WHAT DOES THE BIBLE TEACH ABOUT UNIVERSAL SALVATION?
There are many Christians who believe that there will come a time when all men will be saved, regardless of whether they believed in Christ in this life or not. Many believe that those who did not accept Christ will be raised for the great white throne judgment and given another chance to accept Christ as their Savior. And since the power of God had been proven by the resurrection of the unbeliever who will stand at the great white throne, it is assumed that all men will believe in Him Who raised them from the dead.
In discussing this topic I will present several topics from the Bible which I believe will greatly impact on the subject of universal salvation. These topics are:
I. The Difference Between Universal Reconciliation And Universal Salvation
II. What Is Death?
III. Who Will Be Judged At The Great White Throne?
IV. The Resurrection Of The Unjust
V. Passages that seem to say that unbelievers will be raised for judgment
VI. Resurrection in the Old Testament
VII. Passages That Seem To Teach Universal Salvation
I. The Difference Between Universal Reconciliation And Universal Salvation
II Cor. 5:18-19 makes it clear that the Bible does indeed teach that the whole world is reconciled to God by the shed blood of Christ on the cross. “All this is from God, Who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them…”. Note that reconciliation is God acting unilaterally, that is to say, reconciliation is unconditional, not in any way dependent on anything that man may or may not do.
Consider also Col. 1:19-20, For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross”.
Let us go on in our study and look at Romans 5:10 which also speaks of reconciliation.. “For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” Note that Paul is making a distinction between reconciliation and salvation. That is to say, he is saying that now that we have been reconciled by Christ’s death, then we may go on and be saved through His life.
Acts 16:30-31 is a passage that explains the condition which must be met in order to be saved, “..what must I do to be saved? They replied, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved…”.
One might ask, “As long as an unbeliever has been reconciled to God and his sins are not counted against him, why will he not be granted resurrection life? The answer is that resurrection life is a gift. It is a gift that is given to all who believe. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”(John 3:16). In other words, resurrection is a gift from God to those who believe in His Son, God does not give this gift to those who do not believe in His Son. Most Christians tend to believe that it is sin that keeps the unbeliever from resurrection life. But that is not what Scripture teach. Sin is not imputed, even to the unbeliever. But the gift of eternal life is not given even to the unbeliever who, in God’s sight, has no sin (because it is not counted against him) because resurrection life is given only to those who believe in His resurrected Son.
Another question we might ask is, if God does not impute one’s sin against him, why are there calls to repentance? In my paper on this web-site, Repent! Is Not A Message Of Salvation I give the reasons for my belief that one is never called upon to repent in order to be saved from the grave. I realize that this is not a widely held view, so I urge the reader to look at the above- mentioned paper.
When God reconciled the world to Himself He no longer counted men’s sins against them. So when a man dies, God does not count his sins against him whether that man accepted Christ as his Savior or not. Does that mean that because no sins are counted against the unbeliever that the unbeliever is saved? Absolutely not! Salvation is not unconditional, as is reconciliation; salvation is based on the condition of belief in Christ.
One might ask, “If reconciliation is not the same as salvation, what is it?”. That question is answered in the paper on this web-site, “Who Was Reconciled To God By the Cross?“.
II. WHAT IS DEATH?
Phil. 2:9 -11 is a passage that is often quoted to show that universal salvation is a Scriptural truth. It reads, “Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father”. Some who espouse the doctrine of universal salvation point to this passage and say that it includes even the unbeliever who are dead. Our topic therefore demands that we understand the Scriptural description of death.
We read in Job 14:10, “But man dies and is laid low; he breathes his last and is no more”.
And in Isaiah 26:14 we read, “They are now dead, they live no more; those departed spirits do not rise. You punished them and brought them to ruin; you wiped out all memory of them“. It is clear from these scriptures that apart from resurrection, man, when he dies, is no more. If he is no more, he can not have a second chance at salvation. (The note in the Companion Bible suggest that Is. 26:14 refers to Rephaim, the progeny of fallen angels, not to the offspring of Adam. The paper on this web-site Were The Rephaim Progeny Of Fallen Angles? will prove from Scripture that they were not progeny of fallen angels and that this verse is in reference to even most important men.
Jer. 51:39 and 57, “In their heat I will make their feasts and I will make them drunken, that they may rejoice, and sleep a perpetual sleep, and not wake, saith the Lord”.
Let us also consider, Psalm 49:13-15, “This is the fate of those who trust in themselves,…..Like sheep they are destined for the grave, and death will feed on them. The upright will rule over them in the morning; their forms will decay in the grave far from their princely mansions. But God will redeem my soul from the grave; He will surely take me to Himself”. Note the contrast in this verse. The forms will decay, but the writer of the Psalm will be redeemed. Without redemption, i.e. resurrection, there is no life after death.
Job 8:13, “Such is the destiny of all who forget God; so perishes the hope of the godless”. Not only does the godless man perish, but this verse tells us that his hope perishes as well.
Mr. A.E. Knoch, one of the main teachers of the universal salvation doctrine writes, “The sinner is raised from the dead because he cannot be judged in the death state. Once raised he has tasted the power of God and sees the acts of his previous life in the light of the divine presence”. And he also writes, “There can be no judgment in death. The resurrection of the unjust is proof positive that there can be no judgment before the sinner has been restored to life.” Mr. Knoch also writes, “It (the judgment of the unjust) is at the great white throne in the interval between the resurrection and the second death. We are dealing with the great mass of mankind.” It is clear that the key issue to universal salvation is that all unbelievers will be raised and judged at the great white throne. It is with this issue that, in my opinion, the doctrine of universal salvation totally fails. We have already seen that there are at least six passages that tell us that some will not be raised for judgment or anything else. We will study this issue in the next section of this paper.
III. WHO WILL BE JUDGED AT THE GREAT WHITE THRONE?
It has long been taught that all unbelievers of every dispensation will be judged at the great white throne. Let us consider this by searching the Scriptures.
One of the things we must understand about Revelation is its extremely Jewish character. That is to say, it was written to and about Israel. Another truth we must understand is that the book of Revelation is the most extensive writing in the Bible about the tribulation. When we put these two truths together we will begin to understand who will be judged at the great white throne. Let us first examine the question of to whom Revelation was written.
We read in 1:5-6, “To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood, and has made us to be a kingdom of priests to serve His God and Father….”. Who is the “us” to whom John refers? It is those to whom He made to be a “kingdom of priests”. When we read Exodus 19:6 we will see that Israel will be a kingdom of priests. Ex. 19:3 reads, “Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called up to him and said, ‘This is what you are to say to the house of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel“. And Ex. 19:6 reads, “although the whole world is Mine you will be for Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation”. Revelation was written to Israel.
Nowhere do we read of the Church being a kingdom of priests. The only New Testament reference to a kingdom of priests is in I Peter 2:9, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation…”. But we must note that Peter wrote his epistle to “the elect strangers scattered throughout…..”. (I Peter 1:1) i.e., the dispersed of Israel. How do we know that? The Greek word “diaspora” translated here “scattered” occurs three times in the New Testament. In John 7:35 we read, “The Jews said to one another, ‘Where does this Man intend to go that we cannot find Him? Will He go where our people are scattered among the Greeks?” In this verse, it is obvious that “diaspora” refers to the scattered of Israel. The second occurrence of “diaspora” is found in James 1:1, “To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations”. The reference here is also obvious. The third occurrence is in I Peter 1:1. We find in this matter a perfection in the Word of God which one would expect. That is, that the Greek word “diaspora” refers to the scattered of Israel.
We read in Rev. 1:5-6 that the kingdom of priests is Israel. We cannot apply this phrase to the Church which is His Body (not a nation) without doing a great injustice to the written Word of God. John’s revelation was written to Israel, and more specifically, as we shall see, to Israel of the tribulation.
Consider also the number of Old Testament quotations and references found in Revelation compared to other New Testament books. In the Gospel of Matthew (The Hebrew Gospel) there are 92 references to the Old Testament. In Hebrews there are 102 and in Revelation there are 285.
We have seen that Revelation was written to and about Israel. But more than that, we must see that it is about Israel during the end times, which includes, of course the tribulation. Note for example Rev. 7:14, “…..These are they who have come out of the great tribulation….”. Note also the several references to three and one-half years (Rev. 12:6 and14, also13:5) and compare that to Daniel 9:27. It is clear that Dan. 9:26b-27 speaks of the tribulation where we are told that the covenant will be broken in the middle of the seven year treaty, i.e. after three and one-half years, after which time the tribulation will begin.
One other fact that goes to show that Israel is at the very center of the tribulation is that in Jeremiah 30:7 we read of the tribulation, but it is called there, “Jacob’s trouble”.
Revelation is the book in the Bible that has the most to say about the tribulation. The great white throne is mentioned by name only in Revelation. These facts connect the great white throne with the tribulation. Because the Revelation is addressed to, and concerns Israel, I believe we must rightly divide the Word of truth and see this book in its correct dispensational setting.
Now let us consider more specifically the judgment at the great white throne. As we go to Rev. 20: 4-6 we will discover more about who will be judged at the great white throne. “…. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands.” The fact that this concerns those who did not worship the beast tells us that John is speaking of those who went through the great tribulation, he is not speaking of every person that ever lived from the beginning of time. Let us go on with verse 4, “They (i.e. those who had not worshiped the beast during the great tribulation) came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.”
Now let us go to verse 5, “(The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.)” To say that the “rest of the dead” in this verse applies to the dead of all ages is to take this phrase entirely out of context. The context is clearly contrasting those who did not receive the mark of the beast during the tribulation, with those who did. The former will reign with Christ in His millennial reign, the latter will be raised after the millennial reign to be judged. But in both cases, those who did and those who did not receive the mark of the beast, were obviously, those who lived during the tribulation as it will be only during the tribulation that one will or will not receive the mark of the beast. .
It is clear that we must take the phrase “the rest of the dead” in its context in order to have a correct understanding of who “the rest of the dead” will be. Let me put this concept in terms of every day life. If we, for example, went to a dog show, we might see that after the first round of judging some dogs were allowed to leave, but others were being kept. One of the judges might dismiss some dogs, but ask the rest of the dogs to go to a different room for further testing. When the judge asks the rest of the dogs to go to a different room, he did not have in mind the rest of the dogs in the whole world, but the rest of the dogs that were in the competition.
So when John writes of the “rest of the dead”, he is not referring to the rest of the dead who ever lived, he is referring to the rest of the dead who lived through the tribulation. We must take things in their context.
