Not Willing That Any Should Perish?

I often hear the argument from non-Calvinists that God is not willing that any should perish and therefore Reformed Doctrine is 100% wrong. But is it truly the case that God is not willing that any individual perish? Is it really his will that all would go to heaven and be saved? No, it is not. There are many problems with this suggestion, and we shall examine a few now.

First, let’s deal with the major elephant in the room. If God desired and, in fact, willed, that every person, individual, be saved, then all would be saved. But we know that is not the case at all. There are too many verses to name that talk about the damned being forever separated from God in Hell. So, if people are going to Hell, and they are, then either God does not will that everyone be saved, or he is too weak to accomplish his will. I choose the former.

Now, let’s deal with the not willing that any should perish idea. Where does this come from? The verse used to prop up this false idea is 2 Peter 3:9.

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

2 Pet. 3:9 (ESV)

If you take this verse out of context, as the non-Calvinist tends to do, and quickly read the verse without careful examination, then yes, you will probably come to the conclusion that God wants all to be saved and have nobody perish. But that is not what this verse states.

The verse states that the Lord is patient towards you. Who are the you? Who are these any that God does not want to perish? Context gives us the answer. If you look at chapter 3 in verses 1, 8, 14, 15, and 17, you see this is written to the beloved. That is, people who are already saved, the elect. That is who the you in verse 9 refers to. The you are the elect.

God is not willing that any of the elect, not all individuals, should perish. This is consistent with the rest of Scripture. God is the one who chooses who will be saved, not man (Romans 9:16, John 1:12-13).