What does Paul mean when he says that Jesus is the Savior of all men, especially of believers in 1 Timothy 4:10.
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. 1 Timothy 4:10 (NASB)
The Father Is The Savior of All Men
Some believe that 1 Timothy 4:10 teaches that Jesus died for all men and so all men are saved. If that is true, then we must ask why did Jesus encourage His disciples to tell others that they could have their sins forgiven only by believing in Him? That is, all men will not be saved. Why did the disciples teach that salvation is found only in Jesus Christ?
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20 (NASB)
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 eternal punishment 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 all these questions is that all men are not saved. Those who do not believe in Jesus are going to suffer eternal punishment forever. That is the message of the next passage too! Many 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) Revelation 20:14-15
Therefore, since all scripture is written by God (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21), we cannot ignore some verses in favor of others, the truth can only be obtained by considering all the scriptures together. 1 Timothy 4:10 is not telling us that all men go to heaven or that Jesus can potentially save all men.
Notice that Jesus or Christ is not even mentioned in the verse. God the Father is the one mentioned. He is the Savior of all men. God the Father saves in several ways. First He is the preserver of every man. The Greek word for “Savior” is soter. It can mean “savior,” “one who rescues,” deliverer or “preserver.” Scripture reveals that God the Father preserves, provides and protects.
In the generations gone by He permitted all the nations to go their own ways; and yet He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.” Acts 14:16-17 (NASB)
. . . He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things . . . Acts 17:25 (NASB)
God the Father is the preserver. Too often we get trapped in theological ideas and forget these Greek words were used in everyday life to refer to other events. In the English language the word save can refer to a life guard saving or rescuing a drowning person. We must not always assume that soter refers to being saved in a theological sense. God the Father does protect and care for all of us in this life here on earth. He preserves all of us. He helps non-Christians build their homes (Psalm 127:1-2). He provides rain and provides food (Matthew 5:44-45).
God The Father Is The Savior of All, Especially of Believers
Note the last phrase “especially of believers.” Yes, God the Father is the preserver of the lives of men, God the Father also saves believers in a special sense. He sent Jesus to die for our sins (John 5:23, 36; 6:44, 57; 8:16, 18; 12:49; 14:24; 17:21, 25; 20:21). God the Father did provide another way for men to be saved. He sent Jesus to die for our sins so that believers can have life eternal (Romans 10:9-13). God the Father is the Savior especially of believers since He saves believers from an eternity in hell. He forgives their sins. Remember how Jesus taught us to pray in what we call the Lord’s Prayer. The Lord’s Prayer is directed to God the Father and Jesus tells us to say this about mid-way through the prayer,
. . . And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. Matthew 6:12 (NASB)
Those who believe in Jesus as their Savior and Lord are those who are truly saved because God the Father forgives them their sins. They are saved from the wrath of the Father (Romans 3:23-26; 1 John 2:1-2) and, consequently, from the penalty they deserve because they are sinners who have sinned. Only those who believe in Christ will have their sins forgiven and 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 the Father loves all of us. He cares for His creation, but only those who believe, trust, and depend on His Son, Jesus Christ, will be forgiven by Him. Believers will live with God forever. God the Father is truly our Savior and so is Jesus Christ who died for our sins.
Reference Links:Book of Life
Searching For God
Heaven, Paradise, Sheol, Hell, Hades and Lake of Fire
Is salvation by grace through faith alone?
Predestination and Human Responsibility
God the Father – The One We Hardly Know