Does Whosever mean Whosoever?
“Whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely” Rev. 22:17
Here is a quick little thought; does whosoever mean what whosoever means? The dictionary says that it means, “any person whatever”, which is funny because that’s kind of what I thought it meant before I looked it up. So when I read Romans 10:13 and it says, “For whosoever (any person whatever) shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” I figured that whosoever still meant whosoever. There are some who would say that this is an incorrect interpretation however and that the whosoever used here refers to those who are chosen, “whosoever (of the elect, or chosen) shall call…” That means that there are some people who can take advantage of God’s gift of Grace and some who can’t. Ok, well I wanted to look at other uses of the word whosoever in the Bible to see if we could keep a consistent definition throughout.
In the books of Exodus and Leviticus, there are many instances where whosoever is used: these books say that whosoever ate leavened bread during the Passover, touched Mount Sinai, participated in bestiality, copied the holy oil or incense of the tabernacle, worked on the Sabbath, or ate fat of the sacrifices would be guilty of sin and various punishments. Wouldn’t it be reasonable to assume that the use of the word whosoever in these instances actually meant what it means? In other words, any person who did any of those things would be guilty of sin and the subsequent punishment. Was anyone exempt from that whosoever? I can’t imagine a reasonable argument that would conclude otherwise, in fact it seems that all would agree that when the Bible says that whosoever sins against God, curses God and commits sin is a transgressor and servant of sin, it applies to, “any person whatever”.1 We know also that every single human being has been a partaker of this whosoever, “for all (this means every single person) have sinned, and come short of the glory of God”.2 Is there any Christian doctrine existing that would not agree that every single person ever born has sinned? Furthermore, doesn’t the doctrine of the “total depravity” of man depend on this interpretation of the word whosoever to mean what it actually means?
Having established the precedent that whosoever means whosoever in cases dealing with the sinfulness of man, let’s look at another usage of the word. The New Testament tells us at least four times in John, twice in Acts and again in Romans that whosoever believes in and calls on Jesus Christ shall be saved.3 How is it then that when the scripture speaks to the condemnation of humanity, whosoever means “any person whatever”, but when it speaks to the redemption of the same suddenly the word changes its definition? Is the power of sin farther reaching than that of grace? Was the sin of Adam greater than the sacrifice of Jesus Christ? How can the sin of one man be passed upon all men but the perfect love sacrifice of the incarnate God be limited to a few? Does this not border on blaspheming God’s character? If the judgment of God passed upon all men because of whosoever, then it follows that the Grace of God would be offered to all men because of whosoever. Does the justice of God outweigh the grace of God, or can it be reasonable to assume that they are perfectly balanced?
The fatal flaw in the Reformed Theological position (some people are created to salvation and others to condemnation) is that it starts with a conclusion (a doctrine) and then seeks to place premises (scripture) upon it for support. One cannot take a conclusion for granted as true and then use the conclusion to establish the premises before proving it: this is flawed reasoning. Sound doctrine is understood as we take the premises offered to us and then let them lead us to the proper conclusion.
I would consider myself to be a reasonable person and as such I can acknowledge that there are certain areas of life where the “sovereignty” of God is undeniable. By that I mean to say that we do not decide who we are born to, our genetics or what country we are born in- things like that. There are certain things that God has pre-ordained that we are subject to as His creation: the scripture supports this, but to say that God sovereignly ordains some things is not to say that He ordains every thing. Is it possible to allow God to sovereignly ordain the freewill of humanity? Of course it is. That concession being made, the word sovereign does not even appear in the Bible: the word freewill does over eighteen times however, and even if the term is not used directly in the context of salvation, its use proves its existence. The emphasis by a certain doctrinal system of a word that is not even a biblical term reminds me of a child that has just heard a new word and uses it over and over to show how smart they are and what they have just learned. There are other words that are actually in the Bible that we can use to learn the about the mind of God on the subject- one of these is whosoever!
The last chapter of the Bible gives the last invitation to the human race. In Revelation 22:16 Jesus says that He sent his angel to give a message to the church age. In verse 17 that angel proclaims, “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come”. This is an exhortation to the churches and Christians to give the invitation of the gospel- which is the call for, “all men everywhere to repent”4. He then says to the lost, “And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely.” Understanding that this is last invitation that Jesus Christ would give, it seems that He would want to make His position crystal clear- to re-enforce the entire gospel previously given. What does He say? He says, “let him that is athirst come”- it is the Spirit of God that draws all men5 – and it is allowed that, “whosoever will” (any person whatever who chooses) can take of the water that is Christ freely!
What amazing Grace!
- Ex. 32:33, Lev.24:15, John 8:34, I John 3:4, James 2:10
- Romans 3:23
- John 3:14-16, 4:13-14, 11:26, 12:46, Acts 2:21, 10:43, Romans 10:11-13
- Acts 17:30
- John 12:32