1 Timothy 2:4

Ver. 4. The apostle produces a clear, convincing reason, that the duty of charity in praying for all men is pleasing to God, from his love extended to all, in his willing their salvation, and their knowledge and belief of the gospel, which is the only way of salvation. From hence our Savior’s commission and command to the apostles was universal: Go and teach all nations, Mt 28:19; Preach the gospel to every creature,” that is, to every man, Mr 16:15; he excludes no people, no person. And accordingly the apostles discharged their office to their utmost capacity, Col 1:24. But a question arises, how it can be said that God would have all men saved, when that the most of men perish? For the resolving this difficulty, we must observe, that in the style of Scripture the will of God sometimes signifies his eternal counsel and decree; that things should be done either by his immediate efficiency, or by the intervention of means: or, secondly, his commands and invitations to men to do such things as are pleasing to him. The will of God in the first sense always infallibly obtains its effect, Ps 115:3; thus he declares: “My counsel shall stand, I will do all my pleasure,” Isa 46:10; for otherwise there must be a change of God’s will and counsel, or a defect of power, both which assertions are impious blasphemy. But those things which he commands and are pleasing to him, are often not performed without any reflection upon him, either as mutable or impotent. Thus he declares, that he wills things that are pleasing to him; as, I will not the death of a sinner, but that he should turn and live, Eze 33:11; and sometimes that he will not those things that are displeasing to him, as contrary to holiness, though he did not decree the hindering of them: thus he complains in Isa 55:12: “Ye did evil before mine eyes, and did choose that wherein I delighted not.” This distinction of the Divine will being clearly set down in Scripture, answers the objection; for when it is said in the text, that God will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth; and in the same sense by St. Peter, that God “will have none perish, but come to repentance,” 2Pe 3:9; we must understand it, not with respect to his decretive will, but his complacential will, that is, the repentance and life of a sinner is very pleasing to his holiness and mercy. And this love of God to men has been declared in opening the way of salvation to them by the Mediator, and by all the instructions, invitations, commands, and promises of the gospel, assuring them that whoever comes to Christ upon the terms of the gospel shall in no wise be cast off; that no repenting believer shall be excluded from saving mercy.

1 Timothy 2:5

Ver. 5. The apostle proves the universal love of God to men by two reasons, the unity of God, and the unity of the Mediator: though there are divers societies and vast numbers of men, yet there is but one God, the Creator and Preserver of all. If there were many gods in nature, it were conceivable that the God of Christians were not the God of other men, and consequently that his good will were confined to his own portion, leaving the rest to their several deities; but since there is but one true God of the world, who has revealed himself in the gospel, it necessarily follows that he is the God of all men in the relation of Creator and Preserver. And from hence he concludes: “God will have all men to be saved.” He argues in the same manner that salvation by faith in Christ belongs to the Gentiles as well as the Jews, Ro 3:29,30. The apostle adds, for the clearest assurance of his good will of God to save men, that there is “one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” When the sin of man had provoked Divine justice, and the guilt could not be expiated without satisfaction, God appointed his Son incarnate to mediate between his offended Majesty and his rebellious subjects. And it is observable, the parallel between the unity of God and the unity of the Mediator; as there is one God of all nations, so there is one Mediator of all. The strength of the apostle’s argument from the unity of the Mediator is this: If there were many mediators, according to the numbers of nations in the world, there might be a suspicion whether they were so worthy and so prevalent as to obtain the grace of God, every one for those in whose behalf they did mediate. But since there is but one, and that he is “able to save to the uttermost all that come to God by him,” it is evident that all men have the same Mediator, and that every one may be assured that God is willing he should be saved, and, for that blessed end, should by faith and repentance accept the covenant of grace. The apostle for the stronger confirmation specifies the Mediator, “the man Christ Jesus,” to encourage the hopes of all men, from the communion they have with him in nature, that they may partake of his salvation, and that this great Mediator, having come from heaven and assumed the infirmity of our nature, Heb 4:15, will be inclined compassionately to assist them, and raise them to his heavenly kingdom.

Timothy 2:6

Ver. 6. Αντιλυτρον, the word here translated ransom, is very emphatical; it signifies the exchanging of condition with another, the laying down of one’s life to save another’s. This our Savior has done for us. The Scripture discovers to us, that by “nature we are the children of wrath,” and guilty of many rebellious sins, and devoted to eternal death: being in this deplorable state, the Son of God, moved by his Divine love, undertook our restoring to the favor of God; and voluntarily endured the punishment due to our sins, and gave his most precious blood and life the price of our redemption, Mt 20:28. If it be objected: How is it consistent with Christ “giving himself a ransom for all,” that so many perish in their sins? The answer is clear: We must distinguish between the sufficiency of his ransom and the efficacy of it; he paid a ransom worthy to obtain the salvation of all men, and has done whatever was requisite to reconcile

God, and make men capable of salvation; but only those who by a lively faith depend upon him, and obey him, are actual partakers of salvation: that is, no person but may be saved in believing; and if men perish, it is not from a defect of righteousness in the Mediator, but from the love of their lusts, and their obstinate rejecting their own mercies. And it is unjust that the glory of his Divine compassion and love should be obscured or lessened for their ungrateful neglect of it.

John Collinges, “Annotations on the Gospel of S. John” in, A Commentary on the Holy Bible by Matthew Poole (McLean, Virginia: MacDonald Publishing, 1990), 3:777-778. [Some reformatting; some spelling modernized; and underlining mine.] [Note: Collinges was not a classic-moderate Calvinist.]

Credit to Travis Fentiman for the find.

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