For who did Christ die?

John Owen

The Father imposed His wrath due unto, and the Son underwent punishment for, either:

  1. All the sins of all men.

  2. All the sins of some men, or

  3. Some of the sins of all men.
    In which case it may be said:**

  4. That if the last be true, all men have some sins to answer for, and so, none are saved.

  5. That if the second be true, then Christ, in their stead suffered for all the sins of all the elect in the whole world, and this is the truth.

  6. But if the first be the case, why are not all men free from the punishment due unto their sins?

You answer, "Because of unbelief."

I ask, Is this *unbelief *a sin, or is it not? If it be, then Christ suffered the punishment due unto it, or He did not. If He did, why must that hinder them more than their other sins for which He died? If He did not, He did not die for all their sins!"

This is the famous Puritan riddle by John Owen. It would be interesting to hear your view on this historic riddle. For who did Christ die? I believe choice number 2 is the truth revealed in Scripture (2. All the sins of some men).

Christ died for all sins of all men. why are we not free from punishment then? because we continue to sin. the difference before and after Christ’s death is that before there is no path to salvation. Jesus provided us with the way

Okay, here is the next question. We know that all men are commanded to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. To have faith in Christ is more than a choice, it is a commandment of God. Unbelief is sin, correct?

And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 1 john 3:23

The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” - Acts 17

Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. - 1 John 5:10

unbelief is not a sin. but if you don’t believe is Jesus then you don’t find the path to salvation.

I think the Catholic Church would agree with me that unbelief is a tremendously big sin. We call God a liar when we do not believe the testimony of God about His Son.

Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. - 1 John 5;10

Christ died for all the sins of all men. His death reconciled mankind with God. This gift of grace enables mankind to seek, find, love, and follow God.

However, men are free to reject this gift of grace.

Okay, please answer if the Catholic Church considers unbelief in Christ and the gospel to be sin. I would anticipate that unbelief in Christ would fit into a mortal sin.

That’s not really relevant. I don’t know the answer. Belief is not an on/off condition. It is a process.

Following Jesus is a process as well. We all sin, but we must repent when we do sin and continue to strive for holiness with the help of God’s grace.

I would like the official Catholic Answer in regards to unbelief in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Scripture commands all men everywhere, to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ for forgiveness of and reconciliation between God and man. Is it a sin according to the Catholic Magesterium to disobey the command to believe in Christ? Faith in Christ is a life long process.

I found a quote from Thomas Aquinas stating that unbelief is a sin. In most cases, the doctrine of the Church is in agreement with Aquinas, so I would accept that unbelief is a sin.


What must we do with this?

Luke 12
47"That servant who knows his master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. 48But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

Okay, let’s get back to the OP and the famous Puritan riddle by John Owen. Did Christ die for the sin of unbelief?

As I previous stated, Christ died for all the sins of every man.

However, this gift of grace demands a response in order for it to be efficacious for salvation.

All sins for all men.

But, there is a sin that goes unforgiven. That is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit (rejecting the Holy Spirit access to change you). So, if you refuse Christ, He will not help you. Remember, salvation is by grace through faith. Without faith, there is no longer grace.

Okay, if Christ died for the sin of unbelief, than all mankind will be saved since Christ paid the price for all sins for all men. Isn’t the lack of response as God demands simply an extension of the sin of unbelief?

Is unbelief a sin? Uh, yes. Did Christ die for it? Of course! I’m not a theologian but I think it can be answered like this:

      "Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven." There are no limits to the mercy of God, but anyone who deliberately refuses to accept his mercy by repenting, rejects the forgiveness of his sins and the salvation offered by the Holy Spirit. Such hardness of heart can lead to final impenitence and eternal loss." CCC1864

     A man cannot be forgiven of any sin before repenting. Therefore, we must conclude that one must believe in order to be saved (unless of course he has not heard the Gospels or has had heard them preached wrongly, or just has invincible ignorance.) If someone DELIBERATLEY chooses not to believe until death, then he/she will die unforgiven in the state of unbelief.

Even the demons believe.

Salvation is a process. Unbelief is one sin among many.

We have sufficient grace to believe, but belief alone is not sufficient for salvation.

verse that sort of backs this up,

Romans 14:23
And he that doubteth is damned if he eat,
because he eateth not of faith:
for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.

(faith, belief Gk ‘pist’-)

Excellent, I forgot about that verse!

I guess we can discuss our understanding of the atonement and the word propitation too.

He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

  • 1 John 2:2

What do you mean by “unbelief”? Please clearly define it in a way that is clear and self-contained.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit