The Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world - John 1:29
“The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”
“the Lamb of God, which TAKETH AWAY the SIN of the world”
ο αμνος του θεου ο αιρων την αμαρτιαν του κοσμου
There are two important things to notice in this verse in order to come to a proper understanding of what the verse is actually teaching.
Many “free will” Arminians mention this verse thinking that it supports their “I chose of my own will to believe and accept Jesus into my heart” theology.
But it doesn’t support this idea at all. If Jesus takes away the sin of the world, then the sin of the world is gone. And not every man, woman and child has their sins taken away.
Their view, as is often the case, proves too much and ends up teaching Universal Salvation, and is totally anti-Biblical.
The first thing to notice is the verb used here - “taketh away”. That is exactly what it means - to take away or to remove.
The verse does not say “MAKES IT POSSIBLE to take away” or “WANTS TO take away” or “TRIES TO take away” or "OFFERS to take away" but “that TAKETH AWAY THE SIN of the world.”
We see it used in Matthew 21:21 where our Lord says “…if ye shall say unto this mountain, BE THOU REMOVED, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.”
It is also used in Colossians 2:13-14 where we read; “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;
14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and TOOK it out of the way, nailing it to his cross”
And in 1 John 3:5 - “And ye know that he was manifested TO TAKE AWAY our sins; and in him is no sin.”
Here the apostle John is writing to believers and Christ did what he came to to - to save HIS PEOPLE from their sins. Matthew 1:21
The order of salvation is that God chose us (his elect) in Christ before the foundation of the world and predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself according to the good pleasure of HIS will (not ours) Ephesians 1:4-5.
And in time it is God who gives to his elect the faith to believe the gospel. That is why it is called "the faith of God's elect" - Titus 1:1.
See the article “WHY do some believe the gospel and others do not?”
The gospel is not an “offer” or a “possibility”. It is the proclamation of an accomplished redemption. Christ died for our sins - written to elect believers in 1 Corinthians 15. And those who are His sheep will hear His voice, and ONLY those who are His sheep.
Those who are not his sheep do not believe BECAUSE they are not his sheep. See John 10:26 and “ALL that the Father giveth me SHALL COME to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” John 6:37
So what does John 1:29 mean with it says that the Lamb of God TAKETH AWAY THE SIN of the world?
I know of two explanations that make sense and fit the rest of the Scriptures and do not create any contradictions as “free will” theology always does.
Notice that the word “sin” is in the singular, not the plural. The Lamb of God taketh away THE SIN of the world - not “the sins of the world”
We see the singular use of the word “sin” in combination with the word “world” in Romans 5:12.
“Wherefore, as by one man SIN entered into THE WORLD, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:”
The entrance of SIN into this WORLD, the physical creation, occurred when Adam sinned and fell. Sin affected the whole of creation, including the plant and animal kingdoms as well as all of nature around us.
“Cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee”. Genesis 3:17-18
But because of the sacrifice of Christ, the Lamb of God, sin and the curse resulting from the entrance of sin into this fallen world will be removed and there will be a new heavens and new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness. See 2 Peter 3:13.
“For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” Romans 8:20-21
According to this view, when it speaks of the Lamb taking away the SIN of the world, it speaks of this final restoration of the whole physical creation once again to a state of unsoiled purity and holiness, as it was before the fall of man in Adam.
This is what I believe the verse is talking about and we often see the word “the world” used in the gospel of John to denote the physical creation itself.
THE WORLD = the physical creation, the earth where man lives.
Do these verses refer to the physical creation we call the world or to every person without exception?
John 1:9 "every man that cometh into the world",
John 1:10 "He was in the world and the world was made by him",
John 3:17 "God sent not his Son into the world",
John 3:19 "light is come into the world",
John 8:23 "ye are of this world, I am not of this world",
John 9:5 "As long as I am in the world",
John 9:39 "I am come into this world",
John 10:36 "him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world",
John 12:25 "he that hateth his life in this world",
John 12:46 "I am come a light into the world",
John 13:1 "his hour was come that he should depart out of this world",
13:1 "having loved his own which were in the world",
John 16:21 "for joy that a man is born into the world",
John 16:28 "I am come into the world; again, I leave the world, and go to the Father",
John 17:11 "And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world",
John 17:12 "I was with them in the world",
John 17:13 "these things I speak in the world",
John 17:18 "As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world",
John 17:24 "Thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world",
John 18:36 "My kingdom is not of this world",
John 18:37 "for this cause came I into the world"
and finally John 21:25 "I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen."
The second possible way of looking at what John 1:29 means is that THE WORLD refers to the general class of humanity, be they Jews or Gentiles.
No longer is salvation restricted to the nation of Israel, but God is “visiting the Gentiles to take out of them a people for his name.” Acts 15:14
"World" is also used to denote all the nations of this earth, both Jew and Gentile. The Jews considered themselves to be the only nation whose God was the LORD, and there is much scriptural testimony to this effect in the Old Testament. But now the gospel is going out to include the Gentile nations as well.
"What then? are we (the Jews) better than they? (the Gentiles). No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin. Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the WORLD may become guilty before God." Romans 3:9,19.
"World" is also used to denote the Gentile nations in contrast to the Jewish nation. "I say then, Have they (the Jews) stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. Now if the fall of them (the Jews) be the riches of the WORLD (the Gentiles), and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness. For if the casting away of them (the Jews) be the reconciling of the WORLD (the Gentiles), what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead." Romans 11:11,12, 15.
Again it should be noted that not every individual Jew fell but many believed, and not every individual of the "world", the Gentiles, was reconciled; most were not.
The word "world" signifies a general category of men, not every individual within that category. The same is true of the word Israel. "For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel...That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed." Romans 9:6-8.
In John chapter three Jesus Christ is speaking to Nicodemus, a Pharisee and a leader of the Jews. The Lord tells him "Ye must be born again" and relates how Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness so that the Israelites who looked in faith could be healed of their plague.
So too must the Son of man be lifted up on a cross, but this time the salvation extends to the "world" and is not limited to the nation of Israel only.
The word “the world” in the gospel of John does not mean ‘all men without exception.’ Proof:
John 1:29: "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of THE WORLD."
Did Christ by His death take away the sin of all men without exception? If He did, all men without exception are saved.
The reality is that Christ DID “blot out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us” (the law) and he DID take away OUR sins, and all this took place at the cross where He laid down his life for the sheep (John 10:15), He gave his life a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28), he loved the church and gave himself for it (Ephesians 5:25) and he purchased the church of God with his own blood. (Acts 20:28)
All praise to the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.
ALL of grace, believing the Book, the King James Bible,
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