BIBLE STUDY


Paul's Letters To Timothy
by Greg Williamson (c) 2014, 2019
Featuring the text of the New American Standard Bible *
( = pop-up definition)


Intro | 1 Timothy 1:1-11 / 1:12-17 / 1:18-20 | 2:1-8 / 2:9-15 | 3:1-7 / 3:8-13 / 3:14-16 | 4:1-6 / 4:7-12 / 4:13-16 | 5:1-16 / 5:17-25 | 6:1-2 / 6:3-10 / 6:11-21 | 2 Timothy 1:1-7 / 1:8-12 / 1:13-18 | 2:1-7 / 2:8-13 / 2:14-18 / 2:19-26 | 3:1-9 / 3:10-12 / 3:13-17 | 4:1-4 / 4:5-8 / 4:9-22 ** | Articles & Definitions | Sources

PRAYING MEN
(1 Timothy 2:1-8)

1 First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men,
2 for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.
3 This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,
4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
5 For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,
6 who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.
7 For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying) as a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.
8 Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension. (1 Timothy 2:1-8)

 
What is the most vital ministry of the local church? According to Paul, it is prayer. Prayer moves the hand that governs the world. We must pray for government leaders, that the doors of ministry will be kept open and souls will be won to Christ. Because God’s people do not pray for people in authority, wars close mission fields, officials do not grant needed visas, and the work of the Lord suffers. - Warren Wiersbe [ref]
 

QuoteWorthy: Responsibility
Someone defined responsibility as "our response to God’s ability." - Warren Wiersbe [ref]

1 TIMOTHY 2:1 - Prayer for All People
A PRINCIPLE TO LIVE BY
Prayer for Government Leaders

We are to pray regularly for all government officials so that we’ll have a peaceful environment in which to worship God and communicate the gospel. (see 1 Timothy 2:1-7) [ref]

First of all ... entreaties (and) prayers, petitions (and) thanksgivings (1 Timothy 2:1)
The subject of this chapter is the local church's public worship. Paul first deals with the topic of prayer, and later he "addresses the question of the respective roles of men and women in public worship." [ref] One Bible commentator notes how worship is to take priority over evangelism. [ref] While that may be true, here Paul actually combines the two ideas of worship and evangelism by closely linking public prayer with God's saving purposes in Christ.

"First of all" means "first in importance." [ref] Prayer is "a duty of primary importance." [ref] It is "the quintessential mark of a congregation's worship: how people pray, for whom and to whom they pray, annd why they pray, give plublic expression of their covenant relationship with" God. [ref]

"The accumulation of terms implies prayer in its every form and aspect." [ref] While prayers for salvation should/would certainly be included, Paul's list is "broad enough to include whatever prayer might be appropriate to any situation." [ref] Put simply: "Prayers should be specific, reverently brought to God, bold, and grateful." [ref]

  • Entreaties. "[I]ts fundamental idea is a sense of need. No one will make a request unless a sense of need has already wakened a desire." [ref] More specifically, this has "to do with one’s personal needs as they are related to the government under which he lives." [ref] It "implies the humble feeling of our great need of the gifts and the blessings of God who alone is able to bestow what is good and wholesome." [ref] And of course "[t]he lost have a great need for salvation, and believers should always be asking God to meet that need." [ref]
  • Prayers includes the ideas of devotion, reverence, and dependence. [ref] [ref] It "emphasizes the sacredness of prayer. We are praying to God; prayer is an act of worship, not just an expression of our wants and needs. There should be reverence in our hearts as we pray to God." [ref] "There are certain needs which only God can satisfy. There is a strength which he alone can give; a forgiveness which he alone can grant; a certainty which he alone can bestow. It may well be that our weakness haunts us because we so often take our needs to the wrong place." [ref]
  • Petitions has to do with approaching "God in free and familiar prayer" on behalf of another person, throwing ourself into that person's situation and pleading on their behalf. [ref] It implies "drawing nigh to [God] in childlike trust and freedom, making known our wishes, and knowing that he will, indeed, give us what is salutary." [ref] "Paul’s desire is for the Ephesian Christians to have compassion for the lost, to understand the depths of their pain and misery, and to come intimately to God pleading for their salvation." [ref]
  • Thanksgivings are "grateful acknowledgments for past mercies." [ref] They complete "the circle, so that the blessings that come from God return to him again in the form of expressed gratitude." [ref] Too often "prayer is an exercise in complaint, when it should be an exercise in thanksgiving. ... We have the right to bring our needs to God; but we have also the duty of bringing our thanksgivings to him." [ref]

"'Prayer and supplication [petition] with thanksgiving' are a part of Paul’s formula for God’s peace in our hearts (Phil. 4:6). It is worth noting that Daniel, the great prayer-warrior, practiced this kind of praying (Dan. 6:10–11)." [ref]

all men (1 Timothy 2:1)
"Although Paul uses this cluster of four words, they all focus on a single theme, namely that they should be made for everyone." [ref]

While we certainly should be praying for everyone in general and their salvation in particular, the context indicates that here "all men" refers to groups of people, meaning something like "all men regardless of social, national, and racial distinctions," rather than every individual person on the planet. [ref] [ref]

D
I
G
G
I
N
G

D
E
E
P
E
R
PRAY FOR THE DEAD?

1 Timothy 2:1–2 -- Does Paul’s exhortation to pray for kings and others include those who are dead?

MISINTERPRETATION: Some Catholic scholars appeal to 1 Timothy 2:1 to support their dogma of praying for the dead. Paul said, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone” (NIV). Does this include those who are dead?

