If God will be all in all does this mean that God will be in hell? Would it mean that God will be annihilated, at least as God resides in those who were annihilated? The scripture certainly leaves no room for error, God will be all in all.
1 Corinthians 15:27-28 NRSV
(27) For "God has put all things in subjection under his feet." But when it says, "All things are put in subjection," it is plain that this does not include the one who put all things in subjection under him.
(28) When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to the one who put all things in subjection under him, so that God may be all in all.
The only exclusion is God! All other things, all of creation, will be in subjection to God. God can not be under subjection to God. The text even goes on to say that Christ will also be placed under God's subjection. Christ IS part of the ALL. This is not something mystical, humanity will not become God. Humanity is not even the only ALL included. We often get stuck on ourselves but there is much more taking place.
1 Corinthians 15:35 NRSV
(35) But someone will ask, "How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?"
Does the ALL include every single person that ever walked the face of the earth? I believe so. Many will counter and say this can only be the dead believers. The Greek word for "dead" is actually "a corpse". No distinction is made here; in fact when we read of "a corpse" in the New Testament, we are reading of a dead person without regard to who they are or who they were, it is just a dead and lifeless body. The point made is that dead bodies will be raised, no distinction is made between believers or nonbelievers. Of course there is much more to be said on this.
Romans 5:15 NRSV
(15) But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died through the one man's trespass, much more surely have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abounded for the many.
Who are the many Paul refers to? It is interesting that the KJV eliminated the second "the" for "the many". The many died because of Adam's fateful decision, the many free gift abounds for the same many because of the grace of Christ (Phil 2:7-8). By leaving the second "the " out an implication is made that not all of the many received the grace. Truly, I believe that both of "the many" are the same! All of humanity! ALL.
So, what does "all in all" mean?
We must define what "all" of God is. If all of God will be in all of humanity what does this look like? Let's start in Colossians.
"The fullness of God"
Colossians 1:19 NRSV
(19) For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,
This passage speaks of Christ. It is sandwiched between a group of verses that describes to the believers in Colossae who Christ is against what philosophers and gnostics thought Christ to be. The key is that all the fullness of God dwelled in Christ; all of the fullness. The Greek word for fullness here is pleroma. There are two forms of pleroma, the active and passive forms. The active pleroma is in effect when something is currently being filled with the idea that the thing will be completely full at some point. Pleroma in its passive form declares that something is filled completely, there is no more room for anything else. Christ was passively full of God; there is no more room for anything else, including Christ. This is not to say that if someone looked at Jesus they saw God physically but that there was nothing about Jesus Christ that was not of God. There are scriptures which tell us everything Jesus did, every word or deed, was of God.
John 5:19 NRSV
(19) Jesus said to them, "Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise.
John 10:30 NRSV
(30) The Father and I are one."
John 12:50 NRSV
(50) And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I speak, therefore, I speak just as the Father has told me."
John 14:7 NRSV
(7) If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him."
John 14:9 NRSV
(9) Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'?
John 14:10 NRSV
(10) Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works.
There are other references though the book of John holds the record on the word "father" at 131 times (NRSV). Jesus continually makes the point that what he does is of God, not of himself. John 1:16 says we have received grace out of Christ's fullness; according to Christ his "fullness" was God. In verse 18 of John chapter 1 we read that no one has seen God but the Son. When someone looks at my son they do not see me; they may see a physical likeness but my son and I are very different in many respects though there may be some similarities. When someone looked upon the character of Jesus Christ they saw the character of God. I am sure if you asked my son he would tell you he is thankful that he is not full of my character! As people, we all desire to be unique. Christ had no such desire, he only wanted the lost house of Israel to see God.
If you look at the word pleroma in a concordance such as Thayers you will find the different uses of the word in scriptures. Mark 2:21 is just one such passage and is one I find particularly interesting.
Mark 2:21 NRSV
(21) "No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak; otherwise, the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made.
Even back in Jesus' day a piece of cloth used as a patch to make a garment "pleroma" needed to be pre-shrunk. Otherwise the patch would shrink as the garment was washed and a new and larger tear would result. The fullness of the patch which was meant to restore the fullness of the garment would ultimately destroy the garment again. Other times pleroma is used of time such as Romans 11:25 and Ephesians 1:10 which speak of a coming time when something will move from the active state of becoming pleroma to when it is pleroma.
"Pleased to dwell"
Colossians 1:19 NRSV
(19) For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,
God was pleased to have God's fullness reside in Christ. It brought (and brings) God joy. Paul used the word "pleased" which indicates a thought of blessing, or, a thought of speaking well of Christ to the point that God filled him with all of God's character. No matter what Jesus went through while on this earth, God was happy to be all in all of the Son. There was never a time when God thought of revoking the fullness; Christ was obedient in everything. They were acting together, completely.
When Paul says that God's fullness dwelled in Christ it is a permanent residence. Today, even as God and the Messiah sit side by side, God is in him. God is all in one. Before God spoke the Word (John 1:1-2) God was alone, and that was enough. The first action God took was to become all in all with the first of all creation. God's goal is to be all in all with everything created through the Word, or, through Christ.
All in all, the Fullness in ALL
From the passage of Ephesians 3:7-21, read it all at some point but here are the key verses:
Ephesians 3:16-20 NRSV
(16) I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit,
(17) and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love.
(18) I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth,
(19) and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
(20) Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine,
Paul tells us right here, in verse 19, what all in all is! He starts by stating his prayer for the churches in Asia is that Christ may dwell in their hearts through faith as they grow by the roots to become firmly planted. A plant must be firm in the soil before it grows otherwise it will never reach its full potential. Love is the full potential and we know that God, who is spirit, is Love. Paul desires to know the full measure of Love so that he can be "filled with all the fullness of God"! Who is filled with the fullness of God today? Only Christ; but someday we will all be filled with the same fullness! I say all and I truly believe ALL. It will not happen at once because we are free creatures, in every sense of the word. When God is all in all it will be because ALL have come to understand Ephesians 3:18-19; they will know Love and desire to be with and part of Love. Love will dwell in them permanently! God will dwell in ALL, fully.
If humanity bows before the Creator and acknowledges God and who God is only to be tossed into an eternal lake of fire, or hell (whatever men call it) then I am confident God will be ALL in them as well. This is what God's word has stated; God will be all in all. Thank God for his unending mercy and love that this will not be the case. God has so much more in store for creation!