The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Savior of "All Men"

I’m starting to see these texts in a different light. I wonder if when Paul and John write “all men”, they are simply referring to men of all nations? After all, many nations had their own gods and dieties. So is it possible that “all men” only meant men of all nations who believe? Why or why not?

I suggest you check out on You Tube “Does All mean all” By L Ray Smith. He is the guy who really opened my eyes to the possibility of UR.

I take “all” as hyperbole meaning anything from majority-great majority-all.

When Paul used ‘all’ in the second half of Romans 5, he used it to compare Adam and Christ (the ‘second Adam’).

I think the ‘all’ used for the effect of Adam’s sin clearly meant - every single human being.
I think the ‘all’ used for the effect of Christ’s obedience meant - every single human being.

My sense is that there is in this instance no hyperbole, as to the extent of Adam’s sin or of Jesus’ work - and that work is said by Paul to be superabundantly GREATER than the original sin.

(Hyperbole is certainly used in other places. In this case though, the force of the argument is that sin and justification are all-encompassing - even to the point of the created universe, which suffers because of our sinfulness, and will be released to its original glory when we are glorified.Wow!!!)

I am only a hopeful universalist so I cannot offer you any certainty. Nevertheless, it seems to me that the distinction is between Jews and Gentiles. When the writers say all men, sometimes it is referring to just these two groups. But, that could still include universal salvation because of the verses that say the fullness of the gentiles and all of israel. It doesn’t neccesitate universalism though which seems to be a problem. It really boils down to likeliness and I am not sure where that lies.

Paul, I think, is clearly talking about every human being - it is after all his main purpose of Romans to show that Jews and Gentiles alike - i.e., everyone! - is on equal footing with God - all in the same boat - all ‘in sin’ but then all ‘justified’.

That being said, I understand the ‘hopeful’ part of hopeful Universalist. That’s a responsible stance imo.

Consider Universalist author Thomas Whittemore’s remarks on the death of Christ:


  1. Because God not only wills the salvation of all men; not only hath purposed to save them all; not only hath promised it; not only hath confirmed that promise by an OATH (see previous issues); but also hath provided the means, in the death of Christ, for the salvation of all men. Jesus died for all. “He gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” (1 Tim. 2:6) “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he, by the grace of God, should taste death for every man.” (Heb. 2:9) “And he is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2) Here are three expressions: 1st, “ALL;” 2nd, “EVERYMAN;” 3d, “THE WHOLE WORLD.” It seems as though the sacred writers took the utmost care to guard against being misunderstood in this important particular. Some would have us believe (see Prof. Stuart’s Com. on Heb. 2:9) that these expressions are to be understood only in a general sense, in opposition to the contracted opinions of the Jews, who confined the blessings of God to their own nation only; and that the words are intended to declare, that Jesus died for Gentiles as well as Jews. We cannot so restrict the sense. Look at the connection in which these passages are found, and it will be seen that the terms used, apply to all men, in the widest sense of these terms. Paul instructs Timothy to pray for all men; not for Jews and Gentiles in the general sense, but for kings and all in authority; for this is good and acceptable in the sight of God, who will have all men to be saved. So John says, “if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father.” (1 Epistle John 1:1) Is not the language here designed to apply to all men: Who can dispute it?

  2. The labor of Christ will be efficacious for all for whom He died. “He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied.” (Is. 53:2) “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me.” (John 12:32) If the Redeemer died for all men, can He be satisfied with the salvation of a part only? Can He look back upon his work and say, it is well done? Will He not rather draw all men unto Him, by the power of His truth, and make them holy and happy forever? Are we not authorized to expect such a result, from the fact, that He gave Himself a ransom for all? And if they are all drawn unto Him, will they not all be saved?

  3. When Jesus was born, the angel said to the fearful shepherds, “Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” (Luke 2:10) The tidings of the Redeemer’s birth, were certainly good tidings to all people. They should all hear these tidings, and to all they should be good tidings. But how can this be, if a part of the human race are never to be benefited by the Redeemer’s sacrifice?

  4. The people who heard Jesus preach said, “we have heard Him ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.” (John 4:42) Jesus cannot be the Savior of the world, if the world will never be saved. What Jesus taught the Samaritans, that induced them to regard Him as the Savior of the world, may be inferred, 1st. from His conversation with the woman at the well of Jacob, (John 4) and 2nd, from the exclamation of the Samaritans, in the 42nd verse. He evidently did not preach to them the doctrine of endless misery; for would they have concluded from the fact of his preaching that doctrine, that he was THE SAVIOR OF THE WORLD?”

  5. John, the beloved disciple of Christ, said, “We have seen, and do testify, that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.” (1 John 4:14) This is the same character that the Samaritans judged the Lord to possess, from his personal instruction. (John 4:42) John says, “We have seen;” i.e. he knew it from his acquaintance with his Master. And do testify. We cannot hide this truth; we will proclaim to men, that Jesus is the Savior of the world.

