The Evangelical Universalist Forum

What does thelo mean? Wish or will or desire?


“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; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” 1 Tim. 2.4-6

1 Timothy 2:4 - who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

“The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. This is the way our Savior God wants us to live. He wants not only us but everyone saved, you know, everyone to get to know the truth we’ve learned: that there’s one God and only one, and one Priest-Mediator between God and us - Jesus, who offered himself in exchange for everyone held captive by sin, to set them all free. Eventually the news is going to get out.” -The Message-

What does “will have” mean?

Does God wish for all mankind to be saved?

Does God hope all mankind will be saved?

Does God desire all mankind to be saved?

The primary meaning of thelo=

Strong’s Greek: 2309. θέλω (theló) – to will, wish

“To be resolved or determined, to purpose: absolutely”

“It is in Him, and through the shedding of His blood, that we have our deliverance–the forgiveness of our offences–so abundant was God’s grace, the grace which He, the possessor of all wisdom and understanding, lavished upon us, when He made known to us the secret of His will. And this is in harmony with God’s merciful purpose for the government of the world when the times are ripe for it–the purpose which He has cherished in His own mind of restoring the whole creation to find its one Head in Christ; yes, things in Heaven and things on earth, to find their one Head in Him. And you…”

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Here are all of the uses of thelo when (1) applying to God and (2) indicating whether or not whatever is related to the verb thelo is accomplished. The examples from the Old Testament are from the Septuagint.

As can be seen, no matter what the word is that conveys His wants, be it wants, desires, wills, delights in, pleases, or wishes, He accomplishes. Thus, when applied to God, thelo indeed means “To be resolved or determined, to purpose: absolutely.”

2 Chronicles 9:8 “Blessed be the LORD your God who delighted in you, setting you on His throne as king for the LORD your God; because your God loved Israel establishing them forever, therefore He made you king over them, to do justice and righteousness.”

Job 23:13 “But He is unique and who can turn Him? And what His soul desires, that He does.”

Psalm 18:19 “He brought me forth also into a broad place; He rescued me, because He delighted in me.”

Psalm 115:3 “But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.”

Psalm 135:6 “Whatever the Lord pleases, He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps.”

Proverbs 21:1 “The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes.”

Isaiah 55:11 “So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.”

Matthew 26:39 “And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.’”

Mark 14:36 “And He was saying, ‘Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.’”

John 5:21 ”For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes.”

Acts 18:21 “but taking leave of them and saying, ‘I will return to you again if God wills,’ he set sail from Ephesus.”

Romans 9:18 “So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.”

Romans 9:22 “What if God, willing to demonstrate his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience the objects of wrath prepared for destruction?"

1 Corinthians 4:19 “But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I shall find out, not the words of those who are arrogant but their power.”

1 Corinthians 12:18 “But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired.”

1 Corinthians 15:38 “But God gives it a body just as He wished, and to each of the seeds a body of its own.”

Colossians 1:27 “to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

Thus, it is biblically supported to make the following argument.

Premise 1: God desires that all be saved.
Premise 2: God accomplishes all He desires.
Conclusion: All will be saved.

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To stake out a claim in territory of Godness is the ultimate trespass. The territory of, and which is, Godness, permits no squatters.

Venturing a claim there to even the tiniest plot is verboten—nay; no way; nix that; nyet! Yet to attempt such infamy is encouraged by conventional Christian teaching. Not only is it encouraged, it is considered an absolute necessity for setting forth, and traveling successfully, on the Way.

It’s not any old plot within Godness territory we’re talking about. It’s a place of vastly strategic importance. It is situated on Deity high ground. Allow me to explain:

With whatever else it is that characterizes God, be it known that one characteristic stands out as clearly as any other, i.e., GOD ALWAYS HAS HIS WAY IN ALL THINGS…ABSOLUTELY!

There is no place for compromise on that point; there’s no, “Well, golly gee, My little creatures, I’ll cede over to y’all that particularly strategic stronghold of sovereignty. After all, I want my kingdom to include a democratic principle. Y’all deserve a vote on how We do things around here. If y’all don’t like what I propose, speak up, I’ll listen and make whatever adjustments are necessary to not infringe on your ‘free will,’ on your claim to a portion of My sovereignty. Share and share alike, is what I say.”

