(1 Tim. 2:4) Is a Calvinist view of this passage plausible?

CLAIM: Calvinist theologians have difficulty with this passage. Paul writes, “[God] desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4). How does this passage fit with the notion that God does not save everyone from a Calvinist view, but rather, allows some to go to hell? Calvinist James Montgomery Boice writes,

In 1 Timothy 2 Paul is urging that prayers be made for everyone—not just the poor and oppressed but also ‘for kings and all those in authority’ (v.2). In this context, verse 4 is best understood as Augustine and Calvin understood it, namely, that God is saving people from all categories of humanity. He is willing even to save kings, as unlikely as that may seem.[1]

RESPONSE: This is a classic example of Calvinistic eisegesis. They are reading their system into this passage, rather than reading this passage into their system. The passage does not say that God is reaching all types of people, but all people. Paul says that we should pray for “all men” (v.1) and this is because Christ died “for all” (v.6). The Arminian view reads this passage at face value.


[1] Boice, James Montgomery, and Philip Graham Ryken. The Doctrines of Grace: Rediscovering the Evangelical Gospel. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2002. 127.