God - The Saviour of All Men....
“For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.” 1st Timothy 4:10
In Christian circles I would be labelled a universalist, though truth be told, the label, “universalist,” doesn’t go far enough. If I were a universalist I would believe that God will not punish anyone in hell forever. Any who go to “hell” will eventually be set free. I would also reject the idea that God is going to annihilate most of humanity, i.e. all those not saved, as some believe. However I am beyond that when it comes to hell. I would go so far as to say that there is no such place if it is defined as a place of never ending punishment. I am convinced that such a place does not exist so the idea of any rescue from hell isn’t relevant. And yes I am very aware of the 50+ verses in the King James Bible that mention “hell.” However, I am also aware of several Bible translations in which the word hell never appears even one time. Many of the verses that contain the word hell make absolutely no sense unless one is willing to confine Jacob and David, for example, to hell.
It is my belief that God is indeed the “Saviour of ALL” men though I would suggest to the reader that the current fundamental Christian view of salvation is severely flawed. In other articles we will deal with this in more detail but for now let me simply say that salvation as understood within the culture of the Bible and in its proper context has nothing to do with being rescued from some place called hell. You can’t find that view of salvation anywhere in the Old Testament. When we get to the New Testament, some very inconsistent and horrendous translating (see our article What The Hell is Hell) creates the impression that Jesus threatened humanity with everlasting punishment in some place called hell or the lake of fire.
When we properly understand salvation as Jesus and others taught it in the Bible, we discover that it is all about being set free from our ego or carnal mind as Paul calls it so that we can live a joyous, free, liberated and whole life. It is the ego or carnal mind that continually causes us to miss the mark when it comes to living a life of purity, joy, abundance, etc. Missing the mark by the way is the actual definition of the Hebrew word translated as sin. To further stir the pot, I would also suggest that our concept of what constitutes a believer is also flawed. We will save that discussion for another article.
So here I am, suggesting that much of Christianity and the messianic movement have mistaken views of hell, salvation, believers, the Bible and therefore... ultimately God. Doesn’t that sound totally arrogant? I remember a friend of mine saying to me, “So Doug, you are suggesting that Christianity to a great degree has got it wrong for nearly 2000 years but now you supposedly have it right. How is that possible?” Well.....
First, if my views were mine alone, I too would be worried and wonder how it was possible. However, my views aren’t just mine. Many within Christianity and also outside of it, both today and in the past, have embraced the positions I am presenting. Most Christians however are taught very little about the many varied beliefs that have existed over the centuries within Christianity. Many would be surprised to find out that some major Christian tenets of faith are relatively new, only surfacing a couple of hundred years ago. Many Christians don’t realize how many differences exist within Christianity today. To some, the views expressed on this web site may seem new, strange and yes, even heretical, but they may be surprised to find out how common and accepted they are within other branches of Christianity as well as those outside the Christian world.
For many years I was part of the evangelical, fundamental Christian world. Around 2001 up to about 2005 I was very active within the messianic world, a movement that by its very nature is as fundamental as fundamental Christianity and perhaps even more so. A trait that we all seem to possess to some degree but seems to prevalent within fundamentalism is the view that we have the truth and nothing but the truth, so help us God. What we say the Bible says or what we say the Koran says, is without question, exactly what it says, and if you disagree, well obviously you are wrong and the penalty for your rejection of the truth, our truth, can be extremely severe. In fact, it just might warrant us killing you.
The truth is that no matter how adamant anyone is when it comes to declaring the truth, be it from the Bible, Koran or simply our own intellect, that declaration of truth is nothing more than someone’s interpretation of the Bible, the Koran, etc. Let’s take a look at Christianity. Virtually every fundamental Christian or messianic group would claim that they know “the truth” when it comes to the Bible. There is just one little problem, none of them can agree on that truth despite the fact that they are all using the same book. Here are a few examples.
