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Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
Established November 2008 Published: April 30, 2021
“For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3-4).
Welcome Back to HBS.
You know it’s a good day, indeed, when you wake up and God our Savior’s grace and mercy abides, meaning, there’s still time to choose God (over this world) and His free offer of salvation, by grace, through faith (2 Corinthians 6:1-2; Ephesians 2:8-9).
Faith in what? The answer: the Apostle Paul’s gospel.
(Romans 16:25, 2:16; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4)
Please open your Bible at 1 Timothy 1:19-20 – 2:1-7.
“Holding (what?) faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme” (1:19-20).
“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; 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 Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity” (2:1-7).
When you read Paul’s epistles you’re going to find words such as, “fight,” “war,” “conflict,” “armor,” “weapons” and so forth, especially in his pastoral epistles. This ought to give even the casual Bible reader cause for pause for it indicates the true Believer’s life (walk) and ministry (2 Corinthians 5:17-21) are more than just a social adventure; it is a “spiritual battle.” And yet there are those who think the Christians’ life is meant to be a stroll through the proverbial rose garden, i.e., a pleasure to be enjoyed, no ripples on my pond, kind of thing. These folks, plainly said, have been led into error by false teachers. Thus, they fail to realize that wherever “the truth” of God’s Word is proclaimed you can be assured Satan stands ready to oppose those who communicate His good news and the gospel itself. The record shows that these same Christians are also unaware or uncaring, whatever the case might be, of the fact that they are called to stand and defend the Word of God as “good soldiers of Christ,” so that it might be said of them they “war a good warfare,” and at the close of their life will be able to say with confidence, “I have fought the good fight” (2 Timothy 4:7-8) just as Paul (our example) assuredly stated at the close of his life.
It should go without saying, then, Christians are not to wage warfare over personal matters, which is often the case based on my experience. Instead of getting upset because of the way someone dressed for Sunday worship, or because someone near you is singing off-key, Paul said we’re to reserve our disapproval for all those who are not preaching the truth of God. Where do I get this info? We pick up on this Bible truth as Paul continues with these words, “Holding faith, and a good conscience;” This is a warning from the apostle to pastor Timothy to do the very thing we’re talking about.
Why was the warning necessary? Paul knew some men, in Ephesus, “concerning (the) faith have made (their ministry a) shipwreck (1:19). In other words, these men were not
“Holding (the) faith,” “the whole counsel of God;”(Acts 20:27) in high regard and Paul proceeded to name two of the heretics in verse 1:20: “Of whom, Hymenaeus and Alexander,” who had repudiated God’s message for this present dispensation and in so doing, “made shipwreck,” of God’s Word and their individual ministries. This was no small thing for Paul goes on to say, “… I have delivered unto Satan, that they (the heretics) may learn not to blaspheme” (1:20; 1 Corinthians 5:5). Here Paul’s not condemning their souls to hell, he had given them up to Satan, and now they would have to learn (the hard way) the truth of God is “not” to be derided or treated disrespectfully, i.e., “blasphemed.”
Now let’s turn our attention (study) to 1 Timothy 2:1-7.
A Ransom For All
“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; 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 Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.”
“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.”
This passage reminds me of an opening comment or ice-breaker a pastor made and it goes like this, “Did you hear the one about a woman who on New Year’s Eve bowed to pray saying, Lord, for the coming year, I pray for a fat bank account and a thin body… and please, whatever you do, don’t mix them up again as you did last year...”
Whether or not that bit of humor was funny to you please know there’s nothing humorous about the modern Christian’s prayer life. While these folks will likely offer up prayers to God when difficulties cross their path, the truth of the matter is they often forget to pray for others. Of course, you wouldn’t think a pastor or a spiritual leader would forget to pray for others, but as I’ve been trying to show y’all they are human too. Knowing this Paul wrote these words to Timothy, “I exhort therefore, that, first of all supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men…”
When Paul only “exhorts” Timothy to pray after “charging” him to “teach no other doctrine” (1:3, 18), it’s easy to conclude from this that praying is not as important as teaching God’s Word. But any “exhortation” from God to man is a serious matter. After the Lord told the Jews that “the blood of all the prophets” would be “required of this generation” (Luke 11:50-51), Peter chose to “exhort” them with these words, “Save yourselves from this untoward generation” (Acts 2:40). That certainly sounds serious to me, so when Paul “exhorted” Timothy to pray, we know that God considers his prayer life and every Believer’s prayer life to be a serious matter.
As we look back to the previous chapter to see why Paul would “exhort” Timothy to “pray,” we see that Paul had just “charged” him to “war a good warfare” (1:18). Well, take the time to think this through. What does every soldier do before going into battle? The answer: he or she prays. It really doesn’t matter if they are a Believer, for as the old saying goes, “There are no atheists in foxholes.”
