13 September, 2018

I Corinthians 15:22—“... even so in Christ shall all be made alive”

For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive (I Cor. 15:22).

Appeal is made to this text for proof of “Universalism”—the idea that oneday all will be saved, and no one will perish.


Herman Hoeksema (1886-1965)

[Source: The Protestant Reformed Churches in America [1947], p. 346)

(3)   “All” may also simply mean “all believers” or “all the elect.”** This is plainly the case in I Cor. 15:22: “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” It is indisputable that the second “all” cannot mean “all men”; for these “all” shall be made alive in the glorious resurrection of Christ, which is not true of all men, but only of believers or of the elect. Of these the apostle is speaking. This is also true of the word “all” in john 12:32: And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all (men) unto me. The word men does not occur in the original of this verse. It is plain that whom Christ draws unto Him are surely saved. Hence, the simple meaning is: I will draw all my own, all the elect, unto me.

** On pages 345-347, Rev. Hoeksema demonstrates that, in Scripture, “all” or “all men” can mean (1) “all of us [i.e. of the church]” (I Pet. 3:9),  (2) “all kinds of men” (Tit. 2:11; I Tim. 2:4),  (3) “all believers or all the elect” (I Cor. 15:22; John 12:31) (4) “‘all of one group,’ in distinction from ‘all of another group’” (Rom. 5:18).



Ronald Hanko & Ronald Cammenga

In these passages [Rom. 5:18; II Cor. 5:14, 15; I Tim. 2:4-6; Tit. 2:11; and II Pet. 3:9] the word “all” must be qualified by the context and usually means “all the elect” or “all God’s people.” But in every case the Scriptures themselves provide the qualifier. Nor is this unusual. We speak that way so often in our everyday talk that we hardly realize it, simply using the word “all” when we are actually referring to a rather limited number of people; but we do not add the qualifier, because in the context of what we have been saying, it is already obvious. We say, “All are here” and mean “all who were invited,” or “all the family,” not “all men without exception.”

Thus in I Corinthians 15:22 “all” means “all who are in Christ.” This is the parallel to “all who are in Adam” and who die in Adam. In fact, the text cannot mean anything else, or it teaches that every single person will ultimately be saved, something plainly contradictory to the rest of the Scriptures. Hardly anyone dares believe that all without exception shall be made alive.



More to come! (DV)

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