All things are yours … Really?

All things are yours … Really?  Does the Bible really say that?  Well, yes, but … if you’ve read much from this site, you know how important context is.  The phrase – all things are yours – is taken from the book “What we talk about when we talk about God”.  [1]Bell, Rob. What We Talk About When We Talk About God. HarperOne. Kindle Edition.  You can get some background information from the main page for this series.

All things are yours ... Really? is article #1 in the series: Who God is or is not. Click button to view titles for entire series: View Series Titles


All things are yours ...  Really?Back to context.  It’s from the preface to the book.  We haven’t even made it to the first chapter and something’s messed up.  From the context within this book, “All things are yours” sounds  like a really good thing:

There’s a great line from one of the New Testament letters that goes like this:
All things are yours . . . I love that line. It’s such a big, buoyant, beautiful, affirming view of the world. Wherever you find truth, wherever you discover something new, affirm it, embrace it, enjoy it. We will always be hungry to make sense of things, always looking for meaning and connection and depth in our experiences. Faith is here to stay, the question is what kind of faith will people have. I want us all to have faith big enough to handle whatever challenges come our way and open enough to celebrate whatever new discoveries we make in this world. Or other worlds.  

He says that phrase is big, buoyant, beautiful, affirming view of the world.  And he goes on to talk about truth – Wherever you find truth, wherever you discover something new, affirm it, embrace it, enjoy it.

All things are yours … Really?

Well, I have something that may be new for you.  And something that’s true.  And the thing I have for you is the context from which that phrase in the book was taken.  It’s from the Bible.  Specifically, from something Paul wrote to the church in Corinth.  More specifically, it’s from a section the NIV subtitles On Divisions in the Church.

Uh oh.  That doesn’t sound good does it?  The context from the book continues – Faith is here to stay, the question is what kind of faith will people have.  Yes, keep that question in mind as we look at the Biblical context for All things are yours.

The passage from Paul starts off with this:

On Divisions in the Church

1Co 3:1 Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. 3 You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? 4 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere men?

Oh no.  Paul starts off letting the people in Corinth know that they have made very little progress in their walk of faith.  They are still mere infants.  Much as babies need milk rather than solid food, the people in the Corinthian church still need introductory teaching, not even intermediate, let alone advanced enough for real meat. 

Maybe he’s going to tell them they still don’t understand the meaning of All things are yours?  In fact, he is going to say that.  But not in a good way.

Paul also wrote about the disagreements over who to follow – Paul himself, who started the church in Corinth, Apollos, someone else?  In fact though, why not follow Christ?

Paul continues the thought, and ends with this.

1Co 3:18 Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a “fool” so that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”; 20 and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.” 21 So then, no more boasting about men! All things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.

OK – yes, Paul does say All things are yours.  But he also prefaces it with these warnings:

For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight.

The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.

So then, no more boasting about men!

There’s a catch to that All things are yours.  Wisdom of the world is a thing.  Futile thinking is a thing.  Boasting about men is a thing.  But such things keep us as mere infants in our walk of faith.  Surely they aren’t good things.

As this letter to the church in Corinth continues, Paul goes on to address more issues.  Immoral brothers.  Lawsuits among believers.  Sexual immorality.  Marriage.  Food sacrificed to idols.  And more.  These are all things.  But with the issue of sexual immorality, Paul gets into greater detail regarding the topic we’re exploring.

Sexual Immorality

1Co 6:12 “Everything is permissible for me”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me”—but I will not be mastered by anything. 13 “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food”—but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! 16 Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” 17 But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.

1Co 6:18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. 19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

Let’s check this out.

Everything is permissible for me.

but not everything is beneficial.

OK – so even though all things are yours, ours, if we’re Christian, not all of those things are beneficial.  That’s not the impression I got from reading Bell’s book.  That’s not a big, buoyant, beautiful, affirming view of the world.  That’s a warning about some of the things in this world.  

In fact, it’s such a warning where Paul goes on to write:

Flee from sexual immorality.

That’s nowhere near affirming!  

Bell goes on, I want us all to have faith big enough to handle whatever challenges come our way and open enough to celebrate whatever new discoveries we make in this world. Or other worlds. 

I say something very different is in order, based on the true context of All things are yours.  We need to have a faith big enough to realize that there are some things God warns us not to celebrate.  Just because we discover something, that doesn’t mean it’s good.  That’s a lesson we should have learned all the way back at the beginning.  Like after what happened in the Garden of Eden. 

Have we really not learned that lesson even today?  If you’re not Christian, I don’t have an expectation that you’ll agree with me here.  But if you call yourself a Christian, or want to be a Christian, this is basic stuff.  It’s milk.  There is evil in the world and we must have the wisdom from God to be able to recognize it, and stay away from it.

