I must say I am surprised by the varied reactions to my last note ““All” is ALL?” Some gave it an excellent “thumbs up”. Some got very upset. Some just misread and misinterpreted the note altogether.
Let’s deal with this. Someone of you wrote in and said, “all” has to mean “all” all the time. They argued that Jesus died for “all” our sins and “all” here means every sin. Therefore if you argue that “all” does not mean every sin that Jesus did not fully forgive me. For those who have been readers of this blog would have known that I believe Jesus has taken ALL my sins, everyone bit.
As such let me recap what I said. I did qualify by saying “We must understand there are times, when the scripture mentions ALL, it speaks about the general and not everyone. What I am saying is that some parts all means all. Some parts all does not mean everyone! We need to distinct which is which.”
However, in the instance of Isaiah 66 it clearly shows that one can use that verse and imply that all man will bow down to God and be saved, there were those who rebel.
What I am saying is that we cannot read into something that is not there especially when the context does not say so.
Now am I saying “everytime the Scripture uses the word “ALL” it means on the general?” No. Am I saying sometimes “ALL” does not mean everyone or everything? Yes.
This is because everything must be read in its context.
Then there are those who argue Romans 5:18 teaches us that Jesus is greater than Adam, and that if Adam all are made sinners, then in Jesus, ALL being every human being including Ham, Nimrod,Phaorah, the Nephilims, Goliath, Judas, Jezebel, Ahab and etc are saved.
Also because God has included everyone in Christ, there is also no need to believe or have faith. God has already saved you. Yup, Hitler, Saddam, Rasputin and Herod just to name a few are saved.
While that seems to be a great fairy tale, they are those like Judas which are simply not saved.
New International Version (NIV)
12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by[a] that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.
1 Corinthians 6:9-10
9 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men[a] 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
There is clearly a group of people who are not saved. The distinction is even clearer when Paul says these people are not who we (the believers) were.
1 Corinthians 6:11-12
11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
Now if there is no difference why did Paul draws one between the believers and the judges these Christians who were bringing their cases to?
As such, as much as we would have to admit it not everyone is saved. Now does that mean he failed? Does that mean what Adam did was greater than what He did? Is John the Baptist wrong when he said Jesus is the lamb that takes away the sins of the world?
Firstly, we must ask is that the message that Paul wished to convey in Romans 5:18? Is that what he means “by so much more?”
Let’s read Romans 5 together.
5 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we[b] boast in the hope of the glory of God.3 Not only so, but we[c] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—
13 To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law. 14 Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come.
15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16 Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!
18 Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
20 The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21 so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Right here goes, how did Paul start of with Romans 5? We are justified through faith! While some may argue this is God’s faith not ours. A reading of Romans 1-4 would prove otherwise.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.
This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile,
What does Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”
but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.
As such the preamble and the platform of Paul’s argument is very much our faith in Christ. It is through faith, we are justified and have this access. That is his theme. Further if you read chapter 1 Paul is addressing the pagans and Gentiles and in chapter 2 he speaks and admonishes the Jews. Hence when it comes to chapter 3 when he says “ALL have fallen short of the glory of God”, he is referring to Jew and Gentile.
Here is a helpful note from Dr. Norman Geisler that sheds much light into the correct reading of these verses in the context.
“Many liberal and some neo-orthodox scholars, such as Karl Barth, insist that this passage teaches that everyone will eventually be saved. Is this a proper understanding of the text? Correcting the Misinterpretation: From these verses universalists infer that Christ’s death “for all” guarantees salvation “for all.” This conclusion, however, is contrary to the context here and in Romans as a whole as well as to the rest of Scripture.
Even in this context Paul speaks of being “justified by faith” (5:1), not automatically by what Christ did for us. He also refers to salvation as a “gift” (5:16) that has to be received; in 5:17 he declares that salvation comes only to those who receive the gift of righteousness. The rest of the Book of Romans makes it unmistakably clear that not everyone will be saved. Romans 1-2 speaks of the heathen who are “without excuse” (Romans 1:20) and upon whom the wrath of God falls (1:18). It declares that “as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law” (Romans 2:12 NKJV).
