The word "all" is defined by its context - always!
Back on February 1st, 2006, I posted an article here describing the use of the word "all" in scripture. The title of the article was "All Always Means All, right?" I've just visited the blog of my friend, Dr. James White at www.aomin.org, and in an article there he lists a number of uses of the word "all" that clearly demonstrate that it is context that determines the meaning of the word. "All," quite simply, doesn't always mean "all." Here are the examples he quoted:
Acts 5:34 But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in honor by all the people, stood up and gave orders to put the men outside for a little while.
Are we to interpret this as meaning that nobody disrespected Gamaliel...not even one? I don't think so. This is an obvious use of hyperbole.
Acts 7:22 And Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he was mighty in his words and deeds.
Does this mean that Moses knew everything the Egyptians knew, completely?... Would that be a true and correct interpretation of these words?
Acts 9:21 And all who heard him were amazed and said, "Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called upon this name? And has he not come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests?"
Every single person said the exact same words? Really?
Acts 9:35 And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord.
Should we assume that every single person in Lydda and Sharon both saw Peter and converted? Not a single exception? Entire villages converted without a single unconverted person?
Luke 14:29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him,
Every single person who observes, without exception, will mock?
Matthew 2:3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him;
Every single person in Jerusalem was troubled? Including Anna and Simeon, for example?
Matthew 3:5 Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him,
Every single person in all of Judea, young and old, went out to John?
Dr. White goes on. "Those are just a few examples that could be given. All is defined in its context. It can mean all extensively (Colossians 1), it can mean all of a particular group, at a particular time, etc. And yes, all can mean all the elect, if the context indicates it to be so. The same is obviously true of world, where you can find more than a dozen different uses of the term in John alone..."