Then they also who are fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have only hoped in Christ in this life, we are of all men most pitiable. But now Christ has been raised from the dead. He became the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since death came by man, the resurrection of the dead also came by man. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then those who are Christ’s, at his coming. Then the end comes, when he will deliver up the Kingdom to God, even the Father; when he will have abolished all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death. For, “He put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when he says, “All things are put in subjection”, it is evident that he is excepted who subjected all things to him. When all things have been subjected to him, then the Son will also himself be subjected to him who subjected all things to him, that God may be all in all.(1 Corinthians 15:18 – 28, emphasis added)
Lee Salisbury asks, “Is the last enemy, death, not destroyed? Are those to whom God becomes ‘All in all’ (1Cor.15:28) only those who managed to escape the devil’s clutches?” Doctrines opposed to universal reconciliation teach that men who fail to believe in Christ Jesus are condemned to eternal punishment. Read and read again the verses above. Eternal punishment is firmly and concretely disproved.
Christ Jesus is the first fruits. His resurrection from the dead is proof that all will be resurrected. Adam’s sin caused a universal physical death. Christ’s resurrection universally restores life. Jesus is the only Man ever resurrected from the grave and remains alive. He is seated at the right hand of the Father at this moment. Those of us in Christ at the time of our respective deaths will be raised to join Him when the trumpet sounds His return. Those who fail to believe will be raised in life before the judgment seat. During this judgment “every knee will bow” and proclaim Jesus as their Lord. Jesus will give over His Kingdom to His Father. Each, meaning “all,” of His enemies will be defeated. The last enemy being death itself. Death is defeated, therefore life reigns. It must be so. Everything is subjected to Him; EVERYTHING. Christ then surrenders His position to the Father. Christ, however, is not subjected to the Father as He, too, is God.
Why? The answer is in plain view. A most merciful all-loving Father wills it. The most merciful all-loving Father will reconcile His creation to Himself.
John Wesley wrote a commentary regarding this phrase, “all in all,” from 1 Corinthians 15:28. 1: He says, the Son “Shall deliver up the mediatorial kingdom.” God, now unified as One, “may be all in all.” Dr. Wesley writes, “All things, (consequently all persons) without any interruption, without the intervention of any creature, without the opposition of any enemy, shall be subordinate to God. All shall say, ‘My God, and my all.’ This is the end. Even an inspired apostle can see nothing beyond this.” Dr. Wesley believes all men from the start of time will eventually say, “My God, and my all.” He does not leave aside unbelievers from this sentiment. He reports the Triune God will be “all in all.” No person created will be excluded. No entity can intervene or prevent any creature from the blessing that God is “all in all.”
Dr. Wesley is conflicted in this assessment, however. A sermon he preached is transcribed for our benefit and is available online. Dr. Wesley had this to say about hell and those consigned to that eternal fate. 2 “First,” he writes, “the inhabitants of hell are perfectly wicked, having no spark of goodness remaining.” These evil men are not restrained in hell by other wicked men “and not by God, for He has forgotten them.” Dr. Wesley teaches wicked men are cast into eternal conscious torment by God and He “delivered them over to the tormentors.” The pains put upon the wicked men condemned to Hell by God will suffer “torments of body and souls…without intermission.” He preaches the punishments for the rebellion of wicked men will be executed forever more. The “Judge of all gives of the punishment which He has ordained for impenitent sinners.”
John Wesley’s view on unrepentant sinners and their place in eternity is the doctrine of eternal conscious torment. Dr. Wesley proclaims that the believer’s eternal fate in hell is stayed by a merciful God. But, for the unbeliever God’s mercy is not felt.
Chuck Smith recently left this temporal world for a place established for him in heaven. He was the founder of Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, California in the middle 1970’s. Calvary Chapel has grown into a kind of denomination and Dr. Smith was essentially that denomination’s head. Dr. Smith teaches doctrine that hell is the place of the damned. His view, though, is that the unbeliever chooses to be in that state of eternal conscious torment. Dr. Smith preached much with regard our eternal end. He prepared a message in which he preaches Jesus warns men about eternal conscious torment. Dr. Smith writes, “Jesus said ‘Inasmuch as you did it unto the least of these, you did it to me.’ And those who we are ignoring the needs of those around them, the goats, ‘inasmuch as you didn’t do it unto them, you didn’t do it to me.’” 3 Because we know Christ, but fail to tell others the Good News of Christ, we have not honored or loved them. Dr. Smith says that Jesus then commands those who are not saved to “depart from me…ye cursed into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” But, Dr. Smith wants us to know that “God did not prepare Gehenna for men; it was prepared by God for Satan. Therefore God does not cast men into hell. He didn’t prepare it for men; He prepared it for Satan. However, if a person wants to align himself with Satan and go there, God will do His best to stop him. God has done his best to stop him.”
