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Bible Commentaries

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae

1 Timothy 2

 

 

Verse 3-4

DISCOURSE: 2228

SALVATION FOR ALL

1 Timothy 2:3-4. God our Saviour will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

IT is truly lamentable to see how men, in every age, have strained and wrested the Holy Scriptures, in order to make them speak the language of their own particular creed. Some, averse to the idea that God should express his good-will to all the sinners of mankind, limit the word “all,” and make it signify nothing more than some of all descriptions and characters; whilst others run to a contrary extreme, and deduce from this expression a persuasion that none shall ever perish. It were well, if, instead of contending for human systems, and especially those of Calvin and Arminius, we were content to receive the Scriptures with the simplicity of little children: for, after all that has been said or written in support of those two most prominent systems, it is impossible to reduce the Holy Scriptures either to the one or to the other of them: for, on both hypotheses, there are difficulties which can never be surmounted, and contrarieties which man can never reconcile. It is by attempting to be wise above what is written, that we involve ourselves in all these difficulties. If we would be content to take the Scriptures as they are, and to leave the reconciling of them unto God, by whose inspiration they were written, we should find them all admirably calculated to produce the ends for which they were designed. How delightful is the truth here intimated! and how strange is it, that, instead of enjoying it, and adoring God for it, men will make it only a ground of acrimonious contention! I thank God, that all the Scriptures, whatever be their bearing, are alike acceptable to me; and that, whether they mark the sovereignty or the mercy of God, I am alike ready to prosecute them, in accordance with their plain and obvious meaning. By attending to the original, we shall often find our way clear, when, from a diversity of idiom, a translation scarcely conveys the precise idea. The passage before us, for instance, does not convey in the original any thing like a secret determination in God, but only a willingness, that all should be saved: it is precisely parallel with what is spoken by St. Peter, when he says, “God is long-suffering to us-ward; not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance [Note: 2 Peter 3:9.].” And this is assigned as a reason why God would have us pray for all men. Our intercessions for them are pleasing and acceptable to him, because “he is willing to save all,” without exception and without reserve.

In the words before us, then, we see,

I. The disposition of God towards our fallen race—

We are not to understand the text as expressing any decree, either in reference to some favoured individuals, or in reference to all mankind. We have said, that it imports only a willingness to save; and that in that sense it has no limit whatever; the whole human race being objects of his tender compassion, and equally accepted of him, when they seek him in his appointed way [Note: Acts 10:34-35.].

1. For all, without exception, has God given his only dear Son—

[This is affirmed by our Lord himself: “God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life [Note: John 3:16.].” And with this agrees what God spoke to the Messiah by the Prophet Isaiah; “I will give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation to the ends of the earth [Note: Isaiah 49:6.].” With this agrees also what is spoken in immediate connexion with my text: “Christ gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time [Note: ver. 6.].”]

2. To all has he commanded also his Gospel to be preached—

[“Go into all the world” says our Lord, “and preach the Gospel to every creature [Note: Matthew 28:9. Mark 16:15.].” How amazing is it, that, after such a command, any should call in question the propriety of offering salvation indiscriminately to every child of man! Nor is it the mere tidings of the Gospel that we are to proclaim; but we are to “preach expressly repentance and remission of sins, in the name of Christ, to all the nations upon earth,” and to every individual under heaven [Note: Luke 24:47.]. Wherever there is a sinner doomed to wrath, there is a person in whose ears the voice of mercy should be made to sound.]

3. Nor is there a human being whom God is not willing to receive—

[What can be the meaning of that invitation, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth [Note: Isaiah 45:22.]?” or of that, “Ho! every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; come, buy wine and milk, without money and without price [Note: Isaiah 55:1.]?” What can our Lord mean, when he says, “Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out [Note: John 6:37.]?” It can import nothing less than what St. Paul has said: “There is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord is rich unto all that call upon him: for whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved [Note: Romans 10:12-13.].”]

4. God has made these things the subject of the strongest possible asseveration—

[To the whole world does God appeal respecting it: “Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die, saith the Lord, and not that he should return from his ways and live [Note: Ezekiel 18:23.]?” What answer can any man, who maintains the doctrine of absolute reprobation, return to this? But, to put the matter beyond the possibility of doubt, God makes it also the subject of a solemn oath: “As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel [Note: Ezekiel 33:11.]?” Verily, if such declarations determine not the point, there is no certainty in language: but if they do, in what an endearing light is God here set forth to us; and with what delight should we contemplate him under the character of “God our Saviour!”]

