Saturday, June 2, 2012

1 Timothy 2:4

Does 1 Timothy 2:4 Teach That God Wants Everyone Saved?

Ripped out of it's context, it appears that this passage is teaching us that God wants everyone to be saved. In response to Calvinists appealing to the context of this passage however, our friend Houston John declared: "God provided the means for the gift of salvation for all (and I do mean 'all' instead of the redefinition of the word to 'all kinds' by Calvinists)". Is it true that Reformed Theology actually changes the meaning of words such as 'all'? Let's take a look.

This topic came up in a recent debate here on Old Truth with a non-Calvinist who goes by Houston John (we'll call him HJ for short). That's a pretty strong accusation to make, that Calvinists are deliberately changing word meanings to fit their system. So I challenged HJ to provide explanations for these other passages which use the word 'all' in a way that means something less than everyone:

1) Mark 1:5 says "all the country of Judea went out to [be] the Jordan". Who does that all mean? Absolutely everyone in Judea, or was it a less encompassing 'all'?

2) John 8:2 - "All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them" Is that true? Every single person came to Him?

3) 2 Cor 3:2 - "our letter of be known and read by all [men]." Does that include the emperor of China?

4) Luk 16:16 - "the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone [same greek word Pas] forces his way into it". Really? Did Pilate force his way into it?

5) 1 Cor 9:22 - "I am made all things to all, that I might by all means save some". Is that true? Was he made a clown so that, for the leader of Japan whom he used all means to save?

6) 1 Cor 10:23 - "All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient". Wow, adultery and murder are lawful for him under HJ's translation of 'all'! What kind of theology are you teaching HJ?!?!?!?

7) Eph 6:21 - "Tychicus,... shall make known to you all things". He's going to teach them AstroPhysics!!!!!!

8) Acts 4:21 - "all men glorified God for that which was done". Really? Did the Pharisees glorify God for what was being done?

9) Luke 21:17 - "Jesus told his disciples that they would be 'hated of all men'". Imagine that, people in remote tribes of Africa hating the disciples.

10) Acts 21:28 - "Paul was accused of teaching all men everywhere against [the law]". How did Paul get to every place on earth and teach them things?

I followed that up with an excerpt from James White's book The Potter's Freedom, which had this to say about 1 Timothy 2 (see the passage in question):

[Paul] states that such prayers for all kinds of men is good and acceptable "in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." If we are consistent with the preceding context we will see "all men" here in the same manner as "all men" of the preceding verses: all kinds of men, whether rulers or kings. But there is much more reason to understand Paul's statement in this way.
Almost invariably, proponents of Arminianism isolate this passage from the two verses that follow.

This must happen of necessity for the questions that can be asked of the non-Reformed position based upon verses 5 and 6 are weighty indeed. Verse 5 begins with the word "for," indicating the connection between the statement made in 3-4 and the explanation in 5-6.

Why should Christians pray that all men, including kings and rulers, be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth? Because there is only one way of salvation, and without a knowledge of that truth, no man can be saved. Paul says, "there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all."

This immediately takes us into the meat of the discussion of the atonement, but for now just a few points should be made.

Read rest of post HERE


  1. Hello friend. I just found your blog and I would like to share a comment and a couple of insights with you. :)

    Houston John's statement, "God provided the means for the gift of salvation for all" is a blatant lie. Many people have never heard anything of the Gospel due to their locality. What means are there if the Word is not present? None.

    It is imprudent to believe God wants literally everyone saved but hasn't seen to it that all of them actually hear the Gospel. As for many who hear it but reject it, why does He allow that if He wants literally everyone saved?

    For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:3-4 KJV)

    Paul basically meant this: "These prayers made for government and community so the Church can peacefully practice its faith and reach all the elect with the Gospel are pleasing to our Savior. Indeed, He will have all of them believe and be saved."

    When you get to verses five and six you see why God wills all of them to be saved. Their mediator, Jesus, gave his life as a ransom for all of them.

    Two chapters later you have Paul telling us that the living God "is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe." We know He is not the Savior of literally everyone. There are people who never hear the Gospel and there are people who reject it and die in their sins. The "all men" in 4:10 are the same people in 2:4 -- the elect. All of the elect have a Savior (they are predestined for it) and He is especially the Savior of the ones who already believe in Him.

    Have a good Lord's Day.

    Yours in Christ Jesus,
    C. E. Turner

  2. Amen and thanks for commenting C.E. Turner!

    BTW - I had to look up what a "Whovian" is ;)

    Soli Deo Gloria!

    1. Every time I ask people if they have ever seen Doctor Who they always reply, "I haven't seen it, but I recall it's on PBS, right?"

      Some are Trekkies, and I'm a Whovian.

  3. I'm a're a Whovian...we're both saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone to the glory of God alone :)

  4. By your reckoning we know that (according to Romans 5:12) "all KINDS" of men sin but not ALL men. Right?

    The words "paton" and "pantas" used in both Romans 5:12 and 1 Timothy 2:4-6.

  5. Hello Michael and thanks for the comment -

    The words, "paton" and pantas", may be the same in Romans 5 and 1 Tim 2, but the context is not (which, by the way, is the whole point of this post).