Staying in Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth, let’s look at wisdom.

Christ the Wisdom and Power of God

1Co 1:18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”

1Co 1:20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.

So when someone says we should celebrate everything surrounding All things are yours, where does that come from?  Is that wisdom from God?  Or is that wisdom from man?  Clearly, it’s not from God’s Word.  The actual words in the phrase might be.  But the intent behind the phrase certainly is not. 

As it turns out, it’s not a proper translation of the words either.

What does all things really mean?

So, we’ve gone through in English (unless you’re using Google translate) to see what this phrase – all things are yours – means within the context of the book, and more importantly within the Bible.  But to show that the conclusion about the context is truly correct, let’s go back in time.  Let’s also look at the culture.  Specifically, let’s look at the Greek word – yes word! – that gets translated as “all things“.  Hope you’re sitting down – because it actually doesn’t mean, literally, “all things”.

3956 πᾶς [pas /pas/] adj. Including all the forms of declension; TDNT 5:886; TDNTA 795; GK 4246; 1243 occurrences; AV translates as “all” 748 times, “all things” 170 times, “every” 117 times, “all men” 41 times, “whosoever” 31 times, “everyone” 28 times, “whole” 12 times, “all manner of” 11 times, “every man” 11 times, “no + 3756” nine times, “every thing” seven times, “any” seven times, “whatsoever” six times, “whosoever + 3739 + 302” three times, “always + 1223” three times, “daily + 2250” twice, “any thing” twice, “no + 3361” twice, not translated seven times, and translated miscellaneously 26 times. 1 individually. 1A each, every, any, all, the whole, everyone, all things, everything.

So far so good, right?  But don’t stop here.  Because it’s not the whole picture.  Keep going.

2 collectively. 2A some of all types. Additional Information: … “the whole world has gone after him” Did all the world go after Christ? “then went all Judea, and were baptized of him in Jordan.” Was all Judea, or all Jerusalem, baptized in Jordan? “Ye are of God, little children”, and the whole world lieth in the wicked one”. Does the whole world there mean everybody?

This is getting a bit messy here, isn’t it?  “All things” in English isn’t the same as πᾶς [pas /pas/] in Greek.  Oops.  Major Oops.  But let’s go further.

The words “world” and “all” are used in some seven or eight senses in Scripture, and it is very rarely the “all” means all persons, taken individually. The words are generally used to signify that Christ has redeemed some of all sorts—some Jews, some Gentiles, some rich, some poor, and has not restricted His redemption to either Jew or Gentile …—C.H. Spurgeon from a sermon on Particular Redemption.  [2]Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.

In this cultural context, it makes little if any sense to conclude that “all things” πᾶς [pas /pas/] really means everything.  It doesn’t line up with It’s such a big, buoyant, beautiful, affirming view of the world. Wherever you find truth, wherever you discover something new, affirm it, embrace it, enjoy it the way it’s presented in the book.

What “all things” πᾶς [pas /pas/] really seems to mean goes back to when Paul wrote “Everything is permissible for me”—but not everything is beneficial.  “all things” πᾶς [pas /pas/] is all those things left after removing the things that aren’t beneficial from the literal “all things” / “everything”.  “all things” πᾶς [pas /pas/] are the things that are beneficial.  “all things” πᾶς [pas /pas/] are the things that Jesus died on the cross so that we could enjoy them.

Conclusion – All things are yours … Really?

If you happen to be reading the Greek New Testament, then yes, “all things” πᾶς [pas /pas/] is really true.

But if you’re not, then no, it’s not true.  The simple truth of what Paul wrote is that those things which are beneficial to Christians are all ours.  And, in the context of that statement, Paul also tells us to essentially grow up and stop wasting time on those things that aren’t beneficial.  Plain and simple.  

But so much get’s lost in the translation.  And when we don’t put in the time and effort to find out what the authors of the Bible, those who wrote God’s Word, really meant – we end up thinking “all things” means everything.  Even though the Bible talks at length about good and evil, fruit of the Spirit and the fruit of sinful man, Etc.  

And sadly, as I said, this is the preface to the book.  I’m really going to try to get through it.  It’s hard.  And yet, I cannot forget what Peter wrote:

2Pe 2:1 But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. 3 In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.

My heart goes out to anyone who’s trying to find Jesus, and is misled by reading or listening to false teachings.  Back in March of 2012, I wrote something called “Distractions”.  I’ve moved this site a few times since then.  It was never republished.  But now it’s time.  I’ll update this link after I do it.  It says a lot about why I feel led to try to do something about false teaching.  To try to reach those who are falling by the wayside because of it.

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1 Bell, Rob. What We Talk About When We Talk About God. HarperOne. Kindle Edition.
2 Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.

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