Summary: Study on 1 Tim 4:10
IS CHRIST THE SAVIOUR OF ALL MEN? III
A study on 1 Tim. 4:10
A couple of weeks ago we began a study into a passage of Scripture that can be difficult to understand. It is a passage of Scripture that has been understood in different ways, but as I pointed out in a previous messages, there is, in the end only one correct way to understand this passage. Even if you missed the first two parts of this series on this passage I believe you can still get a lot out of today’s message, because today we will be looking at the view that best fits the context, and is in fact the best way to understand this passage.
Keep in mind as well that we to have the first two parts recorded if you would like a CD of them.
I want to once more remind you that in our understanding of any passage of Scripture we must take into account the context of the passage, and the Scripture must interpret Scripture.
Let us now turn to the passage that we began looking two weeks ago which is 1 Tim. 4:10. .
I believe that it is very important for me to remind you of the background of 1 Tim because this will play a part in our understand of this passage. 1 Tim is actually a letter. It is a letter written by the Apostle Paul to young man by the name of Timothy. The letter is written sometime around 62-66 AD.
Paul writes to Timothy in order to encourage him in his work of overseeing the Ephesian church. In 1 Tim. 1:3 we read , “As I urged you when I went into Macedonia––remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine,”
This tells us the location of Timothy, which is in Ephesus. We can also see that 1 Timothy is somewhat of a church leadership manual.
Because context is important in our understanding of this passage I want us to read beginning in verse 6;
“If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed. But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance. For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.”
The phrase that has causes some controversy is that last part of verse 10; “…because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.”
We have thus far looked at three ways this passage as been understood. I want to briefly review those.
The first view was the Universalist view. They would look at this passage and say that God as the Saviour of all mankind means that He does in fact save all mankind regardless of faith in Jesus Christ.
We took note that not only does this not fit in the context of the whole of Scripture, that is Scripture is clear that there are those who receive eternal life because of faith in Christ, and those who receive eternal damnation because of their rejection of Christ.
But this view also does not fit in the context of the passage when one considers that last part of the passage, “especially of those who believe.”
That phrase does not make any sense if one holds to the Universalist view.
The second view we looked at last week was the “Free Will view”. This view basically states that 1 Tim 4:10 is stating that God is the Saviour of all men in that it is His desire that all men be saved. It is however up to the free will of man to accept or reject God’s will for them to be saved.
However, the text of 1 Tim. 4:10 does not say that God makes men savable but that He is (in some sense) the Saviour of all man. The context does not say it is possible that God is Saviour of all men, but that He is.
The context is and the way the word Saviour ( Greek - SOTER) is used, is that Christ is the Saviour, not could be, or wants to be, but “is” in some sense the Saviour of all mankind. It is an act that He is doing, not desires to do.
The third view we examined is called the “distributive salvation” view. What this view contents is that God is Saviour of all kinds of men in that He is bestowing His salvation on all kinds, or classes of men.