Answers to Arminian Arguments
The following are common Scriptural passages used by Arminians when raising objections against the absolute sovereignty of God in salvation.1
Genesis 6:5-6; Ezekiel 33:11:
Answer: Even though God is Spirit (John 4:24), He is often spoken of in physical terms (Isaiah 37:17, 45:12, 51:5). This is done as an aid to our finite minds in comprehending the infinite God. In the same way, God is said to be "grieved" by our actions to help us understand His moral nature and standards (Ezekiel 33:1-10).
Deuteronomy 30:19-20; Joshua
Answer: People with "totally depraved" natures, left to themselves, choose to reject the true God because He does not appeal to them (Romans 1:18-24). When God, by His grace, changes the nature of His elect, they choose to come to Him because they now desire Him (Psalm 73:25-28).
Answer: A better way of translating the verse would be, "Let them be blotted out of the book of the living" (NKJV, see also KJV). The reason this is a better translation is "living" in Hebrew is an adjective, not a noun. Thus, David is not praying for his enemies to be eternally damned; he is simply asking for them to be killed (i.e. to be no longer among the "living [ones]").
The preceding context further confirms this interpretation. (verses 22-27) Throughout these verses, David is praying for temporal judgments to come upon his enemies, eternity is not being discussed. The "salvation" David is asking for in verse 29 is salvation from his enemies, not eternal salvation. The Psalm simply doesn't have eternity in view, but temporal concerns.
Answer: "All" in this verse does not refer to every person who has or will live. It refers only to those whom will have "peace" with God (verse 5).
Ezekiel 18:24, 32:
Answer: "die" in Ezekiel 18 does not mean "damnation" just as "live" does not mean eternal life. The chapter is discussing temporal rewards and punishments, not the eternal state. It is directed towards the "house of Israel" and concerns its current "Babylonian captivity" and the coming Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem (verse 31).
The people are claiming their captivity and the coming destruction are due to their ancestors sins, not their own (verse 2). Ezekiel is correcting their misconception and telling them that they are being judged for their own sins (verse 4). But God will relent if they "repent and turn from their transgressions" (verse 30).
Answer: Jesus in this passage is referring to the Jewish leaders who, as is pointed out in verse 13, put up hindrances and obstructions before those under their authority in the external proclamation of the Word of God. This passage provides no evidence that God's grace is thwarted by unregenerate men.
John 1:29, 3:16, 4:42:
Answer: "world" (Greek kosmon) does not necessarily mean everyone living on the entire earth (Luke 2:1; John 1:10, 7:4,7; Acts 17:6; Romans 1:8).
Answer: Arthur Pink's comments are helpful in understanding this well known passage.
Answer: "Peoples" (NKJV) or "men" (KJV) is not in the Greek. It simply says "all" (pas). For a discussion on this word, see 1 Timothy 2:3-4 below. Also, Jesus teaches that one first has to be "drawn" (Greek elkuse) by the Father to come to Him (John 6:44, Acts 21:20, and James 2:6 where the same word is translated "drag" in the NKJV).
In the context of John 12:32, especially in light of the fact that some Greeks came to see Jesus (John 12:20), reveals that Jesus will draw men from every "kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation" (Revelation 5:9), not from Israel only. So universalistic salvation is not taught in this passage.
Acts 7:51, 24:25:
Answer: People often resist the conviction of the Spirit and God's offer of salvation. The issue is whether the unregenerate can thwart the grace of an omnipotent God. If God according to His appointed time did not overcome the sinner's rebellious will and cause him to accept Jesus Christ by faith, then none would ever be saved.
Answer: This passage does not teach that every person on earth without exception has faith. At least the kind of faith that makes them morally neutral so that they will choose Christ by their autonomous free will. Paul is talking to the believers in Rome in this passage. Grace is granted by God to believers to think soberly, not think more highly of themselves than they ought, and to make good use of spiritual gifts according to the proportion of faith given to them.
2 Corinthians 3:16:
Answer: The "veil" being removed is one of misunderstanding the Scriptures. (verse 14) The question still remains, how do people turn to the Lord in the first place? (see verse 5).
1 Timothy 2:3-4:
Answer: "all" (Greek pas) in Scripture does not necessarily mean every person on the face of the earth. (Matthew 3:5, 10:22; John 3:26; Colossians 1:23) Paul uses the word 22 other times in 1 Timothy and in many of these references it does not refer to "all existing examples of" something but rather "all kinds of" something or some other meaning (1 Timothy 1:15, 2:1-2, 6, 8, 11, 3:4, 11, 4:4, 8-10, 15, 5:2, 10, 20, 6:1, 10, 13, 17).
