[b-greek] Re: 1 Tim. 2:4 --> PANTAS ANQRWPOUS

From: Steven R. Lo Vullo (doulos@appleisp.net)
Date: Sun Sep 23 2001 - 02:16:56 EDT

on 9/22/01 9:29 PM, Wayne Leman at wayne_leman@sil.org wrote:


I didn't really want to get involved in this thread because of the
theological implications of the discussion. But I think as long as we stick
to what PAS may legitimately mean, we will be OK.

This comes as a surprise to many, but PAS is rarely used in the NT in the
sense of "all without exception" with regard to what or whom it describes.
It is usually limited in one way or another, whether hyperbolic or not.

> Unless the immediate context determines otherwise, PANTAS ANQRWPOUS is to be
> understood to mean "everyone" (where the context is inclusive of both
> females and males) or "all men" (where only men are referred to).

This simply cannot be sustained, as I will show. The translation "everyone,"
particularly when translating the plural, can be misleading. I think "all
people," if we are concerned with inclusive language, is best. PAS is used
23 times in 1 Tim, and many of its uses are instructive. I'll limit myself
mainly to those in the immediate context of 1 Tim 2:4.

> I personally find nothing in the context of 1 Tim. 2:4 to indicate that the
> lexical meaning of PANTAS ANQRWPOUS is anything other than "everyone". For
> those who believe in limited atonement (or other limitations on PANTAS
> here), there is still the hermeneutical out here in the verb QELEI, if we
> allow for the philosophical distinction between what God desires to happen
> and what he causes to happen.

No hermeneutical out necessary. There are actually several indicators in the
immediate context of 1 Tim 2:4 (as well as other sections of 1 Tim) that
call into question both the idea that PAS normally means "all without
exception" and the contention that PANTAS ANQRWPOUS in 1 Tim 2:4 must refer
to all people without exception. This same word is used twice in v. 1, twice
in v. 2, once in v. 4, once in v. 6, once in v. 8, and once in v. 11. Let me
deal first with those instances where PAS is used in reference to people,
following the flow of the author's thought with the purpose of maintaining

(1) In v. 1 the author urges that entreaties, prayers, petitions, and
thanksgivings be made hUPER PANTWN ANQRWPWN. Right away we have a problem
with the assumption that PAS is all-inclusive, for it is not reasonable to
conclude that the author is urging that prayer be made for every man, woman,
and child on the face of the earth, much less for all who have lived before.
The most likely context of the prayer is public, but even if it is private
the problem persists. Praying for every person on planet earth would make
for a very long church service or devotional time indeed! And it cannot be
maintained that the author has in mind some cliched, generic prayer such as
"God bless everyone in the whole wide world," such as a child would pray at
bedtime, since he goes on in v. 2 to list specific types of people for whom
this should be done. So the best way to understand PANTWN ANQRWPWN here is
as "all kinds of people."

(2) In v. 2 the delineation of specific offices held by people who would be
known to the supplicants supports the contention that prayer hUPER PANTWN
ANQRWPWN refers to prayer for specific people rather than generic prayer,
and supports the view that PANTWN means "all sorts of." In addition, the
exhortation to pray hUPER ... PANTWN TWN EN hUPEROCHi supports not only the
contention that individuals are in view, but also that PANTWN cannot
reasonably mean all authorities inclusively, since, again, that would not be
possible. Imagine if we had to pray for every single government official in
the world! Can anyone out there cite the names of all the rulers of the
Taliban government in Afghanistan from memory? At the very least we must
limit PANTWN TWN EN hUPEROCHi to those officials the recipients of the
letter were familiar with. It should be noted that there are indisputable
parallels to this use of PAS. For example, in Acts 2.17, Peter, quoting a
prophecy from Joel, says, "In the last days it will be, God declares, that I
will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh (PASAN SARKA), and your sons and your
daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old
men shall dream dreams." It is clear from the context of the book of Acts
that the Spirit was not poured out on every single person on planet earth.
The subsequent mention of "your sons and your daughters," "your young men,"
"your old men" and "my slaves, both men and women" (vv. 17, 18) being
participants in the outpouring of the Spirit confirms that PASAN SARKA means
"all kinds of people." This is of course played out in Acts in a way Peter
could not have imagined at the time, the outpouring of the Spirit on certain
Gentiles (but not on every Gentile without exception).

(3) It is important to consider the preceding context of v. 4 when deciding
what semantical force to assign to PANTAS. This verse is not a theological
island. So in view of the fact that the author has "all sorts of people" in
mind when he uses PANTWN in v. 1 (made even more plain by v. 2), it is
inconsistent to automatically switch gears and now maintain that PANTAS must
mean "all people without exception." It is much more in keeping with the
context to understand PANTAS here as "all sorts" as well. This does justice
to the flow of thought of the author as well as recognizes a legitimate
nuance of PAS. His insistence that entreaties, prayers, petitions, and
thanksgivings be made on behalf of all sorts of people (vv. 1, 2) is in
harmony with God's purpose to save all sorts of people (vv. 3, 4). And hUPER
PANTWN in v. 6 should also be understood as "for all sorts of people" for
the same reasons.

(4) The author's comment in v. 7 also supports the foregoing conclusion. The
testimony of Jesus giving himself a ransom for all (PANTWN, v. 6) is tied to
Paul's ministry to the Gentiles. PANTWN here is simply a way of referring to
the different kinds of people inhabiting the Gentile world. This is apt,
since the early church had to deal with the movement of the Gospel from the
Jewish to the Gentile world. The idea, which was at first hard for many to
accept, is "not Jews only, but all kinds of people." So it is not hard to
see the parallel between PANTWN ("all sorts of people") in v. 6 and EQNWN
("Gentiles") in v. 7. This should not seem unusual, since this idea is found
elsewhere. For example, note Ananias' message to Paul in Acts 22.15: "For
you will be a witness for him [God] to all people (PANTAS ANQRWPOUS) of what
you have seen and heard." I shouldn't have to point out that Paul could not
possibly have witnessed to every person on planet earth during the course of
his ministry. The use of PANTAS ANQRWPOUS must be understood in the light of
v. 21, where God commands Paul, "Go! For I will send you far away to the
Gentiles" (EQNH). It is clear from the context that "all men" must mean "all
sorts of men," i.e., not just Jews, but also Syrians, Galatians, Asians,
Macedonians, Acheans, etc. There is a similar relationship at work in Rom
11:11-15, where KOSMOS and EQNOI ("world" and "Gentiles") are used
interchangeably, neither possibly meaning "all people without exception."

(5) The use of PAS to mean "all kinds" is used elsewhere in this letter. In
1 Tim 6:10 we read, "For the love of money is a root of all (PANTWN) the
evils." If PANTWN is taken as all-inclusive, this statement is patently
false, since the love of money is not the root of every imaginable evil, and
it is impossible to think this is what the author meant. This is why various
translations render PANTWN as something like "all sorts" (cf. ASV, NASB,

> I see no exegetical, contextual hint of hyperbole in 1 Tim. 2:4, howerver,
> but we should *always, at all times* <g> be alert to the possibility of
> hyperbole with PANTAS.

I have never heard anyone argue for hyperbole here, nor is it necessary.
There is an established use of PAS meaning "all kinds," and this has nothing
to do with hyperbole.

Steve Lo Vullo
Madison, WI

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