Did Jesus Die For All Or For Many?

You might have noticed a change to the words of consecration at Mass this Advent.  When speaking of the blood of Christ, the priest now says “it will be shed for you and for many, rather than “for you and for all.” A few parishioners have asked why this was changed and if it reflects a more exclusive view of Christ’s redemptive work.  Didn’t Christ, after all, die on the cross for everyone?
One of the objectives of the new translation was to bring forth the Scriptural roots of the Mass. By changing the words from “for all” to “for many," the prayer follows the language actually used in the Gospels of Mark and Matthew. But the the Greek word pollwn does not necessarily mean an exclusive group of people.  Rather, it simply indicates a large number of people.  Many is to be contrasted with few, not all.  In other words, the use of “many” does not imply there are some for whom Jesus did not die.
So who did Jesus die for? Paul writes to the Corinthians, “And he died for all, that those who live might live no longer for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”  (2 Cor. 5:15) John writes that “He is the propitiation for our sins: and not ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world."  (1 John 2:2) Following the Apostles, the Church has unambiguously proclaimed that Christ died for all people. Whether or not everyone actually accepts this gift is another question entirely.

Brian Desmarais is our Assistant Director of
Faith Formation. If you'd like to ask him a
question, please email him here.

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