what is the gospel?

Dit artikel in het Nederlands lezen (read this article in Dutch).

The brochure “what is the gospel?” can also be downloaded and read here as a PDF file.


What would be your answer to the above question? If you were to ask ’the average Christian’ this, you would probably get an answer like: “that Jesus Christ died for my (or: our) sins.” And of course that is true (1 Cor.15:3). But the answer is quite limited and should also raise other questions, such as:

  • Why is it good news (>gospel) that Someone has died? After all, Scripture itself teaches that there is “more”, because He has also been raised (Rom.8:34).
  • And, if He died for my, or our sins, who is “mine” or who is “our”? All relevant questions, I think.

In addition, the concept of ‘gospel’ is often reserved for “the New Testament message”, but long before our Lord came to this earth, the Bible already talks about gospel:

Galatians 3
8 And the Scripture, seeing that God justifies the nations by faith, evangelizes in advance to Abraham: In you all nations will be blessed.

Good message
The Dutch word for gospel (>evangelie) is a word taken from the Greek (euaggelion). It is made up of two parts of speech: eu = well, good and aggelion = message. The gospel is a good message. In the literal rendering of Galatians 3:8, we see that Abraham had already received good news (>evangelizes) from God, namely that in him all nations would be blessed. But we could go back even further to the first pages of the Bible, where, after Eve has been tempted, God tells the serpent that from her (>Eve) would come One who is said to be the Serpent’s head would crush. This is a foreshadowing of the coming of the Messiah, who would defeat the adversary (>Satan). This was already evangelized at the beginning of Biblical history. The concept of gospel is therefore not only reserved for the New Testament.

To who?
The tricky thing about dealing with a topic like this is that the answer to the question, “what is the gospel?” depends on who is asked. The time at which the question is asked is also important. To illustrate, I will give an important example from the early period in Acts. There it is Peter who addresses the people of Israel. He addresses them as: “Jewish men” (2:14), “Israelite men” (2:22; 3:12) and says to them:

Acts 3
19 Consider therefore, and turn, that your sins may be blotted out, that there may be seasons of refreshing from the presence of the Lord,
20 and that He will send the Christ predestined for you, Jesus,
21 which heaven must receive, until the times of restoration of all things, which God speaketh by the mouth of his holy prophets which are from the aeon1..

1 eon, Greek: aiōn. Just as an hour or a day, is a specific period of time, so in the Bible an 'eon' is a period of time. 'Eons' refer to the longest known time periods.

to Israël
It was proclaimed to Israel that Jesus Christ, their Messiah, whom they crucified and killed, has been raised by God. They had rejected Him, but if they would reflect and repent as a nation, God would send the Messiah back to establish His Kingdom and thus restore everything that the prophets had spoken of. “The ruined tabernacle of David” (Amos 9:11) would be restored and the Messiah would sit on the throne of His father David and be King over Israel for the eons (Luke 1:32).

Limited in addressing and time
This gospel, which is called the gospel of the Kingdom (Matt. 24:14) and the gospel of the circumcision (Gal. 2:7), is a message with a specific target group, namely Israel, but also for a specific time period. The message was relevant at the beginning of the Acts period and will be again in the future. But now it is not preached to Israel that, when they repent as a nation, the Messiah will return.

Let’s make this concrete. Imagine that sometime in the last 2,000 years you wanted to share the gospel with Jews. Then you would have sought them out. Now it may be the most obvious thing to do to, get on a plane to visit the country of Israel, but that did not make sense until relatively recently, because there were hardly any Jews living in the country that we now call Israel again. They were scattered among the nations. A large part of it is still there today. But wherever you went and turned to these people, would you preach to them the message that Peter addressed in Acts 3 to them? That would be misplaced, because that message is not intended for this time.

Salvation to the nations
In this time, which lies between Israel’s transgression and unbelief and their eventual conversion and restoration, salvation has gone to the nations (Acts 28:28; Rom. 11:11-12). God now gathers together one people from all nations without distinction, a people for His name (Acts 15:14). In the literal sense, this is not a people (>nation), but a group gathered from all nations (Rom.10:19). This company therefore does not share in the position of the people of Israel, but participates in Christ. In Hebrew: the Messiah. So they share in the position of the Messiah of Israel. This company is called the ecclesia, the body of Christ (Eph.1:23), because they are one (body) with Christ. They share in everything that belongs to Him and therefore become co-heirs (>co-owners) (Rom.8:17; Eph.3:6) and co-sharers of the promise in Christ Jesus (Eph.3:6) .

Paul, apostle to the nations
This message from the body of Christ had remained unknown (>hidden) and was revealed to Paul (Eph.3:5; Col.1:26). It is Paul who brought to fullness and completed the word of God (Col.1:25). He is therefore the apostle, through whom God fully reveals His complete plan for all His creation. If we, believers from the nations, are asked what the gospel is, we would consult Paul. He is the apostle of the nations (Rom.11:13; 1 Tim.2:7; 2 Tim.1:11). In the coming chapters I would like to present the gospel, which Paul calls “my gospel” (Rom.2:6, 16:25; 2 Tim.2:8).

But first we will see what the similarities and differences were in the ministry of Paul and ’the Twelve’.


Paul speaks in several places about his calling and emphasizes that it was separate from the calling of the Twelve. Before we look at these differences, but also the mutual agreement that there was among the apostles about these differences in calling, I would first like to see what the similarities are in their message. Because of course there are too.

1 Corinthians 15
1 I make known to you, brothers, the gospel that I preach to you, which you also received, in which you also stand,
2 by which you are also saved.

3 For I deliver to you first of all that which I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures…

Historical facts
Here Paul outlines in a few sentences the historical facts that the gospel is all about. That Christ died, was buried, and was raised, is the basis of the gospel. And it was all foretold in the Hebrew Scriptures and therefore also “according to the Scriptures”.

5 … and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the Twelve.
6 Then, on one occasion, He was seen by more than five hundred brethren, most of whom are still alive to this day, but some of whom have fallen asleep.
7 Then he was seen by James, then by all the apostles.
8 And last of all He was also seen by me, as it were by one born untimely.
9 For I am the least of the apostles, not sufficient to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the ecclesia of God.
10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace that is in me is not in vain, for I labor more exceedingly than they all (yet not I, but the grace of God that is with me ).

What Paul puts forward here is sometimes called the ABC’s of the gospel. The foundation of the gospel is that Christ died (A), and that He was buried (B), and that He was raised (C). But notice, verse 5 continues with “and that” and therefore this is also part of the foundation of the gospel.

 So it is rather ’the ABCD of the gospel’. What Paul points out in verses 5-10 is that there are countless witnesses to the fact that Christ has been raised. He puts it, like a lawyer, under proof. There were some among the Corinthians who said that there is no resurrection (:12). And Paul says, as it were: “many who saw Him as the risen are still alive, you can inquire with them.”

11 Whether I, then, or they, so we proclaim, and so you believe.

See there the similarities between the message of the Twelve and the message of Paul. There are differences, yes, but both the gospel of the circumcision, as well as the gospel of the uncircumcision (Gal.2:7), are based on what Paul puts forward in the first verses of 1 Corinthians 15, the facts surrounding the death and resurrection of Christ.

1 Corinthians 15 speaks of resurrection and vivification. It is an important chapter when we talk about the gospel that Paul was able to proclaim. We will come back to that in due course, but in the next chapter I first want to go to the Galatians letter, to show the difference between Paul’s message and that of the Twelve.


Paul speaks extensively in a number of places in his letters about his ministry as an apostle to the nations. He emphasizes that he had not received his gospel from people, and especially not from the Twelve, who had been disciples of Jesus during His walk on earth. In addition to the similarities between Paul’s message and that of the Twelve, there are also differences. Paul discusses these specifically in the early chapters of Galatians.

Galatians 1
11 For I declare to you, brothers, the gospel which I preach, and it is not according to man.
12 For neither did I receive it of man, neither was I taught, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Receive directly from Christ
Paul had received his gospel and ministry directly from Christ. He had not received it from others, like the Twelve. How logical would it have been if this had been the case, humanly speaking? The Twelve had been chosen by Jesus of Nazareth to be His disciples and had walked closely with the Lord for some years. But Paul was not taught by them, the Lord had for him another apostleship. He was called by the risen Christ from heaven.

The Lord was sent to Israel on earth. His calling was that He would go to Israel and that a faithful Israel would become a priestly kingdom that would subdue and teach all nations (Ex.19:6).

Matthew 15
24 And he answered and said, I am only a deputation unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

When Jesus sent His disciples, they were given exactly the same mission as the mission He himself had:

Matthew 10
5 Jesus sent these twelve, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the nations, neither enter into any city of the Samaritans;
6 but go much more to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

Paul called
The Twelve were sent to Israel on earth. But when Israel did not believe and also rejected the risen Christ proclaimed to them, God called another apostle: Paul. Paul was not called by Jesus on earth, but by the resurrected Christ from heaven. Paul did indeed go to the Jews, we read in the book of Acts, but to them he did not preach, as Peter did, that if they repented, the Messiah would return to establish His Kingdom (Acts 3:19-21). Paul knew that Israel would not repent and proclaimed to them that salvation went to the nations and that he, as an apostle to the nations, would turn to the nations (Acts 13:46-47, 28:28). Paul had a calling separate from that of the Twelve.

Galatians 1
15 But when God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me by His grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach his gospel to the nations, I did not immediately consult flesh and blood…

Outside the country
Paul was called on the road to Damascus. Another contrast with the Twelve: not in the country, but outside the country. The Lord called him from heaven (Acts 9) and his calling was to preach His gospel to the nations. Not to one specific nation, Israel, like the Twelve, but to all nations, without distinction. That was different from the Twelve and that is why he did not consult them (>flesh and blood).

17 … neither did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went into Arabia, and from there I returned to Damascus.

