Arminian Presupposition #2 Refuted

Arminian Presupposition #2. The terms, “world” and “all” always refer to every single member of the human race without exception.

There are three words in the New Testament Scriptures translated “world,” kosmos, (world) aiōn, (age) and oikoumenē, (inhabited world, perhaps Roman Empire). The word, kosmos, has a variety of meanings in the New Testament Scriptures. The basic meaning of the word is order. It is used of 1. The orderly system we call the universe, 2. The human inhabitants of the earth, mankind, 3. The general public, the people (Jn. 7:4), 4. Mankind alienated from God and righteousness and hostile toward him (Jn. 3:19). At times, it refers to the realm of evil (Jn. 15:18). 5. People of every nation in contrast to the people of Israel. Often numbers four and five are combined.

Even when the term refers to the human inhabitants of the earth, it should be clear the term is not all inclusive. For example, John wrote in Jn. 1:10, “. . . the world did not know him.” But, there are those among mankind who know him. Therefore, “world” cannot mean every member of the human race without exception. The word can be all inclusive if we understand it as referring to mankind in its fallen condition in rebellion against God. Apart from the grace of God bringing his people out of the world, no one knows him. Though Jesus’ disciples clearly no longer belong to the world, this does not mean they have ceased to belong to mankind.

The New Testament writers almost never employ the word world (kosmos) in a positive sense. In contrast to Jesus and his disciples, it is used almost exclusively of mankind alienated from God and acting in hostility toward him and his people (see John 15:18-21).

Apart from this negative usage, the term appears to be used most commonly to describe the true universality of God’s redemptive purpose. By this, I mean it describes Jesus’ mission to all nations, in contrast to an exclusively Jewish mission. Throughout the centuries of their existence and despite declarations to the contrary in their Scriptures, e.g., Isa. 45:22, the Israelites had become narrow in their mind set and believed that God’s mercy should only be extended to the covenant people. Jonah provides us with an excellent example of this way of thinking. He did not refuse to go to Nineveh because he was afraid, but because he knew Jehovah to be a merciful God. He knew if the people of Nineveh repented, God would have mercy on them, and he did not believe it was right for mercy to be extended to those who did not belong to the covenant nation, but were its avowed enemies. This attitude clearly continued to manifest itself in the days of Jesus and the Apostles. In reality, it was because of this attitude that the Galatian problem arose. The Judaizers continued to insist that Gentiles could not be heirs of Abraham’s promise apart from circumcision. In effect, they were saying only Jews could inherit the promise. It was because Paul felt he had to justify his Gentile that he wrote the Epistle to the Romans. The prevailing belief among the Jews was that when the Messiah came, he would condemn the “world” i.e., Gentile nations, and redeem [they usually thought of this redemption in a political, not a spiritual context.] Israel. It was in this context and for this reason Jesus and the New Testament used the word “world” in their writing and preaching. Now, God’s good news was to be published to the world, i.e., to all nations. When we are told the good news of the kingdom was to be preached to the whole world, we are not to think that every living human being on the planet must hear the gospel, but that it was to be preached to people of all nations. When we are told God’s lamb takes away the sin of the world, we should understand this in contrast to the literal and typical lamb of the Exodus that was slain for Israelites alone. Jesus clearly did not take away the sin of everyone on the planet, but he did redeem people out of every tribe and language and people and nation (see Rev. 5:9). These words “out of” are very important. The text does not tell us he redeemed every tribe and language and people and nation. That would be all-inclusive. He redeemed all without distinction, not all without exception.

Caiaphas unwittingly defined for us the true meaning of the word “world” when he prophesied that it was better that one man should die for the nation, i.e., in place of the entire nation being wiped out. John informs us he spoke better than he new in making this statement, then tells us in what sense his words were a prophesy. John wrote, “He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad” (John 11:51-52).

There is perhaps no better illustration of this use of the word than that found in Romans 11:13-15, “ Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them. For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?” If we should insist that the world must include every member of the human race without exception, then, based on these verses, we would have to believe Jews are not members of the human race since they are set over against “the world.” Their rejection, i.e., means the reconciliation of “the world.” Can the Jews be rejected and reconciled at the same time? I don’t think so. Additionally, if “the world” here means “every member of the human race without exception,” we must believe every member of the human race without exception will be reconciled to God. Unless you are a universalist you will not be willing to draw that conclusion. In referring to “the world,” Paul clearly intends to refer to the Gentile nations in contrast to Israel.

