There Never Will Be a Single Human Being for Whom Christ Did Not Suffer

“The Church, following the apostles, teaches that Christ died for all men without exception: ‘There is not, never has been, and never will be a single human being for whom Christ did not suffer.’” (CCC 605)

Evgraf Semenovich Sorokin, “Crucifixion”, 1873
Evgraf Semenovich Sorokin, “Crucifixion”, 1873 (photo: Public Domain / Public Domain)

The false doctrine of limited atonement holds that Jesus Christ died only for the salvation of the elect — those who actually attain heaven (as opposed to dying for all men).

We know that God, in his merciful, loving nature — as revealed in the Bible, his inspired revelation, and his acts throughout history — would not be so unjust as to condemn a person eternally to hell, with that person having no choice or say whatever in his eternal destiny. 

God gives everyone enough grace to be saved if they will simply accept it. He loves all men and desires to save all men, but he won’t override their free will to do so. God loves all men, as the Bible teaches:

  • Romans 2:11 For God shows no partiality. (cf. Galatians 2:6; Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 3:25)

Note how in the following passage God loved the sinners who didn’t love him back or decide to follow him and do his will (many of whom were among the non-elect and who would end up in hell):

  • Matthew 23:37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!

The following passages show that Jesus died for all men, his atonement applied to all men, and that God desires that all be saved, even though some (in their free will) accept his work on their behalf and others reject it: 

  • Deuteronomy 30:15, 19 ... I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil. ... I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live …
  • Psalm 86:5 For thou, O Lord, art good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call on thee. 
  • Isaiah 53:5-6 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 
  • Isaiah 55:1 Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; ... (cf. 45:22; Joel 2:32) 
  • Ezekiel 33:11 ... I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live …
  • Luke 19:10 For the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost.
  • John 3:14-17 “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.
  • John 4:42 “... this is indeed the Savior of the world.”
  • John 6:33 For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven, and gives life to the world (cf. 8:12; 9:5).
  • John 6:51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.
  • John 12:46 If anyone hears my sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world (cf. 12:46: “light into the world”; 12:32).
  • Acts 2:21 And it shall be that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved (cf. Romans 10:13).
  • Romans 5:6 While we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.
  • 2 Corinthians 5:14-15, 19 For the love of Christ controls us, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. And he died for all, that those who live might live no longer for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. ... that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
  • 1 Timothy 2:3-6 ... God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all...
  • 1 Timothy 4:10 ... God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.
  • Titus 2:11 For the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men
  • 2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow about his promise as some count slowness, but is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
  • 1 John 2:2 and he is the expiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. 
  • 1 John 4:14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world.

Saying that Christ died for the Church (as Paul does in Ephesians) is not at all contradictory to saying that he died for all men, or for the world. But to maintain that he died only for the Church or only for the elect (limited atonement) does indeed contradict the passages above.

Therefore, since inspired Scripture aids in interpreting itself through cross-referencing, and doesn’t contradict itself, limited atonement is disproven from Holy Scripture.

The Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri, and the Mississippi River are seen from East St. Louis, Illinois, on June 27. Following the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision on June 24, abortion is now banned in Missouri. The nearest clinics to St. Louis are across the river in Illinois, including a Planned Parenthood in Fairview Heights that was opened in 2019 in anticipation of the overturn of Roe v. Wade.

Welcome to Post-Roe America

Every year on the anniversary of Dobbs, Catholics will be able to deepen their understanding of God’s role in the conception of every child, his care for the child’s growth, his knowing each by name, and the future for which he has given each child life.