Paul's Understanding of the Salvation of “All” Men 


The apostle Paul is recognized as the chief expositor of New Testament salvation. In course of his exposition, Paul makes a few statements about salvation inclusive of “all” men. We list these key passages forthwith, emphasizing the word “all” as it appears:


I Tim. 2:1 First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. 3 This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time….4:10 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.


Tit. 2:11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men,…


Rom. 5:18 So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.


These verses lie at the heart of the Universalist claim that God determinedly will “save” every man out of the netherworld and Lake of Fire in ages to come. The word “all” is taken to refer non-exceptionally, unqualifiedly effectually and fully futuristicly of salvation, while the word “desire” is treated completely deterministically.


However, as we are about to show, the thought flow of Paul’s complete apostolic teaching on salvation utterly contradicts the Universalistic reading of his statements. In fact, intentional thoughtful reading of these very verses reveals such contradiction.  Let’s then examine Paul’s complete thought flow in depth.


1.     Paul opens his exhortation to Timothy with an urging to prayer for all men that will ultimately lead to their salvation, which is what God desires or “wills.” The very first truth to grasp is that kingdom prayer as ordered by the Lord Jesus is ever only made by the living for the living within His vision for the ultimate union only of earth and heaven (see the Lord’s Prayer). The netherworld is completely excluded from the universal kingdom prayer mandate of the Lord, and Paul’s order of prayer is built only and entirely on that mandate. No prayer for the dead that would be indispensably necessary to saving the netherworld is exhorted anywhere at anytime in any scripture. The objects of the prayer Paul calls for (kings and all who are in authority) are all living, as are the objects of all his prayers.

If Paul then intended to tell Timothy that God determinedly intends to save the damned out of hell and the Lake of Fire, he would have had to be exhorting him to pray for the damned (not for the living); and if he had been exhorting here for a futuristic prayer for the damned, he would have had to also be exhorting to present prayer for the damned already in hell who God would be including in His saving purpose. And Paul’s own prayers throughout the record of his ministry would be utterly saturated with prayers for the damned now and for those yet to be. Therefore, on the basis alone of the terrestrially limited scope of the New Testament kingdom prayer mandate, the Universalist interpretation of Paul’s words regarding God’s purpose to save all mankind out of the Lake of Fire is revealed to be a humanisticly manufactured falsity.


2.     Paul’s qualified use of the word “all” to refer selectively to “all who are in authority” demonstrates that Paul’s use of the word “all” cannot be force interpreted to have a non-exceptional meaning wherever he uses it. He specifically qualifies his first reference to “all men” (I Tim 2:1) by saying he is talking about “kings” and “all who are in authority.” That is, he is identifying all “classes” of men, but specifically the class of government officials. “All men” in Paul’s immediate idea then is “all classes of men” whom God wishes to save.  This however is only an issue were Paul actually saying that God is determined to effectually save all men without exception. But as is about to be seen, it is not merely interpretively impossible for God to determinatively “save” all men, but it is already factually impossible.


3.     Paul’s complete thought flow (including that of the Book of Hebrews) teaches that salvation is obtained only prior to death and operates only preventatively of the judgment and “the wrath to come  (Rom. 5:9; I Cor. 1:18; 11:32;15:17-18; II Cor. 7:10; Php. 1:28; I Th. 1:10; 2:16; 5:9; II Th. 2:10; II Tim. 2:1012; {Heb. 2:2-3,14-15; 11:28,31}). This means that salvation can only occur prior to entrance to hell and the Lake of Fire. This proves that it is factually impossible for God to have determinedly willed to save all men, because men are already gone to hell and sentencing to the Lake of Fire is determined to occur. According to Paul’s preventative definition of salvation, no one could be in hell now or yet be sentenced to the Lake of fire had Paul meant to say God has determinatively ordained to save all men. God would have already had to have saved all who have died. All of this is to really say that the Universalist concept of “salvation” is not that of biblical salvation, but of a transmutative recreation out of annihilation. This sleight-of-hand definitional swap-out behind the Universalist meaning of “salvation” lies at the root of its heretical assertions.


