.
Headship, in the Scriptures, has to do with rule. The question here is not the character and extent of Adam's dominion, or of Christ's sovereignty. The point of the passage lies in the character and effect of Adam's sin. It is not that he was a ruler and so Christ also will reign. It is that he was a man, and Christ also is a Man. One act of his involved all mankind in ruin, and one act of Christ's will bring all mankind justification of life.
All types are restricted. If one man were exactly like Christ in all particulars, he would not be a type. Many men were types of Christ, not in all they were or did, but in some particular. In what way is Adam here brought before us? Do we read of the headship of Adam, or of the transgression of Adam? It is Adam the transgressor who is the type here. In the following argument, His headship is not alluded to, but his transgression is always before us. The introduction of the theological "Federal Headship" into this passage proves nothing so much as the absolute necessity of injecting some foreign element in order to destroy its clear and unequivocal assertion that all mankind shall be justified through the one act of Christ just as they were condemned through the one offense of Adam.
It is in order to prove that "all men" means only some men, that this phrase "Federal Headship" is introduced. It is not the form of sound words which the apostle so earnestly exhorts us to hold. Yet since this seems the only way of showing that Scripture does not mean what it says, he adopts it, not, we are pleased to note, without some qualms of conscience. But what does he gain?
Suppose we allow the unfounded "federal headship." It proves nothing. It is far more reasonable to deduce from it that, as Adam was the "federal head" of the whole race, without exception or distinction, so Christ has become the "federal head" of the whole race. No type is ever greater than its antitype. This chapter bears witness that, in every other particular, the work of Christ is "much more" effective than the default of Adam. But there is no necessity to reason or deduce anything. God says it includes "all mankind." When God said that sin came through to "all mankind" (verse 12), our brother believes it because of the evidence of his senses. Now, when God says He will justify all mankind, he does not believe it. As there is no other evidence, he refuses to believe God. Instead, he actually asks us to believe him in opposition to God! God says all mankind." I (A. W. P.) answer," "God's elect."
Now we come to the heart of the matter. As he intimates, it is the all-important question. The bringing in of "federal headship" has served no useful purpose whatever. It has only thrown dust into our eyes. The all-important question is "Whom did Christ represent? Of what race is He the Federal Head?" God has no answer for this. He is silent. No passage can be produced. But that does not matter!
"I answer all who believe on Him to the saving of their souls." "The `all men' unto whom comes the free gift `unto justification of life' (verse 18) are the `all men' that the last Adam represented, namely, God's elect..."
We confess that we are gravely sorrowful for a brother who can stake all upon his own word, or who can expect his readers to believe him in preference to God. Not a shred of scriptural evidence is given that "all men" means all the elect, for there is none.
But perhaps his assertion is based on reasoning. Let us examine his premises. The question is, How many will be justified? Under protest, we will use his own unscriptural phrases.
1. Christ is "federal head" of a race, as Adam was "federal head."
2. Adam's offense condemned all mankind.
Conclusion. Christ's work justifies all mankind.
Let those who prefer reason to revelation try to write down definite premises for the conclusion that the work of Christ is limited to the justification of the elect. They will soon find that the great fact that Adam's offense actually makes all mankind sinners is fatal to such a deduction. If we were only given a choice in the matter, if some of mankind had refused to be ruined by what Adam had done, then we could reason out a limit to Christ's work, as the antitype of Adam's fall. Yet even this would not be conclusive for in all other particulars, where the effect of Christ's work varied from Adam's, it was much more.
Let us try to manipulate the minor premise as is suggested, and make it:
2. Adam's offense condemned those who are legally and vitally connected with him.
But, as all are thus connected, it hinders, rather than helps, for it proves that all will be legally and vitally connected with Christ. It is evident that nothing can be done with the premises. The only possible way to get the result we want is to slip a cog. The "federal headship" will cover this slip. We are forced to take for granted the very thing we are supposed to prove! Keep at this passage, dear brethren! Reason with it. Wrestle with it. You will never be satisfied until you acknowledge that Christ's work, in all its aspects, completely eclipses Adam's.
