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        For whom Christ offered himself a Sacrifice


From “A View of the Covenant of Grace” by Thomas Boston.


Thomas Boston (1676-1732) was a pastor of God's flock in Ettrick, Scotland, whose preaching God abundantly blessed in the saving of many souls. The son of a Presbyterian who knew the Lord and was imprisoned for non-conformity, Boston was raised in times of murderous persecution. Nevertheless, he lived to see God’s people flourish and multiply, as “the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:47). He is perhaps best known for his part in the reprinting of “The Marrow of Modern Divinity”, a book which distinguishes the Covenant of Works from the Covenant of Grace.



1. It was not for his own sins, for he had none; but for the sins and transgressions of others, Dan. 9:26, “The Messiah shall be cut off, but not for himself.” He could not suffer for any sin of his own; for he was “holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners.” Though he made his soul an offering for sin, yet he had done no iniquity, neither was guile found in his mouth. As the legal lambs were without blemish, so Christ was a Lamb without spot. His extraordinary and miraculous conception in the womb of a virgin was an effectual bar against original sin, and he has no actual sin in the course of his life. He was infinitely holy as God, and habitually holy as man. Every power and faculty of his soul, and every member of his body, was elevated and raised to the highest pitch of holiness. And he fulfilled all righteousness in his life, and gave complete satisfaction to all the demands of the law; so that he needed not, as the Levitical priests, first to offer sacrifice for his own sin, and then for the sins of the people.  


 2. Christ did not offer up this sacrifice for the sins of fallen angels; for there was no sacrifice appointed for them. Whenever they rebelled against their Sovereign Lord and Creator, they were immediately expelled from the divine presence, and are kept in everlasting chains under darkness to the judgment of the great day. Christ took not upon him the nature of angels, but the seed of Abraham. He offered up the sacrifice of himself to make an atonement for the sins of men.  


3. Christ did not die a sacrifice for every man and woman in the world. It is true, there was virtue and efficacy enough in his oblation to satisfy offended justice for the sins of the whole world, yea, and of millions of worlds more; for his blood hath infinite value, because of the infinite dignity and excellency of his person. And in this sense some divines understand those places of scripture where he is called the Saviour of the whole world. Yet the efficacy and saving virtue of his sacrifice extendeth not unto all. For,  


     1st. It is restricted in scripture to a certain number, called sometimes the church of God, as Acts 20:28, “Feed the church of God which he hath purchased with his own blood,” Eph. 5:25, “Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it.” Sometimes they are called his sheep, as John 10:15, “I lay down my life for my sheep.” They are also called those that were given to him by the Father, John 17:2, “Thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.” See also John 10:26-29. In these places of scripture, and others that might be named, you see that Christ’s death is restricted to a certain number of persons, exclusive of all others,  


     2dly, If Christ would not pray for every one in the world, then certainly he did not die for every one in particular. But so it is that he excludes the reprobate world from the benefit of his prayer, John 17:9, “I pray not for the world, but for them whom thou hast given me.” Both the parts of Christ’s priesthood, his offering sacrifice and his intercession, are of the same latitude and extent. We find them joined together in the scripture by an inseparable connexion, Rom. 8:34, “It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intersession for us, 1 John 2:1,2, “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and he is the propitiation for our sins.” So that Christ intercedes for all those for whom he satisfied offended justice: but he intercedes not for the whole world, but only for those whom God hath given him; and therefore he did not satisfy offended justice for all men.


See also Sinners of Mankind the Object of the Administration of the Covenant  




“A View of the Covenant of Grace” by Thomas Boston. Focus Christian Ministries Trust, 1990.