1 Timothy 2:4 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

1 Timothy 2:4, NIV: who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

1 Timothy 2:4, ESV: who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

1 Timothy 2:4, KJV: Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

1 Timothy 2:4, NASB: who wants all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

1 Timothy 2:4, NLT: who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.

1 Timothy 2:4, CSB: who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

What does 1 Timothy 2:4 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

What seems like a simple statement by Paul, that God wants to see "all" people find salvation, becomes very complex based on one's assumptions. The Greek phrase is pantas anthrōpous, echoing the same universal sentiment as in 1 Timothy 2:1, where Paul encouraged prayers on behalf of "all people." The terminology refers to mankind in general, including both men and women. The desire being expressed here applies to all people.

God has all wisdom and can sovereignly choose certain people who will believe (Romans 9:18) and also allow people to decide to believe in Christ (Ephesians 2:8–9). Jesus came to provide a way to know God (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). However, not everyone will believe. God's desire is for all people to come to faith in Him, according to this verse and others (2 Peter 3:9). In basic terms, the Bible presents reasons to believe that God chooses us for salvation, and that He offers us a choice to be saved, and that not all people are saved.

Taken in a shallow sense, all of this can appear contradictory. And yet, all three concepts are presented in Scripture. The discussion on how these ideas relate to each other is beyond the scope of a short commentary. There are many competing ideas which seek to harmonize the concepts of free will and God's sovereignty. In the end, all we can or need to know is what we each face: a need for a personal relationship with Christ. The word "saved" used here is sōthēnai, which involves the idea of rescue or restoration.

Beyond simply being saved, God also wants people to come to the "knowledge of the truth." This includes the idea of understanding what is right about God, or the sound doctrine often mentioned by Paul in this letter. This same phrase is used by Paul in 2 Timothy 2:25; 3:7, Titus 1:1, and by the author of Hebrews in 10:26.