The Death of Death in the Death of Christ Summary & Pre-Read


Lord’s Library editors compiled this brief that offers a short summary of The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, a Christian classic by John Owen.

In The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, 17th-century theologian John Owen offers a detailed exposition of the nature of atonement. This work has been described as “the classic text defending the purposeful and actual procurement of salvation for sinners in the death of Christ.” Through rigorous analysis of the Scriptures, Owen seeks to demonstrate that Christ’s death accomplished exactly what it was intended: to redeem those chosen by God from before the foundation of the world.

Typically portrayed as a polemical work on the Calvinistic understanding of limited atonement, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ also acts as a defense for the perfect work of Jesus Christ on the cross. John Owen refutes the notion of universal atonement—the idea that Christ died for all people, regardless of whether they ultimately believe.

Owen’s work is not just theological in nature but also a pastoral assurance of the power and certainty of salvation for those who trust in Christ. This book remains a cornerstone of the Reformed theological perspective, offering insight into the nature and purpose of Christ’s death and its significance for the believer.

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The Gospel

The Death of Death in the Death of Christ Summary

The Death of Death in the Death of Christ Summary: Points to Know Before Reading

The Book Outlines the Purpose of Christ’s Death

Owen begins The Death of Death in the Death of Christ by addressing the fundamental purpose of Christ’s death, arguing against the then-common belief in universal redemption (the idea that Christ died for all people, whether they ultimately are saved or not). Instead, Owen posits that Christ’s atoning sacrifice was specifically intended for the elect, effectively securing salvation for them and them alone. This does not diminish the value of Christ’s death; rather, it magnifies its power and certainty in saving those it was meant to save.

And the Nature of Atonement

Central to Owen’s argument is a detailed exposition of the nature of atonement. He meticulously outlines how Christ’s death satisfies the justice of God, atones for sin, and reconciles the elect to God. Owen uses Scripture to argue that the atonement is not a mere potentiality that makes salvation possible if individuals choose to believe, but an actual accomplishment that guarantees salvation for those it was intended.

While Highlighting the Work of the Trinity in Salvation

Another significant theme in Owen’s work is the role of the Trinity in the work of salvation. He emphasizes the harmonious work of the Father in electing, the Son in redeeming, and the Holy Spirit in applying salvation to the lives of the elect. This Trinitarian framework underscores the comprehensive and effective nature of salvation as a divine work, from beginning to end.

For Those Interested in the Depth of the Doctrine of Grace

Owen also engages with and refutes opposing theological views, including those advocating for universal redemption. Through rigorous biblical exegesis and logical argumentation, he challenges the inconsistencies and theological problems posed by a universalist perspective on atonement, advocating instead for a view that aligns with the particularity and efficacy of Christ’s work as presented in Scripture.

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Timothy Andrew

Timothy Andrew

Tim is the Founder of Lord's Library. He believes the Bible commands us to minister "as of the ability which God giveth" (1 Peter 4:11). Tim aspires to be as The Lord's mouth by "taking forth the precious from the vile" (Jeremiah 15:19) and witnessing The Gospel of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15: 1-4) to the whole world.

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