John 12:32 is a verse often used to go against the Reformed Doctrine of Sovereign Election. The argument is that Christ will draw “all people” to Himself, therefore this is not something only reserved to a subset of people known as the elect.
Here is the question. Does “all people” in the verse mean every person on earth or is it talking about something else? How can we answer this question?
To make this verse mean every person you have to ignore a basic rule of biblical interpretation. That is, you must take this verse out of the context of the passage.
If you single out this one verse then yes, it definitely says all people and one can assume that it means every individual person. However, if you look back at verses 20-22 you get the context of what Jesus is talking about.
There were Greeks that had come to the disciples in order to talk to Jesus. This gives us the context. The Jews (which included the disciples) were under the impression that since they were God’s chosen people, they were the ones to whom salvation was promised.
However, John 12:32 shows that Jesus is proclaiming that salvation is to both Jew and Gentile. So “all people” in verse 32 means all people groups Jew and Gentile.
When interpreting Scripture it is crucial that the full context of the passage be looked at in order to arrive at the proper interpretation of that passage.