Sjolander Road Fellowship

Declaring the God of Unconditional Love


what does "all" mean?



Little words and their meaning and implications are very significant to our understanding of the Bible. One of those words is "all". Much of church doctrine is predicated on the idea of a qualified or limited interpretation of the word "all" as used in many Bible passages (Romans 5:18, I Corinthians 15:22, for example). The Strong's concordance interpretation of "all" in these cases is expressed as "some of all types" as opposed to all individually.


Upon reflection it becomes obvious that this redefinition of the word "all" is based entirely on the church's pre-suppositions about the Bible. They don't think that "all" should mean what it normally means, so they simply decide that it means something new which supports what they want to read and believe. The word does not support their doctrine, so it must be explained away.


Of course, I'll admit to the same tendency in evaluating the Bible; but you will rarely hear the church admit as much. Everything, for them, must be unequivocally so, requiring no personal interpretation. If such were, in fact, so, none of us would be required to examine apparently contradictory passages.


In reality, the church takes the word "all" wherever it expresses something counter to church doctrine, and then redefines it based on another passage "B", which by implication is supposed to be the axiomatic one, the one requiring no further evaluation or clarification.  Never do they consider that passage "B" is the one which should be re-evaluated instead of the word "all" which they find to be problematic.


If "all" can sometimes mean only some of the total, then what do we make of passages which speak of some of the total population, actually using the word "some" (Matt 16:28, for example). Could that just as easily mean all of the total, if our doctrine so requires?


It all boils down to a matter of emphasis in the final analysis. If my purpose is to support pre-conceived doctrinal positions, "all" must be re-understood. If I want God's sovereign Will to be reflected in my theology instead of church doctrine, then letting "all" mean what it means everywhere else is no problem whatsoever. God's Will in relation to "all" is perfectly clear to me.