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Question:

In some passages of the Bible, Jesus makes it sound like only a few people will be saved. But we talk about hoping for everyone's salvation. So which one is it - will many or few people be saved?

Answer:

Salvation is a mystery of God's grace. St. Paul encourages us to offer prayers for everyone. He calls it "good and pleasing to God" because God Himself "wills everyone to be saved" (c.f. 1 Tm 2:1-4). The redemption that Jesus offers is held out to all of us. His sacrifice on the cross was already for everyone. Now it is a matter of if and how we accept that salvation in our own lives.

Here on earth, we can't possibly know the exact number of people who will be in heaven. When we hear words like "many" and "few," we tend to think of them in quantitative terms. Four wine glasses for six guests is too few. Three slices of cake for one person is too many. For God, however, "many" and "few" are qualitative terms. Imagine for a moment that nearly every human person is in heaven and only a handful had, by their actions on earth, separated themselves from God. For a God who infinitely loves, even one person spending eternity apart from Him is too many!

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