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, comments: “It doesn’t 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.
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 shouldn’t 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, writes: “...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)
Calvinist, James White, writes: “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 the Calvinistically “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.
Calvinist, James White, writes: “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.
White adds: “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.