Let us look again at Rev. 20:5 where we read, “The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended”. The word “loipos” is the Greek word translated here “rest”. It occurs 42 times and is translated “other(s)” 24 times; “rest” 12 times; “remnant” 4 times and “residue” and “remains” one time each.
One of the verses which translates “loipos” as “other” is II Cor. 12:13, “How were you inferior to the other churches, except that I was never a burden to you?” Did Paul mean all the churches of the world, including all the false religions of the world, or only Christian churches? The answer is obvious; we must consider “other” in its context.
Consider also Gal. 2:13, “The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy…”. The context will show that the hypocrisy was that believing Jews refused to eat with Gentiles. Unbelieving Jews would not even have considered such a thing as they considered it against the Mosaic tradition. So by not eating with Gentiles, unbelieving Jews would have been living in ignorance, not hypocrisy. Again, we must consider “other” in the context or we will certainly be led astray in our seeking for the truth. In this case “other” is limited to believing Jews, and does not include unbelieving Jews.
It is clear in these verses that the word “other” is the best translation. But an examination of all the verses in which “loipos” is translated “rest” will show that “other(s)” is what is intended. In each of the 42 occurrences of “loipos” the context tells us who the others are. That is to say, the word itself is limiting, and the context shows to whom the word is limited.
If “loipos” had been translated “others” in Rev. 20:5 there would have been no difficulty with the question of who would be judged at the great white throne. “…. I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The others did not come to life until the thousand years were ended).”
The translators chose “rest” instead of “others”, but “others” is certainly more accurate. That is to say, that if Rev. 20:5 had been translated in the same way as the majority of the occurrences of “loipos”, we would have understood that the “others” referred to in verse 5 are those who did worship the beast during the tribulation.
We might ask ourselves why, out of all the times of history, will the unbelievers of the tribulation be raised to be judged. I believe that the tribulation will be a very special time when those who are to be tested will have to choose between remaining true to the God of heaven and earth, or worshiping Satan. Those who remain true to God and refuse to worship the antichrist or to receive the mark of the beast may lose their lives, but they will partake in the first resurrection and will live and reign with Christ. Those who do receive the mark of the beast and who do worship the antichrist may save their temporal lives but will be judged at the great white throne, and are in danger of suffering the second death, i.e. being cast into the lake of fire.
Some might object to the fairness that some unbelievers, i.e. those that live during the tribulation period, will be subject to judgment and to the punishment of the second death, while most unbelievers will not be raised for such a judgment. Let us examine that objection.
While it is true, in my opinion, that unbelievers of the end times are subject to punishment that unbelievers of other dispensations are not, it is also true that they will be the beneficiaries of many special signs and ministries of God. For example, Matthew 24:4-29 is a record of the signs of the end times given by our Lord to His disciples so that they might recognize them when the end comes. These signs are recorded for all who seek the truth concerning those days, and should prove to all who read it that God is the One true God. Note verse 5 where we are warned that false prophets will come and deceive many. Verse 15, “So when you see standing in the holy place the abomination that causes desolation, spoken of through the prophet Daniel-let the reader understand- then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains”. What further sign that the end times have arrived could anyone possibly want then an idol in God’s holy temple? And how could even the unbeliever not be convinced that God is Who He says He is when he is a witness to the fulfillment of prophecy in his own time?
As if that were not enough, we read in Rev. 11:3 of two witnesses, “And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth”. We read in verse 5 of these two witnesses and the absolute proof of their being sent from God. “If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies”. And what more proof can anyone require that these prophets were from God and spoke God’s truth when after they are killed, they will be raised from the dead?
And as if that were not enough, let us consider Rev. 14:6-7, “Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth-to every nation, tribe, language and people. He said in a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come“. What could possibly be more convincing?
I believe that it is true that some unbelievers (those of the tribulation period) will be judged and punished whereas other unbelievers will not be. But those who will be judged and punished are given more advantages in hearing the truth than in other dispensations, and will therefore, be without excuse
Some might say that while it is true that most of the Revelation has to do with tribulation times, the scope of the book broadens when we get to the great white throne in chapter 20. Let us examine that thought. In Rev. 2:7 we read for the first time of overcoming. “…. To him who overcomes I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God”. The paradise of God is described towards the end of the book in Rev. 21 and we read in verse 7 of that chapter, “He who overcomes will inherit all this…”. Chapter two which is, of course, towards the beginning of the book, promises the over-comers of the tribulation life in the “paradise of God”, and chapter 21 which is towards the end of the book, describes that paradise and promises it once again to the over-comers. Over-comers of what we might ask? It is clear that it is the over-comers of the tribulation that John had in mind. Because the promise made in chapter 2 is made to the over-comers of the tribulation, and that same promise is referred to in chapter 21, it is obvious that the scope of Revelation does not change from chapter 2 to chapter 21. Most of the book centers on the tribulation and the reward or judgment of those who lived and/or died during it.
Going back again to chapter two of Revelation, we read in verse 11, “He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death”. The second death is explained in Rev. 20:14, “The second death is the lake of fire”. The same promise is made in chapter two concerning the second death as is made again in chapter 20. “Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them…” (Rev. 20:6). Again, the same promise is made to the same people (the over-comers of the tribulation) in chapter two as is made in chapter 20. This, once again, shows that the scope of Revelation does not change from the beginning of the book to the end of the book.
Let us continue with the misconception that the scope of Revelation changes (broadens) once we get to the New Heavens and New Earth of Rev. 21. We should note that the description John gives of the New Heaven and New Earth is still centered on Israel. Note for example the reference to the “bride” in 21:3, 9 and 13. The bride is, of course, Israel. Note also verse 12 and the reference to the 12 gates and the 12 tribes of Israel.
Verse 24 of chapter 21 is also significant. “The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it”. And verse 26, “The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it”. The nations will bring glory and honor into the New Jerusalem, the bride of Christ, Israel. The book of Revelation centers on Israel from the first chapter to the last, the scope does not change. We may not, therefore, include all dispensations in Revelation without doing great injustice to the truth.
We have seen by comparing the earlier chapters of Revelation with the last chapters of Revelation that the scope of the book does not change at all. Most of the book has to do with the tribulation and the reward or punishment given to those who lived through it. Therefore, when we read in chapter 20 of the great white throne, we should not read into God’s Word that which is not intended. That is to say, we may not include all of humanity from every dispensation, when most of the book centers on a three and one-half year time period. In another paper on this web-site, I give the reasons for my belief that the tribulation is not world wide, this limits the Revelation not only in the length of time, but also its geographic area. (Please see The Tribulation Is Not Worldwide).
I am suggesting that because the great white throne appears in the context of the tribulation that it is limited to those who lived in that time period. I believe that only the unbelievers who went through the tribulation will be raised and judged at the great white throne, not all unbelievers from every dispensation.
There are a few passages that do speak of the resurrection of the unjust. Do those passages speak of mankind in general? Let us examine the scriptures for an answer to that question.
IV. PASSAGES THAT SPEAK OF THE RESURRECTION OF THE UNJUST DANIEL 12:1-2
There are several passages in the New Testament about judgment. We will look only at those passages that speak of resurrection and judgment of the unjust as those are the only passages that impact on our study.
Daniel 12:1-2 is a passage that speaks of the resurrection and judgment of the unjust. “At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people, everyone whose name is written in the book of life, will be delivered. Multitudes who sleep in the dust will awake, some to everlasting life and others to shame and everlasting contempt. “ How are we to understand this passage, who does it concern, when will this judgment take place? Some of these questions are answered in the passage itself. Note for example, the phrase “your people” appears twice. That tells us that this passage is about Daniel’s people, Israel. What is the time that is spoken of in this passage? We are told that it is about the time of the greatest distress, i.e. the great tribulation. This makes sense; the tribulation is to be centered on Israel, Daniel’s people.
We read of those whose name is written in the book of life. While it is true that believers of the dispensation of the mystery have their names written in the book of life, I believe that to make Daniel 12:1-2 apply to believers of all dispensations is take the phrase “book of life” in Daniel out of context and force a meaning that the context will not allow. The context is about Israel and the tribulation, not about everyone who ever lived in the whole world.
To summarize what we have learned of this passage: The resurrection of Daniel 12 includes the unjust, but limits that resurrection in time and scope. It limits the resurrection to the time of the tribulation and to the people of Israel. Again, we may not, in my opinion, include all unbelievers in this passage, as the Holy Spirit was specific in the description of the time and the scope of this resurrection.
My point is that Dan. 12 speaks of a resurrection of the unbeliever, but that resurrection is limited to unbelievers of Israel who went through the tribulation. Therefore, this passage can not be used in an attempt to prove that everyone who ever lived will be raised for the judgment at the great white throne. If one is not raised, one does not have a second chance to accept eternal life.
The phrase, “Multitudes who sleep in the dust will awake, some to everlasting life and others to shame…” is similar to the one in John 5 and will be discussed in the next section of this paper.
Other than the passage in Revelation 20 about the great white throne judgment, there are only three passages in the New Testament that mention a resurrection and judgment of the unjust. The first one is in John 5:24-29. Let us begin however, with John 5:24-25 which reads, “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of Man, and those who hear will live.”
But then, in verses 28-29 our Lord says, “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear His voice and come out – those who have done good will rise to live and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned”. In verse 25 “the dead will hear the voice of the Son of Man and those who hear will live“. But in verses 28-29 we are told that all in the graves will hear His voice and come out but not all will live. “Those who have done evil will rise to be condemned“.
There seems to be a contradiction in this passage. That is to say, in verse 25 our Lord says those in their graves who hear His voice will live. But in verses 28 and 29 He says that some of those in the grave who hear His voice will not live but be condemned.(While it is true that the word “judgment” is a better translation of the Greek than “condemned”, it does not change the basic meaning of the passage, as it involves judgment of the wicked.)
The key to understanding this passage is to note that both statements begin with “A time is coming”. I believe that the only way we can understand this passage and to answer the seeming contradiction, is to recognize the fact that there are two resurrections mentioned in this passage, and they occur at two different times. The first one mentioned is for the believer who will not be judged but has passed from death to life; the second resurrection mentioned is for those who will be judged. Let us examine each resurrection for the Scriptural evidence, which will tell us when these two resurrections will take place.
In verse 24 we read of those who “believe” and have therefore, “crossed over from death to life”. I believe that this resurrection points us to I Thess. 4:16 where we read of the second coming of our Lord when “the dead in Christ will rise …”. The resurrection of verses 24-26 then, refers to the resurrection at the second coming, i.e. at the beginning of the millennial reign.
