I Timothy 4:10 and Universal Reconciliation

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TK
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I Timothy 4:10 and Universal Reconciliation

Post by TK » Sun Oct 19, 2008 5:49 pm

It is highly likely that this verse has been discussed before in one or many of the universalism threads on this forum. But, quite frankly, I didn't have the patience to read through the threads. So, I am bringing it up here. If one of you recalls discussing this verse elsewhere, perhaps you cant point me to the thread(s). I came across this verse yesterday and I guess I really never read it that closely before.

Anyways, here is I Tim 4:10 in various versions:
For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe. (NKJV)

(and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe. (NIV)

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. (NASB)

With a view to this we toil and strive, [yes and] suffer reproach, because we have [fixed our] hope on the living God, Who is the Savior (Preserver, Maintainer, Deliverer) of all men, especially of those who believe (trust in, rely on, and adhere to Him). (AMP)

For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe. (ESV)

This is why we work hard and continue to struggle, for our hope is in the living God, who is the Savior of all people and particularly of all believers. (NLT)

This is why we've thrown ourselves into this venture so totally. We're banking on the living God, Savior of all men and women, especially believers. (MSG)
In these verses, "believers" seem to be a subset of "all men" or "all people." In other words, this verse SEEMS to say that God is the Savior of all men, (which would seem to include unbelievers) but that believers reap some special benefit by virtue of their belief.

The big question, I suppose, is whether the word "potential" is implied (but not stated) before the word "Savior."

Of course I invite both the UR people here and the non-UR people to comment on this verse.

Thanks!

TK

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Re: I Timothy 4:10 and Universal Reconciliation

Post by mikew » Sun Oct 19, 2008 6:12 pm

I see two possible salvations to apply to 1Tim 4:10

The general one is a salvation of the world. One is that of preventing the world from being destroyed again for its pervasive sin. This is seen in John 3:16 where it says "for God so loved the world." The salvation of the world in part then would be encompassed in the concept of the kingdom of God -- a political entity forcing rulers toward more and more peace as years progress.

The other salvation is to save people from their sin and give them eternal life through Christ Jesus. This is the normal element considered under the idea of salvation. The salvation from our sins then would be encompassed under the concept of the Church.

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Re: I Timothy 4:10 and Universal Reconciliation

Post by Paidion » Sun Oct 19, 2008 7:41 pm

[The living God] is the Savior of all people...

I take the sentence at face value. The living God is the Savior of all people. Sure it's "potentially". Each person must repent and submit to the Lordship of Christ. It is God's "purpose of the ages" (Ephesians 3:11) for them to do so, through their own choice. God will provide strong influence for those who refuse throughout this life (or don't have the opportunity) ---- that's over 99% of all people who have ever lived. That influence will certainly include the very severe judgment in Gehenna, which may take many ages for some (or all) the people who go there. I am sure this judgment will differ in intensity, according to one's opportunity to know Christ. But we can trust God to be perfectly just in that matter. God's influence may also include (in my opinion) the proclamation of the "everlasting" gospel to those in Gehenna, of the fully mature "sons of God" for whom creation is groaning. I emphasize, it will be through each individual's choice. God will not force it upon anyone. In that case, might not some people hold out forever? Theoretically that's possible, but practically, it is impossible. For God will keep them in Gehenna until they do submit, no matter how long it takes.

... especially those who believe.

The believers, that is those who entrust themselves to Christ in this life, submitting to Him as His disciples, will be "especially" saved --- that is, they will not need to undergo the testings of Gehenna, for they are in the process of salvation now, and "He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ". This work, or purifying fire of God's correction of His children, is going on right now. Christ's disciples are being conformed to His image, until the process is completed at Christ's coming. So the living God is the Saviour of believers in a special way that does not apply to those who refuse Him.
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Re: I Timothy 4:10 and Universal Reconciliation

Post by RickC » Sun Oct 19, 2008 10:20 pm

TK, et al,

Pre-post note
Since our universalism debate from last Nov-Dec on the old forum, I've been very reluctant to discuss or debate the topic. Last year I realized it comes down to either: 1) Agree to disagree with further discussion or, 2) Agree to disagree with no further discussion. This post is option 2) in that I'm not interested in debating universalism.

