Bob Tamasy: When It Says ‘All’ It Means...ALL

Thursday, December 7, 2017 - by Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy

When you use the word “all,” what do you typically mean? It’s an interesting term, because a little child at dinner might say, “All done!” with her plate still filled with food. We shrug our shoulders and say, “I gave it my all,” knowing we could have done more or tried harder. In some churches the hymn, “I Surrender All,” is commonly sung – but how many are really doing that?

The literal meaning of all, of course, is “everything” or “all things.” If you have a party and say to everyone in the room, “You’re all invited,” that means no exceptions. On election day, when we hear that “all the votes are in,” that means every precinct, every vote. At least it should mean that.

In the Bible, however, when it says “all,” what it really means is…ALL. My Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible lists every verse that includes “all” – more than 17 pages for that word alone. All is used nearly 6,000 times in Old and New testaments combined!

Unlike our common practice, the biblical use of “all” doesn’t imply “sometimes” or even “most of the time.” This is why my friend, Gib, says “all” is his favorite word in the Bible.

Philippians 4:6-7 tells us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything [all things], by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Gib’s been going through serious health issues, so knowing he can take everything – including his illness – to God is a promise he clings to with confidence. That assurance, along with the prayer support of many friends, is enabling him to experience God’s peace that truly passes all understanding.

Then there’s 1 Thessalonians 5:18, which says we’re to “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” When we’re confronted with pain, hardships and all manner of adversities, it’s difficult to feel grateful for those circumstances. We don’t desire such things. But trusting in God and His sovereign control over our lives enables us to give thanks even when emotions say we can’t.

When Jesus performed the miracle of feeding the multitude with five loaves of bread and two fish, the account says, About 5,000 men were fed that day, in addition to all the women and children!” (Matthew 14:21). Not a single person was overlooked, even in that remote area without fast-food restaurants or quick-stop markets.

But the use of “all” in the Scriptures isn’t just for God’s involvement. He expects our engagement as well. Proverbs 3:5-6, for example, tells us to, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.” To me this is saying, “Do all you can, and God will do all He can.”

One of my favorite passages in the Bible is where we see a contrast between people willing to give their all and others who are less than fully committed: “Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement), sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it [all] at the apostles’ feet…. Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife’s full knowledge, he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet” (Acts 4:36-5:2).

The passage then tells how the attempted deception cost Ananias and Sapphira their lives. It seemed like harsh judgment, but God was making clear He doesn’t equivocate on His promise of “all,” and He expects us to be equally sincere in fulfilling our commitments.

As the New Living Translation of 2 Corinthians 1:20 assures us, “For all of God's promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding ‘Yes!’ and through Christ, our ‘Amen’ (which means ‘Yes’) ascends to God for his glory.”

Just before Jesus ascended to heaven, He used the word several times to demonstrate His promises are all-inclusive, no exceptions: “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…and surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20). So, as my friend Gib says, when we read “all,” we should hold onto it tightly. Sometimes, it’s all we’ve got.


Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly re-published, “Business At Its Best,” “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. To read more of Bob Tamasy’s writings, you can visit his blog,, or his website (now being completed), He can be emailed at

Steve Ellison: The Easter Lamb

I am thankful for parents and churches who faithfully remind children that Easter is about Christ not a bunny rabbit. Several years ago, I saw a church sign that both amused and pleased me.  It read, “Easter is not about eggs, you silly wabbit!”  Easter is about the resurrected Christ.  I am thankful for the blessed and certain hope Christians have concerning our ... (click for more)

Keith Baptist Church Announces Easter Weekend Events

Keith Baptist Church, 1573 Keith Road inTunnel Hill, will host a Good Friday bonfire service on Friday, March 30. Hamburgers, hotdogs and chili will be provided on Friday between 6-7:30 p.m. The Good Friday service will begin at sunset, which is projected around 8 p.m. On Saturday, March 31 starting at 6:30 p.m., they will have food, fellowship and worship around the bonfire.  The ... (click for more)

South Carolina Man Arrested For Identity Theft After Signal Mountain Woman Gets Bills Of Over $27,000

A Darlington, S.C. man has been arrested and brought back to Chattanooga after a Signal Mountain woman said her identity was stolen and over $27,000 in bills were rung up. Jason Rashaad Jones, 36, was charged with criminal conspiracy, criminal impersonation, identity theft, forgery, theft of property and computer offenses. The victim filed a report with the Signal Mountain ... (click for more)

Hamilton County Clerk's Office Honors Donors With Donate Life Flag

Hamilton County Clerk Bill Knowles announced his office will raise the Donate Life Flag during the month of April.  Blue and green flags will be flying outside courthouses and county office buildings around Tennessee in recognition of National Donate Life Month.  This is an effort by county clerks to bring attention to the importance of organ and tissue donation.  ... (click for more)

Food Trucks Steal From Property And Rent-Paying Eateries - And Response

According to minutes of the City Council’s  Economic Development Committee and several local news articles, Chattanooga’s City Attorney gave a food truck presentation. He explained to City Council that a new food truck ordinance was being drafted to allow use of mobile food trucks on public  property . He said Chattanooga’s current ordinance limited food trucks to parking ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: What Do We Do Now?

On a Saturday when millions upon millions of people in every continent except Antarctica marched against guns in schools, there was not a one of them who knows what to do about it. The National Park Service said a half-million gathered on the Mall in Washington, D.C. yesterday, but a far more meaningful number was printed in the morning’s Washington Post – more than 187,000 students ... (click for more)