1 Timothy 2:4 and Free Will

 by John Piper

“…Some people read into 1 Timothy 2:4 (God “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth”) the necessity of free will as an explanation for why all are not saved.

…This is not owing to anything in the text, but to a philosophical presupposition brought to the text. The presupposition is that, if God will in one sense for all to be saved, then he cannot will in another sense that only some will be saved.

In fact, the wider context of the Pastoral Epistles points away from free will as a solution.

Paul uses the very language of 1 Timothy 2:4 again in 2 Timothy 2:24-26: “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.”

“…Paul here is explaining why some do not “come to the knowledge of the truth.” The ultimate or decisive answer is that God himself may or may not “grant … repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth.”

-John Piper, Does God Desire All to Be Saved? (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2013), 40-41.

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