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For All? Or For Many?

Recently, I went back to work part-time at a fabric store as the Education Coordinator in charge of the classes, schedules, teaching the sewing and quilting classes, and seeing to various other educational needs of the store. The other day, while talking with a couple of ladies about the seasonal fabrics at the store and especially the Christmas fabrics, one lady spoke up proudly that she doesn’t and has never celebrated Christmas, nor Easter for that matter.

I thought about the upcoming changes to the Roman Missal and the part where the Latin translation for the word we have so long heard as “all” is actually “many.”  So during the “Institution Narrative” which are the words of Christ during the Last Supper, starting on November 27th, the priest will say “which will be poured out for you and for many” replacing the old translation of, “It will be shed for you and for all…”

What this is really saying is what I just witnessed in the above conversation, many will believe and accept Christ’s sacrifice, but there are those who will not and have made that choice freely and with thought.  There is no changing this lady’s mind about Christmas, Easter, and Christ for that matter, so the sad possiblity exists that Christ’s pouring out His blood during His passion for the sins of the world will not affect this woman’s life.  That “free will” factor plays here and God wants us to make our own choices.

This statement does not say that Christ does not love those beyond the “many” at all; He takes all who come to Him as children of God, but we must knock on the door and seek Him.  Or at least be willing to crack the door and peek out when He knocks! Those who chose not to knock or who ignore His repeated invitation, have made their choice.  We can try and try we may, but there are those who will not accept this gift of salvation and being realistic, we must recognize that in some cases there isn’t any word, book, or person that can change their minds, much less their hearts. 

We must continue to pray for these souls — for while there is life there is hope for all, even though in the end it turns out to have been for many.


A Master Catechist,  Ebeth Weidner is the wife of a scientist and mom to 3 wonderful young people.  She is the author of “A Catholic Mom climbing the Pillars” blog and a contributor to CatholicMom.com, Catholic Lane, and the new blog:  Association of Catholic Women Bloggers.  Ebeth shares her journey with others as she climbs the pillars of truth in the Catholic Church.


  • noelfitz

    Ebeth,

    thank you so much for this article.

    It is very thought-provoking. Most people do not like change, so would like to stick with what they are used to. In our parish some still refer to the ‘Holy Ghost’ and consider in the Creed that Christ descended ‘into hell’, rather than ‘to the dead’. Most people will just accept the changes and not notice much difference.

    But did Christ die for all or for many. Unfortunately, in spite of what Origen thought, not all will be saved, and Christ’s death apparently will not benefit them.

    Doing a Google search shows there are many views. Traditionally Catholics held Christ died for all, while Calvinists hold he only died for the elect. Let us have a look at some Bible verses from the NRSV.

    One sees:
    For
    there is one God;
    there is also one mediator between God and humankind,
    Christ Jesus, himself human,
    who gave himself a ransom for all (1 Ti 2:5–6).

    Therefore just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all ( Ro 5:18).

    For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God ( 1 Pe 3:18).

    Two key verses are:

    for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins (Mt 26:28),

    and

    He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many (Mk 14:24).

    I think the words of Christ trump those of Peter and Paul. But does the original texts support the NRSV

    In both Matthew and Mark POLLWN is used from POLUS, which means ‘more, many greater, most’, etc. but not ‘all’.

    No early texts have ‘all’ here in place of ‘many’. The only serious textual variation is the use of KAINHS (new) which some texts have, but this is a scribal addition paralleling Lk 22:20, and is considered not to be in the original.

    Thus the new translation gets us back closer to the words of Jesus himself. There is a need for teaching about the new translation and this will give priests and teachers an opportunity to discuss why and for whom did Christ die.

    So, Ebeth, thank you once again for a fantastic, clear and sound article, that will deepen the faith of many.

  • http://www.schefter.org PrairieHawk

    Perhaps Christ’s use of “many” at the Last Supper was meant to contrast the relatively few seated at the table with Him with the “many” people who would benefit from His sacrifice. In this sense, perhaps “many” does not necessarily exclude “all.”

    I have also heard, though cannot cite, that even though “all” are not ultimately saved, Christ’s sacrifice did benefit in some way even those who choose to reject Him. Could it be that even the pains of Hell are less severe because of Christ’s coming? It would be a grim consolation for the unfortunates there, but perhaps the Father’s unfathomable mercy really does extend to every human soul.