1 Timothy 4:10

Steven Lo Vullo slovullo at mac.com
Sat Mar 9 21:03:46 EST 2002

on 3/9/02 1:28 PM, Kevin Cauley at cauley at airmail.net wrote:

> So instead of a dichotomy between potential and actually, you are saying the
> dichotomy is between physical and spiritual?  He is the savior of all men
> (physically, i.e. he grants blessings such as rain and food, etc.) but
> especially toward believers (spiritually, he gives them forgiveness of sins,
> etc.)?

I don't think I suggested there was a "dichotomy," only a contrast. In the
case of a dichotomy, there would be two mutually exclusive groups. Since
PISTWN are a subset of PANTWN ANQRWPWN, PISTWN enjoy the same salvific
benefits as the larger group to whom they belong. But they enjoy these
benefits in a very special way, as MALISTA (which complements implied ESTIN)
indicates; and there is nothing to preclude their enjoying of additional
salvific benefits, of a different or higher order, that unbelievers do not
enjoy. God is Savior/ Rescuer/ Deliverer/ Guardian/ Preserver in a special
way for them. And I would not limit SWTHR to ONLY physical blessings. There
is so much more involved, as the examples I gave indicate. In 1 Clem 59.3,
for example, God is TON TWN APHLPISMENWN SWTHRA ("the Savior of those in
despair"). The blessings and relief he provides have internal benefits, such
as relief from despair.

> Based upon the usage of MALISTA in the GNT, I think that you will find that
> the main object of MALISTA is always a subset of the set of those who are
> not MALISTA.  So there is the broader set and then there is the subset of
> the set, but these are always of the same kind of broad set.

You seem to be saying that  MALISTA qualifies PISTWN, and PISTWN are
MALISTA, in contrast to PANTWN ANQRWPWN, who are not MALISTA. The fact is
that MALISTA does not qualify PISTWN. It complements implied ESTIN, and
indicates that God is in a special way Savior of believers, not that
believers are special vis a vis unbelievers! MALISTA, as an adverb, modifies
or complements verbs, not substantives.

Of course PISTWN are a subset of PANTWN ANQRWPWN! But this does not help
your case. The reason is that, whatever sense you apply to SWTHR, you must
apply it consistently in relation to both groups, precisely BECAUSE the one
is a subset of the other! If SWTHR means "one who accomplishes salvation
that doesn't necessarily benefit the object of salvation" (which is really
nothing more than saying he is merely a potential Savior), it has to be
applied in that sense equally to both groups. Remember, THERE IS ONLY ONE
WORD to work with! The ONE word does not have TWO different meanings! So,
semantically, applying one meaning to SWTHR, what we would have is something
like the following:

"He accomplishes a salvation for all people that does not necessarily
benefit all people. He accomplishes a salvation especially for believers
that does not necessarily benefit believers."

In each case, SWTHR is consistently understood as "one who accomplishes
salvation that is not necessarily applied." Thus MALISTA, in your scheme of
things, not only fails to distinguish God's "salvation" of PISTWN
positively, it actually makes their "salvation" less certain, since
"salvation" is accomplished but not applied ESPECIALLY in relation to them!

But there are other problems. First, I have looked at all the relevant
lexicons, and have yet to find an entry under SWTHR that defines it as
"someone who accomplishes a 'salvation' that is not necessarily applied to
those for whom it was intended." The fact is that this is a theological
formulation that has nothing to do with the actual semantic range of the
word in question.

Second, I do not think you have taken seriously at all the semantics of the
objective genitive. In the case of the objective genitive (as I have stated
already), the genitive receives the action implied in the head noun. I must
repeat: Semantically, in this case, this means "He saves/ rescues/ delivers/
guards/ preserves all people." There is nothing in the construction to
indicate an action "accomplished but not applied," just like there is
nothing in SWTHR to indicate a Savior who "accomplishes a salvation that is
not necessarily applied." These, again, are theological formulations that
the semantics and syntax do not naturally bear.

> Acts 20:38 the
> set is "words which Paul spoke to the elders", but the MALISTA words were a
> subset of the same words "words which Paul spoke to the elders that made
> them sad."

Nothing in Acts 20.38 has the slightest bit of support for your idea that
for the set something is "accomplished" but not "applied," while for the
subset it is both "accomplished" and "applied"! And MALISTA is NOT involved
in any such set and subset of "words which Paul spoke to the elders." On the
contrary, MALISTA qualifies the participle ODUNWMENOI ("grieving
especially"). So, if you would like to draw a set-subset based on MALISTA,
it would have to be with hIKANOS ... KLAUQMOS (v. 37) and ODUNWMENOI MALISTA
(v. 38). Then, following your paradigm, the "great weeping" (hIKANOS ...
KLAUQMOS, v. 37) was "accomplished" but not "applied/ experienced," while
the special grief that was felt over the statement that they would never see
Paul again was both "accomplished" and "applied/ experienced"! This, of
course, does not make sense.

