All Men Saved
Predestination is the doctrine that God alone is the One
who chooses who is saved. That He ordains the means, the
time, and the circumstances of salvation and without His
predestination, no one would ever be saved. From a study of
the teaching of the Bible we see that in part at least, this
is because human nature has been so completely corrupted by
sin that no one is capable of choosing God unless God
first regenerates that person. To put is another way
- unless a person has been born again, he or she is not able
to choose God.
However, on studying the Bible we may soon discover there
are verses which say God wants all men to be
saved. For example, "For this
is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who
desires all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of
the truth" (1 Tim. 2:3-4,
NAV). The question, then, is "If God predestines only
some to salvation, why are there verses that say
God wants all to be saved?
The answer is simple: The
word "all" refers to Christians. If you are inclined to
reject thisNow, before you reject this thought, please stop
and give it some consideration. We trust to show that the
"all" in at least three important verses that deal with
salvation refers to Christians, rather than all men
so, I would like to examine 2 Cor. 5:14, 1 Cor. 15:22, and
then Rom. 5:18 where the word "all" is used in a way that
can only mean the elect. Then I will examine other apparent
Before I begin, and for
clarity, I would like to introduce a couple of terms:
Essentially, Arminianism states that man is able, by his own
free will, to choose or reject God and that Jesus died for
everyone who ever lived. Calvinism states that it is God
alone who chooses who is saved, not man, and that Jesus died
only for the Christians.
Also, I would like to
introduce a principle that will become important later in
this study. It will help us in understanding God's word.
Let's say we have two sets of scriptures that are related.
For example, they deal with salvation and contain the word
"all." And let's say that some of the scriptures can be
interpreted in two ways, and the rest of the scriptures can
only be interpreted one way. It follows then that those that
can be interpreted two ways must be interpreted in harmony
with those that have only one interpretation.
If the first group of
salvation verses containing "all" have two interpretations
and the second group of salvation verses containing "all"
has only one possible interpretation...Then the first group
must be interpreted in such a way as to agree with the
second group; both must be interpreted as, say, "B." This
will prove helpful in looking at scriptures later,
especially after we've examined the next three verses.
One last thing: you will find
that though I seek to prove a single presupposition, I end
up discussing several points. This is because of the
intermingling of theological ideas that flow from the verses
discussed. I simply ask that you bear with me.
"For the love of Christ
controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all,
therefore all died; and He died for all, that they who live
should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died
and rose again on their behalf."
At first glance the
phrase "He died for
all" would lead you to think
that Jesus died for every individual who has ever lived. But
upon a closer look we see something different revealed. When
Paul speaks of people dying, in relation to the death of
Christ, he is speaking of the Christians who have died in
Christ: "Now if we have died
with Christ..." (Rom.
6:8); "If you have died with
Christ to the elementary principles of the world..."
(Col. 2:20); "For you have died and your life is hidden
with Christ in God" (Col.
3:3); "It is a trustworthy
statement: For if we died with Him, we shall also live with
Him" (2 Tim. 2:11). The only
ones who have died with Christ are the believers, not the
unbelievers. Therefore, this verse can only make sense if it
is understood that the "all" spoken of is not everyone who
has ever lived, but only the Christians: "...that one (Jesus) died for all (the
Christians), therefore all (the Christians)
But, you might ask, "If God
meant only the Christians, then why did He use the word
‘all'?" I believe it is because from all eternity God knew
who He had chosen to be the elect and the eternal plan of
redemption was carried out to reclaim "all" He had chosen.
Therefore, the "all" to Him is the all for which He intended
the death of Christ to atone.