For those who desire to make a more minute study of this passage, we submit the following analysis:
First, as the point to be illustrated is the justification of sinners on the ground of righteousness being imputed to them, appeal is made to the condemnation of the old race through the offense of Adam (verse 12).
Second, before carrying out that analogy and applying the principle of the illustration, proof is first supplied that all of Adam's race were condemned on account of the sin of their Federal Head (see verses 13 and 14a).
Third, Adam was, therefore, a figure or type of Christ, inasmuch as what he did is imputed to (reckoned to the account of) all whom he represented (verse 14b).
Fourth, having stated that Adam was a type of Christ, we are next shown in what particulars He was and was not so. There was both a comparison and a contrast (verses 15-17).
Fifth, the Holy Spirit then returns to the principle of headship and plainly states the consequences to the members of the old race and the members of the new race of the federal relations of both Adam and Christ (verses 18,19).
Sixth, the Holy Spirit next supplies a reason why the Law was given, and draws a contrast between sin and grace (verse 20).
Seventh, the climax of the argument is reached by affirming that grace reigns through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord (verse 21).
An Analysis of the Passages
We see nothing in this analysis which will assist the student to settle the point before us. So we present another analysis which we confidently believe will be a much greater help in studying the whole passage and definitely decide that "all men" means all men.
The word of God is vitally alive. All living organisms have a symmetrical structure, part corresponding with part. In man, one arm corresponds with the other, finger balances finger. So the whole epistle of Romans has a structure in which each passage has a companion passage in the corresponding division of the book. For the sake of those who do not possess the CONCORDANT VERSION, it is reprinted here. No one who will carefully consider this framework will doubt for a moment that here we have God's analysis. We have not made it. We have only discovered it. This, we submit, is not an outline based on human insight or the lack of it. Like the flower of the field, the marvelous symmetry and relation of the parts in this "outline" reveals the handiwork of God. It is given on the next page.
From this structure, we learn that the companion passage is found somewhere in the eleventh chapter. We may expect to find there a counterpart of the justification of all mankind but from the national standpoint rather than the individual. Is there any statement dealing with all mankind? There is, and it is just as clearly all as the fifth of Romans. "God locks all up together in obstinacy, that He may be merciful to all" (Rom.11:32).
The same marvelous proportion of parts is to be seen in this passage itself. If we should ask our hearts what part of the context will cast most light on the interpretation of this scripture, the answer will be found in the framework which we submit herewith. It will be noted that it is a miniature of the epistle as a whole, a reversal in which each subject is reviewed in opposite order once the center of the passage has been reached.
FRAMEWORK OF ROMANS
Is it possible that such symmetry can be accidental? Since it is undoubtedly designed, we should take advantage of its plan, for it points unerringly to the closest context for any part of the passage. This is not necessarily the next verse. It is the corresponding member of the structure.
Adam's sin is twice brought before us and used as a picture of present conditions. First, it is called a transgression and the question is whether those who have no law, as Adam had, are reached by its dire effects. The answer is that all mankind are included, even though they had not transgressed, as Adam had. This is the lead which the eighteenth verse follows. All between verses fourteen and eighteen is parenthetic. This is evident to the careful student apart from any structure. There is nothing in verses fifteen, sixteen, or seventeen on which to base the conclusion in verse eighteen. So that we are justified in reading the passage as follows:
14 "...death reigns from Adam unto Moses, over those, too, who did not sin after the likeness of Adam's transgression, which is a type of that which is about to be (15,16,17).
18 Consequently, then, as it was through one offense for all mankind for condemnation, thus, too, it is through one just award for all mankind for life's justifying."
Now we are ready once more to ask the question, Does this refer to all the elect or all mankind? Since the plain statement of the text is denied, we ask the further question, Did Adam's sin reach a portion or all of mankind? There is no need to answer. Consequently justification, also, is for all mankind.
We have now shown that both revelation and reason are for the justification of all mankind. We ought to stop here. It is useless to study human opinions on such a matter. Yet our failure to follow may be urged against the truth. So we will see what men have to say!