>  Another example is in 1 Timothy 5:17.  The set here is "elders."
> The subset is "elders who labor in the word."  So (if I am correct in my
> understanding of what you said below 1 Tim.4:10 couldn't apply to two
> different sets.  That is, you couldn't have two different senses in the sets
> (physical vs. spiritual).  One must be the subset of the other and I don't
> think that your explanation provides for this (I will grant that I may be
> misconstruing something you are saying here).  If I am misunderstanding you
> here, could you please clarify the two "sets?"

Ok, let's now apply your understanding of the semantics of 1 Tim 4.10 to
this passage. "The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy in an
accomplished but not applied sense of double honor, while those who work
hard at teaching and preaching are to be considered worthy in an
accomplished AND applied sense of double honor." Does this make any sense?

One of the false assumptions here is that because there is not a distinction
between "physical" and "spiritual" in this case (a hard and fast distinction
that I was not drawing any way), there cannot be in any case where MALISTA
is used! This is a pure non sequitur. It all depends on the structure and
semantics involved. Let's put it to the test with 1 Clem 20.11, which raises
the same semantical questions and uses the adverb hUPEREKPERISSWS similarly
to MALISTA in 1 Tim 4.10:


"doing good to all things [both men in general and beasts, cf. context], but
especially abundantly to us who have taken refuge in his compassionate
mercies through our Lord Jesus Christ."

First of all, hHMAS TOUS PROSPEFEUGOTAS is no doubt a subset of TA PANTA.
God does good to TA PANTA, but does good hUPEREKPERISSWS (especially
KURIOU hHMWN IHSOUN CRISTOUN. Following your suggestion, the good done to TA
PANTA is accomplished but not applied/ experienced, while that done to hHMAS
TOUS PROSPEFEUGOTAS is both accomplished AND applied/ experienced. But the
fact is that both the set and the subset are objects of God's goodness in
actuality, i.e., they all experience it, though the subset experiences it
especially abundantly. Now, would you say that the good showered on a gerbil
must be the same as that showered on those who have taken refuge in God's
compassionate mercies through our Lord Jesus Christ? Would you argue that
the especially abundant goodness bestowed on believers cannot include
spiritual blessings that are not bestowed on unbelievers or animals? Or that
it cannot include spiritual blessings over and above the physical blessings
given to unbelievers and animals? I don't think so.

We can also use the construction of 1 Tim 4.10 itself to make this point,
substituting another noun, that does not prompt theological importation, in
place of SWTHR:


"who is benefactor of all men, especially of believers"

Now, would anyone in a million years, confronted with this text, make some
sort of distinction between God as a benefactor FOR all men, but the
benefaction being only "accomplished," with the necessity of "acceptance" of
the benefaction for it to be applied? I suggest not. Rather, we would
recognize that God's benefits are given to all people, and that believers
are in a special way the recipients of God's benefits. And we would not have
any trouble acknowledging that some of the benefits conferred on believers
were of a different or higher order than those bestowed in general. We would
understand EUERGETHS as "one who benefits others" and would recognise from
the genitival construction that God actually bestows benefits on all people.
This is all very simple, really.

> So to apply to 1 Tim.4:10, the set is "men for whom God is savior" but the
> subset is "men for whom God is savior who believe."  So I am arguing that
> the idea here is that God is the only actual savior (i.e. the act of
> salvation [the cross, etc.] was accomplished *for* both) for both
> non-believers and believers, but believers are especially saved because they
> have accepted that act.  This puts both non-believing men and believing men
> in the same broader category, the category of "men for whom God is savior."

So, again, we have an ACTUAL Savior who does not ACTUALLY SAVE! And people
SALVATION! This is semantical absurdity. If the "salvation" implied in SWTHR
is only "accomplished" but not "applied," then God cannot in any meaningful
sense be SWTHR of PANTWN ANQRWPWN. This is why using "actually" with respect
to salvation/ deliverance/ preservation/ protection of PANTWN ANQRWPWN is
misleading in this scenario. The fact is that ACTUAL "salvation" on this
view is only POTENTIAL, since the "salvation" that is supposedly
"accomplished" may never benefit the larger part of PANTWN ANQRWPWN at all.
And where is God's role as SWTHR here held to be contingent on acceptance by
not that he "will be" if they accept! I could go on about the other
presuppositions evident in the above paragraph, but enough for now. Suffice
it to say that all this flies in the face of any legitimate sense of SWTHR
and is oblivious to the objective genitive construction, both of which
indicate actual, applied "salvation" for both groups.

The above "application" is nothing more than a wholesale reading of a
particular view of salvation into a word and construction which, in context,
cannot bear it.

Steven Lo Vullo
Madison, WI
slovullo at mac.com

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