Dr. Smith’s message preaches God lacks the ability, strength or desire to save a man. Dr. Smith says, “… a man can by his own volition and his own choices spend eternity apart from God.” Dr. Smith preaches that the will of the unrepentant sinner is stronger than God’s will. He preaches that the unrepentant rebel chooses his eternal fate. Hell to Dr. Smith is to “…spend eternity apart from God.” Dr. Smith also says that because the audience he is addressing is an audience saved by grace then they have nothing to fear and should not worry about their respective fate. Eternal conscious torment is not their fate and is not to be feared.
John Calvin wrote about the precept “…that God may be all in all.” 4 He asks, “Will it be so in the Devil and wicked men also? By no means….” Dr. Calvin suggests “It does not distinctly appear that God is all in all.” He tells his audience, “When Christ will have executed the judgment which has been committed to him by the Father, and will have cast down Satan and all the wicked, the glory of God will be conspicuous in their destruction.” We have heard this refrain before. God is glorified in the eternal conscious torments of others. It is an abhorrent thought. It is an abhorrent doctrine.
Dr. Calvin teaches only believers experience God’s being in them. This is not an extraordinary teaching as it is now commonplace, orthodox. He says, “There would, however, be nothing out of place in understanding it as referring exclusively to believers, in whom God has now begun his kingdom, and will then perfect it, and in such a way that they shall cleave to him wholly.”
Dr. Calvin’s authority as a Bible Scholar is well known. A branch of theology has taken his name, that being Calvinism. Calvinism is considered to be orthodox even though Calvinism is at odds with other theologies such as Arminianism. Dr. Calvin has added his prejudice to his interpretation that “All” does not mean “all.” Dr. Calvin, and Calvinism, believe “all” means only those who believe. To Dr. Calvin and to those who follow his line of thinking God is not loving to all, but certainly to them. Think about what it means if God is not “all in all.”
A. E. Knoch was a Bible scholar who dedicated much of his life preparing the Concordant Literal Version of the Holy Scriptures. He prepared a Commentary on the New Testament which is cited earlier. From the Commentary on 1 Corinthians 15:25-28 he writes, “The reign of Christ is so beneficent, it brings mankind to such a state of perfection, that all further need of the restraints of government vanishes.”
God has imputed the sin of the world on Christ Jesus. We are no longer subject to the rule of the evil one. Dr. Knoch writes, “Rule implies insubordination, and is unnecessary where there is perfect subjection. Rule is a temporary expedient to cope with evil. When evil is banished rule also retires. The effects of evil for mankind are concentrated in death. When the universe has been purged of all other evil, then death itself becomes inoperative and yields up its victims. Not till then is it true that all are made alive in Christ.”
Dr. Knoch’s belief would likely be considered heresy. He is truly preaching “God is love.” “The universality of Christ’s subject of all under His feet is evident from the one exception – God Himself.” Only God could give His Son to be the perfect atonement for the sin of the world. The Son’s obedience to death on the Cross is “for the sin of the world.” Dr. Knoch goes on to declare “God is All in Christ now.” God will “be All in His saints when we are made alive. He will be All in all when death is abolished.” Think this through. Do not be quick to judge Dr. Knoch’s interpretation as heresy. He writes, “What a marvelous outcome of God’s purpose! What a Christ we have, Who can accomplish such a complete reconciliation!”
Dr. Knoch writes, “Christ came to ‘destroy the works of the devil’ (1 John 3:8, A.V.) But, if orthodoxy is true, then Satan has not only the vast majority on his side, but his work is not destroyed at all. Its results would never cease to mar the universe.” (“All In All”, pg 152). 5
These verses are profound and define the doctrine of universal reconciliation. They are worthy of reiterated points and more discussion. His love is over all He has created. I believe He will be “all in all.” Adam sinned and there was The Fall. We all know of the story of Adam’s poor and even deadly choice when he took the fruit from Eve and ate it. Because of that single event now all men are created by God, but subject to sin within. Adam caused physical death in all men.
We all know the testimony of Christ Jesus and His Holy Word. Christ was buried in a grave. After three days He was resurrected. Because of this divine act resurrection is now the condition of all created men. “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” There is not an argument to be made here that only those chosen by God or only those who have chosen God are saved. “…In Christ shall all be made alive.”
The Believer’s Bible Commentary is authored by William MacDonald. Dr. MacDonald wrote many books and he took no remuneration for them. He writes that these verses reveal “the final banishment of death itself.” 6 Our Savior is victorious over death and sin. He “will see the victory He won at the cross effectual to the last outpost of rebellion.” There is not another party, not Satan, his puppets or fallen angels remaining on earth. Christ has authority over all things and all persons are made alive. “…To the last outpost of rebellion…” Christ’s obedience and His Father’s mercy extends. There will not be a person who will not be impacted by His obedience to His Father. He is given authority over all men and He gives authority to the Father. “Everything will be subject to Him Who is Lord of all.”
Bob Utley is a learned man. He has written a commentary on the New Testament entitled “You Can Understand the Bible: Study Guide Commentary Series.” 7 Mr. Utley writes “Believers share the reality of His resurrection and by faith, the assurance of theirs.” All will be raised, but believers are assured they will.” Unbelievers not so much. He says “Jesus is the first to be resurrected (cf. Col. 1:18), but in due time all of His followers will experience the same. In a spiritual sense we already have resurrection life (cf. Eph. 2:5-6).” Dr. Utley determines that “all will be made alive” only applies to those who know Christ. In Dr. Utley’s understanding, as in Dr. Calvin’s, “all” does not mean “all.”