Yet, for some it is so easy to forget or ignore the fact that God has called them (and us) to “wrestle… against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12). After Paul went on in that scripture passage to describe the armor God gave us to conduct that “spiritual warfare” (verses 13-17), he exhorted the Ephesians to pray saying, “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;” (6:18).
Thus, the subject matter we are studying is of paramount importance, not only scripturally, but also dispensationally for it concerns the particular message which the risen and glorified Lord committed to our Apostle Paul, and to us, for the present dispensation of the grace of God, namely, prayer for those who are not yet saved. Here I point out the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ “died for all” not just some, “For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15; Romans 6:10; Hebrews 9:27).
Therefore, one of the Church’s most significant shortcomings is our failure to pray, in general, and especially for all those who remain outside of Christ, i.e., “the lost “ (See 2 Corinthians 4:1-6). I’m not wagging the finger of shame at anyone please note that I’ve included myself in this for I too am human and my prayer life is not all that healthy. A jolt of truth, like this, is just what it needs. It should come as no surprise, then, to learn more than a few churched people object to this tenet saying, “God does not intend to save all, and since we do not know whom He has elected to be saved, it would be inappropriate of us to pray for the unsaved.” Yet, if you check verse 2:1 one more time you’ll see Paul urged (exhorted) Timothy, the pastor in Ephesus, to offer prayer, in its various forms, for not just some but for “all men.”
Interpretations of this exhortation aside, is it not a fact that most Christians fail to pray for the salvation of the lost, not because of their religious convictions, but through sheer indifference. The simple truth, then, is that with most of those who refer to themselves as followers of Christ, i.e., Christians, the “principles” of heaven and hell, salvation and perdition, and the spiritual condition of other people all around them relative to the aforementioned truth, are simply not realized or keenly felt.
My friends, Paul expresses the need for a healthy prayer life in his communications. One of the things we’re to consistently pray for is the salvation of “the lost” with whom we share the good news of Christ crucified for the sins of “all men” (Romans 6:10; 2 Corinthians 5:15; Hebrews 10:10). What’s more, we must pray for “all the saints” with whom we share “the revelation of the mystery,” if we expect to “war a good warfare” against the “wicked spirits” that are keeping them in darkness or leading them away from “the faith” with their “doctrines of devils” (I Timothy 4:1; 2 Corinthians 4:1-6). Paul often notes that any doctrines which contradict his gospel are inherently evil (Galatians 1:8–9). Saying that these are the teachings of "demons" is an effective way of declaring that their claims run contrary to the "sound doctrine" which Paul had received by revelation from the “Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope.”
Clearly, since “God our Savior” cares for the unsaved, we’re to follow suit, as they say, by praying for the lost. If you are praying to bring lost souls to Christ and then laboring to build them up in the faith, you might then be compared to Paul’s co-laborer in “the faith” Epaphras for he was “always laboring fervently… in prayers” that people might “stand perfect and complete in all the will of God” (Colossians 4:12).
Prayer For Authorities
“For kings, and for all that are in authority; 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 Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”
In times of revolution (change) and outright war history has shown that the cause of Christ suffers. Why? The minds of men and women are preoccupied and they have little time or inclination to listen to God’s saving message. Thus the reason for praying for all those “in authority” no matter how wicked or godless they might be. I remind the group that back in Paul’s day almost all of those in authority were pagans (Nero for one) and thus enemies of God and His unique revelation to Paul re: the gospel. Thus the “exhortation” to pray “for all that are in authority” applies equally to us today.
To be clear verse 2:1 does not specifically state that we are to pray for the salvation of lost rulers, but this is certainly implied, for the basic purpose of our prayers for them in authority is that we might live in a peaceful and quiet environment “in all godliness and honesty…” “…For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”
The civil authorities wield great power for good or for evil. They are prone to temptation, just as we are, but they can also do much to promote general godliness. Thus, if even one of them is genuinely saved, or even begins to realize why they ought to fear God, think how much good will have been accomplished. But even should they remain anti-God, He can cause them, providentially, to favor such legislation or to take such executive action as will advance the cause of Christ for the Scriptures say,
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: And the knowledge of the holy is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10).
“…the king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: He turneth it whithersoever He will” (Proverbs 21:1).
The other thing verse 2:1 implies is the true Church of God is not an agitator. She may stand her ground on moral and spiritual issues, and speak out against sin, but she does not demand her rights. The true Church, then, understands she is in the world, but she is not of the world (John 15:19, John 17:14-16; 1 Corinthians 5:9-10; Romans 12:2; 1 John 2:15).
