Limited Atonement and Colossians 2:13-14


As someone who has come from a Reformed church and is coming home to the Catholic Church, I still have some questions about Reformed theology. For a long time I listened to Matt Slick’s radio show (kind of like a Protestant version of Catholic Answers Live’s Open Forum) and heard him defend Calvinist theology many times.

Slick (and other Calvinists) believe that Jesus only died for the elect (those predestined to salvation). He quotes Colossians 2:13-14 in defence of his position.

When you were dead [k]in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross

He points out that the Greek word translated “certificate of debt” is χειρόγραφον (cheirographon) which he says means “a document of legal indebtedness”. Christ therefore canceled out the believer’s sin debt when He nailed it to the Cross. Slick goes on to say “Who did He cancel it for?”, the implications being that if He canceled it for everyone, then that would mean that no-one could go to hell because their sin debt would have been paid for by Christ. Therefore, Christ only paid the sin debt of those who have been predestined to go to heaven, i.e. the elect.

How would a Catholic answer this claim?

Interestingly, when I’ve listened to James White defend limited atonement, he’s never brought up this verse.


Personally wouldn’t be listening to anything Matt Slick has to say. I don’t consider myself an apologist and would be able to point out the contradictions in his arguments. He interprets verses out of context and one at a time to suit his agenda.

Here’s a good video with Matt Slick and Dr. Sungenis. Listen at the 17 minute mark, Matt shows he is unwilling to accept Catholic Definitions of words and pretty much says it doesn’t matter how the Church defines it, it all comes down to how I read it.

When it comes to atonement especially from a Calvinist perspective I think Dr. David Anders handles this subject better than anyone else.

Listen to his called to communion show, he answers this question at least once a month.

If I come across one of his answers I will link it.

God Bless


“the bond against us, with it’s legal claims” refers to Mosaic law. St Paul is referring to those who had transgressions under Mosaic law, and possibly also those who were uncircumcised before Jesus’ resurrection.

St Paul is referring to Mosaic law being metaphorically nailed to the cross. Jesus once said that it would be easier for Him to pass away/be crucified than it would be for the most insignificant part of the Pharisees’ concocted Mosaic law to be abolished. I believe St Paul’s metaphor is eluding to that.

Ironically, for Mr. Slick, the following is written in verse 8 right before 13-14.
“See to it that no one captivate you with an empty, seductive philosophy according to human tradition, according to the elemental powers of the world* and not according to Christ.”


The main problem with Calvinism boils down to the fact that even if all five points are right John C himself couldn’t know with 100% certainty whether or not he was numbered among the elect, whether or not Jesus died for him, whether irresistible grace applied in his case, whether or not he would persist to the end. Calvinism just plain puts the cart ahead of the horse. Did every single Colossian who read or heard Paul’s words in Col 2:13-14 enter heaven in the end? Only God knows with 100% certainty whose names are written in the Book of Life and whose are not.

Whether or not the following represents a case of hyperbole by the author regarding repentance (which could well apply to Col 2:13-14 regarding election BTW), these verses from Heb 6 reveal a common theme throughout the bible regarding security of salvation for believers:

"It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance."

And 2 Pet 3:17
"Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position." 2 Pet 3:17

Such passages are too numerous to include but know that believers can be branches that were grafted in and later cut off, soil where the seed sprouted but later withered and died,

closed #5

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