A BROTHER and a sister have desired us to give our views on 1 Tim. ii. 4-6, “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself for all, to be testified in due time.”
At the call of our brethren at sundry times since we have been publishing our paper we have given such views as we have on this portion of the word; still, as we desire to be the servant of the saints, we will not withhold from others who may desire it a free expression of our understanding of the Scriptures. We will offer for their consideration some remarks on this text, and leave them to decide by the divine standard whether we be right or wrong.
In the connection the apostle exhorts that prayer and supplications and intercessions be made for all men; and having so exhorted that the saints should be so engaged in prayer and supplication and intercession, he proceeds to define the particular sense in which he had used the words “all men” in his exhortation, and then gives his reasons for so exhorting his brethren. The sense in which he used the words all men in the exhortation he explains thus, “For kings, and for all that are in authority.” As Jews or Israelites under the former covenant they acknowledged no kings over them but such as were of the circumcision, and duly anointed according to the ceremonial law; nor did they allow that any others of the human family were subjects of salvation in the will of God, than those who were recognized in the covenant of works. But now the middle wall of partition between Jews and Gentiles was broken down, the gospel was preached, and the gospel church was organized among the Gentiles; consequently the saints had to do with the governments of the different nations of the world; that is, so far as their citizenship of the world was concerned. They were to obey those who had the rule over them. To render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things which are God’s. That is, as citizens of the world they were to be subject to the laws of the land where their lot was cast; obeying the institutions of man, for the Lord’s sake, in all matters which did not conflict with their obligations to their God. The principle was distinctly understood and settled by the apostles that in matters of conscience no human legislature had the right to dictate. Every man’s religion was a matter between himself and his God, and he is held accountable for his actions to his God alone; and in the things of religion, as of the things which belong to God, they were to obey God rather than men, even though it might subject them to cruel persecution, reproach or death. But on no account were they, as subjects of the Redeemer’s kingdom, to lay down the rules for the government of the nations among whom they were sojourning as strangers and pilgrims; neither were they by their unrestricted liberty of conscience to worship their God according to their sense of duty, to infringe in the least upon the equal rights of their fellow-men, though they might be of very opposite faith and practice from themselves.
Thus circumstanced, they were to pray for the kings and such as were in authority over them; not particularly for their salvation, or for their continuance in power, but that we, the saints of God, we who pray, may lead a quiet and peaceable life in honesty and godliness. We are not to pray to our kings or rulers, as do the daughters of antichrist, but for them; that God, who is able to turn their hearts as the rivers of water are turned, may so overrule them and the administration of their government that their laws shall not conflict with our religious rights, and thus involve us in the necessity of disrespecting their enactments. The duty of the saints to be at peace with all men, as much as in them lies, is fully expressed; but it does not lie in the right of the saints to disobey Christ, even in obeying the monarchs or rulers of this world. But as christians, they will always have the least influence with kings and rulers of this world; they are not to attempt to control them by their own wisdom, but pray to him who raised up Cyrus, a heathen king, and directed him in bringing about a jubilee of release to Israel after their seventy years of captivity.
“For this is good in the sight of God.” What is good? Both that we should thus pray and thus live. And this is a sufficient incentive to christians; it is in itself good; and being so, it is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior. The Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Savior of his people, is God, very God, equally with the Father; and he is Immanuel, or God with us. He is our King, and our privilege as well as our duty is to desire to do that which is good and acceptable in his sight. Many things are good and acceptable in the sight of men which are not good nor acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, “who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” The will of God our Savior is, if we may so speak, the rule of his action, the standard to which he will cause all things in heaven, earth and hell to bow for he “worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.” If the all men in the text means all the race of mankind, their universal salvation must follow; for he doeth his pleasure in heaven and in earth. “He will have mercy on whom he will have mercy, and he will have compassion on whom he will have compassion; and whom he will he hardeneth.” But the terms all men, as we have already hinted, are to be understood in the same limited sense as that in which they are used in the first verse, and defined in the second. There the all men mean all of a particular description, such as kings, rulers, &c. So in regard to the all men embraced in the will of God our Savior, as the subjects of his salvation, the words are in application restricted to those who are embraced in the mediatorial provisions of the divine will. And hence the apostle gives the following explanation, “For there is one God, and one Mediator.” &c.
