The angel of God said to the shepherds, “I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people” (Luke 2, RSV).
A great joy for all the people of the earth? All the people who have ever lived and will live? The angel could have been adverting to universal salvation. I can imagine some people submitting that he meant a great joy for all the people who duly follow Christ, but how could they know this? And, in point of fact, those who follow Christ are mentioned just a minute later by the heavenly host: “and on earth peace to men [and women] on whom his favor rests.” These are the saints. Are they mentioned twice? In my view, not likely. Doubtless other folks say the angel was adverting to all the people of Israel and that’s it. Again, how could they know this? “All the people of Israel” is not the phrase used, and in any case these anti-universalist souls would never believe that all the Jews are slated for great joy, just some of them. So much for Romans 11:26—“and so all Israel shall be saved.” And so much for Ezekiel 37.