A Doyouthinkhesaurus, of course!
Speaking of things that we are not sure were seen, did you ever wonder why Paul wrote:
“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men” (Titus 2:11).
Christians often ask about this verse. They know that God’s saving grace got around to a lot of people in Paul’s day, but they also know that it hadn’t “appeared to all men” on earth. So what did Paul mean?
Well, to begin with, we know that
“The heavens declare the glory of God… day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard” (Psa. 19:1-3).
The stars can be seen by “all men” on earth, and every night they speak and send out a message to everyone on the planet, a message that says there is an all-powerful Creator who brought those innumerable stars into existence. But just knowing there is a God isn’t enough to save anyone, for even devils believe that (James 2:19). So how could Paul say that the grace of God that brings salvation had appeared to all men?
The solution to our puzzle is that the phrase “all men” doesn’t always mean every man on the planet. When the Lord told the twelve apostles, “ye shall be hated of all men for My name’s sake” (Matt. 10:22), He didn’t mean they’d be hated of other believers! He meant they’d be hated by all unbelievers, a prediction that will come true in the Tribulation that will follow the Rapture.
That tells us that the phrase “all men” must always be interpreted by its context. Sometimes it means all kinds of men, as when Paul said, “I am made all things to all men” (1 Cor. 9:22), and then spoke of men who were “under the law” and others who were “without law.” We see this definition for “all men” again when Paul later said that he chose to “give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles” so as to “please all men” (1 Cor. 10:32,33).
And it is different kinds of men that Paul had in mind in the context of Titus 2:11 as well. Under his ministry, God’s saving grace had evidently appeared to the “aged men” (Titus 2:2) in Crete where Titus was stationed (Titus 1:5), as well as to the “aged women” (Titus 2:3), the “young women” (Titus 2:4), the “young men” (Titus 2:6) and even “servants” (Titus 2:9). God’s grace had obviously appeared to all those kinds of men, and saved all who responded to it in faith.
Now that, in and of itself, was nothing new. The men who preached salvation before Paul never had to stop and ask, “Are you a master or a servant?” before telling someone how to be saved, and they didn’t exclude men or women of any age. However, before God raised up Paul, they did have to ask if a man was a Jew or a Gentile, for before Paul was made an apostle, the grace of God that brought salvation could only appear to Jewish men. Even the Lord Himself was “not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt. 15:24), and He told the twelve apostles to “go not into the way of the Gentiles” to preach the gospel of salvation because, as He told a Gentile woman, “salvation is of the Jews” (Matt. 10:5; John 4:22). And we know that didn’t change at Pentecost, for Peter declared that God raised Christ from the dead “to be… a Saviour… to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:31).
But when God saved Paul and commissioned him to go “unto all men” (Acts 22:15), we know that here the phrase “all men” included Jews and Gentiles, for later he said that he obeyed that commission by preaching “first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles…” (Acts 26:20).
And when we apply this definition of “all men” to our text in Titus 2:11, that’s when we are introduced to something that was new, for no one before Paul could say,
“There is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him” (Rom. 10:12).
And that’s how Paul could say that the grace of God that bringeth salvation had appeared to “all men.” Before he was made an apostle, Gentiles who wanted to be saved had to hear about God’s saving grace from the Jews to whom it had appeared.