“…Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”
From Paul’s first epistle to Timothy in the (4th) fourth verse and the (2nd) second chapter we find a verse that is rather simple to understand…or so it may seem. Those from the Arminian school of thought read the verse this way; “Who will have [ALL] men to be saved….” Those from the Calvinistic school of thought read it this way; “Who will have all men to be saved…” The Arminian believes that God would have each and every single person saved. The Calvinist would teach that God would have not only Jews to be saved, but Gentiles from all tongues, nations, tribes, races, etc. to be saved.
While the two (2) schools debate, we all miss out on Paul’s actual intent. This is where precision matters. One rule to sound interpretation is that the order of words is important. If this simple rule were followed then teachings like Jude 1 would be taught properly, as would Galatians 4:6; I John 5:1; John 3:3, and many others. God willing, we may teach on these passages in the future.
In keeping with the order of words-rule let us look again at 1 Timothy 2:4; God will have all men to be 1. saved and 2. come unto the knowledge of the truth. Does that match up with Scripture? Are men saved and then they come to the knowledge of the truth, OR do men come to the knowledge of the truth and then become saved?
Throughout Scripture men learn from God and then they repent and then they believe. Salvation comes to man in that order.
With the above being clarified let us then investigate what v. 4 means. To do this let’s look in v.1 -3. In verse 1. Paul exhorts the reader to make all manner of prayer for all manner of men; for Kings and for those in authority. The purpose of prayers is seen in verse 2, “[so] that we (Believers) may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. v.3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour…”
In other words verses 1-3 teach us, as believers, to pray for our president, those in congress, and for those in the senate on the state level, and the federal level as well as our mayor and our governor so that we, as Christ-ians, may lead quiet, peaceable lives in all godliness and honesty. God is pleased with this kind of life. Then we move into v 4. where we now understand that God is pleased with our prayers for authorities, or authorities that show kindness to Christ-ians, and for Christ-ians that lead good, godly lives because Christ-ians are kept safe (Greek word for saved in v.4) and are able to come unto a [furthering] knowledge of the truth.
If one compares this interpretation with Jeremiah 29:7 they will see the compatibility.
Be precise in your study of Scripture; Procure a concordance. Procure a “Treasury of Bible knowledge”. Pray for our human leaders and God’s will over them. Thank God for good leaders. Confess you trust in God when being ruled by bad leaders. Seek wisdom when choosing new leaders. Thank God for the freedom we enjoy as Christ-ians and as Americans (in that order). Know that the heart of the king (and authorities lower than a king) is in the [H]and of the LORD.