CORRECTING THE MISINTERPRETATION: This passage does not envision prayers for the dead. Paul urged believers to pray for the living, namely, “for Kings and for all those [who are] in authority” (v. 2, insert added) at the present. There is absolutely nothing here to imply that he includes the dead. The Bible elsewhere condemns praying for the dead.

- Norman L. Geisler & Ron Rhodes [ref]


D
I
G
G
I
N
G

D
E
E
P
E
R
PRAYER

Prayer remains one of the mysteries of our faith. Yet prayer is a simple act and a comfort to believers, who from the beginning have turned with confidence and faith to God.

The mysteries are theoretical: How can prayer “change” the mind of God or modify events? How does prayer relate to divine sovereignty? Scripture hardly notices such questions.

Instead, the Bible emphasizes the simplicity of prayer. Believers are to pray about everything, confident that God hears prayers, cares, and is able to act.

Both OT and NT show that prayer grows out of one’s personal relationship with God. It is the spontaneous, heartfelt sharing by needy human beings with God, who is able and willing to help. The Book of Psalms -- the prayer book of the OT—best captures the warmth and intimacy of the prayer that grows out of the believer’s relationship with his God.

In the NT we are shown that each person of the Trinity is deeply involved in prayer. We come to the Father, through the Son, accompanied by the guidance of the Spirit. Significantly, the NT pictures prayer as a continuous expression of the personal relationship that has been established with God through Jesus; and the content of prayer grows out of our intimate relationship with others in the body of Christ.

While there are no “conditions” that a person must meet before God will hear prayer, the Bible provides indicators that force our attention back to the quality of our personal relationship with God. Those whose lives demonstrate that they have no significant relationship with God (the unjust, the unconcerned, and the disobedient) have no basis on which to expect prayers to be heard. But those who experience a growing relationship with God marked by trust, obedience, love, harmony with other believers, and a growing commitment to the revealed will of God can rest assured. God does hear the prayers of those who live close to him. Our prayers are heard, and they will be answered in his time.

- Lawrence O. Richards [ref]

For further study: Prayer

BackToText

1 TIMOTHY 2:2 - Prayer for the State

for kings and all who are in authority (1 Timothy 2:2)
"Because so many powerful and influential political rulers are hostile to God, they are often the targets of bitterness and animosity. But Paul urges believers to pray that these leaders might repent of their sins and embrace the gospel, which meant that the Ephesians were even to pray for the salvation of the Roman emperor, Nero, a cruel and vicious blasphemer and persecutor of the faith." [ref]

As we will see, "[t]he ultimate object of our prayers for national leaders ... is that in the context of the peace they preserve, religion and morality can flourish, and evangelism go forward without interruption." [ref]

At this time in history "no Christian ruler existed anywhere in the world." [ref]

Notice that we find Paul urging prayer "not for the liberation of the land from Roman rule, but for the responsible administration of that rule." [ref]

At this time the madman Nero was emperor. With his "growing resentment toward Christians -- which came to full bloom after the fire in Rome in July, A.D. 64 -- and the general disintegration of the Roman Empire due to Nero’s profligacy, Christians began to suffer persecution from the Roman authorities." [ref] It is more than a little ironic that this all came about not long after Paul penned his letter to Timothy.

A
P
P
L
I
C
A
T
I
O
N
PRAYING FOR THE GOVERNING AUTHORITIES

The Romans permitted subject peoples to worship their own gods, but they had to show their loyalty to Rome by also worshiping the goddess Roma and the spirit of the emperor. Because Jewish people worshiped one God to the exclusion of all others, Rome allowed them to pray and sacrifice for the emperor’s health without praying and sacrificing to him. Prayers were offered for him regularly in the synagogues, showing the loyalty of these Jewish institutions to the Roman state. When the Zealots decided to throw off the Roman yoke “for God,” however, they abolished the sacrifices in the temple. This act in A.D. 66 constituted a virtual declaration of war against Rome, several years after Paul wrote [1 Timothy]. Christian public prayers for the emperor and provincial and local officials showed Christians as good citizens of the society in which they lived (Jer 29:7). [ref]

[P]rayer for pagan countries and their leaders already had a precedent in the Old Testament. For Jeremiah told the exiles to pray for Babylon’s peace and prosperity (Jeremiah 29:7), and the edict of Cyrus, which ordered the rebuilding of the Jerusalem temple, included a request to the Jews to ‘pray for the well-being of the king and his sons’ (Ezra 6:10). It is hardly surprising to find the early church following this warrant from both Old and New Testaments. Thus Clement of Rome, towards the end of the first century, included a prayer in his first letter to the Corinthian church for rulers and governors: ‘Grant them, Lord, health, peace, harmony and stability, so that they may give no offence in administering the government you have given them.’ Tertullian too in his Apology, which is usually dated about AD 200, wrote: ‘We pray also for the emperors, for their ministers and those in power, that their reign may continue, that the state may be at peace, and that the end of the world may be postponed.’ [ref]

And of course this is in line with what Jesus himself said regarding loving our enemies and praying for our persecutors (Matthew 5:44-45).