Context would be why or why not.

The short answer is that everywhere else in the Greek canon where that term {malista} is used, including by Paul, including elsewhere in 1 Tim itself, the distinction is one of emphasis among a generally stated group, but never anywhere else is it an exclusion between two groups. It always everywhere else fully includes the prior general group (or reality, like grieving over having to leave to go somewhere) with some kind of special emphasis on a limited group (or reality, like especially grieving for this reason).

Local or immediate context would have to be appealed to for this one example to count differently, but the local context is 1 Tim 2:3-6, where Paul emphasizes both the scope of evangelism and its divinely willed success (both of those being reasons why we ought to cooperate with God by praying for the salvation even of “hyper-ogres”!) Moreover, referring to immediately preceding context: affirming God can and will save all sinners from sin does thank God for every creature of God and affirms that the truth that every creature of God is ideal and nothing is to be cast away but rather (where necessary due to sin) made holy through the Logos of God (Who is Christ) and by {enteuxis} or “pleading” (1 Tim 4:4-5) – the same word used by Paul back in 1 Tim 2 to refer to evangelizing and praying for the salvation of even hyper-ogres, and which is never used elsewhere in the New Testament except for seeking the salvation of someone.

Universal salvation fits the grammatic context elsewhere; the local context by grammatic connection; and the immediate context of why evangelism is important. It also fits the rabbinc form of affirming X is true as a basis for how-much-moreso Y is true.

A hypothesis that Paul only meant all kinds of men but meant to say that only those who believe among those all kinds will really be saved, isn’t technically impossible (especially since I agree that “all” can be used without necessarily meaning full particular inclusion – notice that my usage of “especially” here fits how {malista} is used everywhere else in the Greek scriptures :wink: ), but I abductively infer that the hypothesis doesn’t fit the numerous contexts as well. So I regard it as the weaker theory. :ugeek:

I go into longer detail here: JRP's Exegetical Compilation: 1 Tim 4:10

Doesn’t Paul’s phrase “especially of believers” indicate that “all” means “all” in this sentence?

Those who have entrusted themselves to Christ are in the process of being saved from wrongdoing (or “sin”) now. So they are “special” in that sense. But those who haven’t entrusted themselves to Christ, are not yet being saved from wrongdoing. The salvation process will begin when they do. Or if they don’t at any point in their lives,they will have to undergo God’s correction after they are raised from the dead in order to be saved from wrongdoing.

Actually that is really good point. Christ came for the Israelites, And yet the gospel says he saved the world. So to understand the Idea that he was to save everyone who believed we need to ask who were the people he was talking to, and what was he telling them? The Hebrew (Jews) were having a hard time dealing with the fact that Jesus was the messiah… He came to save everyone who believed in him to vacate the soon to be onslaught of the Roman siege. This is history. It happened and God proclaimed it through the prophets.

Simple, but complex.

Okay, that’s a good explanation, so thanks for the response! I do have one question though. If everyone is saved, then why does Paul preach that we should pray for the salvation of “hyper-ogres”?

God is the Saviour of all men, especially believers. Believers have a special relationship with God found through the exercising of their faith toward Christ — this is a transforming relationship called salvation. Out of reconciled humanity believers are as priests before God (Rev 5:9b-10) and unto the world to bring God’s blessing (Mt 5:14-16).

I see again, though, in Romans 1:16 that “salvation” is seemingly limited to only those who believe. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.”

This seems to indicate any believer will be saved. And the distinction between Jews and Gentiles goes along with what I said in the OP where “all men” refers to men of all nations and ethnicities, not every single person who has ever lived. I really don’t see much argument for UR here unless salvation meant salvation from being a “slave to sin”, and was more of a spiritual thing that we experience on this earth.

That’s how I see it too, qaz.

This seems to indicate any believer will be saved. And the distinction between Jews and Gentiles goes along with what I said in the OP where “all men” refers to men of all nations and ethnicities, not every single person who has ever lived. I really don’t see much argument for UR here unless salvation meant salvation from being a “slave to sin”, and was more of a spiritual thing that we experience on this earth.

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The first thing “The Savior of All Men” is a title like “Christ” so “men from all nations” is meaningless relating to this title “Savior of All Men.” Also the UR understands that to be saved you must believe so this distinction is about whether one believes in this age or the next age, possibly the Lake of Fire.


G’day OL…

My suggestion would be that THAT is closer to the ballpark.

Amen, but unfortunately, religion keeps getting in the way.

Everyone will eventually believe. Romans 1:16 does not deny that. But if people, who are given time to repent, fail to do so before the “day of wrath” (Rom.2:5), then they will not be - saved - on that day but suffer the things spoken of in Romans 2:1-11 and elsewhere. For further comments on Romans 2, there is the following thread:

Everyone is not now saved, nor will they be when Christ returns. But, as regards final destiny, everyone shall be saved.

