Contrasts Between Universal Statements

Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life (Romans 5:18).

For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all (Romans 11:32).

For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive (I Corinthians 15:22).

In each of these texts, we encounter a contrast between two universal statements, and in each case the first “all” seems to determine the scope of the second. Accordingly, when Paul asserts in Romans 5:18 that Christ’s one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all, he evidently has in mind every descendant of Adam who stands under the judgment of condemnation; when he insists in Romans 11:32 that God is merciful to all, he has in mind every human being whom God has “shut up” to, or has “imprisoned” in, disobedience; and finally, when he asserts in I Corinthians 15:22 that “all shall be made alive” in Christ, he has in mind everyone who has died in Adam. The grammatical evidence here seems utterly decisive; you can reject it only if you are prepared to reject what is right before your eyes.

Thomas Talbott
The Inescapable Love of God, Pages 59, 60

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