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1 Timothy 2:1-7: A Call to Pray Print E-mail
1 Timothy
Sunday, 13 August 2006

Who do you pray for?  When you pause to pray and petition God, who is it that you spend your time on?  When you are begging God to save someone, to open their eyes to the truth, to take our their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh, who is it that occupies such prayers?  A more appropriate question may be at times: do you pray for anyone?  Do you spend time at all interceding on behalf of others?

After Paul has exhorted Timothy to remain in Ephesus for the purpose of silencing the false teachers, we saw last week his concern for the gospel and a proper understanding of the grace of God.  In chapter 2, Paul now begins to deal with seemingly some of the specific problems in the Church at Ephesus.  As we will see in this text, it seems that the false teachers were not only teaching myths and misinterpreting the Law, but they were also being exclusivistic with the gospel and with their prayers.1  Since it seems that they were Jewish (due to their longing to be teachers of the Law) it stands to reason that they were excluding Gentiles (and specifically Gentile leaders) from their prayers and from the offer of the gospel.  Obviously, it is hard to know exactly what the false teachers were doing, but Paul writes here in 2:1-7 to correct their practices of excluding people from their prayers.

Thus, returning to our opening question, we must ask of this text: who does Paul instruct us to pray for and why?  Letís look at these two questions this morning.

Paul instructs us to pray for all men (v. 1-2a).

As Paul urged Timothy to remain in Ephesus in 1:3, so here he urges him to pray for all men.  Look at verses 1-2a.  Paul uses four nouns to describe what he is urging Timothy to do here: supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings.  All of these words are somewhat synonymous in meaning, but they each have a different emphasis, thus, the different translations.  What Paul is calling for here is that Timothy (and the Church in Ephesus) prays in every way for all men.  They are to offer supplications and prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings for all men.  In this way, Paul is emphasizing the importance of praying for all men.

Of course, we have to ask the question: who does Paul mean by all men, or all people?  This is an important question because Paul uses this phrase over and over again in our text (see 4 and 6).  Well, if we look at verse 2a, we see that he is specifically calling for prayers to be made for kings and all who are in high positions.  Thus, when Paul says Ďall men,í he is referring to different types of men: kings, men in high positions, and others.  It is important to note that possibly the false teachers were excluding these men from prayers because they were not Jewish nor Christian, for the leaders of the time were neither.  So Paul is encouraging Timothy and the others to pray for all types of men: Kings, leaders, servants, Jews, Gentiles, etc.  For Paul, it was not right to exclude certain groups from our prayer list.

Thus, once again we need to address the question: who is Paul calling us to pray for?  Paul is calling us to pray for all types, or sorts, of men without exclusion.  We are to pray for all classes of men, be they Kings or slaves.  We are to pray for all races of men, be they Jew or Gentile, black or white (or any other color).  We are to pray for men of every social status, be they rich or poor, living in the nice neighborhood or in the gutter.  We are not to exclude people from our prayers for any of these reasons.  Rather, following Paul, we are to pray for all men, whatever their standing or place in life.

From our text this morning, we conclude that we need to pray for all sorts of men.  Yet, why are we to pray for all sorts of men?  Why are we to pray for all people?

Three Reasons to pray for all men (v. 2b-7).

First, we are to pray for all men, and specifically Kings and those in authority, because it will lead to peaceful and godly lives.  Look at verse 2b.  The New Testament writers understand the place of government and rulers.  Jesus tells us to give to Caesar what is Caesarís (see Matthew 22:21).  Paul instructs us to subject ourselves to the governing authorities because their authority comes from God (see Romans 13:1-7).  Likewise, Peter instructs us to submit to every human institutionÖFor this is the will of God (1 Peter 2:13-15).  Thus, we see that those who have authority over us are there by Godís design and are intended to wield the sword to maintain peace (again see Romans 13).  Thus, we should pray for such leaders that we might enjoy peace and lead a godly life.