1) Some claim that a person absolutely has to be baptized to be “saved.” Others would vehemently disagree. 2) The role of women in the church is hotly debated with extremely divergent positions held within different Christian denominations. 3) Some believe that once you are “saved” you cannot lose that salvation. Others would argue the exact opposite. 4) Some believe that all believers should speak in tongues. Others think it is nothing but a carnal experience at best and at worst, demonic. 5) Some see the Godhead as 3 persons, others just one. 6) Some celebrate Christmas and Easter while others oppose them choosing to celebrate Passover, Tabernacles, etc. 7) There are huge disagreements over the substance and timing of the 2nd coming of Jesus. And finally, there is even disagreement over the 10 Commandments. The Roman Catholic version is not the same as the Protestant version.
The Christian Church Can’t Even Agree on The 10 Commandments
And yet every pastor, evangelist, Bible teacher, priest, etc. will get up and declare his or her version/interpretation of the truth to be the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help him/her God. “Truth” be told, as much as the Protestant church and the messianic world may deride the Catholic church for its position on the Pope being infallible concerning certain tenets of the faith, virtually every fundamental religious organization believes to some degree in the infallibility of their beliefs. Understand that I am not suggesting that believing something to be true is wrong. It is what it leads to that seems to be the problem. It is the resulting mind set that develops. We end up carving in stone a set of beliefs that we call a doctrinal statement or a statement of belief and then use those beliefs to determine who is right or wrong, who can be part of our group and who is excluded and ultimately even who gets to spend eternity with God and who gets to burn forever in hell.
Now let me be up front... in essence, I am no different than those I have already mentioned. What you read will be nothing more than my interpretation of some verses in the Bible. It will be entirely up to you whether you accept my interpretation or reject it and that is absolutely okay. I am going to share with you what I believe to be true though I hope it is done with a couple of differences.
The number one difference might be that over the years I have discovered that what I thought was absolutely true turned out to be not so true. So, I am far less dogmatic today about many things and am really comfortable with the view that when it comes to the absolute truth, I know just a little. For some, that position would be viewed as weak and even dangerous, especially in fundamentalism where an adherence to a set of doctrines is really the key component to one’s faith and ultimately salvation. I could be tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine that comes forth. My response to that is “You are absolutely right.” It could definitely happen but personally, I would rather take that chance than find myself stuck in a place where I am not open to new revelations, insights and truth. If it comes down to this, I would rather take the chance of being deceived than risk clinging to a erroneous set of beliefs that in the long run, diminish my chance to experience oneness with God and all of humanity.
The second difference is this... I certainly have nothing to threaten you with, no sword of Damocles hanging over your head, nor would I want to. More and more I am less inclined to think in terms of right and wrong, good and evil. It seems to me that this is what got us in trouble in the first place according to Genesis 3. Instead I am more and more inclined to think in terms of spiritual transformation, of connecting with God and experiencing the oneness with God and others that Jesus and many others spoke of and lived out. I am more and more focused on becoming liberated from the horrendous bondage we humans manage to entrap ourselves in. I am more and more inclined to focus on relationships, vertically with God and horizontally with others than determining some kind of doctrinal statement to adhere to. As they say in the business world, it is all about the bottom line. Jesus’ words in Matthew 22 are really my bottom line.
Matthew 22:36-37 “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”
So after all that, let’s look at 1st Timothy 4:10. If something in this article helps you, edifies you or encourages you, great. If it doesn’t, well that is okay too.
“For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.” 1st Timothy 4:10
Verse ten in the fourth chapter of 1st Timothy is one of the many verses that truly encourages me and gives me great hope even when this world seems to manifest madness to the “nth” degree. If we simply take verse 10 at face value, it states unequivocally that God is the Saviour of all men. It doesn’t say that God is potentially the Saviour of all men or that He could be or He might be the Saviour of all men. It simply states as fact, that God is the Saviour of all men.