In the very heart of his argument Paul concludes that apart from justification by faith, the world is accountable before God (Romans 3:19). Later, speaking of the destiny of both saved and lost, Paul affirms that “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23 NIV). Likewise, Paul recognized that, despite his prayers, not all of his kinsmen would be saved (Romans 11:1-10) but that many would be “accursed” (Romans 9:3). Indeed, the whole point of Romans is to show that only those who believe will be justified (Romans 1:17; cf. 3:21-26).
Romans 9 could not be clearer that only the elect, not everyone, will be saved (cf. 9:14- 26). The rest God patiently endured, waiting for them to repent (2 Peter 3:9), so they would not be “vessels of wrath prepared for destruction” (Romans 9:22 NKJV). [Dr. Norman Geisler. Who Will be Saved, According to the Word of God?]”
Further if you read chapter 1 Paul is addressing the pagans and Gentiles and in chapter 2 he speaks and admonishes the Jews. Hence when it comes to chapter 3 when he says “ALL have fallen short of the glory of God”, he is referring to both Jew and Gentile.
“In contrast to Christian universalists who maintain the “all” language affirms a real Pauline universal salvation, Jewett argues that the context concerns whether all believers truly stand within its scope. He reveals that Paul is concerned with factions in Rome that are damning opposing groups because of non-conformity to Torah. Thus, ‘the many’ in the context of Roman congregational issues refers to believers with an emphasis on “all those who have accepted the gospel, both Jewish and Gentile in background, both ‘weak’ and ‘strong,’ without regard to the law.”) Rather than promoting a universal salvation, then, Paul is entirely concerned with the status of all believers, that both Jews and Gentiles who are “in Christ” really are part of this new humanity. The scope of believers—Jew and Gentile alike—and their life in Christ is in mind here, not the salvation of all humanity.
Witherington provides an apt summary of Paul’s arguments in Rom 5:18-19: “The action of that one person has drastic effects on the many…those who belong to the race of Adam are under the power and reign of sin. The only way to escape this is to join another race of humanity—those who are in Christ.”
As Paul emphasizes, if you really received “God’s abundant provision of grace,” (v. 17) then you have “justification” and “life” (v. 18) and you “will be made righteous” (v. 19). As Moo reveals “That ‘all’ does not always mean ‘every single human being’ is clear from many passages, it often being clearly limited in context (c.f., e.g., Rom 8:32; 12:17, 18; 14:2; 16:19).”
The context of v. 17—with its particular wording emphasizing those who receive God’s “provision of grace” and “gift of righteous”—coupled with Paul’s stress on faith as the means by which a person achieves right standing with God in 1:18-4:25 makes it clear that only certain people are saved. That all people are in the epoch of Adamic condemnation is clear from 12-14; that all people are in the epoch of Christic salvation certainly is not, considering how ch. 5 functions within the letter in commenting on the life of believers post-salvation and how 5:12-21 functions to assure all believers, Jew and Gentile alike, of their status in Christ.”
The reknown blogger Paul Ellis says this.
“In Romans 5, Paul makes a number of comparisons between the “one trespass” of first Adam and the “one act of righteousness” of last Adam. Look carefully at how he compares the effects of each…
Affected by Adam
Affected by Jesus
Who died as a result of one man’s trespass? “The many.”
To whom does grace now overflow?
“The many” (see v.15). And again, who were made sinners as a result of Adam?
“The many.” And who will be made righteous on account of Jesus?
“The many” (see v.19). It’s the middle verse – verse 18 – that is the source of contention.
There are two ways to read this verse:
How some read it: “All men now live; everyone has been (or will be) raised to new life.”
What Paul said: “Life has come and is now freely available for all men.”
Read v.18 in context and you will see that Paul never says anything that could point to universal salvation. If life had come to “all men”, then Paul is in error by saying that only “many” are the beneficiaries of grace in v.15 or that only “many” will be made righteous in v.19. But if Paul is correct in those verses, then those who argue that “all now live in Christ” are in error.