Does this mean that there is never a reason to object to governments and human authorities?  No, in fact, we see examples of this in the book of Acts (see Acts 5:17-42, 12).  There are times when we must rebel against leaders in order to follow our God.  Yet, this does not mean that we throw off all restraint and ignore our leaders.  No, we pray for them and submit to them in hopes that we might live peaceful and godly lives in obedience to Christ. 

Second, we are to pray for all men because it is pleasing to God, who desires all men to be saved.  Look at verses 3 and 4.  Thus, praying for all men pleases God because he wants all men to be saved. 

Yet, we need to discuss this question: is God desiring something here that will not come to pass?  In other words, we know that all men without exception will not be saved.  The Bible makes it very plain that not every human being who has ever lived or will ever live will be saved.  Thus, is God desiring something that will not come to pass?

Although there are a number of ways to answer this question, I think the best way is to simply consider the verse in its context.  As we have already seen, when Paul speaks of Ďall mení in this passage, he is referring to all types or sorts of men, kings, servants, Jews, Gentiles, etc.  Thus, what he is saying in verse 4 is that God desires for all types of men to be saved.  God is not just interested in the Jews (contra the false teachers).  God is not just interested in the weak or the poor (as seen in Paulís call for prayers to be made for Kings and authorities).  No, God is interested in all types of men being saved.  He desires for Kings and servants, rich and poor, Jew and Gentile, all to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.  Thus, God is not desiring something that will not come to pass (which would be contradictory to the Bibleís teaching on Godís sovereignty, see Job 42:2 and Psalm 115:3, 135:6) but is desiring that all types of men be saved, which in fact will come to pass.  This seems to be the plain meaning of this particular passage.  Paul knew that God desired for Kings to be saved for we see him preaching the message to King Agrippa in Acts 26 (the passage we read to begin our service).  He is therefore telling Timothy (and us) to pray for such men because God desires for them to be saved and for them to come to a knowledge of the truth.

Third, we should pray for all men because manís only hope is redemption through Christ.  Look at verses 5 and 6.  In keeping with the clear teaching of the Bible (see Deuteronomy 6:4), Paul reminds Timothy and those in Ephesus that God is one.  There is no God of the Jews and another God of the Gentiles.  No, God is one.  There is no God for Kings and another God for servants.  No, God is one.  To take this further, this one God has only one mediator between himself and man, namely Jesus Christ our Lord.  Manís only hope for redemption is the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ.  Christ secured His right to be the only mediator between God and man by becoming a man himself giving himself as a ransom for us all.  Thus, all men need the one mediator if they are to have any hope at coming before the one God.  We see in this one passage the need of the gospel to be offered to all and the need for all to believe in the one gospel.  There is no other way for men to be saved but through believing that Christ gave himself as their ransom.  For this reason, we are to pray for all men.  Christ alone is the hope of Kings and servants, rich and poor, Jew and Gentile.

And besides, was this not Paulís whole ministry?  Look at verse 7.  Paul was not appointed to take the message of Christís redemption to the Jews only.  No, he was called to preach the gospel to the Gentiles, just as the disciples were called to take the gospel to all nations (see Matthew 28:18-20).  Thus, Paul tells Timothy (and us) to pray for all men because the only hope that men have is found is the gospel of Jesus Christ.

So, again I ask you this morning: who do you pray for?  Do you limit your prayers of salvation to certain groups or classes of men?  Do you pray for leaders and men that God has placed in authority over you?  Have you excluded certain groups from your prayer list?  Do you pray for the rich and for the poor, for black and for white, for your next door neighbors and for men around the world?  You should be.  You should be praying for them because it leads to peaceful and godly lives.  You should be praying for them because it is pleasing to God who desires all men to be saved.  You should be praying for them because their only hope for salvation rests in the One that we have gathered to worship this morning.  All men are desperate for the free offer of the gospel.  All men are desperate for Christís atoning sacrifice at the cross.  There is only one God and only one mediator between God and man.  Thus, all men are desperate to hear and believe in the message of Christ.  So then, are you lifting prayers up for all men?  If not, then why not?  May we realize their need and pray on their behalf.  Amen.

1 William D. Mounce, Pastoral Epistles, Word Biblical Commentary (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000), 74-94.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Monday, 21 August 2006 )

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