The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Colossians 1:20

Some people have interpreted this verse to mean that Christ died for everybody. Given the Bible’s teaching that Christ died for His sheep (not the goats) it seems better to read it as saying that the cross-centered peacemaking between God and His elect sheep begins by reconciling God and His chosen ones but has a wider cosmic impact through that. As we are put right with our Creator by Christ’s blood the creation enjoys this restoration of harmony and longs for all the elect to come in. It teaches this in Romans:

In no way does the passage teach that Christ died for every single individual. He died for His sheep and secured their salvation and sanctification with His blood. This begins the reconciliation that will later have a greater cosmic impact.

The goats will be purified in the lake of fire and restored to God.

That Christ died for the sheep and therefore not the goats is not “given.” That is the question to be proven. You beg the question.

As to whether Christ died for the church, no one is disagreeing. We all believe that Christ died for the Church. Ephesians 5:25 also says this.

However, saying that Christ died for the church does not necessarily exclude those who are outside the church from being included in the sum total of all for whom Christ died.

John 3:36 says that “he that believeth not the Son shall not see life.” The only way that anyone in the Lake of Fire will ever see life is through faith in Christ. Faith in Christ is the only instrument of justification. Sola fide


First, you now believe that Jesus didn’t die for all, but only for the sheep and not the goats.
Second, you now believe that the goats eventually “make it.”

Therefore it follows that the goats pay for their own sins in some way and that they “make it” on their own without benefit of Jesus’ work on the cross.

Therefore, the goats are saved by their suffering and they do not need Christ.

Many teachers are confusing you, I think.

It is for this reason that I gave up on penal substitution and I also gave up on the idea that our sins needed to be “paid for” in some way. God forgave sins before Jesus’ death – just flat out forgave them with no reference to the cross. So did God the Son, Jesus. Jesus never said anything to a sinner like: “Because I’m about to die for your sins, I forgive you in advance.” He simply forgave them.

When Jesus told the paralytic that his sins were forgiven, the teachers of the law who were present protested, “No one can forgive sins but God alone.” They believed that God could forgive sins. Just flat out forgive them.

In addition to this, if Jesus paid for our sins, then what does the Father mean by saying our sins are “forgiven?” The sins (in this view) have been PAID for. They don’t need to be forgiven – the (allegedly) demanded price has been paid. It would be like you paying my electric bill and then the electric company telling me that they had forgiven me my bill. Ridiculous! They didn’t forgive anything. You paid it.

First, it is our sinfulness – our bondage to sin – that Jesus died to break. The sins can be dealt with by forgiving. Jesus told his disciples to forgive anyone who sinned against them over and over and over. He also was known to command, “Be perfect like your Father in heaven is perfect.” If we are to be like Father, and we are specifically commanded to forgive sins; even the sins of our present enemies; then Father ALSO forgives His enemies. If we’re to be like Him and do “A,” then it follows that HE does “A.” Otherwise we’d be being different from Him if we did “A.”

Whatever the author of your current book says, it makes no sense to suppose that “the many” in your Romans verse doesn’t refer to all with the exception of Christ. As “the many died” refers to all men (not all kinds of men), so “the many were made righteous” refers to all men with the exception of Christ (who didn’t need to be made righteous).

There is absolutely nothing in all of scripture to tell us that “the many” refers to some of all kinds of men. This is a theory that Augustine came up with to make his theology fit scripture. He could see that it didn’t work if “ALL” meant “ALL.” Therefore he said to himself, "What if ALL merely means “some of all kinds?” And then he said it did, and apparently that makes it so. Nevertheless, you won’t find that theory convincingly hinted at in scripture, let alone plainly spelled out – because it just isn’t there. Augustine thought that MUST be what Paul meant, since he “knew” that all men were not saved and that many, many would spend eternity in the fires of the everlasting torture dungeon.

Blessings, Cindy

Excellent post, as always. :slight_smile:

Suppose you couldn’t pay the bill, so the owner of the power company pays it for you. He takes the loss.

Now he can say, “Cindy, your debt has been paid” and “I forgive you your debt.” Without being ridiculous.

Jesus is God, taking the loss. This is why God can say “Your sins are forgiven. The price has been paid.”

Hey Cindy!

The Goats are purified and punished in the lake of fire. It’s the corrective punishment of Jesus. They don’t need faith in the cross when they get to see Jesus face to face. In fact, nobody will need faith in the cross when we see Jesus face to face. As Ignatius has stated in his commentary on 1 Corinthians 13:13-

Faith is for this age not the next. The sheep are saved by grace through faith. The goats undergo the corrective punishment of Christ in the lake of fire. When we all see Christ face to face the faith of the elect will pass away.

