And this is the response I got back (plus to an article I wrote advocating Molinism or Middle Knowledge):
Paul was not a universalist, nor did he teach universalism. It’s easy to be deceived when verses are taken out of their context, and this article takes many verses out of context.
In Philippians 2:10, Paul isn’t saying there will be universal salvation, but universal submission. Willingly or unwillingly, every knee is going to bow and acknowledge Christ is Lord and Master of all- including the dead and the demons under the earth.
Yes, Philippians 2:10 is quoting from Isaiah 45:23 … but this is not promising universal salvation.
Rather, after the call for all the ends of the earth to turn and repent to be saved (Isaiah 45:22), Isaiah 45:23 is given as a warning for those who will not head the call of repentance- to tell them Yahweh will humble and bring all into submission everyone. No rebellion will remain- every knee will bow and every tongue will acknowledge His authority and rule. He continues in Isaiah 45:24 to warn that all who were angry at Christ will be put to shame, but that all that are counted as Israel through faith will be justified and glorifed (Isaiah 45:25).
The warning of Isaiah 45:23 is being used as an argument for why the peoples should turn and be saved in the previous verse (v22). The same is still true with the gospel- people are urged to repent and be saved, and part of the argument Yah’shua and the apostles give is that Christ rules and will return to judge the living and the dead. All will be humbled and acknowledge His authority in the end, but it will be a terrible day for those that did not repent and be saved.
This complete submission is indeed a sure prophecy- for the Father has promised to make Christ’s enemies His footstool (Psalm 110:1) , and that on the Judgement day, the day of His wrath, nations will be judged and their corpses will fill the earth (Psalm 110:5-6). For the wicked, there’s the promise they will be smashed by Christ with a Rod of iron, to be shattered beyond repair (Psalm 2:9-12)
1 Cor.12:3, which tells us that no one can say Jesus is Lord except through the Holy Spirit, is referring in its context to discerning true believers, and is speaking about those who believe in Christ in this life- and is never applied to people after death.
As to what Paul was saying Rom 11:32 and Rom 11:36, he wasn’t teaching universalism. To understand what he was teaching, we must consider the context of the verses.
Paul had written huge and precious promises for believers in Rom 8.
In Rom 9, Paul shifts gears to begin to explain how YHWH’s word has not been broken to Israel when so many are not believing and being lost (Rom 9:1-3)… because if His promise to them was broken, how could the Romans trust the promises that Paul had just given them in Rom 8?
Through Rom 9 - Rom 11, Paul explains that not all the physical offspring of Israel are counted by Yahweh as children of promise (Rom 9:4-12). He explains how Yahweh has always saved through His grace and choosing, not based on what people have or haven’t done (Rom 9:13-16). He continues to explain that Yahweh hardens whom He wills, including the Jews who don’t believe, and that this was a part of his own plans and purposes, for His glory, as much as His choice was to show mercy to those whom He grants mercy (Rom 9:17-29).
He points again how salvation is through faith in Christ alone, which is why the proclamation of the true gospel is crucial (Rom 9:30-Rom 10:21)
Paul explains how Yahweh has kept some of the Jews as a remnant, namely those believing Jews who are saved through faith(Rom 11:1- 6). He shows how the hardening and removal of the unbelieving Jews was part of Yahweh’s plans that the Gentiles could be saved and included. Paul then explains how the Gentiles being saved is part of making some of the Jews jealous, and part of Yah’s plan for the Jews to be saved. He warns the Gentiles not to be proud, and to know this partial hardening will be removed at some point, that all the Jews that remain may repent and be saved. (Rom 11:8-27)
It at this point that Paul says:
“From the standpoint of the gospel they [the Jews] are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers; for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. For just as you [the Gentiles] once were disobedient to God, but now have been shown mercy because of their disobedience, so these [the Jews] also now have been disobedient, that because of the mercy shown to you they also may now be shown mercy. For God has shut up all [Jews and Gentiles] in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all [Jew and Gentile].”
Romans 11:28-32 NASB
The ‘all’ Paul was using was not pointing to all individuals, but pointing to both Jews and Gentiles, without distinction.
Paul was finishing 3 chapters of explaining why so many Jews ARE lost and hardened, and yet how them being lost could be Yahweh’s purpose. The point being made is that both Jews and Gentiles at some point (through Yahweh’s own hand) had been handed over and ‘shut up’ in disobedience, with the purpose that all the Jews and Gentiles that would be saved, would be saved through Yah’s mercy. Neither Jew nor Gentile believer had the right to boast against each other- for both had been shut up in disobedience and both had needed and been granted mercy.
