Impartial Grace: 1 Timothy 4

If you instruct the brothers of these things, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, nourished in the words of the faith, and of the good doctrine which you have followed. But refuse profane and old wives’ fables. Exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise has some value, but godliness has value in all things, having the promise of the life which is now, and of that which is to come. This saying is faithful and worthy of all acceptance. For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we have set our trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe. Command and teach these things.

Let no man despise your youth; but be an example to those who believe, in word, in your way of life, in love, in spirit, in faith, and in purity. Until I come, pay attention to reading, to exhortation, and to teaching. Don’t neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the elders. Be diligent in these things. Give yourself wholly to them, that your progress may be revealed to all. Pay attention to yourself, and to your teaching. Continue in these things, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.

(1 Timothy 4:6-16, emphasis added)

It is ironic that these verses open with “Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths.” Paul continues to teach and to encourage Timothy. He’s a young man leading a congregation and evangelizing his community. His heart is in the right place. Paul admonishes him to hold fast to the message he is giving. There are others, older men, potentially influencing Timothy perhaps causing him confusion. Paul tells him to maintain his bodily exercise for it is good, but being Godly is profoundly superior. Paul exhorts Timothy to accept as truth, “…the living God, Who is the Savior of all men….”

William MacDonald writes in the Believers Bible Commentary regarding these verses, in particular verse 10. 1 Christians have an outlook on life different than those who do not believe in Christ. It is our passion to reach out to unbelievers and tell them the Truth of God’s Holy Word. Dr. MacDonald writes, “The Christian sees beyond the passing things of the world and sets his hope on the living God.” Christians are not ever disappointed in their belief. Dr. MacDonald tells us the reason for our hope is “that He is the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of the those who believe.” We comprehend God’s grace and mercy. We know Christ reigns now.

These verses should not be construed to mean that “only” those who believe are saved, but “especially” those who believe. We should not exclude a whole class of people, unbelievers. In fact, we should take pains to demonstrate their inclusion. God instructs us to love even those who hate us. That would mean to love even the most heinous unbeliever, would it not? Our Lord commands us to love all. It is counter-intuitive to command us to love when He does not, yet that is the contention of many. These scriptures do not declare God is rejecting anyone. God is the Savior of all people. This is Impartial Grace.

1 William MacDonald. “Believer’s Bible Commentary.” (Commentary on 1 Timothy 4). Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995. pp. 2092-2094.

God Is the Savior of All Men

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