When we see Christ face to face there will be no more need for faith. The objects of faith and hope will be fulfilled and perfectly realized in heaven, but love will last forever. In heaven there will be nothing but perfect expression of love towards God and each other.

Penal Substitution teaches a punishment for sins. I would also argue that the Bible also teaches that Christ suffered disciplinary wrath. He learned obedience through what He suffered.

Penal Substitution also teaches that God’s elect are in a mystical union with Christ by faith. We are one with Him. His righteousness becomes ours and our sin become His. We die to the old self and are resurrected to new life. We are crucified with Christ as we are one with Him. It’s a mystical union. This is how the just dies for the unjust. Also, while God was forgiving our sins at the cross He was doing many other things as well.

I didn’t get my definitions of “all” from Augustine. They come from the NASB Strongest Exhaustive Concordance. The Lexicons give the definitions in the translations for pas as “all kinds” and “every kind”. Therefore, it is clear to the scholars that “all” can mean “all kinds of”:

The Greek word for “many” never means “all”. It always means “many”. Hence, my interpretation of Romans 5.

If “corrective punishment” is sufficient, then why would Christ die for anyone at all? Why not correctively punish everyone?
I think the correction in the lake of fire is only to steer people in the right direction. Christ may Himself be there to gently urge them to turn to Him. He may also send the perfected manifested Sons of God for the same purpose. Those in Gehenna must come to Christ in the same basic way that you and I did, through entrusting ourselves to Him. For God shows no partiality.

Christ said, “Unless you forsake all and follow me, you CANNOT be my disciple.”

Christ’s death was not a substitute for us so that we wouldn’t have to be corrected. Rather Christ’s death was a means of enabling grace for us, so that we would have the power to live righteously:

*I Peter 2:24 He himself endured our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

II Corinthians 5:15 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.

Romans 14:9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

Titus 2:14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity and to purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.

Heb 9:26 …he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.*

That is probably true for the Greek word in isolation. But when it is prefixed by the article “ho”(the), then it means all other than the person(s) specified (sometimes within a particular domain).

The word “theos”(god) in isolation can mean any god (i.e. Jupiter, Hercules, Zeus, etc.). It can even refer to an essential quality such as when applied to Christ. But when “theos” is prefixed by “ho” with no other modifiers, then it always refers to the Father alone.


Even if this is true one could interpret “all” and “many” as referring to all believers. This is who chapter 5 is addressing:

The context of who Paul is speaking to is all of us who have been justified - “the many”. Moreover, the word is used in isolation in Matthew 20:28:

Christ gave His life a ransom for many, and that ransom is effective in bringing redemption to those for whom it is made.

One of the reasons Christ died was to save us from the terrible wrath to come. While I agree that He died for the reason you listed it’s not the only reason. There are many others.

I’m not sure anyone is disputing that, but whether it does or not is indicated by the context, so you needn’t keep repeating that unless you’re replying to someone specifically denying whether “all” can ever mean “all kinds of”.

This on the other hand is what more people are disputing, and has to be proved by examples without circular argument.

Paidion’s counter argument that {ho pas} means all of whatever group of many are being talked about has merit, and my point back in your Rom 5 thread was that as “all” refers to the total of “the many” who sinned and died, so “all” refers to the total of “the many” whom Christ shall save from their sins and bring back to righteousness.

The lack of a direct article, however, doesn’t necessarily mean a lesser version of the word: there are times when God the Father is spoken of as {theos} without the direct article {ho} (or the various cognate forms of those words) for example. Consequently, the fact that the word for “many” is used in isolation at Matt 20:28 is not decisive.

Indeed, the same many for whom Christ was ransom over all and desires all to be saved! But we’ll get to that later. :wink:

The Bible teaches that Christ dies for His flock, and the baby goats are definitely part of Christ’s flock in the Matt 25 judgment (as the shepherd divides his flock). Moreover, the sheep (or the mature flock, either translation would be appropriate, even the mature goats by contrast to the baby-goats) in that parable clearly do not come in by any obvious faith in Christ before the judgment, or they wouldn’t be confused about when they had been serving Christ: their service to Christ becomes a surprise to them.

The reason it has a wider cosmic impact than the beginning God makes with the firstfruits/elect, is because (as Col says) Christ dies for all who need reconciliation to God, i.e. the many who sinned thanks to the sin of Adam, as per Rom 5, the same many who shall be made alive in Christ, all who sinned.