When will the resurrection of verses 28-29 occur? We are not told explicitly when, but we are told something of the character of the judgment of those who are resurrected. We read in verse 29 that they will be judged according to what they have done, “those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned”. This seems to be salvation by works! But salvation has always been by grace through faith. Nowhere but here, in John five, and in Revelation 20 do we read of the resurrection of the unbeliever in order to be judged according to their works. (The judgment of Matt. 25 is also a judgment of works, but it is a judgment, not of those who will be raised, but a judgement of those whose will be alive at the time of the second coming of Christ.)
Because the only two passages that speak of a resurrection to judgment by works occurs in John 5:28-29 and in Rev. 20 at the great white throne, I believe that we may conclude both passages speak of the same event, the great white throne judgment. It is after the millennial reign, so the resurrection of John five verses 28-29 refers to the one after the millennial reign. Just as the first resurrection mentioned in Rev. 20:6 is for those who were resurrected before the millennial reign, so the first mention of a resurrection in John 5 ( i.e. verses 25-27) is before the millennial reign. So also, just as the second resurrection of Rev. 20:11-14 will be for those who will be raised for judgment after the millennial reign, so too those in John 5:28-29 will be raised for judgment after the millennial reign. The judgment that occurs after the millennial reign is at the great white throne. We have a complete and beautiful symmetry between John 5 and Rev. 20.
As discussed in the paragraphs above, the resurrection of Rev. 20 at the great white throne is limited to those who lived during the tribulation period, so also, is the resurrection of John 5:28-29 limited to those who lived during the tribulation period because they will be judged at the great white throne.
Let me summarize what has been written here concerning John 5. John 5:24-27 speaks of the resurrection of believers; they will be raised before the millennial reign of Christ, and they will not be judged. The resurrection of verses 28-29, on the other hand, will be after the millennial reign of Christ and they will be judged. By comparing John 5:28-29 with Rev. 20 we see that the resurrection of John 5:28-29 will lead to the judgment at the great white throne.
Another passage having to do with the resurrection of the unjust is found in Acts 24:14:15. Paul writes, “…. I believe everything that agrees with the Law and that which is written in the Prophets, and I have the same hope in God as these men, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked”. Note Paul’s reference to the Law and the Prophets. The only reference I can find by the Old Testament prophets to the resurrection of the wicked is Daniel 12:1-2. That scripture has been discussed above. As we have seen, it refers to the great white throne judgment, a judgment of those who lived through the tribulation.
I PETER 4:5 AND 17
The third New Testament passage that speaks of the judgment of the dead is in I Peter 4:4-5 which reads, “They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you. But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead”. We must ask the question, “Who are the living and the dead that will be judged? “Note the contrast Peter makes between “they” and “you”. Obviously, the “they” are unbelievers and the “you” are believers. Are “they” the unbelievers of every dispensation, i.e. all mankind? If they are, when are they to be resurrected for judgment? That is to say, we are not told anywhere in the Bible of a resurrection of the unbelievers of all mankind, only of those who lived during the tribulation. I agree with Mr. Knoch’s statement quoted in an earlier section, the dead can not be judged, they must be raised for judgment. These once dead unbelievers who must “give account”, are those who must answer for what they have done. I believe that because the only resurrection of unbelievers is at the great white throne, and that the great white throne judgment is also the only judgment of deeds of the unbelievers, these spoken of by Peter are those who lived during the tribulation, and did not overcome.
While it is true that there is no mention of the tribulation in the context, it is also true that Peter’s first epistle was written to Israel. See 2:9, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God ….”.(Compare Ex. 19:5-6). At the time that Peter wrote his epistles, Israel was looking for the immediate return of Christ. They expected to live through the time of “Jacob’s trouble”. The tribulation was very much in the minds of all believing Israelites.
V. Passages that seem to say that unbelievers will be raised unto judgment
We read in Matt. 10:15, “Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment than for that city”.
There were three judgments that were yet future at the time these words were spoken, i.e. the judgment of the day of wrath, the judgment at the judgment seat of Christ, and the judgment at the great white throne. To which judgment did Christ refer in this verse? I believe there are two clues that will help us to answer that question. The first clue is in the fact that there is no hint of resurrection in this context. And the second clue lies in the fact that the judgment of verse 15 is one of cities. The great white throne judgment will be one of individuals, not of cities. But we know that cities will indeed be judged in the day of God’s wrath from such passages as Rev. 6:12-17 and chapter 18 of Revelation. I believe therefore, as we add these two clues together we are led to the conclusion that the judgment of Matt. 10:15 is the judgment of the day of God’s wrath. There is no resurrection until after the day of God’s wraththerefore this verse does not support the idea that unbelievers will be raised for judgment.
We read in Matt. 12:35-36, “A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things; and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment”.
Again, we must ask, to what judgment does this verse refer? Again, there is no hint of resurrection which leads one to discount the great white throne judgment. And this is a judgment of individuals as opposed to the cities that will be judged in the day of God’s wrath. I believe therefore, that Matt. 12:36 refers to the judgment at the judgment seat of Christ. Let us consider the two passages that speak of the judgment seat of Christ.
Romans 14:10 reads, “But why dost thou judge thy brother? Or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ“. And II Cor. 5:10 reads, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad”. Note the phrase in II Cor. 5:10 “the things done in his body”. Let us compare that with Matt. 12:35, “A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things; and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things”. I believe there is in these two passages a correlation in that both speak of the things, good and bad, done in the body. Therefore, I believe that Matt. 12:36 speaks of the judgment of the judgment seat of Christ.
As we consider the judgment at the judgment seat of Christ it will become quite clear that unbelievers will not appear in that judgment. Note that Paul includes himself in this judgment. That tells us that the judgment at the judgment seat of Christ is a judgment of believers. But we read in Jn. 5:24, “…He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him That sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation (Gr. “krisis”, i.e. judgment); but is passed from death unto life”. We learn from this that believers will not be judged. There are no contradictions in the Word of God, therefore we must conclude that John 5 speaks of judgment with respect to salvation, whereas the judgment at the judgment seat of Christ is one of rewards. Obviously, unbelievers will not be judged with respect to rewards. Therefore, this verse does not support the idea of unbelievers being raised for judgment.
Matthew 12:41 and 42
We read in Matt. 12:41, “The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation and shall condemn it because they repented at the preaching of Jonas…”.
The phrase “they repented at the preaching of Jonas” tells us that this verse contrasts believers with unbelievers, i.e. the men of Nineveh with those of the generation Christ was addressing. Let us first determine to which judgment this refers. Again, the three judgments that were yet future when these words were spoken were the judgment of the day of God’s wrath, the judgment at the judgment seat of Christ and the judgment of the great white throne.
Given that this verse speaks of a resurrection we may rule out the judgment of the day of God’s wrath. And given that unbelievers are included we may rule out the judgment at the judgment seat of Christ. That is to say, in both passages that speak of the judgment seat of Christ, i.e. Rom. 14:10 and II Cor.5:10, Paul includes himself. That tells us that the judgment at the judgment seat of Christ will be for believers with respect to rewards. Because believers will not be judged with respect to their salvation (see Jn. 5:24 quoted in the section above) the judgment of Matt. 12:41 cannot refer to the judgment seat of Christ. That leaves us with the judgment of the great white throne. But because believers, including, of course, the men of Nineveh, will be raised at the second coming of Christ, Matt. 12:41 cannot refer to the resurrection 1,000 years after His coming, because those believers will have already been raised.
That leaves us with the question of to which judgment does Matt. 12:41 refer. In order to answer that question we must consider the Greek preposition translated “with” in the phrase “shall rise in judgment with”. That Greek word is “meta”. “Meta’ is a very interesting word in that while it is generally translated “with” it is also translated, in a small portion of the times it is used, as “against”. Let us consider just a few of those occurrences. We read in Rev. 2:16, “Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against (Gr. “meta”) them with the sword of My mouth”. Consider also Rev. 11:7 which reads, “….the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against (Gr, “meta”) them, and shall overcome them and kill them”. While it is true that “meta” is not generally translated “against”, I believe it is clear that the word does, at least at times, mean “against’.
We are now prepared to consider Matt. 12:41. I suggest that that verse should be translated, “The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment against this generation, and shall condemn it…..”. I believe that the judgment referred to in this verse is that while believers will be raised from the dead at the second coming of Christ, unbelievers will be left in the grave because, as we read in Jn. 3:18, “he that believeth not is condemned already”.
In short, the very fact that unbelievers will not be raised because “he that believeth not is condemned already” is the judgment referred to in Matt. 12:41. The same is true of verse 42 which also uses the Greek “meta”.
VI. Resurrection in the Old Testament
Other than the picture of the resurrection of our Lord given by the experience of Jonas in the belly of the leviathan, I can find only two scriptures in the Old Testament which refer to resurrection. (It is therefore perhaps understandable why some who lived while our Lord was on earth did not believe in resurrection.) One of those passages is in Daniel 12, which we have already discussed. The other is in Ezek. 37:12-14. This passage speaks of the resurrection of Israel. We read in verse 11, “Then he said to me: Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. …. Therefore prophesy and say to them: This is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘O My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them”. If we take the phrase, the “whole house of Israel” out of context we may be drawn to the erroneous conclusion that it refers to the unfaithful as well as the faithful. But let us continue with the very next phrase, where we read, “I will bring you back to the land of Israel”.
This phrase is important in that it tells us that those who will be resurrected will be brought into the land promised by God to Israel But as we shall see as we continue in our study, only believers will be allowed in the land for the millennial reign of Christ. That is to say, resurrection is promised to only those of Israel who will be allowed into the land for the millennium, i.e. only believers. Unbelievers will not be allowed entrance and they will not be resurrected. (The exception in terms of resurrection is, of course, those unbelievers of Israel who worship the beast during the tribulation who will be raised for judgment at the great white throne.) As we continue, we will see that God purges His people of unbelievers, they will not be allowed entrance into the land of Israel. This purging is of those of Israel who will be alive at His coming, there is no hint of resurrection in these passages.
We read in Matthew 8:11-12, “I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth”.
The “subjects of the kingdom” of verse 12 refers to Israel. The phrase “kingdom of heaven” is limited in scope, and refers to Christ’s 1,000 year reign over Israel in the land. Those “thrown out” of the kingdom of heaven will be thrown out of the land of Israel to live in the Gentile nations. (For proof of these statements please see the paper on this web-site The Kingdom of Heaven.)
