I Timothy 2:3-5 KJB - "For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who WILL HAVE ALL MEN TO BE SAVED, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus."
A typical “free willer” named Kevin W.asks: "Question- does God will that all men will be saved, yes or no? 1 Timothy 2:3-4 KJV  For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;  Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. … Yes or no? If your answer is no, you don't believe the scripture. If your answer is yes, it blows holes in your Calvinist doctrine."
Kevin, as usual with all you free willers, you quote from a verse you simply do not understand, and apply it in a way that creates direct contradictions and makes God out to be both a Liar and a Schizophrenic.
YES, God wills "all men" to be saved. But not "every man who will ever be born." IF your interpretation is right, then God is a Liar.
Why? Because Jesus said "the Son quickens WHOM HE WILL" John 5:21, and if some men are not saved, then this means either that they were not among those the Son willed to quicken, or he lied to us.
Jesus also said "ALL the the Father giveth me SHALL COME to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." John 6:37
And Jesus also said "As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life TO AS MANY AS THOU HAST GIVEN HIM."
SO, either the people who do not get saved were not among these "as many as the Father gave to the Son" or Jesus Christ lied.
You free willers are willingly ignorant. You won't even look at the scriptural evidence that proves you’re wrong. You just ignore it because you don't WANT to admit the possibility that maybe, just maybe, you don't understand what the verse really means. Ya think? Nah…..what are the odds? ;-)
The simple key to understanding the verse correctly is seeing what God means by "all men". It does not mean "every man without exception" but "all men without distinction of nation”. THAT is how God uses the phrase.
So, let’s take a closer look at what the verse DOES say, without creating direct contradictions with the rest of Scripture (as “free will” theology ALWAYS does) or making God a Liar.
ESV, NASB, NKJV - "This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who DESIRES all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus."
NIV - "This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who WANTS all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus."
The Catholic Connection
The previous Douay-Rheims Bible of 1582 read like the King James Bible with - "Who WILL HAVE all men to be saved."
But they later changed this and the Douay Version 1950 has: "who WISHES all men to be saved." The St. Joseph New American Bible 1970 and the New Jerusalem bible 1985 both read: "who WANTS all men to be saved."
Throughout the centuries Christians of diverse theological views have understood these verses in very different ways. The King James Holy Bible is consistent within itself and is its own commentary. If my understanding of a verse is not in accord with what is clearly taught in other parts of the Bible, then it is my understanding that is at fault and not the Bible. I believe in the doctrine of election. Jesus Christ says in John 15:16 "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit..." As a result I am often asked to explain these verses here in I Timothy chapter two.
Much of modern Christianity pictures God as a grandfatherly figure wishing so badly that his errant creatures would heed his pleadings and decide of their own free will to accept his offer of salvation. I do not believe the Scriptures support this view of God.
I think it crucial to properly understand is what is meant by the phrase "all men". But first let me point out that many modern versions create a contradiction and contribute to the helpless grandfatherly caricature of God.
The King James Bible, as well as Wycliffe 1395, Tyndale 1525 - "which WILL HAVE all men saved", Coverdale 1535, The Great Bible (Cranmer) 1540 - "which WYLL HAVE all men to be saued", Matthew's Bible 1549, Bishop's Bible 1568 - "Who WYLL HAVE all men to be saued", the Geneva Bible 1587 - "Who will that all men shalbe saued", The Beza N.T. 1599 - "who WILL that all men should be saved", the Bill Bible 1671, Mace's N.T. 1729, Whiston's Primitive N.T. 1745- "Who WILL HAVE all men to be saved", even Wesley's 1755 translation - "Who WILLETH all men to be saved", the Worsely Version 1770, Haweis N.T. 1795, The Thomson Bible 1808 - "who WILLETH all men to be saved", The Revised Translation 1815, The Thompson N.T. 1816, the Kneeland N.T. 1823, The Living Oracles 1835 (George Cambell), the Pickering N.T. 1840, the Etheridge Translation 1849, the Hewett N.T. 1850 - "who WILL HAVE all men to be saved", the Boothroyd Bible 1853, The Kenrick N.T. 1862 - "who WILL HAVE all men to be saved", the Anderson N.T. 1865, Noyes Translation 1869, Young's 1898 - "who doth will all men to be saved" Rotherham's 1902 Emphasized Bible, Webster's 1833 translation, The Alford N.T. 1870, the Revised Version 1881 - "who WILLETH that all men should be saved", the Davidson N.T. 1876, the Smith Bible 1876, The Revised English Bible 1877, the Sharpe Bible 1883, The Dillard N.T. 1885 - "who WILL HAVE all men to be saved."
