How many is "all"


My Hellburner friends ALL say that “all” doesn’t REALLY mean “all”. So, what are your thoughts…How many IS “all”?


Are “all nations” going to know God’s ways, Or just some of them? Are “all peoples” going to praise God, or just some?


Just to say Prodigal that we aren’t ignoring your post - I’ll get to it honest :mrgreen:


Briefly, in Romans 5 and Corinthians 15 Paul specifies what he means by “all”. He is referring to every descendant of Adam - i.e. every human being. Actually, he is referring to every human sinner (which happens to be every human being, except for Jesus, although he was also God, but anyway…)

The idea that “all” means “some people from all groups” cannot be harmonized with Paul’s beliefs.

  • Pat


I agree Pat, but the problem is that the Hell-Burners are prone to interpret “all” as meaning all of those who aren’t going to Hell. They are slaves to their dogma. Most either don’t read their Bibles, or if they do read it only accept the interpretation of scripture their preachers tell them is correct.

The typical Hell-Burner who is confronted with this passage will say that only “many” will be saved. They will say that the justification only brings life to all men who accept Christ before they die.

The Hell-Burners will say that this passage means all will be made alive so that those who don’t accept Christ before they die can be sent to Hell for eternal damnation.


The only problem is that Paul uses the same word “many” in Romans 5 to refer to the same group of people. It’s as clear as the light of day, and any honest person who tries to accept any other interpretation should at the very least admit that we have a case.


thanks for beating me to the punch


Hey, anytime! :wink:


I forget where but Tom Talbott used an example which stuck with me. By illustration he uses the declaration of Independence to show how “all” should mean all. He makes the case to say what if we question the “All men are created equal” and argue the writers did not mean “all”. My father in law has mentioned that such men who attributed to this owned slaves and did not want women to vote.

Why would God be lesser of moral character than us humans. If we declared that all men are created equal but truly held the position that we did not mean literally mean “all” men, what does that say of us.

If God extends salvation out to some and not to others (FOR ANY REASON) what does that say of him?

Over and over scripture says God does not show favoritism. Yes the christian church has embraced a god who chooses to have mercy on “some”.

It makes no sense to me.



More specifically in line with StelRen’s reply: the same non-universalists would say that “many” means “all” in the first part of the sentence that says “many” will be made righteous.

So one way or another, wider context has to be appealed to.

For example, in the wider context of the 1 Cor quote, the Son shall be subjecting all thing to the Father through His own subjection to the Father, having succeeded at last in subjecting all things to Himself. Obviously Christ is already Lord, so what process-to-completion is being described? The equally obvious answer is that some things (like rebel angels) are not yet subject to Christ in the way that Christ is subject to the Father. Consequently, there is actually less than no point for this portion of chapter 15 to mean that eventually Christ will subject Himself to the Father in the way that these impenitent rebels are now forcibly subjected (in some way they weren’t before, but still impenitent grudging rebels) to Christ. That would be like saying that Christ will eventually say to hell with it and hopelessly impenitently rebel against the Father, too!

Annihilation would, on the face of it, take care of that portion of the scripture; but annihilation by definition doesn’t fit very well into the first part of St. Paul’s explanation of the importance of Christ’s resurrection in chp 15.

I believe the only thematically logical way to read that part is as a prophetic revelation that God-in-Christ shall one day reconcile all sinners to Himself, those in the heavens and those in the earth and those under the earth (as Paul puts it elsewhere, echoing OT phraseologies).

In semi-related news, I have to leave in a few minutes to go to a church where we were told in no uncertain terms from the pulpit last Sunday (for Easter no less) that the hope for all to be saved from sin is a false heresy. Joy. :imp: I constantly pray for God to lead me in what to do about this… but I haven’t gotten much (if any) inspiration on it yet.


Oh man, I got an earful from my family few weeks ago because their pastor stated from the pulpit that U is a heresy.

My wife came up with a grand Idea. Invite that pastor to come dialogue with Tom Talbott :slight_smile:


Our pastor is teaching through Romans. When he got to cpt 5 he completely skipped this passage. I know he knows its hard to explain. I’m not sure whether its better to leave it out or explain it away.


Yeah – this is a word which gets twisted to it’s users purpose.

We understand, when we say that “ALL Boston is rooting for the Red Sox at this time of year” we mean something like the team is so widely loved and followed and rooted for, that for all intents and purposes it sure does seem like all are rooting for the Red Sox. We also understand that there certainly are, most likely, those few who are perhaps rooting against the Red Sox. eg those Yankee fan transplants.

But if one said “all humans need Oxygen to live” it is obvious that all really does mean all.

I’ll quote from a draft of a paper my son is writing for school (being a good Christian school, this topic had to be pre-approved by his parents; If only they knew!!! :smiley: :smiley: :smiley: :smiley: :smiley: :smiley: :smiley: :laughing: )

So what interests me about this dynamic is the extent to which earnest and sincere Christians go to deny the obvious meaning of the text. (Of course they say the same about us with regards to Matt 25;46 and 2 Thess 1: 8-9) Invariably one explains one set of texts using another set of texts premises. That’s just what we are stuck with it seems to me.



Which is why I make a point to insist that my non-universalist opponents at least be consistent in affirming what we affirm together, when they are orthodox trinitarians. When they claim to support God’s omnipresence and then deny God’s omnipresence (for example), or to affirm the substantial unity of the Persons and then deny the substantial unity, that takes a major toll on the plausibility of whatever idea it is that they’re willing to contradict themselves for. Shifting to Arianism or cosmological dualism in order to keep up a doctrine of non-universalism, while denying Arianism or cos-du elsewhere…? Not a sign of coherent theology. :mrgreen:

(Which is not to say that Arians or cos-du cannot be universalists; obviously they can be. But ortho-trin is extremely vulnerable to non-universalistic doctrines, and specially supports universalism on the other hand.)


Well… looks like I didn’t ever get to contribute here but you guys have done so well there’s no need for me to :mrgreen: