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I hold to universalism, but am perfectly willing to change my mind on the subject. I just have never received good defeaters to the universalist passages that I present.

  1. First Corinthians 15:22 "for as all in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive."
  2. Romans 5:18 "as one man's trespass lead to the condemnation of all men, so one man's act leads to the acquittal and life for all men."
  3. Corinthians 1:19-20
  4. Romans 11:32 "For God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may be merciful to all."
  5. 1 John 2:2 "He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world."

Here are the verses, I'm sure there are more. I'm looking for a different interpretation of these passages that points to condemnation for some.

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    We'd normally say that one question should be asked for each of these verses, but I think it's okay to ask about these all together, as they're quite similar, and probably only one explanation will be needed: for how "all" is understood by non-universalists.
    – curiousdannii
    Oct 5 '21 at 2:49
  • Of course, but how is "all" understood? It seems clear to me that the all in Adam means everybody, why does it not mean everybody for the reparations made by Christ?
    – Luke Hill
    Oct 5 '21 at 2:51
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    Briefly, all under Adam's headship receive sin and death. All under Christ's headship receive righteousness and life. Those who are crucified with Christ and who are dead to the law and - thus - who live in the Spirit with Christ as their head, are seen differently. And 'the sins of the whole world' is not in the Greek. It is 'that of the whole world' meaning sin itself, generically, not personal sins individually. All of this is well documented on this (and other) websites.
    – Nigel J
    Oct 5 '21 at 12:59
  • One idea is that the reward Christians get bestowed with glorified bodies. The reminding Christians get their bodies back. While the lost people get bestowed with animal bodies, matching their vices. Oct 31 '21 at 13:03
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Once one logically considers the relevant extant documents (by the genuine methodology of truly scientific textual criticism) ; once one has accurately translated these same documents ; once one has examined them hermeneutically ; once one has given attention to the context of the wording ; and once one has balanced all the information throughout all of the scripture, comparing 'spiritual things with spiritual things', these particular texts (and many others like them) are found to refer to 'all' that are under headship.

The question is, Which Headship ?


1. First Corinthians 15:22 "for as all in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive".

This expresses that under Adam's headship, all his progeny die. And it expresses that under Christ's headship, all live.

It does not state that all under Adam are also under Christ. We know, from other places, that repentance and faith are essential to pass from death (under Adam) to life (under Christ).

2. Romans 5:18 "as one man's trespass lead to the condemnation of all men, so one man's act leads to the acquittal and life for all men".

This is a bad translation. The literal reads 'as by one offence unto all humanity unto condemnation so also by one demonstrated righteousness unto all humanity unto justification of life' (1).

This expresses that one offence brought all humanity (under the one who committed that offence) into condemnation. It also expresses that by one demonstrated righteousness (the righteousness of God upon his own Son) all of the humanity under Christ's headship was brought into justification.

But we know, from other places, that justification is only by (and never without) faith.

3. Corinthians 1:19-20

You would need to tell us to which of the two epistles you refer.

Please see @Anne 's answer regarding Colossians 1:19-20.

4. Romans 11:32 "For God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may be merciful to all."

The context is from verse 26 : so all Israel shall be saved. But we know from another place, Romans 9:6, that they are not all Israel who are of Israel.

Paul is writing of the true Israel of God in this place, not Israel after the flesh. Again, this is a matter of headship and progeny.

5. 1 John 2:2 "He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world."

This is a bad translation. The literal reads and he the propitiation is for the sins of us but not for that of us only but also for that of the whole world.(2)

The three words, 'the sins of' (the whole world), are not in the original Greek Text of John's words.

We know from other places that Jesus Christ not only suffered (before death) for sins not his own, which has an effect on those chosen of God (for God placed their sins upon Christ in the hours of darkness upon the cross) but he was also, by God, 2 Corinthians 5:21, effected sin (itself) and - dying - he took sin (itself) out of the world, which has an effect on humanity generally.

There are two significant parts to the doctrine, which Paul teaches as separate matters. One is specific (one's own personal sinful deeds) and one is generic (the matter of the entrance of sin into the world, by deed of serpent, woman and man).

These two should not be confused together.