The Clarke N.T. 1913 - "who WILL HAVE all men to be saved", The New Testament Translated from the Sinaitic Manuscript (Anderson) 1918, Weymouth Translation "who IS WILLING", The Centenary Translation 1924 - "whose WILL it is that all men should be saved", Noyes N.T. - "whose will is that all men should be saved", The New American Bible 1991, the Third Millennium Bible 1998, the 21st century KJV 1994, The Urim-Thummin Version 2001,The Tomson N.T. 2002, The Heritage Bible 2003, The Revised Geneva Bible 2005, The Concordant Version 2006, The Hebraic Transliteration Scripture - "who WILL HAVE all men", Online Interlinear Andre de Mol 2010, The Work of God's Children Illustrated Bible 2011 - "who WILL HAVE all men to be saved", and the Knox Bible 2012 all correctly translate the passage as God "WILL HAVE all men to be saved", or "wills" all men to be saved.
The verb is thelo and, when used of God, it means TO WILL to do something. And since He rules over all, what He wills He does.
When the King James Bible says that God WILL HAVE all men to be saved, this is the strongest possible way of saying that this WILL be done by God Almighty.
"being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of HIS OWN WILL." (thelema) Ephesians 1:11
"For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom HE WILL." John 5:21 (thelo)
"So then it (the purpose of God according to election v.11) is NOT OF HIM THAT WILLETH, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy."(thelo)
Romans 9:16 "Therefore hath he mercy on whom he WILL have mercy, and whom he WILL he hardeneth." Romans 9:18 (thelo)
"But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord WILL." 1 Corinthians 4:19 (thelo)
In 1 Timothy 2:4 the NKJV, ESV and NASB say God "DESIRES all men to be saved " while the NIV, ISV, NET, Holman Standard say he "WANTS all men to be saved".
This rendering contradicts passages where this same verb or noun form is used in referrence to God. He "worketh all things after the counsel of HIS OWN WILL" Ephesians 1:11; "For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth WHOM HE WILL" John 5:21; and in Romans 9:16, 18 we read: "So then it is NOT of him that WILLETH, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. Therefore hath he mercy on whom HE WILL have mercy, and whom HE WILL he hardeneth."
Again with a different word but with the same thought is James 1:18 "OF HIS OWN WILL begat he us with the word of truth."
It is God himself "which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure" Philippians 2:13. One of my favorite verses is Daniel 4:35 "And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and HE DOETH ACCORDING TO HIS WILL in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?"
Now comparing scripture with scripture, what does "all men" mean? I believe it means all men without distinction of national heritage, social standing, wealth or intellect. It does not mean all men without exception.
In the Old Testament God chose only the nation of Israel to be his people. "For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth." Deut. 14:2.
But now the Messiah has come and he is to be the Saviour of his people which are taken out out every nation, tribe, kindred and tongue. "God did visit the Gentiles to take out of them a people for his name." Acts 15:14.
Even in the Old Testament times a Gentile could come to Israel and learn of the true God. Notice carefully the expression used in Solomon's prayer at the dedication of the temple in I Kings 8:41-43: "Moreover concerning A STRANGER, that is not of thy people Israel, but cometh out of a far country for thy name's sake; (For they shall hear of thy great name, and of thy strong hand, and of thy stretched out arm;) when HE shall come and pray toward this house; Hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and do according to all that THE STRANGER calleth to thee for; that ALL PEOPLE of the earth may know thy name, to fear thee, as do thy people of Israel."
Notice that this prayer refers to one Gentile who comes to pray to the true God. "All people of the earth" therefore does not mean every individual but all men without distinction of nationality, be they a Jew or a Gentile.
Again in Isaiah 56: 6, 7 it says: "Also the sons of the stranger (Gentiles) that join themselves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD...Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer...for mine house shall be called an house of prayer FOR ALL PEOPLE." Obviously this does not mean every individual without exception will join himself to the LORD, but all without distinction of nationality.
When the apostle Paul relates his conversion experience we can see how this same thought is expressed. In Acts 9:15 the Lord tells Ananias concerning Paul: "But the Lord said, Go thy way; for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel."