The city of the great King
Paul emphasizes here that his ministry was separate from that of the Twelve. Nor did he go to Jerusalem, the heart of Israel’s religion and the headquarters of the Twelve. After all, Jerusalem would be the city of the great King (Matt.5:35), where the throne of the Messiah would stand and is therefore a model for the establishment and revelation of the Kingdom.

Paul went to Arabia, where he later says in the letter to Galatians that Mount Sinai is located there (4:25). Apparently Paul went to Sinai, where, like Moses, he received words from God.

18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to tell my story to Cephas, and stayed with him fifteen days.
19 And I saw none of the apostles except James the brother of the Lord.

Paul and Peter
Only after three years did Paul go to Jerusalem and visit Peter (>Cephas, John 1:43). What he was going to do to Peter is missed by most translations. Paul came to tell Peter his story. He reported his calling and therefore did not come to Peter to be informed by him. Paul was not taught by Peter, here as representative of the Twelve, but told him of the ministry he himself had received from the risen Christ. Peter had great difficulty with this in the beginning (Gal.2:11-15), which is of course easy to imagine. He had to adjust his expectations of the Lord’s soon return. And with his strict Jewish upbringing he had to learn a lot (Acts 10). In his last letter he expresses his agreement and appreciation for Paul and his message (2 Peter 3:15-16).

Galatians 1
21  Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia.
22 And I was unknown to the ecclesias of Judea which are in Christ.
23 Only they heard: He who once persecuted us now brings it a gospel of faith, which he once destroyed.
24 And they glorified God in me.

Paul, in accordance with his ministry, spent most of his time abroad. In Judea people only knew from hearsay who Paul was and about his conversion. Much later, Paul went to Jerusalem and met with James, Peter and John. A meeting in which solemn agreements were made regarding their ministry, which were sealed with a handshake.


The first two chapters of Galatians give us a lot of information about Paul’s calling and the differences between his ministry and that of the Twelve. Paul emphasizes this in this letter because the Galatians were believers from the nations and teachers had come in who wanted to Judaize the Galatians (Gal.2:14). The Galatians who had received and embraced Paul’s gospel of the grace of God were now charged by these false teachers with the message that in order to live righteously they now had to keep the Jewish laws (Gal.5:4) and rituals (4:10). That Jewish message, which Paul calls the gospel of the circumcision (2:8), is not for those believers from the nations, and is therefore completely misplaced.

Galatians 2
1 After fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus also with me.
2 And I went up by revelation. And I presented to them the gospel which I proclaim among the nations separately, but to those who were esteemed, lest I run or walk in vain.

Paul to Jerusalem
Paul continues to emphasize here that his ministry was separate from Jerusalem. Only after fourteen years did he return to this city, which is a model for the revelation of the Kingdom. Nor did he go at the request of the Twelve, but on the basis of a revelation. The Lord Himself had sent him. The report of the meeting that took place there can be found in Acts 15. There too, just as in the Galatians letter, the subject was whether believers from the nations should be charged with Jewish laws and regulations. The short answer is: no (Acts 15:19).

The misunderstanding that might arise from the foregoing in Galatians 1 is that Paul had no regard for the Twelve and their ministry. But the opposite is true and it shows. Paul proclaimed his gospel to anyone who would hear it, but he did so separately to those who were respected: the apostles in Jerusalem. He did not encourage a dispute or disagreement, but sought their agreement in the differences in ministry. It would have been a disaster if there had been dissension among the apostles of Christ.

Galatians 2
6 But as for those who were respected (what they once were is of no importance to me, God does not regard the person), those who are respected have submitted nothing to me.
7 But on the contrary, when they know that the gospel of the uncircumcision has been committed to me, as to Peter that of the circumcision,
8 (For He who works in Peter for the apostleship of the circumcision, works also in me for that for the nations).
9 And when they know the grace that is given to me, James, Cephas, and John, who seem to be pillars, give to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go unto the nations, and they unto the circumcision.

Directly from Christ
That the Twelve were respected because they had walked with the Lord on earth made human sense. Matters such as the fact that James was “the brother of the Lord” (1:19) also contributed to this. But to Paul those things were of no importance. It did not put their apostleship above his. Nor had they submitted anything to him. His ministry came directly from Christ Jesus.

And there is agreement on this with the Twelve. James, Cephas (>Peter) and John confirm this ministry of Paul by shaking his brother’s hand: the right hand of fellowship. The Twelve would turn to the Jewish people with the gospel of circumcision. Please note that this is not a limitation by national borders (Israel), but by religion (>circumcision). Even then, many Jews were already living abroad.

But Paul’s ministry is unlimited. Unhindered by any limitations. Paul would go to the nations, all nations, without distinction. Paul’s ministry is all-inclusive, just like his gospel!


Before I turn to the gospel entrusted to Paul, I want to show what is the gospel of the Kingdom that was preached to Israel and that will be proclaimed to them again in the future. In Gal.2:7 this is called the gospel of the circumcision, as we already saw.

Earlier I pointed out Acts 3:19-21 where Peter tells the Jewish people that if they reflect and repent, Christ will return from heaven to establish His Kingdom. Of course, Peter bases his words on the Hebrew Bible, our Old Testament. Therein these things are foretold.

But the Lord Jesus Christ in His walk on earth and His forerunner John the Baptist also proclaimed the coming Kingdom.

Matthew 3
1 And in those days came John the Baptist, and proclaiming in the wilderness of Judea, 2 And he said, Take heed, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Matthew 4
17 From then on Jesus began to proclaim, saying, “Take heed, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

This message is called: the gospel of the Kingdom (Matt. 4:23, 9:35 and 24:14). Both John the Baptist and Jesus, but later also the twelve apostles in the book of Acts, base themselves on the Old Testament prophets, who prophesied that an Israelite Kingdom would come, with the Messiah at its head, which would destroy all earthly kingdoms.

Daniel 2
In Daniel 2 a dream is described of the then world ruler and king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar. He dreams of an image with a head of gold, a chest and arms of silver, a belly and thighs of brass, with legs of iron and feet partly of iron and partly of clay (Dan.2:32-33). This image is crushed by a stone, which is cut down without human hands, and this stone fills the whole earth (Dan.2:34-35).

From the explanation that Daniel subsequently gives in Dan. 2:36-43, it appears that the various body parts of the image and their metals represent four earthly kingdom. Which, as also appears from other Scriptures, Babel has a prominent role.

These kingdoms are coming to an end and these earthly kingdoms will be succeeded by a Kingdom with a different origin, from heaven.

Daniel 2
44 And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will not be destroyed forever, and the kingdom will not be left to other people. It will crush and end all these kingdoms, and it will endure for the ages.
45 Therefore you saw that a stone was cut from a mountain without hands, and that it crushed in pieces the iron, the copper, the clay, the silver, and the gold. The great God has made known to the king what will happen after this. And the dream is certain and its interpretation reliable.

The stone
The stone that is cut down from a high place (>mountain) without human hands and the earthly kingdoms is a picture of the Kingdom that the God of the heavens will set up, namely: the Kingdom of heaven (Matt.3:2, 4:17,5:3, etc.). And the proclamation of this Kingdom is called: the gospel of the Kingdom.

This Kingdom will be an Israelite world empire with the Messiah as King. Israel will then be a priestly kingdom that will subdue and teach all nations (Ex.19:6; Isa.2:2-4; Micah 4:1-3).

A few chapters later, in Daniel 7, Daniel himself receives a dream from God about four animals coming up out of the sea. These four animals are also a representation of the four kingdoms (7:17,23). Here it also speaks of the end of the power of these earthly kingdoms (7:9,12). These earthly kingdoms are succeeded by a Messianic Kingdom that will last until the eons (>world ages).

Daniel 7
14 To Him (=the Son of Man, :13) was granted jurisdiction and esteem and a kingdom, that all the peoples and leagues and language-groups shall serve Him; His jurisdiction is an eonian jurisdiction that shall not pass away, and His kingdom shall not be confined.

18 But the saints of the most high will receive the kingdom, and they will possess the kingdom to the eon, even to the eon of the aeons.

27 And the kingdom, and the power, and the greatness of the kingdoms under all the heavens, shall be conferred upon the people of the saints of the most high. His Kingdom is a Kingdom of the Aeon, and all powers will serve it and listen to it.

Israelite empire
This Messianic empire will be a world empire ruled by the Messiah from Jerusalem. It will be an empire with Israel, the people of the saints of the Most High, as head of the nations. This gospel of the Kingdom was the message that John the Baptist, the Lord Jesus and the twelve apostles proclaimed to Israel. The Kingdom was near. If Israel would repent as a nation, this Kingdom would begin. But that didn’t happen. Because of Israel’s unbelief and transgression, salvation went to the nations. A secret that had remained hidden for eons (Eph.3:9; Col.1:26).

The throne in Jerusalem
At the end of this eon this gospel of the Kingdom will be proclaimed again (Matt.24:14) and then Israel will repent and call on the name of YAHWEH. Then the Messiah will appear to them and from the throne in Jerusalem establish His Kingdom over the entire earth (Joel 2:32; Zech.13:9, 14:4).

But in this hiatus in God’s dealings with Israel, God has called another apostle, with the gospel of the uncircumcision. In this meantime, God is gathering to Himself from all nations a company that is one with His Son, one body with Christ. This ecclesia shares in all that is promised to Christ and given to Him. And that is breathtaking! In Christ, God is going to bring this entire creation where He wants it to be. And Paul was allowed to reveal that gospel! We will continue with this in the following chapters.


In the previous chapters I have pointed out that there are fundamental similarities in the gospel of Paul and the Twelve. But there are also differences in the message and target group. Jesus in His earthly walk and the Twelve had a different message and a different target group than the gospel that was entrusted to Paul from heaven by the resurrected Christ.

This is an extremely important truth, rarely seen and therefore rarely practiced. In general, no distinction is made between the messengers and therefore also between the addressees; the entire New Testament is read as addressed “to us”.

