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1 Timothy 2:4

King James Version (KJV)
Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Who will have all men to be saved - Because he wills the salvation of all men; therefore, he wills that all men should be prayed for. In the face of such a declaration, how can any Christian soul suppose that God ever unconditionally and eternally reprobated any man? Those who can believe so, one would suppose, can have little acquaintance either with the nature of God, or the bowels of Christ.

And to come unto the knowledge of the truth - The truth - the Gospel of Christ, should be proclaimed to them; and it is the duty of all who know it, to diffuse it far and wide, and when it is made known, then it is the duty of those who hear it to acknowledge and receive it. This is the proper import of the original word, that they may come, εις επιγνωσιν αληθειας, to the acknowledgment of the truth - that they may receive it as the truth, and make it the rule of their faith, the model and director of their life and actions.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Who will have all men to be saved - That is, it is in accordance with his nature, his feelings, his desires. The word “will” cannot be taken here in the absolute sense, denoting a decree like that by which he willed the creation of the world, for then it would certainly be done. But the word is often used to denote a desire, wish, or what is in accordance with the nature of anyone. Thus it may be said of God that he “wills” that his creatures may be happy - because it is in accordance with his nature, and because he has made abundant provision for their happiness - though it is not true that he wills it in the sense that he exerts his absolute power to make them happy. God wills that sickness should be relieved, and sorrow mitigated, and that the oppressed should go free, because it is agreeable to his nature; though it is not true that he wills it in the sense that he exerts his absolute power to produce it. A parent wills the welfare of his child. It is in accordance with his nature, his feelings, his desires; and he makes every needful arrangement for it. If the child is not virtuous and happy, it is his own fault. So God wills that all people should be saved. It would be in accordance with his benevolent nature. He has made ample provision for it. He uses all proper means to secure their salvation. He uses no positive means to prevent it, and if they are not saved it will be their own fault. For places in the New Testament where the word here translated “will” ( θέλω thelō), means to desire or wish, see Luke 8:20; Luke 23:8; John 16:19; Galatians 4:20; Mark 7:24; 1 Corinthians 7:7; 1 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Corinthians 14:5; Matthew 15:28. This passage cannot mean, as many have supposed, that God wills that all kinds of people should be saved, or that some sinners of every rank and class may be saved, because:

(1) the natural and obvious interpretation of the language is opposed to such a sense. The language expresses the desire that “all men” should be saved, and we should not depart from the obvious sense of a passage unless necessity requires it.

(2) prayer and thanksgiving 1 Timothy 2:1 are directed to be offered, not for some of all ranks and conditions, but for all mankind. No exception is made, and no direction is given that we should exclude any of the race from the expressions of our sympathy, and from an interest in our supplications. The reason given here for that prayer is, that God desires that all people should be saved. But how could this be a reason for praying for all, if it means that God desired only the salvation of some of all ranks?

(3) in 1 Timothy 2:5-6 the apostle gives reasons showing that God wished the salvation of all people, and those reasons are such as to prove that the language here is to be taken in the most unlimited sense. Those reasons are:

(a)that there is one God over all, and one Mediator between God and people - showing that God is the Father of all, and has the same interest in all; and,

(b)that Christ gave himself a ransom for all - showing that God desired their salvation.

This verse proves:

(1)that salvation is provided for all - for if God wished all people to be saved, he would undoubtedly make provision for their salvation; and if he had not made such provision, it could not be said that he desired their salvation, since no one can doubt that he has power to provide for the salvation of all;

(2)that salvation should be offered to all people - for if God desires it, it is right for his ministers to announce that desire, and if he desires it, it is not proper for them to announce anything contrary to this;

(3)that people are to blame if they are not saved.

If God did not wish their salvation, and if he had made no provision for it, they could not be to blame if they rejected the gospel. If God wishes it, and has made provision for it, and they are not saved, the sin must be their own - and it is a great sin, for there is no greater crime which a man can commit than to destroy his own soul, and to make himself the eternal enemy of his Maker.

And to come unto the knowledge of the truth - The truth which God has revealed; the “truth as it is in Jesus.” notes, Ephesians 4:21.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
The disciples of Christ must be praying people; all, without distinction of nation, sect, rank, or party. Our duty as Christians, is summed up in two words; godliness, that is, the right worshipping of God; and honesty, that is, good conduct toward all men. These must go together: we are not truly honest, if we are not godly, and do not render to God his due; and we are not truly godly, if not honest. What is acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, we should abound in. There is one Mediator, and that Mediator gave himself a ransom for all. And this appointment has been made for the benefit of the Jews and the Gentiles of every nation; that all who are willing may come in this way, to the mercy-seat of a pardoning God, to seek reconciliation with him. Sin had made a quarrel between us and God; Jesus Christ is the Mediator who makes peace. He is a ransom that was to be known in due time. In the Old Testament times, his sufferings, and the glory that should follow, were spoken of as things to be revealed in the last times. Those who are saved must come to the knowledge of the truth, for that is God's appointed way to save sinners: if we do not know the truth, we cannot be ruled by it.
Ellen G. White
This Day With God, 95.3

Now the question is, Are you gaining in the knowledge of the truth? Have you a living connection with Jesus Christ? You see Abraham had, and he talked with angels, and he could ask a favor of them. You see that Moses had a living connection with God, and his earnest petition was that he might see the glory of God. “Show me Thy glory,” was his petition. Well now, the Lord did not rebuke him for making that request; he was not presumptuous in trying to know more of God and His glory. But we see that that mighty man of faith was hid in a cleft of the rock, and the hand of God was placed over the rock, and then He revealed to him His glory. TDG 95.3

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Ellen G. White
This Day With God, 85.4

God gives more than money to His stewards. Your talent of imparting is a gift. What are you communicating of the gifts of God in your words, in your tender sympathy? Are you allowing your money to go into the enemy's ranks to ruin the ones you seek to please? Then again, the knowledge of the truth is a talent. There are many souls in darkness that might be enlightened by true, faithful words from you. There are hearts that are hungering for sympathy, perishing away from God. Your sympathy may help them.... TDG 85.4

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Ellen G. White
This Day With God, 13.4

The Lord requires our undivided affections. If men are not wholehearted, they will fail in the day of test and proving and trial. When the enemy shall put his forces in array against him, and the battle seems to go hard, at the very time when all the strength of intellect and capability, and all the tact of wise generalship, is needed to repulse the enemy, those who are half-hearted will turn their weapons against their own soldiers; they weaken the hands that should be strong for warfare. God is testing all who have a knowledge of the truth to see if they can be depended on to fight the battles of the Lord when hard pressed by principalities and powers and the rulers of the darkness of this world and wicked spirits in high places. Perilous times are before us, and our only safety is in having the converting power of God every day—yielding ourselves fully to Him to do His will, and walk in the light of His countenance (see 1 Peter 2:9). TDG 13.4

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Ellen G. White
That I May Know Him, 327.2

God gives more than money to His stewards. Your talent of imparting is a gift. What are you communicating of the gifts of God, in your words, in your tender sympathy? ... The knowledge of truth is a talent. There are many souls in darkness that might be enlightened by true, faithful words from you. There are hearts that are hungering for sympathy, perishing away from God. Your sympathy may help them. The Lord has need of your words, dictated by His Holy Spirit.... TMK 327.2

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