We must not, however, forget to notice,

II. The means whereby his gracious purposes are to be accomplished—

There is but one way of salvation for fallen man—

[“I am the way, the truth, and the life, saith the Lord Jesus: no man cometh unto the Father but by me [Note: John 14:6.].” This is plain and positive: and it is confirmed by many passages of Holy Writ, that are equally plain, and equally express: “Other foundation can no man lay, than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ [Note: 1 Corinthians 3:11.].” And again: “There is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we can be saved, but the name of Jesus Christ [Note: Acts 4:12.].”]

And this way of salvation must be known and embraced—

[“By his knowledge,” says God, “shall my righteous servant justify many [Note: Isaiah 53:11.].” An unknown Saviour is no Saviour at all. There may, it is true, be different degrees of knowledge required, agreeably to the different degrees of information that we have received. The Jews, before the coming of Christ, could not be expected to have such clear views of him as we possess, because he was not then so fully revealed. As to what shall be required of the heathen, we know but little: nor is it for us to determine what God shall do respecting them. But, in relation to ourselves, the matter is clear: we must know the Saviour, every one of us for ourselves: for “this is life eternal,” says our Lord, “to know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent [Note: John 17:3.].” On the other hand, “to them that know not God, and obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, God will come to take vengeance on them” in the great and awful day [Note: 2 Thessalonians 1:8.]. In confirmation of this truth, St. Peter appeals even to our own consciences: “What shall the end be of them that obey not the Gospel of God [Note: 1 Peter 4:17.]?” Our text informs us, that we must “come to the knowledge of the truth,” yea, and to the acknowledgment of it also [Note: ἐπίγνωσιν.]. In other words, we must believe in Jesus Christ for the remission of our sins, and must make him all our hope and all our salvation: then shall the blessings of grace and glory be accorded to us, and all God’s purposes of love be accomplished in us.]

From hence we may see,

1. Whence it is that any are saved—

[To God alone must all the glory be given, if so much as one be ever admitted to the realms of bliss. For what but his love provided a Saviour for us? or what but his grace ever enabled us to believe in him? Never had we “come to the knowledge of the truth,” if he had not revealed it in our hearts; nor would it ever have proved effectual for us, if his almighty power had not made use of it for the renovation and salvation of our souls. It was “He, and he alone, who of his good pleasure wrought in us either to will or do” what was acceptable in his sight [Note: Philippians 2:12-13.].]

2. Whence it is that any perish—

[To none but ourselves can any blame attach in this matter. Even the most ignorant heathen are “without excuse,” because they walk not according to the light they have [Note: Romans 1:20.]. And as for us, to whom the Gospel is revealed, our blessed Lord complains, “How often would I have gathered you, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not [Note: Matthew 23:37.]!” The fault is altogether in yourselves: “ye will not come unto me, that ye may have life [Note: John 5:40.].” Yes, brethren, I testify against you this day, that whatever excuses you may now urge, when the Judge of quick and dead shall call you to account, you will be “speechless” (muzzled), even as he was who had not on the wedding-garment [Note: Matthew 22:12. ἐφιμώθη.]: and to all eternity will your anguish be inconceivably enhanced by this reflection, that, in all you suffer, you reap only the fruit of your own obstinacy and unbelief.]


Verse 5-6

DISCOURSE: 2229

THE MEDIATION OF CHRIST

1 Timothy 2:5-6. There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

IT is deeply to be regretted that the Holy Scriptures, instead of being improved for the ends for which they were given, have been made an occasion of the most bitter contentions by the very persons who have most professed to reverence their authority. Men have not been satisfied with receiving the dictates of inspiration with child-like simplicity, but have determined to reduce them to systems of their own; and have wrested to their own views every passage that militated against their pre-conceived opinions. The partisans on either side have been equally guilty in this respect. Amongst modern controversialists, none have more divided the Church, or indulged more acrimonious feelings against each other, than Calvinists and Arminians. The one party have taken all those passages which represent God as a Sovereign, dispensing his blessings according to his own will and pleasure, and have made all the rest of the Scriptures bend to them: the other party have done the same with respect to the passages which assert the freedom of the human will, and which speak of men as the sole authors of their own condemnation. It seems never to enter into the minds of either party, that those passages which they set at variance, may, like wheels moving in opposite directions, be in perfect harmony with each other; and that there may be a subserviency, where they see nothing but direct opposition. If they were once brought to consider this, they would be more candid in their interpretation of each other’s sentiments, and more cautious of wresting from their plain and obvious meaning the passages which they cannot reconcile with their own exclusive system. The words we have just read are a strong-hold for those who adopt the sentiments which are called Arminian. And how does the Calvinist get over them? how does he make the universality of redemption accord with his particular election? He knows not how to do it in a way that shall agree with his own system; and therefore he denies at once that Christ did give himself a ransom for all; and says, that by “all” is meant some of every description, that is, some of all different ranks and orders of men, Jews and Gentiles, rich and poor. But how much better were it for men to confess their own ignorance, than thus to pervert the word of God! It is true that God acts as a Sovereign; and that salvation, from first to last, is all of grace, whether we can reconcile this truth with every other portion of God’s word, or not: nor are we any more at liberty to distort the passages that appear to militate against this system, than Arminians are to misinterpret those which obstruct their views. There is beyond all doubt a harmony in all the parts of the inspired volume, though we cannot exactly see it: (not but that we might see it, and clearly too, if we entered fully into the idea of the subordination of one set of truths to another:) and if we determine to speak all that the Scripture speaks, and as the Scripture speaks it, we shall not be far from the very truth of God. This will not please the partisans of human systems: but it will, as far as such a plan is adopted, produce moderation in our own minds, and forbearance towards all who differ from us.