4.     Paul’s remaining references to the salvation of all men highlight the distinction between universally provisional and delimitedly effectual salvation that runs through the complete thought flow of his teaching. We are speaking specifically of the following passages:


I Tim. 1:6 who gave Himself as a ransom for all,….4:10 …, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers….Tit. 2:11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men,…Rom. 5:18 So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.


It is unnecessary to try to insist that Paul’s meaning of “all” in these passages is qualified by exceptions where the word really only means “without distinction” of “classes” of men as he begins that use in I Tim. 2:1-4. The “all without distinction” meaning does not really apply in these passages because as he says in Rom. 5:18, he is making a non-exceptional comparison of all those who have sinned versus those who have received justification of life. In both cases, the universe of men who have sinned and who have received justification of life is the same.


Thus Jesus really is the Savior of all men without exception. The grace of God has appeared and is bringing salvation to all men without exception. And Christ’s one righteous act of death did result in justification to all men without exception.


But does this therefore somehow mean that God will in the future determinedly rescue all men without exception out of the netherworld? The answer is, “Impossible! 


How do we know these passages can have nothing to do with a future “salvation” of men out of hell and the Lake of Fire? We already know this to be true because we have already proved that Paul’s complete thought flow embraces a salvation that is prior to death and preventative of the judgment. So in his mind there can be no such thing as “salvation” out of hell or the Lake of Fire. Whatever such an idea might be, it is not salvation.  


But beyond this, we simply see that these latest passages all speak to either past completed or presently active saving actions. (See the emphases of tense in the above verses). What this means is that, though these descriptions of salvation indeed apply to all men with exception, they can only be speaking of provisional salvation in principle. They cannot be speaking about effectual salvation in the present life, much less in the netherworld to come at the end of the ages!


Why is that? It’s because if Paul is speaking of effectual salvation in any of these passages, then he would have to be saying that all men without exception are already effectually saved and/or are being brought to effectually saving faith before they die! That is precisely what a forced interpretation of non-exceptionality together with an undiscerning application of effectual salvation renders upon these verses.


If Paul is speaking of all men non-exceptionally in these passages, he can only be speaking of their possessing the provisional salvation available to them that does not guarantee completed entrance into eternal life through proven covenantal endurance. But if he is speaking of effectually guaranteed salvation to eternal life, then he can only be speaking of all men in the qualified sense of non-distinctiveness between classes, races, etc. Any other rendering forces the factual impossibility of all men coming to effectual salvation before they die, precluding any possibility of the need or existence of hell, the judgment and the Lake of Fire.


5.     The provisional vs. effectual understanding of salvation in these passages is “especially” highlighted in I Tim. 4:10 where Paul distinguishes that Jesus is “the Savior of all men, especially of believers…”  The only way that Jesus can be “especially” a Savior to “some” beyond the rest of the “all” is if there is an effectual difference, meaning and application of salvation to the believers not obtained by the rest.


Think about it. If Jesus is indeed the equally effectual savior of all men, than there is nothing particularly “especial” that the believers have received that the rest have not. The distinction is meaningless. It does not really matter if one is a believer or not! All are effectually saved.


But if Jesus is but the provisional Savior of all men, yet especially of believers, then it means that only believers receive something decidedly effectual that does not apply to the rest of provisionally justified mankind. And that is the true understanding according to the thought flow of every speaker in the New Testament beginning with Jesus! Only believers are effectually saved unto life out of death.


