Does God gloat over those whom he sends to hell?

2 Peter 3:9: “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing (ESV, NASB; willing, KJV; wanting, NIV, Holman; ) that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

The verse above is one of the most debated verses in the Bible. Arminians argue that since God does not wish that anyone should perish, then Christ died for all mankind. Calvinists differ. Others, including a few who have posted comments here, argue that this verse contradicts the doctrine of predestination.

Christ died for all, including those already in or bound for hell?

Reformed and Calvinists like me point out the use of the italicized pronouns above in context:

  • Since Peter was writing to “you,” referring to those “who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours” (2 Pet 1:1), his use of “anyone” and “all” could be modified to mean “anyone of you” and “all of you,” and not “anyone in the world” or “all mankind.” See also “The Death of Christ and the Eternal Covenant.”
  • Note as well that in this passage, verses 1-13, Peter calls his fellow believers “you” and scoffers as “they” or “them.”

Three wills in One

The other point of contention is the word “wish,” ( or “want” or “will”). What does Peter mean when he says that “God… is not wishing…”? In the New Testament there are two different Greek words often translated “will,” but sometimes “counsel,” “plan,” “purpose,” “desire”: boule and thelema.

Boule is most often used with respect to God’s ordained and unchanging counsel or providential plan (Acts 2:23; 4:28). On the other hand, thelema has the notions of consent, desire, purpose, resolution and command, depending on the context of its use.

We know that God has one will, but there are different aspects of his will.

In eternity past, when God predestined Christ to die for sinners, he would surely complete his mission (Acts 2:23). At creation, when God said, “Let there be light,” the light cannot resist appearing. This is God’s fixed decretive will. He has decreed everything, “declaring the end from the beginning,” and it is a fixed, unchanging declaration, ” My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose” (Isa 46:10). Love it or hate it, God accomplishes  his decretive will in ordaining everything that will happen in the universe.

But don’t we violate God’s will all the time? Yes, all of us hate, covet, lust, lie and much more. Yet, it is God’s will that we love God and neighbor (Matt 22:37-39) and obey all of his revealed laws in Scripture. But it does not happen. We call this aspect of God’s will as his preceptive will.

Does God desire then that we all obey his will? Of course. And what is God’s reaction when we do not obey? He is displeased and grieved. This then is God’s dispositional will, the aspect of his will that refers to what is pleasing and agreeable to him.

Does God gloat over those whom he sends to hell?

If we apply these nuances of God’s will to 2 Peter 3:9, which says that God is “not wishing that any should perish,” we can come up with only one possible meaning.

Decretive will: “God decreed in eternity past that no one should perish.” Unthinkable. If you believe this is so, you are a universalist.

Preceptive will: “God is not wishing that any should perish by allowing the person to disobey him.” Absurd.

Dispositional will: “God is not wishing that any should perish because he is not pleased or delighted by people perishing in hell.” This is the most obvious sense of the verse. Ezekiel 33:11 says, “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked,” and calls the wicked to “turn from his way and live” (cf Acts 17:30). Like a human judge, God does not delight in sentencing the wicked to eternal punishment, but because he is holy, he is at the same time pleased that his righteousness is satisfied.

Additional Reading:
“The Meaning of God’s Will” by R. C. Sproul Sr.


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12 thoughts on “Does God gloat over those whom he sends to hell?”

  1. Lem, I don’t know who you are and I was asking questions to Nollie and not to you. Yes, it bothers me of his criticism of some well respected Pastor bec. of Nollie’s double standard. I read about his comment about Pres. Aquino of the Philippines. You see, he got caught in praising non Christian but he tries to justify it by saying that we can all learn even from non- Christian. Although that is true, but I also remember him criticizing other evangelicals in simply mentioning Mother Teresa’s name. That guy, Rico is right, Nollie’s pride simply won’t admit that he got caught in mentioning Pres. Aquino.  This site is about doctrines and non Christians shouldn’t be included here…..that’s my opinion.
    And Nollies, might as well go ahead criticized Pastor Laurie. Harvest Crusade in Anaheim California is finished. They claimed 126,000 in attendance over three days and more 11,000 accepted Christ. Just say it!

    1. Obviously, you don’t understand any of my posts and comments. Continue reading your Bible.

      And if you base success on huge numbers, then Jesus and the apostles are complete failures.

      By the way, how did you know that the Holy Spirit regenerated 11,000 people? I thought the Holy Spirit’s work cannot be seen, and only the fruits of his work can be seen?

