One of the texts most frequently used to prove Paul believed that in the end all human beings would be saved is of course the material in the Christ hymn in Phil. 2.5-11, particularly the line “every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is the Lord….” The problem with this conclusion is two fold. 1) The partial quotation of Isaiah 45 provides a clue as to Paul’s thinking at this juncture since Isa. 45.24 refers not to universal salvation but rather says that “all who have raged against him will come to him and be put to shame.” 2) Phil.
1.28 has already referred to the destruction of those who oppose Christ.
Thus, while Paul could be referring to universal recognition at the eschaton that Jesus is Lord, this would hardly be different from the sort of universal recognition in America that Barack O’Bama is actually President, whether one wants that to be the case, or is happy that is the case, or is prepared to honor that fact or not. Universal recognition of a fact does not imply endorsement of or a drawing on the benefits of the said fact. To use another example where fealty is given but praise may be withheld, a person may well not want to swear his allegiance to some particular President of the U.S.A. but if, for example, he serves in the military, he will, one way or another have to serve the commander in chief whether he does so with a heavy heart or wholeheartedly. He cannot deny that the President is the President even if he is not best pleased about it. So too, Paul is saying that the day is coming when all will recognize who is the true Lord of the universe, whether they are best pleased by this reality or embrace this reality or not.