Saturday, February 14, 2015

Augustine on 1 Timothy 2:4

A brief postscript to my previous post on 1 Timothy 2:4. There I said that Augustine held to the third view, which is true. But it turns out that he actually articulated both the third view and the second view.

Here’s Augustine articulating the third view:
“Accordingly, when we hear and read in Scripture that He ‘will have all men to be saved,’ although we know well that all men are not saved, we are not on that account to restrict the omnipotence of God, but are rather to understand the Scripture, ‘Who will have all men to be saved,’ as meaning that no man is saved unless God wills his salvation: not that there is no man whose salvation He does not will, but that no man is saved apart from His will. . . . And on the same principle we interpret the expression in the Gospel: ‘The true light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world:’ not that there is no man who is not enlightened, but that no man is enlightened except by Him.”
But right after this, Augustine goes on to articulate the second view:
“Or, it is said, ‘Who will have all men to be saved;’ not that there is no man whose salvation He does not will . . ., but that we are to understand by ‘all men,’ the human race in all its varieties of rank and circumstances,—kings, subjects; noble, plebeian, high, low, learned, and unlearned; the sound in body, the feeble, the clever, the dull, the foolish, the rich, the poor, and those of middling circumstances; males, females, infants, boys, youths; young, middle-aged, and old men; of every tongue, of every fashion, of all arts, of all professions, with all the innumerable differences of will and conscience, and whatever else there is that makes a distinction among men.”
So Augustine seems to have held that both these interpretations of 1 Timothy 2:4 were reasonable options. The quotes are from The Enchiridion, ch. 103.

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