There has been much confusion about 1 Corinthians 15:22. Some claim this means that all will be saved. Others think that the ‘all’ is limited to those who are saved. Others think that this is in reference to the resurrection.
Let’s start with the text itself:
For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.
While it is possible the context of the verse limits the second “all” to believers in Christ, as Matthew Henry did (http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/1-corinthians/15.html), I think there is a better understanding of this text.
We have to understand that this is about being resurrected for our judgement, thus it is about the righteous being saved from the effects of being judged for our own righteousness and the unrighteous facing judgement and then the destruction of death (in the lake of fire).
More specifically, this verse is speaking about the resurrection of the righteous (who HAVE eternal life) and the unrighteous for judgement.
This is easier to see when we look at the text in context. We see that Christ was raised first, the first fruits of those who are “asleep.” Then those who are Christ’s, then the end – the judgement where people are raised from the dead for judgement.
1 Corinthians 15:20-26
20 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. 21For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in his own order : Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, 24 then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet.26 The last enemy that will be abolished is death.
We must recall that Paul said there is a resurrection of the righteous and the wicked.
and I have the same hope in God as these men themselves have, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.
This is the resurrection of the righteous and the wicked spoken of in Matthew 25:31-46, where we see “all the nations will be gathered before” Christ.
31 ”But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. 32 ”All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats ; 33 and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. 34 ”Then the King will say to those on His right,’Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 ’For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat ; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink ; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 36 naked, and youclothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ 37 ”Then the righteous will answer Him, ’Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink ? 38 ’And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39 ’When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 ”The King will answer and say to them, ’Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’ 41 ”Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels ; 42 for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat ; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink ; 43 I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’ 44 ”Then they themselves also will answer,’Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’ 45 ”Then He will answer them, ’Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 ”These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
In Matthew 25:32-34 and verse 46, we see the righteous inherit the kingdom prepared for them, going into eternal life. These are the same people who we see in the resurrection of the righteous in Revelation 20:4-6.
4 Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw thesouls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand ; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is the one who has apart in the first resurrection ; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.
These same righteous people who come to life in the first resurrection are the ones in 1 Corinthians 15:23 who are identified as ”that those who are Christ’s at His coming.” These are the ones who will not be affected by the second death.
After the resurrection of the righteous, there is a resurrection of the unrighteous. This is part of “all the nations will be gathered before” Christ that we see in Matthew 25:32. More than that, this is part of what is “the end” in 1 Corinthians 15:24. The “end” also includes where Christ judges the unrighteous and tells them to depart from Him and go to eternal punishment (as seen in Matthew 25:42-46), followed by the judgement., followed by the destruction of death (into the lake of fire). We see this in Revelation 20:11-15
11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth andheaven fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened ; and another book wasopened, which is the book of life ; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, everyone of them according to their deeds. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake offire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not foundwritten in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
So no, 1 Corinthians 15:22 does not mean everyone will be saved. This verse is saying that everyone will be resurrected. The righteous will be resurrected first (to enjoy life with Christ), while the unrighteous will be judged and go to the eternal punishment of the lake of Fire.