Does "all" always mean "all men - every single man" in the Bible?

As in this verse:

1 Timothy 2:1-4, "Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth."

The issue is with verse 4. "[God] desires all men to be saved" (Greek: "ος παντας ανθρωπους θελει σωθηναι και εις επιγνωσιν αληθειας ελθειν")

1 Timothy 2:4 - An Exegesis

Next to 2 Peter 3:9, 1 Timothy 2:4 is by far the most cited verse that Arminians use against Calvinists. The intention behind quoting, “who desires all people to be saved,” is to throw water on any idea that God has elected individuals to be saved, and to deny a particular intention in the atonement, as well as deny any notion that God has a special salvific love for his children.

  • Since all men are not saved (unless one is a universalist or a second-chancer),
  • Does God have two wills? One more akin to a desire and the other His sovereign decree?
  • Can men thwart the will of God?

I provide some helpful links that address this better that I could, but first I ask readers to consider 2 Timothy 4:16, "At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me" (Greek: "εν τη πρωτη μου απολογια ουδεις μοι συμπαρεγενετο αλλα παντες με εγκατελιπον μη αυτοις λογισθειη")

Consider this because:
  • It is the same Greek word and construct as 1 Timothy 2:4
  • It is Pauline
  • And it obviously does not mean "every single man"! One may ask - how do you know that not every single man abandoned the Apostle?
    • In the context (vs 11) , Luke and others had not forsaken him!
    • And per vs 19, at least 9 more had not abandoned him!
    • Thus proving, I believe, that "all" does not always mean "every single man" but sometimes means "all types" of men

More helpful links for those interested:

1 comment:

  1. Have you done any research on the Greek word thelw? I think ultimately the issue of free-will has less to do with our will and more to do with God's will.


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