Correct distribution
Paul wrote two letters to his successor Timothy, whom he addressed several times as “my child” (1 Tim. 1:2,18; 2 Tim. 1:2, 2:1). These letters are very personal and Paul equips Timothy for the task ahead by passing on important advice and warnings to him. When Paul gave him important instructions in his second letter to Timothy, he also urged him to correctly divide the word of truth.

2 Timothy 2
15 Do your best to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, but rightly divides the word of truth.

Timothy would rightly divide the word of truth and endeavor to do so. By doing so he would show that he was well approved before God and need not be ashamed before his work. The words Paul uses show how important he considered this subject. We would also attach importance to this.

In verses 17 and 18, Paul gives an example of Hymenaeus and Philetus who had deviated from the truth. They misplaced a Biblical truth by saying that the resurrection has already occurred. They did not straighten the word of truth and therefore it was no longer a word of truth.

Earlier I gave the example of the Galatians, who were believers from the nations and who were seduced by teachers who wanted to ‘Judaize’ them by making them observe all kinds of Jewish laws and rituals. This message is intended for circumcision and in that sense is according to Scripture. But when this is proclaimed to believers from the nations, the word of truth is not rightly divided and therefore misplaced.

Consciously or unconsciously, everyone who reads the Bible makes a distinction between what is or is not intended for him. I have never met anyone who believes that a brother who has broken the law of Moses should be stoned (including Lev.24:16). Nor do I know anyone who, no matter how legalistic, keeps all the laws that are written down, such as all dietary laws. Or that a man pluck out his eye, because his eye ensnares him (Matt.18:9), etc.

Making a distinction in Scripture is not a difficult matter and we do not have to determine for ourselves what is and what is not directly addressed to us. Scripture itself gives clear indications for this:

Hebrews 4
12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the feelings and thoughts of the heart.

It is the word of God Himself that makes razor-sharp distinctions. Or better: as sharp as a two-edged sword. Things such as soul and spirit, which are seen as one and the same in the world and also in religion, are distinguished in the word. We would turn to that word of truth to be taught which things are addressed to us and which are not.

That does not mean that we should not take note of letters or Writings that are not addressed directly to us. All of Scripture is for us, but we would discern that not all of Scripture is addressed to us.

2 Timothy 3
16 Every Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for instruction, revelation, correction, and training in righteousness,
17 that the man of God may be thoroughly prepared for every good work.

If we properly understand the gospel of the circumcision, or the gospel of the kingdom, this will give us more insight into God’s plan for Israel. The message is not directly addressed to us, but by understanding it we will also understand the gospel of the uncircumcision that is passed on to us through the apostle Paul and we can better place it and view it in the entire context of the biblical message.

A person learns to see through contrasts and through the different dividing lines, our vision is sharpened.


Paul was a special apostle with a special calling. He was not one of the twelve who went up with Jesus, but he was called by the risen Christ from heaven. Christ appeared to Him last and Paul thus closes the ranks of the apostles, that is to say: he is the last apostle (1 Cor. 9:1, 15:8).

But Paul is also the one who completed the word of God. He added to the word of God what was lacking.

Colossians 1
25 Of this (=of the ecclesia of verse 24) I have become a minister, according to the administration of God, which is given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God…

The word translated here as fulfill is in Greek plerõo. This word occurs 86 times in the New Testament and in almost half of the cases it concerns predictions from Scripture that are fulfilled: prophecies, the law, the Word of Scripture, the word of the prophet, etc. In these cases it concerns for a part of the word of God that is already known, but is fulfilled by an event or statement: made complete, completed. The word is derived from another Greek word that means: full, filled or complete.

With what then did Paul fulfill or complete the word of God? That’s one verse further.

Colossians 1
26 … …[namely] the mystery which has been hidden from the eons and from the generations, but has now been revealed to His saints.

Paul added to the word of God a part that had hitherto remained secret and hidden. This completed the word and made it full, in the sense of: it was finished, there was nothing more to add. There is much to be said about this mystery, but in short it is about the believers from the nations sharing in the blessings promised to the Christ (>Israel’s Messiah). Believers from the nations are one (body) with Christ (Col.1:27).

The mystery of the Christ
But watch out! Don’t make the mistake of thinking that what Paul made known cannot be found in the other Scriptures! Something that is hidden is secret, or made invisible. But it is definitely there. With the things that Paul reveals, he removes the covering and makes visible what was hidden in the other Scriptures. As a result, histories, words and rituals that are not addressed to us take on a deeper meaning. The covering that was over it, because it was hidden, is taken away by Christ through the apostle Paul, and it is revealed to us. Wherever Christ is spoken of in Scripture, we now know that it is speaking of Christ and His body. It was already contained and hidden in Scripture, but only gained full meaning when Paul was allowed to reveal it. That is the mystery of the Christ (Eph.3:4)!


If there is one truth that Paul knew all his life, it is that there is one God. We find that to be a common thread through all his letters. But even when Paul was still Saul, this was already part of the foundation of his knowledge. He was a born Israelite with a Jewish upbringing and a Pharisee by law (Acts 22:3; Phil. 3:5). Even today, for the Jews, the best known and most important verse from the Tanakh is the text called the Shema. It is the Jewish confession of the oneness of God.

Deuteronomy 6
4 Hear, O Israel: Yahweh our God, Yahweh is one!

The one God
The Shema is the expression of absolute faith in the one God and pervades the entire life of a religious Jew. It is the first thing a Jewish boy learns, but also the last thing a Jew will say when dying. On almost every doorpost of Jewish homes and buildings you will find tubes (the mezouza) containing a roll of parchment on which this verse is written. You will also find it in the recesses of the phylacteries (>the tefillin) that the Jew wears when he prays. This puts into practice what the rest of Deuteronomy says.

5 And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.
6 And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.
7 And you shall repeat them to your sons, and you shall speak of them when you sit in your house, and when you go by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up.
8 And you shall bind them for a sign on your hand, and they shall become forehead bands between your eyes.
9 And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Paul in Athens
When the apostle Paul is on one of his journeys in Athens, he sees that the city is full of idols (Acts 17:16). As he argues with various philosophers in the marketplace (17:17-18), he is invited to tell his story on the Areopagus. The Athenians were literally curious and always looking for news and new teachings (17:21). Paul is given the floor there, standing on the Areopagus.

Acts 17
22 And Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus, and he said emphatically, Men, Athenians, I see on all sides how exceedingly religious you are.
23 For as I went through the city, and considered the objects of your worship, I also found a pedestal, with the inscription, To an unknown god. Whom then, without knowing him, you worship, this I proclaim to you.

It is sometimes said that it was a clever trick or ruse on Paul’s part to play on their religiosity and to take the opportunity of the empty pedestal with the inscription ’to an unknown god’ to tell his story. The Athenians were extremely religious and apparently had a god for everything. But anyone who thinks up so many gods may have forgotten one and that is why they had placed a pedestal to provide for this as well.

The God
Of course it was smart of Paul, but it was more than that. Those who know several gods do not know God in the absolute sense of the word. The Greek word for God is Theos and that means Placer. God is the Placer and Ordainer of all things and He is sovereign. Therefore, He is truly GOD. He is supreme and omnipotent, whatever He wants, He can and will do. He is the Author and Creator of everything. He does not share His position with other gods. Because the Greeks worshiped multiple gods, they did not know GOD.

24 God who made the world and all things in it, who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands,
25 Who is not treated by human hands as if he had need of anything, because he himself gives life and breath and everything to all.

The Source of all life
He is Lord (>Owner and Ruler) of heaven and earth. The gods that the Greeks knew, were made by their own hands and “brought to life” by themselves through their own thinking. But the God that Paul proclaims to them is the One who gives all life. He is not served by human hands and does not dwell in temples made by human hands, but dwells in His creation, which He Himself has made. And He is the Source of all life, He is the One who gives to all life, breath and everything. What a huge contrast to the gods of the Greeks and the gods of religion in general. These “gods” are always depicted as dependent on humans. Also in the Christian religion. If man does not make a choice or do the right things, he will be lost forever. It always depends on people. So there too people do not really know God.

God’s lineage
What Paul says next is also special. Please note, he is talking here to completely ignorant and unbelieving Greeks. After his speech they even mocked Paul’s message (17:32). But Paul announces to them that they all came from God and quotes one of their own poets.

Acts 17
28 For in Him we live, and move, and have our being, as some of your poets also said, For we also are of that generation.
29 Therefore we who are of God’s race ought not to suppose that the divine is like gold, or silver, or stone, or like a sculpture of handiwork, or like human feelings.

Every person belongs to God’s lineage, Paul says here and he includes his listeners. If a person heard that, he would recognize it and reflect on it. That is what Paul is putting forward.

30 God, then, looking past the times of ignorance, now commands all people everywhere to reflect,
31 Because He has appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness, by a man whom He appoints, giving faith to all those who raise Him from the dead.

This entire creation will be judged by one Man, the Son of God (John 5:22). God raised His Son from the dead and gave everything into His hand. Of this everyone will be convinced: giving faith to all. Anyone who reflects on this can only come to one response: acknowledge, glorify and thank God as God (Rom. 1:21)!


The greatest and most fundamental theme of Scripture is that there is one God. Earlier I pointed out the Jewish confession of faith of the one God from Deut.6:4. The Lord Jesus also endorsed this truth of the one God (Mark 12:28-32). God is the Creator of everything, all things exist through Him and everything has its destiny in Him.

Romans 11
36 For from Him and through Him and in Him are all things: to Him be the glory for the eons! Amen!

Hymn of praise
We should realize that the words that Paul writes here are part of a song of praise to God (11:33-36). This praise concludes the first 11 chapters of the letter to Romans, which is also called the doctrinal part of the letter. But it is mainly a response to the immediately preceding verse in which Paul speaks about Israel’s unbelief. Because of their misstep, salvation went to the nations (11:11). It is precisely this rejection of Israel that God uses to reconcile the world (11:15)! And Israel also will not remain unbelieving, but will revive, and through them the nations will be blessed (11:15). It is God who works this disobedience, to work out His great plan for all His creation.