Jesus spoke plainly. “Only those who believe in me cross over from death to life.” So believe! Don’t be like the Pharisees who “refuse to come to me to have life” (Joh 5:40). If you refuse Jesus, how can you claim to have His life? This is not a pre-cross, post-cross distinction. Jesus has always been the Father of the Everlasting and the Author of Life. Long after the cross, Paul said that his radical transformation from sinner to saint would serve as an example for those who would believe (1 Tim 1:16). Wherever he went Paul challenged people to turn to God and have faith in Jesus (Acts 20:21). He would be horrified to learn that his words are now being twisted to dismiss faith.”
So what did Paul meant by Jesus work is greater in that context? You see if we are to interpret those verses the universalist does it (i.e. that in Adam the whole human race is lost, in Jesus his work is only greater if no one is lost) would really negate the real meaning of what Paul was trying to say:
“Jesus did not suffer and die to resuscitate the human race and put everything back the way it was. If Jesus merely raised those whom Adam killed, then His would not be a greater work but an exactly comparable work. Yet Paul says of Jesus’ gift, How much more! Jesus is the Great Redeemer and redemption always leaves you better off than when you started. Last Adam’s greater work achieved far more than merely reversing the effects of first Adam’s fall. As CS Lewis said, “Out of the Fall comes not a fix but a new creation.”
You as you who have believed!
What is Paul really saying? How is Jesus’ work greater than Adam. I will write a full note on it soon but I leave you with Paul Ellis’s wonderful work and his 3 points.
“Redemption: The guilty verdict has been over-turned. In Adam we were branded sinners but in Christ we are declared righteous. We are no longer counted with the condemned but are numbered with the justified. Satan has nothing to accuse us of and God remembers our sins no more. Happy is the man whose sin the Lord never counts against him (Ps 32:2). If you would know how much better the gift is than the trespass, then go ask someone on death row whether they would prefer freedom to captivity.
How did He do it? When you put your trust in Christ, He gave you a glorious new past – His past. You were included in His death on the cross severing all ties with your old man (Rom 6:6). The person you used to be is dead and gone along with your sin and any relationship you had with the law (Ps 103:12, Rom 7:6). The world as you knew it is no more (Gal 6:14). Your old sources of identity and security have been replaced with something infinitely better and your past has never looked so good!
Resurrection: You have been raised to new life. This is not more of the same; it is brand new zoe-life. Now Christ is your life (Col 3:4).
How did He do it? If we died with Him we shall live with Him. He has given us His life which includes His acceptance (Eph 1:6), His faith (Gal 2:20), His Spirit (Rom 8:11), His righteousness (Rms 1:17), His holiness (1 Cor 1:3), indeed, His eternal perfection (Heb 10:4). As He is so are you in this world (1 Jn 4:17), so obviously you do not have a sinful nature. You are not one person on Sunday and another on Monday. Sure, you can still walk after the flesh and reap what you sow, but you are not defined by what you do. And when you do sin, you have a mighty Advocate who speaks to the Father on your behalf (1 Jn 2:1).
Reigning: The grace cure is greater than the disease. One sin cell infected the human race with the fatal condition of sinfulness; grace not only cures us it inoculates us against re-infection. We have been made new. We have been rewired to resist sin and please the Father. Grace doesn’t just remove all traces of past sins, it empowers us to sin no more! Grace is both favor and divine influence through the Holy Spirit. We are not just freed captives; we are kings and priests called to reign with Him. This is not some reference to the hereafter for Paul says we will “reign in life” (Rom 5:17) meaning here and now. Through the power of the Spirit we can reign over forms of death such as sickness and all the things that lead to sickness (e.g., bitterness, unforgiveness). We are no longer victims; we are more than conquerors through Him who called us.
How did He do it? Jesus has not returned us to the Garden, He has taken us to Heaven (Eph 2:6)! From the position of rest we rule and reign with Him here on Earth.”
I believe that is the correct way of reading Romans 5. I must state on the contrary of what others might think, that this is a fault finding article but I believe this is be what Scripture is actually saying. There are many verses in the Bible that speaks about people perishing. I wonder how do the universalist explain that away?
Some argue there is no hell, some argue that hell is a probationary place. Well?
The long and short of it is this, to read Romans 5 as God saving all humanity and to resuscitate the human race and put everything back the way it was. would be just an exactly comparable work. That is not the way to read it. That negates how Jesus’ work is far glorious!