Reading today in 1 Timothy 4, verse 10 jumped out at me because it isn’t totally clear at first what it is saying:
“For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.”
The context helps us avoid coming away with the misunderstanding that God saves everyone (the heresy of Universalism).
In verses 1-5 Paul warns about people the Holy Spirit predicted would lead many astray in “later times” through anti-Gospel teaching that emphasizes legalistic abstinence from good things God created for people to enjoy.
In verse 6, Paul commends Timothy to keep on doing what he was trained to do: to know and teach faith in Christ (not in one’s own works) and “good doctrine” that is the sound teachings of the Gospel, which Timothy had been trained in, had believed, and had followed. Paul charges him to keep on putting “these things” before his Christian brothers and sisters in the local church.
In verses 7-8, Paul encourages Timothy to stay focused on the true faith and good doctrine of which he was a minister, rather than being distracted by other things that seem important to some people (e.g., “irreverent, silly myths”). Because the kind of “godly” training that Timothy had received already, which verse 6 says was in “the words of the faith and of the good doctrine [Timothy had] followed”, “holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (v 8).
So that’s what Timothy, and all of us who are called as local church elders and ministers of the Gospel, is to strive for: to proclaim and train others in “the words of the faith and of the good doctrine” that alone “holds promise… for the life to come”. Because though many hear the message that God is Savior, and many appear to hold to this faith for a time, not all truly trust (“have faith”) that Christ has saved them. Though God is the only Saviour for all people, only those who believe (trust in) Him, and cease relying on their own good works, religious rules, or laws about abstaining from this or that (verses 1-3) are particularly, actually saved (verse 10b).