It is in response to what Paul has been explaining from Rom 9:1 - Rom11:32 about Yahweh’s sovereignty in salvation (and even those that reject the Gospel), and how these things work together to Yah’s glory, that Paul finally worships Yahweh for how deep His wisdom and inscrutable His ways are, how He does everything perfectly without councillor or owing anything to anyone. It’s this doxology that he then closes by saying:
“For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.”
Romans 11:36 NASB
Why was Paul saying this? In the light of Rom 9-Rom11, He was saying that everything - who comes to Christ and who doesn’t come Christ, everything that happens, and how all things work together through the depth of His wisdom - is from Him, and through Him, and to Him, for His own glory.
It’s true that in Romans 11:32, Paul is saying that The Fall of Man was always a part of Yahweh’s design in creation. This accords with Ephesians 1, where it says that Yahweh works all things according to His will – and that even the fall was a part of His plan and purposes.
However, Rom 11:32 does NOT mean that every individual will be saved. Such a universalist interpretation is in direct contradiction with what Paul said in Romans 9, which not only explains that there are some have been prepared for destruction, but also explains how the saved and the lost are both a part of Yahweh’s purpose to get glory:
“What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?
What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?”
Romans 9:14-24 ESV
For 1 Tim 4:10, the context:
“If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.”
1 Timothy 4:6-10 ESV
Paul is admonishing Timothy to discipline himself for the sake of Christ, to be shown approved when He appears. 1 Tim 4:10, Paul isn’t saying there is one group who ‘is saved now and toil’ and one that will be saved later after death who didn’t. Rather, Paul is expressing that their sacrifices and toil to bring the Gospel to the Gentiles will not be in vain, because Christ is not only Saviour to the Jews, but ‘all people’ (namely, the Gentiles also)… specifically those who believe. Paul is no saying all individual people will be saved… but rather like John wrote, people “from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages", who had believed on Christ in this life will be saved (Rev 7:9)
Regarding the Hymn in Colossians 1:15-20, John Piper recently took a more in depth view to show this hymn does not preach universalism. I won’t reproduce it here (for the sake of space), but those interested can read/ listen to the interview here:
What about John 3:16-17? What are their context?
Yah’shua has been speaking to Nicodemus about how someone needs to be born again to see, let alone enter the Kingdom of Heaven. While speaking about these things, Yah’shua tells him:
“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
John 3:14-18 NASB
Yah’shua was pointing Nicodemus back to Numbers 21:5-9, when the Israelites had rebelled and Yahweh sent fiery serpents as judgement, killing many. When the people cried out for mercy, Yahweh told Moses to make a bronze serpent and lift it on a pole, and that all that would look to it would be saved.
Yah’shua was telling Nicodemus that not only would He be lifted up like that bronze serpent, but those that looked at Him in faith like the Israelites had looked at the bronze serpent would be saved (John 3:14, 16). Yah’shua was also using Numbers 21:5-9 to make clear that whoever do not look at Him in faith will perish- because Yah’s judgement is already upon them, as it was on the Israelites who had been bitten.
Those who refused to look to the bronze serpent weren’t given another chance to be saved from judgement after they died- their only chance to be saved was to believe and look to the bronze serpent while they were alive. The same is true with Christ- the person who will not believe and look in faith to Christ while they are still alive, won’t be given another another chance after death, but will finally perish under Yah’s judgement.
What about Yah’shua saying the world would be saved through Him? He was saying this to show this judgement and salvation isn’t just for the Jews, but also for the Gentiles- for the’world’.
Dr James White, an apologist and professor of Greek, notes about the word ‘world’ used here:
“The great controversy that rages around the term “world” is wholly unnecessary. The wide range of uses of /kosmos/ (world) in the Johannine corpus is well known. John 3:16 does not define the extent of /kosmos/. However, a few things are certain: it is not the “world” that Jesus says He does /not/ pray for in John 17:9, a “world” that is differentiated from those the Father has given Him: “I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours.” It is not the “world” that is arrayed as an enemy against God’s will and truth, either, as seen in 1 John 2:15: “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” Obviously, the “world” we are not to love in 1 John 2:15 is not the world God showed His love toward by sending His unique Son. The most that can be said by means of exegesis (rather than by insertion via tradition) is that the world is shown love through the giving of the Son so that a specific, particular people receive eternal life through faith in Him. Since we know that not all are saved by faith in Christ, it is utterly unwarranted to read into /kosmos/ some universal view of humanity: how is God’s love shown for one who experiences eternal punishment by the provision of salvation for someone else? Surely, then, this is a general use of /kosmos/, with more specific uses of the term coming in the following verses. That is, the common meaning of world that would have suggested itself to the original readers (Jew and Gentile), and this is born out by the parallel passage in 1 John 4, as we will see below.”
How can you claim the fate of the wicked wasn’t a primary concern to the Saviour? How could He be a Saviour without it being one of His primary concerns- a concern vital enough that He would lay His life down for everyone who will trust in Him?
