Also available as MP3: The Purpose of Peace and Quiet – 1 Timothy 2:3-7
Paul says that “God our Savior” would have “all men to be saved,” but God wasn’t always the Savior of all men. The word “thy” in Isaiah 49:26 is singular, meaning in time past God was the Savior of the Jews only. And that didn’t change as we come to the New Testament (Acts 5:30,31).
“Does that mean back then God didn’t want all men to be saved?” It sounded that way (Isa.46:13), even in the New Testament (John 4:22), until you remember verses like Isaiah 45:22. But as you may know, God placed salvation in Jerusalem because He intended to get the Jews saved, then use them to reach the Gentiles (Micah 5:7). So He didn’t just put salvation in Jerusalem, He put it in the Jews themselves (Joel 2:32), and the Gentiles were supposed to come to God in response to the light that shone off Israel when she rose to receive the Lord (Isaiah 60:1-3).
When the Jews refused to be God’s channel of blessing to the Gentiles, God raised up Paul and introduced a new program under which salvation went to the Gentiles through Israel’s fall (Rom.11:11), not her rise. God also gave Paul a whole new truth for us to come to a knowledge of, a truth now available to all men. In time past only the Jews had the knowledge of the truth (Rom.2:17-20) in the law. But now that God has revealed that He wants all men to be saved, the truth that God wants men to come to a knowledge of resides in Paul’s epistles (ITim.2:5-7).
“What’s new about the truth that ‘there is one God’ (v.5)?” Just that that the “one God” who used to save Jews “by faith” (Rom.3:30) plus the works of the law like circumcision, sacrifices and baptism now saves Gentiles “through faith” without works (Romans 3:30 cf.Tit.3:5). But there is more new truth. Christ used to only be the mediator between God and Isaiah’s people (Isa.53:8), who were also the Lord’s people (Mt.1:21), the Jews. But to become a Jew to die for the Jews, the Lord had to become a man to die for men (Heb.2:14-17). So while Christ was only supposed to be the one mediator between God and the Jews, the Jew Christ Jesus, Paul broke the news that He was the one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.
All men are in bondage to sin (John 8:34) and need to be ransomed, but it wasn’t until the “due time” of Paul’s ministry that God testified Christ would “ransom” the Gentiles too (ITim.2:6). We pay ransom money to kidnappers, but Bible ransoms were paid to God (Ex.30:12) because they had to do with redemption (Ps.49:6,7; Jer.31:11). Christ didn’t die to satisfy Satan’s greed, He died to satisfy God’s holiness.
Before Paul, all anyone knew was that Christ was to die a ransom for the “many” in Israel (Mt.20:28), but Paul broke the news He was the ransom “for all” (ITim.2:6). It is “whereunto” he was made an apostle (v.7). This was news that would have come out in the kingdom when Gentiles started coming to Israel’s light and getting saved, but Paul was born “out of due time” (ICor.15:8) in part to break this news.
Paul is the only New Testament writer who swears oaths like the one in v.8 because other writers could quote the Old Testament to authenticate what they said, but Paul preached things like Christ’s ransom for the Gentiles and other things that were not in the Old Testament. So he’s the only one who had to swear an oath to authenticate what he said.
If you’re not saved, you should know that just because God “will” have all men to be saved (ITim.2:4) doesn’t mean all will be saved. God doesn’t always do what He wants, He rather always does what is right. And it wouldn’t be right to let you into heaven without your sins being paid for. Even Job knew you can’t sit down with God and work something out with God about your sins (Job 9:32,33). He knew God’s holiness demanded perfection, perfection that he couldn’t give. He knew his only hope was a “daysman,” a mediator who could put his hands on both God and man and mediate the dispute of sin. He knew that if God found such a one that He could be gracious to those who would believe in Him (Job 34:24).