Paul is particularly concerned with prayer for the civil authorities (1 Timothy 2:1-8). While he does not specify the content of our prayers, certainly at the center would be prayer for their salvation. [ref] Those in authority, whether appointed or elected, can have a tremendous impact for good or for ill on the lives of countless individuals. "God has power to influence their hearts, and to incline them to what is just and equal; and hence we should pray that a divine influence may descend upon them."  [ref

As one source wisely counsels:

If we live in a country with a good government, our lives move along peacefully and quietly, making it difficult to remember to pray for those in authority. We take good government for granted. But we should pray for those at the top -- whether we agree with them or not, whether we voted for them or not. In this way, we Christians can make a difference in the course of our nation. We should also pray for world leaders so that other cultures will be open to the gospel. Pray for your leaders, not just in times of national crisis, but every day—thousands of decisions are made daily that affect everyone. And beyond praying for those decisions that will affect you, also pray for the conversion of your leaders. [ref]

- AC21DOJ

we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity (1 Timothy 2:2)
It is not selfish to pray for peace, since "only within an ordered society is the church free to fulfil its God-given responsibilities without hindrance." [ref] "Having recently been released from his Roman imprisonment, Paul was greatly aware of the deteriorating political atmosphere. Thus he urged prayer for the salvation of all men, but especially rulers, so that the stable, noninterfering environment of previous days might be recovered." [ref]

As one source explains:

 
The word quiet [NASB: tranquil] means "not troubled from without"; that is, intercessory prayer enables good government to ensure that its citizens are not troubled by enemies or forces outside its borders. "Peaceable" [NASB: "Quiet"] means "not troubled from within"; that is, the church’s prayer also aids competent government in maintaining law and order within its own borders. The translation godliness and honesty [NASB: godliness and dignity] is unfortunate, for the exercise of these virtues is not dependent upon good government; they can be cultivated even in poor political management and persecution. The text should read, "That we may lead a quiet and peaceable life with the utmost reverence and respect." This respect is for governmental authority. Respect can best be realized when rulers are competent and rightly discharging their duties. Otherwise, it is difficult to respect rulers when they are incompetent and unjust. [ref]
 

On a personal level, freedom from external disturbances ("tranquil") promotes inner peace ("quiet") and helps us to live out our Christian faith before both God and our fellow man. "Godliness means true reverence and religious devotion that leads to exemplary conduct. Dignity means serious purpose, moral earnestness. These descriptive words do not imply private spiritual living. Rather, they convey a public faith consistent with God's purpose to achieve the salvation of persons and bring them 'to a knowledge of the truth." [ref]

Christians neither need nor want the governing authorities to grant us special status. "Christians are disposed of themselves to be peaceful and orderly; they ask of their rulers only that they may not be harassed in the enjoyment of their rights."  [ref] This is particularly needed in America today (2013) as religious liberty is under attack in many quarters. It really comes down to the fact that the sinful lifestyle choices being embraced by society and exploited by her elected officials cannot peacefully coexist with genuine Christianity.

A
P
P
L
I
C
A
T
I
O
N
CHURCH AND STATE

Here is important apostolic teaching about church and state, and about the proper relations between them, even when the state is not Christian. It is the duty of the state to keep the peace, to protect its citizens from whatever would disturb it, to preserve law and order (using this expression without the oppressive overtones it often has today, referring to a clampdown on dissidents), and to punish evil and promote good (as Paul teaches in Rom. 13:4), so that within such a stable society the church may be free to worship God, obey his laws and spread his gospel. Conversely, it is the duty of the church to pray for the state, so that its leaders may administer justice and pursue peace, and to add to its intercession thanksgiving, especially for the blessings of good government as a gift of God’s common grace. Thus church and state have reciprocal duties, the church to pray for the state (and be its conscience), the state to protect the church (so that it may be free to perform its duties). Each should acknowledge that the other also has a divine origin and purpose. Each should help the other to fulfil its God-given role.

- John Stott [ref]


HOW SHOULD A CHRISTIAN UNDERSTAND THE ROLE OF GOVERNMENT?

Christianity is about much more than salvation; it speaks to all of life. “Jesus is Lord” was the earliest baptismal confession. Scripture mandates taking dominion and cultivating the soil (Gn 1) and being salt and light (Mt 5:13–16). Abraham Kuyper, former Dutch prime minister and theologian, famously said, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of human existence over which Christ, who is sovereign over all, does not cry out ‘Mine!’”

No area of cultural engagement is more important than government and politics: We are commanded to submit to governing authorities (Rm 13); Jesus Himself said, “Give back to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s” (Mt 22:21). This means Christians must be good citizens, pay taxes, obey laws, and serve (as called) in government. Augustine argued that Christians are to be the best citizens: what others do only because the law demands, we do out of love for God.

Because government is ordained by God to preserve order and do justice, we’re instructed to honor the king (1 Pt 2:13–17) and pray for those in authority that we might live peaceful lives (1 Tm 2:1–15). The only thing worse than bad government is anarchy.

The authorities are established by God, Paul said. Hence, John Calvin accorded the magistrate’s office as having one of the most important roles in any society -- working as a servant for good (Rm 13:4). It’s a noble calling for Christians to enter public service. Contrary to common caricatures of politicians, some of the finest public servants I’ve known are serious believers who live out their faith in office without compromising their convictions.

The cultural mandate means the church has an important role to play with respect to political structures -- working for justice, speaking prophetically, and often being the conscience of society, even when this means persecution, prison, or death, as it did for many in the confessing church in Nazi Germany. Though there have been times when the church has failed in this responsibility, thankfully today it’s at its post, the strongest voice in American society in defense of life and human rights. The church is also the agency that, in this age of terrorism, prophetically holds government to the moral boundaries of the just war tradition. Though in America we observe a strict separation of church and state (the state shouldn’t establish a state church or restrict the free exercise of religion), there should never be a separation of religion and public life. The public square needs religious influence; indeed, the Christian faith has played a critical role in shaping our institutions. Reformation doctrines such as sphere sovereignty (government doesn’t rule alone; all structures -- the family, the church, private associations -- have ordained responsibilities) and the rule of law made Western liberal democracy possible. Our Founding Fathers respected the “laws of nature and nature’s God,” recognizing that without a moral consensus resting upon Judeo-Christian tradition, virtue could not be maintained and self-government would fail. Noted historian Will Durant wrote that he could find no case in history where a nation survived without a moral code and no case where that moral code was not informed by religious truth.

