Francis Turretin on 1 Tim. 2:4, God Will Have All Men to be Saved

“Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”

2 Tim. 2:4



Turretin below allows for a Revealed Will interpretation of 1 Tim. 2:4, that “God will have all men to be saved” by his Revealed Will, though he prefers and argues for an effectual-decree-for-the-elect interpretation.



Institutes of Elenctic Theology, 1696, translated by George Giger, ed. James Dennison, Jr., Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, 1992

Volume 1, Question 17, p. 408

XXXIV.  When Paul says, “God will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4), he does not favor the universality of grace.¹  This [that “God will have all men to be saved, etc.”] is true whether with some [other orthodox men] we refer the verb “to will” to the will [of] eurestias [approbation, that is the revealed will] to teach that God is pleased with the salvation and conversion of men and invites them to it by the preaching of the Word.  Furthermore they [other orthodox men] wish this to belong [apply] – that it is said God wills them “to be saved” (sothenai [aorist, passive infinitive in Greek]), but not “to save” (sozein [present, active infinitive])³ them because from the revealed will of approbation to the secret will of good pleasure [of decree] the consequence does not hold good.²

¹ [Webmaster’s note: As defined as a conditional-universal-decree by the Amyrauldians.  See the larger context.]

² [Webmasters note: That is, one cannot infer from the revealed will that God wills all men to be saved, to the conclusion that there is a secret decree of God to save all men].

³ [Webmaster’s note: The difference is that God wills the salvation of all passively but not actively.  This distinction by reformed orthodox men of Turretin’s time insightfully recognizes different aspects of God’s revealed will as communicated through scripture by different modes of human language.]

Or we may understand [that the verse refers to] the will of good pleasure and of decree with Calvin and others. This seems more appropriate because the particle “all” is taken here not distributively (for [all] the individuals of classes), but collectively (for classes of individuals), i.e., as [Theodore] Beza renders it “for all sorts” (Annotationum maiorum in Novum Testamentum [1594], Pars Altera, p. 444 on 1 Tim. 2:4) from every nation, condition, age and sex.  In this sense, God wills not that all men individually, but some from every class or order of men should be saved…




Related Pages

Francis Turretin on the Serious Offer of the Gospel

The Sincere Free Offer of the Gospel

Historic Reformed Quotes on the Sincere Free Offer of the Gospel

1600’s – Puritan Quotes on the Sincere Free Offer of the Gospel