Prayer for the dead


One of the recurring themes that has popped up in our discussions. I’m copying the Google+ discussion so far (with Luke’s permission), hopefully we’ll just continue it here…

Luke wrote:
A large and strange implication from one verse because you know you can’t compromise on “all” in that verse in 1 Tim 2 because it’ll mean the “all” further down is limited.


I honestly don’t ever remember a time when I thought God wanted me to restrict who I prayed for. There’s a couple of verses which instruct us to pray for people we normally wouldn’t pray for, and this verse which, at least taken in isolation (i.e. if this was the only passage of the Bible remaining on the planet), appears to say there’s no restrictions. If you can show me some verses which say we shouldn’t pray for certain people, I’d have to reconsider my position on this.

Btw, I don’t think EU collapses if it turns out we shouldn’t pray for everyone, however, prayer seems a natural part of loving everyone.

In regards to the “strangeness” of it, don’t all the Catholics pray for everyone? Do you know if the Eastern Orthodox do? Not saying that makes it right, but common.


Luke wrote:
I agree that Universalism doesn’t rise or fall on ‘Prayer for the dead’, but it’s not something common to any evangelicals, not praying for the dead is feature of Protestantism. (I say strange because the Mormons are into praying for the dead, that’s why they’re into family trees so they know who to pray for.) What I’m more bothered by is that you’re willing to adopt this view because the “all” of that verse needs mean every single person, past, present and future so that the “all” a few verses down means every single person, past, present and future. Otherwise you wouldn’t have considered praying for Winston Churchill.


I’d say that it’s not because I need all to mean all later in the passage, it’s because I genuinely don’t see any qualifiers on the “all” (in either) in the immediate context or in the entire Bible :slight_smile: (You know I don’t think you need to know people’s names, in order to pray for them :stuck_out_tongue: )


Two themes from the discussion about aionios have been the ambigiout of the word and the need for context in order to translate it. Would the same apply all/everyone, and if not, why not?


From memory there are at least one or two places where “all/everyone” isn’t absolute. e.g. if I said, “all people like chocolate”, as obviously some people don’t like chocolate, the statement must be either hyperbole, or from ignorance, or a lie. However, many of the “all” passages go to great lengths to show the absoluteness of the scope, either by comparison. e.g. if I said, “just as all people sin, so all people are saved” because we know all people sin, the assumption should be that I think all people are also saved. Or by repetition, e.g. if I said, “all people who have lived, all people who are living, and all people who will live, will all lovingly worship God”, there’s a very high chance I really am trying to convey an absolute “all” :mrgreen:

However, given “all” is also an adjective, we do need to look at the words it qualifies. For example, obviously when it says “all Jews” that excludes the Gentiles. Of more important to our discussion, when it says “all the elect” I can’t say that this “all” means absolutely everyone, unless I can show you other passages which define “the elect”. The initial assumption would be that “the elect” are a subgroup. But “all” often qualifies words where the initial assumption should be everyone. e.g. “all the world”, “all humanity”, “all people”, “all creation”, etc.