The Universalist handling of this word “especially” is to say that the “believers” only have a “superlative” salvation compared to the unbelievers, because the Gk. word “malista” translated “especially” is only used as a superlative everywhere else it is used. That is to say, salvation by faith is only the “most effective” way to salvation. But this is frankly a heretical conclusion. Either faith is the only way to effectual salvation or it is the best among other ways. Can’t be both. That is the Universalist dilemma in this verse. Universalism is unable to submit to the apostolic thought flow that distinguishes a truly universal provisional salvation from a qualified delimitedly effectual salvation and which insists that enduring terrestrial faith is the only way to effectual salvation—a salvation that only delivers in advance from “the wrath to come”


6.     The numerous “enmity sustainers” throughout Paul’s Pastoral Epistles to Timothy and Titus preclude any possibility that he could have intended to teach them that universal reconciliation out of hell and the Lake of Fire was God’s determined purpose. Following is the array of enmity sustainers in the background thought flow behind Paul’s statements on the salvation of all men. In these sustainers, Paul teaches that:


·        some men will yet be considered detestable and worthless (Tit. 1:10-16);

·        some will come to destruction (I Tim. 6:9);

·        some will be rejected (II Tim. 2:12) and   

·        are never able to come to saving truth (II Tim. 3:7);

·        only believers will qualify for age-enduring life (I Tim. 1:16) and

·        final judgment awaits those who will never otherwise believe (I Tim. 5:24)


These statements summarily nullify the Universalist case built solely on Paul’s four pastoral statements regarding the salvation of all men. There are in fact more statements of sustained enmity in these epistles than of salvation’s “allness,” statements which Universalists simply ignore. The truth here however is that had Paul intended to teach a universalistic post-damnation salvation to Timothy and Titus, it would have been impossible for him to make even one statement that leaves any men in a final state of enmity with God as these statements do.    


We especially must compare I Tim. 2:4

4 “who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”


with II Tim. 3:7-9

7 “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8 … men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith. 9 But they will not make further progress.”


If Paul told Timothy in his first letter that God is determined to “save” all men in bringing them to the knowledge of the truth out of the netherworld, then he could not have turned around in his second letter and said that some men can never come to the knowledge of the truth or make further progress! He would have had to have been a schizophrenic to talk that way. But this is what the Universalistic case requires.


7.     Lastly, Paul’s complete apostolic thought flow reveals that he, like all other New Testament writers, believes and teaches that the universal bar of adjudication (Great White Throne), not universal salvation, is the ultimate cosmological reference point wherein judgment is sure and effectual salvation is not (Ac. 17:31; 24:25; Rom. 1:1832; 2:1-6,8-9,12,16; 14:9-12; I Cor. 5:3-5;  II Cor. 5:10-11; 11:15; II Th. 1:5-12; I Tim. 5:24; II Tim. 4:18; {Heb. 2:1-3; 3:6-4:7,11-13; 6:2; 9:27-28;10:27,39; 12:23; 13:4,17}).


The Universalist case is completely founded on a rejection of this underlying thought flow governing all Paul’s letters. Again, were universal reconciliation doctrine true, were it Paul’s cosmologic reference point the way it is for today’s Universalist teachers, Paul could not have written his precisional treatises so as to leave the universal enmity continuum open upon the damned, nor written or preached to make the warning against the final judgment an issue in even one place. Rather, it would be Paul himself who would have articulated all that the Universalist teachers have tried to manufacture ever since.


Thus from the complete background of apostolic thought flow behind Paul’s preaching and teaching, we have just here more than ably disproved the Universalist case from nearly all the core Pauline passages on which it rests. We have rather instead proved that Christian Universalism is an aberrant false gospel preaching a salvation of its own definition and making, to be rejected by every believer in Christ.

(For thorough treatment of the Universalist case made upon Paul's declaration in I Cor. 15:24-26, 28 that at "the end" God becomes "all in all" when He has "abolished death" as the "last enemy,"   please thoroughly review the points and rebuttals in
PART 2, Points 7, 14, 16, 20-22, 25, 27, 29-30; PART 4, Point 105, subpoint 5; PART 6, Points 119, subpoint 1, and 122.)    



Proceed to APPENDIX D        



Chris Anderson
New Meadow Neck, Rhode Island

First Love Ministry
- a ministry of Anglemar Fellowship




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