Through Romans 2, Paul is arguing that NO ONE is good enough, nor will ever be accepted apart from being made righteous through faith in Christ. Paul’s saying that “there will be glory, honour, and /shalom/ (peace) for everyone who does what is good” is in the context of believers - namely, that both Jew and Gentile believers who believe in Christ and submit to the Gospel will receive glory, honour and peace, for God is showing no partiality or favouritism between the Jewish and the Gentiles believers. Paul is telling the believers that Gentile believers aren’t ‘second class’ in Christ’s eyes, and that the Jewish believers shouldn’t boast.
To say everyone all those who reject Christ in this life will be saved in the end, and that “…there will be glory, honour, and /shalom/ (peace) for everyone who does what is good…[because] Elohim (God)…shows no partiality”, is to completely contradict what Paul has been arguing through Romans 2. It is to deny the gospel and to say salvation can be earned by ‘good works’… even though Scripture tells us our best ‘good works’ are filthy rags before Him. It’s saying a ‘work salvation’ is available apart from Christ.
In this same chapter Paul warns the wicked who reject Christ:
“But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who WILL RENDER TO EACH PERSON ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS:
…to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth [of the Gospel], but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation.”
Romans 2:5-6, 8 NASB
What about 1 Cor 15:22-25?
“But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet.”
1 Corinthians 15:20-25 NASB
In 1 Cor 15, Paul has been reasoning with those who deny the physical resurrection, and showing them that if there was no physical resurrection, then Christ wasn’t truly risen, which would mean those people were without salvation from sin and Death, because they would not have been overcome. Paul has been reasoning why the physical resurrection is real, and what that will mean for resurrected bodies.
In 1 Cor 15:21, Paul is not claiming that all people will be saved spiritually and made eternally alive… rather he is pointing out that the physical death of all men came through a man (Adam) and physical resurrection will come to all men through a man (Christ, who has been given authority to raise the dead on the last day).
Yah’shua (Jesus) himself said that He will resurrect both the righteous and the wicked on the last day - but only those made righteous through faith in Christ while he raised to eternal life / immortality, but the wicked to a resurrection of judgment, shame and and everlasting contempt (John 5:28-29, Acts 24:15, Dan 12:2)
Paul was NOT saying in 1 Cor 15:20-25 that spiritual salvation and eternal life was coming to all men through Christ.
Just as death came to those who are Adam’s offspring, salvation and eternal life are inherited by those who are counted by faith as offspring of Christ, the second Adam.
You asked how those who hold to an annihilist view can say Yahweh would finally destroy the wicked after they are resurrected for the resurrection of Judgement… or, how ‘those who are immortal after resurrection can die’.
Firstly, it is a mistake to believe that just because someone is resurrected from the dead, that they will be resurrected as an immortal being. Lazarus is a clear example from Scripture that someone can be resurrected from the dead, yet be resurrected as a mortal. The dead man resurrected after touching Elisha’s bones is another example if this (2 Kings 13:21)
Secondly, the Scriptures says man isn’t by nature created immortal, but fallen man has a soul that can ultimately and finally perish at Yah’s hand (Mat 10:28). As its Paul words it, its ‘the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord’ (2 Thes 1:9)
Eternal life or immortality, is the gift of Christ to all who believe in Him in this life- and to them alone.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 6:23 NASB
“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”
John 3:36 ESV
“but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,”
2 Timothy 1:10 NASB
This is why some annihilists prefer to be called ‘conditionalists’ (rather than ‘cessationists’) - because the Scriptures say immortality or eternal life is conditional, a gift only for those trusting Christ with true saving faith.
It would be foolish to ignore what Paul DOES write clearly about the fate of the wicked:
“For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire,dealing out retribution to thosewho do not know God and to thosewho do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed-for our testimony to you was believed.”
2 Thessalonians 1:6-10 NASB
Those who reject the gospel, after they have been resurrected with a mortal body to the judgement of the wicked, will be judged in the flesh, and be given to suffer before their souls are final destoyed/ put to death().
This is why Isaiah, when he saw the new heavens and the new earth (which comes after the final judgement) he described the corpses of the wicked outside the New Jerusalem:
““For just as the new heavens and the new earth Which I make will endure before Me,” declares the LORD, "So your offspring and your name will endure. “And it shall be from new moon to new moon And from sabbath to sabbath, All mankind will come to bow down before Me,” says the LORD. “Then they will go forth and look On the corpses of the men Who have transgressed against Me. For their worm will not die And their fire will not be quenched; And they will be an abhorrence to all mankind.””
Isaiah 66:22-24 NASB
(Regarding a ‘Cosmic Jubilee’, it should be noted that in the original Jubilee, Yahweh commanded only that Yahweh’s covenant people have their debts cancelled, be released from slavery and allowed to return to their inheritence. Israel was NOT required to cancel the debt or release slaves that were not one of Yahweh’s covenant people.