All of the above is clearly taught in such as Calvin's Institutes (1536) and the Westminster Confession (1646) ; and in such systematic theologies as that of William Huntington (1745-1813) J C Philpot (1802-1869) and John Metcalfe (1931 to the present day).


(1) and (2) are from The Englishman's Greek New Testament of 1870 (the interlinear English being translated from Stephanus' Greek Text of 1550).

Translation Note on Romans 5:18

(1) The EGNT renders δικαιώματος, dikaiomatos, as an 'accomplished' righteousness, but it is clear from the usage of this word, in the apostolic writings of the New Testament, that this is actually a 'demonstrated' righteousness, in the context of active judgment.

That is to say it is the demonstrated righteousness of God (not sparing his own Son, but delivering him up for us all) not the (conjectured) 'accomplished' righteousness (supposedly by legal works on earth) attributed (by some) to Jesus Christ, acting in humanity.

Calling it an 'accomplished' righteousness is clearly the wishful thinking of those who want to conform to the idea of 'active' and 'passive' righteousness, which Dr John Owen added to the Savoy Declaration of 1658, it being not present in the Westminster Confession of 1647.

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    Interesting, thank you!
    – Luke Hill
    Oct 5 '21 at 16:44
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    Glad to be of service.
    – Nigel J
    Oct 5 '21 at 16:45
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I read through a Universalist's web-page and I think you meant to refer to Colossians 1:19-20 (and not 3. Corinthians 1:19-20). Assuming that to be the case, I will just deal with that one proof-text as Nigel J has dealt with all the others. Colossians 1:19-20 reads:

"For God was pleased to have all his fulness dwell in [Christ], 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." (NIV)

This speaks of a future time when the old heavens and earth have passed away, and a new heavens and earth (in which righteousness dwells) shall be the restored creation. This is detailed in 2 Peter 3:10-13 where "the day of the Lord" has come, when God's patience has ended and judgment is meted out to all sentient beings, angelic, demonic and human - the resurrection of all who have died having taken place, and those whose names are not found written in the Lamb's book of Life go off to join Satan and his demons for eternity (Revelation 20:7-15). That, in itself, should give pause for thought as to whether everybody will be saved!

But verse 7 of 2 Peter 3 needs to be included. It states that "...the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men." That fits in perfectly with Rev. 20.

The Colossians text looks forward to the restoration of all things, to what they were before sin corrupted everything. Nothing, and no-one will be corrupting anything then. All corruption - all sin - will have been dealt with and disposed of. It will have been judged once and for all, so that never again will sin be able to rear its ugly head. All who live in that cleansed new heavens and earth will be the saved. That is why "all things" then will have found peace with God, through the cross of Christ. Those who rejected that peace will no longer exist in the new heavens and the new earth Paul and Peter spoke of.

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    Thanks for the response! Maybe I need to reconsider my universalist position. This has given me much to think about.
    – Luke Hill
    Oct 5 '21 at 19:53
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as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive

That all in Adam refers to all men is somewhat self-evident, since all humans descend from him; the very word adam means man — but why would all in Christ also refer to all men ? Do all men physically descend from him ? Or believe in him ? Or follow him ? Or obey him ? Or are baptized in his name ? Or partake of his immortal flesh and blood in the Eucharist, to counteract their genetic partaking of Adam's mortal flesh and blood ?

as one man's trespass lead to the condemnation of all men, so one man's act leads to the acquittal and life for all men

As one man's trespass lead to the condemnation of all men who physically descend from him, so one man's act leads to the acquittal and life for all men who spiritually descend from him (John 1:12-13).

Corinthians 1:19-20

I fail to see how either 1st Corinthians 1:19-20, or 2nd Corinthians 1:19-20, relate to the topic at hand; same for 3rd Corinthians.

God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may be merciful to all

God has imprisoned all who were in disobedience, so that he may be merciful to all who are in obedience.

Previous disobedience does not hinder one from future obedience; repentance is a basic biblical concept.

He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

So that no one may say or think that Christ's atoning blood contains only a limited number of blood drops, and therefore it could not possibly suffice for a large(r) number of people; indeed, it could suffice for the whole world, were the entire human race wish to seek shelter at the foot of his cross.

The offer, in itself, is, for all intents and purposes, unlimited; whether the demand for it is equally strong, is another question altogether.

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