32 For God shuts all up together in restraint, that He might have mercy on all.

From death to life!
First the nations were disobedient or unruly, now Israel is. But it is God’s purpose to have mercy on all. And that is so unimaginably beautiful that Paul bursts out into a song of praise. God is going down a road with Israel that seems to be a dead end. Israel has been set aside and their position now is illustrated, for example, as a valley of dead men’s bones (Eze.37:1) and they are in the grave (Eze.37:12). But Israel will revive (Eze.37:14). And it is precisely during this time that Israel is in the grave that God announces through the apostle Paul that death will be abolished and imperishable life will become the portion of every creature (1 Cor.15:22,26; 2 Tim.1: 10). God’s plan is so great that no human can imagine it!

Romans 11
33 O the depth of riches and of wisdom and of the knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!
34 For who knew the mind of the Lord? Or: who became His advisor?
35 Or, who first gives to Him, and it will be repaid to him?
36 For from Him and through Him and in Him are all things: to Him be the glory for the eons! Amen!

The ways that God deals with people, such as Pharaoh (Rom. 9:17) or with nations, such as Israel (Rom. 11:1), are inimitable and unfathomable. No one knows His mind and He does not need anyone in it, so that He would owe someone something. He is God, omnipotent and autonomous in all His actions. And that is the guarantee for a good outcome.

To Him the glory!
Everything is from Him: He is the Creator and Origin of everything. All things are through Him: all things exist through Him. And everything is for Him: everything has its purpose and destiny in Him. The ways He takes there are His ways and we often cannot understand them. But everything will turn out to be for His glory: to Him be the glory for the eons!


No Christian can deny that God is the Creator of everything. After all, “in the beginning” there was only God and all things came from His speaking (Genesis 1; John 1:1-3; Ps. 33:9). But the consequences of the fact that God is the Creator of everything are generally unacceptable. Everything comes from God, because He is the Creator, but everything also has its destination in Him. This means that everything that is and everything that happens, has a place in His plan and contributes to His purpose (Rom.8:28; Eph.1:11): everything!

Proverbs 16
4 YAHWEH hath made all things for his purpose, even the wicked for the day of evil.

His goal
The Hebrew word translated here as for His purpose literally means for His answer. As we also say: it meets the purpose  (in Dutch: it answers the purpose).. The wicked is rendered in the Dutch NBG translation and Statenvertaling as the godless. For example, it is opposed to the righteous (Gen.18:23,25). God also made them for His purpose.

Creator of evil
We know from Scripture quite a few kings from the nations who have caused evil. But we also read that they were governed by God (Prov.21:1). Think of Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar. And Cyrus was also such a king. God left him Jerusalem and the rebuilding of the temple (Isa.44:28) and placed this pagan king, who did not know God, in the service of His people Israel (Isa.45:4). God says to him:

Isaiah 45
5 I am YAHWEH, and there is none else; there is no God except Me. I girdled you, though you knew Me not.
6 That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the setting thereof, that there is none besides me. I am YAHWEH and there is none else.
7 Maker of light and Creator of darkness, Maker of prosperity and Creator of evil, I, YAHWEH, do all these things.

No target missed
God emphatically and solemnly declares that He is the Creator of absolutely everything! Also things that we may have difficulty attributing to God: darkness and evil. But He also uses that for His purpose. God is not a sinner who makes things that miss His purpose. Because that is what sin literally is: missing the mark. No, everything works together for His purpose. God is therefore not a sinner, because He made evil. He is God, who works in all things according to the purpose of His will (Eph.1:11).

In the book of Job we find how Satan approaches God and tells God that Job is only faithful to Him because he has so much and God protects him. God then gives Satan the space to take everything from Job and secondarily to harm Job himself, but Satan was not allowed to take his life. This account, which you will find in Job 1 and 2, makes it very clear that Satan does have power, but only within the leeway that God gives him.

After the first series of disasters that befall Job, he loses all his possessions. Everything he has, his children, his house and his cattle. Job mourns, and says:

Job 1
21 Naked I came out of my mother’s womb, and naked I will return there. YAHWEH gave, YAHWEH has taken away, blessed is the name of YAHWEH.
22 In all this Job sinned not, nor attributed anything unseemly to God.

Job speaks truth
Notice the Scripture’s commentary on Job’s words in verse 22. We probably wouldn’t have blamed Job if he had said anything, but it says that Job did not attribute anything unseemly to God. What Job said about God was the truth.

Satan is then also given the opportunity to attack Job himself. He may hit him, but his life (literally: soul) must be preserved (2:4-6). After more suffering befalls Job, his wife tells him that he should say goodbye to God. Job’s answer is telling:

Job 2
9 And his wife said to him, Do you still hold fast to your piety? Say goodbye to God and die!
10 And he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. Would we receive good from God and would we not receive evil? In all this Job did not sin with his lips.

It is clear that Job assumed that not only good comes from God, but that we also receive evil from God. To underline this, it also states that Job spoke the truth and he did not sin when he spoke these words. The prophets also testify to the fact that both good and evil come from God.

Amos 3
6 Is the trumpet blown in a city, and the people tremble? Is there evil in a city without Yahweh’s doing?

Lamentations 3
38 Does not proceed from the mouth of the Most High evil and good?

Good and evil

Back to the aforementioned Isa.45:7. There we are presented with two contrasts: light and darkness and well-being and evil. Just as in the garden of Eden there was a tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen.2:9). When Adam and Eve ate from this tree, they learned not only what is evil, but also what is good. Before that they had it good, but could not judge the good or value it as good, because they had no context. Just as we cannot really estimate what health would be if we had no disease. And how could we experience true joy if we did not know what sadness and misery are? There is a chapter in Ecclesiastes that presents us with a whole series of contrasts like this.

Ecclesiastes 3
1 There is a time for everything, and a season for every event under the heavens.
2 There is a time to give birth and a time to die, there is a time to plant and there is a time to cut down what is planted,
3 There is a time to kill and there is a time to heal, there is a time to make a breach and there is a time to build.
4 There is a time to cry and there is a time to have fun. There is a time to mourn and there is a time to dance.
5 There is a time to throw stones and there is a time to gather stones. There is a time to embrace and there is a time to be far from embracing.
6 There is a time to seek and there is a time to destroy. There is a time to keep and there is a time to throw away.
7 There is a time to tear and there is a time to sew. There is a time to be silent and there is a time to speak.
8 There is a time to love and there is a time to hate. There is a time of war and there is a time of peace. 9 What benefit does the worker get from that for which he toils?
10 I see the experience that God gives to the sons of men, to humble them.

So for all these things there is an appointed time, appointed by God. He created these contrasts with one purpose: to humble man. A person would learn that whoever he is and whatever position he has, he will also have to deal with adversity. That seems to happen to some people much more than others, but in the end we are all mortals and we suffer the same fate: we die.

And death is also designed by God and has a place in His plan. It is an enemy of man (1 Cor.15:26), but isn’t knowing death also what strengthens our hope? God is going to abolish death (1 Cor.15:26; 2 Tim.1:10) and we will receive a new and glorified body in the resurrection. Insofar as we have any awareness of this, it is because we are confronted with death in our lives every day mortality. We know what imperishable life is mainly because we know what it is not: mortal. We don’t die anymore.

To Him the glory!
A person learns through opposites and contrasts. God uses the adversary and evil, but He is the origin of everything and also has a purpose for evil. When we realize this, we see that the life lessons we learn and grow through are from Him. We then give Him the honor due to Him and glorify and thank Him as God (Rom.1:21), the Creator of all things. Everything is for His glory!

Romans 11
36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things: His is the glory for the eons! Amen!


If God is the Creator of everything, ordains everything, and everything is from Him, through Him and to Him, then who created Satan?

There is only one answer: God. In Christianity people try to avoid this answer. It is stated there that Satan was an angel who was good at first and then it went to his head and he wanted to be just like God. God then dismissed him from that position and so this fallen angel became Satan.

This is a discovery by theologians and is not found in Scripture. It is placed in parts such as Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14, which are about the king of Tire and the king of Babylon respectively, and not about Satan. But imagine if we go along with the claim that Satan is a fallen angel. Then it is still so that God created him. In fact, God created an angel who was good, but still had the ability to turn against God. And had God foreseen this, or not? If He really is God, He knew it in advance and intended it that way. After all, God works in everything according to the purpose of His will (Eph.1:11). Also in this man-made narrative, if you continue to ask questions about the origins of Satan, you will always end up with God.

God created Satan and He created him to be an adversary, because that is what Satan means. Just like the contrasts, such as light and darkness, good and evil, that we saw earlier that God created. Another name for Satan is devil, which comes from the Greek word diabolos, that means that he is a through-thrower. He mixes things up with the aim of confusing. He didn’t become that way, he was created for that purpose and has been that way from the beginning.

John 8
44 You are of the devil as your father, and you want to do the lusts of your father. He was a murderer from the start. And he does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own things, for he is a liar, and the father of it.

From the beginning
Here it is written that he is doing his job from the beginning, and he is not standing in the truth and never has been in it. Satan was not first “a good angel” who then, through sin and rebellion, became an adversary.

1 John 3
8 But whoever commits sin is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning…

The devil sins from the beginning, because that’s how he was made: as an opponent and through-thrower. He is not a fallen angel, God knows no such thing as “unforeseen circumstances”. God knew what He was doing when He created Satan.

Isaiah 54
16 …I am the one who created the destroyer to destroy.

Job 26
13 By His Spirit He has adorned the heavens; His hand has created the long-swarming serpent [Dutch Statenvertaling]

Necessary evil
Literally it says that God had birth pains when he brought forth the serpent. God knew what this adversary would do, and yet He determined it to be so.

