A Consistent Context for Bible Interpretation
1 Timothy 4:10 is one of many disputed passages in the New Testament. It reads, “For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.”
The Universalist isolates this text to prove that God saves all people.
The Arminian adds this verse to his arsenal of proof passages where God is made out to be the provider of universal redemption (Christ died for everyone), while reserving sovereignty for a particular salvation for those who choose to be saved by Christ through faith.
The theological issue is whether these errant interpretations correlate with the doctrine of God’s eternal election/reprobation (Romans 9).
Obviously, God does not save everyone (Jesus was the most prolific preacher of the doctrine of hell); nor does He simply make provision of redemption to be apprehended by spiritually dead men (Eph 2:1), who, according to the apostle Paul, have zero capacity for spiritual things (1 Cor 2:14), being dead in trespasses and sins (Eph 2:1), and who do not seek after God (Rom 3:11).
In the context of 1 Timothy 4:10, we must also consider 1 Timothy 2:3–5, “This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and one Mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony borne at the proper time.”
So, is God the savior of all men (without exception), everywhere and at all times, or is He the savior of all kinds of men (without distinction)?
Yes, indeed, God is the actual savior of all types of people (not just males and not just Jews), and He actually saves them (not just provides them with potential salvation). The elect of every nation, tribe, and tongue are redeemed by Christ’s death on the cross and apprehended by the Holy Spirit. They are seen as worshipers around the throne of God in heaven (Rev 5:9; 7:9).
Paul’s repeated argument with πας “all” is against the Jews, who refused to believe God would save Gentiles apart from conversion to Judaism.
“All men” here means “all kinds of men” especially believers from all types of Jews and Gentiles because faith in Christ is evidence of the Holy Spirit’s sovereign work of regeneration in all the elect of God…without exception.
In conclusion, we must be prudent not to fall into the trap of the Universalists nor the Arminians, who pervert the Scriptures by interpreting proof texts that do not correlate with the clear teaching of Scripture regarding election/reprobation, regeneration of the elect, and the gift of faith in Christ our Savior, granted by grace alone.
Spokane Valley, Washington
February 26, 2022