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How did the early Church, who spoke Greek, understand 1 Timothy 2:1-6? Did they understand “all” to truly mean everyone or some of all types? If you have sources, this would be helpful.

1 Timothy 2:1-6 KJV

1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 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 unto the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

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  • technical point: there were many languages other than Greek spoken in the early church. although Greek is the language of the NT. Do you mean to ask "how did the Greek speaking members of of the church understand..."? Dec 7, 2023 at 6:09
  • God desires 'all humanity' (it is anthropos) to be saved. But there are two kinds of humanity. That come to light in Adam, under the headship of the man of sin and death. And that come to light in Christ, under the headship from which flows the anointing of the Holy Spirit, which brings righteousness and eternal life. This question has been debated in many, many other questions. And that divided debate is not going to be resolved on this website.
    – Nigel J
    Dec 7, 2023 at 13:09
  • search well for existing topics before posting
    – Michael16
    Dec 7, 2023 at 13:18
  • @DanFefferman yes
    – Tyler
    Dec 7, 2023 at 16:19

2 Answers 2

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Of course "all" is all, all humans, and not only here does Paul say that Lord's mission is for all - for, in fact, as Paul elsewhere asserts, He wants all to be saved (1 Tim. 2:3-4) - for humankind in general, it is an ontological mission that can lead man to become a "new creation" (2 Cor. 5:17); as in Adam all have fallen and died (1 Cor. 15:22) so in the Last Adam, Christ all can be risen (1 Cor 15:45). That's why the early Church was utterly proselytic, actively working for preaching and converting all nations, all social classes, regardless skin color, sex or age.

If the Lord is to judge all mankind, then necessarily He came with a salvific mission for all mankind, for He will judge people for not doing His will, not accepting Him voluntarily, which necessarily means and implies that He wished them also to have accepted Him and be saved, unless one is of a damaged brain and conscience like Jan Kalvin to believe that Lord punishes humans for wrongdoings that He Himself made them to commit.

It is a blasphemy to think that Lord exempted anybody from His desire and mission to save all. Not all will be saved, though, for man is free to reject and defy His desire and mission, and why should we think that the early church was blasphemous when there are no evidences for this claim.

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The phrase, πάντων ἀνθρώπων (all people, or everyone) occurs several times in the passage, 1 Tim 2:1-6 as follows:

  • V1: First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be offered for everyone
  • V4 - who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
  • V6 - who gave Himself as a ransom for all [people] —the testimony that was given at just the right time.

Now, whatever one says about any of these must be said about them all. The Bible is very clear that God wants to save all people - see appendix below.

Thus, just as God wants all people to accept His free offer of salvation, He also askes, in 1 Tim 2:1, to pray for those He wants to save - all people.

APPENDIX - Salvation offered to All People

  • 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 5:15, “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 4:10, For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Saviour 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 honor 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.”

The Bible frequently makes this same point of wanting to save all people by emphasizing that God does not show favoritism but treats all people impartially (Duet 10:17-19, 2 Chron 19:7, Eze 18:25, Mk 12:14, Acts 10:34 Rom 2:10-11; Eph 6:9, 1 Pet 1:17).

The above does NOT mean that all will be saved - many will reject God's gracious offer.

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