From last year's informative and controversial debate I've come to understand the arguments, pro & con, and don't intend or want to debate on this thread.

A primary reason for my posting now is because I/we put so much effort into it, and I didn't want the findings to go to waste {see, below}....

So this is a non-debate post, mainly for TK, :)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Post
Unfortunately, "1 Tim 4:10" was a particular thread that was debated extensively wrt universalism on the old forum: The thread was lost in the crash.

At that time I was composing and saving many study notes and posts in Word. Now I can't find all of my old study notes/posts on 1 Tim 4:10. I must have deleted most of them, thinking I'd be able to refer back to the {now old} forum.

However, I did find some notes on the Greek word, malista, "especially" in English. It essentially means: "especially, chiefly, in particular, most {or mostly} of all, more than anything {or anyone} else."

Our verse, for context:
1 Tim 4:10, NASB
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 {Gk, malista} of believers.


A related verse from study notes in one of my Word docs:
2 Tim 4:13, NASB
When you come bring the cloak which I left at Troas with Carpus, and the books {Gk, biblia from which we get "Bible"}, especially {Gk, malista} the parchments {Gk, membranas}.


As I recall, I made a case that believers and non-believers {in 1 Tim 4:10} are distinctly separate(d). We debated our alternate interpretations of 1 Tim 4:10 in detail.

In rebuttal to the proposition that malista indicated "to be saved in a 'special' before-death-way," I offered argumentation based on malista in 2 Tim 4:13.
To support my arguments, in one or more old forum posts I wrote:
(quoting a source)
Even more than the cloak, Paul wanted his scrolls and the parchments. Paul's arrest may have occurred so suddenly that he was not allowed to return home to gather his personal belongings. The scrolls {Gk, biblia} would have included parts of the Old Testament The parchments {Greek membranas} were very likely parchments or codices, frequently used in the first century for notebooks, memoranda, or first drafts of literary works. Perhaps these parchments were drafts or copies of some of Paul's letters.
(Source, Life Application Study Bible Commentary).

and

(quoting a source)
Let us mention here an interesting development concerning paper and bookmaking that may also have affected the development of the canon. At least some of the first New Testament writings may have existed in a roll or scroll form if Paul's "books" and parchments mentioned in II Timothy (4:13) were New Testament. But we are not at all sure these were New Testament writings. These parchment may had been Old Testament scrolls Paul wanted to use in his defense. As Alands has pointed out, "All the literature of the period was written on scrolls (including Jewish literature . . .); yet apparently from the very beginning Christians did not use scrolls format for their writing, but rather the codex." (The codex is a "leaf" formed booklet.) They note that only four of the early known papyri were scrolls, and these four were "either opisthographs or written on used material." Roberts and Skeats suggest the papyrus codex was probably used by Christians before 100 A.D. The reason for this change to codices is unclear. It may have been for economic reasons (both sides could be written on; their use of abbreviations show the scribe wanted to shortened the text), convenience in paging back and forth in the writings, or to break from the Jewish use of scrolls, etc.
(Source, The New Testament Canon, by Leland M. Haines).

and lastly

(quoting a source)
By this time, Paul has already sent Tychichus to Ephesus (2 Tim 4:12). He now urges Timothy to bring Mark with him, "for he is very useful in my ministry" (2 Tim 4:11). But most important of all, Timothy is instructed to bring the "book-carrier" that Paul "left with Carpus in Troas, and also the books, and above all the parchments" (2 Tim 4:13). As Skeat has argued these parchments were not scrolls, but parchment leaves---to be sewn in the form of a codex (T.C. Skeat, "Especially the Parchments: A Note on 2 Timothy 4:13. JTS n.s. 30 [1979] pp. 173-177).
(Source, The Unity of the Bible: Exploring the Beauty and Structure of the Bible, by Duane L. Christensen, p. 24).
Timothy was asked to bring Paul's written documents: 1) books and, 2) parchments. Both are documents, but they aren't the same type of documents: Otherwise, Paul would not have distinguished between the two.

The "books {or scrolls}" may have been OT books or possibly even NT books, in partial or fully completed form. They were rolled-up and looked like, and were, what we exclusively call "scrolls" today. Parchments were individual "leaf" pages that were put into a codex. A codex was essentially just like books of today, with a front and back cover, binding, and individual pages.