But the church must approach its public role with caution and sensitivity. Pastors and other church leaders, for example, should never make partisan endorsements of candidates (which can divide our ranks and politicize the faith) or allow themselves to be in the hip pocket of any political party. That said, the pastor should never hesitate to speak boldly from the pulpit about pressing moral concerns.

There are clear dangers in dealing with politics. Among my duties as special counsel to President Nixon was winning the support of special interest groups. I found religious leaders easily impressed with the trappings of office. And later, watching from the outside, I saw Christian leaders succumb to these allures. There’s a fine line here. It was wrong when, for most of the twentieth century, evangelicals stood apart from politics; so too it’s wrong to allow ourselves to be married to a political party.

Christians individually and through organizations must engage in the political process, always preserving their independence and fulfilling the prophetic office (which may mean calling friends to account). Though Christians are to be the best of citizens, our first loyalty is not to the kingdom of man but to the kingdom of God.

- Chuck Colson [ref]

BackToText

1 TIMOTHY 2:3 - Prayer That Accords with God's Will (vv. 3-7)

good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior (1 Timothy 2:3)
"The word 'good' is a key word in Paul’s pastoral epistles (1 Tim. 1:8, 18; 2:3; 3:1, 7, 13; 4:4, 6; 5:4, 10, 25; 6:12–13, 18–19; 2 Tim. 1:14; 2:3; 4:7; Titus 2:7, 14; 3:8, 14). The Greek word emphasizes the idea of something being intrinsically good, not just good in its effects. 'Fair' and 'beautiful' are synonyms. Certainly prayer of itself is a goodly practice, and brings with it many good benefits." [ref]

"When these prayers come before God on his heavenly throne, his judgment pronounces them morally and spiritually 'excellent,' [NASB: 'good'] a true expression of the Christian spirit of his people, and thus God receives these prayers as being 'acceptable,' to be answered in his goodness and his grace." [ref]

Paul's words should help to reassure anyone who questions praying for pagan rulers. [ref] Also note that it is in God's sight, "not merely before men, as if it were their favor that we sought." [ref]

"God our Savior" stands over against the Roman emperor, who was also referred to as Savior and was seen as one of many gods. The ruling authority had its legitimate sphere of influence and thus Christians were to pray for them -- but never to them. The state did not have the legitimate right to claim absolute allegiance, since that right belongs to God alone. [ref] Also see below under "one God, (and) one mediator."

BackToText

1 TIMOTHY 2:4 - Prayer That Accords with God's Will (vv. 3-7)

who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4)
"Desires" speaks "of a wish or desire that arises from one’s emotions. The desire for the salvation of lost sinners arises spontaneously from the love of God for a lost race." [ref] This desire includes everyone, even pagan governing authorities. [ref] While it is certainly true "that God loves the whole world, desires all people to be saved, and so commands us to preach the gospel to all the nations and to pray for their conversion" [ref] (Ezekiel 18:23; 33:11; John 3:16; 2 Peter 3:9), it seems that within the present context "all men" refers to "all types of men" -- that is, "all men regardless of social, national, and racial distinctions" [ref] -- rather than every individual person on the planet.

An expanded paraphrase of the latter part of this verse might be: "to come to a full, personal, saving knowledge of the Gospel." As one commentator explains well: "Come to a knowledge of the truth (v. 4) was a formula that described conversion as a rational decision about the gospel. This statement qualifies how the universality of God's will to save is to be understood. We do not have here grounds for saying that all people will be saved regardless of their disposition toward the gospel. Rather, the emphasis is on access: the gospel is to be preached to all nations" [ref] -- that is to say, people "from every rank and station, tribe and nation." [ref]

A
P
P
L
I
C
A
T
I
O
N
UNIVERSALISM

Simply stated, universalism states that sooner or later all will be saved. The older form of universalism, which originated in the second century, taught that salvation would come after a temporary period of punishment. The new universalism of our day declares that all men are now saved, though all do not realize it. Therefore the job of the preacher and the missionary is to tell people that they are already saved. Though Karl Barth denied that he taught the universal reconciliation of all men, he clearly did teach the universal election of all in Christ. Others plainly state, for example, that God’s radical love pursues men until all are saved.

A. Biblical Evidence
Verses that universalists appeal to are John 12:32, “will draw all men to Myself”; 1 Corinthians 15:22, “in Christ all shall be made alive”; Philippians 2:11, “every tongue should confess”; and 1 Timothy 2:4, “who desires all men to be saved.” But these verses do not teach that all people will ultimately be saved. John 12:32 says that the Cross of Christ makes possible the salvation of both Jews and Gentiles. Notice that the Lord in the same passage warned of judgment on rejecters (John 12:48). First Corinthians 15:22 states that all who are in Christ will be raised, not that everybody will. Philippians 2:10–11 assures us that someday all people will acknowledge Jesus as Lord, but not necessarily as Savior. First Timothy 2:4 expresses God’s desire that all be saved, but does not promise that all will be.

Universalists conveniently overlook other verses. Consider, for example, some of the Lord’s own words. “He who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36). “These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matt. 25:46). Because the same word is used it is impossible to argue that eternal punishment is not unending in the same way that eternal life is.

