Does "All" Always Mean ALL?

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Does "All" Always Mean ALL?


Post by Kurieuo » Wed Nov 30, 2016 7:04 am

"All" is an important word to understand, so far as Scripture is concerned in what is communicated.

Sometimes "all" does mean absolutely everything, but in many instances we employ the word if a more figurative manner. I find many Atheists often tie themselves in knots even, over this word, "Oh, but now you're believing there is error in the BIble," I believe I heard Mayer say while hosting some Christian. And yet, no, language isn't as straight-forward as to always be understand in a strictly literal singular word meaning sense. Scripture, which is based upon language, is therefore no different.

Sadly, I think many Christians can read too much in this word too, when possibility for figurative use might be intended. Sometimes the context is clear, other times perhaps not and we should look for supporting texts one way or the other or just allow the possibility that "all" may/may not mean absolutely everything.

Consider if I said I've been all over the world. I'd not expect someone to believe I mean I've been absolutely everywhere, but rather a whole lot of places. Hence, while words carry literal meanings, it is important to know how they are commonly used and intended when used in communication. And in the case of Scripture, what the authors may have actually meant and listeners understood.

So why did I start this post? Well, I was wanting to a while back, but I also came across a good article that I'd recommend: ... -mean-all/
"Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved." (Romans 10:13)

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Re: Does "All" Always Mean ALL?


Post by Katabole » Wed Nov 30, 2016 10:51 am

Those are good examples in the link. Here are a few others:

Genesis 41:57 And all countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn; because that the famine was so sore in all lands.

Surely it means the countries close to Egypt... Certainly not "all" countries. Unless we assume the Australians or the American Indians were in Egypt buying corn. And the famine was not in "all" lands. Just in Egypt and not throughout all the geographic area that comprises Egypt.

Exodus 10:14 And the locust went up over all the land of Egypt, and rested in all the coasts of Egypt: very grievous were they; before them there were no such locusts as they, neither after them shall be such.

But according to the Exodus account, the land of Goshen within the geographical borders of Egypt was not affected by the locusts or any of the plagues.

2 Chronicles 36:23 Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth has the LORD God of heaven given me; and he has charged me to build him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? The LORD his God be with him, and let him go up.

But there were kingdoms in the Far East and in Central and South America which were surely not included.

Acts 11:28 And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar.

This verse speaks of a famine "throughout all the world," yet it is not likely it really meant over the whole globe including the New World.
Kurieuo wrote:Sometimes "all" does mean absolutely everything, but in many instances we employ the word if a more figurative manner.
I agree. The word "All" does not always mean absolutely everything. That is why it is so important to study each book of the Bible, chapter by chapter and verse by verse, discuss those passages with fellow believers and understand the basics of the different languages (Hebrew, Syriac {Aramaic} and Greek, figures of speech (I believe there are 192 different forms of figures of speech in the Bible). And of course the subject and the object, the context and its use in prophecy.

Romans 15:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

1 Corinthians 10:11 Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.
Kurieuo wrote:Sadly, I think many Christians can read too much in this word too, when possibility for figurative use might be intended.
Not only can they read in too much. They can also read in too little. Revelation chapter 12 for example, covers a greater span of time than any chapter in the Bible and it is a parenthetical chapter. If you do not understand the time frame/factor and that the entire chapter should be in parentheses, it will lead to confusion and to its farthest extent, as it has in the past, denominationalism.
To take literally what is meant to be figurative and figurative what is meant to be literal probably causes the most problems. I find cross-referencing a good quality Concordance and an Interlinear Bible with Ginsburg's Massorah really help, along with reading different commentaries from different theologians and comparing notes.

There are many other words as well that have multiple meanings and do not always mean what many have thought they have always implied. Which is why there are differences in the way Christians view various Biblical concepts, like whether there was a global flood or not or whether Noah's flood was global or local.

For example, the Hebrew word 'erets' or Earth is transliterated into the English language and found in the Bible as the words "earth" 665 times, "land" 1581 times, "country" 44 times, "ground" 119 times, "lands" 57 times and "countries", 15 times.
Well it may be the devil or it may be the Lord but you know you gotta serve somebody. Bob Dylan

Every one that is of the truth hears my voice. Jesus from John 18:37

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Re: Does "All" Always Mean ALL?


Post by Philip » Wed Nov 30, 2016 11:22 am

K's wife: "Now, sweetheart, don't eat ALL of these fresh-baked brownies at once!"

K: "No worries, babe!"


K, half hour later: "Urp! - well, at least I didn't eat them all at ONCE - it took awhile."


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