1 Timothy 2:3-5; DRB;

3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, 4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and one mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus:

1 Timothy 4:10; DRB;

10 For therefore we labor and are reviled, because we hope in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, especially of the faithful.

Is the Will of the Father to save all Human beings? And His Will Should, if not must, take place?

If God wills a thing, could a creature antagonise the will of God, and his antagonization works?

What about other verses which hint to election?

  • 1 Tim 2:4 seems extremely straightforward. Please edit this to explain why you are asking this question.
    – curiousdannii
    Jan 15, 2022 at 6:55

6 Answers 6


The text of 1 Tim 4:10 says what it says - that God wants to save all people. This idea is taught in many places such as:

  • John 1:29, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
  • John 3:16, “God so loved the world that He gave …”
  • John 12:32, “I [Jesus] … will draw all people to myself.”
  • John 12:47, “… for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.”
  • Acts 17:30, “God … commands all people everywhere to repent.”
  • Rom 3:23, 24, “… for all have sinned … and all are freely forgiven...”
  • Rom 5:8, 10, “… while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. … if, while were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him by the death of His Son, …”
  • Rom 5:15, “But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s [Adam’s] offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to the many.” [Note the same word, “many” applies to all people.]
  • Rom 5:18, “Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all people, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all people, resulting in justification of life.”
  • Rom 11:32, “For God has imprisoned everyone in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all.”
  • 2 Cor 5:14, “…we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.”
  • 2 Cor 5:18, 19, “…God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ …”
  • 1 Tim 2:3, 4, “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
  • 1 Tim 2:6, “[Jesus Christ] gave Himself as a ransom for all people.”
  • 1 Tim 4:10, For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.
  • Titus 2:11, “For the grace of God appeared bringing salvation to all people.”
  • Heb 2:9, “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honour because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.”
  • 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
  • 1 John 2:2, “He Himself [Jesus] is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours [Christians to whom John writes] only but also for the whole world.”
  • Isa 53:6, “We all like sheep have gone astray … and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

Important Note

The fact that Jesus's atonement is universal does not make salvation universal!! Many will be lost because they reject the free gift of grace offered to all people. Indeed, the Bible has many references about the final destruction of the wicked such as Ps 37:28, 92:7, 94:23, Prov 14:11, 2 Thess 2:8-10, Matt 5:29, 30, 10:28, 2 Peter 2:3, 3:6, 7, Rom 9:22, Phil 3:19, Ps 68:2.

The wicked are destroyed because they reject God and choose to be destroyed. Contrast the two groups at the second Advent of Jesus:

  • Isa 25:9, “In that day they [the righteous] will say, ‘Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the LORD, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.’”
  • Rev 6:16, “They called to the mountains and the rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!’”

Paul puts it plainly this way, 2 Thess 2:10 -

and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not accept the love of the truth so as to be saved.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Jesse
    Jan 13, 2022 at 13:58

The answers I see here so far all seem to subscribe to the idea of a General Atonement (Jesus died for all men) but there is also the concept of Limited Atonement (that Jesus died only for his chosen people). So there is certainly not complete agreement here. Personally I'm in the Limited Atonement camp - a few texts regarding that:

Matt. 1:21 "And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins."

John 17:9 "I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine."

Also most of Romans 9, which speaks more to the doctrine of Election, but Election also implies Limited Atonement.

So how would I account for all the passages quoted by others indicating God's love for "the world" or "all people"? My interpretation there would be that those passages refer not to every single person head-for-head, but rather to people from every race and country, all over the world. The idea being to draw attention to the fact that in the Old Testament salvation was reserved for the Jews only (with few exceptions) but with the New Testament salvation is "opened up" to all people throughout the world.