Other New Testament passages that teach eternal damnation include 2 Thessalonians 1:8–9, “will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord”; 1 Corinthians 1:18; 4:3; and Hebrews 2:3. Everyone is either saved or lost, and anyone who dies without receiving Christ as personal Savior will be eternally condemned.

B. Theological Evidence
Some universalists prefer to argue theologically. They appeal to the nature of God as being totally love. How, then, they ask, could such a God condemn anyone either in this life or the life to come? God is too good to reject anyone. However, God’s character involves not only love and goodness but also righteousness, holiness, and wrath. Universalists sacrifice God’s righteousness to His love, which results in a god different from the God of the Bible.

Others argue that a just God would not give infinite punishment for finite sin. But this ignores that important principle that crime depends on the object against whom it is committed (an infinite God) as well as on the subject who commits it (finite man). Striking a post is not a culpable act as striking a human being is. All sin is ultimately against an infinite God and deserves infinite punishment.

- Charles Ryrie [ref]


As has often been noted, a person cannot receive a gift when his hands are already full. In order to receive the free gift of God's forgiveness and the salvation he offers, we must lay aside our supposed good works and come to God empty-handed. The person who fails to do so has passed judgment on and rejected God, not vice versa. As has also been noted, the door to Hell is locked from the inside, filled with people who want nothing to do with God.

- AC21DOJ

QuoteWorthy: Pride
Someone has said that “pride in human achievement constantly threatens a prosperous people. Spiritual pride easily leads prosperous people to forget that their blessings are not rewards for being good.” [ref]

BackToText

1 TIMOTHY 2:5 - Prayer That Accords with God's Will (vv. 3-7)

one God, (and) one mediator (1 Timothy 2:5)
"One God" "[a]lludes to the Jewish prayer called the shema (see Deut 6:4). One God means one faith and one gospel for all people" [ref] (compare Romans 3:30; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Galatians 3:20; Ephesians 4:6). [ref] "There is not one God for this nation, one for another; one God for slaves and one for free men; one God for rulers, one for subjects" (see 1 Corinthians 12:13; Romans 3:29). [ref]

God's plan of salvation is both inclusive and exclusive:

 
[Paul's] main point is simply that the existence of only one God implies that the gift of salvation is extended to all. Therefore, the church's participation in the mission enterprise must involve earnest prayer for all people. Yet at the same time there is an exclusiveness implied by Paul's logic. Salvation is linked solely to the one mediator, Christ, and therefore to the gospel about him. The church as the sole guardian of this message (1 Timothy 3:15) is the sole means by which God's salvation can be extended to all. Consequently, the church's prayer for the salvation of all people is not optional or subsidiary in the least. It is intrinsic to the church's reason for existing and to the accomplishment of the larger evangelistic goal. [ref]
 

Over against the many false gods of the day, including the alledgedly divine Roman emperor, "the oneness of God has a bearing on the practical question of man’s salvation. It is possible for all men to be saved, because over them there are not many Gods that can exercise possibly conflicting will-power towards them, but one only. One Godhead stands over against one humanity; and the Infinite and the finite can enter into relations one with the other, since they are linked by a mediator who is both God and man." [ref] This is very much unlike the whole Greco-Roman system of false gods who could not even offer ultimate salvation, let alone guarantee it.

A "mediator" is someone who stands between two opposing parties, working for their reconciliation. [ref] "The need for a mediator testifies to the sinfulness of humanity, while the provision of a mediator demonstrates the kindness of God." [ref] While Jesus stood in the middle, he was not the type of mediator "who worked for compromise between opposing parties. Instead he was the only one able to go between man and God to enable them to have a relationship, but entirely on God's terms" [ref] (see Hebrews 8:6; 9:15; 12:24). Both Jews and Greeks believed in many mediators between God and humans, and neither believed it was possible to have direct access to God. [ref]

Again we might emphasize what this would have meant for Christians living under Roman rule, since the same applies to believers today as the world ever looks for a political messiah: "Given the influence and importance of the Emperor cult in the Roman world, Paul's insistence that there is one mediator, who is the human Jesus, should probably be understood as a rejection of both the divinization of the Roman Caesar and his role as the sole medium of the gods." [ref]

D
I
G
G
I
N
G

D
E
E
P
E
R
CHRIST AS MEDIATOR = ONLY A HUMAN?

1 Timothy 2:5–6 -- Does the fact that Christ is the mediator between humanity and God mean that Christ himself is not God?

MISINTERPRETATION: The Jehovah’s Witnesses say that, since Christ is the Mediator, he must not be God, for the Mediator must be separate and distinct from those who need mediation (Should You Believe in the Trinity? 1989, 16).

CORRECTING THE MISINTERPRETATION: If Jesus as mediator cannot be God, then, by the same logic, he cannot be human. Such reasoning is clearly faulty. From a scriptural perspective, Jesus can mediate between God and man precisely because he is both God and man. It was only as a man that Christ could represent all humankind and die as a man. However, since Christ was also God, his death had infinite value sufficient to provide redemption for the sins of all humankind (see Heb. 2:14–16; 9:11–28). Thus, only the death of the perfect God-man can truly mediate for sinful humanity to God.

- Norman L. Geisler & Ron Rhodes [ref]

A
P
P
L
I
C
A
T
I
O
N
ONE WAY

This question [as to whether there really is only one way to God] is being hotly debated in our day. The status of other religions, and the relationship of Jesus Christ to them, is a living issue. Three main positions are held.

