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Calvin on 1 Timothy 4:10

Calvin on 1 Timothy 4:10

10 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. - 1 Timothy 4:10

If you're unfamiliar with this verse than I envy you. As a Calvinist, I am well familiar with it. This verse is one that is often brought up when discussing the nature and character of the atonement. That discussion typically proceeds from God (through Christ) being "Savior of all men" requires Him to have done something sufficient to save all men and that something must have been atonement on the cross.

Now I've got issues with that. Not the logic per se but the theological presuppositions that are being brought to the table. And these presuppositions are not limited to one particular side of the argument. Individuals both for and against Limited Atonement often utilize that presuppositions and goes to town either 1) proving their Unlimited Atonement point or 2) trying to show how all doesn't equal all.

Well let me tell you where I stand. I believe in Limited Atonement and I believe in this passage that all really does mean all. I learned to think this way from John Calvin. I do have some slight variations on his thought. And though many on both sides might disagree with him its only fair to hear him out,

Who is the Savior.  This is the second consolation, though it depends on the former; for the deliverance of which he speaks may be viewed as the fruit of hope. To make this more clear, it ought to be understood that this is an argument drawn from the less to the greater; for the word σωτὴρ is here a general term, and denotes one who defends and preserves. He means that the kindness of God extends to all men. And if there is no man who does not feel the goodness of God towards him, and who is not a partaker of it, how much more shall it be experienced by the godly, who hope in him? Will he not take peculiar care in them? Will he not more freely pour out his bounty on them? In a word, will he not, in every respect, keep them safe to the end?

Calvin's main point is that "savior" need not immediately bring to mind eternal salvation. There are multiple uses of the word in the New Testament. Some support his thoughts and other don't. It is unfair to push a word's meaning unilaterally when context really should play a role. Thoughts?


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