Apologetics Thursday – Christ Died for His People

By Christopher Fisher

An exchange on ChristianForums.com:

Originally Posted by FreeGrace2:
But there are NO verses that teach that Christ died ONLY for some, whatever you’d like to call that group.

Apologetic_Warrior responds:
There are plenty of verses take Matt 1:21 for example:

Matthew 1:21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

Notice “will save” not might or possibly, and notice “his people”, in the context of the Gospels “his people” are the “sheep”, not the goats.

If Christ came to make a general sacrifice for sins, making it possible for anyone, then why do we read that “HE will save”. It doesn’t add up to insert notions of Jesus, coming to die for everyone but saving his people….meaning he died equally for those who are not his people, for those burning in hell. So where does that leave the efficacy?

Calvinist Apologetic Warrior believes that Jesus died only for the election. He believes that Matthew 1:21 is evidence of this fact. But this is not what “Jesus’ people” implies or means in Matthew. The Jews were expecting a Messiah to save Israel (not Gentiles and not “certain elect”). Here is Zacharias’ prophecy:

Luk 1:67 Now his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying:
Luk 1:68 “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited and redeemed His people,
Luk 1:69 And has raised up a horn of salvation for us In the house of His servant David,
Luk 1:70 As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets, Who have been since the world began,
Luk 1:71 That we should be saved from our enemies And from the hand of all who hate us,
Luk 1:72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers And to remember His holy covenant,
Luk 1:73 The oath which He swore to our father Abraham:

So God is saving “his people” (whose father is Abraham) from the hand of their enemy (as predicted by prophets) in order to fulfill the covenant. This was the covenant to David and Israel (not the gentiles). The prophets predicted a rise in Israel’s fortune (not shared promise with Gentiles). Absolutely none of Zacharias’ prophecy fits the context of Jesus dying for a select few elect including a mixture of Jews and Gentiles. It fits the context of Jesus coming to save Israel.

In fact, the term “his people” always refers to corporate Israel, both the saved and the damned. Paul connects “God’s people” with “Israel”, some of whom are rejected:

Rom 11:1 I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.

Here is Paul’s point: because God is cutting off Israel, this does not mean He is casting off all of Israel. God still gets to fulfill His promises. Paul clarifies:

Rom 11:5 Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace.

So a remnant of a larger body of God’s people is saved. This counts as God saving “his people”. A striking note is that Paul has to explain this to his reader. This was not common knowledge.

Here again Paul differentiates between Gentiles and “God’s people”:

Rom 15:10 And again he says: “REJOICE, O GENTILES, WITH HIS PEOPLE!”

When Matthew 1:21 states that Jesus will save “his people” from their sins, this is corporate Israel. The context indicates this, Jesus’ ministry to the Jews illustrates this, and later authors also point this out.

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