It is important here that you
understand that sometimes God uses words or expressions in a
way that we might not. For example, the Bible says that God
only knows believers, not unbelievers. "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and
they follow me" (John 10:27,
NIV); "...The Lord knows those
who are his," (2 Tim. 2:19,
NIV); "Not everyone who says to
me, ‘Lord, Lord,'' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but
only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not
prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and
perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I
never knew you. Away from me, you
evildoers!'" (Matt. 7:21-23,
NIV). Of course, God knows absolutely everyone that does or
has existed - He is omniscient. But the way He is using the
word in relation to the saved is different from the way we
might use it: He knows the Christian and doesn't know the
non-Christians. This knowing is an intimate, familiar kind
You see, it is important to
understand that the Bible best interprets itself. We need to
see how it uses words and phrases and then, once we have a
clearer understanding, attempt to interpret the Word of
"For as in Adam all die, so
also in Christ all shall be made alive. But each in his own
order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are
Christ's at His coming."
Who are the ones who will be
made alive? They are the Christians and only the Christians.
First of all, to be "in Christ" is a phrase that describes a
saving relationship between the redeemed and the Redeemer:
"Therefore, there is now no
condemnation for those who are in Christ
Jesus" (Rom. 8:1, NIV) (See
also, Rom. 6:11; 12:5; 16:7; 1 Cor. 1:2, etc.); second,
those who are made alive at Christ's coming are the
believers. We will be made alive with Christ:
"By his power God raised the
Lord from the dead, and he will raise us
also" (1 Cor. 6:14, NIV);
"in a flash, in the twinkling
of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound,
the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be
changed" (1 Cor. 15:52,
The "all" that died in Adam
were all that Adam represented: every individual who ever
lived. Those "in Christ" are only believers. The "all"
therefore can only be the believers, because it says "in
Christ all shall be made alive." If all shall be made alive,
then the "all" can only mean the believers because only
believers are made alive in Christ. There simply isn't any
biblically consistent alternative interpretation. But you
might object and say that the first "all" refers to
everybody, obviously. So why, then, doesn't the second do
the same? Because the second "all" can't refer to everyone.
Only the Christians are made alive.
It could be said that
everyone, believer and unbeliever alike, will be raised;
only the unbelievers are raised to receive damnation. This
is true, but it does not fit here in this passage because it
is speaking of those who are Christ's; that is, the
believers. The "all" of these verses can only be the
"So, as through one offense,
there resulted condemnation to all men, so also, through one
righteous deed, there resulted justification of life to all
literal, word for word, translation of Romans 5:18
so therefore as through one offense into all
men into condemnation, so also through one righteous deed
into all men into justification of life"
therefore, as through one offense, into all men into
so, also, through one
righteous deed, into all men into justification of
there is no verb in this verse (it is not unusual in Greek
for there to be no verb in a sentence), a verb must be
borrowed or implied. Since there isn't a verb close enough
in the previous verses to borrow and that would fit
appropriately, one from the context must be derived. A
smoothed out version would be:
through one offense, there resulted condemnation to all
so also, through one
righteous deed, there resulted justification of life to all
that inserting the words "there resulted" into the text is
correct by simple logic. The offense of Adam resulted in
condemnation to all men -- no one disputes that. Adam
represented all his people (everybody) in the garden. When
he sinned, we fell with him. There was a result, an actual
result to his sin: condemnation. It follows that "there
resulted" should be in the second part of the sentence as
well because the second part has the same syntax as the
first and says "also." That is, Paul is implying a parallel
between the actions of Adam and the actions of Jesus. Adam
represented his people; Jesus represented His.
1) The structure of the first
and the second parts of the verse are the same: adverb(s),
prepostion, noun, (verb place), noun, and object.
Paul is trying to make it
clear in this verse that the deeds of the respective persons
had definite results upon those whom they represented. That
is why the verse is really two sentences of identical
Adam's sin resulted in
condemnation to all
Jesus' sacrifice resulted in
justification to all
Where the first Adam brought
condemnation to all, the second Adam (Jesus is called the
second Adam in 1 Cor. 15:45) brought justification to all --
that is what the text says, despite the apparent problem of
"all people being justified."
