The Extent of “All”
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In a post on logic, Poythress speaks of the extent of ‘all’.1

Sometimes arguments that appear to be logically valid turn out to be invalid on closer inspection. An example would be: All (human beings) have sinned (Rom. 3:23); Jesus is a human being (1 Tim. 2:5); therefore Jesus has sinned. The logic here appears valid.

But a major rule of logic is that for such a syllogism to be valid the quantifier (“all” in this case) must include the objects to which the conclusion is applied.

In this example, it is clear that Paul was not thinking of Jesus when he wrote that “all have sinned,” nor did he mean to deny the sinlessness of Christ, which he affirms in 2 Cor. 5:21 with other New Testament writers (John 8:46, Heb. 4:15, 7:26, 1 Pet. 2:22, 1 John 3:5).

Here “all” does not have the universal force it needs to have, to make the syllogism valid.

This distinction probably could be brought up in reference to John 3:16, the extent of the ‘world’


News Reporter
From Madison, Wisconsin. B.A. Biblical Studies: Moody Bible Institute, Chicago. M.Div. Student at Tyndale Seminary in Toronto, Ontario.

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