Matthew 13:37-43 includes the explanation of the parable of the weeds. Verse 38b, “the weeds are the sons of the evil one”. Verse 39b, “The harvest is at the end of the age”. Verse 41, “The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will weed out of His kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil”. What will happen to those being weeded out? Verse 42, They will be thrown into the fiery furnace…” , that is, they will be thrown out of the land of Israel, while those in the land will be enjoying millennial blessings.
The “weeding out” of this parable is what Ezekiel refers to in 20:35-38. “I will bring you into the desert of the nations and there, face to face I will execute judgment upon you. As I judged your fathers in the desert of the land of Egypt, so I will judge you, declares the Sovereign Lord. I will take note of you as you pass under my staff, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant. I will purge you of those who revolt and rebel against me. Although I will bring them out of the land where they are living, yet they will not enter the land of Israel….“.
A word of clarification of Ezek. 20:40 is in order. The NIV has, “…..the entire house of Israel will serve me there”. That would suggest that all Israel, including unbelievers will be allowed into the land. But the Hebrew-English Interlinear has, “The entire house of Israel, all of them in the land will serve me there”. The KJV also includes this phrase. This is consistent with all the other scriptures that concern the gathering of Israel for the millennial blessings, i.e. only the faithful are allowed into the land and therefore, only the faithful will serve Him there.
In order not to create any confusion, we should consider Ezek 36 in this discussion of who is allowed entrance into the land. Ezek. 36:24-27, “For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. ……..You will live in the land I gave your forefathers, you will be my people and I will be your God”. Here we read that Israel will be in the land, but in Ezek. 20 we read that some would not be allowed entrance into the land. Let us consider this apparent contradiction.
We have seen in two passages in Matthew (and there are several more) that some of Israel will be “thrown out” of the land; they will not be allowed entrance into the kingdom of Heaven. We have also seen in Ezek. 20 that the unfaithful will be brought out from where they had been scattered, but they will not be allowed entrance into the land. We must conclude therefore, that the promises of Ezek. 37 are not given to unfaithful Israel, they are given to the faithful of Israel only. If we do not recognize that truth we are faced with the unthinkable conclusion that there is a contradiction in God’s perfect Word. They are not all Israel that are of Israel and the unfaithful will be cut off from their people and will not be counted as Israel. (See Rom. 11:17a and 23.)
Let us also consider the following scriptures that tell us that only the faithful of Israel will enter the land.
Psalms 37:9, “For evil men will be cut off, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land”.
Ps. 37:22, “those the Lord blesses will inherit the land, but those He curses will be cut off”.
Ps. 37:34, “Wait for the Lord and keep his way. He will exalt you to possess the land; when the wicked are cut off, you will see it.”
Prov. 2:21-22, “but the wicked will be cut off from the land, and the unfaithful will be torn from it.”
We are now ready to draw some conclusions about who will be included in the resurrection of Ezekiel 37. Because the resurrected of Ezek. 37 will be in the land for the millennial reign, we must conclude that they are believers, as unbelievers are not allowed entrance. That is to say, the unbeliever is not included in the resurrection of Ezek. 37.
If unbelievers of Israel will not not be raised, and I believe they will not be, then they will not inherit resurrection life. Therefore, there is at least one company that can not be included in a “universal salvation”. In my opinion, therefore, this is one more piece of evidence from Scripture that universal salvation is not taught in God’s Word.
VII. PASSAGES THAT SEEM TO TEACH UNIVERSAL SALVATION
“All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord; and all the families of the nations will bow down before him. For dominion belongs to the Lord and he rules over the nations. All the rich of the earth will feast and worship; all who go down to the dust will kneel before him- those who cannot keep themselves alive”. The phrase, “all who go down to the dust will kneel before him” suggests to those who believe in universal salvation, that all will be resurrected in order to worship. There are however, two things wrong with that conclusion.
1) This is obviously a Psalm which looks forward to the millennial reign for its fulfillment. Note the phrases, “nations will bow down before him”, and “he rules over the nations”. But the only resurrection that the Bible mentions as taking place before the millennium is of those in Christ, i.e. believers (see I Thess. 4:16). Some unbelievers will be raised to be judged at the great white throne, but that is not until after the millennial reign, (see Rev. 20:5).
2) The NIV Hebrew Interlinear has literally, “all of one going down of dust”. In other words, “all who are dying”. That explains the phrase “those who cannot keep themselves alive”. Therefore, I believe that we must conclude that because there is no resurrection of the unbeliever until after the millennial reign, that this passage does not refer to those who have already died and will be resurrected, but to all that are alive, but dying.
“But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” It is abundantly evident that our Lord has not “drawn all men” to Himself. Therefore, if “all men” means everyone who ever lived, a resurrection of unbelievers is a necessity. But, apart from the resurrection of those who lived in the time of the tribulation and will be raised for the judgment at the great white throne, there is no resurrection of unbelievers. How then are we to understand Christ’s statement that he would draw all men to Himself?
The key to understanding John 12:32 is in John 6, verses 37, 39 and 44.”All that the Father gives me will come to me…” (John 6:37).”And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me.“(John 6:39).”No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him”. (John 6:44).
There is, of course, no contradiction between Christ saying that He will draw all men to Himself and the plain fact that not all men have been drawn to Him. Christ will draw all men that the Father has given Him. Some men will die without having accepted the free gift of salvation. Because there is no universal resurrection of the unbeliever spoken of in the Bible, those unbelievers will never be drawn to Christ.
Rom. 5:15-19, “(……. For if through the offence of one, many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man Jesus Christ, hath abounded to many. 16) and not as it was -by one that sinned, so is the gift: For the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. 17) For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life-by One, Jesus Christ). 18) Therefore, as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of One the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. 19) for as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of One, shall many be made righteous”.
Let us consider this passage verse by verse. The first thing to note is the fact that in verse 15 Paul speaks of “many” being dead because of Adam’s sin, and of the grace of God being shown to “many”. The word “many” does not mean the same as the word “all”. We must bear in mind that Paul speaks of the many in this context. So even though all men do die, the subject of this passage is not “all men”, the subject of this passage is “the many”.
Of whom is Paul speaking? Who are “the many” to which God’s grace abounds? Those questions are answered in verse 17 where we read “they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life”. This entire context is about those who ” receive the gift of righteousness”. Who receives the gift of righteousness? That question is answered in Rom. 4:3, “Abraham believed God and it was counted unto him as righteousness”. In other words, those who believe God receive the gift of righteousness. Unbelievers, by definition do not believe God and therefore they do not receive the gift of righteousness.
Let us continue our study of this passage with verses 18-19. “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of One shall many be made righteous”. Again, all men do indeed sin, but that is not the subject of this verse or of this context. The subject is “many” who will receive the gift of righteousness.
So verses 15 and 17 tell us of the “the many” (i.e. not all men but the men of this context, i.e. believers). Those who believe in universal salvation would say that in verse 18 Paul is saying that all men will be justified. Let us look at the logic of that conclusion.
If Paul is saying in verse 18 that all men would be justified, why would he speak of the “many” (i.e. a limited number of “all men”) in the other two verses (i.e. 15 and 17)? That is to say, if Paul is saying in this passage that all men are justified, there would be absolutely no reason to speak of some men being justified, because some men are included in the phrase, “all men”. Let me clarify that with an every day example. “The entire school went to the picnic and the fourth grade went to the picnic”. If the entire school went to the picnic, then there would be no need to speak of the fourth grade going. So too, if all men will be justified, there would be no need to mention the fact that the” many”, i.e. some men, will be justified Therefore, I believe that we must consider verse 18 in the context and conclude that the “all men” of verse 18 refers to the same limited number of men which is the subject of this passage.
Let us consider the suggestion that where Paul speaks of “the abundance of grace” in verse 17 that “abundance of grace” implies a greater number than those who died through the one man’s offence. That doesn’t make sense because there will not be more saved than had died. That is to say, we are saved from the grave. There cannot be more saved than are in the grave. Furthermore, note this verse says, “much more they which receive abundance of grace….”. One must receive it and not every person does receive it, they refuse the gift by their lack of faith.
ROMANS 9:19 AND I TIMOTHY 2:4
Rom. 9:19 reads, “…..for who resists His will?” But I Tim.2:4 reads, “This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wills all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” . I believe that every word in the Bible is inspired by God, the Holy Spirit. So when the Greek words translated “will(s)” is different in one verse than it is another, that, in my opinion, is meaningful. The Greek word translated “will” in Romans 9:19 is “boutomai” and means “intentions”. Whereas, the Greek word translated “wills”, in I Tim. 2:4 is “thelo” and means “to wish or desire”. So in Romans what is implied by Paul’s question is that no one can resist God’s intentions. But in I Timothy Paul says that God desires all men to be saved. What God desires is not always what He intends to accomplish. In the case of salvation, He offers it as a gift, but it is clear that that gift is not accepted by all men, thus His desire, in the case of all men being saved, is not fulfilled.
“For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all”. The eleventh chapter of Romans has been quoted by some in an effort to prove that one can lose his salvation: it has also been quoted by others in an effort to prove that all men will be saved. I believe that the exponents of both doctrines have taken this passage out of context, but I will limit my comments to the doctrine of universal salvation.
Let us try to determine just what Paul’s message is in Romans 11. Verses 17-18 reads, “If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not boast over those branches”. This passage does not speak of salvation, but of dispensational standing. If we fail to see that, we are forced to come to the erroneous conclusion that one can lose their salvation.
Consider the very first verse of this chapter, “I ask then, Did God reject his people? By no means!…” Paul is writing of Israel as a nation and their dispensational standing at the time of the writing of Romans, which was as God’s chosen people. God could not reject His people in terms of salvation. To read that into this chapter is to do a great disservice to Paul’s message.
Consider verse 22, “Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fail, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. “Here too, we must understand that this has nothing to do with salvation, or again, we are forced to the erroneous conclusion that a child of God can lose his salvation.
Now that we have seen that Romans 11 has nothing to do with salvation, but with the dispensational standing of Israel and the nations, let us come to verses 28-32. Paul tells us in verse 30 that the Gentiles have received mercy “as a result of their (Israel’s) disobedience..”. What mercy is he writing about in this passage? Again, to say that it is the mercy in granting all men salvation is to take this passage out of its dispensational context. I believe that the mercy Paul had in mind, is the mercy that God bestowed on the Gentiles in preaching the gospel to them (verse 30). We must bare in mind that before Paul became an apostle of God to the Gentiles, Gentiles were “without God and without hope in the world” (Eph. 2:12). That is to say, Gentiles could receive the gift of resurrection life before Paul, but they had never had the privilege of having been preached to as Gentiles, before Paul became the “apostle to the uncircumcision”.
