Doesn't Titus 2:11 conflict with limited atonement?


Limited atonement is a biblical doctrine. See "Calvinism and 1 Timothy 2:4, 6?" and "Calvinism and 1 John 2:2?" below. As The Spirit of the Reformation Bible says:

Scripture speaks of God as having chosen for salvation a great number from the fallen human race (these are the "elect") and as having sent Christ into the world to save them (John 10:27-29; 11:51-52; Rom. 8:28-39; Eph. 1:3-14; 1 Pet. 1:20). Christ is regularly said to have died for particular groups or persons, with the clear implication that his death fully secured their salvation (John 10:15-18,27-29; Rom. 5:8-10; 8:32; Gal. 2:20; 3:13-14; 4:4-5; 1 John 4:9-10; Rev. 1:4-6; 5:9-10). Facing his suffering on the Cross, Jesus prayed only for those whom the Father had given him, not for the "world" (i.e., the rest of humanity, John 17:9, 20). Indeed, Jesus knowingly and purposely did not do mighty works in some places and as a result the people there did not believe the Gospel (Matt 11:20-24).

Our text reads:

Titus 2:11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people.

Grace is God's unmerited compassion for sinners (cf. Tit. 1:4; 3:15; cf. 3:4-7). Paul uses the term grace (charis) about a hundred times in his thirteen epistles. Grace is "undeserved favor." Compare 2 Corinthians 8:9; Romans 5:2; Ephesians 2:8; 4:7.

Grace has "appeared" - it has approached and overcome our spiritual darkness. Christians were once children of darkness, but now children of the light (Eph 5:8; cf. Isa 9:2; John 12:36; Acts 26:18; Rom 13:12). Paul wrote, "For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Cor 4:6).

God's purpose in extending saving grace to sinners (his elect, his sheep, his wheat, his invisible church) includes their initial salvation (Tit. 3:4-7; 2 Tim. 1:9), as well as the rest of their lives (Rom 8:29-30).

Jesus Christ has appeared (Luke 1:79) to all types of sinning people groups regardless of their gender, age, race or social class. The context makes the meaning very clear; "older men" (Tit 2:2), "older women" (Tit 2:3), "young women," (Tit 2:4) "husbands," (Tit 2:4, 5), "children" (Tit 2:4), "younger men" (Tit 2:6), "bondservants" (Tit 2:9) and "masters"(Tit 2:9) alike are all guilty before God, but from them all God gathers his people (Rev 5:9; 7:9). Therefore they should should live consecrated lives (Tit 2:12-13). Titus 2:14 confirms this meaning as Paul writes, "who gave himself for us to redeem us [a specific group] from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people ["a people," not all people] for his own possession who are zealous for good works."

So, Titus 2:11 does not conflict with limited atonement, rather it affirms it.

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Limited Atonement

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).