There's an ongoing debate about passages in the bible that use the word "all" - or other similar words like "any" - over the scope of the word. Does "all" really mean all? Does God desire all people to be saved? Does God want any people to perish? All die in Adam, but all are made alive in Christ. Uhm, all? What does "all" mean here? Does all really mean all, or should the meaning of the word be altered or modified because of somebody's pet theology figured out elsewhere in the bible and placed over the top of the word in a particular passage?
It seems like universalists have a tendency to take the word all and make it look like all people are going to be saved. And it seems like the Arminians have a tendency to take the word all and make it look like God made it possible for all people to be saved, but of course not all will. And it seems like the Calvinists have a tendency to take the word all and make it look like God will save all...all of his elect people, that is.
I'd like to look at some of these passages that use these kinds of words in upcoming posts and try to figure out what these words actually mean. I believe there is a way to figure out the meanings of all and any in those debated passages, and I'd like to offer my ideas. Stay tuned for all future From the Pew posts.