What was the mercy that God bestowed on Israel? It was that Gentiles were being grafted in, in order to make Israel jealous. This would hopefully, bring all Israel to accepting their risen Messiah. In short, Israel was disobedient and God sent His message to the Gentiles in order to provoke Israel to jealousy (Romans 10:19). In so doing, God showed mercy to the Gentiles and mercy to Israel. That mercy is not that He granted the gift of salvation to all, but that He sent His message to the nations (that was His mercy to the Gentiles) and by so doing hoped to make Israel jealous (that was His mercy to Israel).
I CORINTHIANS 15:22-23
I Corinthians 15:22 reads, “So as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive…”. Does this verse say that all are in Adam and that all are in Christ? It is obvious that all are in Adam, but are all in Christ? The answer to that question is found in Romans 16:7, “Salute Andronicus and Junia……who also were in Christ before me“. It is clear that all men are in Adam by natural birth. But if all men were in Christ by natural birth then how could Paul be in Christ later than some? That is to say, Paul was not “in Christ” as early as Andronicus was in Christ, which means that there was a time when Paul was not in Christ. But Paul became “in Christ” when he believed. We must conclude therefore, that because not all men are believers, not all men are in Christ.
Mr. Knoch teaches that verse 24 refers to “the balance of mankind”, in the word “end”. “Then cometh the end when He shall deliver up the kingdom of God”. His reasoning is that the great white throne judgment is at the “end”, and that is when the resurrection of all the unjust of mankind will take place. Therefore, according to Mr. Knoch, verse 24 speaks of the resurrection of all mankind.
In my opinion, that is reading into Scripture what is not there. That is to say, verse 24 does not mention resurrection, it speaks only of what will happen at the end. Also, as I have shown in the section of this paper on the great white throne, there is not going to be a resurrection of the unjust of all mankind, therefore I do not agree that verse 24 teaches the resurrection of “the balance of mankind” as Mr. Knoch suggests.
The Bible tells us that Christ rose from the dead after three days and three nights. The Bible tells us that those in Him will be raised at His coming. But there is no mention, (other than the white throne judgment – which is a resurrection of a very specific group who lived during a very limited time) of a general resurrection of the unjust anywhere in the Bible, and especially not in verse 24 of the passage under consideration .
I CORINTHIANS 15:25
“For He must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. “We must assume that all existing enemies are meant by the phrase “all his enemies”. The dead, as we have seen in the section above on death, do not exist. In order for them to exist they must be resurrected. And, there is no place in the Bible that tells of a universal resurrection of all unbelieving dead from every age, therefore, in general terms, the dead do not exist.
II CORINTHIANS 5:10
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad”.
We must note that in this passage Paul is addressing his remarks to saved people. Note verse 5, where we read, “..…God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the spirit”. Eph. 1:13-14 also speaks of this “earnest”.”….. in whom also after ye believed ye were sealed with that holy spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession unto the praise of His glory”. The earnest of our inheritance is that which guarantees the believer resurrection life. It is given only to believers, never to unbelievers. This fact alone is enough Scriptural evidence to prove that Paul is addressing believers. Verse 7 also indicates that Paul is addressing believers, “For we walk by faith, not by sight”. Therefore, I believe that we may say without hesitation, that believers will appear before the judgment seat of Christ.
Further, the paper on the judgment seat of Christ gives further evidence that it will be only believers who will be judged and that only in respect to rewards. That paper will also prove from Scripture that the judgment at the judgment seat of Christ is not the judgment at the great white throne, as many believe it to be.
“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them…”. As we have seen in the first section of this paper, God is not counting sins against anyone. But that does not mean that all men are saved. Salvation is a gift that must be accepted, it is not unilateral as is reconciliation.(Please see the section of this paper, The Difference Between Reconciliation And Salvation.
“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth”. In my opinion, we must assume that only the living are included in this statement that “every knee shall bow”. As we have seen in the section on death, dead people do not exist and therefore can not bow the knee. And because there is no general resurrection of the unbeliever, we may not assume that the unbelieving dead will rise to bow the knee without Scriptural evidence.
“For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood shed on the cross.” As we have seen in the first section of this paper, Christ has indeed reconciled all things to Himself through His shed blood, but reconciliation is not at all the same as salvation.
I Timothy 4:9-10
This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation. For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.“
What did Paul mean by the phrase. “specially of those that believe”? Salvation is being resurrected from the dead. One is either resurrected or not resurrected. Therefore one is either saved from the grave or not saved from the grave. How can one be especially saved? I believe that we must consider this passage in its context.
To begin with, this passage is not in the context of doctrinal teaching. The context is Paul’s advice to Timothy on how Timothy should conduct himself. Therefore, we should not expect to find a doctrine not otherwise substantiated in Scripture.
Secondly, is Paul’s point that God saves all men? Or could Paul have meant something else when he wrote that God is the “Saviour of all men”? Given that the phrase “specially of those that believe” makes no sense if we assume that all men are saved, and that this phrase comes in the context of Paul giving Timothy advice on how he should conduct himself, I believe that he meant that indeed God is the Saviour of all men who believe. This explains the phrase that follows, “specially of those that believe.” God is the Saviour of all who will be saved because there is no other by Whom any might be saved. But we do not read anywhere in God’s Word that all men will be saved by Him, because not all men do accept the gift of salvation.
In other words. I believe that Paul is not saying that all men are saved by God. I believe that what Paul is saying is that it is by God that all men might be saved, i.e. all men who believe. But because all men do not believe, and they do not accept the gift of salvation, not all men are saved.
I PETER 3:19-20
“…He was put to death in the body but made alive in the spirit, through which He also went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built”. Who are the spirits in prison, to which Peter refers? Are they all the dead that ever lived? No, they are those spirits “who disobeyed God long ago”. When? During the time of Noah. II Peter 2:4 also speaks of these imprisoned spirits that were in the time of Noah.” For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell (Greek, tartartoo), putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment…”. Jude 6 tells us a bit more of these spirits, “And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home (should be ‘bodies’) – these He has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great day”.
Let us turn to Genesis chapter 6 for more information as to who these spirits are that will be preached to. “The sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose”, (Gen. 6:2). I believe that if we connect all the New Testament verses with Genesis 6 we can readily see that fallen angels had taken the daughters of men for their wives. This was, of course, not what God had intended, and these angels are being imprisoned in tartartoo for judgment.
Peter tells us that they were preached to. For the sake of argument let us say that they may have the opportunity to repent. Even if they do, we can not say that I Peter 3:19-20 speaks of all mankind, it speaks of fallen angels who sinned at the time of Noah.
“For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are [now] dead…”. There is no “now” in the manuscripts, but there is nothing in this verse that suggests that the preaching was being done while they were dead. This goes against the Scriptural definition of death, wherein there is silence. The gospel was preached to living beings before they died.
SCRIPTURES SUGGESTED BY REV. BILL MC GINNES
The passages quoted above are passages that have been quoted by several of those who believe in the doctrine of universal salvation. I would like to be as thorough as possible, and therefore I will comment on the passages given by Rev. Bill Mc Ginnis on his web-site that are not quoted by others.
THE GREEK USE OF THE DEFINITE ARTICLE
“Verily I say unto you, ‘All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme”. The definite article “the” limits the noun. In this case it limits the noun “men” to believers.
“And the angel said unto them ‘Fear not: for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people, for unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord'”.
The Greek texts have “which shall be to all the people”. The definite article “the” limits “people” to those who accept God’s salvation.
“…in the dispensation of the fulness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth; even in Him”. The phrase “all things” is a translation of the Greek “ta panta”. The word “ta” is the definite article. The clearest use of “ta panta” is found in Col. 3:8 where we will see that it doesn’t mean everything, but that it limits “all” to the context. Col. 3:8 reads, “But now ye also put off all these (ta panta); anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy…..”. In this verse the phrase “all these” obviously does not refer to everything in the universe, but is limited to those things mentioned in the context. With that in mind, let us return to our consideration of Eph. 1:10.
In verse 10 we see that “the all things” will be gathered together …in Christ”. Verses 12-13 explain why “the all things” are to be gathered together. “That we should be to the praise of His glory….”. Verses 12b and 13 explain who should be gathered for the purpose of His glory. “who first trusted in God. In Whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of you salvation: in Whom also after ye believed, ye were sealed with the holy spirit of promise”. It is believers who will be gathered together for the praise of His glory. The unbelieving dead, as we have already seen in the sections above, cannot be counted among “the all things” because once they die they will no longer exist.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GOD’S WILL AND HIS DESIRE
“Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven”. There are four different Greek words translated “will” or “wish”. The one used in this verse is “thelo”. The Companion Bible definition of “thelo” is, “means to wish or desire, and is the emotional element which leads to the consequent action”. If the Holy Spirit meant to say that God wills something in the sense that what He wills will be accomplished, He would have used the Greek word “boulami”. The Companion Bible definition of that word is, “though it sometimes means much more, yet has reference to the result of thelo; viz. the deliberate determination, whether in accordance with or contrary to, the original wish or impulse”. In other words, when God’s will is accomplished the Greek word “boulami”is used. But when something is His desire but He does not determine it to be accomplished, “thelo” is used. The Holy Spirit used two different words to express two very different concepts. If we are to be faithful to His Word, we must take those words seriously.
Let us allow the Bible to define the Greek word translated “will”.
Because the meaning of words are determined by their usage, let me give a few examples of how this Greek word is used. The usage will, in my opinion, substantiate the definition quoted in the Companion Bible.
We read in Matt. 7:12, “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them…..”. One can only desire what man will do unto them.
Matt. 12:38 reads, “Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, “Master, we would see a sign from Thee’”. These men were saying that they desire a sign.
Let us also consider the noun “thelema”. The word “thelema” is defined as, “must also be noted, with the same distinction from boulema, as denoting the desire rather than the resolve“. Again, let us see how it is used.
“Thelema” is used in these verses: I Cor. 16:12, “As touching our brother Apollos, I greatly desired him to come unto you with the brethren; but his will was not at all to come at this time…..”.
Eph. 2:3, “….fulfilling the desires of the flesh….”.
The prayer, therefore is that what ever God desires will be accomplished on earth. But God has chosen to give man a free choice and sometimes even God’s desires are not accomplished. His will however, (i.e. as opposed to His desire) will be accomplished in His time.