Justification is being
declared legally righteous before God. If someone is
declared legally righteous before God, then he is saved.
Only the saved are justified: "Much more then, having now been justified by
His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through
Him " (Rom. 5:9). Since the
Scriptures clearly teach that not all men are saved (Matt
25:31-33), we know that the "all" in this verse can't refer
to every individual. It must refer to something other than
everyone who ever lived. I conclude that the "all" can only
mean the Christians. God was so sure of His predestination
that to Him, the elect are the "all" He wishes to save.
The NASB gives the best
translation: "So then as
through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all
men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted
justification of life to all men."
The NIV does not translate it
as literally. It says, "Consequently, just as the result of one
trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of
one act of righteousness was justification that brings life
for all men." The NIV is right
in adding the word "result." The NIV in this verse
sacrifices the literalness in oder to draw out this aspect
of biblical teaching.
Furthermore, if the verb
phrase "that brings" is in the second part, it should then
be in the first part of the verse because the verse is two
identical thoughts. If that were done, then "that brings"
would take on the meaning of result, because condemnation is
exactly what resulted to all men when Adam sinned. Since the
verse is in two identical parts, what is done to one should
be done to the other. The NIV is not consistent in its
translation at this point.
The KJV translates it thus:
"Therefore as by the offense of one judgment came upon all
men to condemnation, even so by the righteousness of one the
free gift came upon all men unto justification of life." The
words "free gift" are not in the Greek. The translators have
drawn conclusions, though accurate ones, but I believe this
too does injustice to the text by not letting it say what it
says. Also, if the free gift simply came upon all people,
then it does not mean that it resulted, and the apparent
problem of all people being justified is taken care of.
Unfortunately, that isn't what the Greek says.
I believe some translators of
the Bible, when coming across this verse, realize the
problem of saying the atonement resulted in justification to
all men. They assume the "all" means every individual and
then translate the scripture in light of their theology to
allow harmony with their interpretations of the rest of the
scriptures. I think that is a mistake. Translators should
translate the text as accurately as possible, even if it
conflicts with their theology.
In these three verses it is
clear that God has used the word "all" differently from what
would normally be expected. This is an indication that God
has intended for the "all" to be saved, and they are. When
God is thinking of the "all" He is thinking of a specific
group. These three verses bare that out. But, what about
other verses that have a unversal flavour to them?
The Universal Passages
"For God so loved the world,
that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in
Him should not perish, but have eternal
If predestination is true,
then why does this verse state "whoever believes" will be
saved? The Bible says that faith is a gift from God (Rom.
12:3); that it is God who grants belief (Phil. 1:29); it is
God who produces belief in a person (John 6:29); and only
those appointed to eternal life by God are the ones who
believe (Acts 13:48). Also, faith comes by hearing and
hearing by the word of God (Rom. 10:17). In order for
someone to believe, they must hear the gospel of Jesus (1
Cor. 15:1-4) because the gospel is the power of God for
salvation (Rom. 1:16). There is no other name under heaven
besides Jesus by which anyone may be saved (Act 4:12). And,
one must receive Jesus (John 1:12) in order to be saved.
Since these things are true,
then how can the "whoever" of John 3:16 apply to those who
never heard the Word of God? There are multitudes who never
heard the gospel at all, who never had the chance. Consider
the Aborigines, the Bushmen, the Eskimos, or the American
Indians, who died before the time of Christ, or who even
lived before the time of Christ. Yet they NEVER heard
ANYTHING about Christianity, the atonement, the
resurrection, the holy scriptures, or the gospel. It was
never preached to them at all. How, then, can the "whoever"
apply to them when they have no chance of hearing the Word
of God concerning Jesus and salvation? From what I know of
scripture, they cannot.
