Three Quick Points from 1 Timothy 2:4
In his first letter to Timothy, Paul urges that prayer be made on behalf of all men —particularly rulers —to the end that we may have a peaceful existence conducive to the Christian life. The apostle contends that this is acceptable in God’s sight, “who would have all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4). There are several very important matters to be considered in this passage.
First, the term for “men” is anthropos. It denotes humankind —both male and female. Reference that.
Second, the KJV “will have all men to be saved” could be construed to imply that everyone will be saved, but that is not the case. The ASV “would” is better. The Greek word is thelei, a present tense form, which describes the abiding wish or desire of God. He continuously wants all to be saved.
This, of course, is in contrast to the dogma of Calvinism, which asserts that God predestined some to damnation. Mark the “would” and note its present tense emphasis. Also circle “all” and marginally note: Salvation available to all.
Third, God wants everyone to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. Does this suggest that one is saved first (perhaps in infancy) and then later comes to the knowledge of the truth?
No. Rather, as G.B. Winer observes, “the general ultimate end is first mentioned, and the immediate end (as a means towards attaining the former) is stated subsequently. The conjunction ‘and’ (kai) carries the idea, ‘and accordingly’” (Grammar of the Greek New Testament, 692).
Bloomfield says that kai suggests “the means of salvation, namely, by coming to a full knowledge and recognition of the truth” (Greek Testament, II, 354).
This passage, therefore, very clearly indicates that salvation must be preceded by knowledge. This not only eliminates infant baptism, but it also suggests that one must have an understanding of how to be saved before he can be such. One cannot be saved, and then later learn how that was accomplished (e.g., learning the design of baptism for remission of sins —Acts 2:38) subsequent to the act itself. Make notes to this effect.
About the Author
Wayne Jackson has written for and edited the Christian Courier since its inception in 1965. He has also written several books on a variety of biblical topics including The Bible and Science, Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth, The Bible on Trial, and a number of commentaries. He lives in Stockton, California with his dear wife, and life-long partner, Betty.