“The Savior of All Men” (A Study of I Timothy 4:10)

30 Dec


As we have been looking at “Ten Steps to Spirituality,” one particular verse merits a bit more attention from us.  How are we to understand this verse which says, “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.”

If taken in a literal sense, if God is “the Savior of all men,” then universalism seems to be taught here.  But that would contradict all the other Pauline passages which teach that some will be eternally lost.

Another possibility is that “Savior of all men” is meant in a broad sense, but that He is the Savior of believers in a more particular and special sense.  Some Arminian believers suggest that the text is teaching that Christ has paid the penalty for sin for every human being, that He is the potential Savior for those who believe.

One writer suggests that the word “all” has several nuances, depending on the context and usage.  How did the Apostle use the term “all” (pas in Greek)?  James White says that sometimes “all” means “many,” but “many” never means “all.”  “All” denotes “all types” or “all kinds.”  Paul writes in I Timothy 6:10 that money is the “root of all (pas) evil.”  Is that really true?  Was money the motivator in the Garden of Eden?  Is money always the cause of murder?  Do people commit adultery because they love money so much?  Most modern translations render I Timothy 6:10 as “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.”

The Apostle Paul had a specific ministry to the Gentiles, so perhaps the idea here is that He is the Savior to more than the Jews.  He is the Savior of all men of every ethnic and cultural background [who believe].  Revelation 7:9 speaks of there being those whom God has redeemed from “every kindred, tribe, tongue, and race” before the Throne.  Some would argue that Paul’s use of the word “world” may have the same meaning in some passages, that is, not everyone without exception, but the whole world of humans without distinction.

Our verse 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.”  Let’s think about that term “especially.”  The Greek word malista has the idea of “chiefly” or “most of all.”  One translation suggests that Paul is saying that Jesus is the Savior of a specific subset of “all humanity”, that is, He’s the Savior of “believers.”

So,as one writer puts it, the text is saying:  “We have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all types of men (as opposed to Israelites exclusively), that is (or, particularly) those who believe.”

Christ is the Savior to all — to uncircumcised Gentiles and every type of human on the planet.  His salvation is fully effective only to those who believe have faith in Christ’s finished work.

Paul also says in I Timothy 2, “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 given at the proper time.  For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying) as a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.  Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension.” (I Timothy 2:5-8).

Thank God for His Son, the Savior of all who believe!

[Thanks to Jim McClarty and his work found at: for some of this material.]


Posted by on December 30, 2012 in UNIVERSALISM


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8 responses to ““The Savior of All Men” (A Study of I Timothy 4:10)

  1. John

    December 31, 2012 at 9:10 am

    In politics they are called ‘Spin Doctors’. In religion some are called ‘Doctors of Theology’, some others are ‘Doctors of Divinity’. In the context of this post I call them ‘Man of Convenience’. The Bible is a great book that gives a wide scope for those who want to prove whatever they desire to be considered as the “Truth”. If a literal interpretation is convenient, then it is the TRUTH. If the literal interpretation is not convenient, then ‘literal’ will be replaced with whatever would makes it convenient again.
    Larry, please forgive my skeptic view if it should offend your sensitivities. But juggling words just does not do it for me! 😦 😦

    • John

      December 31, 2012 at 9:25 am

      As we are at the beginning of a new year, I wish all of you a very Good New Year. Let us all strive to become better persons in THIS world and not just use prayers as a substitute.

    • Dr. Larry Dixon

      January 3, 2013 at 11:00 pm

      John: I always appreciate your responses to my posts. I’m sorry that you think my recent post on I Timothy 4:10 came across as a spin. That was not my intention. It seems to me that the benefit of the doubt should be given to the Bible unless we have compelling reasons to think it is self-contradictory. I know you are not motivated by the same concern. I wanted to show that the expression “the Savior of all men” does not have to be interpreted as universalism, assuming that Paul does not contradict himself on the critical issue of salvation. I would want the same consideration, John, if you were interpreting something that I had written. I’m not looking for a “convenient” interpretation. May I ask, are you looking for a convenient way to discount the Bible’s emphasis on personal salvation? Again, thanks for writing.

