One of the greatest arguments against the Reformed Faith (or "Calvinism") is that God loves the world or all men, but what do these terms mean in the Biible?
The following was given as a handout at the public lecture on 'God is Love' . It sets forth, according to the principle that Scripture interprets Scripture, the biblical (and natural) meaning of phrases such as 'all', 'all men' and 'world'.
You can download the original handout here.
Does the word “world” (Greek: kosmos) mean “the entire human race”?
“If thou do these things show thyself to the world” (John 7:4).
“I speak to the world those things which I have heard of Him” (John 8:26).
“Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? Behold the world is gone after Him” (John 12:19).
“If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you” (John 15:18).
“I have chosen you out of the world; therefore the world hateth you” (John 15:19).
“Ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice; and ye shall be sorrowful but your sorrow shall be turned into joy” (John 16:20).
“I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple whither the Jews always resort” (John 18:20).
“I thank God […] that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world” (Rom. 1:8).
“We are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels and to men” (I Cor. 4:9).
“Which [the gospel] is come unto you as it is in all the world …” (Col. 1:6).
“They are of the world, therefore speak they of the world and the world heareth them”
( I John 4:5).
“And we know that we are of God and the whole world lieth in wickedness”
(I John 5:19).
Do the words “all” or “all men” refer to the entire human race without exception?
“When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled and all Jerusalem with him” (Matt. 2:3).
“Then went out to him Jerusalem and all Judaea and all the region round about Jordan and were baptized of him” (Matt. 3:5-6).
“And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake” (Matt. 10:22).
“If we shall say, Of men; we fear the people for all hold John as a prophet” (Matt. 21:26).
“And all the city was gathered together at the door” (Mark 1:33).
“When they had found Him they said unto Him. All men seek for thee” (Mark 1:37).
“[And he] began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him, and all men did marvel” (Mark 5:20).
“All men mused in their hearts of John whether he were the Christ or not” (Luke 3:15).
“Behold the same baptizeth and all men come to Him” (John 3:26).
“If we let Him thus alone, all men will believe on Him and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and our nation” (John 11:48).
“Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together and burned them before all men” (Acts 19:19).
“This is the man that teacheth all men everywhere against the people” (Acts 21:28).
“Thou shalt be His witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard” (Acts 22:15).
“For your obedience is come abroad unto all men” (Rom. 16:19).
Do the words “every man” (in context) refer to the entire human race without exception?
“After that He put His hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored and saw every man clearly”
“The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached; and every man presseth into it” (Luke 16:16).
“Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine […] but thou hast kept the good wine until now” (John 2:10).
“And every man went unto his own house” (John 7:53).
“And [they] sold their possessions and goods and parted them to all men, as every man had need” (Acts 2:45).
“For I say, through the grace of God given unto me, to every man that is among you […] to think soberly according as God has dealt to every man the measure of faith” (Rom. 12:3).
“But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal” (I Cor. 12:7).
“But all these worketh that one and selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will” (I Cor. 12:11).
“Whom [Christ] we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus” (Col. 1:28).
“They shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest” (Heb. 8:11).
Is this interpretation of all, every, anyone, and world really so radical, or is it simply the normal way in which we use language?
“The whole world looked in horror as the Twin Towers crumbled to the ground.”
The world mourned the death of Marilyn Monroe.”
“The world stood still the remember the tragedy which occurred last week.”
“Everyone is invited to the youth center for pizza after the meeting.”
“All are reminded to clear away the chairs after supper.”
“After the visit to the museum, everyone is asked to be on the bus no later than 1 PM.”
“Does everyone have a pen and a notepad?”
“Everyone! Get in the car!”
“Can anyone recommend a good butcher?”
“Is anyone interested in going to the park?”