Paul's requested parchments were probably what we would call "notes," "memoranda," or "rough drafts," imo. The reason being is that parchments were individual pages. Paul could have had them bound or assembled in some fashion and referred to them as "parchments," we don't know. If he did or didn't, the point remains the same. "Books {or scrolls}" and "parchments" were two different kinds of documents for Paul.

How does this relate to the discussion?
Clearly, malista was used to set apart the two distinct types of documents Paul requested.

1 Tim 4:10, NASB
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 {Gk, malista} of believers.
2 Tim 4:13, NASB
When you come bring the cloak which I left at Troas with Carpus, and the books, especially {Gk, malista} the parchments.


I argued {on the old forum} that, on the basis of sentence structure:
A) "all men" are in the grammatical placement of "books {or scrolls}."
B) "believers" are in the grammatical placement of the "parchments."
{Those believers who are believing in the present tense and/or before death; as the Greek of 1 Tim 4:10 also supports, though this echoes back to other arguments I made against post-mortem salvation based on 1 Tim 4:10 alone}.

Based on arguments A & B above, I proposed that, therefore:
C) Malista clearly delineates between distinct separated categories; both in the case of two types of written documents {2 Tim 4:13}, and two classifications of people:
1. "some {men}" who are believing, believers; those having come out from among
2. "all {men}" of those unbelieving, {1 Tim 4:10}.

I don't recall what the response was. It may have been conceded that this was at least one possible interpretation. I don't remember a specific rebuttal. However, I do recollect: I remained non-universalist while the opposing camp continued as universalist or UR....
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

As before, this was mostly for Bro TK.
Thanks and have a good week, all, :)

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Re: I Timothy 4:10 and Universal Reconciliation

Post by Paidion » Mon Oct 20, 2008 7:37 pm

Okay, Rick. You have made it clear that you are not going to debate universal reconciliation.

I respond only to obtain further clarification from you. You quoted from one of your posts on the old forum:
Based on arguments A & B above, I proposed that, therefore:
C) Malista clearly delineates between distinct separated categories; both in the case of two types of written documents {2 Tim 4:13}, and two classifications of people:
1. "some {men}" who are believing, believers; those having come out from among
2. "all {men}" of those unbelieving, {1 Tim 4:10}.
I think this is a great analogy! And I fully agree that just as there were two types of written documents which Paul wanted, but the parchments were the type which Paul especially wanted Timothy to remember, so are there two types of people of whom Christ is the Saviour, but He is the Saviour of those who believe in a special way.

I am not sure how this analogy, or the fact that there are two distinct categories of people, (those who believe and those who don't) mitigates against the teaching of universal salvation.
I would appreciate your explanation of this, so that I can understand your thinking more completely.
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Re: I Timothy 4:10 and Universal Reconciliation

Post by steve » Mon Oct 20, 2008 8:56 pm

If I were a believer in UR, I would give the following answer to the proposed question about 1 Tim.4:10—

All men will ultimately be saved by Christ, in the sense that they will at some time repent (either in this life or after death—possibly in hell), will be reconciled to God and admitted to eternal life and the New Earth.

However, only those who believe during this lifetime will know the complete salvation that God would have desired for all men to find—including the present benefits of knowing Christ in this life, being of assistance to Him and to His servants in advancing His kingdom, and, in the next life, reigning with Him over those who did not convert during their lifetimes.

Thus the ones who believe and endure trial for Christ in this life are promised the inheritance of a kingdom (in the sense of having a ruling role in the kingdom), just as a prince inherits a kingdom from his predecessor. They belong to the capital city, the New Jerusalem, while the "dogs" and such are "outside" the city and have no part in the unique privileges of the Bride.

If asked, further, whether this might seem unfairly to set-up a caste-like system in eternity, I would simply reply that it is a far more merciful "caste system" than one that relegates the less-privileged to eternal torments in the lake of fire. All people, in such a scenario, receive far better treatment than any deserve, and all will be eternally grateful to God for His grace and mercy. There will be no jealousy, haughtiness, or anything less than perfect love felt or expressed between any two parties, regardless which category they may belong to.

