We might be astonished if we knew how many of the
preachers of our acquaintance believe that God will ultimately save all
mankind. There is no doubt that many believe it and never say anything
about it, because they think they cannot defend it; for the King James
Version of the scri0-ptrues teach and deny this doctrine.
Certain passages deny it because of the
mistranslation of the noun, AION, and its derived adjective. The
word means a time period, and is properly transliterated
"eon." Its adjective means, "belonging to a time
period, or to time periods," and should be "eonian," in
English. In the King James Version the adjective is mistranslated
"eternal," and "everlasting." With that
translation the Bible is a hopeless jumble of contradictions. One
passage says, "God will have all men to be saved," I Tim. 2:3,
4, while another says "there shall go away into everlasting
punishment," Matt. 25:46. No one can believe both
passages. They have to take one and leave the other. And it
might be interesting to know how many reject both passages, and
practically the whole Bible, because of such contradictions.
Properly understood, there is no contradiction.
In Matt. 25:46, punishment should be chastening, and everlasting should
be eonian. Then it is seen that the chastening will belong to a
time period, and will not hinder God from saving them later.
Everlasting punishment would show the weakness of God. Unable to
save, He wreaks unending vengeance on people! But eonian
chastening shows both His power and His wisdom. For a time period
he chastens, and those who have thus suffered will be able, therefore,
to appreciate salvation when it is given to them.
Without a knowledge of Greek, the careful student can
know that what I have said is true. The fire that destroys Sodom
is an example of eternal (eonian) fire, Jude 7. Is the fire
burning yet? If not, it is not eternal fire. It was
eonian. The sons of Levi were to be an everlasting (eonian)
priesthood, Ex. 40:15. Are they a priesthood now? They
ceased long age. Ionian is the proper word. Everlasting is
Christ is to reign over the house of Jacob forever,
like 1:33. Christ is to cease to reign when He delivers up the
kingdom to God, I Cor. 15:24. Can both statements be true?
No! If He reigns for ever He will never cease to reign. If
He delivers up the kingdom to God He will not reign forever. He
will reign for the eons, and deliver up the kingdom to God when the eons
end. His reign belongs to time periods.
Those who want to deny what I have said call
attention to the fact that the word "eonian" describes the
duration of the life believers shall have with Christ. They say
that, therefore eonian should be translated eternal. This is
misleading. As believers, they shall have life during the eons
that lie between the coming of Christ and the end of the eons.
Remember, His coming will take place before the eons end. During
the time periods after His coming, believers shall have life with
Christ, and others shall not. This is called eonian life.
When the eons end it is not eonian life any longer. It is just
called "life." It could not belong to time periods after
they end. The life will not end, but will go on. How do I know it
will continue after the eons? Because believers will have been
made immortal, I Cor. 15:53. They cannot die.
How, then, do I know that the chastening of unbelievers
will not continue after the eons end? I know it, because the
scriptures say that all are to be saved, I Tim. 2:3, 4; that God is the
Savior of all men, I Tim. 4:10; that all shall be made alive in Christ,
I Cor. 15:22; that Christ is to put away sin, Heb. 9:26; and that the
free gift came upon all men unto justification of life, Rom. 5:18.
I have used the words of the King James Version in this paragraph.
No translation that was ever made, teaches the salvation of all mankind,
more emphatically than does the King James.
John 3:16 tells us that God loves the
"world"a figure of speech meaning the entire human
family. He loves all. Believers are to have eonian life.
What becomes of the others? Are they lost eternally? If so,
I don't pity them so much as I pity God. What a sense of
frustration He must have! He, too, will be in eternal
torment! For, remember He loves the world well enough to give His only
begotten Son to die.
Happily the next verse answers the question.
According to the King James Version, God sent His Son into the world,
not to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be
saved. There is salvation for all through the Savior.
Now we can understand I Tim. 4:10. God is the
Savior of all men, specially of those who believe. Believers are
to have special salvation. This means they are to have eonian
life, of life during the eons between the coming of Christ and the
end. After that, all are to have salvation.
I said that no translation teaches the salvation of
mankind more emphatically than does the Kin James Version.
However, because the translators did not know what to do with the Greek
word, "eon," they mixed matters up so that the Version really contradicts
itself. The Concordant Version remedies this. It is a concordant,
instead of a discordant translation.
When I was with the Primitive Baptists I often
associated with a minister who lived in Southeast Georgia, about
forty-five miles from Glennville, who had been heard to say publicly,
"I have hope for the salvation of every man." The lady
who told me she heard him say this, was one whose word i could not
doubt. In Glennville lives a man who says he heard this minister
say, in private conversation, that God will ultimately save all
mankind. "But," he added, "I don't dare preach itthey'd
turn me out of the church." I have no doubt he would have
taught it, if he had known what to do with the passages that deny
Baptists revere the name of Charles H. Spurgeon.
