Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Tuesday Texting--Paul's Limited "All"s

Paul (and other writers of Scripture) use the word “all” in ways that might be initially confusing to our Americanized ears and eyes. For some reason in our reading of the Bible we take this word, when we see it in reference to people, to mean “every person ever born.” But what it actually means, many (or most) times, is “all people in a certain category” or “all kinds of people.” Sometimes “all” means both Jew and Gentile (i.e. the promises are not just for the Jews anymore). Sometimes, like in the text we’re looking at today, it means all the people Christ died for.

But wait, you might say, that’s everybody; that’s every person ever born. Well, not in this passage or others like it; in the context of who Christ died for, “all” is a limited category. A look at this today’s text makes it clear.

[14] “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; [15] and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (2 Corinthians 5:14, 15).

You see right away that the “one” of verse 14 is Christ. Then who are the “all” that Christ died for? Before you answer, “everybody ever born duh,” see the whole line… “one died for all, therefore all have died.” The "all" who died are the same "all" Christ died for, and they are also "those who live" (verse 15). They are a special category of people!

For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3).

So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:11).

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20).

So that’s how Paul’s “all”s are often limited. When it says that Christ "died for all," it isn't saying that Christ died for everybody ever born. Rather, he died for all who have died and now live again in this way… in the Colossians 3:3 and the Romans 6:11 and the Galatians 2:20 way. And they not only died, but now they live no longer for themselves, but for him who died for their sake and was raised.


donsands said...

Jesus died for His sheep. It's a mystery really for our pea-brain minds how this can be, but the Scripture is quite clear.

there are other verses that seem to show Christ laid down His life for all sinners. And so he did in a way, methinks.
yet, it is clearly different than the Lord being born "to save His people from their sins." (Matt. 1:21)

"She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins."

Have a blessed Lord's day. Nice to visit your blog. It's very encouraging.

Jeri Tanner said...

Thanks Don, I have always appreciated your comments and writings on the internet. I see you have a blog too so I'll look forward to reading on it. Blessings to you.