The Evangelical Universalist Forum

not everyone will enter the kingdom of heaven


Matthew 7:21
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven

That verse seems to completely rule out the possibility of universal salvation. Let me ask this: if you were divinely inspired, and you wanted to make it clear to others that some people would not be saved, how would you have said it?


To “enter the kingdom of heaven” simply means to enter before the very presence of God. To read “universal salvation” (and what that is said to mean) is to read a given presuppositional understanding back into the text… IMO.


Hi qaz, I’m not sure why you say that text rules out universalism. It certainly suggests that no-one will be ‘saved’ until they repent and become obedient to the Father. Isn’t that what all Christians teach?
The passage goes on to say that these ‘fakes’ who did not have a relationship with Christ will be shown the door. Verse 19 says "Every tree that produces bad fruit will be chopped down and burned. " So, they will have to endure a baptism of fire. We all, either in this life or the next, experience baptism by fire. The sooner the better.

With reference to ‘eternal punishment’, I wouldn’t have used the greek word ‘aionios’ which has been mistranslated in some Bibles as ‘eternal’ even though it clearly is not endless. I would have used an alternative greek word such as ‘akatalutos’ which DOES mean endless (Heb 7:16 Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life.) and I wouldn’t have used ‘kolasis’ for 'punishment which actually means pruning (suggestive of corrective purging) but would have used ‘timoria’.

Hope that helps.

God bless.



Again, Gaz, where are you personally coming from theologically? And the univerfsalists do have a good question: what is the purpose and nature of the fire?


Matt 7:21 doesn’t say “Some people who say to me Lord, Lord will need to repent before entering the kingdom of heavens” or anything remotely like that. It says some people will not enter the kingdom of the heavens. Period.

The only way I could see univeralism being possible in light of this verse if “entering the kingdom of heavens” is not the same thing as “being saved”.

Why wouldn’t saying, “some people will not be saved” suffice?


I’m an arminian non-denominational protestant.


the Bible does not contradict itself…e g how do you explain passages such as Romans 5:18-22 ?..‘Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people…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…The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more’.Passages such as these, and there are many more, plainly teach ultimate salvation for all. Where in that passage you quote does it say that the unredeemed wont eventually do the Fathers will and repent ?.I believe that eventually, ultimately, the ‘unsaved’ will ‘come to their senses’ and repent…whether in this existence or the next. God’s will is that ALL be saved and His will cannot be denied.1 Timothy 2:4…‘Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.’


of course, agreed…if eternal punishment in hell were true, God would have chosen a word for ‘eternal’ which could not be misunderstood…God would have used a Greek word that absolutely meant ‘eternal’ (such as ‘akatalutos’ meaning ‘endless’) in order to remove any doubt at all that hell was indeed eternal and never ending.When dealing with and telling us about such an important matter as our eternal destiny God surely would not have used an ambiguous word like ‘aionios’…a word which, in itself, does not mean ‘eternal’.It is utterly preposterous to believe God would mislead us in this way…what I’m trying to say is God would never use a word which, in itself does not mean ‘eternal’ if hell was indeed ‘eternal’.


Well, I don’t think it is the same thing. At least it seems clear that the kingdom of heaven is not the same as heaven.

Several things are said about the kingdom of heaven that would not be true of heaven. For example, there is violence in the kingdom of heaven, e.g., “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force” (Matthew 11:12). But violence is not said to be suffered in heaven from the days of John the Baptist until any future time.

Also, there is Matthew 23:13: “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.” Scribes and Pharisees cannot control who gets into heaven, even if they could control who gets into the kingdom of heaven.

Finally, there is some biblical support for the notion that the kingdom of heaven involved earthly life in the age of the people Jesus spoke with. That would not be heaven. For example, the parables in Matthew 25 are told in the context of the kingdom of heaven, not heaven. The kingdom seems to refer specifically to what Jesus came to establish (i.e., the gospel kingdom) and that could not be fully established until the persecuting Jews were weakened by the destruction of Jerusalem. In one of the parables there, the sheep are the wise and faithful, and the goats are the foolish and unfaithful. The sheep would inherit the gospel kingdom, while the goats would suffer the fate that was to come upon the nation of Israel.