This passage should be understood in the same way as the difference between Rom. 9:19 and I Tim. 2:4 discussed above. That is to say, God’s desire is not always fulfilled, but His determined will is.
I Tim. 2:4
“Who will have all men to be saved and come unto the knowledge of the truth”. Here too, the Greek word used by God, the Holy Spirit is “thelo”. The argument is that if the all-powerful God wills something, it must come to fruition. While that is certainly true, the problem with that argument is that because God desires all men to be saved, it does not mean that He will save all men. Again, because God has given man free will, His desires are not always accomplished. And again, we must observe the words that the Holy Spirit uses. (Please see the paragraphs above in this section).
SCRIPTURES TAKEN OUT OF CONTEXT
“Ask of Me, and I shall give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession”. The Hebrew word translated “heathen” is “goy” and is sometimes translated “heathen” and some times translated “nations”. The context tells us which the Holy Spirit had in mind. It is clear from Ps. 2:9 that nations is what we are to understand. “Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel”. This passage is telling us that Christ will rule the nations with a rod of iron. It is the nations that He will inherit, it is nations that He will break and dash, not the individuals. Because nations are not saved unto eternal life, we must conclude that this passage does not speak of resurrection life. It speaks of the manner in which Christ will rule the nations in the millennium.
“Say unto them, ‘As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” This verse has to do with death, the end of man’s natural life, not with resurrection life. God is saying that He would rather have man turn from his wicked ways. It has absolutely nothing to do with resurrection life. To suggest that because God would like to see man turn from his wicked ways means that He will save all men unto resurrection life is not supported by this verse, or any other.
“Behold, all souls are Mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is Mine; the soul that sinneth, it shall die”. Let us determine the point of this verse by looking at its context.
Verse two of this chapters reads, “What mean ye that use this proverb…..’The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge?”. The proverb seems to suggest that the sons inherit the punishment of what their fathers had done. But the Lord goes on in verses 5-9 to explain that each one is responsible for his own soul. We read in verse 5, “But if a man be just, and do that which is lawful and right (verses 6-8 expound on what is lawful and right) and in verse 9 we read, “Hath walked in My statutes, and hath kept My judgments, to deal truly: he is just, he shall surely live, saith the Lord”.
Verse 9 tells us who will live. I believe this refers to living in resurrection. But it is not given to everyone, it is given to those who walk in His statutes and walk in His judgments and deals truly.
Coming back to the meaning of verse 4 where we read that “all souls are Mine”. Does that mean that everyone will be saved? I don’t believe that is the point of the context. The point is that he who lives a just life will live in resurrection, and he who does not live a just life, will not live in resurrection. In other words, the point is that if a father does not live a just life, it does not follow that the son, who may live a just life, will not live in resurrection. Why? Because each person is God’s and will be judged according to how he has led his life, not on how his father has led it.
A note of clarification might be helpful here. We read in Ex. 20:5 that the sins of the father will be “visited” upon the children unto the third and fourth generation”. This verse comes in the context of the old covenant. It had to do with the promise of earthly blessings if Israel obeyed and earthly punishments if they disobeyed. We read in Lev. 26:3-13, “If ye walk in My statutes and keep My commandments, and do them, then I will give you rain in due season…….. I will give you peace in the land.…and ye shall chase your enemies and they shall fall before you…..and make you fruitful and multiply“. In verses 14-39 however, we read, “But if you will not hearken to Me….I will appoint you terror, ….ye shall sow your seed in vain…..you shall be slain before your enemies….I will also send wild beasts among you…..I will bring a sword upon you…….I will make your cities waste……”.
It is clear in Lev. 26 that it is earthly, temporal blessings and punishments that are in view, not eternal life. So there is no contradiction between the Lord telling Israel that He will visit the sins of the fathers upon the sons, and Him telling Israel that resurrection life will be given to all who are just, regardless of what their fathers did. The sins of the father will be visited on their sons in terms of earthly, temporal punishments. But resurrection life is based on the life and faith of each person, regardless of the lives of their fathers.
“Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and He shall send Jesus Christ, Which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began”.
Note that in verse 12 we learn to whom Peter addressed his remarks, “Ye men of Israel”. Not also that “the times of refreshing” refers to a very specific period in the history of God’s chosen nation, Israel. It refers to the millennial reign of Christ when all the promises of national blessings will be fulfilled. How do we know that? The Greek word translated “refreshing” occurs only once in the New Testament but a related word, translated “restore” occurs in Acts 1:6, where the disciples asked the Lord if He would at that time restore the kingdom to Israel. In other words, Acts 3:19-21 is in answer to the question posed in Acts 1:6. Peter was preaching that the kingdom, i.e. the millennial reign, will be restored when Israel repents which would have resulted in our Lord’s return.
It is clear from such passages as Ps. 37:9, that “the times of refreshing” is not a time when all men will be saved. “For evil men will be cut off, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land”. It will be during the millennium that Israel will inherit the land. But, as this verse tells us some, i.e. “evil men”, will not inherit the land. In this case the contrast is between inheriting the land and not inheriting the land. That is to say, that while it is true that the phrase “cut off” sometimes means to put to death, it is equally true that it sometimes means to be cut off from one’s people. The context will always tell us which is the way the Holy Spirit intends for us to understand it. In this case because “cut off” is put in contrast to inheriting the land, it is clear that some will not inherit the land. That means that evil men who will be alive at the time of the second coming will live outside the land of Israel during the millennial reign of Christ. That is why we read in Psalm 2, quoted above, that He will rule with a rod of iron and dash the nations to pieces, etc.
Note also Prov. 2:21-22, “ For the upright will live in the land, and the blameless will remain in it, but the wicked will be cut off from the land”. And Ps. 37:34 reads, “Wait for the Lord and keep His way. He will exalt you to possess the land: when the wicked are cut off, you will see it”. Also Ps. 37:22, “Those the Lord blesses will inherit the land, but those he curses will be cut off”.
As the paper on this web-site The Kingdom of Heaven will show, only those in the land of Israel for the millennial reign will have eternal life. May I also remind the reader that unbelieving Israel will not be raised (see the section in this paper on Old Testament prophecies about resurrection).
The phrase “times of refreshing” refers to the millennial reign of Christ at which time not all will be saved.
“All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before Thee”. This verse is obviously speaking of the millennial reign of Christ. But we are specifically told in I Cor. 15:23 that believers, i.e. those “in Christ”, will be raised at the second coming of Christ, i.e. before the millennium. The only time we read of a resurrection of unbelievers is after the millennium. Therefore, Ps. 2:27 cannot refer to unbelievers who will be raised before the millennium.
But let us also consider the immediate context? Consider verse 29, “…..and none can keep alive his own soul”. That implies that some will die.
“And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it“.
Here again, this is obviously a millennial prophecy and no unbeliever will be raised before the millennium. Further, it is not every person in every nation that will come to Jerusalem to worship God. The note in the Companion Bible attests to that. It reads, “all nations. Figure of speech Synecdoche (of Genus) =many from all nations“.
“And there was given Him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve Him; His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed”. While it is true that the representatives of all nations will serve Him and even come to Jerusalem to worship Him, it is also true that they will not all come willingly. I will quote only one verse from Is. 60 Is. 60:12 reads, “For the nation or kingdom that will not serve you will perish; it will be utterly ruined”. Because some come only to avoid the ruin of their nation, the fact that all will, as Dan. 7:14 tells us, come to serve Him does not mean that all are believers. If they are not all believers, they are not all saved.
“For I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always wroth: for the spirit should fail before Me, and the souls which I have made”. But the preceding verse explains with whom God will not contend. Is. 57:15, “For thus saith the high and lofty One That inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones”. Far from this passage teaching that all men are saved, it teaches that it is only the contrite and humble of spirit who will dwell with God. The others will not, therefore, they will not be saved.
“Behold, the days come saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt: which My covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord. But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put My law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be My People. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord’: for they shall all know Me, from the least of them unto the greatest of the, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more‘”.
There are two things wrong with the idea that this teaches universal salvation. 1) The new covenant will be given to “the house of Israel and the house of Judah”. That is to say, it is not made with all of mankind. 2) As we learned in the section above on Old Testament prophecies concerning resurrection, the unbeliever of Israel will not be raised. Therefore, it is clear that the new covenant will be made with the believers of Israel, and will not include unbelievers of Israel.
“Thou shalt be blessed above all people; there shall not be male or female barren among you, or among your cattle“. The second part of this verse, “among your cattle”, makes it clear that the blessing spoken of in this verse is not the blessing of eternal life. That is to say, the barrenness or lack thereof has absolutely nothing to do with eternal life. Therefore it is earthly, temporal blessings not salvation that is in view here.
If we look at the preceding verse we will see that this is part of the old covenant whereby God promised Israel that if they obey, He will bless them with earthly, temporal blessings, but if they disobey, He will punish them with earthly punishments (see Lev. 26). Verse 12 reads, “wherefore it shall come to pass, if ye hearken to these judgments, and keep, and do them, that the Lord thy God shall keep unto thee the covenant and the mercy which He sware unto thy fathers”.
Not only is salvation not in the context, but it is also clear that this was a covenant made with Israel, not with all mankind. That covenant was that if Israel obeyed the law, God would bless them with earthly blessings but if they disobeyed, God would punish them with earthly punishments (see Lev. 26). Therefore, we may conclude that on two counts, this does not speak of eternal salvation for all mankind.
“Who is a God like unto Thee, That pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of His heritage: He retaineth not His anger for ever, because He deilghteth in mercy”. The context will show that this verse has nothing to do with eternal salvation, it has to do with the attack of Israel by Syria and Babylon which led to the seventy year captivity of Israel. Note verse 12 and 13, “In that day also he shall come even to thee from Assyria, and from the fortified cities, and from the fortress even to the river……..Notwithstanding the land shall be desolate because of them that dwell therein, for the fruit of their doings”.
Verses 16-17 speak of the time when God will forgive Israel their sins and bring back the remnant of His heritage again to their own land. “The nations shall see and be confounded at all their (Israel’s) might; they shall lay their hand upon their mouth, their ears shall be deaf. They shall lick the dust like a serpent, they shall move out of their holes like worms of the earth, they shall be afraid of the Lord our God, and shall fear because of Thee”. Is it any wonder then that after the great sins that led Israel into captivity and after the Lord brings the remnant back to their own land Micah says in verse 18, “Who is a God like unto Thee, That pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of His heritage: He retaineth not His anger for ever, because He delighteth in mercy”.
