Revelation 5:9

Revelation 5:9 
And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.”

Calvinists, Peterson and Williams: “It doesnt say that Christ died for every human being; it says that he died for people from every nation. (Why I am Not an Arminian, pp.206-27, emphasis mine) 

That’s an Argument from Silence,” since this passage affirms who Jesus did die for, but not who He didn’t. An analogy may help. 

​A boy emerges from a convenient store, joyfully 
waving Derek Jeter and Luis Pujols baseball cards 
before his friends, boasting of the haul. Technically, 
he bought the whole pack of cards (average players 
too), but the celebration is over the good ones. 
Similarly at Revelation 5:9, the celebration is over 
what God’s plan of salvation netted, that is, the 
whosoever’s from throughout the earth. The whole 
world was purchased, just like the whole pack of 
cards, but the context is the joy over the saved. 

Additionally, Calvinists believe that God eternally elected men “from the mass of all humanity, and notice that Revelation 5:9 uses the same word “from.” In other words, the phrase, “men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation” is the whole mass, from which people were redeemed. God purchased some from the whole. The point is that the various races are not a partial total, but the sum total. Essentially, the phrase means the same exact thing as saying all men” (i.e. some were purchased from the sum of all men). At Matthew 22:14, there are more called than chosen. Factoring that, and the correct understanding of all men” into John 12:32, there are more called/drawn than those who end up saved/chosen. In contrast, if Jesus has stated at Matthew 22:14 that the ratio of called:chosen was 1:1, then Calvinists would not infer it as a General Call, but as an Effectual Call (i.e. Irresistible Grace). So why shouldnt Calvinists view John 12:32 in the same way that they view Matthew 22:14, that is, as a General Draw? Is there any limiting factor designated at John 12:32? No. Well, then it’s settled. It refers to the general draw of all humanity through the preeminence of the Gospel, resulting in some who submit and others who refuse.

Calvinist, James White: “...God the Father decreed the salvation of an elect people, Christ died with the intention of redeeming those people through their union with Him and accomplished that task, and without fail the Holy Spirit brings that accomplished work to fruition in the life of the elect at the time and in the manner determined by God.” (Debating Calvinism, p.170, emphasis mine)

James White: “The scope of the atonement, then, is in perfect harmony with the scope of the electing grace of God. Christ atones for the sins of the elect from every tribe, tongue, and nation. (Revelation 5:9).” (Debating Calvinism, p.173, emphasis mine)

Notice that James White added the part about Calvinism’s “elect,” even though the verse never introduced an eternally elect case. White simply imports such a concept into the text. Ask where there is an hint of an Unconditional Election in the text.

One point that James White also likes to make is that “every tribe and tongue and people and nation” does not mean every single person, but only means every race. But if some are purchased from the whole, then purchasing some from “every tribe and tongue and people and nation” means to purchase some from the whole of every tribe, ect. So, then, every race does imply the whole sum of humanity, rather than a limitation of it. The verse doesn’t say that God chose some from some, but the implication is some from the whole.

James White: “Christ, by His blood, redeemed men from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation (Revelation 5:9); that is, from the whole world, and this is the only consistent way of viewing His work.” (Debating Calvinism, p.179, emphasis mine)

Correct. Some taken from the whole, rather than some taken from some. Filter that right back into John 12:32 and Matthew 22:14 who are drawn/called vs. chosen/saved.

​Question: What does “every tribe and tongue and people and nation” imply?

Answer: Every race of mankind, every country, every people-group of mankind. Does this leave anyone out? No, and that’s the point. No one is left out of that. That is the sum total of all humanity. Now, out of the sum total of all humanity, you have a collection of people that had gotten saved, and are presented in Heaven. Of these who are saved, Jesus had purchased them, which otherwise without His shed blood, would have been lost. Calvinists have spun this to mean that Jesus only died for those who got saved, and that’s not the thrust of what’s going on at Revelation 5:9. This is simply speaking of what Jesus’ sacrifice had accomplished. 

​Question: Consider that from Psalm 49:1-2, which states: “Hear this, all peoples; give ear, all inhabitants of the world, both low and highrich and poor together.” Should Calvinists insert the word “elect,” as in Calvinism’s elect, as if the mention of “low and high” and “rich and poor” merely signified groups, but not necessarily all individuals within those groups?

Answer: I don’t think that Calvinists are getting their story straight. Historically, people have accused Calvinists of failing to remember what they just said.

​Question: If Matthew 22:14 implies that there are more called then chosen, then why shouldn’t we similarly consider John 12:32 as being more drawn than come?

Answer: Isn’t the same principle involved? Are there any limiting factors at John 12:32? Doesn’t Revelation 5:9 show that some are taken from the whole? Compare the ratios for all three verses.

James White: “When we see the world as the entirety of the kinds of men (Jew and Gentile, or as John expresses it in Revelation 5:9, where every ‘tribe, tongue, people, and nation’ means world) the passage makes perfect sense. God’s love is demonstrated toward Jew and Gentile in providing a single means of salvation for both.” (Debating Calvinism, p.378, emphasis mine)

Rather, see the world as the sum of all humanity, from which, people had been purchased, and in order to understand the context of the celebration of the purchase, refer to the aforementioned analogy.