  • 2
    John 17:9 needs to be tensioned with verse 20, "I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word..." The distinction between verses 7 & 20 is about the apostles and later believers; not the elect and non-elect*. Additionally, if verse 9 and the following were simply regarding the elect, the fact that Judas is lost makes little sense. *Elect to salvation in the Calvinist sense. They are certainly elect in the limited sense to be apostles. Jan 13, 2022 at 18:00
  • 1
    What of 1 John 2:2? The text appear to say that God elected all people to be saved. Are you also saying that God created people to be damned?
    – Dottard
    Jan 13, 2022 at 21:28
  • 1
    @Dottard - Regarding I John 2:2, I would say that he is speaking to the Jews there when he says "our sins: not for ours only" and when he says "the whole world" later he is referring to the world in general - gentiles as well as jews - and not each and every person individually. Jan 25, 2022 at 14:01
  • 1
    @Dottard - as for God creating some to be damned, yes - I think Romans 9 covers this well - calling out specifically that God hated Esau even before he was born and had done anything good or evil. The following verses anticipate the natural thought of how unjust that is and explain how just as the potter creates some beautiful vessels to honor and others to be destroyed, the clay can't very well complain "why me?". In a similar way God as the creator of man can decide the fate of every man however he desires for his glory. Jan 25, 2022 at 14:16
  • @EricPetroelje - I struggle to see how creating some to be damned is a glory to God - it makes Him a sadistic monster! This is one of the great weaknesses of Calvinism - the way it paints the dark, hideous character of God who creates some people, through no fault of their own to be eternally damned in a hell of misery. That is NOT a God of love and it is not the God of the Bible.
    – Dottard
    Jan 28, 2022 at 5:42

How many accept this word to be true… That God is indeed the savior of all men?

the word [is] steadfast, and worthy of all acceptance; for this we both labor and are reproached, because we hope on the living God, who is Savior of all men—especially of those believing. Charge these things, and teach;

It is amazing how this is what is to be taught, yet how few teach it. People suffer reproach just like Paul did if they teach God is the savior of all man.

Nevertheless let God be true.

When he says especially of those believing, that is a special salvation for those that are called out now, both from the Gentiles and the Jewish people.

Those who believe have been gifted faith from God to believe his word. It Has nothing to do with man's will.

For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not from yourselves; it is the gift of God, Ephesians 2:8

They said to the woman, "We now believe not only because of your words; we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man truly is the Savior of the world." John 4:42

For this [is] right and acceptable before God our Savior, who wills all men to be saved, and to come to the full knowledge of the truth; for [there is] one God, also one mediator of God and of men—the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself [as] a ransom for all—the testimony in its own times— 2 Tim. 2:6

But others will say oh it's up to our free will to decide… really?

So then, it is not of the willing, nor of the running, but of God showing mercy. Romans 9:16

For God has bound up all in disobedience, that He may show mercy to all. Rom11:32

For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 1 Corinthians 15:22

So then, just as one trespass brought condemnation for all men, so also one act of righteousness brought justification and life for all men. Romans 5:18

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! John 1:29

All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men’s trespasses against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation.2 cor. 5:19

I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me. I declare the end from the beginning, and ancient times from what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and all My good pleasure I will accomplish.’ Isaiah 46:10

So to answer your question if God says He wills all to be saved and come to the knowledge of truth then He will make sure that happens.

After all he is God… That means he is sovereign over everything and He works all things according to His purpose.

For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen.

Romans 11:36

  • All good +1. God makes the 'willing' possible so we CAN choose Him and the salvation He offers.
    – Steve
    Jan 12, 2022 at 21:13
  • The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD like channels of water; he turns it wherever he wants. Proverbs 21:1 Interesting that a King who has much authority that God is actually much greater than him. He can with a flip of a switch change a mans heart in whatever direction God moves it.
    – Sherrie
    Jan 13, 2022 at 18:02
  • I am note sure I understand the import of what you are saying here. Are you suggesting either that (a) God certainly will save all people (universalism)? or, (b) God intends to save only some people?
    – Dottard
    Jan 13, 2022 at 21:32
  • Sorry that this post was not clear as I thought. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners 1:Tim1:15-16) Not just those that respond to him properly or follow religious rules. When we were still sinners and His enemies we were conciliated to God through the death of His Son. Rom.510-11. Those who believe this message now have been given faith by God to believe it's true. We are not appointed to wrath but to salvation. Others will go through various judgments, and all will be saved out of death once death is abolished. Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world!
    – Sherrie
    Jan 14, 2022 at 0:59

Yes, all souls belong to Avinu (Our Father) but Adon Olam will not remember souls who do not confess their sins in fear of Him.