Is Jesus the Savior of the world? In the sense that he will save everyone in the world without exception, the answer is no. In the sense that he will save people of all nations, the answer is clearly yes.

This understanding will keep us from making nonsensical statements about Jesus being a “potential Savior” for every member of the human race. Either he is a Savior or he is not. The Scriptures always represent his saving activity as an accomplishment, never as a mere provision.

If we do not properly understand the way “world” is used, we will be forced into a limited view of Jesus’ redeeming work. For example, if the words “whole world” in 1 John 2:2 must be understood as a reference to every member of mankind without exception, we have no other alternative but to view Jesus’ work of propitiation as something other than an actual satisfaction of God’s wrath. If Jesus actually satisfied God’s wrath for everyone, God’s wrath can come on noone. Yet, Paul tells us in Ephesians 5:6 that God’s wrath is going to come on the sons of disobedience because of their sins–“because of these things.” 1 John 2:2 does not say, “he could be the propitiation for the sins of the whole world”, but “he is. . . .” You might want to note that the phrase “whole world” occurs again in 1 Jn. 5:19. There, it cannot mean every member of the human race since those who are of God, though members of the human race are excluded from the number.

Major Premise: Those who are of God are members of the human race but do not lie in wickedness.

Minor Premise: The “whole world” lies in wickedness.

Conclusion: “Whole world” does not mean every member of the human race without exception.

Do all outside of Christ, Jews and Gentiles alike lie in wickedness? Absolutely!


It is fairly common for the advocates of “free will” doctrine to insist that the word ALL always means all without exception and can mean nothing else. That is, of course, it suits their purposes to say otherwise. For example, they are forced into mangling Paul’s argument in Romans 5 by their insistence that “all men” at the end of verse 18 is coextensive with the “all men” in the first part of that verse. The point of Paul’s argument is that our final justification and glorification are certain because Christ, our new representative before God, has by his one act of obedience secured them for all believers. His one act guaranteed the justification of ALL IN HIM, just as Adam’s one act of disobedience guaranteed the condemnation of ALL IN HIM. If we insist that “all men” at the end of the verse must refer to then entire race, we must reduce the justification mentioned to the “offer of justification,” or “the potential for justification. Jesus act was no more “potential” than was Adam’s act. The terms “the one” and “the many” are representative terms. The one stands in the place of and acts as the representative of the many. The first all refers to all the members of the first creation; the second all refers to all the members of the new creation in Christ.

Another example is found in 1 Cor. 15:20-23. Paul wrote, “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.”

Paul’s argument here is quite clear. Just as death came to all by a man, Adam, so resurrection also comes to all by a man, Jesus. But, does the “all” refer to the same group of represented ones in both cases. More to the point, does the resurrection of the dead [he refers to resurrection unto life not everlasting death and destruction], extend to all members of the old creation as death– “as in Adam all die”– does in the first instance? Paul makes it very clear that all who will be resurrected to life are those who belong to Christ. The words, “in Christ shall all be made alive” in verse 22 are parallel to “those who belong to Christ” in verse 23. It is not all without exception that Paul has in mind but all in Christ.

First, I would like to list a few verses in which the word all is used and in which the sense would be nonsense if we understood it to refer to all without exception. Then, I would like to consider a few of the favorite proof-texts the free-will teachers like to use.
First, consider the word “all” in the following verses. It is difficult, if not impossible, to believe the word carries the meaning assigned to it by the Arminians.

(All or everyone) Every member of mankind:

1. was looking for Jesus (Mark 1:37)

2. marveled at what happened with the demon-possessed man (Mark 5:20)

3. believed John was truly a prophet (Mark 11:32)

4. wondered if John might be the Messiah (Luke 3:15)

5 was going to Jesus (John 3:26)

6. witnessed the book burning at Ephesus (Acts 19:19).

Notice the exception to the all inclusiveness of “all things” in 1 Cor. 15:27. “But when he says, all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted which did put all things under him.”
In light of these clear passages, how can anyone maintain that “all always means all?” Only an extreme bias could cause a person to arrive at such a conclusion.

At times “all” refers to all of a type or all of a class. It may mean all without distinction rather than all without exception. It is the context in which the word occurs that determines its extent.

Let me illustrate this using two of the Arminians’ favorite proof-texts. Please understand there is nothing wrong with citing texts of Scripture as evidence of the correctness of our views. These citations are “proof-texts” when they are taken out of context and used as a pretext for propagating an error. Those proof-texts are John 12:32 and Titus 2:11. The same principles used in interpreting these verses may be applied to many other like passages in the New Testament Scriptures.

