The Gospel Observer

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
January 27, 2013


1) 1 Timothy 2:5-8 (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes


1 Timothy 2:5-8
by Tom Edwards

As we continue in Paul's epistle to Timothy, the apostle declares, "For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.  For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying) as a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth" (1 Tim. 2:5-7).  

Much of the world in Paul's day had been polytheistic.  He certainly saw that to be so when he came to the capital of Attica.  Acts 17:16 states: "Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was being provoked within him as he was beholding the city full of idols."  Altars to various heathen deities abounded. The Athenians even had one, in addition, that was dedicated to "the  Unknown God" (v. 23).  Was that due to their being fearful of perhaps having overlooked one?  Is it any wonder, as Easton's Bible Dictionary points out, that "It was a sarcastic saying of the Roman satirist that it was 'easier to find a god at Athens than a man'"?   It has been said that more statues of the gods existed in Athens than in all the rest of Greece combined.  And that is the city that history has referred to as "the most celebrated city of the ancient world, the seat of Greek literature and art during the golden period of Grecian history" (ibid.) and "the chief seat of Grecian learning and civilization...."  It was also the city of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.

Here in 1 Timothy 2:5, Paul shows that Jesus is the only mediator between God and man -- and who could ever have been a better one?  For Jesus had not only been a man (and a perfect one at that), but was also God while dwelling among us. And with regard to this dual nature the Lord took upon Himself when also becoming a man, consider the following: "Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.  For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted" (Heb. 2:17,18).  Jesus is our Great High Priest; and in that capacity, He is also seen as a "mediator" between God and us.  For it was by His soul-cleansing blood that the Christian has been brought near to the Father.  Interestingly, the Latin for "priest" is "pontifex," a word that literally means "bridge builder"; and, in a manner of speaking, Jesus has built a bridge that can carry man over the river of sin and death and into the spiritual realm of God.  But, unfortunately, many people have not been willing to cross over this span which the Lord has made freely available by the great price He has already paid for it on our behalf, with His sacrificial and atoning death on the cross at Calvary.  

Since Jesus is the only mediator between God and man, then it is only through Him that the Christian can go to God in prayer -- and not through Mary (the mother of Jesus) nor by praying to other departed saints.  For it is only through Jesus Christ that we can have that access, as the Christian is to pray in His name (by His authority).  So, though in the world of Paul's day in which idolatry abounded and, along with that, many heathen priests or mediators between the idol worshipers and their gods, Paul shows the true contrast to that of just "one God, and one mediator between God and men...."

And who are those "men" whom the Lord desires to acquire reconciliation with God?  Every lost soul.  Paul's declaration, therefore, that Jesus "gave Himself as a ransom for all..." (1 Tim. 2:6) can be used today to refute the Calvinistic misconception of the "limited atonement," which teaches that Jesus died for only the "elect" -- or, in other words, only those who would be saved -- that certain few.  But, to the contrary, Paul shows in this verse that the Lord has made redemption possible for every transgressor.  We also saw this last week in the Lord becoming a man that "He might taste death for everyone" (Heb. 2:9); and Jesus being "the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world" (1 Jn. 2:2).  So, yes, Jesus did die for every sinner -- and not merely for the elect, which would be very few in comparison (cf. Matt. 7:13,14). 

But another contrast in Jesus' giving Himself "for all" would be that of the numerous sacrifices of Judaism, which were only for the children of Israel -- rather than the whole world.  The Lord's sacrifice, however, which has made possible the New Covenant and the Gospel Age, was truly made for every sinner -- whether Jew or Gentile, and without making distinctions in the two (cf. Eph. 2:11-18; Gal. 3:27-29; Col. 3:9-11).  

Notice, also, that Jesus "GAVE HIMSELF as a ransom...," which indicates His willingness to do this.  It, therefore, wasn't that men took His life from Him; but, rather, that the Lord willingly gave up His life for us, which can also be seen in John 10:11,17,18: "I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.  For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again.  No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father."  Consider also Matthew 26:50-54, which pertains to an event on the night of the Lord's betrayal: "And Jesus said to him, 'Friend, do what you have come for.'  Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and seized Him. And behold, one of those who were with Jesus reached and drew out his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest, and cut off his ear.  Then Jesus said to him, 'Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.  Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?  How then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen this way?'"  It is because of the Lord's willingness to comply with those who would crucify Him that we read in Philippians 2:8 that Jesus "...humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross."

