Precious Jesus

"Afresh, precious, precious Jesus, I resign this body to You, for doing or suffering, for living or dying. Will You accept it? Will You use me for Your glory more than heretofore, that You may have some little return for all the benefits You have done to me? Oh, do grant this request; my heart longs for it, my spirit pleads for it; and "if You will, You can." You know the hot temptation of which I am the subject. Bring Your glory out of it, and keep me from the evil, and it shall be well." - Ruth Bryan

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Does God desire all men to be saved?

The title of this post stems from a conversation with another believer concerning the doctrine of election. This was a verse used to state God desires everyone to be saved, but does He? If this were true, then why aren't all men saved?

'who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.'
- 1 Timothy 2:4

You have to break down the verse to get the actual meaning of the text, so we will. 'Who desires', defined by Thayer as 'to will, to purpose'. Strong's defines 'desires' as 'to determine', Mounce's Complete Expository Dictionary defines it as 'to will'. Was there ever a time in the Bible when God willed something and it did not come to pass? Why is it if God wills all men to be saved they aren't? Has God failed, is He not sovereign, is His power not enough to save all of men? God is sovereign, His power is beyond human comprehension; God could save everyone who ever lived if that were His will, but we know that's not the case.

Next it says 'all men'; Thayer's defines 'all' as 'some of all types', Strong's definition states 'as many as' and Mounce's Dictionary states this about 'pas' {the Greek word for all} 'pas generally means 'each, every' in the singular, 'all' in the plural. For example, in 1 Cor. 15:22 Paul writes, for as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive'. His emphasis here is on two 'all' groups, the all group that dies because of Adam's sin {i.e., every single human being} and the all group that lives in Christ {i.e., those who believe in Him}.'- Mounce's Dictionary pg. 13
The definition found in Thayer's most accurately describes the content of this verse, which we will see more clearly when we get to commentary from John Gill.

The word 'all' does not mean everyone every time we see it in Scripture, as was pointed out in Mounce's dictionary. Another example is found in Matthew 28:19, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit". Did the Lord mean that every person from every nation should be discipled and baptized? Of course not, the Bible teaches that the broad way is wide and many are on it, which proves that all does not mean every person who ever lived.

This is commentary from John Gill concerning 'all men'-
" hence by all men, whom God would have saved, cannot be meant every individual of mankind, since it is not his will that all men, in this large sense, should be saved, unless there are two contrary wills in God; for there are some who were before ordained by him unto condemnation, and are vessels of wrath fitted for destruction; and it is his will concerning some, that they should believe a lie, that they all might be damned; nor is it fact that all are saved, as they would be, if it was his will they should; for who hath resisted his will? but there is a world of ungodly men that will be condemned, and who will go into everlasting punishment: rather therefore all sorts of men, agreeably to the use of the phrase in 1Ti_2:1 are here intended, kings and peasants, rich and poor, bond and free, male and female, young and old, greater and lesser sinners; and therefore all are to be prayed for, even all sorts of men, because God will have all men, or all sorts of men, saved".

God wills that sinners from all walks of life and every part of the globe be saved {not every person whose ever lived} - this is the 'all men' Paul was referring to in the text.


I need to add what I discovered when reading Revelation 5:9, 'And they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.' The word 'every' in this verse is the same Greek word found in 1 Timothy 2:4 - 'pas'. This describes who God saves - men from all/every tribe {race, clan, kindred}, tongue {the language or dialect used by a particular people distinct from that of other nations}, people and nation {a multitude of individuals of the same nature or genus}. This shows us more clearly who God saves; sinners from all parts of the globe and all walks of life, which is what the Apostle Paul states in 1 Timothy 2:4 when he used the same Greek verb, 'pas', saying God saves 'some of all types'.

A right understanding of man's total depravity opens up a right understanding of the doctrines of grace, which includes the doctrine of election.


Jessica said...

Thayers definition of "all" seems to fit the context the best as well. Paul was talking about praying for the Gentile rulers and authorities, so it would make sense that Paul would mean that God desires to save that type of person, even though it would seem unheard of to the Jewish mind.
Thanks for this thought-provoking post.

lyn said...

Exactly Jessica, we cannot pull the verse out of context and assume Paul was addressing all of mankind. However, this is exactly what the Arminian does to prove God desires to save every sinner who ever existed. This is a tough truth to understand, especially if one does not have a good understanding of man's depravity and that God is holy and just. God owes sinners nothing; when we teach God must save sinners, we assume sinners aren't that bad and God has to save us because He is loving and forgiving. That He is, but He is also sovereign and says "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." - Romans 9:15 It is all according to His will and for His glory. God will get glory in the day of judgment just as He gets glory in the saving of a sinner.

Thanks for the comment Jessica

Jehovah Mekoddishkem said...

Yep, some verses have to be looked at much deeper than what it seems like it means on the surface.

John Gerstner, that delightful reformed theologian, has said on more than one occasion that what we need is a theology of the "second glance." What he means by this is that everything is not always as it seems when we give it our "first glance."

lyn said...

That's right Linda. You cannot read verses and take them at 'face value'; pulling them out of context to fit a certain belief. The Bible should never be read with the intent of making it fit what you believe...

Linda said...

I was thinking about "God will's".. Doesn't that mean that anyone who will be saved WILL be saved because all who are saved God will's?? So what it is truly saying in that verse when it says "God WILL'S all men to be saved, it's talking about the certainty the ironclad truth that all men who will be saved are ALL SAVED because God will's it? lol that sound's like I've put you on a merry-go-round..

It's kinda hard to express what point I'm drawing from this on the internet.

Thanks lyn

lyn said...

Yes Linda, all who are saved are indeed saved because it is the will of the Father, who chose them before the foundation of the world, and gifts them with eternal life. That is also why we have security in salvation...because it doesn't come from us nor does it depend upon us. God has mercy on whom He will have mercy and He has compassion on whom He will - Romans 9:15
All God desires to be saved will indeed be saved because He has willed it to be so. God does not go against His own will, He does not change His mind {Malachi 3:6}; and He has chosen a people for Himself since before the world began {Eph. 1:4}. Now He works bringing these chosen ones to Himself through the preaching of the Gospel. Does that answer your question?

Linda said...

btw, it's me lyn -Jehovah_mekoddishkem7.

I decided to drop my nom de plume name.

lol, guess where I am? we are under another tornado warning and so I'm in the hallway of my home-...
You know what is so joyous, that even if something were to happen to me, get this wonderful TRUTH=GOD IS ALWAYS GOOD!!! woohooo Praise the Lord.

lyn said...

Prayed for you sister, you will be fine. He has you protected under His wing.

He is faithful and true, which is why what He wills comes to pass.

Love you sister