To answer this question some
say that those who never heard the gospel will not be judged
the same way as those who have. But that answer contradicts
the scriptures that clearly say no one gets to the Father
but through Jesus (John 14:6); that it is the gospel that
saves (Rom. 1:16); the gospel is the death, burial, and
resurrection for sins (1 Cor. 15:1-4); and, there is no
other name under heaven besides Jesus by which anyone may be
saved (Acts 4:12).
"But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all
men to myself." (NIV)
Does the "all" here refer to
every individual on the planet? If yes, then how can they be
drawn and come to salvation if they never hear of Jesus and
the gospel message? I don't see how they can since they
never had the opportunity to hear and, therefore, believe in
Jesus. Again, what about the tribesmen in the Amazon? What
about the Incas and Aztecs at the time of Christ? What about
the countless people who had never even heard of Jesus, the
Bible, Jehovah, or the Jews? How are they drawn if Jesus
draws all men? They certainly must be drawn if the Arminian
position is valid and the "all" here means every individual.
But no one can believe unless they hear the Word of God
(Rom. 10:17). How can the heathen believe without hearing?
How can they all be drawn if they never hear the gospel or
even have the slightest chance to ever hear it? They
"He who did not spare His own
Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also
with Him freely give us all things?" The question again here is, who are the
"all"? Are they every individual on the planet who ever
lived (the Arminian position) or are they the elect, the
chosen of God (the Calvinist position)? We need to examine
the verses in their context.
"What, then, shall we say in
response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?
32He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him
up for us all -- how will he not also, along with him,
graciously give us all things? 33Who will
bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is
God who justifies. 34Who is he
that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died -- more than that, who
was raised to life -- is at the right hand of God and is
also interceding for us. 35Who shall
separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or
hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or
sword? 36As it is written: "For your sake we face death
all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.'
37No, in all these things we are more than
conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am
convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor
demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,
39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in
all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of
God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (NIV).
Verse 31 starts the context
and it is clearly speaking of the Christians. Only those who
are covered by the blood of the Lamb have been reconciled
and are no longer enemies of God (Rom. 8:7). The "us" of
verse 31 can only refer to the Christians. Verse 32 speaks
of Jesus' sacrifice for "us all." Is the "us" suddenly
everyone, the unbeliever too? Verse 33 speaks of the ones
God has chosen; that is, the Christians. Verse 34 speaks of
Jesus' intercession for "us"; the "us" can only be the
Christian's because Jesus is not mediating for the
unbeliever. Verses 35-39 speak of the Christians
inseparability with God. It is clear that the whole context
is speaking about Christians and no one else. The "us all"
of Rom. 8:32 must, then, refer to the Christians.
Before beginning the next
section, I need to propose what I think is a correct
supposition regarding the mind of the Jews and, therefore,
bears influence on interpreting the writers of the N.T. It
is this: The Jews were so narrowly minded that they
considered the Messiah to be for them only, not the whole
That is why there are
salvation verses that speak of all being saved, of a
sacrifice not only for our sins, but those of the whole
world (1 John 2:2). Please consider the following as proof
of Paul's attempt to correct the mistaken idea that the Jews
alone were to be saved:
Rom. 1:16: "for I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is
the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to
the Jew first and also to the Greek." Rom. 2:9-10: "There will be tribulation and distress for
every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also
of the Greek, but glory and honor and peace to every man who
does good, to the Jew first and also to the
Greek." Rom. 10:12:
"For there is no distinction
between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all,
abounding in riches for all who call upon
Him." Gal. 3:28:
"There is neither Jew nor
Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither
male nor female; for you are all one in Christ
Jesus." (Incidentally, the
"all" here means only the believers.) Col. 3:11:
"and a renewal in which there
is no distinction between Greek and Jew..."
2:4-6: "who desires all men to be saved and to come to
the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one
mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who
gave Himself as a ransom for all..."
First of all, Jesus is the
mediator for the believers, not the unbelievers. To me,
"men" in this verse can only mean the elect, the Christians.