I will not quote this entire passage as it is quite well known by most. Suffice it to say that it is the account of Peter’s dream of “a certain vessel” (verse 11) that was “let down to earth”. Mr. McGinnis uses this passage to say that “all men came down from heaven” and that “all will be drawn up again into heaven”. To be sure, as we learn in verse 28 where Peter explained what he had learned from his dream, the beasts of his dream did represent men. “……but God hath showed me that I should not call any man common or unclean”. So we have Peter having a dream in which he was told by God that he should call no man unclean. Is that the context in which one may conclude that all men are saved? I do not believe it is. Let us examine the context so that we may determine just what the message was that God had for Peter. Was that message that all men will be saved, or was it that Gentiles will hear the gospel because God is no respecter of persons?
In verses 23-26 we read that Peter, after his dream, went to see Cornelius, a Gentile, and Cornelius explained the vision he had while praying. Peter’ s response is recorded in verse 34, “Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, ‘Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons; but in every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him'”.
Later, Peter gave the following account to the council at Jerusalem of his experience recorded in Acts 10. So we read in Acts 15:7-9, “…..Peter rose up, and said unto them, ‘Men and brethren ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God Which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the holy ghost, even as He did unto us, and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith”.
I believe that the context shows that the point of Peter’s dream was that Peter should call no man unclean and that the Gentiles should hear the gospel because “God is no respector of persons”. The context does not, in my opinion, allow for the conclusion suggested by Mr. Mc Ginnis, that Peter’s dream meant that all men will ascend into heaven.
“As Thou hast given Him power over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as Thou hast given Him”. Let us consider the phrase, “as many as Thou hast given Him”. Did God give all men to Christ to be saved? The answer to that question is found in verse 9, “I pray for them (“the men which Thou hast given Me”- verse 6), I pray not for the world, but for them which Thou has given Me, for they are Thine”. If all men had been given to Christ then the contrast could not have been made between those whom God had given and “the world”. Therefore, we must conclude that not all men were given to Christ for salvation.
“……..that He, by the grace of God should taste death for every man”. The argument is that because He tasted death for all men, that all men would be made alive. The problem with that argument lies in the fact that it contradicts the following verse.
Verse 10, tells us for whom He died, “For it became Him……in bringing many sons unto glory to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through suffering….”. Verse 9 tells us that He died on behalf of every man, but verse 10 tells us that He brought “many sons” to glory. There are, of course, no contradictions in the Word of God. Therefore we must conclude that while it is true that He died on behalf of everyone, many, not all, will be brought to glory.
I John 5:11
“And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son”. Who does John mean by “us” in this verse? Is it all mankind? The only way to answer that question is by determining to whom this epistle was written.
I Jn. 2:21, “I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it.…”. In other words, John wrote to those who knew the truth, i.e. to believers.
I Jn. 2:27, “But the anointing which ye have received of Him abideth in you and ye need not that any man teach you; but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you ye shall abide in Him“. Unbelievers do not abide in Him (see note above on I Cor. 15:22). Unbelievers do not receive the truth, that’s what makes them unbelievers.
I Jn. 3:1, “Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God; therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not”. Note the contrast between the world, who does not know Him, and “us” who do know Him, and are His children. May I remind the reader that not all men are children of God, but only believers are God’s children. . As we read in Jn. 1:12, “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name“. (See also the section below, “Is God The Father Of All Men?”) Obviously, if there is a contrast between the world and others, not all men are in the same class as believers. That is to say, some are in the world and do not know Him, and others are not in the world and do know Him.
Let us continue our search of this epistle in order to discover to whom it was written, thereby determining who the “us” is (I Jn. 5:11) that has been given eternal life. We read in I Jn. 4:45″Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them (evil spirits-verse 3)…… They are of the world; therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them”. Again the contrast is made between “ye” of verse 4 and “they” of verse 5. Verse 6 continues the contrast, “We are of God; he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us”. If every man were “of God” then there could be no contrast between those that are of God and those who are not. We must conclude therefore, that John wrote this epistle to believers. Therefore, when he wrote “God hath given to us eternal life” he was saying that He gave eternal life to those to whom John was writing, i.e. to believers.
I John 5:4
“For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith“. Does everyone overcome the world? The very next verse answers that question, “who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” It is believers who overcome and it is believers who are “born of God”.
IS GOD THE FATHER OF ALL MEN?
“Have we not all one Father? hath not one God created us? Why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers?” Does this verse teach that all men are children of God, i.e. that He is the Father of all men? I believe not. Let me explain.
We read in John 1:12, “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name“. This verse teaches quite clearly that believers are children of God. Not all men are believers, therefore not all men are children of God.
With that in mind let us come back to Mal. 2:10. Note this verse speaks of the “covenant of our fathers”. God made covenants with Israel. That tells us that Mal. 2:10 is in reference to the fact that God is the Father of Israel in that he created Israel. That point is made as we consider Is. 64:8.
Is. 64:8 reads, “But now, O Lord, Thou art our Father; we are the clay, and Thou our Potter; and we all are the work of Thy hand”. Note that Isaiah combines the terms “Father” and “Potter” and combines also the terms “Potter” and “work of Thy hands” to make the point that God is the Father in so far as He is Israel’s Creator. How can we know if this verse is in reference to Israel or to all mankind? We read in the preceding verse, i.e. vs. 7, “…..Thou hast hid Thy face from us and consumed us because of our iniquities”. Isaiah wrote his prophecy to warn Israel of the impending destruction by the Babylonians because of their iniquity. Note also that we read in verse 9,”…….we are all Thy People”. Israel was God’s People, but He was the Father of Israel only in the sense that He created them.
Lest Acts 17:26 and 29 be misunderstood to say that God is the Father of all men, let us consider those verses. They read, “And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth……”. “Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God……”.
Note that verse 26 says that all the nations of men were made, i.e. created. Man is a created being. But again, one becomes the son of God only by receiving Him (see John 1:12, quoted above). How are we to understand this passage in Acts?
Let us consider the Greek word “genos” translated “offspring” in this passage. The first occurrence of the word is in Matt, 13:47 where it is translated “kind”, “into the sea and gathered of every kind”. It is obvious that “kind” does not imply the idea of familial relationship as does the word “father”. I am suggesting therefore that like the fish man is a created being and God is the Creator. But that fact alone does not make God the Father of man any more than it makes Him the Father of the fish. But let us continue.
In Matt. 17:21 we read of Christ speaking of evil spirits saying, “this kind go not out”. Again the word is translated “kind” and again, it is clear that there is no sense of familial relationship as with the word “father”.
In I Cor. 12:10 and 28 we read of “diverse” tongues. It is the Greek “genos” that is translated “diverse”.
In Phil. 3:5 “genos” is translated “stock” and reads of Paul being “of the stock of Israel”. Again it is clear that “genos” does not imply a familial relationship.
My point is that we must not read into the word “offspring” something which is not implied by the use of the word. That is to say, the fact that man is the offspring of God does not imply in any way that He is our Father in the familial sense of that word.
DOES MAN HAVE THE RIGHT TO TELL GOD WHO AND WHAT HE SHOULD BE AND DO?
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life”. The argument is that because God loved all men that He would save all men. But that is attributing to God the reasoning of man. That is to say, many, if they had the power, would save all men because that is what they believe love would lead them to do. But God is not a man, He is God. It is clear from John 3:16 that indeed God loved the world, but it is just as clear that there is a condition to men being saved unto eternal life. That condition is that “whosoever believeth in Him” will have everlasting life. Not all men meet this condition therefore, not all men will have everlasting life.
“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you”. The argument is that if man should do these things, so too should God. But man is not in a position to tell God what He must do. God is God, not man.
“But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy“. The argument is that because God is all of these things, He will save all men. But God has made it clear that there is a condition to His saving grace, i.e. that one believes in Him. Frankly, I am offended by the hint that if He does not save all men that He is being hypocritical. Again, man is the created being and is in no position to suggest what God should do, especially in light of the fact that He has made His plan of salvation quite clear in His written Word.
“The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger and of great mercy. The Lord is good to all: and His tender mercies are over all His works. All thy works shall praise Thee O Lord; and Thy saints shall bless Thee”.
The implied argument is that because God is so gracious, He will save every person. But, as we have seen, some will never be resurrected (see Is. 26:14, Jer. 51:39 and 57 and Job 14:10-12) and therefore not be saved. The Lord is indeed gracious, but He has made His plan of salvation very clear, one must believe on Him in order to be saved. Those who do not believe will not be saved from the grave.
SCRIPTURES THAT ASSUME (INCORRECTLY) THE RESURRECTION OF UNBELIEVERS
“And He will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the vail that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces: and the rebuke of His People shall He take away from off all the earth…”. Frankly, I do not see how this passage proves that all men will be saved. I say that because it is clear that these promises are made to those who are alive. That is to say, the “covering cast over all people” that will be destroyed” is obviously a covering over the living. And the victory over death obviously refers to the fact that there will be no more death to those who are alive. But, as we have seen in the sections above, the unbeliever will not be raised. Therefore, the blessings of this passage are promised to those who will be alive, i.e. to believers only, not to unbelievers who will remain in their graves.
“And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together…..”. The glory of the Lord will be seen at His second coming. Obviously, only those who are alive will see it. But because the unbeliever will not be raised, they will not see it. Therefore, to suggest that all men who ever lived will be alive to see that glory is based on the false assumption that all men will be resurrected..
“Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth, for I am God, and there is none else”. The reader may recall that in the section above called “Resurrection In The Old Testament” we learned that it is only believers of Israel that will be resurrected, unbelievers will not be resurrected. (See also Is. 26:14, Job 14:10-12, Jer. 51:39 and 57. which say, in effect, some will never be raised from the grave.) Therefore, when Isaiah said, “Look unto Me and be ye saved”, that looking to God was a prerequisite to salvation. Since all men will not be resurrected, and it is clear that all men do not look to God, we must conclude that not all men will be saved.
“Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same; that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil”. Does this verse tell us that all men will be raised because Christ will destroy Satan who had the power of death? Let us consider this “power of death”. Does that power extend to those who have already died? That is to say, does Satan have the power to raise those who have died? Of course not. There is no hint anywhere in God’s Word of Satan having the power to raise the dead. Therefore, this verse does not tell us that unbelievers will be raised.