John 12:32–

Jesus said, “and I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.”
I have quoted this verse from the A.V. since it works better for the Arminians in that version. The NKJV and the ESV have [I believe] rightly changed “all men” to “all peoples” and “all people” respectively.

Consider the context. Verse twenty informs us that among those who had come to worship at the feast were some Greeks. When Philip and Andrew informed Jesus that these Greeks wished an audience with him, Jesus seemed to ignore the request and began to explain that the full harvest could not come unless the grain of wheat fell into the ground and died. But once the seed dies, it will bring forth an abundant harvest. It seems clear Jesus was talking about the spiritual harvest from both Israel and the Gentiles that would only be realized as a result of his death. In verses 31 and 32, he enumerates the results of his being lifted up in death. One of those results is that he will draw all peoples unto himself. Then, the request of the Greeks can be granted. No longer will it be necessary for sinners to become part of the covenant nation by proselytism. As a result of his death, Jesus will draw men and women from every nation on earth.

If we understood this verse as the Arminians would have us understand it, we would be faced with a number of unanswerable questions. 1. Since the word translated “draw” carries with it the idea of an effectual action in which the object “drawn” actually comes, [for example, the word is translated “drag” it is used of drawing a sword or dragging a net full of fishes to shore], how is it that the grand majority of sinners, never actually come to Jesus or feel any inclination to do so? 2. In what sense does Jesus draw to him those who have never heard of him? 3. Are these people “drawn” in some mystical sense apart from the proclamation of the gospel? If this is the case, why is this nowhere explained in the Scriptures? 4. Paul speaks of the witness of creation that leaves sinners without excuse before God, but there is not a word of Christ in this revelation, nor is there any indication that any are drawn to Christ through it. 5. Even if Jesus is making reference to those who hear the gospel, the “drawing” would fall far short of being a universal blessing.
It is far better to understand the word “all” in this verse in the sense of all without distinction, in this case people of every nation–“all peoples.”

Titus 2:11–
“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.” A.V.
The view that is usually taken of this verse is that God’s grace for all members of mankind has appeared in the redeeming work of Christ, giving all people the potential for salvation. Now, it depends on the sinner’s “free will” to realize that potential by responding favorably to the gospel. There are several problems with this interpretation that I would like to mention along with making a number of observations about this verse and its context.

1. This view does not take into account the word “for” [because] at the beginning of the verse. “For” directs us back to something. What is it?
2. This view understands “grace. . . that brings salvation” as an offer of salvation. In reality, the phrase “that brings salvation” refers to grace that actually brings salvation to the sinner, i.e., saves him. This is not a potential; it is actual salvation.
3. Even the offer of salvation has not come to those who have never heard the gospel, much less salvation itself.
4. This grace of God that has appeared to us, also teaches us to deny ungodliness etc. If this saving grace of God has actually appeared to every member of the human race, why isn’t every member of the human race being taught to deny ungodliness etc.?

Now, consider with me the context to which we have been pointed by the word “for” in verse 11. In the preceding context, the Apostle has instructed Titus concerning the relative duties of various ages and classes of people within the assembly. He wrote about old men, old women, young men, young women and servants. Then, in respect to those who were on the lowest rung of the social ladder he wrote, “so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior,” One would have thought people who occupied such a lowly station in life would never be able to beautify the teaching of our God by their godly life-style. How could this be possible? Paul answers, “for” or because God’s grace has appeared to all [ages, sexes, and classes of] people. In other words, “all men” refers to all without distinction, not all without exception.


The words “world” and “all” often refer to other than every member of mankind. We must consider the context in which these terms occur, to determine their proper meaning and extent. Often, biblical writers used the “all” to refer to all people without distinction of race, religion, sex, age, social class. The word “world” is seldom used to refer to all mankind. More often it refers either to the negative ethnic quality of sinners living in this ordered system, or to people of all nations in contrast to the nation of Israel.


2 Responses to “Arminian Presupposition #2 Refuted”

  1. January 10, 2013 at 3:35 am

    I agree with all your arguments 🙂

    Well done, my brother – presson!

  2. January 11, 2013 at 11:23 am

    Talk about presuppositions driving the train! All one need do is consult a good dictionary or examine the use of both in common English usage to realize that we don’t assign such universal meanings to either. How many times has a classroom teacher, or staff meeting leader asked “Are we (students or invitees) all here? “, especially ‘all’.

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