We should by all means not fail to notice the connecting word (conjunction) “therefore” in the first sentence: “I exhort therefore . . . .” Paul gives, the good solid answer to the “wherefore” of the divine exhortation that prayers, intercessions, etc. be raised to God for all men! This answer is the end of all contradiction.
Paul comes here with a most. authoritative word of Christ to Timothy: Timothy must press this matter upon, the sanctified conscience of all the churches, beginning at Ephesus. They must be instructed to be instant m prayer; they must not faint (Rom. 12:12). (ReadLuke 18:1ff.) Does this life of fervent prayer not befit them as the temple of the living God, as a people constituted of royal priests, a holy nation? Surely, they are the new work which God has wrought. They are not a church which is limited to a hill in Samaria, nor to an earthly Jerusalem, to be sure. Are they not the house of God which shall be called the house of prayer for all nations (Isa. 56:7, 8)? Did not also Jeremiah write of the better temple, in Jeremiah 7:8-16? Is this not the church, the house of God, of which Paul wrote to these very Ephesians in Ephesians 2:11-22?
Let every congregation then take notice of the word of exhortation. For this Apostolic word is not merely a word for the time in which Paul and Timothy live and labored; but it is an ordinance of God which obtains in full force as long as the sun and the moon shall endure. (Read Luke 18:1; John 16:33 b; Matt. 24:42.) In all times the watchword resounds from the great trumpets of God: ‘Watch and pray, that ye fall not into temptation. Then shall we dwell safely under the shadow of God’s wings!
Great reason for us to lift up the banner of prayer! Let it ever be a “first of all”–morning, noon, and night.
Here we should ask and answer two questions. They are suggested in I Timothy 2:1, 2. The first question: For whom must the churches pray? And the second question: For whose temporal and eternal welfare do these prayers ascend on high to God in Christ Jesus?
The first question is answered in the text: for (in behalf of) all men (anthropoon)–”for kings and for all that are in authority.”
The wording of the text raises a question which calls for an answer based on good exegesis. The key question in our interpretation is this: Who are “all men”? Is “all” here the same as “every” man, woman, and child in all the human race? Does the Holy Spirit here allow us to make a studied guess? Or does the immediate grammatical context afford us the answer?
It seems that it is good .Greek grammar that the second part of the text gives a clear and unequivocal answer. The “all men” are, first of all, “men.” That is, they are not angels, not devils, but men. They are all out of the human race, as this human race is under the control of almighty God. They are those of whom Paul speaks in Acts 17:26: “… and hath made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation.” From this viewpoint we can clearly see the God-controlled history of the world as it includes all men. These all are they whom Jesus calls the kings of the earth, as they exercise ruthless dominion over all men. However, their great power is under the sovereign control of Christ, the Lord of lords, and King of kings, who sits enthroned at God’s right hand. All through history Christ rules the nations for the benefit of His church in the world.
But is it then perhaps not incongruous for the church, the Bride of Christ, to pray in behalf of these nations? Not at all. Whereas the church ever lives as wheat in God’s acre, in which she experiences the wrath of the world headed by the Prince of this world, nevertheless, from out of this world the Son of man in His providential power and supreme authority gathers His church as living members of His spiritual body in the unity of the faith. In the midst of the “all men” of the world dwells the “all men” out of every tribe and nation (Jew and Gentile) who are elected unto everlasting life. Remember the faithful word, worthy of all acceptation, “that Christ Jesus came into this world (kosmos) to save sinners.” He plucked them out of the present evil world (aioon) to make them His temple. These are the elect sinners who are made a holy temple to the Lord. And as sinner-saints they cry day and night to God as they are surrounded by the “tares” which Satan sowed (Matt. 13:37-43; Gal. 1:4).
There is more in the text. We quote: “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (I Tim. 2:2-4).
That the church of Christ may lead a quiet and peaceable earthly existence is of the utmost importance and necessity for her well-being in history. A clear-cut case study of this we have in Jeremiah 29:4-7. Take your Bible and read this passage carefully. In this life the church is gathered in the generations of those who fear the Lord. It is gathered in thousands of generations according to God’s covenant faithfulness. Here the church in every age dwells, leading an earthly life. Children are born, houses must be built, mouths must be fed, the sick and the, dying must be cared for. The church must be the light of the world, that our heavenly Father may be glorified in our good works of faith and love. We must walk in a good conscience. And not one of the elect number of men may perish; all must be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. The church is builded as a city upon a hilltop. She is as a candle upon the candlestick. Christ must grow in us from strength to strength. And from this church great cries, prayers, and supplications ascend to the throne of grace!
