Did Earliest Church Leaders Teach the Salvation of All?

Did the earliest and most respected Church Fathers after Christ believe in hell…or did they believe in the ultimate restoration of all people in a purposeful and redemptive plan of future ages? You can find more information on each of these Eastern Church fathers (and others) by reading Raising Hell or by researching them on Google. The Eastern Church was the church of Paul and the apostles. The teaching of hell began in the Western Church at Rome, but not until several centuries after Christ.

Clement of Alexandria (150–215 AD)

“And how is He Saviour and Lord, if not the Saviour and Lord of all? But He is the Saviour of those who have believed, because of their wishing to know; and the Lord of those who have not believed, till, being enabled to confess him, they obtain the peculiar and appropriate boon which comes by Him.”

“..all things are arranged with a view to the salvation of the universe by the Lord of the universe, both generally and particularly. It is then the function of the righteousness of salvation to improve everything as far as practicable. For even minor matters are arranged with a view to the salvation of that which is better, and for an abode suitable for people’s character. Now everything that is virtuous changes for the better; having as the proper cause of change the free choice of knowledge, which the soul has in its own power. But necessary corrections, through the goodness of the great overseeing Judge, both by the attendant angels, and by various acts of anticipative judgment, and by the perfect judgment, compel egregious sinners to repent.”

“1 John 2:2. ‘And not only for our sins,’–that is for those of the faithful, – is the Lord the propitiator, does he say, “but also for the whole world.” He, indeed, saves all; but some [He saves], converting them by punishments; others, however, who follow voluntarily [He saves] with dignity of honour; so “that every knee should bow to Him, of things in heaven, and things on earth, and things under the earth;” that is, angels, men, and souls that before His advent have departed from this temporal life. ”

Origen (185–254 AD)

“Stronger than all the evils in the soul is the Word, and the healing power that dwells in Him, and this healing He applies, according to the will of God, to everyman. The consummation of all things is the destruction of evil…to quote Zephaniah: “My determination to gather the nations, that I am assemble the kings, to pour upon them mine indignation, even say all my fierce anger, for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy. For then will I turn to the people a pure language that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one consent”…Consider carefully the promise, that all shall call upon the Name of the Lord, and serve him with one consent.”

“Seeing, then, that such is the end, when all enemies will be subdued to Christ, when death – the last enemy – shall be destroyed, and when the kingdom shall be delivered up by Christ (to whom all things are subject) to God the Father; let us, I say, from such an end as this, contemplate the beginnings of things. For the end is always like the beginning: and, therefore, as there is one end to all things, so ought we to understand that there was one beginning; and as there is one end to many things, so there spring from one beginning many differences and varieties, which again, through the goodness of God, and by subjection to Christ, and through the unity of the Holy Spirit, are recalled to one end, which is like unto the beginning.”

“…When the Son is said to be subject to the Father, the perfect restoration of the whole of creation is signified, so also, when enemies are said to be subjected to the Son of God, the salvation of the conquered and the restoration of the lost is in that understood to consist.”

“We think, indeed, that the goodness of God, through His Christ, may recall all His creatures to one end, even His enemies being conquered and subdued…. for Christ must reign until He has put all enemies under His feet.”

Didymus the Blind (313–398 AD)

“In the liberation of all no one remains a captive; at the time of the Lord’s passion, he alone (the devil) was injured, who lost all the captives he was keeping.”

“For although the Judge at times inflicts tortures and anguish on those who merit them, yet he who more deeply scans the reasons of things, perceiving the purpose of his goodness, who desires to amend the sinner, confesses him to be good.”

“As men, by giving up their sins, are made subject to him (Christ), so too, the higher intelligences, freed by correction from their willful sins, are made subject to him, on the completion of the dispensation ordered for the salvation of all. God desires to destroy evil, therefore evil is (one) of those things liable to destruction. Now that which is of those things liable to destruction will be destroyed.”

Gregory of Nyssa (335–394 AD)

“…God shows that neither is sin from eternity nor will it last to eternity. Wickedness being thus destroyed, and its imprint being left in none, all shall be fashioned after Christ, and in all that one character shall shine, which originally was imprinted on our nature.”

“Sin, whose end is extinction, and a change to nothingness from evil to a state of blessedness.”

“Sin is like a plant on a house top, not rooted, not sown, not ploughed in the restoration to goodness of all things, it passes away and vanishes. So not even a trace of the evil which now abounds in us, shall remain…”

“The soul which is united to sin must be set in the fire, so that that which is unnatural and vile may be removed, consumed by the aionion (age-abiding) fire… the healing is accomplished in the life beyond.”

Basil the Great (330–379 AD)

“The Lord’s peace is co-extensive with all time. For all things shall be subject to him, and all things shall acknowledge his empire; and when God shall be all in all, those who now excite discord by revolts having been pacified, shall praise God in peaceful concord.”

“For we have often observed that it is the sins which are consumed, not the very persons to whom the sins have befallen.”

“The mass of men (Christians) say that there is to be an end of punishment to those who are punished.”

Gregory of Nazianzen (329–389 AD)

“A few drops of blood renew the whole world, and become for all men that which condensation is for milk, uniting and drawing us into one… like leaven for the entire mass, and having made that which was damned one with himself, frees the whole from damnation.”

“God brings the dead to life as partakers of fire or light. But whether even all shall hereafter partake of God, let it be elsewhere discussed… I know also of a fire not cleansing but chastising, unless anyone chooses even in this case to regard it more humanely, and creditably to the Chastiser.”

Theodore of Mopsuestia (350–428 AD)

“The wicked who have committed evil the whole period of their lives shall be punished till they learn that, by continuing in sin, they only continue in misery. And when, by this means, they shall have been brought to fear God, and to regard him with good will, they shall obtain the enjoyment of his grace. For he never would have said, ‘until thou hast paid the uttermost farthing,’ unless we can be released from suffering after having suffered adequately for sin; nor would he have said, ‘he shall be beaten with many stripes,’ and again, ‘he shall be beaten with few stripes,’ unless the punishment to be endured for sin will have an end.”

“All have the hope of rising with Christ, so that the body having obtained immortality, thenceforward the predisposition to evil should be removed. God summed up all things in Christ as though making a concise renewal and restoration of the whole creation to him. Now this will take place in a future age, when all mankind, and all powers possessed of reason, look up to him as is right, and obtain mutual concord and firm peace.”

“God knew that men would sin in all ways, but permitted this result to come to pass, knowing that it would ultimately be for their advantage. For since God created man when he did not exist, and made him ruler of so extended a system, and offered so great blessings for his enjoyment, it was impossible that he should not have prevented the entrance of sin, if he had not known that it would be ultimately for his advantage.”

“…the same result (as in Christ) shall be effected in all his creatures… that there should be first a dispensation including evils, and that then they should be removed and universal good take their place.”

This compilation was provide by Alice Spicer at WhatGodDoes.com.

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