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TWO MOST MISUNDERSTOOD WORDS

By Curtis Pugh

Two of the most misunderstood words in the Bible are “all” and “world.” These two little words affect the belief systems of all professing Christians. “All” is used in the Bible to mean two different things. It can mean all without exception: i.e. every single one. And it can be used to mean all without distinction: a number out of of all sorts of things.

It is easy to prove this. The Bible says, “For the love of money is the root of all evil...” (1 Timothy 6:10). Nobody believes that. Hatred and jealousy can each be roots of evil. The love of power can be a root of evil, etc. The meaning of this statement is this: the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. The love of money motivates people to commit all sorts of evil acts. What the word “all” means is determined by the context in which it is used. For instance, the context of “Romans 3:23 demand that we understand the phrase, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,” means all people without exception.

The word “world” is also used in different ways in the Bible and is confusing to many. In only one verse it is used in three different ways. John 1:10 says: “He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.” The meaning is this: Christ was in the habitable part of the earth (“the world”) and all things (“the world”) was made by Him and most people (“the world”) knew Him not (but some people did know Him because v. 12 tells us that some recognized Him and welcomed Him). The last use of “the world” in that verse means all those who would not be saved: the non-elect people then in Israel. It cannot mean all humanity.

Sometimes the word “world” refers to all the nations as opposed to just the Jewish Nation. For instance, “For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world,” (John 6:33) cannot mean every person that ever has lived or will live for not every descendant of Adam and Eve will be saved. He gives life to both Jews and Gentiles: a strange idea to the Jews to whom this statement was made. John 14:17 proves that the word “world” can refer to all the lost: “Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” And the favorite, John 3:16, “For God so loved the world...” means that God loved both Jews and Gentiles without distinction. The greater context of the Bible demands this because the Bible does not teach that God loves everyone. It is written: “...thou hatest all workers of iniquity,” and, “...the LORD will abhor the bloody and deceitful man,” (Psalm 5:5-6). Always remember: context determines meaning!


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Denham Springs, LA 70726

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