For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior: Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.
1 Timothy 2:3-5
When read out of its context, 1 Timothy 2:2-5 is an Arminian manifesto. But here Calvin clearly puts it into some context for us – its all types of men – not just the one chosen people (the jews) that the then Church was familiar with. It puts a smile on my face when I read about the great hope we have in reaching out to all sorts of people – even elderly people that might be as tough as an old boot; yes even this sort of person can, with God’s regenerating work, respond to the gospel. There is hope that all sorts of people will respond to the gospel.
When we despise those whom God would have honored, it is as much as if we should despise Him: so it is, if we make no account of the salvation of those whom God calleth to Himself. For it seemeth thereby that we would stay Him from showing His mercy to poor sinners, who are in the way to ruin. The reason why St. Paul useth this argument, that God will have all the world to be saved, is that we may, as much as lieth in us, also seek the salvation of those who seem to be banished from the kingdom of God; especially while they are unbelievers.
We must always observe what the condition of the world was in the days of St. Paul. It was something new and strange to have the gospel published to the world in those days: for it appeared that God had chosen the stock of Abraham, and that the rest of the world would be deprived of all hope of salvation. And indeed we see how Holy Writ setteth forth the adoption of this people: but St. Paul commandeth us to pray for all the world; and not without cause, for he addeth the reason, which is here mentioned: to wit, because God will have all men to be saved. As if he should say, my friends, it is reasonable that we should observe what the will of God is, and at what He aimeth; that every one of us may employ himself to serve Him aright.
Therefore, seeing it is the will of God that all men should be partakers of that salvation which He hath sent in the person of His only begotten Son, we must endeavor to draw poor, silly, ignorant creatures to us, that we may all come together to this inheritance of the kingdom of heaven, which hath been promised us. But we must observe that St. Paul speaketh not of every particular man, but of all sorts of men, and of all people. Therefore, when he saith that God will have all men to be saved, we must not think that he speaketh of them individually, but his meaning is this: that whereas in times past He chose a certain people to Himself, He meaneth now to show mercy to all the world: yea, even to them that seemed to be shut out from the hope of salvation…. (Extract from The salvation of all men, by John Calvin)