“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” (1 Timothy 4:10 ESV).
Many sources offer valuable insights that can help us properly understand and apply this passage from 1 Timothy 4:10. For instance, some commentators focus upon God as “the Savior of all people” with an emphasis upon His grace and providential care…
“In this case, Paul may be using ‘Savior’ in a broader sense as ‘benefactor,’ as it was applied to Roman emperors: in His common grace, God lavishes generous provision on ‘all people’ or ‘on the just and the unjust’ (Matt. 5:45); but He focuses special, redemptive grace on ‘those who believe.'” (1)
“God is the Saviour of all men in the sense that all men depend on Him for all they have in the physical world—indeed all they have in any realm of living ultimately comes from God. Without God man would be lost physically—mentally—morally. This is true of all men, whether they recognize it or not. But most especially is this true of those who believe—for they know the source of all things in the life which now is, and of that which is to come.” (2)
Another Biblical scholar begins with God’s providential care and moves to an examination of this passage on an individual level…
“One could find in this statement the idea that God is the Preserver of the entire human race in the sense of His providential care. But the context, which brings in the idea of faith, seems to indicate that the idea of salvation from sin and the impartation of eternal life is the function here of God as Saviour. He is Saviour of all men in the sense that our Lord is ‘the Saviour of the world’ (Joh_4:42). He is the actual Saviour of those who believe, and the potential Saviour of the unbeliever in the sense that He has provided a salvation at the Cross for the sinner, and stands ready to save that sinner when the latter places his faith in the Lord Jesus.” (3)
Finally, one commentary expands upon the phrase “especially of those who believe”…
“Some claim this verse conflicts with other scriptural passages by teaching universalism (all individuals will be saved). However, ‘everyone’ refers to both Jews and Gentiles (all kinds of people rather than every single individual). The word ‘especially’ could be translated ‘namely.’ ‘Everyone’ equals ‘every believer regardless of ethnic background.'” (4)
(1) Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 2160). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.
(2) Don De Welt, Paul’s Letters to Timothy and Titus, [Comment 4:10] College Press, Joplin, Missouri Copyright 1961
(3) Kenneth S. Wuest, Word Studies in the Greek New Testament [1 Timothy 4:9-11] Copyright © 1942-55 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
(4) Cabal, T., Brand, C. O., Clendenen, E. R., Copan, P., Moreland, J. P., & Powell, D. (2007). The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (p. 1804). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.