Many of us, including yours truly, forget to pray for those in authority, as we have been “charged.” But then there are those folks who complain and even rebel, whether passively or impassively, against the authorities and wouldn’t pray for them if they were paid to do so. I ask can this attitude please God. Not so much; for if we fail to include those in authority over us in our prayers, specifically asking that God would help them “come unto the knowledge of the truth,” are we not partly to blame when ill-advised or unjust laws are enacted and enforced more often than not with the Church and the things of God in mind? (See the intentional Christian- liberty restrictive Do No Harm Act H.R.1450 — 116th Congress (2019-2020)
Did The Lord Jesus Christ Die For All?
If you read 1 Timothy 2:1-7 in its entirety, and just as it reads, it’s a wonder how anyone could come to any other conclusion than that God desires the salvation of all and that the Lord Jesus Christ gave Himself up as “a ransom for all” (1 Timothy 2:6), because that’s what it says. This particular proposition proves all the more correct as we consider that the word rendered “will” in 2:4 doesn’t refer to God’s determinate purpose, but to His desire. We find the same thought expressed, albeit negatively, in 2 Peter 3:9, where we are told that God is “not willing that any perish,” and in Ezekiel 33:11 the LORD God affirms this truth: “Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” (Ezekiel 33:11)
But the verses we’re studying, and many others that fall into the same category, in truth, raise all sorts of questions and attempts are sometimes made to interpret and/or “twist” the plainest scripture passages to mean what they “do not say” (2 Peter 3:16). If you’ve participated in this Bible study for a length of time, then you already know that I’m a stickler for “the truth” of God’s Word and stand ready to defend it using my open Bible and that’s because I’ve been misled and outright lied to by many church officials over the years, so “been there; done that.” In fact, it’s the very reason HBS exists for “the truth” lives here! Case in point, the Universalist faith would argue, “If it is God’s “desire” that all should be saved, can He not accomplish this?” The answer: God can most certainly do whatever He wishes, but He’s not going to do anything that violates His Holy standards. It’s true He has “no pleasure in the death of the wicked,” but as the righteous Judge He must do what is “right” all the time; that’s His nature.
For all those out there who believe and preach “limited atonement,” on the other hand, interpret this scripture passage in a different way that, to this Bible guide, surely seems like an attempt to explain what God clearly said away. These folks contend that the term “all men,” (2:4), refers only to “the elect of God,” or those lucky few, as it were, that God chose to save. But how can this be true in light of what Paul wrote in verses 2:1-2?
But there’s more for those who believe in “limited atonement,” argue that “all men” in 2:4 and the “all” in 2:6 really mean “all without distinction.” Please know this claim is also incorrect. Neither the Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary nor the Oxford University Dictionary show this definition. There is an obsolete word “alkin,” that was used many years ago, which is an obvious contraction of “all kinds,” but the word “all” in and of itself cannot and does not mean “all kinds.” It refers to “all kinds” only when qualified by words such as kind or manner. If God meant to say in verse 2:4 and 2:6 that He desires the salvation of “all kinds” of men, and that Christ died for “all kinds” of men, could He not have said this? Is God the author of confusion and misunderstanding or is He the epitome of “the truth?”
Before I let this subject go permit me to point out to y’all, if the words “all” and “all men” in 1 Timothy 2:1-7 really mean “all kinds” of men, would not God have said we should “give thanks… for all kinds of men? Furthermore, if verse 2:1 instructs us to pray for “all kinds” of men, would not this have been followed with words such as, “for kings and slaves, for sinners and saints, for the educated and the illiterate, for the rich and the poor” etc.? We note, however, that Paul did not say this. He said, “Pray for kings, and for all that are in authority;” Obviously, then, this passage cannot refer to “all men without distinction,” or “all kinds” of men. I have already explained above why God singles out this one category and that’s because “God our Savior” would have the gospel for this dispensation go out in peace since He desires, or “will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
To all those who hold that God does not love all and that Christ did not die for all, I strongly suggest you read this Bible passage again, prayerfully, and accept what it says in faith. As for us Believers, this passage of scripture is one of those on the basis of which we offer salvation to everyone, and warn Christ-rejectors: God has offered you salvation by grace through faith in what He has done and said, and has assured you your salvation is His “will.” Therefore, if you reject Christ and choose to remain unsaved it is your fault, and God must justly condemn you for your sin of unbelief, i.e., your lack of faith:
“And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thessalonians 2:8-12).
We didn’t look at all the material I intended to study in this lesson largely because I chose to follow a different route, often referred to as a rabbit trail, in describing some of the heresies derived from 1 Timothy 2:1-4. This information is valuable so I brought it to your attention so that your “knowledge” would be complete or at least refreshed:
“For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;” (Colossians 1:9-11; Proverbs 18:2, 15).
We’ll pick up this lesson from where we left off when next we meet. Stay safe and in the Word of God and make sure you share His “good news” for this dispensation with someone who needs to hear it.
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