Devotional # 197. 7/5/16. 1 Timothy 2:1-2.
Intro. Last week’s Devotional was really moving for me…and I wrote it! The desire for the church, which is bleeding out, to be cured was just as relevant for Paul 2,000 years ago as it is for us today. Last week we talked about real solutions for the modern church: unity on essential beliefs (1:19) and healing in discipleship and shepherding (1:20).
In a few days my wife and I are leaving for a one week mission trip to Hungary. We’re going over to teach kids English while using the Bible. This type of camp was the whole reason this Devotional started: to share Jesus with others. Interestingly, today’s Scripture encourages us to pray in a variety of ways. Will you pray for our trip? That the kids will start a relationship with Jesus that will have a ripple effect on their families and friends.
v. 1.We know when Paul says “therefore” we’re supposed to think back to what was just said. Paul exhorted (encouraged) Timothy to kick out anyone who rejected “having faith and a good conscience” with the hope that they would repent and come back to Jesus and His church. With that in mind Paul says that he “exhorts” everyone to supplicate, pray, intercede and give thanks for all men (and women!) and also everyone in authority.
Let’s go through what these four phrases mean but first we need to know why so it all makes sense. Remember we just learned about “Hymenaeus and Alexander” in 1 Timothy 1:19-20, Devotional # 196? They were influential in the church in Ephesus but they weren’t the only ones. “The Judaistic false teachers in Ephesus, by a perverted gospel and the teaching that salvation was only for Jews and Gentiles proselytes to Judaism, would have certainly restricted evangelistic praying” (Source 1). For that reason Paul is telling them to pray for all people. As Titus 2:11 says, “the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people” (NIV). Now that we understand this, what are the four ministries the Ephesians (and us) were to do?
“supplications” – In the Greek this word means “‘to be without.’ Thus this kind of prayer occurs because of a need” (Source 1). Non-Christians are lost and need to be prayed for since they are ‘without’ Jesus.
“prayers” – this is a general term referring to all types of talking with the Lord. Remember Paul is encouraging Christians to pray for others. We can be so caught up in ourselves that we forget to pray for others. And although you should pray for people to get jobs and to get well and to get the house they want, really, way more importantly, you should be praying for people’s salvation.
“intercessions” – This word in Greek means ‘to lean in and speak personally with someone.’ The root word for this is used for Jesus standing in for us (Romans 8:26, Hebrews 7:25). So we can understand that we should have empathy for the lost and ‘stand in’ for them (Source 1). We can’t save them. Jesus already interceded for every person’s sins; but we can ask the Holy Spirit to prick their hearts, in that way we can intercede.
“giving of thanks” – Paul never forgets this one. He’s consistently reminding us to be thankful for everything God has given (for example think about Colossians 3:14-15, Devotional # 161).As we pray for others we’ll be reminded how good God has been to us.
Now that we know the ways we are to pray, who are we to pray for? Let’s read on…
v. 2. The people we are to be praying for are “all men, for kings and all who are in authority.” The word “all” is used twice here: first, with the general description of “all men (and women)” (v. 1) and second, with “all who are in authority.” Sandwiched in the middle are “kings.”
I have a friend who has always had a problem with authority. In high school his big mouth got him beat up by a rent-a-cop and later in life he wound up in prison. His biggest problem was that if he didn’t respect someone or their office he didn’t have the self-control to keep his thoughts to himself. I think we all understand where he is coming from even if we don’t verbalize it. But the point here in verses 1-2 is that we are to be praying for all people and positions of authority.
In Romans 13:1 Paul tells us, “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.” This means that God has placed every politician, police officer and professor in their place. We are to trust and respect God and know that His will is best. We talked about this in Acts 26:1-11, Devotional # 69 if you’re interested.
Interestingly, in contrast with the story of my anti-authority friend, Paul tells us that praying for authority will help us “lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.” It would seem that Paul is saying “a quiet and peaceable life” is our goal. Adventure junkies (missionaries?) and extroverts (street witnesses?) need not worry or rebel against this! The context here is in contrast to authorities so this must mean not being in trouble with the law and not being at war with your neighbors. When we pray for the peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7) and a quiet and calmness in our lives, this is God’s answer to that prayer.
Conclusion. Today we learned about several different ways to pray: each time with the focus on others. We also learned that anyone in authority has been put there by God, so it is our duty to pray for them. This will lead us to have peace with others so that we can continue to share Jesus with them!
Source 1: John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, p. 1862.