Bill Mounce

For an Informed Love of God

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Monday, October 12, 2020

“Everyone” or “Anyone” (Rom 10:13) and Personal News

One of the major cultural issues we have in Western culture is seeing things as individuals. So often a biblical passage addressing a group is interpreted as applying to me as an individual, and we lose the corporate sense of the teaching. But the same can happen in reverse.

The most famous example is Revelation 3:20. Jesus is addressing the lukewarm Laodicean Church, a church that was “neither cold nor hot,” calling to individuals in the church to hear Jesus knocking at their door. “I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (ESV).

I used to joke that the TNIV sounded more like a pot luck. “If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with them, and they with me.” This was fixed in the NIV (2011), albeit somewhat awkwardly. “If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” We avoided the use of “he” while at the same time made it clear that Jesus was addressing each person individually.

Today in church I heard another example of taking a passage meant to be understood individually, albeit it is a matter of nuance and you may not hear the passage the way I do. Paul has just asserted that “there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all (πάντας) who call on him,” and then states, “Everyone (πᾶς) who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

When you hear “everyone,” what do you hear? It certainly is a legitimate translation of the singular indefinite πᾶς, but to my ears it sounds more general. Everyone in this group can call on the Lord’s name. It lacks the punch of the singular πᾶς.

The KJV uses “whosoever,” modernized by the NASB to “whoever.”, a citation from Joel 2:32 (כּל, 2:35 MT). The LXX also uses πᾶς.

I may be picky, but there is a singular thrust in “whoever” that is lost in “everyone.” I think the idea is that every single person, either Jew or Greek, who calls on God, that person will be saved. I miss the emphasis on each and every individual with “everyone.”

On a personal note, I have just finished a major research project on the Reliability of the Bible and am going to start using this blog to share some of my work. So don’t be surprised if every blog is not about Greek or translation issues.

By the way, yes, it is reliable.