As you are probably well aware, one of my favourite verses is 1 Timothy 4 : 10, which is in the sidebar on the Blog and therefore appears beside every new post.
That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe. (NIV)Apart from assuring us that God has decreed that all of his creation will be saved and live in harmony with him (and each other) in eternity, it also shows the distinction between those who are believers in their time on this planet and those who are not.
The believers are the firstfruits of the eventual harvest of all. They are those especially chosen for knowing and appreciating the saving grace of God in their earthly lives and been given the responsibility to live as ambassadors for Christ having the really good news to announce. (See 2 Cor 5 : 18 - 20)
Another reference that makes the same distinction as 1 Tim 4 : 10 occurs in Romans 3 : 21 - 22 (when translated correctly).
And now apart from the law has the righteousness of God been manifested, testified to by the law and the prophets, and the righteousness of God is through the faith of Jesus Christ to all, and upon all those believing, ... (Young's Literal Translation)The distinction is indeed clear in a good, literal translation - the righteousness of God is to all (eventually) but upon believers (in the realm of time).
Interestingly, this distinction is obscured, even omitted, by many modern translators who do not wish to admit that God's plan is to save all, and who restrict salvation to those who become believers during their earthly lives.
Compare the verse quoted above from YLT with this one from NIV.
But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. ... (NIV)Why do so many Christians, including many modern translators, want to portray our loving God as such a sadistic monster when Jesus has already fully paid for all our sins and God has clearly revealed his plan to save all at the end of time? (See Ephesians 1 : 9 - 10)
The Firstfruits are NOT the Harvest. The firstfruits are few: the harvest is plentiful.
PS. You might also have noticed another example where popular, modern translations attribute the righteousness of God in which we stand to our faith in Christ, rather than to the faith or faithfulness of Christ, as we discussed in the previous post.