Though I understand how an Arminian would interpret this
verse, the Calvinist position is more consistent with the
rest of the scriptures I've examined.
Second, considering that
"all" in 2 Cor. 5:14-15, 1 Cor. 15:22, and Rom. 5:18 can
only mean the Christians, it follows that when we approach
verses like 1 Tim. 2:4-6, there is legitimacy in
interpreting it in a consistent manner with the other
verses; that is, the "all" is the elect. Therefore, 1 Tim.
2:4 can have two possible interpretations:
1) The Arminian: The "all"
means every individual.
2) The Calvinist: The "all"
means the Christians. But since the Arminian interpretation
would contradict the interpretations found in 2 Cor.
5:14-15, 1 Cor. 15:22, and Rom. 5:18, we are left with the
Calvinist interpretation as the only legitimate one; namely,
that the "all" means the Christians.
Also, there is the problem of
answering how the desire of God is thwarted. The Arminian
position has the desires of God frequently thwarted in
addition to having the decision of God depend on the
decision of man. God can only save someone if that someone
makes the right choice.
2 Pet. 3:9: "The Lord is not slow about His promise, as
some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing
for any to perish but for all to come to
Peter wrote this epistle to
the Christians. "Simon Peter, a
bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have
received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the
righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus
Christ" (2 Peter 1:1). Also,
"This is now, beloved, the
second letter I am writing to you..." (2 Peter 3:1).
In the immediate context,
verse 8, says, "But do not let
this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the
Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as
It is very clear that Peter
is talking to the believers. It follows, then, that in verse
9 when it says the Lord is patient toward you, not wishing
for any to perish, he again is speaking of the believers.
God's patience is here told to be toward the believers, not
the unbelievers. God does not want any of them (the
believers, the elect) to perish. And they won't, because
God's wishes are not thwarted. But again if "any" is every
individual then we again have the problem of God's desires
John 1:19: "The next day he
saw Jesus coming to him, and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God
who takes away the sin of the world." This could be interpreted either in the
Arminian or the Calvinist camp. However, if the sins of
every individual are actually taken away, then why do any go
to hell? After all, aren't all the sins taken away? "Ah,"
but you say, "they are taken away only if that person
believes." The only problem with that is that Jesus' blood
is sufficient to cleanse of all sin, even the sin of
unbelief. Therefore, even that sin is covered. Remember, it
says that the sins were taken away by the cross of Christ,
not made possible to be taken away.
John 6:33: "For the bread of God is that which comes down
out of heaven, and gives life to the world." How is "gives life" to be understood? Does it
mean that the life is offered or does it mean that it is
given? If something is offered, it does not mean that it is
received. If it is given, then it carries with that word the
implication that it is received. Only the believers receive
life. The world in general is the recipient of that
6:51: "I am the living bread that came down out of
heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he shall live forever;
and the bread also which I shall give for the life of the
world is my flesh." Simply
partaking of the Lord's Supper does not guarantee salvation.
To eat the bread of Jesus means that it must be done by
faith--which only the believer, only those who are appointed
to eternal life and believe (Acts 13:48), can do. This could
be interpreted either in the Arminian or the Calvinist
11:12,15: "Now if their transgression be riches for the
world and their failure be riches for the Gentiles, how much
more will their fulfillment be!...15For if their rejection
be the reconciliation of the world, what will their
acceptance be but life from the dead?" It is only the Christians who are reconciled.
If the Jews' rejection of the Christ be the reconciliation
of the world, "the world" there must mean the believers. It
cannot mean that every individual is reconciled to God;
otherwise, everyone would be saved, and this simply isn't
true. If you say this means that reconciliation is generally
applied to the world and that whoever wants to believe may,
then you are ignoring what the verse says, that their
rejection be the reconciliation of the world.
