The Expository Files



Prayer For All & A Ransom For All

1 Timothy 2:1-7

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.– 1 Tim. 2:1-4

“There is only one God,
and Christ Jesus
    is the only one
who can bring us
    to God.
Jesus was truly human,
and he gave himself
    to rescue all of us.
God showed us this
    at the right time.

This is why God chose me to be a preacher and an apostle of the good news. I am telling the truth. I am not lying. God sent me to teach the Gentiles about faith and truth. - 1 Tim. 2:5-7.

Following the context out of chapter one into this section – if there are men like Hymenaeus and Alexander, who have been handed over to Satan – What Now? The response of Christians to Satan’s temporary successes is – first of all:

Pray. Timothy is not urged to wring his hands or wring someone’s neck over the evil. Rather, he is to pray. And there are four ways Paul describes prayer.

Supplications are simply requests. If you work in an office, you may fill out a requisition; you are asking for something to be supplied. We do that in prayer to God. As this relates to the threat of Hymenaeus and Alexander, we ask God to supply strength to resist such temptations.

Prayer is the more generic word for all our communication to God. Col. 4:2 teaches us to devote ourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

Intercessions involve asking God on behalf of another; speaking to God through Christ, about a friend in trouble; a family member estranged; a member of the church seriously ill; a sinner you want to reach with the Word.

Thanksgiving obviously contains the idea of gratitude to God for His blessings.

In spite of the evil spectacle of Satan’s influence over Hymenaeus and Alexander, Timothy is to engage in prayer, as revealed within the scope of these terms. And he is to do that “for all people.” Mark that word “all” and observe it several times in this context. If God’s love and concern is universally directed (as affirmed in John 3:16), our prayers should be – Paul says – “for all people.”

To stress the inclusiveness of this, Paul continues: “for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.”

In the mid to later first century period, the people in Ephesus and Asia Minor were far removed from the highest rulers in the Roman Empire. They knew their names and saw their images impressed on their coinage. They knew the tyranny these leaders were capable of and often suffered under their rule.  But they didn’t really know them, and may have been dis-inclined to pray for them, especially the likes of Nero.

But God wants all people to be saved, come to repentance and be saved by Christ. Thus it is – our supplications, prayers, intercessions and thanks-givings should have this inclusive scope.

The idea here is not, that God will cause these rulers to succeed in their ambitions. Rather, “that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior.”

[ Look out again for that word “all.” ]

God “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Remember, if God “so loved the world,” and seeks for all sinners to come to Him through Christ, our prayers should reflect that divine aim.

And note this – the text above immediately rebukes the narrow parochialism we may be tempted to adopt in our thinking and praying. We pray for people we love; people we want to survive; we pray about ourselves, our families and Christians we know.

We may neglect praying for the likes of Nero, or Hymenaeus, Alexander and our current political leaders. Paul calls upon us to pray for all, that we might live a peaceful and quiet life and that sinners might obey the gospel. We pray to God for what He wants. We know what He wants from His Word.

1 Tim. 2:5-7 – The Ransom For All

Certain passages in the New Testament seem to reflect something like a confession of faith or hymn, praising God for what He has done for us in Christ. This has that sound to it.

“There is one God.” You would expect the Bible to say nothing less that this affirmation of the unique and perfect singularity of Deity. In Timothy’s time, idolatry had not gone away. Gnosticism portrayed a carnal and false view of Deity. So the affirmation was and is at the bedrock of our faith: “There is one God.”

This one God (who desires all to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth) took gracious initiative on our behalf, making provision for “one mediator.” Fix this in your mind – One God, One Gospel, One Mediator, One Right Response, One Way of Life ŕ ONE DESTINY!

There is not one God for each nation. There is not one God for each tribe; one God for the rich, another for the poor; one God for slave, another for free. In reality, there is only the Creator. “Or, is God the God of Jews only. Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since God is one…,” (Rom. 3:29,30a). There is “one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all and in all,” (Eph. 4:6).

Sin constitutes the need for mediation. Sin so disrupts man’s relationship with God, the form of mediation needed is “a ransom for all.” Jesus died as that necessary ransom.

When a sinner “comes to the knowledge of the truth” and personally engages in the right response (as taught in the book of Acts), the value of that ransom is applied to that person – bringing the sinner out of sin through Christ to God. That’s the testimony (the gospel) that was given “at the proper time.”

Paul played a major role in the dispensing of this message (see Eph. 3:1-13). He says to Timothy: “…I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.”

From this we ought to remember, God cannot be approached directly. He is too holy. No matter how you change, how much you repent and confess and reform, you cannot approach God directly, or ask Him to reward you for your good works. He is too holy. We are too unholy. The ransom had to be paid, and that means – we can approach God only through Jesus Christ.

Sin had made a quarrel between us and God; Jesus Christ is the Mediator who makes peace. He is a ransom that was to be known in due time. In the Old Testament times, his sufferings, and the glory that should follow, were spoken of as things to be revealed in the last times. Those who are saved must come to the knowledge of the truth, for that is God’s appointed way to save sinners: if we do not know the truth, we cannot be ruled by it. -- Henry, M., & Scott, T. (1997). Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary (1 Ti 2:1). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems.


  By Warren E. Berkley
From Expository Files 22.3; March 2015