Misusing 1 Timothy 2:4 to Support Universal Salvation

It's popular to use (misuse) 1 Timothy 2:4 to "prove" Universal Salvation. This post explains why it's a serious error.

“Hopeful Universalism” is becoming popular - the hope that all men will be saved by Christ, whether they accept Him in this life or not.(1)

Adherents claim that all godly people should want it. After all, God “wants all people to be saved” (1 Timothy 2:4).

It's popular to use (misuse) 1 Timothy 2:4 to "prove" Universal Salvation. This post explains why it's a serious error.
Bible scholars throughout history have rejected Universal Salvation, but there have always been a few "hopefuls" who dismiss the plethora of Scriptures about eternal punishment and support their hopes with a few passages taken out of context.

Whether they realize it or not, they're hoping Scripture is teaching error. If we can't believe what Scripture teaches about hell, how can we believe what it teaches about heaven or anything else?

1 Timothy 2:4 doesn't simply say God wants all to be saved. It says He wants them “to come to a knowledge of the truth.”

These go hand in hand. God will not deny His holiness and justice to reward men who’ve rejected His love and grace. Nor should we hope He will.(2)
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(1) Hebrews 9:27-28Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
(2) We should pray that people will accept Christ, not hope Christ teaches lies. See What Jesus Said about Hell. And check out the archive of 1-minute devotions exposing Universal Salvation.

It's popular to use (misuse) 1 Timothy 2:4 to "prove" Universal Salvation. This post explains why it's a serious error.


13 comments:

  1. Thank you for speaking the truth!

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  2. These people are in trouble doublely in my mind. Rev 22:18 & 19 God warns us from adding to or subtracting from His Bible. I believe that includes taking scripture out of context or twisting it's meaning. Not Good.

    This is where fear of God comes in...He loves us dearly. Like our earthly fathers. If we did something wrong, we had a healthy fear of wrath from them. God's wrath far surpasses our earthly fathers

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    1. God's Love and mercy far surpass any humans understanding. God is healing and restorative. He is not like vengeful man. Isaiah 55 His thoughts are far above ours and His ways are not our ways. God is full of Amazing Grace. He is perfect and Unfailing Love for all. He will have all men saved And Come unto the knowledge vof the truth. For EVERY knee will bow and EVERY tounge CONFESS Jesus Christ is Lord. He is also Savior of the World, just as Scripture says.

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    2. Hi Cathy,
      All that you say is true except your statement that God will save all men.

      Our problem is when we believe that a good God is only good if He saves unrepentant men who reject Him.

      Truly, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord but if we truly believe He is Lord, we will trust His words and He says “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’" Matthew 7:21-23

      We cannot accept some of His Words and deny others. His desire is to save all and He is willing to save all, but only those who accept Him in this life will be saved. He says so.

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  3. Matt 7 is such a great chapter to answer this. Earlier, you can also read..
    “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.
    Matthew 7:13‭-‬14 NKJV
    https://bible.com/bible/114/mat.7.13-14.NKJV

    It also warn of false profits (talk about a Freudian slip!). False prophets! You can find a bunch on tv but they are in churches too smiling big, hawking their wares, and twisting Gods words so slyly. Only cause people today don't want to hear the complete truth of God. I've have friends sit across fr me sat that they didn't believe Jesus would be against homosexuality or people living together unmarried if he were alive today. I remind them 1) he is alive, & 2 the bible is the living word of God, the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

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    1. Love your "false profits" slip : )
      More true than many realize, isn't it?

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  4. I suffer from fibrofog. It affects me more in speaking than in writing. But every now and then a word catches me, and that was one. I wondered at the moment if it was me or God.

    I also don't believe many of the people going to those churches/pastors, either don't care, or want to be bothered by the truth. They are the ones who don't believe God would care about who a person loves or sleeping without the benefit of marriage. I heard some honest pastors on TV last night that we always pay attn. to the story of Noah being obedient. But we don't look at was going on to cause the need for Noah to be called out like that. It is the same things that are going on now. So the argument that God and/or Jesus surely would change based on our times is voided right there. He gave us laws to keep us healthy and happy here and for eternity. I certainly can wait the short time I'm here to do my for Him, and obey His mandates, to spend all eternity with Him. PLus I'll get to meet you, Gail! I think you will have lots of people around you from your ministry. It will be neat to see the people you have made eternal differences in their lives, and the rest of us who forward or post your messages. Thank you for the work you do!

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    1. You are so sweet! I look forward to meeting you in heaven as well. We'll have an eternity to talk about our wonderful Lord!

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  5. One of my fav verses is the one that says ever head will bow, above and below. I picture the miles and miles of those who love as well as haters bowing to Jesus giving Him the praise He is long over do. What a day that will be. Just put me in a tree to see. Hope OUR tears have been taken away by then. I'd cry for Joy with praise and sadness watching haters knowing their final resting place. BUT GOD...

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  6. The belief in the eventual restoration of all to God has always existed and was believed by many in the early church with scriptural support. If God will have all to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth, He is able to do this. He has all power and He knows what it will take to bring every person to his or her knees, to convince all and persuade all of their need for Him. To say otherwise is to say that man's ignorant free will is greater than the Creator's sovereign will. It means that God will not overcome evil with good.

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    1. It has never been believed by many, Shay, because it denies both Old Testament and New Testament truths. We don't pull Scriptures like this out of context and create our doctrines, we combine them with the full counsel of Scripture. And Scripture clearly and undeniably talks of hell and people being eternally condemned.

      If unsaved people show that man's free will is greater than God's will, then every sin we commit proves sin is greater than God's purity and nothing we do in this life matters. If God were going to save everyone, Jesus would not have needed to die. John 3:16 wouldn't contain the phrase "whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life."

      Your belief makes most of Scripture a lie and it makes Jesus a fraud for saying things like this:

      Matthew 5:29: If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.

      Matthew 7:13: Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.

      Matthew 10:28: Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

      Matthew 13:36-43: – This link will take you to the Parable of the Weeds
      What Jesus and the Epistles Say About Hell

      Matthew 16:26-27: What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.

      Matthew 23:33-34: You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? 34 Therefore I am sending you prophets and sages and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town.


      Luke 12:4-5: I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. 5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.

      Luke 16:19-31: There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
      22 The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’
      25 But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’
      27 He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’
      29 Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’
      30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
      31 He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’

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  7. The belief in the eventual salvation of all was held by many if not most in the very early church. It is found in the scriptures and it is the only teaching that uplifts the agape love, power, justice, mercy, and sovereignty of God.

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    1. Hi Shay,

      It is a teaching that Scripture clearly refutes unless you take a very few random Scriptures out of context and deny the bulk of Scripture and the main message of the Gospel. And I disagree with you that it uplifts God's just and holy character. It actually is "the only teaching that uplifts" the belief that we are "good" enough to get to heaven, even if we make a mockery of Christ's death.

      If you are trying to support your beliefs, I'm sure you can find articles online that claim all the early church fathers were universalists, but that is easily refuted.

      However, it is a very old belief and one that has always been considered a heresy by the majority of Christians past and present. But let's suppose just for the sake of argument that all the early church fathers believed it. That wouldn't change the many Scriptures that proclaim unrepentant man will be eternally punished. I've listed a few below...but not all of them. That would take up too much space.

      Matthew 10:28: Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.


      Matthew 16:26-27: What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.



      Luke 12:4-5: I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.



      2 Thessalonians 1:6-10: God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might 10 on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.

      Jude 1:7: In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.

      Also: Matthew 5:29, Matthew 7:13, Matthew 23:33-34, 2 Peter 2:4-9 and Revelation 20:14-15

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