      1. Oops, I forgot to check on this blog to see if there was more to this comment chain.  Oh, well, the conversation is done and ready to be moved on.  I really enjoy reading opinions presented here.  Yours too, Marco. 🙂

  2. Marco, you need to calm down.  Nollie wrote an article, “Evangelicalism’s Terminal Generation,” about how he believes that this generation is seeing serious degeneration in effectively preaching the true Gospel, and he is encouraging (though it may be pretty blunt) Christians to go back to telling the Gospel as it is instead of icing on thick layers of entertainment, self-help sermons, promises of monetary success, etc.
    You comment on that article in a respectful way saying that you agreed with Nollie on the subject, but asked about a plausible explanation of how predestination is a reasonable doctrine.  He humors you in writing another article based on the verse 2 Peter 3:9 that addressed your challenge  against predestination (“How can He presdestined those He doesn’t want to save if He doesn’t want anyone to perish?”).
    After a couple comments and some frustration on your part, you then turn around everything you said and claim, regardless of predestination being true or not, what REALLY bothers you is his criticism of evangelicals today!
    I’m just wondering if you were just saying those things in order to pick fights.  Are you really trying to seek Truth by writing in these comment strings, taking what Nollie says into serious consideration (you don’t have to end up agreeing with him in the end).  If that is not the case, if trying to gain a better understanding in what the Word says about the LORD is not your aim, then please don’t attack someone’s writing as if they are pompous and arrogant.

  3. I won’t change my mind!….agreeing or not with you theory of God predestination for the unsaved will not change my salvation and  so as the rest of non Calvinists! What’s annoying is your absurd criticisms of Preachers and Evangelist. Granted the false teachings of Warren and Osteen. I myself don’t agree with them anyway but rather making the insults your calling…you should present the Gospel to the lost! The way you criticized Billy Graham has really crossed the line. You sounds that you are accusing Billy Graham as a  false teacher! The way you criticized Greg Laurie is another one. Just wait…Harvest Crusade is coming in Anaheim California in August 14 -16. A three day event normally draw more than 100,000 in attendance. I’m sure I will see some more criticisms from you. For your information….I have seen Presbyterian Pastors and even visiting Pastors from Unida churches in the Philippines in attendance at the Harvest. wonder what they are thinking? Don’t they know that you don’t agree with Greg Laurie…….or maybe they do agree with Greg …after all!

    1. My views were just like yours before I learned about the doctrines of grace.

      My criticisms of false teachings are not “absurd,” because they’re founded on Scriptures, and I point them out as warnings to those who would be deceived.

      Man’s standard of success is in numbers and what makes them happy. God’s standard is his own praise and glory, regardless of numbers or happiness.

      I’m not saying that all Presbyterians are right; in fact, I expose the PCUSA’s apostasy at every turn. As far as Unida, it is a mixture of mostly Arminians, and only a handful of Reformed/Calvinists. Yes, although I’m not part of the Unida Church, they’re very much aware of my views. All of these are open to the whole world. (Of course, not every single individual in the world read this.)

  4. Eusebio Tanicala, PhD

    The Original Sin of Lucifer (Series #1)

    By Eusebio Tanicala

    The original sin was not committed by Eve in the Garden of Eden. It was Lucifer who committed the original sin, the very first sin. Let’s prove this proposition.

    Read more here:

    1. Mr. Tanicala asks: “Did God will and predestine Lucifer to commit sin? No. God could not be the author of rebellion against Himself. God is not the author of sin.”

      True, God is not the author of sin. True also, God decreed everything that will come to pass. Irreconcilable? Yes and no. For us, yes. For God, no, there’s no contradiction here.

      If God did not decree everything, then he’s not in control of everything. And if he’s not in control of everything, here’s what it means:

      “If there is one maverick molecule, it would mean that God is not sovereign. If God is not sovereign, then God is not God. If there is any element of the universe that is outside of his authority, then he no longer is God over all.” — R. C. Sproul Sr

      An example: Did God predestine Christ to be crucified by evil Jews? Yes! “This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men” (Acts 2:23). Does this mean that God is the author of this wicked act?

      God decreeing everything that will come to pass, even evil things, does not mean that he is the author of sin. This is one of those “secret things” hidden from our finite minds. Think also about the Trinity, the two natures of Christ, God’s sovereignty and human responsibility, to name a few things we believe to be truths of the Scriptures, but which our earthbound minds cannot ever explain.

  5. And the debate continues…..I’m surprised you used that verse. I was expecting you to quote one of the four Gospel. I’m not a Pastor nor have a title after my name but the Gospel of John is very clear. Everyone’s favorite…….. the Gospel in the nutshell but yet you didn’t  use it. This is Jesus speaking to Nicodemus. John 3:16 ” For God so loved the world…..”. Is Jesus speaking to the believers when He used the word  world? I don’t think so. He is speaking to the whole world!  ” that whoever believes in Him shall not perish”.  The title of your posting “Does God gloat over those whom He sends to hell”. This is so cheap!. No one ever claims that..  but yet you used that title to assume that those who don’t agree with you is making that conclusion.

