Will the whole world be saved due to Jesus' sacrifice, or will only a few of the world be saved?
John 3:15 that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.John 3:17 For God didn’t send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through him. — World English
Some have noted that John 3:17 in the New American Standard reads: “For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.” The word “might” is used rather than “should” as it appears in the World English. At any rate, the argument appears to be that Jesus does not save the whole world, because of the usage of the word "might".
First, we know from other scriptures that Jesus did come to “save” the whole world.
I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He who rejects me, and doesn’t receive my sayings, has one who judges him. The word that I spoke, the same will judge him in the last day. — John 12:47,48. World English
Jesus did not use any word that could misunderstood as “might” save here. Jesus, in effect says that the he came to save the “world”, those who have rejected him, that they may “judged” in the “last day.” Psalm 98 foretells of the coming day of judgment for the world:
1 Oh sing unto Jehovah a new song; For he hath done marvellous things: His right hand, and his holy arm, hath wrought salvation for him. 2 Jehovah hath made known his salvation: His righteousness hath he openly showed in the sight of the nations. 3 He hath remembered his lovingkindness and his faithfulness toward the house of Israel: All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.
4 Make a joyful noise unto Jehovah, all the earth: Break forth and sing for joy, yea, sing praises. 5 Sing praises unto Jehovah with the harp; With the harp and the voice of melody. 6 With trumpets and sound of cornet Make a joyful noise before the King, Jehovah. 7 Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof; The world, and they that dwell therein; 8 Let the floods clap their hands; Let the hills sing for joy together 9 Before Jehovah; For he cometh to judge the earth: He will judge the world with righteousness, And the peoples with equity. -- American Standard Version.
Other scriptures show that Jehovah comes to judge through -- by means of -- His son. -- Psalm 96:13; 98:9; Isaiah 40:10; 62:11; Luke 1:32,35; John 5:22,23; Acts 10:42; 17:31; Romans 2:16; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 8:6; Revelation 22:12.
That coming day of judgment will indeed be a time of great rejoicing for all the nations (the heathen), due to Jesus' sacrifice which provides the offsetting price to save the whole world from death so that they may be judged in that "last day." This is truly “good news of great joy which will be to all the people.” (Luke 2:10, World English)
The word “world”, both in John 3:16,17 and John 12:47,48, is in the Greek a word that is often transliterated as “Kosmos“. Since, at that time, Jesus and his disciples had only preached directly to the house of Israel (the Jews — Matthew 10:5,6; 15:24; Luke 10:16), we know that Jesus here was including Israel (the Jews) as of this “world” (kosmos), since directly it was Israel, especially as represented in their leadership, that rejected Jesus as their Messiah. — Matthew 21:42; Mark 8:31; 12:10; Luke 9:22; 17:25; 20:17; 1 Peter 2:4.
Additionally, John wrote:
The Father has sent the Son as the Savior of the world. — 1 John 4:14.
“The world” (kosmos) is the world of mankind that became condemned through Adam’s sin.
Sin entered into the world [kosmos] through one man, and death through sin; and so death passed to all men, because all sinned. — Romans 5:12, World English.
Those in this age who accept Jesus, who become new creatures (sons of God), as such, are no longer reckoned of this world, but like Jesus are not of this condemned world, for they, are counted as sons of God (as was Adam, before he sinned — Luke 3:38; John 1:11; Galatians 3;:26; 2 Corinthians 5:17). The sons of God of this age are not under the condemnation that came through Adam. — John 5:19; 17:14,16; Romans 5:12-19; 8:1.
The sons of God of this age become members of the faith seed of Abraham, which is to bless the world in the age to come, when they will offer to the world “the water of life freely.” — Daniel 7:22,27; 1 Corinthians 6:2; Obadiah 21; Matthew 19:28; Luke 22:29,30; Romans 8:16-21; 2 Timothy 2:11,12; Revelation 3:21; 5:9,10; 20:4,6; 22:17.
According to Jehovah’s oath-bound promise, Abraham’s seed, that is, Christ and all the “sons of God”, will bless “all the families of the earth.” This blessing will come to the world during the 1,000-year reign, while Satan is abyssed so that the heathen will not be deceived by him. — Genesis 12:3; 22:16-18; Galatians 3:7-9,16,29; Hebrews 6:13-20; Acts 3:19-25; Revelation 20:1-4.
John further stated concerning Jesus:
He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the whole world. — 1 John 2:2, World English.
Here John definitely says that Jesus paid price necessary to appease God for sins of the "whole world." Some have claimed here that John is using the word “world” (kosmos) to designate that Jesus did not die just for Jews, but also for the Gentiles, and by this argument they claim that John was referring only to those who believe in Jesus before they die in this age. Actually, John is referring to Jesus’ words in John 12:47,48, in which we have already demonstrated that this “world” includes Jews, for at that time it was directly the Jews who had rejected Jesus. Jesus did indeed die for the whole world, and the whole world is atoned through his sacrifice, including Israel. Unbelieving Israel is included in the regeneration of the age to come, as can be seen by Matthew 19:28. The atoning, however, does not guarantee that they will live forever. It does guarantee them the blessings of salvation from the original condemnation in Adam, and thus given an opportunity of another judgment whereby they are judged individually (not in Adam), by which judgment they could either live forever, or perish forever.
“When the Son of man will come in his glory . . . then he will sit on the throne of his glory: and all nations [the unbelieving heathen – Psalm 46:10; 67; 72:1,11,17; 96:3,10; Isaiah 2:2-4; Ezekiel 37:28; 38:16; 39:7] will be gathered [from hades and death — Revelation 20:12,13] before him. He will separate them [under the testings of that great judgment day] one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.” Those whom he finds to be righteous, pictured as sheep (those who become sheep in the next age, not Christ’s sheep of this present age — John 10:14-15), will be given everlasting life and will “inherit the kingdom” on earth (the meek will inherit it — Matthew 5:5), whereas those who will not have proved worthy, pictured as goats, will “go away into everlasting punishment [Greek, kolasin, cutting-off]” in the second death, never to live again. “All the wicked he will destroy.” — Matthew 25:31-46; Psalm 145:20; Revelation 20:9,15; 21:8.
Thus seen, the atoning sacrifice of Jesus does indeed save all from the condemnation that is on the “world” through Adam, but it then places those so saved on trial (as Adam was before he sinned) to see if they — as individuals (not as judged through Adam) — are worthy of actually living forever, or whether they will perish in the second death.
Please note that while the above may be said to a “universal” salvation, at least as it pertains universally to salvation of man from sin and death through Adam, we do not believe in the doctrine that is usually given the expression “universal salvation,” since that doctrine claims that Jesus died even for those in the second death, and thus, according that doctrine (which we reject), all will eventually live forever.
For more related to this great salvation, see the following studies:
Presents scriptural evidence that unbelievers are also saved, including Israel.
Presents scriptural evidence that the Judgment Day is not meant to be a doomsday, but rather salvation day, for the world.
A more detailed study of how God will bless all the heathen in the coming judgment day.
Discusses how all are saved through Jesus’ sacrifice, how this is possible, and what is guaranteed by the ransom for all, as well as how the modern “Evolution of man” theory contradicts the Biblical “ransom for all.”