I know you made this thread in response to my observation over in your Romans 5 thread, where I wrote:

I also pointed out immediately before that, “If all eventually make it, for God is the savior of all people (especially of them that believe), that is because Christ died for the baby goats, too, the least of His flock, not only for the mature flock.” That detail from the Matt 25 goat judgment should not be overlooked: they’re very explicitly part of Christ’s flock, too. (This is a detail frequently overlooked by Calv apologists, who also lean heavily on the idea that Christ died only for the elect.)

However, I don’t have to appeal to Col 1 to properly understand Rom 5 as meaning Christ gives His life for all the many who were made disobedient by one man. Not for some of the many, for all the many.

To reiterate what I said in that thread (to which you did not reply directly, except to sheerly assert that the goats of the shepherd were not a part of the shepherd’s flock):

In this case, grace abounds to all the many who sin, even to those who die.

If you mean Col 1:20, it explicitly says He dies to reconcile all things to Himself. That’s a way the passage teaches that Christ died for every individual who needs reconciliation to God.

(I myself would add that Christ gives His life for every individual who doesn’t need reconciliation to God, too, every unfallen individual; but I wouldn’t say He dies a death slain by sinners for the unfallen righteous angels, and anyway I wouldn’t claim Col 1 says Christ dies for the unfallen righteous. I only claim it says what it does demonstrably say, that Christ dies for all those who need reconciliation to God, including those in the heavens.)

Which per Col 1 is because He dies for all sinners. The process starts with few, but ends with all because Christ dies for all.

Notably it does not say there that the good shepherd lays down His life only for His sheep and not for those other sheep other there who are not His sheep. He does mention His current enemies who are not of His sheep in verse 26, but does not say He doesn’t die for them, too. Christ is only distinguishing between those who already follow Him, and those who do not already follow Him. He has other sheep who are not yet in His fold, and those He must also be leading so that there will be one flock, one Shepherd. But He will be dragging all men toward Himself eventually (not only some of all kinds of men, but all men) by means of the cross in John 12:32-33.

If this was really evidence that “the God” (as it says in about half the existent texts, mirroring “the church of the God” as Paul calls it eleven times in His epistles) obtained only those currently in His flock by His blood, it would prove too much, namely that only the people in the church at that present time were the elect for whom Christ died, and I expect you want to include people today (and born from the late 1st century onward) among that group. :wink:

Far from counting as evidence that Christ dies only for a limited elect, this says that Christ dies for everyone whom He intends to present to Himself in splendor! Is there supposed to be a part of the church whom Christ does not wash that He might present them to Himself in splendor??–a part of the church who shall permanently sin???

This does not in the least say Jesus would die only for those who are already children of God and not for anyone else. It also does not limit who counts as the children of God scattered abroad, but includes more than “the whole nation” of Israel. (And not less than the whole nation!)

The same scene shows basically all creation worshiping the one Who was slain (the Lambkin standing in the center of the throne as though slain). No one can approach the throne of God except by the cross, and in the final chapters those who enter the New Jerusalem do so in order to eat from and be healed by the log of life as well as slaking their thirst by the river of life flowing out of the never-closed gate.

Which, not incidentally, is quite against what you said, “The Goats are purified and punished in the lake of fire. It’s the corrective punishment of Jesus. They don’t need faith in the cross when they get to see Jesus face to face.” Then they shouldn’t have to eat and be healed by the log of life, but they do. The more important point is that they have faith in Jesus personally, but Jesus dies on the log of life to bring that about, and if they don’t accept what He does for their sake, they cannot be having faith in Jesus personally either.

Will they need faith in Jesus after they are saved out of their sins into righteousness? If they don’t have faith in Jesus anymore, they become unrighteous!–at best they regard Jesus as untrustworthy!! They don’t have to have faith in Jesus to save them from their sins once they are no longer sinners, because Jesus will have accomplished what they trusted Him to accomplish, but they still must continue to trust Jesus and to hope for whatever Jesus means to accomplish beyond salvation from sin. Similarly, even if Christ died for only a limited elect, they still must continue to believe Christ died for them even after they have become righteous, or there will be some kind of serious breach in their relationship with Christ.

In the very limited sense Ignatius was talking about, trust and hope that Jesus will save us from our sins pass away once we become righteous, but the larger issues of faith and hope continue on (and continue on being fulfilled).

If anything, this means Christ’s salvation for all who obey Him (which in the end will be all inclusively, not only all kinds of men who obey Him), is connected to what He suffered!