    1. If you would just read and study Scriptures, as I did in my article, “The Death of Christ and the Eternal Covenant,” you might change your mind. I repost the following excerpt here. My title here is not an accusation against the other view, but a rhetorical question, and it doesn’t take one to be a pastor or to have a title to understand Scriptures.

      When “All” is Not All…

      The word “all” doesn’t always mean “all without exception,” but “all without distinction.” In relation to salvation, this means Jews and Gentiles, men and women, rich and poor, Filipinos and Americans, etc. Consider these representative examples:

      * Matthew 4:23-24: Do “all” (holos, pas) and “every” in these verses mean that Jesus healed all the people of all diseases? This is an impossibility, so some translations included the correct interpretation: “healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease” (KJV); “healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness” (NASB).
      * Mark 1:5: Does “all” (pas) in this verse mean every single person in Jerusalem and Judea were baptized by John?
      * 1 Corinthians 15:22: In Adam, “all” (pas) – every single person who will ever be born in this world – came under the curse of death. But in Christ, “all” (pas) – believers only – are regenerated and given eternal life. [Same word in same verse, but with different meanings.]
      * Titus 2:11: Did God bring salvation to “all” (pas) mankind, without exception?

      The use of “all” and “everyone” is common usage. For example, you might ask a friend from church, “Who attended the Easter Sunday service?” If, as customary, the church was full on that Sunday, he will probably answer, “Everyone was there.” Does he mean everyone in the whole world was at the service, or just the people that he usually sees in church? In the same way, the New Testament authors use the same colloquialisms, as when the disciples of Jesus say that “the whole city was gathered together at the door,” and then tells Him, “Everyone is looking for you” (Mark 1:33, 36-37).

      Let us now look into the following representative texts which seem to support universal atonement:

      1 Timothy 2:4-6: God “desires all people to be saved” and Christ “gave himself as a ransom for all.” The Reformers always distinguished between God’s revealed will found in the Bible and God’s decretive will which he ordained to pass before the creation of the world. His revealed will can be disobeyed by mankind, but this rebellion does not please him. This is why Scriptures say that God indeed “commands all people everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30), and does not have “any pleasure in the death of the wicked” (Eze 18:23).

      As well, Christ as a ransom for “all” seem to contradict Mark 10:45 where Jesus declared that He would die as a ransom for “many.” Since the Holy Spirit cannot contradict Himself, both statements are true. If both statements are true, how then can they be harmonized? Since “many” restricts both statements, “all” should be restricted to all believers only.

      Hebrews 2:9: In context, “everyone” refers to believers – “many sons” (2:10), the sanctified brethren (2:11), and those who are delivered (2:15).

      2 Peter 3: 9: Here the apostle is speaking to “you.” Who are these? These are “those who have obtained a faith…. by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 1:1). So, in context, Peter is saying that God is “not willing that any of you should perish, but that all of you should come to repentance.”

      … and “World” is Not the Whole World

      Used in Scripture, “world” (Greek kosmos) has a variety of meanings, including creation (John 3:16; Eph 1:4), all the nations (Mat 26:13), the fallen world (John 1:10), and the ungodly world (John 7:7 and 1 John 2:15-17). “World” in Scripture frequently means only some people in the world, not all of mankind. Here are some examples:

      * Luke 2:1: Were people from the Philippines, Japan, South Africa, etc. included in “all the world” under Caesar’s decree?
      * John 1:10: Did no one in the whole world – not even a single person – know Christ when John wrote his Gospel?
      * John 3:16: The world here refers to God’s creation in general, which He loved. What many Christians forget is that God’s redemptive plan is not just for mankind, but for His whole creation. But those who don’t believe are excluded from God’s love because they will perish! God did not send His son for those who will not believe.
      * John 7:3-4: Were Jesus’ brothers asking Him to show Himself to every individual in the whole world?
      * John 8:26: Was Jesus speaking to every person in the world?
      * John 12:19: Did the Jews mean that every individual in the whole world was following Jesus?
      * 1 John 2:1, 2: “for the sins of the whole world.” John was writing especially to Jews, who thought that their people alone were God’s people. But Christ atoned for all of His elect, Jews and Gentiles, which were scattered throughout the world. He did not die for Jews only, but for people “who are scattered abroad” (John 11:52).
      * 1 John 4:14: “Savior of the world” Christ is called the Savior of the world because there is no other savior for any in the world (Acts 4:12). He alone saves all who are saved all over the world. Is He called the “Savior of the world” because He has actually saved everyone?

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