Yet in Acts 22:14, 15 Paul himself tells us that Ananias came to him: "And he said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth. For thou shalt be his witness unto ALL MEN of what thou hast seen and heard."
Do you see it? All men = the Gentiles, kings and the children of Israel. All men without distinction of nationality or social standing. Obviously Paul did not speak to Noah's sons, the Cherokee Indians, Genghis Khan or Bill Gates.
Luke 2:29-32 - At the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the devout Simeon came by the Spirit into the temple, took up the babe in his arms and said: "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of ALL PEOPLE; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel."
Obviously not every individual Gentile or Jew would be lightened by this salvation, but the Messiah will save all people without distinction of nationality, not all people without exception.
This is why Paul continues in I Timothy with these significant verses after saying that God will have all men to be saved. In verses 6 and 7 he says: "Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity."
Why does he say he is not lying but telling the truth that he was a preacher and teacher ofthe Gentiles? Because now in the New Testament dispensation Christ, the Jewish Messiah, is gathering from the heathen Gentiles a people for his name and together the elect Jews and the elect Gentiles are what make up the "all men". This I believe is a consistent, Biblically defined use of the term "all men" or "all people".
The Bible Commentators
The Bible commentators are completely at odds with each other on what these verses mean. What one affirms, another denies and says the exact opposite. But I believe John Gill hits the nail right on the head and has the best explanation of what the phrase "God will have all men to be saved" actually means.
God is not a Liar and he is not a Schizophrenic.
John Gill states - "Who will have all men to be saved,.... The salvation which God wills that all men should enjoy, is not a mere possibility of salvation, or a mere putting them into a salvable state; or an offer of salvation to them; or a proposal of sufficient means of it to all in his word; but a real, certain, and actual salvation, which he has determined they shall have; and is sure from his own appointment, from the provision of Christ as a Saviour for them, from the covenant of grace, in which everything is secured necessary for it, and from the mission of Christ to effect it, and from its being effected by him: wherefore the will of God, that all men should be saved, is not a conditional will, or what depends on the will of man, or on anything to be performed by him, for then none might be saved; and if any should, it would be of him that willeth, contrary to the express words of Scripture; but it is an absolute and unconditional will respecting their salvation, and which infallibly secures it: nor is it such a will as is distinguishable into antecedent and consequent; with the former of which it is said, God wills the salvation of all men, as they are his creatures, and the work of his hands; and with the latter he wills, or not wills it, according to their future conduct and behaviour; but the will of God concerning man's salvation is entirely one, invariable, unalterable, and unchangeable: nor is it merely his will of approbation or complacency, which expresses only what would be grateful and well pleasing, should it be, and which is not always fulfilled; but it is his ordaining, purposing, and determining will, which is never resisted, so as to be frustrated, but is always accomplished: the will of God, the sovereign and unfrustrable will of God, has the governing sway and influence in the salvation of men; it rises from it, and is according to it; and all who are saved God wills they should be saved; nor are any saved, but whom he wills they should be saved: hence by all men, whom God would have saved, cannot be meant every individual of mankind, since it is not his will that all men, in this large sense, should be saved, unless there are two contrary wills in God; for there are some who were before ordained by him unto condemnation, and are vessels of wrath fitted for destruction; and it is his will concerning some, that they should believe a lie, that they all might be damned; nor is it fact that all are saved, as they would be, if it was his will they should; for who hath resisted his will? but there is a world of ungodly men that will be condemned, and who will go into everlasting punishment: rather therefore all sorts of men, agreeably to the use of the phrase in 1 Timothy 2:1 are here intended, kings and peasants, rich and poor, bond and free, male and female, young and old, greater and lesser sinners; and therefore all are to be prayed for, even all sorts of men, because God will have all men, or all sorts of men, saved; and particularly the Gentiles may be designed, who are sometimes called the world”
"He that hath ears to hear, let him hear." Luke 8:8
The doctrine called 'Limited Atonement' or 'Particular Redemption'. The free will Arminians frequently criticize the Calvinists of limiting the effects of the Atonement to only the elect of God. Well, this is true. However if the Arminian position is examined, it will be clearly seen that it is they who limit it far more. They do not believe that anyone was actually saved, forgiven or redeemed by the shed blood of the Lamb of God. Sounds surprising? Well, may I suggest you listen to what C.H. Spurgeon had to say about this in this 3 minute video.
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