In 1 Timothy 2:6, Paul speaks of "the testimony given at the proper time."  The testimony appears to be referring to the context of Jesus being the mediator and the redeemer for mankind.  For look what Paul goes on to say in 1 Timothy 2:7: "For THIS I was appointed a preacher and an apostle..." (emphasis mine).  For what was Paul appointed a preacher and an apostle?  Was it not to preach of the Lord Jesus Christ, to be a witness for Him?  And central to that preaching would be pointing out that Jesus is the redeemer for the world, the only mediator between God and man, and the only way back to God, having made the only sacrifice that can atone for sins.  Consider, too, 1 Corinthians 2:1,2: "And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God.  For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified."  It can also be pointed out, according to 2 Thessalonians 1:10, that there will be great reward for those who truly accept and apply the testimony in their own lives.  For this verse states, "when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed--for our testimony to you was believed."  

Paul says this testimony was "given at the proper time."  God has always chosen the right, appointed times for doing things.  Though it was in the Lord's mind, before the world began, to one day send Jesus into our world, Galatians 4:4 states, "But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law."  The dictionary defines "fullness of time" as "the proper or destined time" (Random House Webster's College Dictionary).  Jesus, therefore, did not enter this world at some unplanned or random time; but, rather, at God's appointed time. Compare this also to what Paul tells Titus in Titus 1:2-3: "in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago, but AT THE PROPER TIME manifested, even His word, in the proclamation with which I was entrusted according to the commandment of God our Savior" (emphasis mine).  Notice what the Bible also tells us about the time in which Jesus suffered for us at Calvary: "For while we were still helpless, AT THE RIGHT TIME Christ died for the ungodly" (Rom. 5:6, emphasis mine).  Think, too, of Jesus, shortly prior to His ascension, instructing His apostles to wait in Jerusalem for the power (the Holy Spirit) whom they were to receive and be made effective witnesses for Christ (Luke 24:45-49; Acts 1:7,8).  They did wait, as He commanded; and 10 days later the Holy Spirit fell upon them; they spoke in tongues (various languages) of the mighty acts of God; three thousand souls were converted, and the church was established (Acts 2).  That wasn't a random falling of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles; rather, all occurred according to God's timetable.   

Just as we saw in Galatians 4:4 that Jesus came into this world at the appointed or destined time, that is also true for when He will come the second time, according to 1 Timothy 6:14,15: "that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which He will bring about AT THE PROPER TIME--He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords" (emphasis mine).

And going along with the Lord's second coming is another thing that God has appointed a time for, which can be seen in Acts 17:30,31 -- the Judgment Day!   Here, Paul shows that God has "...fixed a day...." in which all the world will be judged.  

Paul then states in 1 Timothy 2:7, "For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying) as a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth." The "this," as mentioned earlier, is referring back to Jesus as the only mediator between God and man, and as the redeemer -- which the gospel itself also gives testimony toward.  Paul was not only appointed a preacher and an apostle, but also was given a special mission toward the Gentiles.  For instance, when God was sending Ananias to Paul, Ananias first appears to have had doubts about Paul; but the Lord assures him by saying, "...'Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel" (Acts 9:15).  And, in writing to the Romans, Paul tells them, "For I speak to you Gentiles; inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry" (Rom. 11:13).  

Paul then gives some more instruction on prayer in 1 Timothy 2:8.  He states, "Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension."  In this verse, Paul is emphasizing that it is the "males" who are to pray.  For "men" is not from the Greek word "anthropos," which would refer to mankind in general; but, rather, "aner," which W.E. Vine shows is "never used of the female...."  We can also determine this by the context and from what we infer elsewhere.  For it is the males exclusively who are to lead the public prayers -- though, of course, all are to unite in that prayer, whether male or female.  Also 1 Timothy 1:9 indicates that verse 8 is pertaining to the males.  For Paul first gives this instruction to the males; and then in verse 9, he gives instruction specifically to the women.  We can also note that prayer is not merely to be led by the preacher, the elders, or the deacons; but it can be led by any man who is a Christian.  And more specifically, in Paul's day, these prayers would not be led by only the Jewish males who were Christians, but also by the Gentiles as well.  