Of course, God knew in advance how things would go. He is God, the One who declares the outcome from the beginning (Isa.46:10). Satan’s creation was not an accident, but a necessary evil. Just as God also knew at the so-called ‘Fall’ that man would eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And there we read that the serpent that tempted Eve was made by God.

Genesis 3
1 Now the serpent, it became more crafty than any other animal of the field that YAHWEH God had made. The serpent said to the woman: Indeed did God say, You shall not eat from every tree of the garden?

God a sinner?
God is the Creator of everything. Of course He is also the Creator of Satan. No one can actually deny that. Even if you believe the myth that Satan was first a good angel who sinned and therefore became a fallen angel, you also believe that God created him. And God would also have made him in such a way that Satan could sin.

The god of this aeon
Did God know what He was doing when He created Satan? If so, He did it consciously and it fits into His plan. If not, God has made a mistake. If you believe the latter, you have dragged God down to the level of a human being, a sinner (=missing the mark).

Satan is a ruler and is even called the god of this eon (2 Cor. 4:4), a ‘god’ with a small ‘g’. He gets the power that God gives him, because there is one GOD who determines everything. When Paul writes to the Corinthians about eating things sacrificed to idols, he says rather laconically:

1 Corinthians 8
4 … we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but One.

Absolute and relative
Here too, Paul points to the One God. Relatively speaking, there are all kinds of ‘gods’ and ‘lords’ in the world, in the sense of people or spiritual beings who have power over each other or over others. But that is relative, because in the absolute sense there is one God, who orders and determines everything. Nothing happens outside of Him. Satan may be a great power in our eyes, but his power is great in the relative sense only. And does not go beyond the space God gives him. His end as Satan is also already known (Rev.20:2,7,10).

God creates adversaries who play a role in His plan. Thus He once raised up Pharaoh against Himself and His people. Paul quotes Ex.9:16, where God says to Pharaoh: “For this same thing I rouse you up, so that I should be displaying in you My power, and so that My name should be published in the entire earth” (Rom.9:17). God wanted to demonstrate His power and, to demonstrate that power, took the most powerful man on earth and defeated him.

1 Corinthians 8
6 … but for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things and for whom we are, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and we through Him.

There is one God, Creator of all. So everything is in good hands, even evil!

Note: I always have trouble writing about Satan. After all, Scripture is about God and His Son Christ Jesus and in Him we rejoice. The adversary was created by God as a backdrop to let the light of the gospel shine against the dark background of sin, lies and death.
Scripture is not very extensive in describing who Satan is and what his works are. Yet Paul says that Satan’s thoughts are not unknown to us (2 Cor.2:11). He is the opponent, the through-thrower and the father of lies. To recognize that, you only have to focus on one thing: the truth, and God’s word is the truth (John 17:17).


When dealing with the topic of what the gospel is, one topic cannot be left undiscussed and that is the concept of eon in Scripture. Some readers may not be familiar with the word eon, but that is because its meaning has been forgotten or suppressed over time. You will still come across it in the better dictionaries and encyclopedias.

The key to understanding God’s plan
In the original Greek text of the New Testament of the Bible, the word aion (G165), or its adjective aionion (G166), is used 193 times. An eon is an era, and that is how it is sometimes translated in common translations, such as the Statenvertaling and the NKJV translation. See for example in Matt.12:32, Luke 20:35 and Heb.6:5, where the concept is translated as age or century. A century, not in the sense of a period of a hundred years, but in the broader sense of the word: a (long) limited space of time.

Century, eternity or world?
But the word is often translated as eternity in common Bible translations, which is a completely opposite concept! A century is a period of time with a beginning and an end, the concept of eternity is interpreted as having no beginning and no end.

Other translation words are also chosen for the word aion, such as world (Matt.24:3; 28:20) and course (see Eph.2:2 NKJV translation). The result is that anyone who unsuspectingly reads a Bible translation is saddled with the arbitrariness and interpretation of the translators, because no one can see anymore what concept lies behind these translation words such as: eternity, world, course, etc.

Words have a purpose
The one who assumes that the word of God is living and powerful (Heb. 4:12) as He passes it on to us, and who wants to search further than what the human work of the translators would have us believe, searches beneath the surface. Then you know that God has a purpose in every word and expression in Scripture. God’s word is perfect, purified and that is why it is important to get as close to that word as possible.

Psalm 12
6 The words of YAHWEH are pure words, silver refined in an earthen furnace, refined sevenfold.

God’s word is pure and refined. Translations are not. The same Greek word aion has been rendered time and again with different translation words, even having opposite meanings. The rendering of the concept of aion in Bible translations is impure.

The Bible teaches that God has a purpose (that is, a plan) for these eons and that He is the One who made the eons:

Ephesians 3
11 … according to the purpose of the eons, which He carries out in Christ Jesus our Lord

Hebrews 1
2 … through whom also He makes the eons.

Translations examined
Below are a number of examples of the use of the word aion in our Bible translations, with italics showing how it is written in the original text. The texts are taken from the Dutch Statenvertaling:

Matthew 12
32 …but whosoever shall speak against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this age, nor in the age to come (not in this eon, nor in the to come)

Matthew 13
22 … and the care of this world (of this eon)
39 … and the harvest is the end of the world (end of the eon)
40 … so shall it be also at the end of this world (end of this eon)

But in the same chapter:

49 So shall it be in the end of the ages… (end of the eon)

The word translated as world in Matthew 13 in verses 22, 39 and 40 was suddenly translated a few verses later with ages. A completely different word and also in the plural, while there is no plural, but a singular.

Luke 1
70 As he speaks by the mouth of his holy prophets, which were from the beginning of the world (beginning of the eon)

1 Corinthians 10
11 … upon whom the ends of the ages have come (ends of the eons)

So eons have a beginning and an end, according to these Scriptures. Here, of course, one could not translate with worlds or eternities. There is no plural of either and eternity has no beginning and end.

Revelation 1
6 … To Him, I say, be the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen. (until the eons of the eons)

Note how here the word eons is made twice, the word eternity is made once, the word eternity is made once from two plurals, one is made singular and the word all is not in the original text and has been added.

This expression into the eons of the eons is an important concept in the book of Revelation and occurs no fewer than 14 times. The eons of the eons are the most important, the most glorious eons (ages) yet to come. Make these ages eternal and a hopeless situation arises for most of God’s creation.

Revelation 20
10 …and they shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever (until the eons of the eons)

An eon has to do with time and not with timelessness.

Titus 1
2 …in the hope of eonian life, which God, who does not lie, promises before eonian times.

The concept of eonian times proves that the concept speaks of time and is not opposed to time. We also find the same concept of eonian times in Romans 16:25 and 2 Tim. 1:9. The latter is interesting in connection with Tit.1:2, because both verses speak of before eonian times. That means there was a time before the eons began. Just as we also saw that the eons have an end and consummation. This is also evident from the plural in eonian times. Times have an end and follow each other. The eons are epochs that once began and will one day end again.

The adjective

sun – sunny
water – watery
yellow – yellowish

An adjective says something about the noun. Sunny says something about sun, watery about water, etc. If we translate the word eon as century (Dutch: eeuw), in the sense of an era, we should know what the adjective eternal (Dutch: eeuwig) means. It says something about the century, the era. Relating to the century. But because it is such a ‘polluted’ concept, I prefer to use the word eon or eonic. That concept often needs to be explained, but in any case does not have the connotation of endlessness that the concept of eternal has acquired over time.

Who mixes things up like that? We saw earlier that devil is the translation of the Greek diabolos. That means literally through-thrower. He mixes everything up and he has succeeded very well with the concept of aion. His Hebrew designation is Satan.

Satan is the god of this eon according to 2 Corinthians 4:4. The word eon is also used there. Now suddenly translated as century (Dutch Statenvertaling), because of course one cannot refer to him as god of eternity. However, if one had translated honestly and consistently, it would have been presented as such. That’s probably why the KJV translation translates with the god of this world.

So there is quite a bit at stake in the translation of this concept. I dare say that understanding this concept correctly is the key to understanding all of Scripture and God’s plan for His creation.


Paul explains in a number of places in his letters what his mission was as an apostle. It is precisely in those Scriptures that we are pointed out to the wonderful gospel that Paul proclaimed among the nations and to which Christ had delegated him. It was his mission to proclaim the very gospel that had been entrusted to him. He calls it my gospel (Rom.2:6, 16:25; 2 Tim.2:8).

All the people

In the gospel that was entrusted to Paul (Gal.2:7; 1 Tim.1:11) it is revealed that God has all people in mind and achieves His purpose with all people. Therefore, as far as it depends on us, we can consider the good of all men (Rom.12:17), have peace with all men (Rom.12:18), and show gentleness to all men (Tit.3:2 ). In 1 Timothy 2, Paul encourages prayer and give thanks for all people, especially those in high positions, such as kings and rulers (1 Tim.1:1-2).

1 Timothy 2
3 For this is ideal and welcome in the sight of God our Savior,
4 who desires that all men should be saved and come to know the truth.

God does what He desires
We can pray and give thanks for all people, because God is the Placer and Ordainer of everything. Also from governments (Rom.13:1). And God wants all people to be saved, whatever their position, and to come to realize that truth: that God is a Savior and that He has all people in mind.

Now there will be ‘Christians’ who say: “Yes, God wants that, but that is not going to happen, because…”. What exactly is said after “because” does not matter. But these ‘Christians’ show that to them too the one God is an unknown God, just like the Athenians at the time in Acts 17:5-34.

There is one God and that one God can and will do whatever He wants.

Isaiah 46
10 I, who from the beginning declare the outcome, and from ancient times things that have not yet come to pass; saying, My counsel will be accomplished, and I will do all my desire.

One God
Whatever God desires, He will do! If God wants all people to be saved, then all people will be saved. For there is one God!

1 Timothy 2
5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,
6 Who gives Himself a ransom for all; the testimony in your own appointed times.
7 I was appointed for this purpose as a herald and an apostle (I tell the truth, I don’t lie) a teacher of the nations in faith and truth.