The rock-bottom anchor point is that “there is one God and one mediator of (not between) God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.”
The verses 5 and 6 require a-bit of careful interpretation. We should notice the grammatical implications of the conjunction “for.” I trust that my readers will bear with me if I quote from the Greek Lexicon (dictionary), that the Greek term gar is properly a particle of affirmation and conclusion, denoting truly therefore, verily as the case stands. Something previously was mentioned; and then the cause or reason is given. In verse 5 it refers to the affirmation that God would have prayers and supplications made for all men; God would not have any of these “all men” to perish, but that they might be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. Why? Because there is one God and ooze Mediator, the man Christ Jesus who gave himself a ransom, for all the great testimony of Christ in His own time!
Let us try to understand this.
Let us focus our attention on “one God, one Mediator of God and men.” When we take pains to “search the Scriptures” we will see that we are really seeking for the biblical understanding of one of the basic incommunicable attributes of the Triune God. In this case we are confronted in the text with the basic biblical teaching of the Unity of God. That God is One can briefly be stated that there is only one God and that all God’s attributes are One.
It was the late Dr. Herman Bavinck who wrote of this in his Reformed dogmatics (Gereformeerde Dogmatiek Volume II, page 143). We here quote (the translation is ours):
Although there certainly is progress in God’s revelation in the development of thought, nonetheless the entire Old Testament teaches the unity of the world and the unity of the human race. This unity is also consistently taught concerning the election of God and of God’s covenant and morality, etc. It is built upon the unity of God. Jehovah is the Creator of the world (Gen. 1-2). His is the world, and He is the judge of all the earth (Gen. 14:19-20; Gen. 18:25); He is the only Lord (Deut. 6:4). In the New Testament this unity of God is set forth in the person of Christ (John 17:3;Acts 17:24; Rom. 3:30; I Cor. 8:5, 6; Eph. 4:5, 6; I Tim. 2:5).
If there were more than one God, then the gates of hell would not need to tremble. Then there could be many “saviors”; and there could never be the establishment of one eternal kingdom or church. Nor could there be one will of the one ‘God who will certainly save all, or any, and bring them to the knowledge of the truth. That is the confusion and error both of Pantheism and of Polytheism. The biblical terms of sin and grace, as well as the divine law, would all be meaningless. But now the pillars of truth stand – also of sin and guilt.
There is a comforting rock-bottomness to our salvation when the Holy Spirit writes: “For there is one God, and one mediator of God and men.” This one Mediator is really not a Mediator between God and men, but He is the Mediator of God and men!
Here we should notice that the Scriptural idea of a Mediator is that the man Christ Jesus has an office; He has work to perform: to save sinners. He is not a mere referee, as were the judges at the Grecian games. But He comes in God’s Name and in perfect obedience to fulfill all justice, to pay the guilt and debt of all His people, as the Servant of the Lord. He must be, both in His state of guilt-humiliation and in His present state of glorification at God’s right hand, the perfect Mediator of God and men. He is both God and man. (See Heidelberg Catechism, Questions 12-19.) He brought the perfect sacrifice. He could only bring this sacrifice by the bringing of the better sacrifice of His blood through the eternal Spirit. Christ is also the better high priest in the heavenly tabernacle. He is our Mediator with God in the New Jerusalem, the city of the living God (Heb. 12:22-24). He is always the same Son of God in our flesh, very God of God. He is and remains the man Christ Jesus forever.
Some Suggested Questions:
1. Is the doctrine of election clearly suggested and/or presupposed in the biblical terms “to redeem” and “ransom” in I Timothy 2:6? Can anyone who denies the Reformed doctrine of election and reprobation do justice to these terms in his exposition of the Holy Scriptures?
a. What does it mean to “redeem” dead and guilty sinners? Does it merely mean to make it possible for God to offer salvation?
b. To whom must the redemption- price be paid? To Satan? To a wrathful God? Is this redemption price paid by a God who loves His people, who are steeped in sin and guilt? See Romans 5:6-11.
c. What is the Reformed teaching in the Heidelberg Catechism, Questions 12-15?
2. What is the biblical teaching concerning God as our “Goel=Redeemer” in Ruth 4? Was this simply a nice romantic story, or was this the manner of the birth of Jesus Christ? What is the deep and profound implication of the fact that Shiloh would come forth out of Judah, and that to Him the nations would come? Does this history of the redemption of that small piece of land indicate that all the land belonged to the LORD, and that He would redeem it at His own time for a testimony in Israel and in all the world?