by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 1 Study # 4 Lincolnton, NC August 1, 2004
4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
1901 ASV Translation:
4 who would have all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth.
5 For there is one God, one mediator also between God and men, himself man, Christ Jesus,
6 who gave himself a ransom for all; the testimony to be borne in its own times;
There are no textual variations between the Textus Receptus and the Nestle/Aland 26 in these verses.
I. The "and" of verse 4 seems to be functioning in an "epexegetical" way...i.e. it is telling us "what" the nature of "salvation" is: coming into a "knowledge" of the Truth.
A. The issue is the meaning of the word "knowledge".
1. The word is an intensified form of a rather typical word for "knowing".
2. The intensified form is used consistently to refer to an experienced-based, knowledge that has a great deal of precision in it.
3. This "knowledge" has the impact of transformation; it is the kind of "knowing" that automatically impacts both heart and mind so that a fundamental change of values and methods occurs.
B. Paul uses this word in the pastoral epistles in...
1. 1 Timothy 2:4 -- this is our text and it "equates" salvation with this knowledge.
2. 1 Timothy 4:3 -- in this text Paul makes "belief" the instrument of this "knowing".
3. 2 Timothy 2:25 -- in this text Paul makes "repentance", as the gift of God, the forerunner of this "knowledge"
4. 2 Timothy 3:7 -- here Paul admits one can "learn forever" and never come to this kind of knowledge.
5. Titus 1:1 -- in this introduction Paul makes this kind of "knowledge" something that only the "elect" have and he pointedly says that it is "according to godliness" -- i.e. it moves those who have it in the direction of godliness (the accurate perception of the glory of God).
C. This raises this question: by what means does God bring a man to this kind of "knowledge"?
1. The word is directly tied to a primary verb that has, as its root meaning, "knowledge that is derived from the processes involved in experience".
a. These processes include active sensory experience [gaining data by way of the five senses].
b. These processes include active rational interaction with the experience based data in order to "understand" the data in respect to "reality".
2. This means that for God to bring man to this kind of knowledge, He has to be involved with man on two levels: He has to direct man's experiences so that the raw data can "stream into his brain" through the sensors; and He has to direct man's thought processes so that the raw data is not diverted from Truth into cunningly devised fables. These are two factors that only God has the ability to accomplish. No man can control history so that a particular man can be "put through his paces" in terms of sensory perception; and no man can skillfully direct his thoughts so that he sidesteps the delusional and embraces only the Truth.
D. Paul's use of this word in the context of God's "will" that "all men" be saved is interesting in that he uses a term that is only applicable to the "elect". This is a tacit admission that though God "wills" all men to be saved, He also "wills" other things that make it impossible.
1. No one can escape this conclusion. Even those who are most adamantly opposed to the concept of individual election unto salvation will always posit some "reason" for why all men are not saved -- unless they use this verse to espouse a doctrine of Universalism, which is in direct contradiction to Jesus, Who declared that the majority of men "go down the broad way that goes into destruction". And, their "positing" of a reason is always traceable backwards to the fact that God "refuses" to do whatever it is that would result in their salvation. For those who are committed to "free will", the claim is always that God will not force Himself on anyone. But, this is nothing more or less than the claim that God "wills" salvation to result from "free will" and, if that causes men to be lost, they are lost by the action of their "free will". This claim is made with a complete blindness to the fact that if God "wills" any principle that effectively results in the lack of salvation for men, He has "willed" something that is contrary to His "will" that all be saved.
2. Why is it that men always want men to be responsible if they are lost? Is it not for two reaons: one, that they think that it is unconscionable for God to put men under judgment on the basis of "another's" sin; and, two, that they seek a way to be responsible if they are "saved"?
a. Man's lostness is the consequence of Adam's horrible failure. Period.
1) If men think this unconscionable, they must needs think that justification by reason of another's righteousness is also unconscionable if they are going to be consistent. And who is it that decries salvation by Jesus Christ? The "saved" don't mind for a minute that their sins were placed upon another -- because men do not care about anything but whether they will benefit from the "reality". They scream bloody murder if they are not going to benefit and they greedily grab for all the goodies they can get when they are going to benefit. "Justice" has little to do with it.
2) Paul was unequivocal in Romans 5 when he made "lostness" a result of Adam's disobedience and "salvation" a result of Christ's righteousness. Thoughtless "stiff-necked" opposition to this will not change the reality one whit.
b. However, the degree of the judgment that will come upon him will be rooted, not in his alienation from God by virtue of Adam's failure, but in his pursuit of that alienation against his better judgment.
c. And, the lust for "credit" for "being saved" is nothing more or less than the lust to "boast" and exalt oneself over others. As long as the difference between the "lost" and the "saved" is touted to be the result of "free will", there will be Pharisaism and arrogance in the ranks of those who think themselves "saved" by reason of "their free choice"...and there will be an automatic hard edge of criticism directed toward any who dare to contradict them because "only by pride cometh contention" [Proverbs 13:10; KJV]. But, of course, that hard edge of criticism will be justified as "contending for the faith". The problem is, "free will" is not the faith. It is a frontal attack on the faith.