“And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!’ “. Luke 2:8-14 (ESV).
The above verse is one of the most quoted around the Christmas season and for good reason. It is the wonderful, encouraging announcement of the Prince of Peace, our Savior, Christ the Lord. Interestingly, many translations render the angels as saying some version of “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” The translation above is better as the Greek word rendered “goodwill” in other versions has the connotation of “God’s sovereign good pleasure” or better translated “peace toward men on whom God’s sovereign pleasure rests.” God’s peace is only extended to those who are the objects of His goodwill, the persons who repent of their sins and accept Him by faith as Savior. It is not an universal declaration of goodwill to all.
This verse is often used to support the increasingly popular but false idea that everyone will make it to Heaven in the end. The good news of the angel’s message, a coming Savior that would die on the cross for our sins, was for all people but it is important to remember that God only extends His peace and goodwill and eternal life to those that accept Him, those with whom he is pleased.