The way in which the text is introduced deserves particular attention. The Apostle inculcates the duty of “interceding, and giving thanks, for all men” without exception, but especially “for kings and all in authority,” because on them in a very great degree depends the peace and welfare of the Church. As a reason for extending our regards to all, he observes, that God does so in the government of the world, and that Christ has done so in the exercise of redeeming love, seeing that he “had given himself a ransom for all.” The Apostle, whatever be the subject he is treating of, finds an easy and natural transition to Christ, and especially when speaking upon any thing connected with Christian love, of which the love of Christ to us is the great exemplar. This is discovered chiefly in his mediation between God and man: and of that mediation we are led to speak,

I. As ordained of God—

“There is one God,” the Creator and Governor of all—

[Amongst the heathen “there were gods many, and lords many; but there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things [Note: 1 Corinthians 8:5-6.].” “He is the God of the Jews, and the God also of the Gentiles [Note: Romans 3:29.];” and both the one and the other he will justify in the same way [Note: Romans 3:30.], “having no respect of persons.” “In every nation under heaven, he that feareth God, and worketh righteousness, shall be accepted of him [Note: Acts 10:35.].”]

He has also given one Mediator for all—

[He is justly offended with his creatures of mankind, because they have sinned against him. In respect of transgression they are altogether on a par with the fallen angels; and might well have been left, like them, to perish in their sins. But God provided a Mediator for them, that through him reconciliation might be effected with them in perfect consistency with his own perfections. This Mediator is his only-begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who being in the form of God, and accounting it no robbery to be equal with God, was found in fashion as a man, and took upon him the form of a servant. This “man, Christ Jesus,” is the “one Mediator” between God and men. There is no other; there needs to be no other; seeing that he is equally the Mediator of all, and equally ready to effect reconciliation for every sinner under heaven. The typical mediators, Moses and Aaron, and the high-priests in all successive ages, executed their office for the Jews only: but Christ, whom they typified, is the Advocate of all, and “a propitiation equally for the sins of the whole world.”

Seeing then that God is alike the Father of all, distributing blessings to all with an indiscriminating hand; and that he has given his own co-equal co-eternal Son to be alike the Mediator for all, it becomes us to testify our common concern for all, and to promote by every possible means their eternal welfare.]

Let us next view the mediation of Christ—

II. As executed by himself—

“He gave himself a ransom” for sinful man—

[A ransom is a redemption-price. Man was in bondage to sin and Satan, death and hell; and to liberate him from this was the end of Christ’s mediation. But how was this deliverance to be effected? The law, which had been broken, must be honoured; and divine justice, which demanded the punishment of the offender, must be satisfied. But fallen man could neither honour the one, nor satisfy the other. Nothing was left for him, but to endure to all eternity the penalty which justice demanded and the law denounced. To render the salvation of man compatible with the rights of law and justice, Jesus assumed our nature, and “was made man,” that in the nature which had sinned he might suffer, and by his own sufferings make an atonement for our transgressions. Having undertaken this great work, he executed it: and there being no other sacrifice sufficient for the occasion, “he gave himself a ransom for us.” “The blood of bulls and of goats could never take away sin.” They were acceptable to God as shadowing forth his sacrifice: but it was his sacrifice alone that could atone for sin, and effect the desired reconciliation between God and man: this therefore he offered, and, when the cup of bitterness was put into his hands, he drank it to the very dregs.]

