Matthew 20:28; Matthew 26:28; Romans 5:15 – Calvinists claim “many” means “some” or “few”.
It never ceases to amaze me just how often calvinists change meanings of Scriptural words or even the words themselves in order to be able to say that such a proof verse says something Oh so clearly! For example, “the whole world” becomes “the whole world of Christians or believers”; “every man” becomes “all those who believe”; “all men” becomes “all Christian men”; “see” becomes “believe in” or “have faith in”; “foreknowledge” becomes “predetermination”; “foreknew” becomes “chose”; appointed” becomes “unconditionally elected”; and “call” can mean for “all Christians”, or instead can mean a general call for all mankind, depending upon what outcome they desire for their doctrine!
And “many” doesn’t mean the same as “many” and “all” cannot mean the same as “all”. It truly is a confusing world of language we live in today! Either calvinists are using the wrong dictionaries or else they have difficulty deciphering the meaning of language in print.
And here we look at “many” becoming “some” or “only a part of”, yet more to add to the confusion of their language studies.
Calvin on the use of “many” in Matthew 20:28; Matthew 26:28; Romans 5:15
(many = polus – Strongs 4183 – see below)
First I will quote some relevant statements from the pen of John Calvin, who would disagree with many calvinists today on this issue.
Matthew 20:28 – Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
Calvin’s Commentary on Matthew 20:28 – And to give his life a ransom for many. Christ mentioned his death, as we have said, in order to withdraw his disciples from the foolish imagination of an earthly kingdom. But it is a just and appropriate statement of its power and results, when he declares that his life is the price of our redemption; whence it follows, that we obtain an undeserved reconciliation with God, the price of which is to be found nowhere else than in the death of Christ. Wherefore, this single word overturns all the idle talk of the Papists about their abominable satisfactions. Again, while Christ has purchased us by his death to be his property, this submission, of which he speaks, is so far from diminishing his boundless glory, that it greatly increases its splendor. The word many (pollon) is not put definitely for a fixed number, but for a large number; for he contrasts himself with all others.  And in this sense it is used in Romans 5:15, where Paul does not speak of any part of men, but embraces the whole human race.
(Romans 5:15 – But not as the offence, so also [is] the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, [which is] by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.)
Matthew 26:28 – For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
Calvin’s Commentary on Matthew 26:28 – Which is shed for many. By the word many he means not a part of the world only, but the whole human race; for he contrasts many with one; as if he had said, that he will not be the Redeemer of one man only, but will die in order to deliver many from the condemnation of the curse. It must at the same time be observed, however, that by the words for you, as related by Luke — Christ directly addresses the disciples, and exhorts every believer to apply to his own advantage the shedding of blood Therefore, when we approach to the holy table, let us not only remember in general that the world has been redeemed by the blood of Christ, but let every one consider for himself that his own sins have been expiated. [“Que la purgation de ses pechez a est? faite;” — “that satisfaction has been made for his own sins.”]
Calvin’s Pulpit commentary on Matthew 26:28 – Rather, by using the present tense, the Lord signifies that his death is certain – that the sacrifice has already begun, that the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8) was now offering the eternal sacrifice. The whole ordinance is significant of the completion of the atonement. “Many” here is equivalent to “all.” Redemption is universal, though all men do not accept the offer (see on ch. 20:28). Even Calvin says, “Non partem mundi tantum designat, sed totum humanum genus.” (“not a part of the world only, but the whole human race”)
Some information on the Greek word used.
Thayers – πολύς polus AV-many 210, much 73, great 59, misc 23; 365 – many, much, large.
Strongs 4183 – much in number, great in extent.
This word simply means a large number and usually means the whole of the context unless specified as a part of.
Eg. “There were many people at the football game” signifies that the whole group all-inclusive was great in number,
“Many of those at the football game were young” signifies that such a part of the whole – the young ones – was great in number.
But calvinists cannot accept that “many” could include “all people” because it would allow that Jesus might just have died for all the sins of all mankind without exception. It would spoil their nice little elite group that claims that Jesus died for only them, the elect of God. As MacArthur says – I don’t feel very special if you say to me, “Christ died for you, He loves you just like He died for the millions in hell.” That doesn’t make me feel very special. That’s kind of a hard way to do evangelism. Christ died on the cross for your sins, and all the people in hell, too. That’s not special. That’s anything but special.
You mean to tell me He paid for my sins and I’m paying for them forever? Then I’ll tell you, whatever His payment was, it was bogus.
(The Doctrine of Actual Atonement, Part 1 – MacArthur)
But why does any one of God’s redeemed children ever have the right to consider themselves special because for some reason they have been chosen for a special privilege that the others didn’t get chosen for? Wouldn’t that in itself be a condition of election? It seems that the unconditional election of the calvinists is just another rule that makes some people better than others so that they can feel special in some way!
If calvinists wish to believe that the word “many” does not and cannot mean “all”, then that is their individual right to their own personal beliefs, whether right or wrong. God has given them a free will to choose such things for themselves. But there is nothing in the context of the above verses to prove that the word “many” cannot mean the whole group, that is, all people. And, unless they can prove that “many” cannot include all mankind, then their belief will remain just that, their own personal belief. They cannot force their own personal beliefs upon other Christians unless they can prove without question that the opposing beliefs are actually wrong.
Unless they can prove that “many” cannot mean “all”, then it remains a mere assumption and cannot ever be the basis for any Scriptural truth at all. No doctrine can ever be built upon an assumption!
At best they would have to admit that if they can be right, then so can the opposing view be right if they cannot prove them wrong. I challenge any calvinist to actually prove that the word “many” cannot be interpreted as meaning “all” people in the above verses! I think I’ll be waiting for a long time!
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