Particularly pertinent is 6:10, "For the love of money is the root of all evil" (KJV). Money was not the "root" of Satans rebellion or the Fall of Adam and Eve, or many other sins. However, money is "a root of all kinds of evil" (NKJV; note: There is no definitive article "the" in the Greek).
Similarly "all" in 1 Timothy 2:4 does not refer to every person who has or will live. It refers to all kinds of people as opposed to only Jews (Matthew 13:47; Acts 10:34, 11:18; Revelation 5:9).
Moreover, if God wanted every person to be saved, then everyone would be saved since His will always comes to pass. (Isaiah 55:11; Psalm 33:10, 115:3, 135:6) But the Bible clearly teaches some will be damned (Matthew 25:26; Revelation 20:11-15, 21:8).
1 Timothy 4:10:
Answer: God is the Savior of all men in a providential way, giving them being and breath, upholding them in their beings, preserving their lives, and providing them with the blessings and mercies of life (Matthew 5:45). He obviously is not the Savior of all men when it comes to eternal salvation, otherwise those who use this text to deny a definite atonement must also affirm universalism.
Answer: Note the "For" at the beginning of the verse. This conjunction means this verse is an explanation of what has preceded. The preceding verses are injunctions to Christians on how we should live. It is only Christians who are looking forward to the Second Coming (verse 13). Thus "all men" refers to "all Christians" (see discussion on "all" for 1 Timothy 2:3-4 above).
Answer: "one" is not in the Greek. The word is pas which means "all" or "every." But "all" of whom?
Verse 10 begins with "For" which means the following verses will explain the previous ones. In these verses the writer refers to "sons" (verse 10), "brethren" (verses 11 and 17), "children" (verses 14-15), and "the seed of Abraham" (verse 16). These terms best describe "those who are of faith," not people in general (see Galatians 3:6-16).
Answer: Everything said in this passage could apply to Judas (Mark 3:13-19, 6:7-13), Simon the Sorcerer (Acts 8:13-17), and the people in Matthew 7:21-23. But it is very doubtful any of these ever genuinely believed (see John 17:12 and Acts 8:21, and note the word "never" in Matthew 7:23). Also, the writer believes the recipients will do "things that accompany salvation". (Hebrews 6:9) One of these "things" is perseverance (Hebrews 3:14; 1 John 2:19).
2 Peter 2:1:
Answer: This verse is not discussing the atonement of Christ. 1 Peter was written to Jews. So it is probable that 2 Peter was also. (1 Peter 1:1; Galatians 2:7) To a Jew who was not a Christian "the Lord" would most naturally refer to God the Father, not Jesus. And the Jews were "bought" by God in the Exodus.
2 Peter 2:20-22:
Answer: Notice, the text simply says they have "known the way of righteousness" (verse 21). There is no mention of belief or salvation. And the "dog" and "sow" return to their old ways (verse 22). They never ceased to be dogs or sows.
2 Peter 3:9:
Answer: "any" or "all" of what? Dogs? Chickens? There must be an antecedent to the pronouns. In 3:3-7, Peter is discussing "them" (i.e., unbelievers). In verse 8 he addresses the "beloved." The beloved are those to whom the epistle is addressed, "those who have obtained a like precious faith with us" (1:1). Thus, God is not will willing that any of the beloved should perish. And, since God gets everything He wants, this verse becomes a proof-text for eternal security.
Moreover, the context of this passage is when the end of the world will come (3:7, 10). Peter is teaching that God will wait until "all" have a chance to repent. If "all" refers to everyone who has lived or will live, then the world would never end as new people are being born all the time! But if the reference is to all of Gods people, then the world will end when the last of the elect (a large but finite number) has repented and believed.
1 John 2:2:
Answer: In 5:19 John writes, "the whole world lies under the sway of the evil one." But "the whole world" here cannot include believers (4:4). Thus, "the whole world" only includes all of a certain class of people. 5:19 refers to the class of the lost; 2:2 to the class of the elect.
Answer: John declares in his first epistle, "who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes Jesus is the Son of God" (1 John 5:5).
Answer: A literal translation of the Greek phrase o thelon would be, "the one desiring". And the main issue still remains, where does this desire initially come from, within the person or from God? The desire and ability to repent and believe in Christ cannot come from within our own sinful natures (Jeremiah 13:23; Romans 8:7; 1 Corinthians 2:14, 12:3). So it must come from God (John 6:44)!
A portion of the text of this section is adapted from:
Arminian Arguments Against the Five Points of
Calvinism: Scripture Study.
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