If I wanted to be clear about that, I wouldn’t have inspired people to say that I intend (and act) to save all sinners from sin, and also to say that you can trust I will definitely accomplish saving from sin whomever I intend to save, and also to occasionally put those two ideas together, and moreover I wouldn’t have told people that everyone gets salted by the unquenchable fire of Gehenna, and that salting is the best of things leading to peace with one another, etc. etc. etc.

It isn’t that the various things said about punishment couldn’t be hopeless taken by themselves (although some such sayings are clearly remedial, and I think an extended contextual argument can be made for tracing connections between the remedial punishments and punishment not obviously remedial). A couple of the minor prophets have nothing to say about saving sinners at all, and one of those has nothing about even saving righteous people at all! But God inspires other things to be said, too.

So, keeping in mind that 7:21 is aimed at super-Christians who not only know to give Jesus the divine double “Lord, Lord” address, but who have been empowered (presumably like Iscariot was) to exorcise demons and do attesting signs in Jesus’ name (for evangelism); and is part of a warning to beware of false teachers who inside are like ravening wolves; there are several pertinent keys nearby on how to interpret and how not to interpret that warning.

We should judge the judgment 7:21 so as to be careful how we are judging, for we ourselves shall be judged according to the standard we insist on judging. (Matt 7:1-2)

We should interpret 7:21 such as to affirm that those outside should knock to be let in, and should keep on asking and keep on knocking because they will finally be given entrance. (Matt 7:7-8, 23)

We should interpret 7:21 to affirm that our Father in the heavens gives better and not worse gifts than evil fathers on earth ever would. (Matt 7:9-11)

We should interpret 7:21 in favor of the idea of doing unto others as we would have people do unto us. (Matt 7:12)

We should interpret 7:21 to mean that God’s tree will not ultimately produce bad figs (which is absolutely what the ravening wolf false teachers do instead). (Matt 7:16-18)

We should interpret 7:21 to mean that God’s will shall come to be done by His creatures (since God always does His will, the Lord’s prayer must be about creatures doing God’s will instead of rebelling).

Presumably this also includes interpreting 7:21 differently than merciless ravening wolves would do. :wink: Since after all they’re the ones being unexpectedly zorched there! (But we ought to expect such people to be judged with the judgment that they insist on judging people with. Or perhaps with better judgment, since God is not a ravening wolf.)

“Love your enemies,” Jesus says in Luke’s report of the same incident (Luke 6:35-38) “and do good, and lend, not despairing at all of receiving nothing in return, and your reward will be great and you will be sons of the Most High! – for He Himself is kind to the ungrateful and to the evil ones. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Now do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; release and you will be released. Give and it will be given to you, a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, they will pour into your lap! For by your standard of measure, will it be measured to you in return!”

It’s true that the road is broad and the gate is wide that leads to destruction, and many are those who find it, while few find the cramped gate and narrowed way leading into life; but presumably we shouldn’t be interpreting that as a ravening wolf would interpret it either, but rather should be interpreting it in conjunction with the many places where God says He will be saving many, many people. Which would explain why the guy who asks whether few are being saved, later in GosLuke 13, and who receives a similar answer to start with, ends up being rebuked with the surprise announcement that he (and those like him) are the ones who are on the broad road to destruction, and will be thrown into the outer darkness where the wailing is and the gnashing of the teeth (like the surprised super-Christians of 7:21) while many from all corners of the earth are entering into the kingdom to recline at the table with the patriarchs: not only a few being saved after all.


I’ve always found it interesting that Jesus said “paradise” in Luke 23:43, instead of “kingdom of heaven/God” or simply “heaven”. Perhaps He was just using “paradise” as a synonym, but it does make me wonder.


even if this verse does indeed refer to heaven it does not preclude people being saved post- mortem.Who are we to limit God and His ability to save, whether in this life or the next.


I’ve always found it interesting that Jesus said “paradise” in Luke 23:43, instead of “kingdom of heaven/God” or simply “heaven”. Perhaps He was just using “paradise” as a synonym, but it does make me wonder.

again, regardless of whether or not Jesus is referring to ‘paradise’ in this verse it says nothing about death being the end of a persons opportunity to find salvation.