[Yechezqel יְחֶזְקֵאל | Ezekiel 18:4] Behold, all souls are Mine. Like the soul of the father, like the soul of the son they are Mine; the soul that sins, it shall die. (הֵן כָּל־הַנְּפָשׁוֹת֙ לִי הֵ֔נָּה כְּנֶ֧פֶשׁ הָאָב וּכְנֶפֶשׁ הַבֵּן לִי־הֵנָּה הַנֶּפֶשׁ הַֽחֹטֵאת הִיא תָמֽוּת)

[Yechezqel יְחֶזְקֵאל | Ezekiel 18:23] Do I desire the death of the wicked? says the Lord God. Is it not rather in his repenting of his ways that he may live? (הֶֽחָפֹץ אֶחְפֹּץ מוֹת רָשָׁ֔ע נְאֻם אֲדֹנָי יֱהֹוִה הֲלוֹא בְּשׁוּבוֹ מִדְּרָכָיו (כתיב מִדְּרָכָו) וְחָיָֽה)

Forgotten are souls who לֹא יָרֵא אֱלֹהִֽים "did not fear Elohim" during their material existence - like עֲמָלֵק Amaleq [Deuteronomy 25:16-18]

Sadly Unforgiven is a soul who confessed his sins [Matthew 26:24, Matthew 27:3-4, John 17:12] while performing tasks (against his will) which a human prophet requested him to do in order to fulfill God's Will [John 13:27].

  • Are you saying that Judas tried to repent and God wouldn't let him? Jan 13, 2022 at 1:59

Dottard lists the Scriptures that seem to contradict "And His Will Should, if not must, take place?" with respect to:

This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge (ἐπίγνωσιν) of the truth. (1 Tim. 2:3–4, ESV)

Dottard includes the Scriptures which say:

The fact that Jesus's atonement is universal does not make salvation universal!! Many will be lost because they reject the free gift of grace offered to all people. Indeed, the Bible has many references about the final destruction of the wicked such as Ps 37:28, 92:7, 94:23, Prov 14:11, 2 Thess 2:8-10, Matt 5:29, 30, 10:28, 2 Peter 2:3, 3:6, 7, Rom 9:22, Phil 3:19, Ps 68:2.

God's will is not something we understand with simple logic:

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isa. 55:9, ESV)

Is it not God's will for us to do what is right? Then, why is "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23, ESV) true?

What we can understand about God's will is how it pertains to what we should do.

If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. (John 7:17, ESV)

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Eph. 5:15–21, ESV)

So, what is 1 Tim. 2:3–4 telling us with respect to what we should do? Note:

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, (1 Tim. 2:1, ESV)


I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; ... (1 Tim. 2:8, ESV)

Conclusion of what 1 Tim. 2:4 means

God's invitation and call is for all people to come to Christ. Thus, we should extend this invitation to all people. It is not limited to the Jew or those with superior knowledge (γνῶσις, 1 Cor. 1:18-31). If we extend this to universalism (everyone will be saved), then this quinces motivation. If everyone will be saved, why would Christ's disciples stand up to persecution and martyrdom? Why would Paul take on the hardship of his missionary journeys?

Summary of Interpretations

Marshall, I. H., & Towner, P. H. (2004) in A critical and exegetical commentary on the Pastoral Epistles (pp. 425-427), T&T Clark International, summarized how 1 Tim. 2:4 has been interpreted.

First, why is this emphasis present? As the polemical intention of ἐπίγνωσις ἀληθείας suggests (see below), the emphasis on ‘all’ is presumably directed at the false teaching in some way. There were various types of exclusivism in the environment of early Christianity which may underlie the attitude implicitly criticized here:... The decisive factor is surely the stress on the mission of Paul to the Gentiles in v. 7, and therefore it is most likely that explanation (a) is to be accepted. -- Marshall & Towner, pp. 425-426).

