Online Bible Commentary
We Must Pray
1 Timothy 2:1 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 3 For 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 between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, 7 for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle--I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying--a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. (NKJV)
The letter of 1 Timothy is part of what is known as the Pastoral Epistles. The other two Pastoral Epistles are 2 Timothy and Titus.
The Apostle Paul wrote this letter about AD 63 to Timothy who was ministering at the church in Ephesus. It is believed that this was Paul’s first, of four, letters using a new scribe (an amanuensis), Luke.
It is believed by this writer that Paul wrote this letter from Philippi. Other possible places of writing are Spain or Hierapolis.
This letter is a personal letter from one minister to another. Ministers typically relate differently to other ministers than they would to others. Therefore, this letter is different than Paul’s previous letters to churches.
It is also different in that Luke’s style of writing is more classical Greek than that of previous amanuensis’. Luke had more and more influence on Paul’s writings, especially his last two, 2 Timothy and Hebrews.
During the time of his last two letters Paul was living in squalid conditions at Mamertine Prison in Rome. We believe that he needed to rely more heavily on Luke because of Paul’s terrible living conditions at the time.
In this passage,Paul begins by writing “Therefore” (v. 1a). The word “Therefore” is referring to the previous passage. Paul had previously referred to two elders in the church who were engaged in false teaching.
Also, Paul has discovered that there are other irregularities in the order of church worship that need to be addressed, in addition to the false teaching. He commanded Timothy to make corrections, in love.
The first irregularity Paul addresses is the subject of prayer. His instructions here pertain to prayer in the church, but also apply to private prayer.
Paul writes “I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks” (v. 1b). Paul mentions four different types of prayer: requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving.
“Supplications” (“petitions” in the literal Greek) would be a prayer of asking or seeking personal favor from God. “Prayers” would be prayer in general, covering a multitude of needs. “Intercession” would be prayer to meet the specific needs of others. “Thanksgiving” would be prayers giving thanks to God.
He continues, writing ”be made for all men” (v.1c). The idea here is that the church should be praying for all the needs of all the people, and not just a select few.
Paul then writes “for kings and all who are in authority” (v. 2a). Paul specifically includes our rulers and everyone in authority over us in his prayer list.
The reference to pray for “all those in authority” would also refer to those elders that were causing trouble in the church with their false teaching, disturbing the peaceful order of worship. Also, this was during the time of persecution of Christians by Nero, persecution which would soon take Paul’s life. So, Paul is asking us to pray for our enemies.
Next, Paul gives us three reasons why we should pray in this manner. The first reason is for ourselves, the second reason is for God, and the third is for those for whom we are praying.
The first reason is “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence” (v. 2b). Praying for everyone would help us to live in peace and to peacefully worship.
The second reason is “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior” (v. 3). God wants us to pray for all people, including our enemies,
The third reason is “who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (v. 4). Praying for others may result in them becoming Christians.
God wants all people to be saved (v.4a). Jesus died on the cross once, for all. He died for all people but only some will accept his sacrifice and be saved from the penalty of their sin.
The Lord also wants all people “to come to a knowledge of the truth” (4b). Notice He said “the” truth, not “a” truth.
Jesus also said “I am the way and ‘the’ truth and the life” (John 14:6). There is no such thing as the humanist phrase “you have your truth and I have my truth”. There is only one truth, and Jesus is that truth.
Paul continues “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus” (v. 5). God wants all people to be saved and know His truth because He is the only God and the only mediator between man and God. Jesus can be both God and mediator to God because He is both God and Man, wholly man and wholly God. As God, Jesus sits at the right hand of God the Father in Heaven, acting as our lawyer, our mediator, before the Father.
Paul writes “who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (v. 6). As Man, He gave his life as “ransom” for all of mankind from their bondage to sin (v. 6a). Now is “due time” for the testimony of Jesus (v. 6b). It is the time in history for salvation.
In conclusion, Paul writes “for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle--I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying--a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth” (v. 7).It was for that very purpose of salvation that Paul was “appointed” by Jesus on the road to Damascus to be an “apostle”, one sent by God, and a “preacher” to the Gentiles in faith and truth”.
This passage teaches us to pray for all things for all people. This includes praying for our leaders.
We can pray for our current leaders to be obedient to God. We can also pray that if they are not obedient to God that God will raise up new leaders that are obedient to Him.
We can thank the Lord that government persecution of Christians today has not yet reached the level of severity it was during the rule of Nero. We can pray that it never will.
But we must pray. It is our privilege, and our obligation, to go before the one and only God Almighty, Jesus Christ.