Now, what possible connection could we perceive between this and the preceding verses of the chapter, if this fifth verse is not to show that the all men, or all manner of men, destinated to salvation, according to the will of God our Savior, are embraced in the mediatorial office and work of him who is God, Man and Mediator between God and men? Otherwise, why does the apostle use the conjunction, for there is one God, &c? This is a sufficient evidence that it is the will of God that they should all be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth, as they otherwise would have no interest in the mediatorial provisions of grace and salvation. This one Mediator between God and men is the man Christ Jesus, the mediatorial Head of his church, and embodiment of all the election of grace. They are his body, and the fullness of him that filleth all in all; and he as fully and completely embodied and represented them before the world began, as Adam embodied and represented the human family when he at first became a living soul. Hence the terms all men are as properly used in reference to all the body and members of Christ, as in reference to the body and members of Adam; for Adam is the figure of him that was to come; that is, of Christ. But that is not spritual which was first, but natural; or, as our friend would render it, soulual; and afterwards that which is spiritual. Hence Adam represented all who have a natural or soulual existence; all being his offspring, are but the expansion or development of what Adam was. So all men, as the terms are used in reference to Christ and his seed in him, embraced all who were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world, as possessing life eternal in this divine Mediator from the ancients of eternity. And throughout the New Testament this distinction is preserved in the applications of the terms “all men.”
The man Christ Jesus, embodying in his person all that his names and titles mean or signify, as God, Man and Mediator, was manifest in the flesh, came in the flesh, was made flesh, and dwelt among us; and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. He “was put to death in the flesh;” not simply his flesh put to death, but his flesh as it stood identified with his sonship; “was put to death in the flesh;” so that it was the Son of God, as well as the son of the virgin Mary, that bare our sins in his own body on the cross, and who, in the accomplishment of what the Father gave him to do, “gave himself a ransom.” All that constituted him himself was required and given “a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” The testimony here spoken of is, according to our judgment, that which shall be given in the application of his blood and righteousness to all for whom he died and arose again from the dead. For, inasmuch as he was delivered up for their iniquities, and raised again for their justification, they must eventually be brought experimentally to the knowledge of the truth. And thus the apostle testifies that in the fullness of the dispensations of the times he shall gather together all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and in earth, even in him. All that are in him representatively, chosen, predestinated, saved, called, justified, redeemed, loved and secured, shall in the dispensations of times be brought experimentally into the unity of the faith, and shall manifestatively fill that place to which our God has destined them in his mystical body. Thus shall it be testified in due time who they are, and that it is the sovereign, immutable and eternal will of God our Savior that they shall all be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. God our Savior has from the beginning chosen them unto salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth. This is testified in due time by the inspired testimony of the Scriptures and by the preaching of the gospel; but the manifestation of every one of the heirs of immortality shall be in ‘‘due time.” By the term “due time,” we are to understand that there is a specified time appointed, in the wisdom and decree of God, for the generation of all the saints. The time appointed for its fulfillment can neither be hastened nor deferred. When the time appointed of the Father arrives, the accomplishment of the purpose will be due. As “when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth his Son,” and in due time Christ died. That is, at the time when the demands of the righteous law of God which stood against us could consistently with the eternal purpose of God be deferred no longer, then it was due time for Christ to suffer in the flesh, and for that hour came he into the world. And as the Redeemer was prompt in meeting all the demands of the law and justice on the behalf of his people, so shall all the redeemed be promptly released from their prison-houses, and brought experimentally into the liberty of the sons of God, in due time; and so shall they be ultimately introduced into their final glorified state above, in due time. Therefore the apostle exhorts that the saints should be patient in all their trials and sufferings, for in due time they shall reap, if they faint not.
June 15, 1854.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 3
Pages 84 - 89