First, the traditional view, held until recently by the great majority of Christians, is that Jesus Christ is the only Saviour and that salvation is by explicit faith in him. This is commonly called ‘exclusivism’, although it is an unfortunate term because it sounds negative and élitist, and because it says nothing about the inclusivism implicit in the universal offer of the gospel.

The second view is usually named ‘inclusivism’. It also affirms that Jesus Christ is the Saviour, but adds that he saves different people in different ways, especially through their own religion.

The third view, which is gaining ground in our postmodern world of scepticism about truth, is called ‘pluralism’. It not only tolerates the different religions, but actively affirms their independent saving validity, and therefore denies uniqueness and finality to Jesus. ... It is acknowledged by pluralists ... ‘that Jews are being saved within and through the Jewish stream of religious life, Muslims within and through the Islamic stream, Hindus within and through the Hindu stream …’ etc.

We may affirm, however, without fear of contradiction, that in this classification Paul would have declared himself an ‘exclusivist’. In his day there was an abundance of religions and ways of salvation, ‘many “gods” and many “lords”’ (1 Corinthians 8:5). For example, there were the popular mystery religions from the East. Also the Gnostics postulated a whole succession of angelic emanations spanning the gulf between God and the world, of which Jesus was the greatest but not the only one. Paul insisted, however, that there is only one mediator. We need to be clear, therefore, that Christians do not claim uniqueness for ‘Christianity’ as a system in any of its varied formulations, or for the church as an institution in any of its cultural expressions, but only for Christ himself as a historical person and uniquely qualified mediator.

- John Stott [ref]

D
I
G
G
I
N
G

D
E
E
P
E
R
MEDIATOR

lit., “a go-between” (from mesos, “middle,” and eimi, “to go”), is used in two ways in the NT

  • “one who mediates” between two parties with a view to producing peace, as in 1 Tim. 2:5, though more than mere “mediatorship” is in view, for the salvation of men necessitated that the Mediator should Himself possess the nature and attributes of Him towards whom He acts, and should likewise participate in the nature of those for whom He acts (sin apart); only by being possessed both of deity and humanity could He comprehend the claims of the one and the needs of the other; further, the claims and the needs could be met only by One who, Himself being proved sinless, would offer Himself an expiatory sacrifice on behalf of men
  • “one who acts as a guarantee” so as to secure something which otherwise would not be obtained. Thus in Heb. 8:6; 9:15; 12:24 Christ is the Surety of “the better covenant,” “the new covenant,” guaranteeing its terms for His people.
- W. E. Vine [ref]

BackToText

1 TIMOTHY 2:6 - Prayer That Accords with God's Will (vv. 3-7)

who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony (1 Timothy 2:6)
"Paul goes on to call Jesus the one who gave his life a ransom for all. That simply means that it cost God the life and death of his Son to bring men back to himself." [ref]

Though brief, these words highlight a number of vital truths regarding Christ's sacrificial death [ref]:

  • "who ... Himself" - Personal. Jesus was/is God's Son and the perfect man.
  • "gave" - Voluntary. It was neither a surprise to God nor forced on Jesus.
  • "as a ransom" - Liberating. It frees us from bondange to sin and death.
  • "as a ransom" - Substitutionary. Jesus died in our place (see Isaiah 53:10-12; Mark 10:45).
  • "for" - Representative. Jesus stood in our place.
  • "all" - Universal. The same way of salvation is open to all people "regardless of rank, station, race, or nationality." [ref]
  • "testimony" - Just. "Christ’s death testifies that God was just in the past in forgiving sins and that he will be just in the future to forgive sins based on the fact of that great once-and-for-all act which bears its own testimony to this truth (Rom. 3:25–26)." [ref]

One commentator summarizes well Jesus' unique status as mediator:

 
Here, then, is the double uniqueness of Jesus Christ, which qualifies him to be the only mediator. First there is the uniqueness of his divine-human person, and secondly the uniqueness of his substitutionary, redeeming death. The one mediator is the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom. We must keep these three nouns together, the man, the ransom and the mediator. Historically, they refer to the three major events in his saving career, his birth by which he became man, his death in which he gave himself as a ransom, and his exaltation (by resurrection and ascension) to the Father’s right hand, where he acts as our mediator or advocate today. Theologically, they refer to the three great doctrines of salvation, namely the incarnation, the atonement and the heavenly mediation. And since in no other person but Jesus of Nazareth has God first become man (taking our humanity to himself) and then given himself as a ransom (taking our sin and guilt upon himself), therefore he is the only mediator. There is no other. No-one else possesses, or has ever possessed, the necessary qualifications to mediate between God and sinners.

What we do not know is exactly how much accurate and detailed information people need about the Man-Ransom-Mediator before they can call on God for salvation. What we do know is that all human beings are sinful, guilty and perishing; that no human being can save himself or herself by good works, religious observances, beliefs or sincerity; that Jesus Christ, being God, man and a ransom, is the only competent mediator through whom God saves; and that therefore it is urgent to proclaim the gospel in its fullness to as many people as possible. [ref]
 

D
I
G
G
I
N
G

D
E
E
P
E
R
REDEEM/RANSOM

Redemption plays a central role in biblical theology. The basic shape of the doctrine is formed in the OT. But the full meaning of all that God has had eternally in mind is unveiled only in the NT. All too often, the wide ranging implications of this biblical concept are missed as we focus on the NT revelation of redemption from sin. The rich texture of the OT reminds us that the God of redemption still stands beside us to meet our every need.

The OT Doctrine
Redemption in the OT involves someone who is in bondage or danger. All of the words for redemption find their source in the common things of daily life, but they all take on great significance as the common meanings are applied to explain God’s actions on Israel’s behalf.