In the same way, in the true ‘Cosmic Jubilee’ it is Yahweh’s New Covenant people, chosen by His grace, that have their sin debt cancelled, that are released from slavery and allowed to return to the inheritance Yahweh had granted them in Christ. There is however NO promise of the canceling of the sin debts of those who are NOT His covenant people, nor of them being released from slavery.)
(Re: Molonism, Molonism has has no Scriptural basis, but is a manmade philosophy created to attempt to save the libertarian view of free will.
However, the reason so many Armenians cannot embrace Molonism is because Molonism actaully denies true libertarian free will. Why? Because, if as Molonism claims, Yahweh created the world knowing exactly what choice a person would make in every given situation, it gives the following question – could that man make a different choice in that given situation, and so prove Yahweh’s ‘middle-knowledge’ wrong? If you hold to YHWH being Omicient, then your answer must be no… which means, a person never had true ‘libertarian freedom’ in that situation to make a different choice. This means he never had true libertarian free will to choose the gospel. This shows that the Molinistic philosophy is still deterministic – believing that man cannot truly ‘make a different choice’ and so through his own will alone, determine to be saved… but that his being saved or not was predetermined by Yahweh’s choice to ‘actaulise this world’, rather than another. All this, while Molinism limits YHWH’s choice in what He can and cannot do in man, and the ‘counterfactuals’ limiting His choices to create don’t come from within Himself but some ‘other’ outside, uncontrolled source.)
You mentioned that Yahweh always gets what He wants. This is true…
So the question is (especially in light of Rom 9- Rom 11), does Yahweh want and intend all individuals to be saved?
What about 1 Tim 2:4? What is the context for this verse?
“First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
1 Timothy 2:1-4 NASB
Paul is admonishing the believers to make prayers for all [kinds] of men- even the kings and authorities, who had been key in their persecutions, so they may live quiet lives. He continues to say this is good in Christ sight, who desires ‘all men’ to be saved. This is the same kind of ‘all’ as in the earlier verse- namely that Christ desires all kinds or classes of men to be saved, without distinction.
Perhaps you find this difficult to believe. My next question would be, does Scripture say anywhere that Yahweh wills or decrees that some people NOT believe, so they won’t turn and be saved?
Yah’shua (Jesus) spoke about how spiritual blindness and deafness was given to some by Yahweh:
“And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. And he said to them, "To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, so that “‘they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven.’””
Mark 4:10-12 ESV
Jesus (Yah’shua) was quoting Isaiah, where Yahweh had decreed and given people over to be spirtually blind, deaf and dull of heart, that they might not turn to Him to be forgiven/ healed:
“And I heard the voice of the LORD [Yahweh] saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” And he said, "Go, and say to this people: “‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’ Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.””
Isaiah 6:8-10 ESV
John also points to Isaiah 6:8-10, showing that this is the reason for people’s inability to believe:
“But though He [Jesus/Yah’shua] had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him. This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet which he spoke: " LORD, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT? AND TO WHOM HAS THE ARM OF THE LORD BEEN REVEALED?" For this reason they could not believe, for Isaiah said again, " HE HAS BLINDED THEIR EYES AND HE HARDENED THEIR HEART, SO THAT THEY WOULD NOT SEE WITH THEIR EYES AND PERCEIVE WITH THEIR HEART, AND BE CONVERTED AND I HEAL THEM." These things Isaiah said because he saw His glory, and he spoke of Him.”
John 12:37-41 NASB
(Indeed, Yah’shua [Jesus] said no one is able to believe in Him unless it is given to them from the Father- John 6:43-44, John 10:25-28)
What about Paul? He confirms that Yahweh Himself has given some people over to be hardened and blinded, that they might not repent and be saved, but receive His righteous judgement:
“What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.” So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, " FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE I RAISED YOU UP, TO DEMONSTRATE MY POWER IN YOU, AND THAT MY NAME MIGHT BE PROCLAIMED THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE EARTH." So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?” On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.”
Romans 9:14-24 NASB
“What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, as it is written, “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day.” And David says, “Let their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them; let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see, and bend their backs forever.””
Romans 11:7-10 ESV
“But to this day the Lord has not given you a heart to understand or eyes to see or ears to hear.”
Deuteronomy 29:4 ESV
“If one man sins against another, God will mediate for him; but if a man sins against the LORD, who can intercede for him?" But they would not listen to the voice of their father, for the LORD desired to put them to death.”
1 Samuel 2:25 NASB
“So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe,
“The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone,”[a]
“A stone of stumbling,
and a rock of offense.”
They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.”
1 Peter 2:7-8
I would be interested in your reaction to this