And this he did “for all” without exception—

[To say that he died for the elect only, is neither scriptural nor true. He died for all: according as it is elsewhere said; “We thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead; and that he died for all, that they who live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him who died for them and rose again [Note: 2 Corinthians 5:14-15.].” If all be not ultimately saved by his death, it is not owing to any want of sufficiency in his sacrifice to procure acceptance for them, but to their own impenitence and unbelief. And if all do not come to him for an interest in his sacrifice, it is not owing to any decree of God that of necessity excludes them from a participation in the benefit, or to any want of inclination in the Lord Jesus Christ to save them, but to their own obstinacy in sin. Our Lord said to the whole Jewish nation, “How often would I have gathered you, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings; but ye would not.” This is applicable to the whole human race; and at the last day it will be said to all the ungodly, and especially to those to whom the Gospel of salvation had been sent, “I would, but ye would not.”

Here again then we see the propriety of interesting ourselves with God in behalf of all, since for all without exception did Jesus die.]

It will be proper to consider the mediation of Christ yet farther,

III. As attested by the Holy Spirit—

This mediation was “to be testified of in due time”—

1. It has been abundantly attested by the Holy Spirit in times past—

[In the writings of the Old Testament it is fully declared. “He was cut off, but not for himself [Note: Daniel 9:26.]:” “he was wounded for our transgressions: the chastisement of our peace was upon him: the Lord laid on him the iniquities of us all [Note: Isaiah 53:4-6.].” Of the New Testament this truth forms the sum and substance. When Jesus was just beginning his ministry, he was pointed out by his forerunner as “the Lamb of God that should take away the sin of the world [Note: John 1:29.].” Our Lord spake of himself as “giving his life a ransom for many [Note: Matthew 20:28.].” St. Paul tells us, that “we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins [Note: Ephesians 1:7.],” and “reconciliation through the blood of his cross [Note: Colossians 1:20-22.].” St. Peter assures us, that “He bore our sins in his own body on the tree, and suffered, the just for the unjust [Note: 1 Peter 2:24; 1 Peter 3:18.].” But it would be endless to accumulate passages; since the whole Scriptures testify of this blessed truth in every part. Suffice it to say, that it forms the one theme of all the glorified saints in heaven, who sing praises day and night “to Him who loved them, and washed them from their sins in his own blood;” saying, “Thou art worthy, for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation [Note: Revelation 1:5; Revelation 5:9.].”]

2. We also are called to testify of it at this time—

[To preach Christ crucified is the one employment of ministers: and our ministry is called “the ministry of reconciliation” on this very account, because we proclaim to sinners, “that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them [Note: 2 Corinthians 5:18-21.].” O that our testimony amongst you on this subject were more fully credited, and more deeply felt! We do declare it: we declare it with joy: for “it is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, even the chief [Note: 1 Timothy 1:15.].” None are excluded from an interest in him, but through their own fault. God has no pleasure in the death of any sinner [Note: Ezekiel 18:23; Ezekiel 18:32.]. He even condescends to confirm this truth with an oath [Note: Ezekiel 33:11.]. St. Paul bears witness to it in the verse before our text. St. Peter also confirms it, and assures us, that “God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and live [Note: 2 Peter 3:9.].” And, to add no more, St. John says, “If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world [Note: 1 John 2:1-2.].” Away with the systems that discard these blessed truths, and wrest from their obvious meaning these reviving declarations. Believe it, brethren, that Jesus “gave himself a ransom for all;” and know, that at this moment he addresses you by my mouth, saying, “Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else [Note: Isaiah 45:22.].”]

O brethren,

1. Stand amazed at this mystery—

[“Great indeed is this mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh,” and dying under the load of his creatures’ sins. Whence is it that this mystery is so little contemplated amongst us, and so little felt? Is it that there is any other subject which deserves our attention in comparison of it? No: there is nothing worth a thought in comparison of it. “For the excellency of the knowledge of it, all that the world holds dear is but dung and dross.” Let it then occupy your minds day and night, and fill your souls with transport, as it does the souls of the glorified before the throne of God.]

2. Improve it for the salvation of your own souls—

[On your acceptance of this testimony your everlasting salvation depends. “If you believe in Christ, your salvation is sure; if not, you are condemned already, and the wrath of God abideth on you [Note: John 3:18; John 3:36.].” Believe then, every one of you, that Christ died for you; and pray to God, that you may be able to see your interest in him, and with joyful confidence to exclaim, “He hath loved me, and given himself for me [Note: Galatians 2:20.].” Thus shall you be feasted with the foretastes of heaven, and grow up into an increasing meetness for the glory prepared for you.]

 


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Bibliography Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 2:4". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/shh/1-timothy-2.html. 1832.

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