Ransom for all
The one God will do what He desires and, in order to achieve His purpose, He has given everything into the hands of His Son (John 3:35). Christ Jesus gave Himself as a ransom for all. All were bought and paid for by Him. This is not yet known to everyone and that is why it is also stated (literally): the testimony in its own appointed times.

Paul became an apostle (>delegate) to herald this message and inform the nations of this great gospel. And no matter how great this message is, it is always met with resistance. It is a message that asks nothing of people and that is not comfortable, especially in the religious world. Paul could relate to that.

1 Timothy 4
9 The word is faithful and worthy of all welcome,
10 for this we toil and are reproached…

A reliable word
The gospel that Paul taught was worthy of all welcome. But still it was toil (>hard work) for him to preach it among the people. He was reviled for it. Some manuscripts indicate, instead of being reproached, that it was a struggle for him and we also read this elsewhere in his letters. And yet that did not stop Paul from proclaiming this message. For the word he passed on was trustworthy.

Paul passed on a message he had received directly from Christ Jesus. And whether one agrees with it or not, whether one believes it or not, God will fulfill His word.

10 … that we put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of believers.

The living God
The reliable word that is worthy of all welcome is reliable because the word is from God Himself and that is what Paul had set his expectation (>hope) on. That word is that God is the Savior of all people. God will (eventually) save all people, no one is exempt from this.

It also says that Paul says that he placed his hope in the living God and that immediately explains what God saves all people from. After all, isn’t man’s greatest problem his transience? We die and God saves us from death. He does that with all people. God is going to make all people alive and give them imperishable life (1 Cor.15:22). More about that later.

Many translations distort the text in 1 Timothy 4:10. For example, the Duch NBG translation makes this: who is a Savior for all people, as if it were an offer. But there is a secondary case and that expresses a possession relationship: the living God is Savior of all people.

The Dutch Telos translation also glosses over the meaning by translating it as: Sustainer of all people. In a footnote the translator says: elsewhere translated as ‘Savior‘.

The New World Translation is misleading: who is a Savior of all sort of men.

The Dutch Statenvertaling gives it correctly: who is a Savior of all people and the Revised Statenvertaling also gives a correct representation: who is a Savior of all people.

Savior of the world
In John 4, Jesus meets a Samaritan woman at a well. She recognizes Him as the Messiah and tells her fellow citizens that she has had an encounter with the Christ (:29). The people go out to the well to meet Jesus and listen to what He has to say and they too believe.

John 4
42 …and they said to the woman, We believe no more because of what you say, for we have heard Him for ourselves, and we know that He is truly the Savior of the world, the Christ.

This is a beautiful picture of our time. The Lord is outside the land of Israel, and is among the nations (Col.1:27). There He is recognized as the Savior of the world!

The message that God is the Savior of all people is fundamental. God is the Savior of all people and He is the Savior of the world. It is not an offer in which man has the final say through his choice. Everything is God’s work and man’s contribution to his salvation is zero. And that is not a non-binding message, in the sense of: you can think differently about this, one person thinks this, another thinks that and that is all fine. No, Paul says:

1 Timothy 4
11 Command and teach this!


When Paul says in 1 Tim. 4:11, “Command and teach this!”, he refers to the foregoing in which he says that the living God is the Savior of all people. But that is not the only thing, because he adds: especially from believers. That aspect of God’s salvation would also be taught.

God is the Savior of all people. Not everyone believes that yet, but there are those who do. They have a special position and can already know Him. That is why Paul adds: especially of believers. The Greek word malista (G3122), which is translated as especially, is rendered in the various translations as: most, most of all, especially, in particular, special, etc. All words with a similar meaning. The rendering with especially (in Dutch: vooral) is a nice one, because, if we take it very literally, it says exactly what it means: for-all. God is the Savior of all people, but above all there is a special group that can already know Him.

1 Timothy 4
10 … that we put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of believers.

Not exclusionary, but inclusive
When I quote this verse, I have regularly received the “counterargument” that although it says that God is the Savior of all people, but behind it is: especially of believers. One reads “especially of believers” to mean that God only saves believers. In fact one reads: excluding non-believers, as if the use of the word especially (>malista) excludes a group. But the word malista actually speaks of inclusivity. It talks about a large group: all people. But within that group there is a part that has a special position. A few examples from Scripture where the word malista is also used:

Galatians 6
10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, but especially to those of the household of faith.

Philippians 4
22 All the saints greet you, but especially those who are from the emperor’s house.

1 Timothy 5
8 But if anyone does not care for his own people, and especially for those of his own household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

2 Timothy 4
13 When you come, bring with you the cover that I left with Carpus at Troas, and also the scrolls, especially the parchments.

Part of the whole
In all these verses there is talk of a whole: all, all the saints, his own people and scrolls. But within the whole, a special group is designated that has a special position. Malista emphasizes a special position of a part of the whole, but does not detract from what is attributed to the whole group. On the contrary, it underlines it. God is the Savior of all people and there is a group of believers who have already placed their trust in Him. These people have already been saved and have a privileged position.


God is the Savior of all people, Paul says in 1 Tim.4:10. He has all people in mind and will achieve His purpose with all people. Reconciliation, justification and vivification for all! But there is a special group that already participates in that salvation and that is why Paul adds: especially of believers.

But what does this mean? What is the special position of believers in our time? A very extensive answer could be given to this, because all of Paul’s letters talk about this. Paul calls this the mystery, or: the secret. The believers of the nations today have the highest position that God gives. They share in everything that God gives to His Son, Christ Jesus. Now still “in spirit” (Eph.3:5-6) and therefore hidden, but in the future revealed with Him in glory (Col.3:4).

Salvation has a broader meaning in Scripture than we usually apply it to. In this way a person can be saved from illness (Matt.9:21-22; Mark 10:52), from sin(s) (Matt.1:21; 1 Tim.1:15), of great tribulation (Matt.24:22), for His heavenly Kingdom (2 Tim.4:18), for the coming eons (Eph.2:7-8), etc. But always it has to do directly or indirectly with salvation from mortality and death (Mark 5:23; Hebrews 5:7; Matt.8:25; Acts 27:20).

God is the Savior of all people. He is going to give all people imperishable life and save them from corruption and death (1 Cor.15:22; 2 Tim.1:10), but believers have salvation already received. They have been raised together with Christ (Eph.2:7) and have already received that new life and may walk in it (Rom.6:4).

Those who disbelieve will be made alive in incorruption at the end of the eons. They will have no part in the Kingdom, neither on earth (Matt.19:24-25, 24:13) nor in heaven (2 Tim.4:18; Col.1:13). They will “spend” the coming eons in death. Believers are also privileged in this regard. Before all are made alive, they already share in the life of the eons to come, that is eonic life. That which is usually translated as “eternal life” is the life of those future eons (> centuries), see Luke 18:30. That is why Paul says in 1 Tim.4:10: especially of believers.

Paul also speaks about this in other places. For example, in Eph.1:12 he literally talks about we who have a fore-hope in Christ. This section also tells us what our part and task is in the ages to come.

Ephesus 1
8 With all wisdom and understanding,
9 He makes known to us the secret of His will, according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Him,
10 for the administration of the fullness of the ages, to gather together all things under one Head in Christ, both things in heaven and things on earth.
11 In Him in whom also our lot was assigned, according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will.
12 that we might be a praise of his glory, who have an advance hope in Christ (literally: who have a pre-expectation in Christ).

The secret of God’s will
Paul here reveals the secret of God’s will. Until Paul revealed this, it had remained hidden. To complete the ages, God is going to bring the universe together under Christ. Everything in the heavens and on earth will be subordinate to Him. That in itself was not a secret, because we already find it in the Hebrew Bible. But what Paul reveals, and what had been hidden until then, is that the Christ concerns not only Christ Jesus, but all who now belong to Him. They are the ecclesia, the body of Christ (Eph.1:22-23) and share in all that has been promised to Him (Eph.3:6). So that is also a privilege of those who already believe, or as Paul says in Eph.1:12: we who have a pre-expectation in Christ.

When Christ is going to abolish death (1 Cor.15:26; 2 Tim.1:10) and save all, those who belong to the body of Christ will be involved in that work.

Towards him
Before God’s judgments come upon this earth, we will be taken from the earth and meet Him in the air. With the new body we receive, from that moment on we will always be together with Him (1 Thess.4:17). Here too, the following applies: … especially of believers, for the snatching away is a salvation from the wrath to come (1 Thess.1:10, 5:9; Rev.12:5, 12). We await our Savior.

Philippians 3
20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from where we also wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,
21 who will transform the body of our lowliness to be conformed to the body of His glory.

Snatching away
Our Savior, Christ Jesus, comes to change our humiliated body and conform it to His glorified (resurrection) body! That is the moment of the snatching away that we look forward to. We will be made alive as the firstfruits, just as the firstfruits of the harvest always have a special position: … especially of believers. Then the full harvest will follow and no one will be left wanting, for God is the Savior of all people!

2 Thessalonians 2
13 But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God has chosen you as the firstfruits for salvation through sanctification of the spirit and faith of the truth.


The Romans letter is the first letter in our “new testament”. It is a basic statement of the gospel of God (1:1). Literally fundamental, because it forms the basis for all further teaching of the apostle Paul. Right at the beginning, Paul explains in a few sentences what the good news is that he is proclaiming. By removing the middle sentences, we see what the essence of the gospel is.

Romans 1
1 Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, a called representative, separated for the gospel of God, … 3 concerning His Son …

Concerning His Son
The gospel of God concerns His Son! That is good to realize before you read the letter to Romans (and all other letters). The gospel is not about us.

The gospel of God is about His Son. Of course we are involved in this, but we are, so to speak, the “direct object” and passive. There is nothing of ourselves that contributes to our salvation, justification, etc.

First, in Romans, Paul outlines the position of humanity as a whole in 1:18-3:20. Mankind is under the wrath of God (1:18) and under God’s judgment (2:1). This applies not only to the nations, but also to the Jews (2:12-2:24).

