1 Timothy Two: “I said all means all!!!!!”

Posted: October 1, 2011 in 1 Timothy

            First Timothy two is a hotbed of theological debate. Nothing fires up some tempers faster than quoting Paul as he says “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.” The Universalists and semi-pelagians have a ball with this chapter too, particularly as Paul says “God…desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” and “Christ Jesus…gave himself as a ransom for all.” Pretty cut and dried to the Universalist. God wants to save all, and since God is sovereign and gets what He wants, all will be saved, and all are saved because on the cross Jesus gave Himself as a ransom for all, and thus none have a sin debt left to attempt paying on their own.

            The semi-pelgian (or Freewiller, if you…will) tries to interpret these passages as the Universalists do, yet still hold to the idea of Hell, so they are left saying that yes, God has desires that He cannot or will not attain, and people go to Hell whose sin debts were paid already by Jesus.

            Clearly, I think both interpretations are wrong. The problem is that neither side wants to establish the extent of “all”, which is flawed because all always means all of a particular context- not “all without question”. See here for another example of this.

            Look, Paul tells us what he means by “all” in verse two. Certainly it does not mean the entirety of the human race, for we would then spend the rest of our life going down a list of mankind’s names. In clarification, Paul goes on to say pray for “kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” So all in this instance can be understood as all types, or all kinds of people. Interpolating that idea onto the rest of the chapter, than we can understand that God desires to save people from all people groups, and likewise Jesus ransomed people of all types. There simply is no textual or theological need to read it as the Universalists and Freewillers do.

  1. […] Now, your typical Universalist would latch onto verse twenty, where we see that Jesus went to the Cross to “reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven,  making peace  by the blood of his cross.” I mean, all means all, right? Eh, maybe not so much. […]

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