This post is an excerpt from the book review of Death of Death in the Death of Christ.
This argument is based on Judas and the Lord’s supper.
17And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves:
18For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.
19And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.
20Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.
21But, behold, the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table.
This passage is the institution of the Lord’s supper. Christ gives the bread to the disciples (including Judas) and says that it’s given for you. My argument is simple:
P1: Judas was among those for whom Christ gave his body
P2: Judas was ultimately lost
C1: Therefore, Christ gave His body for those who were ultimately lost.
Calvinists try to deny P1 in two ways. Some say that “you” is general and doesn’t necessary include Judas. But this is a small group here, just 12 people. It’s basically direct address. Further, the parallel passage in Matthew 26:27 says of the cup: “Drink from it, all of you” NASB and Mark 14:23 says “they all drank of it”. So it seems all participated and all were addressed by “you“.
Other Calvinists try to claim that in verse 21 “but” should be translated “except”. As if the sense was that Christ died for all except Judas. The Greek word “plen” can mean except. Here’s the Strong’s entry for “plen”:
- moreover, besides, but, nevertheless
- besides, except, but
An example of a case where plen means “except” would be Acts 8:1:
- And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria,
- the apostles.
The problem is, if it were to be used in the sense of “except” it should be within the same sentence, or at least the same train of thought. In Luke 22 “but” is part of a new sentence, starting a new thought. So most people would reject this idea right off the bat.
But looking at the grammatical issue a bit deeper we find a different reason. According to “A Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature” by Bauer, Arndt and Gingrich, plen only carries the sense of “except” if it is with hoti (i.e. except that) or used improperly as a preposition with a genitive. So if the passage had been written this way:
- This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you, but the hand
(assuming hand is genitive)
- of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table
then “plen” could mean “except.” But “hand” is not genitive, it is nominative. Further, we had to remove “behold” to get it to work. So the sentence structure doesn’t allow this reading. Plen could have also meant “except” if it had been written this way:
- This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you, but that hand of him that betrayeth me which is with me on the table.
But I had to insert “that” (hoti). I also had to add “which” to get the rest of the sentence to work. So we see that plen can’t mean except in this case. We are left with a very clear statement from Christ where He says He gave His body for one who ends up ultimately perishing.