This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. 1 Timothy 2:4-6
Oftentimes, newborn Calvinists get this verse thrown in their faces as the “HA!” of Arminian-anti-Calvinistic reservoir of proof texts (a reservoir, which I might add, is no deeper than a man-made puddle). It can cause them to sweat, have nervous ticks they never knew they had before, and bring about more “ums” and “ers” than they had ever uttered in their entire lives. Is this a hopeless endeavor to try to explain the verse? Is it truly an indestructible axe that strikes the side of the Calvinistic tree of doctrine? Is it only exegetical hoop-jumping and “explaining away” that will fix this sore thumb in the systematics of the Doctrines of Grace (or, better yet, shoving it under the rug and pretend it doesn’t exist)?
The answer is a definitive “No.” With the help of an argument of one of my professors from seminary, we can actually see that Paul’s use of his wording here directly parallels another of his epistles.
Recognize that Paul here makes the claim that God ”desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth…” not as a standalone verse. He connects an explanatory reasoning in the following verse: ”For there is one God and there is one mediator between God and men…” In other words, there is a logical connection being made between God desiring all men to be saved and God being one. Does this mean that God desires every single human being to be saved because He is one? Or does this mean that God desires every type of human being to be saved because He is one? Well, let’s be good exegetes and look where Paul uses the same phraseology of “God is one”: Romans 3:29-30
Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. (my emphasis).
Indeed, Paul uses the same phrase “God is one” here in Romans 3, but he clarifies what he means when he talks about the desiring of salvation. Because God is one, He is the God of all types of people, including the Jews and the Gentiles, as this passage in Romans 3 tells us. Therefore, if we know that all Scripture is God-breathed, and just as God is truth and does not (and cannot) lie or contradict Himself, we must realize that the passage in Romans 3 is in accordance with 1 Timothy 2. One clearer passage brings clarity to a less clear passage. As Calvinists, we can use Scripture to interpret Scripture alone as our strongest point of exegesis. We do not have a mere handful of proof texts that free-float and may or may not agree with the rest of Scripture. No, we have a system of doctrine that the entirety of Scripture teaches itself, with more clarity in some verses and less clarity in others, but can be used as a whole to understand the whole counsel of God. So now, we can see that because God is one, He can be the only Mediator, and He is the only Mediator for all types of people, so that there is no other name under heaven by which a man can be saved.
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands… Revelation 7:9
I leave you with this, brothers and sisters: do not be hesitant about your newfound doctrines of grace. The glorious high doctrines of Calvinism are not a set of man-made teachings that cannot be supported without tip-toeing around and avoiding huge swaths of passages in Scripture that might contradict them. No, the Scriptures themselves testify to the truth of the doctrines of grace. It takes some work to be able to see the trees in the forest, the forest of the trees, and the peripheral of one side of the forest to the other, but trust me, the reward is beautiful and amazing, and you will see your God as He has truly revealed Himself, with all praise and adoration due His name.