This nonsense must be cleared up in advance of the consummation of all things, and it will be, for it is “…that every knee will bow, of those in heaven and on the earth and under the earth, and that every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil. 2: 10, 11 NASB) Jesus is not the One who bends His knee to us, except, in His self-emptying, to figuratively wash our feet, as He who came not to be served, but to serve, and give His life a ransom for many. (Mark 10:45) Nothing can stand in the way of His Lordship. Being Lord means that all authority has been given to Him in heaven and earth, with the power to enforce His authority. (Matt. 28:18; Rev. 7:12)

There is among most Christians the idea that though the Father desires great and good things for all mankind, yet they insist that things will not actually turn out that way. They imagine that the Lordship of Christ simply amounts to Him having the authority and power to punish us for not letting Him have His Way, i.e., since they’ve staked out that strategic plot within the territory of sovereignty. They think it simply means He’s bigger and stronger than us, and if He can’t have His way, then according to the authority vested in Him by God, with the corresponding power, He’ll show us who’s boss vindictively.

We need to consider how determined Father and Son are.

It’s the cross of Christ that reveals God’s determination to have His Way. He was of a mind and will to BE, in action, what He IS by nature: perfect Love. It meant the Way of the Cross; The Via Dolorosa. With the Father, and our Lord Jesus, it was, “so be it,” and it was. Do you dare imagine that God will allow even one drop of the precious shed blood of Christ to turn out to be wasted, of having no final application to some souls? Do you dare imagine that God is a God who will settle for cutting His losses as best He can? Or do you imagine that They never planned on a universally grand and good conclusion, as is shamefully insisted by our Calvinist brethren.

Don’t think I’m only getting in the face of our Calvinist brethren. While they insist that God, from eternity, has elected some to salvation, and all the rest to damnation, and it’s in that sense that God has His Way, Arminianism perceives God to have chosen to be subject to the will of man. Dare we imagine that God will be denied the holy desire of His heart? How utterly pathetic it is that Christians have settled on it having to be one or the other of the above. The intellectual contortions involved in trying to prove one or the other would be laughable if it were not actually a matter of bearing false witness against God.

Grand and glorious is the Divine plan: God will settle for nothing less than sharing Himself in all His glory with all mankind in a new heaven and new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness.

(Isa. 40:5; Hab. 2:14; 2Pet. 3:13) Through Isaiah, the Lord testified that the knowledge of the glory of the Lord will fill all the earth as the waters cover the sea. The sense of that glorious statement is that, when compared with the New Testament’s teaching on knowing God, it conveys that all that is earthen will be filled with the experiential and intimate knowledge of the Lord. God Himself will be what we in divine fellowship KNOW. Reality and perception shall finally meet as one. That is, we shall know God, as God knows Himself. I’m raising an issue here that is at the heart of the refreshed reformation that is presently making itself known in pulpit and pew, among the formally trained in theology, and among those who, though not formally trained in such things, know simply that their God is a good God, good always, and good to all. -John Gavazzoni-


“Who will have all mankind to be saved”=

To will.

To have in mind.

To intend.

To be resolved.

To be determined

To purpose.

To desire, to wish.

To love

To like to do a thing, be fond of doing

To take delight in, have pleasure in doing.


Strengthened form of haireō

To determine

Yes, my friends, make zero mistake: our Father desires and wishes to be in union with you and I. And that is precisely the goal to which He moves in His determined purpose, intention & resolve!

Whose will prevails?


1 Timothy 2:4
… who desires ALL people to be saved and come to full knowledge of [the] truth.

It’s an active, ongoing result of a previous action.
And in the ongoing result of that action; desires (wants, wills) ALL MEN to be saved and come to the knowledge of truth. The action is indicative. Nowhere is it subjunctive, or that of being contingent or probable, nor imperative on the subject’s response. Neither is it Optative, as in being unlikely or wishful thinking that mankind might come to this salvation and knowledge.


Yes, θελει is a present active indicative. And the word itself can mean " to be resolved or determined, to purpose." However, it can also mean “to desire” or “to wish.”