Can I Tell an Unbeliever ‘Jesus Died for You’?

“there are no evangelistic sermons in Acts where this precise language is used. If Peter and Paul could evangelize without saying ‘Jesus died for you,’ then you shouldn’t make it a litmus test for gospel orthodoxy.” - TGC


Many years ago, I treated Acts 26:29 that plainly shows that the apostle Paul wanted all who were present at his final defense (before he was taken to Rome) to be saved. In effect, Paul thus shows us that we can and should tell everyone that God wants them to be saved.

Does "All" Mean "All" in Acts 26:29?

April 19, 2012

In Caesarea, at his final defense before he was taken to be tried before Caesar in Rome, Paul testified before King Agrippa, Bernice, the chief captains, the principal men of the city, and the governor, Festus (Acts 25:23-26:32).He concluded his testimony before them by saying, “I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds” (26:29). Does all mean all in this statement?

Several commentators believe that Paul desired that his entire audience would become Christians. Bock remarks:

In verse 29 Paul’s reply is that whether it takes a short or a long time . . . , he would pray that all who are listening to him might become a Christian as he is, with one exception, namely, that they not share his chains of imprisonment. The reference to prayer indicates that Paul desires to intercede on behalf of all the audience to become Christians. . . . The reply clearly expresses his heart.

—Darrell L. Bock, Acts in ECNT, 723

Polhill comments:

His real prayer was that not just Agrippa but everyone in the audience room would become a Christian believer. At this point Paul may have made several gestures, turning and directly addressing all in the room.

—John B. Polhill, Acts in NAC, 509

Peterson says:

Paul expresses his desire to Agrippa in very personal terms . . . In so doing, he consciously widens his appeal to everyone present. Previously, he acknowledged that many in his audience might be skeptical about talk of resurrection of the dead (v. 8). However, just as in Athens he preached about ‘Jesus and the resurrection’ to Jews and Gentiles alike (17:18), so now he addresses all together.

—David G. Peterson, Acts in PNTC, 676.

In agreement with the views of these scholars, taking Paul’s use of all to mean the totality of his hearers on this occasion seems clearly to be the only natural reading of the text.

Given the composition of his audience on this occasion, Paul’s statement is thus striking because we do not read of any previous evangelistic encounters that he had had with authority figures and other prominent people that would have given him hope that all his present audience might become Christians (see Acts 17:32-34 for an example of an encounter with authorities that did not result in the salvation of his entire audience). Even so, Paul still desired that they would.

We should learn from Paul’s example here that in spite of our previous negative experiences and regardless of the seemingly unlikely-to-become-Christians composition of an audience whom we are evangelizing, we should desire that they all would become Christians.


"The sacrifice of the Passover Lamb was sufficient for all but only applied to those who applied it to their door posts."

This is what most in the definite antonement camp would call sufficient for all, but efficient for the elect.

Every time this conversation comes up, I keep remembering what God told Job

Job 38:4 Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.
Job 38:5 Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it?

The more I study this issue and the more I hear from both sides of this issue the smaller I feel and the greater God seems. This issue and so many others that have been debated for thousands of years remind me that I am just a servant and Christ is the master. Servants are supposed to know what is going on and they are to make sure to do their job faithfully. Servants however do not have to understand everything that the master is doing. Therefore, I intend to continue to be a servant in carrying out the great commission knowing that is what the master told his disciples to do. I do not have to understand all the details about it in order to carry out the job that has been given to me.

My father in law worked on the assembly line for the CAT company for a while. He did not have to understand how the equipment he helped build was engineered. He did not have to know how to make a hydraulic pump from scratch or be able to design the transmission. He only had to put on the part he was told to put on.

I do not want to excuse an ignorant approach to theology by any means. Study to show thyself approved, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed- rightly dividing the word of truth. But when I am not certain how to rightly divide the word of truth, then I want to keep my mouth shut and just be a simple workman. Job and his friends ended up being shamed by God's rebuke because they spoke like they had all the answers. I am finding it is much safer to admit that I don't have all the answers.