The verse, 1 Corinthians 15:28, is clear language. “All things are subjected to Him.” Christ then puts “all things in subjection under Him.” Doing so makes God “all in all.” Mr. Sprenger tells us, “This phrase is the real key to understanding God’s purposes in relation to His time schedule. ‘And when all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, that God may be all in all.’ Paul sees clearly to the end, and makes this ultimate and most concise declaration of the eternal purposes of God!”
God will be “all in all.” It’s not hard to see that “all things” will be given to Christ Jesus. He will give “all things” to His Father Who, through Jesus, created “all things.” All things are in Christ. All things are in the Father. He is “all in all.” These verses support themselves. The Gospel is in these verses. Adam’s sin causes all to die. Christ Jesus is the cause of all life and all will be made alive! All die because of Adam. All live because of Christ.
There is not a person created who is not subjected to Christ and consequently subjected to the Father. His Sovereignty over all things has never ceased. His love conquers all. The clear meaning of scripture is this; the consequence of Adam’s sin is physical death. Christ’s death ends the curse of physical death. Under Christ Jesus all of those who are deceased will be raised to life. There is an order in the resurrection of the dead. First, Himself, then those who He owns, then at the end all are resurrected and given to God the Father. Jesus Christ defeated every known rule, tradition, law, and authority. He is King. There is nothing to hinder our love for Him. “Every knee will bow” and “every tongue will confess Jesus Christ is Lord.”
Doctrines opposed to universal reconciliation do not accept the plain meaning of scripture. They agree that “all” have sinned because of Adam, but refute the context of “all shall be made alive.” Those advocating other doctrines preach a need to believe the first use of “all” is all, but the second use of “all” is less than its first use. It’s not really all at all.
God has placed everything…all things…under the authority of Christ Jesus. Christ Jesus declared Himself that He does nothing that is not the will of the Father. Christ’s authority is under the Father’s authority. The purpose is so that “God may be all in all.” Jesus died for the sin of the world and scripture teaches He will make all things new.
Dr. Calvin disagrees. Christian Classics Ethereal Library is a wonderful repository of Bible information and scholarly studies. They post Dr. Calvin’s Commentary on these verses. 8 Dr. Calvin tells us, “There would, however, be nothing out of place in understanding it as referring exclusively to believers.” Dr. Calvin believes that “all in all” is reserved only for believers. Unbelievers are bound to eternal conscious torment. Unbelievers will never experience the mercy of God. They won’t feel the pressure of His love. They will die unrepentant and reap the sorrow they deserve. Dr. Calvin goes so far as to equate the thought that “all in all” includes a unity with Satan. Scripture declares that angels will be cast into the “lake of fire,” too. Those who disagree are “impudent madmen.” Dr. Calvin’s thinking declares God’s power is weak. The sacrifice of Christ was insufficient to save the world. Christ did not really die for the sins of the whole world, but only for souls enlightened as Dr. Calvin is enlightened.
1 John Wesley. “Wesley’s Explanatory Notes.” Bible Study Tools website. Publication date unknown. http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/wesleys-explanatory-notes/1-corinthians/1-corinthians-15.html. Date accessed: 04/02/2018.
2 John Wesley. “Of Hell. (Sermon #73).” By John Wesley. United Methodist Church Global Ministries website. 1872. http://www.umcmission.org/Find-Resources/John-Wesley-Sermons/Sermon-73-Of-Hell. Date accessed: 04/02/2018.
3 Chuck Smith. “Commentary On Matthew 25 and 26.” Calvary Church. Sermon Index. Publication date unknown. http://www.sermonindex.net/modules/articles/index.php?view=article&aid=36687. Date accessed: 04/02/2018.
4 John Calvin. “Calvin’s Commentary on the Bible, 1 Corinthians 15.” By John Calvin. Study Light web site. Publication date unknown. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/1-corinthians-15.html. Date accessed: 04/01/2018.
5 Adolph E. Knoch. “All In All.” Concordant Publishing Concern. Santa Clarita, CA. 1978 https://s3.amazonaws.com/unsearchablerich/booksonwebsite/©CPC+All+in+All.pdf.
6 William MacDonald. “Believer’s Bible Commentary (Commentary on 1 Corinthians 15:28-34.) Thomas Nelson Publishers. 1995, pp. 1803-1807.
7 Bob Utley. “You Can Understand the Bible: Study Guide Commentary Series; 1 Corinthians 15.” Free Bible Commentary website. Publication date not known. http://www.freebiblecommentary.org/new_testament_studies/VOL06/VOL06A_15.html. Date accessed: 04/02/2018.
8 John Calvin. “Calvin’s Commentary on the Bible, 1 Corinthians 15.” Christian Classics Ethereal Library (CCEL.org). Publication date unknown. http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/calcom40.i.iii.html. Date accessed: 04/01/2018.