I John 3:8
“He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning”. Mr. Mc Ginnis’s comment on this verse assumes the resurrection of all unbelievers. He wrote, “Sin is the work of the devil and will ultimately be destroyed, but men are the workmanship of God and will not be destroyed”. As mentioned above, there are several verses in God’s Word that tells us that some will never be raised, and therefore are indeed “destroyed”
“Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created”. The argument is that because all things were created by God for His pleasure that all men will be saved. But it is clear that they must be alive in order for them to give Him pleasure. and, as has been proven from Scripture, not all men will be raised from the grave. Therefore, only those who are alive, i.e. only believers will be for His pleasure.
“Who shall not fear Thee, O Lord, and glorify Thy name? for Thou only art holy; for all nations shall come and worship before Thee, for Thy judgments are made manifest”. In order for one to fear Him, and worship Him, they must be alive to do so. And, as we have proved from Scripture, unbelievers will not be raised (except for the unbelievers of the tribulation who will be judged at the great white throne).
“I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from Mine eyes”. Let us consider the first phrase of this verse, “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death”. Who is it that is referred to as “them” in the phrase “I will ransom them”? The context from verse one to the end of the chapter has to do with Israel. But the Bible teaches that only believers will be raised from the grave. Therefore, I believe that we may conclude that all believers will be ransomed from the grave. May I once again remind the reader that it is only believers who are ransomed from the grave, therefore, this verse cannot apply to unbelievers.
GOD’S CONDITIONAL PLAN OF SALVATION
“And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed“. It is, of course, Christ the offspring of Abraham, through Whom all the families of the earth will be blessed. But is that blessing that every person in those families will be resurrected for eternal life? That is not implied in this promise to Abraham, and is not substantiated by Scripture. That is to say, God has promised resurrection life to all those who believe in Him. This verse does not cancel that condition. As will be seen below in Gal. 3:8-9, from which this verse is quoted in part, it is only through faith that one inherits eternal salvation.
“And the Scriptures foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, ‘In thee shall all nations be blessed’“. The very next verse tells us categorically that the blessing, while offered to the nations, is given only to those who believe. We read in verse 9, “So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham”.
“For as the rain cometh down, and the snow comes from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it to bring forth, and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater; so shall My word be that goeth forth out of My mouth; it shall not return unto Me void. but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it”. This promise does not invalidate the fact that God has a plan of salvation. That plan requires one to believe in Him in order to be saved. There is nothing in this passage that voids that condition for salvation.
“And He said, ‘It is a light thing that Thou shouldest be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel. I will also give Thee for a light to the Gentiles, that Thou mayest be My Salvation unto the end of the earth”. It is not all among the tribes of Jacob that will be raised up as we have seen in the section above on resurrection in the Old Testament. And while it is true that Christ is the Lord’s “Salvation”, His plan of salvation, which has been clearly defined, does not include those who refuse to believe in Him. Here again, salvation is promised to all who believe. This passage does not invalidate that condition.
I Timothy 2:6
“Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time”. Christ did indeed give Himself for all. But that doesn’t mean that all will benefit from it. That is to say, God’s plan of salvation required one to believe in order to be raised unto eternal life. Because some do not believe, some will not be raised.
“The Lord of hosts hath sworn, saying, ‘Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand”. The argument is that if God has planned for all men to be saved, He could and would accomplish it. It is not true that God would save every man, because He has offered salvation only to those who believe in Him.
“…….for we have heard Him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world”. Again, Christ is indeed the Saviour of the world, but salvation is in accordance with God’s plan. God’s plan of salvation is that “whosoever believeth on Him shall have everlasting life” (Jn. 3:16). Unfortunately, many do not believe on Him, and therefore do meet the requirements of His plan of salvation.
FORGIVENESS OF SINS IS NOT SALVATION FROM THE GRAVE
I John 2:1-2
“My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not, and if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world“. What does it mean that Christ was the propitiation for our sins? The word translated “propitiation’ is not explained in the New Testament, but it does occur in the Septuagint version of the Old Testament as a translation of the Hebrew word “kaphar”. The Companion Bible gives the definition of “kaphar” as “to cover”. It is first used in Gen. 6:14 where we read that Noah “pitched”( i.e., covered) the ark. We know from this usage that Christ’s blood covered our sins.
But we do not die because we sin. If we did, new born babies who never had a chance to sin would not die. No, we die because we are in Adam. So when we are saved from the grave, it is not because our sins are covered, it is because we believe in Christ. We are resurrected, i.e. saved unto resurrection life, because God gave us a “guarantee” of resurrection (see Eph. 1:13-14). That guarantee is the holy spirit given to each believer. Those who do not believe are never given that holy spirit, and are therefore never raised, and of course, not saved from the grave.
One more thing that must be appreciated is the reason that Christ is the propitiation of our sins. We read in verse 25 exactly what that reason was, “to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins”. What does that tell us? It tells us that a holy God cannot look upon or fellowship with sinful man, so by covering those sins He maintains His own righteousness while He fellowships with His children. But please note, there is no hint that this covering of sins (i.e. “propitiation”) is for the purpose of salvation.
The context of I John 2:2 will show that salvation is not the subject, it is sins in relation to fellowship that is the subject. Furthermore, as the phrase “my little children” shows, it was written to believers. (Please see the comments on I John 5:11 under the section “Scriptures Taken Out Of Context” for the Scriptural evidence that I John was written to believers.) Why is John concerned with believers sinning? Because sin is an obstacle to fellowship with a holy God. So the message of this portion of Scripture is that believers should seek to be reconciled to Him who died to cover their sins, and the sins of the world, so that believers may enjoy full and blessed fellowship with a holy God.
(For a complete study on forgiveness in God’s plan of salvation please see the paper on that subject.)
“‘Come now, and let us reason together’, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool”. To begin with, this verse is speaking of forgiveness of sins for temporal blessings, not for eternal life, as the next two verses will prove. “If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land; but if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword…..”.
Secondly, I believe that the forgiveness of sins has to do with the believers fellowship with a holy God, not with salvation from the grave, (please see the comments above on I John 2:1-2).
THE TWO GREEK WORDS TRANSLATED “IF”
There are two Greek words translated “if”. One is “ei”, the other “ean”. “‘Ei’, “followed by the Indicative Mood, the hypothesis is assumed as an actual fact” (Companion Bible, Appendix 118 2. a). On the other hand, “ean” means, “if haply, if so be that…….Followed by the Indicative Mood….it expresses the condition simply; without any reference to its being decisive by experience, or by the event…… . Followed by the Optative Mood, it expresses an entire uncertainty; a mere assumption or conjecture of a supposed case” (Companion Bible Appendix 118, 2. a. and b.).
I John 1:7
“But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin”. The Greek word translated “if” is “ean” and it is followed by the Indicative Mood. “It expresses the condition simply; without any reference to its being decisive by experience, or by the event”. In other words, if John had meant that if all men “walk in the light” he would have, through the Holy Spirit, used the Greek word “ei” which “is assumed as an actual fact“. But he did not. He used the word “ean” which implies a condition. That is to say, we may not assume that all men walk in the light, and we may not assume that the blood of Christ cleanses all men from their sins.
THE GREEK PREPOSITION “HUPER”
I Timothy 2:6
“Who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time”. The Greek word translated “for” in the phrase “a ransom for all” is “huper”. The Companion Bible gives the following definition of the word as it is used in this verse, “With the Genitive it is used in its relative rather than its absolute sense. In the place of…..”. In other words, He gave Himself as a ransom for all, but not all men accepted it.
We read in Rev. 5:13, “And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard them saying, ‘Blessings and honour, and glory, and power, be unto Him That sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever”.
Mr. Mc Ginnis writes that this verse tells us that “every creature shall at last pay divine honors”. I am happy to see that he wrote “every creature” because that is indeed what is meant in Rev. 5:13. The assumption is made that every creature will then accept the message of the thousands upon thousands of angels of verse 11 and somehow join in the worship and be saved. But we must be careful to note that this verse tells us that they will hear, not that they will worship. Also, if we say that they will worship we must then include the creatures of the sea, and all the creatures “under the earth”. Who are these creatures “under the earth”?
The Greek word translated “earth” in this verse is “ge” and can mean the earth or it can mean the ground as in Matt. 10:29, “Yet not one of them (sparrows) will fall to the ground apart from the will of the Father”. Note also Matt. 13:5, “Some fell on rocky places where it did not have much soil“. And Matt. 15:35, “He told the crowd to sit down on the ground“. Because we are never told of creatures that live under the earth, I believe we should understand that in Rev. 5:13 the creatures are under the soil, i.e. worms, etc. .
There is no verse in the entire Bible that includes fish, worms and every created being in the message of salvation. Therefore, I believe that whereas every created being will hear the message of the angels, that cannot imply that all created beings will understand it, and be saved by it.
OTHER SCRIPTURES USED TO PROVE UNIVERSAL SALVATION
“The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into His hand”. Is this verse saying that all are in Christ? As mentioned in the discussion of I Cor. 15:22 above, it is clear that since Paul speaks of some “in Christ” before he was, it is clear that not all are in Christ. That is to say, there had been a time that Paul was not in Christ, therefore, at that time, all were not in Christ. But Jn. 3:36 makes the point just as well. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him”.
“All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me, and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out”. It is clear that all who cometh to Christ will be saved. It is equally clear that many will not come to Him, and therefore will not be saved. Again the context will prove this point if experience does not. Verse 36 reads, “But I say unto you, that ye also have seen Me, and believe not“.
In order to accept the idea that all men will be saved, one must also accept the idea that all unbelievers who ever lived will be raised for judgment at the great white throne. To say that all unbelievers of every age and dispensation will be raised to be judged at the great white throne is to take Rev. 20, where we read of the great white throne judgment, totally out of context. The context has to do with those who lived through the tribulation, the tribulation is one short three and one-half period in history and it centers on Israel and the nations surrounding Her. In short, the context does not allow a universal application.
After having completed this paper, I studied all the occurrences of the Hebrew and Greek words translated “judge”, “judged”, “judgeth”, “condemn” etc. I have put the results of that study in a paper on this web-site A Study Of The Judgments Of God. That paper puts all the passages that have to do with God’s judgments into categories based on when those judgments will take place. It also proves that, except for the unbelievers of the tribulation, unbelievers will never be raised for judgment. May I respectfully encourage the reader to read that paper for further proof of the fact that there is no general resurrection of unbelievers.
This paper was written by Joyce Pollard. If you would like to respond please e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org by Joyce Pollard. I would like to hear from you. Please E-mail me at: