Here is how I interpret these phrases:
1) All men without distinction to me means:
All men without this or that distinction.
So an instance of this might be,
All men [without distinction] who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved…
Here there is no ethnic/racial distinction, all–without this exception–who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.
I can also say that all men without distinction means all men apart from a number of distinctions, gender, race, age, employment, status, etc.
And here the “all without exception” comes into play, in this way: Without any racial/ethnic exception, all men who call upon the name of the Lord, will be saved. This is clearly how Paul uses this in critical passages in Romans.
The controller is: The distinction(s) being negated has to be supplied by the context; and the scope of the “all” is defined by context as well.
2) All men without exception
I take that to be just as fluid.
It can mean all men without absolutely any distinction or exception whatsoever. I don’t think anyone uses it to denote that, or if they do, very rarely.
It can mean all who have lived, lived, will live.
But then too, this can also he true for all without distinction: Eg: All who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved: this applied to those who are now dead, it applies to the living, and it shall apply to those who shall live.
The controller is: The exception(s) being negated has to be supplied by the context; and the scope of the “all” is defined by context as well.
3) The two terms for me are not discrete and compartimentally segregated into opposite water-tight containers. That so many so over-play this artificial distinction is unhelpful and at times just blinds the investigator to tacit assumptions that distort the true picture of a given at hand verse.
4) Classically, for a few writers, they will use all without exception and distinction interchangeably. Or they will use other terms like all without discrimination, and then it becomes trickier to work out what they mean.
5) The problem is, most high or hyper Calvinists are not using “all without distinction” in its original form, but it has been transmuted into something else.
6) I think Spurgeon’s moment of insight in his blasting and exploding Gill’s exegesis of 1 Tim 2:4 should be a must read.
Let’s say we have the comment:
“I love all kinds of corn chips.”
On the surface my above question may seem silly. But here is why I would argue it was not, so hold that thought.
A few weeks ago I asked a friend what does “all without distinction” mean?
One answer I have seen a few times is that it means this: “all kinds of men.”
What this entails then is that when “all without distinction” is applied to 1 Tim 2:4 it means, precisely, that God wills the salvation of all kinds of men.
So let us run with this and see where it takes us.
Back to my corn chips. “I love all kinds of corn chips.” What does that mean? It means I love all kinds of flavors, brands, colors, shapes, sizes, and so forth. But at no point can it be a statement about any particular corn chip of any kind.
Here is my basic problem. What I want to argue is that for the High Calvinist reading, “all” becomes “some” and that the way this is done is self-deceptive.
We have a phrase, “all men”
All is the modifier, and it modifies “men”.
Then we have the often alleged “rule” that here all men must mean all without distinction. Okay, so lets apply this “rule”.
All men becomes: “All men without distinction.”
If we ask what “all men without distinction” means, we are told it means all kinds of men.
So now “all men” becomes “all kinds of men.”
But now, note the modifier does not modify the noun. Now it modifies the term “kinds”.
Yet no High Calvinist can really seriously say that Paul is commanding us to pray for kinds of men. Rather he wants us to pray for concrete particulars, such that no concrete particular is to be excluded from our prayers (Calvin). Paul has actual people in mind, either as subjects of our prayers, or objects of the will of God.
So almost immediately we are brought down from the forms and abstractions to the concrete and the particular.
So “all kinds of men” becomes “some men of all kinds” (Owen). [It must become some men of all kinds, because the very intent of the High Calvinist is to preclude the idea that Paul has “all men of every kind” in view here.]
So now, all men becomes some men of all kinds (particular men of all kinds).
Thus: All becomes Some.
The modifier “all” now becomes “some” in order to truly modify “men”.
I think this strategy is quite deceptive.
But obviously this entire strategy seems quite artificial and counter-intuitive to some of us.
And I have demonstrated above that “all without distinction” properly meant all men without this or that distinction or exception, which is clearly the original biblical intent.