As for the "fairness" of such an arrangement, it is a feature of our modern, liberal age to think that fairness is the same thing as entitlement to equal privileges. If God reserves a greater reward for those who choose the path of self-denial and suffering for His sake throughout their lives, while denying the same special honors to those who opposed him until they were brought to repentance under extreme duress, I can see no difference in this policy from that which a wise and just parent, employer, or king might adopt with reference to those subject to them.
Last edited by steve on Tue Oct 21, 2008 12:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: I Timothy 4:10 and Universal Reconciliation

Post by paulespino » Mon Oct 20, 2008 9:41 pm

As for the "fairness" of such an arrangement, it is a feature of our modern, liberal age to think that fairness is the same thing as entitlement to equal privileges. If God reserves a greater reward for those who choose the path of self-denial and suffering for His sake throughout their lives, while denying the same special honors to those who opposed him until they were brought to repentance under extreme duress, I can see no difference in this policy from that which a wise and just parent, employer, or king might adopt with reference to those subject to them.
Good point Steve!

Anyway you always make a good point. :) :)

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Re: I Timothy 4:10 and Universal Reconciliation

Post by RickC » Tue Oct 21, 2008 12:55 am

Hello Don :)

In reply to you, I'll abbreviate & amend my post as follows:

1 Tim 4:10, NASB
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 {Gk, malista} of believers {Gk, pistwn}.


In rebuttal to the proposition that malista, as used in 1 Tim 4:10, indicated "to be saved in a 'special' before-death-way," I offered argumentation based on malista in 2 Tim 4:13.

I should mention that "to be saved in a 'special' before-death-way" wasn't the exact wording in the old thread {which was why I put it in quotes}. But it's consistent with the UR beliefs that were presented. Namely, that there are two "time frames" in which people can be saved:
A) Before death.
B) After death.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

With no intention to debate, I'll give the presuppostitions or main premises of both camps, using bold font in our text to illustrate:

UR
1. God will save ALL people, whether before or after their deaths.

1 Tim 4:10, NASB
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 {Gk, malista} of believers {Gk, pistwn}.


The bolded section is understood to be factual, literal, absolute truth without regard to time, whether in this age or the age to come. Though God hasn't saved everyone yet, He will: His title is "the Saviour of all men" and not only reflects Who He is, but what He will do.