No doubt, as are the baby goats eventually, since there can be no salvation apart from the grace of God (which the baby goats get in trouble over for rejecting in regard to other people), and no salvation without faith in God; but the sheep of the nations didn’t even realize they had been following Christ, so their faith in some ways started later.

But Christ was faithful to them, for He Who gave Himself as a ransom over all {huper pantôn} desires {pantas anthrôpous} all men (not only all kinds of men) to be saved from their sins and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Tim 2:4-6)

This is a great post, Jason. You ought to write it as a stand-alone and add it to your exegetical collection. Really, really good and helpful. :smiley:

yes, Jason mentioned perceptively, Jesus didn’t die only for his sheep but for the sheep, I remember the verse,
when he told Peter, then feed my sheep, notice HERE Peter is going to feed the sheeps, not the one who believed in
Christ, but He is going to feed the sheeps, past goats :sunglasses:

The following is from a discussion on Christian Forums Dot Com:

Let’s be clear. It is not my view that the unrepentant wicked will be saved at the time of the second coming. This is in response to your query: “Does the scripture claim what you are claiming that the unrepentant wicked at the second coming will be saved?”

Also i would point out that Col.1:20 says peace has been made already through the blood of the cross:

16 For by Him ALL was created that are in HEAVEN and that are on EARTH, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All was created through Him and for Him.
20 and by Him to reconcile ALL to Himself, by Him, whether on EARTH or in HEAVEN, having made peace through the blood of His cross.

Since “peace” has been “made…through the blood of the cross”, how can God let anyone end up being tortured or terminated from existence forever? Likewise since God is not holding men’s sins against them (2 Cor.5:19) how can any be lost forever?

“As he went through the doorway the Spirit of Truth challenged him saying; “What needs to be reconciled ‘IN HEAVEN’?” After all, nothing in the heavenly realm needs reconciling but demons. Like the song says; “There is power power in the blood of Jesus.” More power and a better plan, than the nominal church can even believe. To have ears to hear, one must loosen the death grip on what they believe.”

“…found only in Christian writers…reconcile everything in his own person, i.e. the universe is to form a unity, which has its goal in Christ Col 1:20…” (A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament & Other Early Christian Literature (BDAG), 3rd edition, 2000, p.112).

“…Jesus existed before all things, He created all things, He holds together all things, and He will reconcile all things. And what does it mean for God to “reconcile to himself all things”? It is clear that the word reconcile means more than squashing opposition. It means a full restoration of peace and harmony.”

“…The “all things” of verse 20 is as extensive as the “all things” of verse 16. So just as God created everything and everybody through Christ, so He will reconcile everythingand everybody through Christ (not everything except most of humanity!). The universe will be completely restored to its original perfection and peace. No one will be at enmity with God or with one another. He will completely fulfill “the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure”—“to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ” (Ephesians 1:10). Going from the depths of mankind’s depravity to the total reconciliation of everyone to God and to each other will be more glorious than if we had never fallen in the first place. The restoration of every single relationship to perfect harmony through the work of reconciliation on the cross will be the most spectacular demonstration imaginable of the grace and justice and wisdom and power and love of God.”

"Just as His glories in creation take us back to the very beginning, so the greater glories of reconciliation take us to the very consummation. The universal reconciliation cannot be fully accomplished till the close of the eonian times, when all sovereignty and authority and power and even death are rendered inoperative (1Cor.15:24-27)…(Concordant Commentary, AE Knoch, 1968, Col.1:20, p.303).

There is a parallel here:

Col.1:16 For by Him ALL was created that are in HEAVEN and that are on EARTH, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All was created through Him and for Him.
20 and by Him to reconcile ALL to Himself, by Him, whether on EARTH or in HEAVEN, having made peace through the blood of His cross.

It’s quite astonishing that many insist that the parallel of aionios in Mt.25:46 means the word must be of the same meaning & duration in both instances, but they don’t apply the same reasoning to other passages with parallels, such as Col.1:20 above and these:

Rom 5:18 Consequently, then, as it was through one offense for ALL MANKIND for condemnation, thus also it is through one just act for ALL MANKIND for life’s justifying."

Rom 5:19 For even as, through the disobedience of the one man, THE MANY were constituted sinners, thus also, through the obedience of the One, THE MANY shall be constituted just."

1 Cor.15:22 AS in Adam ALL die - so also - in Christ shall ALL be made alive.

1 Cor.15:28 And when ALL shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put ALL under him, that God may be all in ALL.

Read more: