Does “All” Mean “All” – All The Time?

This is something I have been studying the past few days.

What I have learned has been so very interesting and has helped me better understand Scripture and its meaning.

This was started somewhat when I read the different meanings of the word “world” in the Bible.

See What in the World does “World” Mean in the Bible?

Typically those who have trouble with the Sovereignty of God and with election counter with verses that have the words “all” or “world” in them.

I have learned that there is much benefit in looking at those who claim one ideology verses another. Examining their reasoning and then going to the Scriptures and checking them out.

In the Calvinistic verses Arminian arguments, I must check each out according to the Scripture. My lens should be Scripture not Calvinism nor Arminism. If I adhere to either, without a Biblical foundation, then I am following an ideology instead of God and His Word.

I could give you a half dozen verses that would seem to support either ideology but that is not how we study the Scriptures.

We must interpret Scripture according to context, who is being address and the full passage not just verse by verse and ultimately by all of Scripture.

Here are some verses to make you think:

Mark 1:5 And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins. KJV

or in a different version,

Mark 1:5 And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. ESV

Now this verse says “all” several times but does “all” mean what we say “all” means? Surely not! John the Baptist surely did not baptize every single Judean and citizen of Jerusalem, that would have to include every priest and even the Romans. I think not. So here “all” doesn’t mean “all” in our typical understanding.

Or here is another one.

Matthew 2:3-4
3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him;
4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born

The first “all” is the Greek word “pasa” and the second “all” is the Greek word “pantas.” Two different Greek words but with the same root word “pas.”

NT:3956 pas (pas); including all the forms of declension; apparently a primary word; all, any, every, the whole:

KJV – all (manner of, means), alway (-s), any (one), X daily, + ever, every (one, way), as many as, + no (-thing), X thoroughly, whatsoever, whole, whosoever.

(Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003, 2006 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.)

But notice “all Jerusalem with him” surely that means different from what we would think? Why? Remember Simeon. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, in Jerusalem. Then also remember Anna.

Luke 2:25-26
25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ

Luke 2:36-38
36 And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin,
37 and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day.
38 And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.

Now granted Simeon and Anna may have already been dead by the time the Wise Men arrived since it could have been up to two years later. But was every single individual person in Jerusalem troubled? Maybe “all” means less than absolutely every individual.

Or how about this verse?

Luke 2:1-3
2 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.
2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria.
3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town.

Does “all” really mean the whole world? Even the portions not under Roman rule? What does “all” encompass? Does it really mean absolutely every single person in the whole wide world?

But think about it, we don’t even use “all” to mean “all” in our common speech. I could say that my son “ate all the Pop Tarts”. But does that mean every single Pop Tart, all over the world, through all time? No that would mean he ate all the Pop Tarts here at the house. A limited “all” as opposed to a universal “all.”


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