Nor does it put any conditions upon that salvation. It doesn’t demand from any human being anything to make God become the Saviour of all men. It is simply presented as a fact. We need to remember that something can be true even though most of humanity may not be aware of it or experience the many benefits that arise out of awareness of a truth. For example, if you believe the world is flat, you probably won’t be too inclined to sail to far from home. You just might fall off the edge. However, once you become aware of the truth, then all of sudden, enormous opportunities and benefits arise. The earth being round was always true but you simply weren’t aware of it. So too with God being the Saviour of all men. Unfortunately much of the world isn’t aware of that or they have been presented a view of God and salvation that makes little if any sense and so they reject the Christian God.
Pick Out The Key Word in 1st Timothy 4:10
If you had to pick out one word in verse ten that you think could really help us understand what it is telling us, what would it be? Perhaps my choice will surprise you. It is the word SPECIALLY!
You might wonder why I would select that word over the other possibilities such as trust, Saviour, all or believe. I hope that as you read this article you will see why I think “SPECIALLY” is the key word.
Specially = Malista
The Greek word that is translated SPECIALLY is malista. We find the following in a Strong’s Concordance --- G3122 malista malista mal'-is-tah Neuter plural of the superlative of an apparently primary adverb mala mala (very); (adverb) most (in the greatest degree) or particularly: - chiefly, most of all, (e-) specially.
We are told malista is a superlative. Thayer’s Lexicon states that malista is an adverbial superlative confirming Strong’s description. My Chambers dictionary tells me superlative means “raised above others to the highest degree.” Webster’s states “Highest in degree; most eminent; surpassing all other. In grammar, expressing the highest or utmost degree; as the superlative degree of comparison.”
Based upon these definitions we could translate 1st Timothy 4:10 in the following way: “God is the Saviour of all men but believers experience salvation to the highest degree.” If all men are not saved than there is no reason for a superlative to describe believers. Paul would simply say “God is the Saviour of all believers.”
In order to confirm this premise, we will be doing something very radical. We will actually turn to the other passages in the Bible in which we find malista and see what those verses tell us about this word translated specially in 1st Timothy 4:10. We will actually let the Bible interpret itself to a great degree. Okay that was a bit sarcastic and sarcasm is a cheap way of making a point. However, doing our best to let the Bible interpret the Bible is something that Bible believers need to focus on a lot more. Let’s look at some passages where we find the word malista.
“Of whom I have no certain thing to write unto my lord. Wherefore I have brought him forth before you, and specially before thee, O king Agrippa, that after examination had, I might have somewhat to write.” Acts 25:26
Here we see malista translated as specially. In the chapter Festus states that he has brought Paul to the place of hearing in Caesarea so that he could appear before “you” and especially the king, Agrippa. The first group, or the “you” that Festus mentions, is the group made up of the chief captains and the principal men of the city mentioned in verse 23. The 2nd group, which in this case is an individual, is King Agrippa who obviously would be part of the group that included the chief captains and principal men of the city. In fact as the King he could be referred to as the commander in chief and would certainly be the “superlative” member of the first group.
“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” Gal. 6:9-10
Paul instructs his readers to do good unto all men but especially (malista) those who are of the household of faith. Obviously those in the second group, the household of faith, are part of the first group, all men. However, Paul is telling us that when it comes to well doing, the household of faith is the superlative group. In this case, doing good to those in the household of faith would take precedence but it doesn’t preclude us from doing good to all people.
“All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar’s household” Philippians 4:22
Malista is translated as chiefly in this verse but we could easily insert especially. Again we have a primary group, i.e. the saints, and then a secondary group, in this case the saints in the household of Caesar. Pointing out that saints in Caesar’s household would be part of all the saints is about as unnecessary as one could get. However, in this case it seems that the saints within Caesar’s household held the Philippians in very high regard, higher than the other saints did.
“But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” 1st Tim. 5:8
Similar to Galatians 6:9-10, Paul tells those in Galatia that they need to provide for others such as relatives, their faith communities etc. This is the first group but within that first group, Paul identifies the superlative group, that being their immediate families. Again, those in group two are part of group one but are unique in some way.
“Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine” 1st Timothy 5:17
What is the first group in this verse? Obviously it is elders and it can’t be potential elders or elders who may someday become elders. Otherwise you would be giving double honour before they even became elders. What is our superlative or 2nd group? It is the elders who are spiritual teachers. They are definitely worthy of double honour.
“The cloak that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments” 2nd Timothy 4:13
Here our first group consists of books though scrolls would probably be a better translation. Within those scrolls we find a superlative smaller group, the parchments. Out of all the scrolls at Troas, Paul especially wanted the parchments.
“The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished: But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries.” 2nd Peter 2:9-10
Staying absolutely consistent, we see again in these verses in 2nd Peter, one larger group and within that larger group a smaller group who are the same as the first group but are pointed out for a particular reason.
Counting 1st Timothy 4:10, we have looked at 8 passages in which we find malista. In every case, those identified as being part of the second or “superlative” group were part of the first group as well but for various reasons the second group was further acknowledged. However, the first group possessed something that the second group had as well but the second group had “more” of it, or was “more” important for whatever reason.
If we remain consistent in our understanding and interpretation of 1st Timothy 4:10 and the other verses we looked at, I cannot see any other conclusion that can be reached other than the following --- ALL men are indeed saved by God but there is something special or superlative for those who know this and are classified as believers. What might that be?
The list could be very long but we could start with a few things. Believers who know that God has everything under control and will not fail can come to an awareness and understanding of God that far exceeds those people who don’t have that awareness. They can experience what it is like to live out of the life/spirit of God right now in this lifetime. Their carnal minds and egos can be overcome. The dysfunctionality that most humans experience can be replaced by joy, peace, love, compassion, gentleness etc. One can tap into the divine mind of God, into divine consciousness and experience divine creativity within themselves. Radical forgiveness can become a reality in our lives, even to the point of forgiving those who may intend to kill us. Summing it up, we can experience salvation or wholeness as we prosper in body, soul and spirit. Or to state it a little differently... we can experience oneness with God to the degree that Jesus did and out of that oneness, we can experience oneness with all of humanity.
To substantiate a truth certainly requires more than one witness so our brief look at 1st Timothy 4:10 may not convince those of you who believe that most of humanity will end up in hell of the lake of fire forever to reconsider that belief. That is understandable. So we will continue to post more and more articles on this subject. I hope that this article has at least created a question or two in your mind regarding this subject. Check out the teaching section for more articles.
To conclude, in the Bible we are told that God is love. We are also told that love never fails. Therefore God never fails. If that is true then how can billions be lost forever when you consider the following?
“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that ALL should come to repentance.” 2nd Peter 3:9
What is “repentance?”
Simply put, it is transformation that comes about by turning our thinking around 180 degrees and aligning our thoughts with God’s thoughts, our actions with God’s actions. It is becoming one with God. It is becoming the very image of God.
Have you been taught about a God who is not willing that any should perish but will in fact, punish most of his creation eternally in some place called hell? If so, you have been taught about a God who fails and if I may be so bold, fails miserably. Billions will be lost according to Christianity’s current beliefs. Billions will spend an eternity being punished by the God who created them. The God who is not willing that any should perish will in fact lose billions and punish them forever. The God who says that good shepherds don’t settle for 99 out of 100 sheep but go find even one that is lost will apparently settle for perhaps 9 or 10 out of a hundred.
BUT... what if the “truth” is totally opposite to that scenario and belief system? What if it is 180 degrees opposite? What if the truth is that God will not fail and He will bring ALL to “repentance?” He will bring all of humanity to the place where every single human being will truly express and manifest His image.
Which message do you sense in your heart, in your spirit is truly the gospel? Which is truly the “GOOD NEWS?”
Is salvation ultimately an escape from a fiery place of eternal punishment or is it a state of being, a state where all of humanity expresses and manifests the character of their creator?
I cannot answer that for you but I am sure that you can tell what I believe to be true when it comes to the matter.
Blessings, shalom, namaste