Not Willing that Any Should Perish

Edward Hendrie



Seal of the Society of Evangelical Arminians


            The unbiblical doctrine that God is willing that all should be saved, and that it is only man’s free will that thwarts God’s desires has crept into many ostensibly Protestant churches. These corrupted churches point to part of 2 Peter 3:9 taken out of context as authority for their doctrine. In fact, this single passage is so key to the Arminian theology that it is the motto of the Society of Evangelical Arminians. Endnote The Figure above shows their seal, containing the statement: “Not Willing That Any Should Perish”, which is a clause taken out of context from 2 Peter 3:9.

             The Arminians have hijacked the gospel and all of the terms that have traditionally been used in the Christian community to describe orthodox biblical Christianity. An organization calling itself the Society of Evangelical Arminians makes no historical sense. While almost all Arminians consider themselves evangelicals, they deny the foundational biblical doctrines that are at the core of what it historically meant to be an evangelical. Dr. Michael Scott Horton, who is the J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics, in his article Evangelical Arminians, Option or Oxymoron?, explains that it is an oxymoron for an Arminian to be described as an evangelical.


[T]he evangelicals who faced this challenge of Arminianism universally regarded it as a heretical departure from the Christian faith. One simply could not deny total depravity, unconditional election, justification by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone, and continue to call himself or herself an evangelical. There were many Christians who were not evangelicals, but to be an evangelical meant that one adhered to these biblical convictions. ... Today one can be an evangelical-which has historically meant holding to total depravity, unconditional election, justification by grace through faith alone, the sufficiency of scripture-and at the same time be an Arminian, denying or distorting this very evangelical message. Endnote

            Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham, speaking on behalf of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, stated: “According to 2 Peter 3:9, the Lord is ‘not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.’” Endnote

            At first glance it would appear that 2 Peter 3:9 supports what Graham has said. Closer examination of that passage reveals that the passage does not in fact support that false Arminian doctrine promoted by Graham. Notice the missing passage. “The Lord is [...] not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9.

            Those who try to force the square peg of scripture into the round hole of their false doctrine must shave off parts of the bible in order to get it to fit. In this case, Graham, as is the practice with all Arminians, shaved that portion of the passage which limits its application to those who are already chosen for salvation. What God means in that passage is that God is not willing that any who have been chosen for salvation should perish, but that all those who are saved should come to repentance. Read the entire passage in context and you will see that God is “longsuffering to us-ward.” God is not willing that “us” should perish and that “us” should come to repentance.


The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9.

            Who are the “us” in 2 Peter 3:9? Simply read the first paragraph of the letter and we see that Peter is writing to “them that have obtained like precious faith with us.” “Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ:” (2 Peter 1:1 AV)

            One can see that in 2 Peter 3:9, Peter was stating that God was not willing that any who believe in Jesus should perish. God’s will is always done, and his will cannot be thwarted by man’s will. If God has foreordained one to salvation, no one can stay his hand. “And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?” (Daniel 4:35 AV) 

For more information on this topic, go to or contact Edward Hendrie at edwardhendrie [at] gmail [dot] com.