Does God want everyone to receive salvation?


(Courtesy ChristArt)

By Spencer D Gear

Christians need to be people of discernment, not only with all of the influences from the secular world of godlessness, but also in the church.

Which of these two statements can be confirmed by the Scriptures?

  • Jesus did not die for the sins of all people in the world. He died only for his predestined people, the elect. An example of such a statement by a theologian would be by Homer C. Hoeksema, ‘It is in this truth of limited atonement[1] that the doctrine of sovereign election (and, in fact, sovereign predestination with its two aspects of election and reprobation) comes into focus’.
  • Jesus’ death on the cross was to make salvation for all the people in the world, i.e. unlimited atonement. This kind of statement is supported by the Society of Evangelical Arminians, ‘We believe that the shed blood of Jesus Christ and his resurrection were provided for the salvation of all people, but are effective only for those who believe’.

So, did Jesus die only for the elect or did he die for the whole world? There is a fairly strong presence of Calvinists and Arminians on the www on Christian forums. Here is one example of an interaction.

Some Calvinists don’t believe that Jesus died for the sins of all the people in the world. However, some Calvinists do believe in unlimited atonement. Here is an example of Skala’s post on Christian Forums when he stated of 2 Peter 3:9:

I don’t think you understand the interpretation.
God is patiently waiting for the elect to be saved, which is why he delay’s (sic) Christ’s return.
God is patient towards YOU (the elect), not willing that any perish, but for all to reach repentance.
You have to read stuff that is not in the verse, into the verse, to get it to say what you are trying to assert.
That God is trying to save everyone, and is trying to get everyone to repent. Suddenly, in your interpretation, the pronoun “you” refers to every single individual in the human race. Even though for the past 9 verses, indeed, the last 2 books (1st and 2nd Peter) it has referred to “God’s elect”.[2]

He[3] doesn’t seem to understand the meaning of English or Greek words in this verse. Second Peter 3:9 states:

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance (NIV).

He does not understand the meaning of ‘anyone’ and ‘everyone’.

Second Peter 3:9 confirms the truth of 1 Tim. 2:3-4,

This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth (NIV).

There is not a hint in any of these verses that ‘anyone’, ‘everyone’ and ‘all people’ refers only to the elect. It’s a Calvinistic premise that is imposed on the text. It is not exegeted from the text.

John Calvin wrote of 2 Peter 3:9,

So wonderful is [God’s] love towards mankind, that he would have them all to be saved, and is of his own self prepared to bestow salvation on the lost (The Second Epistle of Peter, p. 419, emphasis added).

Calvinistic commentator, Simon J. Kistemaker (1986:334) wrote of 2 Peter 2:9,

‘”Not wanting anyone to perish.” Peter is not teaching universalism in this sentence. In his epistle, he clearly states that the false teachers and scoffers are condemned and face destruction (see 2:3; 3:7; Rom. 9:22). Does not God want the false teachers to be saved? Yes, but they disregard God’s patience toward them, they employ their knowledge of Jesus Christ against him, and they willfully reject God’s offer of salvation. They, then, bear full responsibility for their own condemnation.
“[God wants] everyone to come to repentance.” God provides time for man to repent, but repentance is an act that man must perform’

These two Calvinistic commentators do not agree with Skala. There is not a word in the statement or in the context to support his invented statement that ‘God is patiently waiting for the elect to be saved, which is why he delay’s (sic) Christ’s return’.[4]

This is an utterly false statement. The verse does NOT state that and both Calvin & Kistemaker agree with my understanding and disagree with his imposition on the text.

Skala was engaging in eisegesis[5] of the text by placing his meaning onto the text and not engaging in exegesis,[6] getting the meaning out of the text.


Kistemaker, S J 1986. New Testament Commentary: Exposition of James, Epistles of John, Peter, and Jude. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic.


[1] By ‘limited atonement’ is meant ‘the teaching held in Reformed (Calvinist) circles of Christianity which states that Jesus bore only the sins of the elect, and not that of every individual who ever lived’ (CARM, ‘limited atonement’, available at: [Accessed 3 April 2012]).

[2] Skala #132, 3 April 2012, Christian Forums, ‘Jesus teaches TULIP’, available at: (Accessed 3 April 2012).

[3] The following was my response to him as OzSpen#133, ibid.

[4] Cited above.

[5] ‘Eisegesis is when a person interprets and reads information into the text that is not there’ (CARM, ‘Eisegesis’, CARM, available at: [Accessed 3 April 2012]).

[6] ‘Exegesis is when a person interprets a text based solely on what it says. That is, he extracts out of the text what is there as opposed to reading into it what is not there’, CARM, available at: (Accessed 3 April 2012).


Copyright © 2012 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 16 October 2015.


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