We now live in a culture that is hostile to anyone claiming to know absolute truth. We often hear, “if its true to you, then its true to you…but its not true for me” We are faced with this insanity on a daily. For Christians, it is scandalous to share the gospel, because our message is absolute, “There is no other name under heaven given to men by which they must be saved.” (Acts 4:12). However, though our message is exclusive and absolute, our witness should not be. We’ve been commanded by the Word of God to make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:19). No one is to be left out, regardless of race, economic status, current religion, etc.
Therefore, the absolute and exclusive claims of the gospel are to be made known globally.
This brings us to our passage today, 1 Timothy 2:1-7 and we will see how global prayer fits into the local church. We will do this by first looking at the Initial Exhortation (2:1-2) Paul gives to Timothy. In the coming weeks we will then look at The Theological Motivation (2:3-6), and then The Obvious Implication (2:7).
Before we look at our passage, we must ask ourselves why Paul has written this letter? Paul wrote this letter to advise young Timothy on the issues arising within the church of Ephesus, specifically with the False Teachers in the church (1:3). After acknowledging the issue of False Teachers within the local church, Paul then provides a foundation – a gospel foundation – for Timothy. He commands Timothy and the church at Ephesus, in the midst of these false teachers, to guard the gospel, to celebrate the gospel, and to fight for the gospel. Now, based on the gospel foundation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners (1:15), Paul now, in Chapter two, begins to give practical exhortations to the church.
The main idea of First Timothy Chapter Two Verses One and Two is that we are to pray for and proclaim the gospel to all kinds of people! We will break down this study into three different points: Paul’s Great Urge (V1), Paul’s Narrowed Focus (V2a), Paul’s Grand Purpose (V2b)
“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.”
1) Paul’s Great Urge (V1)
The opening word’s, First of all, signal the importance of this initial exhortation. For emphasis, Paul uses four different words in verse 1, each having to do with prayer. He first urges us to make supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings. That’s Paul’s heartbeat, that we be a praying people! That we are marked as a church of prayer! That we do not go forward until we have sought the Lord earnestly for His guidance and provision! So, how is it that you guard the gospel, celebrate the gospel, and fight for the gospel? Paul says, first of all, you must be a praying church!
The church is on a life saving mission surrounded by people who don’t know the salvation of Jesus Christ. These people are destined for an eternal hell under the wrath of God if nothing changes. So, as followers of Christ what do you do? You pray. You don’t have to get out of bed, you don’t have to leave your home. It’ just you before the throne of grace!
So, Paul urges us that “Supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be made…” But who do we pray for?… FOR ALL PEOPLE! Paul supplements his exhortation to prayer with a broad, then narrowed focus. First off, we see that we are to pray for all people or every kind of person (V1). The point is not that every Christian is commanded to pray for each individual person in the world. Rather, Paul was talking about all kinds of people. As a church made up of both Jews and Gentiles, Paul was telling them to pray for one another. As a church with false teachers arising, who were limiting salvation to a small group of religious elite, Paul encouraged them not to limit their prayers, but to pray for all people! Paul says ALL people are to be prayed for! Not just those who are going through trials, the weak, the downcast. It is a plea to pray for all people, high or low, rich or poor, all people! Are we doing that?
2) Paul’s Narrowed Focus (V2)
The Apostle Paul always goes from the broad to the general, all people to the specific people. Next, Paul narrows are focus, and urges us to pray for leaders and kings in high positions (V2). Within the broader category of “all people or all kinds of people”, Paul mentions that the church at Ephesus was to pray for “kings and all who are in high positions/authorities” (V2). This exhortation that Paul is making is outrageous to the people in Ephesus… Paul was writing to them under the reign of Nero, who violently tortured and persecuted Christians. Yet Paul was telling them to pray for these leaders. Pray for the kings you suffer under. Pray for the leader you don’t agree with. This is Gods will!
The four words Paul uses have a profound impact on how we are to pray for these Leaders and Kings! We are to make supplications for them, i.e. pray and cry out for their great need for salvation, and that God would meet that need. We are intercede for them, i.e., praying for their wisdom when making decisions that would impact millions. We are to offer up thanksgiving to God for them. Are we thankful for the government the Lord has established to govern our land? Or are we always complaining? Brethren, we just need to lift up our head over this world and see how lucky we are! We are to pray for them. We are to pray for our Prime Minister or President. Pray for those in Government. Pray for Global Leaders, those in America, the Middle East, Asia, etc. The Bible commands us to pray for those in authority. So, are you praying for these men and women? Or are you watching the news in frustration and anger against them? Paul told the Christians in Ephesus to pray. God tells us in His Word to pray!
3) Paul’s Grand Purpose (V2b)
The Apostles specific instructions in V2 were to pray for leaders “so that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” Paul’s purpose follows this: That we are to pray for our leaders in such a way that promotes peace, which will enable the church to flourish in a dignified and godly way. As seen in the past, those in authority have provided an umbrella of peace for the church to thrive and proclaim the gospel freely. We have seen that in our country, where Christians and churches can freely live out the call of Christ and evangelize with little to no consequences or persecution. That’s a good thing and a grace from God. We are to pray for it! It is not a guaranteed privilege, rather it is a grace given by God to our land! If the time comes, when the Lord brings a great persecution across this land, Paul reminds us to pray for these leaders, even if they persecute us, so that we will be able to live a “peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified” under their rule. Imagine your own heart toward these rulers who are persecuting you? Paul says, Pray for them. The praying church will be prepared and equipped to live lives of godliness and dignity amid persecution.
Not only do we pray for peace amid persecution, but we also pray for salvation for persecutors. Pray that rulers, leaders, and persecutors, would “come to the knowledge of the truth” (V4), for God “desires all people to be saved.” Therefore, we are to pray for all people! In all of this, Paul is saying first and foremost to the church, PRAY! Pray for all kinds of people and for leaders in high positions. Pray for the spread of the gospel through a peaceful, quiet, godly, and dignified church.
Remember: THE PROGRESS OF THE GOSPEL IN THE WORLD IS DEPENDENT ON THE PRAYERS OF GOD’S PEOPLE
While salvation ultimately belongs to God, and even our prayers are His work in us, God Has chosen to use the prayers of His people to accomplish His will. We desperately need to hear this truth! God uses the prayers of men as a means by which He fulfills His purposes! Amazing! We are surrounded by people – from our own city to the ends of the earth – who are lost, perishing, and are on their way to eternal condemnation from God under the wrath of God. But we want them to know eternal life in Christ! We’re on a life-saving mission, and the Bible is literally urging us, His church, to continue in prayer, for all people!