The Bible contains many direct references to the salvation of ALL! But because we have been taught that some would not be saved and would spend eternity in hell, most Bible teachers find it necessary to restrict these ALL verses, even though the context does not make any restriction. If we do not restrict the ALL, then there are contradictions within God’s Word (as commonly translated), and this cannot be. We determine that because there is eternal punishment for some, the ALL passages cannot really mean ALL, but only “all who accept Jesus Christ as their Saviour in this lifetime.” In other words we eliminate the contradictions within God’s Word by placing restrictions on some passages.
But consider what we have found in our previous studies. The Greek aion should not be translated eternal, but eon (or age). Hell as found in the Bible is not the place of eternal punishment we had been led to believe. And we have seen that God’s punishment is really a remedial discipline, not to torment but to correct.
Never miss a local story.
So when the Bible uses the word ALL maybe that is exactly what is meant ... ALL without any restriction whatsoever.
Let’s consider some of these passages.
The Saviour of All
We read in 1 Timothy 4:9-11, “we rely on the living God, Who is the Saviour of all mankind, especially of believers.”
This passage clearly tells us that God is the Saviour of ALL mankind, not just believers! Some say that the word especially restricts the ALL to believers. But this is clearly not what the writer is expressing, or he would have simply said that God is the Saviour of all who believe.
The word especially is malista in the Greek. We also find this word in Galatians 6:10. “Consequently, then, as we have occasion, we are working for the good of all, yet specially for the family of faith.”
Do we interpret this verse to mean that we are not to work for the good of all, but ONLY for those within the family of faith? Certainly not! We are instructed to work for the good of ALL, and in a special way, or perhaps even giving a priority to, those within the family of faith.
Likewise when we read that God is the Saviour of ALL, and ESPECIALLY those who believe, we see that while God is truly the Saviour of ALL, there is something special or unique about those who believe in this present age. Certainly there is, for believers are those who have, by faith, been saved already in receiving the evangel (gospel) in this lifetime. Their reward will be “eonian life” and not the second death. But there will come a time, at the end of the ages (as seen in 1 Corinthians 15) when death will be abolished and when God becomes All in all, and ALL will be saved.
God’s will, and his operations
We read in 1 Timothy 2:4, “God, who wills that all mankind be saved and come into a realization of the truth.”
Some will say that while it is God’s will that all mankind be saved, since he has given us free will it may be possible that some will reject Him, and will not be saved. In other words, God’s will cannot be realized because the will of mankind to reject Him, or the will of Satan to deceive, will overcome God’s will to save all mankind.
Assuming we have free will (and that we do not simply think we have the ability to freely choose at every turn), consider this. When God created man, in that perfect Garden of Eden, evil was already present. Man did not even have the ability to exercise his free will on neutral ground, but was tempted and enticed by the serpent, who was also in the Garden.
Man disobeyed, and was expelled from the Garden. The consequence was the process of dying, leading ultimately to death. But Scripture tells us that God knew the cross would be necessary even “before the disruption of the world.” (see 1 Peter 1:19-21) In other words, God knew man would sin, and death would enter the scene.
But what if God could, through the course of time (the eons), in His infinite wisdom and power and love, find a way to save ALL of mankind?
Consider the life of Joseph. He was mistreated by his brothers, sold into slavery, framed by Potiphar’s wife, jailed ... yet ultimately God used all of this to accomplish His purpose. Despite the free will of Joseph’s brothers who sought to harm him, or Potiphar’s wife who sought to frame him, or anyone else who may have entered Joseph’s life; still God was able to accomplish His purpose.
“And you, you devised against me evil, yet the Elohim (God) devises it for me for good, that it may work out as at this day, to preserve alive many people.” Genesis 50:20 (Concordant Version)
God’s purpose was to save His people when the famine struck (and in the process to save the Egyptians as well). He selected Joseph as His instrument. Despite the free will exercised by those who would thwart Joseph (or thwart God’s will), God’s will prevailed.
Consider Ephesians 1:11 which speaks of God as: “The One Who is operating all in accord with the counsel of His will.”
If it is God’s will that ALL mankind is saved, and if God is truly operating ALL in accord with the counsel of His will, who can thwart His plan?
I think of the power of advertising, which has become a detailed science. Billions of dollars are spent on advertising, toward the objective of influencing our decisions. Advertising gives us the desire to buy things we didn’t know we really needed or wanted. Our free will has not been removed, yet we often make decisions because of the influence of advertising.
If advertising executives can influence our free will in this way, why do we question God’s ability to allow free will, but to ultimately bring all mankind to the point where He is recognized, and that every knee bows before Him?
Next: More of the ALL passages from God’s Word.