TODAY’S READING: 1 TIMOTHY
“The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” (1 Timothy 1.15)
Why did Jesus come into the world?
To save sinners.
Simple. Clear. Direct.
This is exactly what Jesus said about himself. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3.17) To condemn the world would be to put it to death. However, to save the world would be to give it life. Also, we should note that Jesus came to save the world not a small group of people.
Everyone in the world is a sinner “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3.23) But, read carefully the end of 1 Timothy 1.15, which says, “to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” Paul is saying that he is chief of sinners, first in the line of sinners, the worst of sinners, the most prominent of sinners, the prototype of sinners. But, God saved Paul. Therefore, if God saved Paul, then he will save all other sinners, which again is everyone, too.
Because of hard hearts, many don’t desire all sinners to be saved. For the hard-hearted, only those that believe the right things, the things they believe, should be saved. But, this is not God’s desire.
“This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2.4)
God “desires all people to be saved.” Therefore, “Jesus came into the world to save sinners,” which is all people.
Desires is the Greek word theleo. According to Strong’s, theleo is apparently strengthened from the alternate form of haireomai, which means to take for oneself, to prefer. But, theleo is stronger than God preferring all people to be saved. Therefore, theleo means to determine as an active option from a subjective impulse. God determines, he actively chooses, that all people be saved.
This is in contrast to the Greek word boulemai, which means to be willing, be disposed, intend. Boulemai denotes a passive acquiescence in objective considerations. In other words, I will open to the idea and will allow it to happen, but I’m not going to do anything to make it happen. This is to prefer, to wish, something would happen.
God is not acquiescing, passively wishing, that all be people be saved. No, God is actively determining, purposing, desiring, that all people be saved. That’s why he sent Jesus into the world.
Many Christians love to quote Isaiah 55.11, which says, “So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”
But, I don’t ever previous verse quoted, which tells us how the word that goes out of God’s mouth should be.
Isaiah 55.10 says, “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater.”
The rain and snow are sent from heaven to bring life upon the earth and provide for all people. So, is the word that goes out from the mouth of God. It too is sent from heaven to bring life upon the earth and provide for all people.
Jesus is the word sent by God from heaven into the world to save sinners. First Timothy 1.15 says, “The saying,” which is ho logos. So, we could actually translate this verse as “The word is faithful and deserving of full acceptance because Christ Jesus [the word of God] came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.”
Yet, some will still say there are those that hate God so much that these haters of God can outlast God’s desire to save them.
But, in a roundabout way, later in the letter Paul reiterates that all people will be saved. “For to this end will toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.”
God “desires all people to be saved.” Therefore, “Jesus came into the world to save sinners,” which is all people. Because Jesus is the “living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.”
“Especially of those who believe” implies that believers are one class or type of person among others. Therefore, to say that Jesus is “the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe” means that he will save people that don’t believe. It may happen in a different manner. The unbeliever may go through a different process. But, Jesus saves them nonetheless.
Of course, they will not always remain unbelievers. “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2.9-11)
Why will God save all people?
Because he is a God “who gives life to all things.” (1 Timothy 6.13)
“Gives life” is the Greek word zoogoneo.
According to the Theological Lexicon of the New Testament, zoogoneo has two meanings. One of these meanings is to leave alive as opposed to kill.
To give life to all things means that you give death to nothing.
According to Strong’s zoogoneo means to engender (beget, procreated, cause to exist) alive and by analogy means to rescue from death. Jesus was sent into the world to rescue all people from death not send them to an eternal death.
Hebrews 2.14-15 says, “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.”
“The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” (1 Corinthians 15.26)
If death is defeated, then can anything be dead?
If anything is still dead, then death has not been defeated.
But, until death is finally defeated we are to have faith and live in the expectation that:
God “desires all people to be saved.” Therefore, “Jesus came into the world to save sinners,” which is all people. Because Jesus is the “living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.” For, God “gives life to all things.”
To live in the expectation that God will save all people is the only way we can truly fulfill Jesus’ command to love our neighbor, which includes our enemies, as he loved us.