Paul says that the men are to pray "lifting up holy hands."  The lifting up of the hands in prayer is an allusion to that which had been common among the Jews.  Note for instance 1 Kings 8:22,23: "Then Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the assembly of Israel and spread out his hands toward heaven.  And he said, 'O LORD, the God of Israel, there is no God like Thee in heaven above or on earth beneath, who art keeping covenant and showing lovingkindness to Thy servants who walk before Thee with all their heart...."  Also Ezra 9:5: "...and I fell on my knees and stretched out my hands to the LORD my God."  Psalm 141:2: "May my prayer be counted as incense before You; The lifting up of my hands as the evening offering." Jeremiah declares, "We lift up our heart and hands Toward God in heaven" (Lam. 3:41).   

Though it was common for Jews to pray to God with their hands literally raised, the Bible doesn't specifically instruct us concerning our physical posture in prayer.  For some people prayed after falling on their faces (Num. 16:22); and sometimes by kneeling (2 Chron. 6:13); sometimes folks would bow down to the Lord (Psa. 95:6); and, as we saw with Solomon, prayer was also made while standing (1 Kings 8:22,23). Since we are to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thess. 5:17), we might find ourselves in various positions throughout the day when we are praying. It might be while driving a car, or while walking down a road, or while sitting at a desk, or while washing the dishes.  Prayer can often be a spontaneous thing.  

What Paul means by the phrase "lifting up holy hands" simply indicates prayer offered by one who is holy.  Compare  Isaiah 1:15: "So when you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you; Yes, even though you multiply prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are covered with blood."  Do you think their hands were literally covered in blood at that moment?  I wouldn't think so.  But it does express a corruption in their character.  As Albert Barnes points out, "It is probably a figurative expression, not meaning literally that they were murderers, but that they were given to rapine and injustice; to the oppression of the poor, the widow, etc."  Would it not be that they were like murderers, in heart, when it came to their cold and indifferent treatment toward the poor and the widows?  Compare Psalm 24:3,4: "Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? And who may stand in His holy place?  He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood, And has not sworn deceitfully."  Is "clean hands" simply referring to someone who had just washed his hands and scrubbed away all the dirt?  Surely, "clean hands" means much more than that. Rather, it figuratively describes a person who is living a pure, godly life.  

Notice, too, that the men are to pray "without wrath and dissension."  E.M. Zerr refers to this first term as "anger that would be disposed to inflict punishment on someone."  Is it ever right, however, for us to tell God what kind of punishment He should inflict on the wrong-doer?  For instance, suppose someone intentionally scratched up your car and poured paint on it.  Would it be right to pray to the Lord that the same thing would happen to the one who did that or some other personal punishment?  Would that not be praying with wrath?  Rather, should we not pray that the criminal would be caught and the proper justice carried out, and also that the person would come to see his crime and truly repent of it?  Some versions translate this phrase "wrath and dissension" as "anger and quarreling."  That certainly would not be the proper spirit or frame of mind that one should be in when praying. 

How thankful we can be for Jesus Christ, the world's only mediator between man and God; for the atonement He has made for every lost soul, and for the avenue of prayer for every Christian.  In view of Paul's service to God in telling others of these wondrous truths of the Lord Jesus, as well as all the gospel, may we who are God's children also be encouraged to do our part in teaching others that message.


News & Notes

Let those of us who are Christians be remembering the following people in prayer:

* The family and friends of Pauline Moyer (Sue Stutzman's mother) who recently passed away at 98 years of age.  We extend our condolences.

* We also offer our sympathies to the family and friends of Scott Moon (Jackson Moon's grandfather) who has also departed.

* Remember, too: Bill Barfield (Linda Blevins' uncle) who is now at a rehab center in Slidell, Louisiana; Cheryl Crews who has chronic ailments; Shirley Young who suffers from fibromyalgia; and Jean Calloway who has health problems.

The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17;  John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).

Park Forest

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evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (225) 667-4520
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