What does Paul mean when he says,
There are several thoughts we want to consider when we ask, “What does 1 Timothy 4:10 mean?”
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. (NASB) 1 Timothy 4:10
Are All Men Saved?
Some have said that 1 Timothy 4:10 teaches that all men are saved. If so, then we need to ask why did Jesus encourage His disciples to tell others that they could have their sins forgiven only by believing in Him?
And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved. (NASB) Acts 4:12
We should also ask, “Why did Jesus say that when our earthly life is over, some will suffer forever and others will not?”
And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life. (NASB) Matthew 25:46
The answer to both questions is that not all men are saved. Those who do not believe in Jesus are going to suffer forever. That is the message of the next verse too! Those who are resurrected second (Rev. 20:5-6) will suffer pain in an eternal fire.
And death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (NASB) Rev. 20:14-15
Especially of Believers
The Greek word for “Savior” is SOTAR. It means more than just “savior.” It also has the sense of “one who rescues” and “preserver.” Jesus is the preserver and the one who rescues all men. Too often we get trapped in theological ideas and forget these Greek words were used in everyday life. Jesus does protect and care for all of us in this life here on earth. He preserves all of us. He helps even non-Christians build their homes (Ps. 127:1-2). He provides rain and provides food (Acts 14:17).
But those who believe in Jesus are those who are completely saved. They are saved from God’s anger and from the penalty they deserve because they are sinners. Only those who believe or depend on Jesus to forgive them of their sins will spend eternity with God. They will not suffer in the lake of fire. The names of these men and women are written in the book of life.
Yes, God loves all of us. He cares for His creation. But only those who believe, trust, and depend on Jesus to forgive them will live with God forever.