So interpreted, God’s redemption of Israel from Egypt was an intervention that transferred ownership of Israel to the Lord. When Israel became God’s by redemption as well as by creation, they could trust him to deliver them in the future. Thus, God’s redemption is seen as an affirmation of close kinship with his covenant people. He acted because they were his family. Love and duty combined as God stepped into history to meet the needs of a people who were helpless without him.

Believers today can also count on God. As the Redeemer, he has made them his own, and he will act to deliver.

The NT Doctrine
The NT applies the concept developed in the OT to the issue of personal salvation. Each person in our world is in the grip of sin. Sin’s bondage can be broken only through Christ’s blood. Redeemed, the believer is given a place in the family of God and is called to live a life that reflects his new standing.

Conclusion
Only the Scriptures, of all the world’s great religious writings, so portray the relation between human beings and God in terms of redemption. Redemption reveals a helpless humanity; and redemption affirms a God whose love drives him to take the part of the near kinsman. At his own expense, he paid the price needed to win our release.

- Lawrence O. Richards [ref]

A
P
P
L
I
C
A
T
I
O
N
MANY WAYS TO GOD?

Though some people think there are many ways to God, in practice, each person must choose a single way. We can stand on one side of a gorge and discuss the possibility of many bridges across the abyss, but if we are determined to cross, we will have to commit to one bridge. Those who insist that there are many bridges to God usually fit one of the following categories:

(1) They have not personally committed to any "bridge." They are surprised that their belief in multiple ways does not exempt them from having to choose one.
(2) Their belief in "many ways to God" hides their true belief that finding God doesn't really matter at all.
(3) They are convinced that arguing for "many ways to God" will insure that they won't be wrong. If there is only one way, their generalized belief will presumably have included it.
(4) They have decided that believing in "many ways to God" requires less work than going to the trouble of actually considering the claims of various religious systems.

The facts remain: We human beings are separated from God by sin and we need a Savior—a way across the abyss of sin and back to God. Only one person in the universe is our Mediator and can stand between us and God and bring us together again—Jesus, who is both God and man. Jesus' sacrifice brought new life to all people. Have you let him bridge the gap between you and God?

- Life Application Study Bible [ref]


BackToText

1 TIMOTHY 2:7 - Prayer That Accords with God's Will (vv. 3-7)

a preacher and an apostle ... a teacher of the Gentiles (1 Timothy 2:7)
"Paul had been appointed to be not only a herald [preacher] but also an apostle, representing Christ, fully clothed with delegated authority over doctrine and conduct, an authority continuing for life and extending over the entire church, wherever it existed on earth." [ref]

One Bible commentator gives an expanded description of Paul's offices:

 
1. He is a herald of the story of Jesus Christ. A herald is a man who makes a statement and who says: "This is true." He is a man who brings a proclamation that is not his own, but which comes from the king.

2. He is a witness to the story of Christ. A witness is a man who says: "This is true, and I know it" and says also "It works." He is a man who tells, not only the story of Christ, but also the story of what Christ has done for him.

3. He is an envoy. An envoy is one whose duty is to commend his country in a foreign land. An envoy in the Christian sense is therefore one who commends the story of Christ to others. He wishes to communicate that story to others, so that it will mean as much to them as it does to him.

4. He is a teacher. The herald is the person who proclaims the facts; the witness is the person who proclaims the power of the facts; the envoy is the person who commends the facts; the teacher is the person who leads men into the meaning of the facts. It is not enough to know that Christ lived and died; we must think out what that meant. A man must not only feel the wonder of the story of Christ; he must think out its meaning for himself and for the world. [ref]
 

"There is an urgent need for such heralds and teachers today. It is not enough that the Son of God was born, died and was raised, or that he is the uniquely qualified God-man, ransom and mediator; this great good news must be made known, both heralded and taught, throughout the world." [ref]

of the Gentiles (1 Timothy 2:7)
The Jews believed that salvation was reserved for them alone. And even within the early Church there was a common misconception that in order to be saved a Gentile must first become a Jewish convert and then he/she could become a Christian. Paul's commission proved that the Gospel is meant for the entire world. [ref] In the end there are only two classes of people: the saved and the unsaved.

I am telling the truth, I am not lying (1 Timothy 2:7)
"At times this matter of having been divinely appointed had been called in question by the enemies (Galatians 1:1, 12)," and it is safe to assume that the false teachers in Ephesus openly questioned Paul's commission. [ref] Hence Paul's words here (cf. Romans 9:1; 2 Corinthians 11:31; Galatians 1:20). [ref]

BackToText

1 TIMOTHY 2:8 - The Appropriate Demeanor of Men
A PRINCIPLE TO LIVE BY
Gender Roles

To have a unified church that reflects the fruit of the Spirit, both men and women are to function as equals in Christ within the parameters of God’s divine plan. (see 1 Timothy 2:8-15) [ref]

in every place (1 Timothy 2:8)
This verse "urges those responsible for worship at home and also wherever Christians meet for worship and prayer, to lead in this activity." [ref]