"The brief exposition which we have furnished above upon the second half of Rom.5 is no novel interpretation of ours, invented for the purpose of disposing of a difficulty. In substance, it is -- as Mr. Knoch very well knows, or ought to know, since he appears to be so well acquainted with the commentaries of Christendom -- the identical interpretation uniformly given by the Reformer and the Puritans. Were it necessary we could prove this by quoting from upwards of twenty-five of the leading Christian teachers of the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries. But we have adopted it not because it comes to us endorsed by so many godly scholars, but because we have long been personally satisfied it is the only interpretation which fairly, and consistently with other scriptures, gives a place and meaning to all of its terms. That Mr. Knoch ignores this interpretation -- an interpretation embodied in some of the leading Catechisms and Creeds -- only serves to show the weakness of his case. Not that we are complaining because he has failed to notice the Catechisms and Creeds (which are no more authoritative to us than to him), but fairness requires an exegete, who is advancing a system of interpretation which is opposed to the one which has been widely received by God's people in the past, to show the untenableness of that which he seeks to supplant. If a man should offer some refinement of Socinianism to the Christian public, it would be incumbent upon him to attempt to show where he believes they err who believe in a plurality of Persons in the Godhead. Failure to do this will cause reflecting minds to conclude he was unable to do so.
The Commentaries of Christendom
It is with a deal of diffidence that I speak of personal matters. They are of no moment when dealing with God's truth. The fact that Peter had recently denied his Lord did not impair his preaching at Pentecost. Yet if I must descend to speak of myself I will only confess my ignorance. I am not at all acquainted with the commentaries of Christendom. I have long ago read in the Scriptures that this is a day of departure from the faith. This defection must be reflected in Christendom's commentaries and I do not wish to feed on apostasy. It is bound to have its effect on everyone who absorbs it. I have spent half a lifetime fitting myself to hear God speak through His inspired word, and, having heard Him, it would be hard to find commentaries which would interest me. Yet I have a broken a second hand set to refer to when I am expected to know what Christendom thinks, but the volume on Romans is missing. However, sometime ago someone kindly gave me a copy of Barnes on Romans, which I believe, is a standard work. I will look up the point in question. This is what I find:
Barnes on Romans 5:18
"Upon all men. The whole race...Came upon all men eis pantas anthroopous. Was with reference to all men; had a bearing upon all men; was originally adapted to the race. As the sin of Adam was of such a nature in the relation in which he stood as to affect all the race, so the work of Christ, in the relation in which he stood, was adapted also to all the race. As the tendency of the one was to involve the race in condemnation, so the tendency of the other was to restore them to acceptance with God. There was an original applicability in the work of Christ to all men--a richness, fullness of the atonement fitted to meet the sins of the entire world and restore the race to favor...
"...Perhaps there could not be found a more striking declaration anywhere that the work of Christ had an original applicability to all men; or that it is, in its own nature, fitted to save all. The course of argument here leads inevitably to this; nor is it possible to avoid it without doing violence to the obvious and fair course of the discussion...Calvin concurs in this interpretation, and thus shows that it is one which commends itself even to the most strenuous advocates of the system which is called by his name."
Both Barnes and Calvin were "leading Christian teachers" and they do not teach that "all mankind" in Romans 5:18 is confined to the elect. It includes the whole race of mankind. For once I will quote a commentary: "The course of argument leads inevitably to this; nor is it possible to avoid it without doing violence to the obvious and fair course of the discussion." These words come from one who, like the writer in Our Hope, must find some way to avoid the plain teaching of this passage. That seems to be the function of commentaries. But he could not force himself to do such "violence" to the passage as we are now called upon to approve.
The Conciliation of the World
Perhaps our critic will smile at the mental contortions of Mr. Barnes. The specially strong inspired INTO, he would like to change to "with reference to," or, "had a bearing upon." But these are not just satisfactory, so he has a brilliant idea. It was "originally adapted" (his italics) to the race." This seems to relieve him wonderfully, so it is repeated as "an original applicability...to all men." All that we need now is a commentary on Barnes, for we do not know what he means. Neither does he.