      • John

        January 4, 2013 at 11:20 am

        Larry: I don’t look for a convenient way to discount the Bible’s emphasis on personal salvation, because I don’t believe in salvation for the simple reason that there is no need for salvation in the first place. All these religious arguments on how the Bible should be interpreted fulfill the need of those who gain some personal boost by their own interpretation. What comes to mind is your strong rejection of Rob Bell’s book “Love Wins”. Both, you and Mr.Bell, used different interpretations to make your arguments to support your own desires. From my own remote point of view it sounded like the arguments that members of the Mars Society might have about the color of the mars men.

        I find it a pity to see how much time and energy is given to prepare for what might come after death. All what should be needed is to live a life that is free of guilt from doing wrong. This objective is valid regardless of whatever religious orientation we might have. If doing so, then no God would or could find fault and cause for damnation.


  2. larrydixon

    January 10, 2013 at 9:11 am

    Actually you do. We all do. You might be saying, “Do WHAT?!” Look for a convenient way to discount the Bible’s emphasis on personal salvation. Whether you “believe” in salvation isn’t the point. If the Bible is true — and there are good and sufficient reasons to believe that it is — then all of us are in a peck of trouble! And your belief or non-belief won’t change that fact.

    Here’s the logic: IF the God of the Bible exists and IF He is holy, then we are in trouble. We fail to meet His standard every day. You suggest that all these religious arguments “fulfill the need of those who gain some personal boost.” Do you have no needs, John? Apparently, you “need” to discount my arguments for the gospel.

    To suggest that my rejection of Bell’s universalism in order to fulfill my “desire” that God condemn is ludicrous. As a sinner, my natural “desire” is that God overlook my sin, that He grade on the curve, that He just wave His hand and say, “There. There. It’s okay. It doesn’t really matter!”

    Your point about pitying those who spend so much time and energy on preparing for what might come after death makes perfect sense if there is no God, if the Bible is a myth, if the gospel of Christ is foolishness. But, John, what if you’re wrong?

    I was shocked at your statement: “All what should be needed is to live a life that is free of guilt from doing wrong.” You don’t mean that in an absolute sense, do you? Shouldn’t we feel guilty when we do what is wrong? Where does that guilt come from, John? C.S. Lewis uses precisely that sense of guilt in arguing for the truth of the gospel in his Mere Christianity.

    Best wishes. Larry

    • John

      January 11, 2013 at 7:25 pm

      I wish that I could convince you that your consistent “Mea Culpa” is only the result of your BELIEVE and is not founded on reality.
      My statement “All what should be needed is to live a life that is free of guilt from doing wrong” was not meant to be interpreted in an absolute sense.
      I grew up at a time when spanking was the accepted way to keep children in line. I recall numerous time that I was at the receiving end of this educational practice. Maybe I was a real brat and I deserved the punishment for my misdeeds. But looking back, I have absolutely no guilt feelings about them. I cannot imagine that any God would be so small minded to condemn me for them. Later on in life, I am sure I did not always do the right things, but cannot think of anything that was so bad, that it would justify eternal damnation.

      What have you done that makes you feel so guilty that you think you are in a “peck of trouble” ?


    • John

      January 12, 2013 at 6:50 am

      What do you mean by “Actually you do. We all do” ? You might think that I do, but I am surprised that you also do!
      Your arguments are all initiated with “if”. By its very nature this precludes doubt. That there are good and sufficient reasons that the Bible is true does not diminish this doubt, because ‘good’ and ‘sufficient’ are subjective assessments. I also question your use of the term ‘fact’ in reference to ‘all of us are in a peck of trouble’.
      The opinion of C.S.Lewis does not carry more weight than the opinions of countless other men who differ from him.


  3. Jacob

    February 21, 2013 at 7:56 pm


    Perhaps we can look at heaven and hell in a different way. Perhaps hell is a choice that you and I make every day, and not necessarily God “spanking” us for eternity… lol.


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