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.
1st Timothy 1:15-16: “It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.”
- “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” reinforces the scope in which God is the Savior of all men.
- “Believe in Him for eternal life” answers the question of how it is especially of believers.
Exactly!, and which is why the 5-Point Calvinist interpretation of 1st Timothy 2:4 simply doesn’t work.
One member of The Society of Evangelical Arminians states: “That God is the Saviour of/for all people points to God having made salvation available through Jesus and only through him to everyone, but it is especially for the believers in the sense that for them the situation changes from potentiality to actuality.” (SEA, emphasis mine)
One member of The Society of Evangelical Arminians states: “The 1 Tim 4:10 reference is strengthened exponentially when contexted by Paul’s emphasis in the Pastorals on the universal extent of the atonement. Five passages in all. Our view of ‘especially’ in 1 Tim 4:10 is best defended by attaching statements like, ‘after all, it is God’s will that all come to a knowledge the truth and to be saved’ (1 Tim 2), or ‘Of course 1 Tim 4:10 means “especially,” for Jesus was a ransom for all men.’” (SEA)
John Calvin comments: “Paul argues that God’s love extends to all people. If they experience God’s kindness, think how much more this is true of the godly who place their hope in him. Is he not bound to take special care of them? Will he not pour out his overflowing love on them even more generously? In short, will he not keep them safe, through everything, to the end?” (1 & 2 Timothy & Titus: Calvin, The Crossway Classic Commentaries, p.75, emphasis mine)
But 1st Timothy 4:10 isn’t talking about general “kindness” but rather Christ being the Savior.
Calvinist, George Whitefield, explains: “And so it is, but not his saving mercy. God is loving to every man: he sends his rain upon the evil and upon the good.” (A Letter from George Whitefield to the Rev. Mr. John Wesley, emphasis mine)
1st Timothy 4:10 isn’t talking about love in terms of mere “rain” either.
Calvinist, John Piper, comments: “We do not deny that all men are the intended beneficiaries of the cross in some sense. 1 Timothy 4:10 says that Christ is ‘the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.’ What we deny is that all men are intended as the beneficiaries of the death of Christ in the same way. All of God’s mercy toward unbelievers—from the rising sun (Matthew 5:45) to the worldwide preaching of the gospel (John 3:16)—is made possible because of the cross. This is the implication of Romans 3:25 where the cross is presented as the basis of God’s righteousness in passing over sins. Every breath that an unbeliever takes is an act of God’s mercy withholding judgment (Romans 2:4). Every time the gospel is preached to unbelievers it is the mercy of God that gives this opportunity for salvation.” (What We Believe About the Five Points of Calvinism, emphasis mine)
I agree with Dave Hunt’s reply:
Dave Hunt responds: “Trying to reason with those who espouse such obviously contradictory statements leaves one with a sense of complete frustration. Proclaiming the gospel to those He has predestined to damnation is an act of God’s mercy, by which He is giving ‘opportunity for salvation’ to those who can’t be saved?! And the gospel being preached to the doomed non-elect stems from God’s ‘mercy toward unbelievers’ flowing from the Cross?” (What Love is This?, p.192)
One Calvinist explains: “...God has a special relationship with the believer that He doesn’t have with the non-believer. That special relationship is sealed in predestination and election and then manifested in the effectual calling and regenerating faith that is visibly exercised. And we can clearly see this truth all throughout Scripture - from Genesis to Revelation.”
However, we do not see “this truth” at 1st Timothy 4:10 because it is 100% imported by the Calvinist. The text simply doesn’t explain the part about “especially of believers” being in terms of a by-product of “predestination and election and then manifested in the effectual calling and regenerating faith.” The Calvinist is simply taking the sum total of their proof-texts from Genesis to Revelation and importing it into the text and pronouncing their conclusion. If you instead read this verse in light of John 3:16, you might just as easily conclude that God so loved the world that He gave His only Son Jesus (i.e. God is the Savior of all men), that whosoever believes in Him, will not perish (i.e. God is the Savior especially of believers, since only believers receive the benefit of the gift of His Son.) In other words, the part about “especially of believers” might simply refer to the beneficiaries of a general atonement. Calvinists, as you can see, are forced into importing theological baggage, not to mention what the proper meaning of “all men” does to Calvinism, when compared with 1st Timothy 2:4.
I agree with Parture’s conclusions in the YouTube video.
Here is a Blog discussion on 1st Timothy 4:10.