What are the facts? In this passage this word eis INTO is used eight times. The occurrences follow. In place of into, in each case put one of the phrases proposed and the absurdity of the whole position is manifest. This is the only safe commentary. You may call it mine if you like. I am not ashamed of it before either God or man. Little discernment is necessary to see that this not only robs mankind as a whole, but it strips us of everything that we have in Christ.
We must, however, acknowledge that Barnes has a glimmering of a great truth which no theologian that I am aware of has ever seen, and which seems to be almost unknown in the present day. Our dear brother who is refuting universalism gives no hint, in his analysis, that he has even heard of it. It is this, "that God was in Christ conciliating the world to Himself, not reckoning their offenses to them" (2 Cor.5:19). This is not reconciliation, for that would prove that God's present work includes the salvation of the world at this time. It is conciliation on God's side. It describes God's attitude. Reconciliation ensues only when we obtain the "conciliation" (Rom.5:11). Had our verse (Rom.5:18) read "all mankind for conciliation," then Barnes would have been very near the truth. But all mankind are already conciliated. God is not reckoning their offenses to them. He is not threatening, but beseeching them. This is the great, unknown secret of the evangel, which is the subject of "The Mystery of the Gospel." But justification is an entirely different matter. Conciliation on God's side does not guarantee salvation necessarily. That rests with its acceptance. Not so with justification. He who is justified can face the entire creation and challenge them to lay anything to his charge. Justification through Christ need not include eonian salvation, but it includes far more than ultimate deliverance.
At this juncture, we may as well take up one of the most serious charges against our personal character. We have not dismissed anyone with a wave of the hand--not even our critic. The little we know of the teaching of others on these themes has shown us that they are in hopeless disagreement. If we choose one side in preference to the other then we are dismissing some as utterly wrong, and we are presuming to decide between men and between their opinions. Our opponent does not even recognize Barnes and Calvin. Using his own argument we ought to charge him with colossal conceit. But we shall not descend to such foolish fighting, for it is unprofitable and vain. We should not compare ourselves among ourselves (2 Cor.10: 12). Those who do this do not understand (A.V., are not wise). It takes just as much conceit to dismiss Calvin as a heretic as to pass by some lesser light.
We cannot commend such a course, but if we must not study the Scriptures themselves, but consult human interpretations, is it wise to follow one class of expositors (exclusively when they are opposed by others equally good and great and learned? Is it not wiser to compare each with the Scriptures and give both credit for as much as accords with God's word? Calvin is right when he claims that "all men" means all men in Romans five. We are with him. Our dear brother is right when he insists that it is not a mere provision for salvation but actual justification. We are with him. But we cannot follow him when he says that all men means some men. Neither can we follow Calvin when he says "It is offered to all without distinction." Each has a measure of truth. Neither has a monopoly. Is it conceit or prudence to believe only so much of each as does not conflict with God's revelation? Does not our position accord with both as far as it is possible when they are in disagreement?
"All Mankind" Is Better Than "All Men"
We plead guilty of having changed the reading "all men" in the common version to "all mankind." The inaccuracy of fixing all sin upon and exculpating Eve and her daughters is evident.
The word here translated men in our version is not the special term for men aneer as distinct from women but refers to any human being anthropos. Hence the CONCORDANT VERSION has "humans" in its sublinear, and mankind in the version. Everyone knows that "all men" does not exclude women, so no one can object to this change. The best rendering is "all mankind." It is precisely the same as in the twelfth verse. Death came through to "all mankind."
To conclude. Revelation, reason, and even some forms of tradition, all unite in assuring us of that grand and glorious fact that God, through Christ, will justify the life of every human being. How and when He will do this we have elsewhere inquired. May God give us grace to believe Him and revel in the rich redundance of His grace!
We may sum up the whole of this lengthy discussion in one simple question, What has God said,
or, all the elect?
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