2 Cor. 5:19:
"namely, that God was in Christ
reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their
trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word
of reconciliation." Again Paul
speaks of God reconciling the world to Himself. This verse
is even more clear than Rom. 11:12,15, for it states what
the reconciliation of the world entails: not counting their
trespasses against them. This clearly means salvation for
only the Christians who are forgiven and reconciled. The
word "world" here can only mean the Christians. Its
interpretation makes the most sense in the Calvinist
"But we do see Him who has been
made for a little while lower than the angels, namely,
Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory
and honor, that by the grace of God He might taste death for
everyone. " This verse can be
interpreted in both the Arminian and Calvinistic camps. The
Arminian and the Calvinist say that Christ tasted death for
everyone. To the Calvinist, the death of Christ actually
removes the wrath of God upon the ungodly (the elect). To
the Arminian the death of Christ was for all and doesn't
actually remove the wrath; it makes it possible for the
wrath to be removed based upon a human condition: belief.
Therefore, the choice of God depends upon the choice of the
"for this is My blood of the
covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of
sins." Notice that the verse
does not say for all, but for many.
"I am the good shepherd; the
good shepherd lays down His life for the
sheep." and John 10:15:
"even as the Father knows Me
and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the
sheep." Both these verses
specifically state that Jesus laid His life down for the
sheep (Christians) as opposed to the goats (non-Christians).
These verses are best interpreted in the Calvinist camp.
Frankly, I don't see how this could be interpreted in the
Arminian sense at all.
"I ask on their behalf; I do
not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom Thou hast
given Me; for they are Thine."
Jesus is making a distinction in His prayers to the Father
in regard to who is being asked for. It is the ones whom the
Father gives to the Son that are being prayed for. The whole
of John 17 bears this out. Jesus is not praying for
everyone. His prayers are "limited."
"Be on guard for yourselves and
for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you
overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased
with His own blood." This
could be interpreted either in the Arminian or the Calvinist
camp but makes more sense in the Calvinist one. It was the
church that was purchased with the blood. The unbeliever was
not purchased. Also, this shows that there was a result, a
direct result to the sacrifice: the church was purchased,
not made possible to be purchased. It occurred. It happened
because of the atonement. The Arminian might say that the
purchase made by the blood becomes effectual only after the
person believes in Jesus. But this is a problem because then
the sacrifice of Christ must await validation and efficacy
depending upon what people do. I see that as a problem
because the infinite value of Christ's blood accomplished
what it was shed for; it purchased the church.
Eph. 5:25-27: "Husbands, love
your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave
Himself up for her." This
could be interpreted either in the Arminian or the Calvinist
camp but makes more sense in the Calvinist one. Jesus gave
Himself up for the church, not the unbelievers.
Rom. 8:32: "He who did not
spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will
He not also with him freely give us all
things?" I addressed this
verse above. The "all" here can only mean the believers.
Paul is speaking of the saved which is why he says that God
will "freely give us all things".
Isaiah 53:12: "Therefore, I
will allot Him a portion with the great, and He will divide
the booty with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to
death, and was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He
Himself bore the sin of many and interceded for the
transgressors." Obviously this
speaks of a limited sacrifice, that Jesus bore the sin of
many, not all. How does the Arminian interpret this
Heb. 9:28: "so Christ also,
having been offered once to bear the sins of many, shall
appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin,
to those who eagerly await Him." Again, another verse that says that Jesus
bore the sins of many, not all.
seems clear that God sometimes uses words differently than
we do. When we examine the scriptures, we see that "all"
when used in the context of salvation can be interpreted in
at least two ways: 1) It can only mean the elect, 2) it can
mean everyone. As I mentioned above, when two sets of
related scriptures have various interpretations and there
are a few that can only be interpreted one way, then it
seems best to interpret all the scriptures in such a way so
that they agree.
When God wants all men to be
saved, they are. God predestines. He died for those He
predestined. And He has been working from all eternity to
atone for, sanctify, and glorify His elect. It will occur
because God has ordained it so.
Matt Slick 3/26/92 (Slighty
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