"In every place" occurs a total of four times and always by Paul (1 Corinthians 1:2; 2 Corinthians 2:14; 1 Thessalonians 1:8, 1 Timothy 2:8). It echoes Malachi 1:11, which pictures "the gracious outward turn of God to the nations. ... Viewed within this line of OT promise, the churches’ prayer (1 Cor. 1:2; 1 Tim. 2:8) and Paul’s apostolic ministry (2 Cor. 2:14; 1 Thess. 1:8; 1 Tim. 2:7) become signs of the fulfillment of God’s promise to offer salvation to 'the nations.' Equally, the church in its proclamation and prayer becomes the vehicle by which promise is fulfilled." [ref]

lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension (1 Timothy 2:8)
Here we find the three main hindrances to prayer: sin, anger, and quarreling/arguing. [ref] "[I]t is useless to spread out our hands to God in prayer if they are defiled with sin (Isaiah 1:15; cf. 59:1ff). As for anger and quarrelling, it is obviously inappropriate to approach God in prayer if we are harbouring resentment or bitterness against him or other people. As Jesus himself insisted, reconciliation must precede worship (Mt. 5:23–24; cf. 6:12ff.; Mk. 11:25)." [ref]

"Holy hands" pictures a lifestyle of belief, obedience, purity, and genuine worship. [ref] [ref] [ref] [ref] [ref] Here "Paul uses a common ancient posture in prayer (lifting up holy hands) as a figure of speech for offering requests from a holy life (without anger or dispute)" [ref] Because we pray to a holy God, acceptable prayers are those that "come from holy, purified hearts. ... [God] requires of us that we deal with our sins before making our approach," which includes being "in right relationship with one another." [ref]

A
P
P
L
I
C
A
T
I
O
N
PRAYER POSTURE

[H]oliness, love and peace are indispensable to prayer. But what about the lifting up of our hands -- is this equally essential? No, bodily postures and gestures in prayer are cultural, and a wide range of variations occurs in Scripture. The normal posture while worshipping was to stand, as when the Levites summoned the people to ‘stand up and praise the LORD your God’(Nehemiah 9:5; cf. Genesis 18:22; 1 Samuel 1:26; Mark 11:25; Luke 18:11, 13; Revelation 7:9). And while standing before God, it seems to have been common either to ‘lift’ the hands to him or to ‘spread’ them before him, as an expression of dependence and faith. So we read: ‘I lift my hands towards your Most Holy Place’, and ‘Let us lift up our hearts and our hands to God in heaven’ (Psalms 28:2; Lamentations 3:41; cf. Exodus 9:29; 17:11–12; 1 Kings 8:22; Nehemiah 8:6; Psalms 63:4; 134:2; 143:6). Meanwhile, the eyes could also be lifted up in expectation (e.g. Psalms 25:15; 121:1; 123:1–2.; 141:8; John 11:41; 17:1) or else be cast down in humble penitence (Luke 18:13).

But standing was not the only acceptable prayer posture. David ‘sat before the LORD’ (2 Samuel 7:18), and many times we read of people, especially in times of humiliation, anguish or confession, bowing down or kneeling before God (e.g. Genesis 17:3; 24:26, 48; Exodus 12:27; 1 Kings 8:54; 2 Chronicles 29:30; Isaiah 45:23 = Philippians 2:9ff; Ezekiel 9:5; Daniel 6:10; Matthew 2:11; Luke 22:41; Acts 7:60; 9:40; 20:36; 21:5; Romans 14:11; Ephesians 3:14; contrast Matthew 4:9). Sometimes it seemed natural to God’s people to express their sense of awe in his presence by prostrating themselves, with their faces to the ground (e.g. Numbers 14:5; 16:4, 22, 45; Deuteronomy 9:18, 25–26; Joshua 5:14; Judges 13:20; 1 Kings 18:42; 1 Chronicles 29:20; 2 Chronicles 7:1ff.; Nehemiah. 8:6; Mark 14:35.), especially after a vision of the majesty of God (e.g. Ezekiel 1:28; 3:23; 9:8; Daniel 8:17; 10:9; Revelation 1:17; 11:16).

To sum up, although holiness, love and peace should always accompany our prayers, yet whether we stand, sit, bow down, kneel or fall on our faces, and whether our hands are lifted, spread, folded, clasped, clapping or waving are matters of little consequence, although we may be inclined to agree with William Hendriksen that ‘the slouching position of the body, while one is supposed to be praying, is an abomination to the Lord’ (Hendriksen, p. 103). Otherwise, we need to make sure that our posture is both appropriate to our culture and genuinely expressive of our inward devotion. For Jesus warned us of the dangers of religious ostentation (Mt. 6:1ff), and our worship must never be allowed to degenerate into ‘a piece of sacred pantomime’ (Fairbairn, p. 122).

- John Stott [ref]

D
I
G
G
I
N
G

D
E
E
P
E
R
HOLY/HOLINESS

The idea of holiness in both Testaments is one of consecration to God. In the OT, holiness involves keeping both cultic (ritual) and moral commandments. Places and things and even persons were set aside as sacred, to have no contact with the common or ordinary. But the OT consistently reminds us that the key to understanding holiness is found in the character of God. Holiness is expressed in his power and his own moral character. So true holiness in his people will necessarily have a strong moral component.

In the NT the cult of the OT is set aside. è Law è Clean and Unclean The emphasis in NT teaching about holiness is squarely on the moral. There is another shift in emphasis as well. The OT maintained strict separation between the holy and the profane. In the NT, holiness is true goodness woven through the lifestyle of the believer and expressed in every daily activity and in every relationship.

In the OT, God’s people consecrated persons, places, and things solely for God’s use. In the NT, God’s Spirit himself acts in salvation to set us apart to God. In addition, the Holy Spirit continues to act in our lives to infuse us with Christ’s own likeness and to enable us by his power to express Christlikeness in our daily lives. It is here that we find the true holiness of the NT: joyous commitment to God and to the truly good, expressed in everything we say and do.

- Lawrence O. Richards [ref]

BackToText

*Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, © Copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org) | **This outline is from The Bible Exposition Commentary, by Warren W. Wiersbe