As workers together with God (1 Cor.3:9) the saints are encouraged to pray for all humanity (1 Tim.2:1-6).

very true… I did a quick word study on ‘malista’, the Greek word Paul uses which means ‘especially’…Paul NEVER uses ‘malista’ in the sense of something being ‘exclusive’.

Paul’s use of the Greek word ‘malista’ (English meaning=‘especially’)

Galatians 6:10
Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
Philippians 4:22
All God’s people here send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar’s household.
1 Timothy 5:8
Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
1 Timothy 5:17
The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.
2 Timothy 4:13
When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments.
Titus 1:10
For there are many rebellious people, full of meaningless talk and deception, especially those of the circumcision group.
Philemon 1:16
no more as a servant, but above a servant – a brother beloved, **especially **to me, and how much more to thee, both in the flesh and in the Lord!

so how can ‘malista’ in 1 Timothy 4:10 possibly be meant in the ‘exclusive’ sense ?.

1 Timothy 4:10
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.

The ‘hellists’ are being patently absurd. By saying that in 1 Tim 4:10 the word ‘especially’(‘malista’) is meant in the exclusive sense, they are in effect saying that Paul has contradicted himself, has contradicted his use of ‘malista’ in all the other Pauline passages where it is plainly used in an inclusive sense.The ‘ECT crowd’ are clutching at straws.

I can add this to the other prior answers (and it would have been my first answer anyway :wink: ): there is a strong theme in the NT (and even, to a lesser extent, in the OT, where it expresses a different way), where the first people in line to be zorched by God are those who insist that God will not be saving those-other-people-over-there.

Even non-universalists recognize this judgment against a non-salvational attitude, with some frequency or at least to some degree. A Calvinist, for example, who doesn’t believe that God ever even intended to save the non-elect from their sins, might easily still think he himself, since he doesn’t know for sure God’s intentions in particular cases, ought to be cooperating with God by reaching out as an ambassador of the reconciliation to everyone in principle, even though in practice he would agree that it’s worse than pointless to reach out to those whom God doesn’t even intend to save from sin. (Or he might even agree there’s a point to reaching out to them, too, for the purpose of some kind of illustration.)

But even if a hardcore Calv didn’t want to work against God by accidentally reaching out to the non-elect (and so maybe for this reason among others, she worked at trying to figure out who isn’t of the elect so that she can treat them properly as “cigarette people” or whatever), she would at least agree that to refuse to pray for the salvation of God’s elect, even if “hyper-ogres” are included among the elect, whom she would prefer with strong emotions not to be saved and not to pray for, then she would be the one sinning against God, and against God’s saving long-suffering patience (God’s {makrothumia}). To insist on the non-salvation of God’s elect would even be evidence that she has not yet been regenerated by God, and worse that her own assurance of being of the elect was only a psychological lie she was telling herself as an unregenerate sinner! It is the non-elect, after all, who insist on God’s elect never being saved!!

I’m using an extreme example from among non-universalist believers here, to illustrate the point. Although presenting the same point from a different direction, using the Calvs again, they would have the first same answer in principle to the same challenge put to universalists (sometimes by inattentive and clumsy Calvinists, in my experience :wink: ): if God is going to surely save the elect anyway, then why bother praying for the elect to be saved? BECAUSE CO-OPERATING WITH GOD IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO! – if I refuse to cooperate with God, then I’m the one who is sinning. If God intends to save those people from their sins, out from doing injustice and into doing justice forevermore, then I had better be jumping along with that and meanwhile asking “how high would You have me be jumping, God?” :laughing: Or else I’m the one insisting on final injustice.

(…which, cough, then becomes an indictment on Calv theology, even though not necessarily on Calvs personally, insisting on final injustice. :unamused: :wink: But then I’m a Christian universalist, so not my problem, yay. :mrgreen: )

That’s my primary answer in principle. In context of 1 Tim chapter 4, however, Paul has a more specific and practical application in view: stating this as a reminder of the importance of personal discipline by people who are already Christians, not to be doing this or that. For while bodily discipline, simply by itself, is of little profit, the spiritual discipline of godliness is profitable for all things since it holds the promise for the present life as well as for the future life to come. But for this reason we labor and strive: because we have fixed our hope on the living God Who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.

This is basically the same as his statement before the love-hymn of 1 Corinthians, that it doesn’t matter how we suffer, or discipline ourselves, or whether we learn all knowledge or whatever: all that becomes useless and even worse than useless, if we do not have God’s true love, {agapê}. What is God’s true love? To be the savior of all persons. To always strive to save all persons, and to never give up or lose hope or lose faith in this love, because this love shall never fail.