There was a time when he was carried in ecstasy beyond his usual theology,
and said, while discussing "All nations whom Thou hast made shall
come and worship before Thee, Oh Lord, and shall glorify Thy Name,"
Ps. 86:9: "And these include al mankind, since they all come of the
first AdamThy creatureand their lives are all distinct
creations of Thine omnipotence. All these shall come with penitent
hearts in Thine own way, to Thine Own Self, and shall worship before
Thee, Oh, Lord. Because Thor art thus above all gods, the people
who have been so long deceived shall at last discover Thy greatness, and
shall render the worship which is due Thee. Thou hast created them
all, and unto Thee shall they all yield homage," Treasury of David,
Perhaps it will astonish Methodists to learn that
John Wesley taught the salvation of all mankind. In his notes on I
Cor. 15:28, he said: "That the Three One God may be All in
all. All things, (consequently, all persons), without any interruption,
without any opposition of any enemy, shall be subordinate to God.
All shall say, 'My God and my All.' Even an inspired apostle sees
nothing beyond this."
I recall that on one occasion I met, in Augusta, Ga.
a preacher who had heard of me, and who said to me, "I hear that
you teach that God has resources of grace by which He will ultimately
save all mankind." After I had replied in the affirmative, he
continued, "This is a sweet doctrine to me, and I want you to come
to my church in Midville and preach for a few days. I want my people
to hear this teaching." I promised to go when he should make
the arrangements. Bud he was evidently influenced by others to
call it off, for I never heard from him again. He is now
To reach this sweet doctrine is to invite bitter
persecution and excommunication. Men with an over-abundance of
hatred have found their way into the pulpit, and there seem to be
nothing else that delights them so much as persecuting those who
"thank and glorify" God as God.
Wesley's statement that "Even an inspired
apostle sees nothing beyond this," is worthy of
consideration. I have often said that I Cor. 15:28 is the latest
date in scripture. Everything else, even what is revealed in
Revelation, is before the "end," or consummation. In the
passage referred to, Paul lifts the curtain just long enough for us to
get a glimpse beyond the consummation of the eons. And what is
seen is entirely satisfactory to faithGod is All in
Some months ago I quoted from a poem by Daniel Vaughn
of Berkeley, Calif.:
"The life God gives with His salvation Needs no
adjective to describe its duration."
This is true. After telling us that this mortal
shall put on immortality, god does not have to tell us we shall then
have eternal life. And He does not tell us any such! What
men call eternal life is eonian life, and it to be enjoyed during the
eons. At the end of the eons death shall be abolishedI Cor.
15:22-28and it is foolish to ask if anyone will die after
that. Those who have had eonian life, and those who have not had
it, will al have LIFE after the eons.
I Cor. 15:22-28 mentions the steps taken in obtaining
this result. All shall be made alive, (vivified) in Christ.
It is to be done in three stages. First, Christ was to be
vivified. This has been done. Second, those who are His are
to be vivified at His coming (in His presence). This is special
salvation. Third, the rest of mankind are to be vivified at the
end (consummation) when death is abolished.
God is to be All in all. In other words, He is
to be All in every one. This necessitates two things: First, all
must be saved; second, no one must have anything in him or her, that is
contrary to God. It is astonishing that we should read that He is
to be All in all, and not recognize that in order for this to be so, all
must be saved. Also it is hard to understand how anyone could
insist that God must tell us we are to live eternally, when He has told
us that He will be All that is us. If He is, then there can never
be any sin or death in us. We might as well believe He can die, as
to think we can, when He becomes All in all.
Members of His Body believed this doctrine when Paul
was on the scene. No questions was ever raised about it.
After the days of Paul, a man named Origen proclaimed the same sweet
message. But Paul had said some were to depart from the faith in
subsequent eras, I Tim. 4:1. This departure became a fact when
the ecclesia yielded to the teaching of Terullian, and turned its back
on the ministry of Origen. Since then Christendom has held up
before the people the awful doctrine of eternal torment, hoping thereby,
to make folks better. Has it worked? Yesbut in
reverse. The world of mankind has steadily grown worse. No
wonder! Such a caricature of God is bound to have a bad effect on
In the days of the ministry of Christ, the Pharisees
believed in endless punishment; the Sadducees did not. I suggest
that the reader get the Bible and sit down and see how many times Christ
roundly "scored" the Pharisees for their corrupt deeds.
He did not say nearly so much to the Sadducees. The doctrine of
"tell fire and brimstone" has not made people better in any
period of the world. Many who claim to believe it are as corrupt
as were the Pharisees. Many others who accept it live model livesnot
because of it, but in spite of it.
I am glad to find that more people believe the truth
than publicly confess it.