6 Scriptures Used to Promote Universal Salvation

These 6 passages are misused by those who teach universal salvation. See what they actually teach.

False teachers often pull Bible passages out of context and use them to refute basic gospel truths. This is the basis of the popular teachings about universal salvation.

Those who teach it use these six passages to claim that all men will be saved by Christ whether they accept or reject Him as their Savior:

1 Timothy 2:3-4: "[Praying for leaders] is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth."

2 Peter 3:9: "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." 

Romans 11:32: "For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all." 

1 John 2:2: "He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world." 

1 Corinthians 15:22: "For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive."

1 Timothy 4:10: "That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe." 

Understanding the Gospel Message

If these were the only passages on salvation, we might conclude that all men will be saved. But they aren't the only passages, and they are taken out of context.

We cannot understand prayer without combining all pertinent passages on prayer, and we certainly cannot understand salvation without doing the same.(1)

When Paul talks about preaching the full counsel of God in Acts 20:27, he is explaining that he taught "the whole of God’s revelation, the balance of things, leaving nothing out that was of primary importance, never ducking the hard bits, helping believers to grasp the whole counsel of God that they themselves would become better equipped to read their Bibles intelligently, comprehensively" (source).

So let's look at these passages individually and see how they fit into the whole message about salvation.

1. Let's address the first two passages together: 1 Timothy 2:3-4 and 2 Peter 3:9.

These verses talk about God's desires, but we cannot equate God's desires with God's final purposes. God hates sin. Everyone who sins does so against God's desires (e.g., Psalm 78:40). This is the message throughout Scripture. Sometimes even Christians quench and grieve God's Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19; Ephesians 4:30).

God's desires are very often not fulfilled, but His purposes will prevail; and He has purposed to reward the repentant with eternal life and punish the wicked in hell.

To read more about this belief with multiple Scripture references, see Denying the Overall Message

2. Romans 11:32   

These 6 passages are misused by those who teach universal salvation. See what they actually teach.
The context is important. Romans 11 discusses the fact that both the Jews and the Gentiles are offered God's mercy, but it does not say that any of them are promised salvation: "Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again" (verses 22-23). 

Nothing in this passage promotes universal salvation. 

3. 1 Corinthians 15:22  

This is one passage that could legitimately be taken as a "proof" for universal salvation if it were the only passage discussing salvation. The two phrases are equally worded: in Adam all die; in Christ all are made alive.

Bible scholars offer two explanations. Some scholars explain that the "all" in Christ only refers to those "in Christ." But because the two phrases are equally worded, the more legitimate explanation involves the truth that all are made alive in Christ but not all are destined for heaven:

"Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned." John 5:28-29 (See also Daniel 12:2 and Acts 24:15.)

But what if there were no explanation for this passage? Would that confirm universal salvation? No. Accepting this single verse as a proof would cause more problems than it solved. It would require denying hundreds of other passages that define salvation and hell.

Shall we interpret this verse in the context of the gospel message as presented throughout Scripture—or shall we use it to refute that message?

Remember when I said we cannot understand prayer without combining all passages? Suppose we quoted Matthew 7:7 and claimed that God will give us anything we ask for, no matter how selfish, foolish, or ungodly our request is. That would be similar to using 1 Corinthians 15:22 to claim all people will be saved.  

4. 1 Timothy 4:10  

Most of the explanations for 1 Corinthians 15:22 also apply for this passage, but let's look at a few of the specifics in this verse. This passage is telling us that Christ is the potential Savior of all men and the actual Savior of those who believe. He is the only path to salvation, none other exists. Combining the two verses below gives the same message, although worded more clearly: 

"Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'" John 14:6

"Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on them."  John 3:36   
For a more thorough look at this passage see CARM 1 Timothy 4:10 and Universalism.


We cannot read and study Scripture and come to the conclusion that God will reward the unrepentant who reject Him. This message defies the core elements of the gospel.


Bible Love Notes

1 comment:

  1. We were created to Worship God. Prayer is our avenue to Worship HIM. If we model our prayer after the Lords prayer we begin praying recogizing God for who He is, giving Him the Glory due His Name. We seek forgivness for our sins before we seek His blessings. Give thanks for the rich blessing and prosperty He has allowed us to enjoy in this rich and blessed nation. Then is the time to seek those blessing that are in alignment with His will for us and those we love. Accepting His will as ours.