1. The Terms “Will” and “All.” 2. The Gospel is for Jews and Gentiles Alike. 3. The Term “World” is Used in Various Senses. 4. General Considerations.
1. THE TERMS “WISH,” “WILL,” AND “ALL“
It may be asked, Is not the doctrine of Predestination flatly contradicted by the Scriptures which declare that Christ died for “all men,” or for “the whole world,” and that God wills the salvation of all men? In 1 Tim. 2:3, 4 Paul refers to “God our Saviour, who would have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (And the word “all,” we are dogmatically informed by our opponents, must mean every human being.) In Ezek. 33:11 we read, “As I live, saith the Lord Jehovah, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live”; and in II Peter 3:9 we read that God is “not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” The King James Version reads, “Not willing that any should perish. . . .”
These verses simply teach that God is benevolent, and that He does not delight in the sufferings of His creatures any more than a human father delights in the punishment which he must sometimes inflict upon his son. God does not decretively will the salvation of all men, no matter how much He may desire it; and if any verses taught that He decretively willed or intended the salvation of all men, they would contradict those other parts of the Scripture which teach that God sovereignly rules and that it is His purpose to leave some to be punished.
The word “will” is used in different senses in Scripture and in our every day conversation. It is sometimes used in the sense of “decree,” or “purpose,” and sometimes in the sense of “desire,” or “wish.” A righteous judge does not will (desire) that anyone should be hanged or sentenced to prison, yet at the same time he wills (pronounced sentence, or decrees) that the guilty person shall be thus punished. In the same sense and foe sufficient reasons a man may will or decide to have a limb removed, or an eye taken out, even though he certainly does not desire it. The Greek words thelo and boulomai, which are sometimes translated “will,” are also used in the sense of “desire,” or “wish;” e.g., Jesus said to the mother of James and John, “What wouldest thou?” Matt. 20:21; of the scribes it was said they “desire to walk in long robes,” Luke 20:46; certain of the Scribes and Pharisees said to Jesus, “Teacher, we would see a sign from thee,” Matt. 12:38; Paul said, “I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that I might instruct others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue,” I Cor. 14:19.
Loraine Boettner, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, (Phillipsburg, New Jersey: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Comp. 1981), 287.