Romans 3
4 … God is truthful, and every man is a liar, as it is written, That you may be justified in your words; and: you will overcome when you are judged.

9 What then? Are we privileged? Absolutely not! For we accuse beforehand both Jews and Greeks, that they are all under sin,
10 As it is written: There is none righteous, not even one.
11 There is no one who is wise. There is no one who seeks God.
12 They all turned away, and together they became useless. There is no one who does what is right, not even one.
13 Their throat is an open grave, with their tongue they deceive, and the poison of asps is under their lips.
14 Their mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.
15 Their feet are sharp to shed blood.
16 Destruction and misery are in their paths,
17 And the way of peace they know not.
18 There is no fear of God before their eyes.

Black and white
The position of humanity as a whole is painted here without any nuance. Fortunately, in practice a person is still capable of doing good and just things. God’s light is so strong that even in this evil eon, where the god of this eon darkens the mind (2 Cor.4:4), His light still shines. But that’s not what this is about. In the absolute sense, there is no one good and no one righteous. Man falls short. Paul puts it in black and white to create contrast. This is how he draws the pitch-black background against which he makes the Gospel shine. The great turning point takes place in Romans 3:

21 But now, apart from the law, the righteousness of God has been made manifest, of which the law and the prophets testify,
22 but the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe, for there is no distinction.

But now!
Yet now! Against the dark background of humanity’s position, including those under the law, God reveals His righteousness. He does this independently of the law (>works of man), but the law does bear witness to this. God’s justice is that He does justice to His promises and His word. God fulfills what He has previously promised, regardless of man’s (mis)deeds.

The faith of Jesus Christ
This righteousness of God is through the faith of Jesus Christ. The vast majority of translations render this as “faith in Jesus Christ”, but then part of our justification would still be found within ourselves, or be achieved by ourselves. It is the faith of Jesus Christ. God does justice to His promises and Jesus Christ entrusted Himself to them. He surrendered Himself and became obedient unto death (Phil.2:8 ). God would raise Him up and through Him give life to the world. He believed that and that’s why He went that way.

To all who believe
Through the faith of Jesus Christ it comes to all who believe. The preposition that Paul uses here is striking: unto in. That means it comes to all who believe. The gospel (>good news) is of course only experienced and lived when it is actually believed. And all will believe (Phil.2:10-11).

Romans 3
23 For all have sinned and are in need the glory of God,
24 and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

All are justified
Romans 3 is about humanity as a whole, as we saw in verses 4-18: all are under sin and all have deviated. Here too, in verse 23, it is about the whole: all fall short of the glory of God. But they are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

All are justified! Mankind is completely unfit and incapable of saving or justifying itself. But the gospel of God concerns His Son. He is the Righteous and He is the Savior. Of all, for it is free and in His grace!’


At the beginning of the letter to Romans, Paul paints the hopeless situation of humanity without God. Both from the secular and the religious(!) world. It is God who solves this problem through His Son Jesus Christ and justifies all. Justification means: to acquit, to declare innocent. In Romans 5, Paul explains this further and places Adam and Christ next to and opposite each other. Adam is a type (>example) of Christ (Rom.5:14), who is therefore called the last Adam (1 Cor.15:45).

Romans 5
18 Therefore, as one trespass leads to condemnation for all men, so also one righteous act leads to justification of life for all men.

Adam and Christ
Through one misstep by Adam, sin entered the world (:12). All men became sinners and mortals: by one offense unto condemnation for all men. But even so, through one righteous act of Christ, it is for the justification of life for all men. He walked the way of faith and was raised from the dead. By this every man is justified and made alive.

One for all
The first similarity between Adam and Christ is that in both cases it concerns one person. And Adam and Christ are both models for all humanity: all people, that is the second similarity. The contrasts between the two are of course Adam’s misstep versus Christ’s righteous act and condemnation versus justification. It is a razor-sharp comparison that leaves no room for interpretation or other explanation.

People who cannot, or do not want to believe that God justifies all, refer to the next verse. It would then say that God does not justify all. But if so, then Scripture is out of harmony with itself and contradicts itself. In fact, Paul then denies in one stroke of the pen what he clearly stated just before. But Paul does not contradict himself, people read poorly.

Romans 5
19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so also by the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.

Another comparison
Here too we find the same comparison as in verse 18, with two similarities between Adam and Christ and two contrasts. By one man the many were made sinners, and so by the One the many are made righteous. In both cases one person is the source, the many are the goal or destination. The contrasts are: sinners versus righteous and disobedience versus obedience. And notice, the many is not different from all. All concerns many. All concerns everyone, excluding no one. With the many, the emphasis is on the large number. The fact that it says the many assumes that the group is known. It is the group of all people from verse 18.

Romans 5:19 is a quotation from Isaiah 53, a well-known chapter that deals with the suffering and death that would come to the Messiah, but also about His resurrection and what that wonderful fact would bring about. Though He should suffer and die (:8-10), He would also see seed, and prolong days, and the desire of YAHWEH would prosper in His hand (:10). Speaking of the new life that He would bring to light and share.

Isaiah 53
11 For the labor of His soul He will see, and He will be satisfied. In His knowledge My righteous Servant will justify the many, and He will be burdened with their wickedness.

The Messiah would be satisfied in carrying out God’s desire. Isaiah was a prophet who addressed Israel, more specifically Judah (1:1). The many is a term that can refer to all of Israel. But Paul opens up what was still hidden in Isaiah. The many who are justified are all people!


In the letter to Romans we already saw in the comparison that Paul makes between Adam and Christ that all will be justified. There is something else: for all people for the justification of life (5:18). That all are justified means that all will be acquitted and declared innocent. And when death is abolished, all will also live. In Romans 5 the emphasis is on the justification of all. In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul also gives a comparison between Adam and Christ. This chapter is about resurrection, so the comparison here mentions the vivification of all.

No resurrection?
The reason for writing this chapter was that some Corinthians said there is no resurrection (:12). Paul shows how foolish this reasoning is. Then his proclamation and their faith are empty (:14) and Paul’s preaching is a lie (:15). The Corinthians are still in their sins (:17) and those who have fallen asleep in Christ were lost (:18).

1 Corinthians 15
20 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

Christ was raised from the dead as the Firstfruis. A Firstfruit is the first fruit of the harvest. It is, as the word says, the first, but it holds the promise that the rest will follow. This happens in phases and Paul discusses this order in verses 23-24. It is important that Paul states here that Christ is the Firstfruit. After all, people have been raised from the dead before, but they died again. Think of Lazarus, the daughter of Jairus and the young man of Nain. Christ was raised incorruptible, death no longer has dominion over Him (Rom.6:11). He was raised in incorruption, glory and power (1 Cor.15:42-43).

1 Corinthians 15
21 For since by one man there is death, by one man there is also the resurrection of the dead.

By one Man
Earlier we saw how Paul explains in Romans 5 that through one man, Adam, death and sin entered the human world. All humanity participates in this through Adam. No escape. The resurrection of the dead is also through one Man, Christ. In verse 22 a similar comparison is made as in Romans 5:

22 For just as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.

All made alive
The formulation from verse 21 is further elaborated and explained: for even as. Death came because of one man (:21): for even as in Adam all are dying. Here too, there is no escape, we are all mortals. But: thus also, in Christ, shall all be vivified. Just as sharp a comparison as in Romans 5:18. Adam is a model for humanity and takes all into death and mortality. Likewise, Christ takes that same humanity with him into life and incorruption, because that is what this is about. It is the life of Christ, the Firstfruit. How that happens, we read a few verses further.

1 Corinthians 15
26 The last enemy, death, is destroyed.

No more death
Death is annulled, rendered inoperative. So there will be no more death. That is only possible if there is not a single person who is still in death. Every man will be made alive in incorruption!

2 Timothy 1
10 … our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolishes death and brings life and incorruption to light through the gospel.


All people will be saved, justified and made alive. These concepts naturally imply that the disposition or attitude of all people is also changed. After all, whoever is made alive receives an imperishable body. Death has been abolished, so death no longer has any influence on the resurrection body and sin is no longer there (Matt. 1:21; Rom. 5:12). This presupposes that man will live in harmony with his Creator and with each other.

There is a concept that Paul uses in his letters that describes that change in position and attitude. Mankind is hostile to God and alienated from God (Eph.4:18; Col.1:21). God changes this position. This change in relations is called reconciliation. Enmity is turned into peace, enemies and estranged ones are made one (Eph.2:14-15) and become lovers of God and each other. The scope of that reconciliation also concerns all people, the entire world. Later we will see that this extends even further than the visible world.

The only one in the New Testament who speaks about the concept of reconciliation is Paul. The apostle to the nations announces that Israel as a nation is temporarily set aside because of their transgression and salvation has now gone to the nations. In this meantime, it is Paul’s message that is being proclaimed.

Romans 11 (literally)
12 Now if their transgression be the riches of the world, and their diminution the riches of the nations, how much more is their fullness!

15 For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what is their acceptance but life from the dead?

The Restoration of Israel
These two verses run parallel. The “for” in verse 15 shows that this verse is an explanation of verse 12. Their transgression and diminution correspond to their rejection. Their fullness corresponds to life from the dead. The latter refers to the restoration of Israel in the future. Israel has stumbled, but not (definitely) fallen (Rom.11:11) and God has not rejected them (Rom.11:1). Israel’s current position is depicted as in death and the people will be revived from it, see for example the vision of the valley of the dry bones in Ezekiel 37. Or Hosea 6:1-2, which also deals with the restoration of Israel.

God reconciles
In this interruption in God’s dealings with Israel, God has called the apostle Paul to proclaim the gospel of the reconciliation of the world! God sent His Son into this world and He was murdered by that world. He died for His enemies. To this act of ultimate enmity of the world, God responds in love by resurrecting His Son, who was murdered by the world, and thereby giving life to the same world. This is proof of God’s unconditional love for His Creation that will ultimately change every heart.