The kingdom of heaven is within. One must become like a little child to enter the kingdom of heaven. One must be born of the Spirit to enter the kingdom of heaven, and the wind blows where it wills and you hear the sound of it but you dont know where it is goin or from whence it comes- so it is with everyone who is born of the spirit. The kingdom of God is not meat or drink but righteousness peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

All these verses and more descibe the kingdom of heaven as a state of being. You do not enter it by saying “Lord, Lord”… you enter it my ministering to the “least of these”, water for the thirsty, food for the hungry, visitations to the sickly - "This is true religion, to care for the fatherless and vist widows and orphans. To “visit” means to attend to in this context. Practical evidence of the love of God within.

It is the conditioning of religion that causes everything oto be read in the perspective of “heaven or hell”.

But those who truly “know Him” and are “known by Him” have already entered the kingdom of heaven.

Importantly- Jesus said we who know Him are the ecclesia(church, called out ones) and the gates of hell WILL NOT PREVAIL AGAINST US"

The kingdom of heaven is like a measure of leaven hidden in three bushels of grain untill all is leavened.(Mt 13:33)

When you ad leaven to dough it spreads until the whole lump of dough is transformed into another form. Jesus has been added to us(body soul and spirit) and we have been added to the world.

“If I am lifted up from the earth I will draw all men unto me”(John 12:32)

"The one who sits on the throne says, “Behold I am amking all things new”!(Rev 21)

20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.(Rom 8)

Why? Does the whole creation suffer the pains of childbirth?

“In hope that the creation will be set free from futility into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (ROmans 8)

Jesus said, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that, "‘though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.(Mark 4)’

Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,

26 But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: Rom 16

In all wisdom and insight 9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him 10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth.(EPh 1)

but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; 8 the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; 9 but just as it is written,

“Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard,
And which have not entered the heart of man,
All that God has prepared for those who love Him.”(1 Cor 2)

As in Adam all died, so also in Christ shall all be made alive…
… For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be abolished is death. 27 For He has put all things in subjection under His feet. But when He says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him. 28 When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all. (1 Cor 15)

30 For just as you once were disobedient to God, but now have been shown mercy because of their disobedience, 31 so these also now have been disobedient, that because of the mercy shown to you they also may now be shown mercy. 32 For God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all.

33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! 34 For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? 35 Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again? 36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.(Romans 11)

Paul understood the mystery and he taught it plainly. It is religion that has obscured the truth. “By your traditions you make the word of God of no effect”

For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, 20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.(Col 1)


It may not preclude some people from being saved post-mortem, but it does preclude everyone from being saved (that is, if “entering the kingdom of heaven” is synonymous with “being saved”). It’s possible that some people could be saved post-mortem while others are eternally lost.


So what exactly do you think Jesus’ statement in Matt 7:21 means? I’m willing to concede that “eonian” may not necessarily mean “without end”, and so the passages that speak of “eonian” punishment do not necessarily preclude universal salvation, but Matt 7:21 is different. Here, Jesus flat-out says not everyone will enter the kingdom of heaven.


“The Kingdom” and thus “entering” it spoke NOT of who ‘gets to heaven post mortem’ but rather of who those enter the rule or reign of God… ONLY those faithful to Israel’s covenant renewal (sons of God) would so enter in on this coming reign of God, i.e., “the kingdom is at hand”, or as Paul puts it of those who… “will reign in life by the One, Jesus Christ.Rom 5:17


We do need to come to understandings and I guess we need theology. Indeed unbeilveble as it sounds some get qualifications in it! Many years ago a young Weslian pastor said in a sermon I was listening to that we tend to put God in a box but that God wants to blow up our boxes! Jesus wept - it’s the shortest verse. Why? Well in part anyway because his friend Marther responded to Jesus famous quoted “I am the resurrection and the life” with the accepted thology of the day that Laz would arise at the last day. He was both angry and so sad. I think Jesus still weeps but there will joy in the morning. Jesus kept saying the “Kingdom of God is like” he is still saying it but we just don’t get it. We can’t really see him though he is standing right in front of us. We would rather hold on to the traditions of men in respect of hell which arose when the Church became friends with Rome. Our Bibles even contain spin in this direction as some have highlighted above. The reformation has not ended yet!


What’s the difference between being saved end “entering the rule of reign of God”?