The second question concerns the scope of πάντας (cf. Marshall 1989). Four suggestions have been made:

(a) ‘All people without exception’. This may be understood in two ways. One possibility is what is generally called ‘universalism’, namely that God’s purpose, which he will accomplish, is to save all people regardless of their disposition towards the gospel. In the context of the PE this understanding is impossible; the importance of faith for salvation is implicit in the next statement and is expressed clearly throughout the PE (cf. also 1 Tim 1:16; 3:16; 4:10; 2 Tim 1:5). The other possibility is that the reference is to God’s desire that all people should be saved, whether or not they actually respond to his gracious offer. There can be little doubt that this is the right interpretation. Nevertheless, other possibilities have been suggested.

(b) ‘All people, except the worst sinners’. This modification of view (a) is based on the kind of qualification expressed in Rabbinic Judaism (M. Sanh. 10). But in view of 1:15 this is untenable.

(c) ‘All the elect, i.e. the people who have been predestined by God to be saved’. This interpretation assumes that the PE presuppose a doctrine of rigid predestination and reads it into the text.

(d) ‘All kinds of people, not necessarily including all individuals’. This interpretation means that vv. 3f. provide justification for praying for the government authorities in 2:2. This interpretation (like the previous one) is followed by scholars who find a doctrine of particular election underlying the NT. However, nothing in the context suggests such a limitation. Nor does this interpretation secure the desired result, since in the last analysis divisions between individuals and classes of humankind merge into one another. -- Marshall & Towner, pp. 426–427.

θέλω can have the strong sense ‘to will’ and the weaker sense ‘to wish, desire’. Some scholars try to find a weak sense in contrast with βούλομαι in the sense ‘to order’. However, this contrast is not well founded.... -- Marshall & Towner, p. 427.

σωθῆναι, immediately preceded by the reference to σωτήρ and followed by the traditional allusion to the death of Jesus, refers to salvation from sin (1:15 note; Tit 1:3 note). The suggestion that the verb means here ‘to be preserved, protected’ can be confidently rejected.... -- Marshall & Towner, p. 427.

  • 1
    Excellent discussion. Many thanks. I especially liked your analogy about God want all people to pray and all people to do God's will, etc. +1.
    – Dottard
    Jan 14, 2022 at 20:36

There are two extreme (let's call them a and b) and one correct (let's call it c) visions on the issue in Christian theology:

a)-extreme is Calvinistic 'fatalism' based on extreme Augustinian position in some of his passages against Pelagius, which says that God predestines some to eternal damnation and some to eternal salvation, and it is totally on a good pleasure of God. The gemina praedestinatio (a double predestination) is a dangerous heresy that calumniates God's eternal unflinching love to all His creatures, for if God loves all His creatures, which is a theological axiom, then this love means necessarily that He wishes all to be saved and this eternally, which excludes the gemina preaedestinatio. Thus, upholders of this doctrine have a vision of God who is capricious as loving some but not others, albeit the latter also being His creatures.

b)-extreme is Origenistic doctrine of universal apokatastasis (ἀποκαταστάσις) - the restoration, which states that all intellectual creatures will return to their first unfallen and undamaged state by the will of God, Satan and all his servant-demons included, to say nothing about a sure inclusion of all humans notwithstanding the gravity of their sins. A very beautiful and generous heresy, kind of "too good to be true" one, but it dangerously underestimates the human freedom, which is real and can reject God, and this eternally, as the Gospels also teach (Matthew 25:46).

c)-correct is the Orthodox doctrine about all-loving God who creates all angels and humans with a sole purpose of their salvation and bliss; this entails a real presence in them of freedom of choice, for who can be blessed without freedom of choice? The automata or "clockwork oranges" aren't and cannot be blessed in principle. But a real presence of free choice also entails a real possibility of its abuse on the part of intellectual creatures, and this abuse, as the Scriptures tell, can lead to everlasting damnation unless repented. Thus, of course God wills all to be saved, but it is possible that not all will accept the will of God for them, which is not God's fault, but on the contrary, God's love-full distress, for He continues loving even the unrepenting sinners, just remember the Lord's distress for Judas, who was so incorrigibly recalcitrant in his sinful intent (Matthew 26:24). As one Lutheran scholar nicely told me: "You are not an Orthodox if you do not hope that God will save all humans, for He loves all eternally; but you will be an Origenist heretic if you will say that God will necessarily save all humans".

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