Reconciliation is therefore not an act of man, it is God, who in Christ reconciles this world to Himself.

2 Corinthians 5
18 But all this is from God, who reconciles us to himself through Christ and gives to us the ministry of reconciliation,
19 that is, that God in Christ was reconciling the world to himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and placing in us the word of reconciliation.


Earlier we read that Paul was entrusted with the gospel of the reconciliation of the world and that it is God who reconciles the world to Himself in Christ. Reconciliation means a change: the enmity is ended. People or beings who were once enemies and alienated from God become lovers. Paul is the only one in the New Testament who uses the concept of reconciliation. The Greek words he records, which are translated as reconciliation (katallasso, G2644) and apokatallasso, G604), contain a word meaning to change (allasso, G236) and which also occurs in Scripture, including in 1 Cor.15: 51-52.

We also see that change in Philippians 2, where Paul says that every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. He also testifies to this elsewhere (Rom.14:11). Many understand this as a forced bowing, a forced confession to God from (unchanged!) enemies. But what exactly does the text of this passage in Philippians say?

Philippians 2
10 … that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue should heartily confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Voluntarily and wholeheartedly
Anyone who reads the text and takes note of what Paul says about the reconciliation of the world will not be able to maintain the argument that this is a forced confession and an obligatory bowing. I would like to mention a number of considerations why bowing the knee and confessing Jesus Christ as Lord in Phil.2:10 is a voluntary bowing of people who are convinced and bend the knee in faith.

1. Paul’s appeal to the Philippians in this chapter is to be minded like Christ Jesus (:5). Christ Jesus made no claim to His divine descent as Son of God, but emptied Himself and took the form of a slave. He went His way in obedience until the death of the cross (:6-8). We would take an example from this attitude of His submission to His Father (read also Phil.2:1-4).

That is a completely different attitude than the attitude of a dictator who, with his foot on the neck of his subjugated enemies, makes a forced confession and then kills them or does other things to them. That was the attitude of someone like Nebuchadnezzar (Dan.3:6,19). Although you can still say of Nebuchadnezzar’s attitude that he said: it is bowing or burst. If you bow you won’t be killed. While people accuse Christ that He will make many of His subjects bow and then burst. Afterwards He kills these enemies anyway, or even worse, so it is said…

2. “That in the name of Jesus” from Phil.2:10, refers back to verse 9 which says, “Therefore God has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name.”
Christ Jesus walked His way by faith and thereby received the Name above every name. The Name above every name is YAHWEH, usually translated in our Bible translations as the name of the Lord (e.g. Ex.3:15, Deut.6:4). Jesus therefore means YAHWEH saves. Every knee will bow in the name of “YAHWEH saves” and so every knee will bow in the name of the Savior!

3. The Greek word translated in most translations as confess  (>acclaiming), could easily have been translated as heartily confess. The word used is ex-omologeo. Ex means: from the inside out, such as explosion, expansion, etc.
The word omologeo means to confess, to say the same thing. How does a person confess from the inside out? What is the inside of a human being? The heart! Heartily confess is therefore a good translation for this word. What the heart is full of, the mouth overflows with (Matt. 12:35; Luke 6:45).

The word ex-omologeo occurs in 9 other places in the Bible (Matt.3:6, 11:25, Mark 1:5, Luke 10:21, 22:6, Acts 19:18, Rom.14:11, 15:9 and James 5:16). It always has the meaning of a positive confession, from within. Every tongue will confess from the heart!

4. Every tongue shall heartily confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Anyone who recognizes someone as Lord indicates that he is subordinate to that Lord. That Lord is Ruler and He is Owner. Christ is Lord of all (Acts 10:36, Rom.10:12). Philippians 2 describes that every creature will come to this recognition!

5. The confession that Jesus Christ is Lord can only be made through holy spirit, Scripture teaches. 1 Corinthians 12:3 says, “No one can say, Jesus is Lord, except by the Holy Spirit.” When every tongue confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord, it is a confession filled by His spirit and in faith.

6. The Bible teaches that whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Rom.10:13). Every tongue will call on that name and be saved! God is the Savior of all people (1 Tim.4:10).

7. The confession of Jesus Christ as Lord is to the glory of God the Father. A “forced confession” is not very honorable. Only when every creature wholeheartedly acclaims to God the Father that Jesus Christ is Lord will His purpose be accomplished and that be His glory!

God is the One God and Father of all (Eph.4:6, Eph.3:15). It will be to His glory if all His creatures heartily confess this!


Previously I wrote about Paul’s words in Philippians 2, where he describes the final and universal “Hallelujah” that will take place at the end of the eons, the world ages. Then every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord! The fact that nothing and no one is excluded from this is once again confirmed by Paul adding to these words: “of those in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth” (Phil.2:10).

Isaiah 45
The words from which Paul draws these verses are originally from Isaiah 45. This is a great chapter that speaks of the One God and describes His sovereignty and exclusivity.

The One God is Creator of all! Besides Him there is no God (:5), He forms light and creates darkness. He makes peace and creates evil (:7), everything is His work. And that gives peace, because it means that everything is in His good hands and everything that takes place is under His control and fits within His plan.

In Isaiah 45, God is the God of Israel (:11,15), but in this chapter we already find several indications that God’s plan includes His entire creation (:12,18). This God is a just God, that is, a God who will do justice and straighten everything that is crooked (:21). And He is also a Savior (:21).

Isaiah 45
22 Turn to Me and be saved, all you ends of the earth, for I am God, and there is no one else.
23 I swear by Myself, a word of righteousness is gone out of My mouth, and it shall not return: that to Me every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall swear.
24 Yes, in YAHWEH, they say to Me, are righteousness and strength. To Him they will come; and they shall be ashamed of all who are angry against Him.
25 In YAHWEH they are justified, and all the seed of Israel shall praise.

“AND they shall be ashamed of all who are angry against Him …”, says verse 24. Both the NKJV and the Dutch Statenvertaling Translation incorrectly state “BUT they will be ashamed ….”  They create a contradiction in the text that is not there. All who bow their knees (:23) will come to Him (:24) and all who are angry against Him will be put to shame.

All will bow their knees, and among them there will be those who will be put to shame. They will see who their Savior is. All people who have opposed God, have been hostile to Him, those who do not believe that He is truly good and has a plan for all of His creation and those who distrust God; they will be put to shame.

They will bow their knees and confess Him with their tongues. And they will be justified, verse 25 says! Here in Isaiah it speaks of all the seed of Israel, that is, all the offspring of Israel.
Paul was allowed to see further as an apostle of the nations and he quotes the prophecy of Isaiah 45 in Phil.2:10-11 and Rom.14:11 and applies it to the nations. So that we can be sure: every knee and every tongue!


We saw earlier that God is the Savior of all people and that all people will be made alive and justified. That speaks specifically about the human world. But when Paul declares in Philippians 2 that every knee will bow, he is speaking of “those in heaven, and those on earth, and those under the earth.”

This goes beyond the human world, because also the spiritual powers, who are now in heaven (Eph.6:12; 2:2), will bow their knees.

These spiritual powers are called evil spiritual powers, because they are hostile to God (Eph.6:12). It means that God will also reconcile these powers with Himself. That is, to reverse their enmity. Earlier we saw that God reconciles the (human) world to Himself (Rom.11:15; 2 Cor.5:19), but it does not stop there. God is going to reconcile all His creation (the universe) to Himself.

The first
God does this through His Son. He has been appointed Head of this entire creation. That is, He is the First, or the Firstborn. A term that indicates ranking. There is no other chapter that puts this into words as masterfully as Colossians 1.

Colossians 1
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the Firstborn of all creation.
16 For in Him were created all things, in the heavens and on the earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or authorities; all things were created through Him and for Him…

The universe
“The all” was created in Him and the context shows what this is about: the entire creation. Of course there is no exception to this. Although these terms show that it concerns everything, it is added to in the heavens and on the earth. And that too, this concerns the visible and the invisible and that it involves every power that we know.

Colossians 1
17 … and He is before all things, and all things have coherence in Him.
18 And He is the Head of the body, of the ecclesia. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that He might be preeminent in all things.

Above all else
He is the beginning, the Firstborn and before all things. He has received the name above every name (Phil.2:9) and is set above every power and authority. But He is also the Head of the body, the ecclesia. This means that the ecclesia that He is now gathering shares in that position. Christ is set over everything and we share in it, as His body!

19 For all the fullness is pleased to dwell in Him…

The fullness of God
The entire complement spoken of here is the fullness of God. In Colossians 2:9 Paul says, “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” God reveals Himself in His Son and that revelation is complete. In Colossians 2, Paul warns about philosophy and other traditions of men. There were preachers who wanted to convince the Colossians that things like philosophy and other human traditions also have a place next to Christ and something to add. Paul protests against this. In Christ all God’s fullness dwells and there is nothing to add to it. He also says that in Him is the fullness of the Godhead physically” or “in a bodily manner”: a reference to Head and body (1:18).

Colossians 1
20 … and by Him to reconcile all things, even to Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, making peace through the blood of His cross.

Making peace
God is pleased to reconcile the universe through His Son. Here again it is stated: either what is on the earth or what is in the heavens. This is not only about the human world, but about the entire creation, in which there is also a world with spiritual powers, invisible to us. Every creature will be reconciled to God!

This verse mentions a more or less synonym of reconciliation: making peace. When parties are united or unified, it is called making peace, or reconciliation (see also Eph.2:14-16).

The hope of the gospel
A few verses later, Paul calls this reconciliation of the universe the hope of the gospel (1:23). It is the expectation for all creation and every creature that they will be reconciled to God. Enmity will be turned into love and every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father!

Dit artikel in het Nederlands lezen (read this article in Dutch).

Of download de brochure of bestel de brochure in het Nederlands (download the brochure or order the brochure in Dutch)