Series on I Timothy, II Worship, A Prayer, Text: 2:1-7. Title: Progress through Prayer


This is one of those passages of Scripture which has received a great deal of attention for the wrong reason. Here we find a single verse, verse 4, that has been the subject of endless speculation and controversy, Who wants all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. This verse has become a focus of debate between Calvinists and Arminians. That is, those who affirm God's sovereign power in saving us, and those who believe our salvation ultimately depends upon our decision, have fought over the meaning of this statement. People have asked, "Does God want all men to be saved or not, and if he wants it why can't the all powerful God of the universe get it?" This is sad for two reasons . First of all the passage is about prayer and we need to be exhorted about prayer. In the second place, if people paid attention to the time in which the New Testament was written and to the context of the passage the meaning would be clear. The historical period of the New Testament was a time when the knowledge of the true God which had belonged to one nation Israel, suddenly belonged to all nations. The writers of the New Testament had to face this huge issue, and they had to convince people that salvation may have come through the Jews but it was not just for the Jews. God was now saving people of every nation, and tongue, and family, and race. If you look at the passage you can see that this is what Paul is talking about. He says in verse 7 that he is a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles. This will become even more clear as we look at the meaning of the passage. The all  of verse 4 does not refer to every living human being, but to every kind of man: not just Jews, but to Romans, Egyptians, and Mesopotamians. The message is for those who live in Crete, Libya, Asia Minor and Arabia. If God wanted to save every living human being He could and He would. If Christ had actually paid the ransom for the life of each man that ever lived, then God would be obligated to save every man that ever lived. So let's get on with the real meat of this passage which is prayer. We are talking here about a prayer for peace, a prayer that is pleasing to God and a prayer that has a purpose.

I Prayer for Peace

Paul describes here the full range of prayer. The four terms he uses in verses 1 and 2 cover prayers for everyday needs, prayers for times of crisis and special need, prayers for the needs of others, and thanksgiving for all. but they are prayers that have a specific goal, which is, that we might live lives of peace and quiet, lives which are free from external and internal disturbances, I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone-for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. Paul is not saying we should live lives of non-involvement. This is not a plea for isolation! Rather he has a goal in mind. We only have one task here that matters. Only one thing is of immeasurable importance this side of heaven and glory. It is to spread the good news about Jesus Christ. Now I know that we do pray for our civil officials and our leaders, but the point of these prayers should not be to make our lives easier, or to simply get our own way, or to have a peace so we don't have to spend money and lives. All of this is good but the major issue here is whether we can extend the kingdom of Christ. This is our main objective in praying for kings and all those in authority. This is something Paul urges first of all. Without this our whole mission is in jeopardy. It is the first thing we ought to think about.

II Prayer to Please

The second thing we note about this prayer in verses 3 and 4 is that it pleases God, This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. The word good means beautiful or admirable. Now it is obvious that praying pleases God. We are sons of God and what father would not be pleased when his children call upon him?  But, Paul adds another dimension, “It pleases God who is our Savior.” Here the character of God, as it bears upon our every day conduct and our prayers, is summed up in one great word. He is a Savior. Paul further explains in verse 4 that he is the Savior not just of Jews but of all men; not of one race or people but of all kinds of people. This means that there is a great job to be done. The gospel must be preached to the nations. This is God's purpose as stated by Jesus Christ to his disciples, Repentance and forgiveness of sins must be preached to all nations in my name beginning at Jerusalem. This job cannot be done without prayer. I do not mean that it can be done halfway without prayer and better if we pray. It cannot be done at all without prayer. Such prayer for peaceful conditions in which the gospel can be spread is most pleasing to our heavenly father. Is this really what we have in mind when we pray for our public officials? It should be because this is what God wants.

III Prayer with Purpose.

We have been speaking all along about the purpose of this prayer. The purpose is to provide a stable environment in which the Church can worship and evangelize the world. But now Paul becomes more specific about God's purpose in verses 5-7, For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men-the testimony given in its proper time. And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle-I am telling the truth, I am not lying-and a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles. He says in verse 7 that his mission is to the Gentiles. This, as we have seen, is the controlling idea of the passage. The gospel must be preached to the whole world to every nation and every people. For this mission he has been commissioned as an Apostle, that is, clothed with authority from his Lord and also as an herald. An herald is a person who by order of a superior makes a loud public announcement. Our prayers are to promote this public announcement. and what is the announcement. It is in verses 5 and 6. It is that there is one God the God of the Bible, and one mediator, Jesus Christ who said, No one comes to the father but by me. He is the only way because he gave himself a ransom. By his suffering and death Christ paid the penalty for our sin which God's law demanded. He was a substitutionary ransom. He gave himself in our place. I say our because Christ died for his people, his sheep, and those whom the Father had given him. He did not die for every man that ever lived. He did not die for Judas, or for the anti-christ; he did not die for Genghis Khan or Hitler, or Stalin or Mao or the arch villains of history; he did not die for anyone who persists in rebellion and unbelief. He did die for us who believe and for all who will believe of every nation and tongue, and tribe and race. In this way only He died for all. i want you to focus on the fact that Paul says "the testimony about this saving death must be given in its proper time." Let us be clear on what that time it is. This is the day of salvation. This is the hour. It began after Jesus’ resurrection. It began with the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost and it has not ended. This is the proper time. Therefore because this is the hour, our chief concern must be the spread the good news. This is the grand, the final, the full, the pre-eminent purpose for our prayers. I think they prayed in Ephesus where Timothy taught, but they weren't praying this way. I call you to this kind of prayer, individually and collectively.