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1 Timothy 2:3–4 says:

"This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth"

τοῦτο καλὸν καὶ ἀπόδεκτον ἐνώπιον τοῦ Σωτῆρος ἡμῶν Θεοῦ,ὃς πάντας ἀνθρώπους θέλει σωθῆναι καὶ εἰς ἐπίγνωσιν ἀληθείας ἐλθεῖν."

The "God our savior" part- is this truly a good translation? I think it would make more sense if it was Jesus' will here but not the father's as we see in Luke 22:42

"Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”

I have a very limited knowledge of Greek, so I would appreciate if someone could clear this up. I would assume that this passage is not saying that God wants all people to be saved, but that the Savior wants this (who is Jesus). And their wills are not identical.

Similarly I'm of the opinion that the Lord in 2 Peter 3:9 is also Jesus and not God the father

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward younot wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

If interpretations here are not the case then it would convince me to reevaluate calvinism, but as it stands if nobody can come to Christ unless the father grants them repentance or draws them, and he does not draw everyone this would be logically inconsistent.

John 6:64-65 "But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) 65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

I could see this last point countered by a difference between how people are drawn to salvation post and pre Resurrection, but it would beg the question why he said that and God preserved the word till now if it did not apply today, as we know, there are letters that Paul wrote that have not survived today but John 6 does. I'm not saying this isn't the case but I would need to be convinced.

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  • Isn't this question really about the implications of Luke 22:42, with 1 Timothy 2:3–4 being irrelevant to the fundamental issue? Oct 22, 2023 at 13:59
  • I genuinely have no idea what you were trying to say with this comment although I have read it multiple times Oct 22, 2023 at 14:23
  • Luke 22:42 possibly suggests that the Son and the Father can have differing wills. Knowing the answer to whether they actually can could answer your original question. Oct 22, 2023 at 14:28

3 Answers 3

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First the context. The OP's verse follow this:

First of all, then, I ask that supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone, 2 for kings and for all in authority, that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life in all devotion and dignity.

The author's intent in the next verse is not to make a theological statement touching on the divine economy. He is simple asking for prayers for those in authority, because God "desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." He is also concerned about the possibility of persecution. How God is described is beside his point, and so he uses a common title (savior) associated with God.

The terminology "God our savior" is used frequently in the OT, with which the NT writers were very familiar. Here are some examples:

  • my God, my rock of refuge! My shield, my saving horn, my stronghold, my refuge, my savior, from violence you keep me safe. -2 Samuel 22:3

  • Save us, O God, our savior, gather us and deliver us from among the nations, That we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in praising you. 1 Chronicles 16:35

  • The Lord lives! Blessed be my rock! Exalted be God, my savior! - Psalm 18:47

  • Help us, God our savior, on account of the glory of your name. Deliver us, pardon our sins for your name’s sake. -Psalm 79:9

  • I, the Lord, am your God, since the land of Egypt; gods apart from me you do not know; there is no savior but me. Hosea 13:4

There are many other examples.

Conclusion: 1 Timothy simply uses tried and true Jewish terminology referring to God. The author was not thinking of the implications of "God our savior" for trinitarian theology. He is asking his readers to pray for those in authority "that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life in all devotion and dignity."

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We can perceive that God our Savior is distinct from Christ Jesus from the very first verse of the letter:

1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,*
-1 Timothy 1:1 ​

Within the immediate context of the verse you inquire about, Jesus is further identified as distinct from God:

3 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 of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,
-1 Timothy 2:3-5

Furthermore, Paul continues to treat God and Jesus as distinct throughout the letter:

2 To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. -1 Timothy 1:2

21 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without prejudging, doing nothing from partiality. -1 Timothy 5:21

13 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, -1 Timothy 6:13

Conclusion: Given the consistent distinction Paul makes between God and Jesus throughout this letter, from the very start to within the immediate context of the verse you inquire about it, is safe to conclude that the "God our Savior" is an identity reference to a person of God who is distinct from the person Christ Jesus.

...And so it is with the God of the Bible who frustrates so many a beautiful theological system: The God who wants things he will not have (see 1 Tim 2:3-4, Matthew 7:21), and predicts things that do not happen (see 1 Sam 23:11-13), who is love but also hates (see Psalms 11:5), and who adds branches to the tree of Christ only to take them away again (See Rom 11:16-22). Thus, it can be difficult to put our God into a tidy systemized philosophy.

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  • 1 Timothy 5:21 does not make a clear distinction between God and Christ. The compostion is τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ Χριστοῦ a TSKS construction which can be understood as two terms applying to one, not two. Jan 25 at 6:56
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The Greek of 1 Tim 2:3, 4 is quite uncomplicated and easy to translate. Here is my very literal word-for-word translation:

This [is] good and acceptable before the Savior of us, God, who wishes all people to be saved ...

In this construction, "God" is in apposition to "the Savior", and thus is speaking about the same person. Thus, the verse is simply saying the following:

  • (V2) is acceptable to the Savior
  • the Savior is our Savior
  • the Savior is God
  • the same Savor our God wants all to people to be saved

Now, there is another question that this verse does NOT answer - who is the Savior that is God? Is it Jesus or the Father? This verse does not say and this must be answered by other material in other places. For example:

  • Acts 20:28 - Be shepherds of the church of God, which He purchased with His own blood. [It was Jesus’ blood, not the Father’s, that was shed on the cross.]
  • Titus 2:13, “…our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ.” [This also has, “ho theos”.]
  • 2 Peter 1:1, “…righteousness of our God [= ὁ Θεός] and Saviour, Jesus Christ.”
  • 2 Peter 1:11 - For in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be richly supplied to you.
  • Acts 4:11, 12 - This Jesus is ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’ Salvation exists in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
  • 1 John 4:14 - And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world.
  • Titus 1:4 - To Titus, my true child according to our common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.
  • Titus 3:6 - whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,
  • 2 Peter 3:18 - But grow in grace and in knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

However, a few texts also describe "God our Savior" but never the Father such as 1 Tim 1:1, 2 Tim 1:10, Jude 25.

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    You also have Isaiah 43:11, "I, even I, am the Lord; And there is no savior besides Me." You also have at Isaiah 44:24 identifying God as the Savior/Redeemer. "Thus says the Lord, your/it's Redeemer, and the one who formed you from the womb, I, the Lord am the maker of all things, stretching out the heavens by Myself, And spreading out the earth all alone." My point is a specific person within the Trinity is not mentioned, it just says the Lord. In short, one cannot assume it has to be God the Father. Keep up the good work.
    – Mr. Bond
    Oct 23, 2023 at 0:22
  • @Mr.Bond - I fully agree. Thanks.
    – Dottard
    Oct 23, 2023 at 1:02

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