2. God saves people now in a "special pre-death way" as is reflected in the phrase:
especially of believers.

"Especially" points to a "special 'now time frame' kind of salvation." In other words, one of the two "special whens" or, B) After death {above}.
~~~~~~~~~

Non-UR
1. God saves anyone from among ALL people who believes before they die.

1 Tim 4:10, NASB
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.


The reality is: God saves only believers. This reality continues till the end of the age: Salvation is offered to all who live or will ever live. Pre-mortem salvation is the only salvation offered.

2. It is only God who can and does save. As such He exists as the Savior of any and all men. However, salvation requires the particular of belief to be effectual, as reflected in the phrase:
especially of believers.

"Especially" separates living believers from "all [other living] men" who do not believe. God, The Savior, is the potential Savior of all men, whether they accept Him or not: No other can save. God is the effectual Savior only to or for those who believe as per #1, above.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I chose 2 Tim 4:13 as it was a 'close usage' of malista from Paul's writings, being in his other letter to Timothy.

Malista is an adjective in the genitive case. The genetive case, as I'm sure you know, is used in different ways, depending on the context, sentence structure, and so on.

In general, the genitive case describes or defines. It is the case of ‘quality’, ‘attribute’, ‘description’, or ‘kind’. It tends to be adjectival in nature and mainly answers "What kind?"
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Summary, with our text

UR and Non-UR presuppositions or main premises are there to see.
In rebuttal to the proposition that malista, as used in 1 Tim 4:10, indicated "to be saved in a 'special' before-death-way," I offered argumentation based on malista as used in 2 Tim 4:13.

1 Tim 4:10, NASB
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 {Gk, malista} of believers {Gk, pistwn}.


Amended rebuttal of the UR interpretation.
In 1 Tim 4:10, the text itself doesn't describe or define "What kind of time frames are there when God will, eventually, save all men?" While the proposition that God will save all people could theoretically be true; the text doesn't plainly state or address it, imo. However, It can be argued for, based on the UR literal interpretation of the phrase: God, who is the Savior of all men,.

Paul's "time frame" in 1 Tim 4:10 is present tense. The "believers" {Gk, pistwn, another adjective in the genetive case}, indicates those among all the living who are believing.

So, it was and is my position that "especially" {malista} was used in both 1 Tim 4:10 and 2 Tim 4:13 to describe and delineate between "What two kinds of people?" in the former verse, and "What two kinds of documents?" in the latter.

I don't see Paul addressing nor supporting the primary UR proposition that God will save all men; some now, some post-mortem. However, I grant that it can be deduced or, dare I say, imported?, from theological beliefs...which takes us back to the alternate and opposing presuppositions or main premises of the opposing camps.

If Paul's purpose in 1 Tim 4:10 was directly and specifically eschatological, as was argued on the old forum to describe different "time frames of when people can be saved: before or after death"; I think Paul would have stated it plainly and clearly with something like, "God, the savior of all men, saves believers specially now, and He will save all in eternity." URs believe this to be true but I don't see Paul saying it in the text.

I see 1 Tim 4:10 as part of the regular discourse in Paul's larger narrative of the letter, and that he wasn't suddenly addressing any "time frames" other than the present tense. I don't think he was implying or hinting at any other time frame than this....

To wrap it up, and in my opinion:
Paul didn't address "What different 'time frames' will some be saved in and all be saved in?"
Rather, he wrote simply and clearly regarding "What kind of people are saved?"

In any event, I'm glad I studied and even debated the verse. For me, anyway, it doesn't support UR beliefs, though I see and understand how they can be interpreted as such....
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Outside of this, Don, I don't know how to better explain things....

Thanks, readers, and have a good day, :)
Last edited by RickC on Tue Oct 21, 2008 2:11 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: I Timothy 4:10 and Universal Reconciliation

Post by RickC » Tue Oct 21, 2008 1:57 am

Hello Steve...I almost came "that close" to coming to St. Louis.
I'm glad y'all had a good time {guess you had to be there}, 8-)
Maybe next time....

Your post accurately reflects UR opinions and beliefs, imo. However, you didn't give actual interpretive exegetical support from the passage itself. I'm not asking you to. How about:
In my last post I wrote:1 Tim 4:10, NASB
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 {Gk, malista} of believers {Gk, pistwn}.


The bolded section is understood to be factual, literal, absolute truth without regard to time, whether in this age or the age to come. Though God hasn't saved everyone yet, He will: His title is "the Saviour of all men" and not only reflects Who He is, but what He will do.

2. God saves people now in a "special pre-death way" as is reflected in the phrase:
especially of believers.

"Especially" points to a "special 'now time frame' kind of salvation." In other words, one of the two "special whens" or, B) After death salvation.
Would you say this is an accurate portrait of UR exegesis/interpretation?
Asked another way: Was Paul doing eschatological "time frames teaching" on two ages of salvation? If so, is this consistent with most UR interpretations that you know of?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Also, and theoretically speaking: If you were representing Non-Universalism, and without reference to another view of Hell; what would be your exegesis/interpretation of 1 Tim 4:10?

I'm guessing it might be fairly close to mine, though my post isn't nearly as thorough as my old forum stuff {we had several pages or "parchments", lol, just kidding}, ;)

On the old forum I went through much of the chapter for context, phrase by phrase, with Greek studies and excerpts from Commentaries. But anyway....

Thanks, if and when you find time, :)

P.S. Where's TK? and did Tommy Ice convince you of the pre-trib rapture? hahaha.
I'm hoping TK's still around and just busy....

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Re: I Timothy 4:10 and Universal Reconciliation

Post by Paidion » Tue Oct 21, 2008 9:57 am

Thank you, Rick, for your further explanation. Your argument seems to rest on the notion that believers in universal reconciliation hold that:
2. God saves people now in a "special pre-death way" as is reflected in the phrase:
especially of believers.
That idea had never occurred to me until I read it in your post. I never considered the time frame as linked to the "especially".

As long as I have believed in UR, I have held that this "especially" referred to the fact that those who believe are in the process of being saved from sin now and thus are able to escape that severe correction which God will bring upon those who reject Him.

I also held that the "especially" included the rewards of those who believe, on which the others will miss out (as Steve has explained).
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