For the Love of God, Volume 1/October 24

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By D.A. Carson About Devotional Life
Chapter 299 of the book For the Love of God, Volume 1


2 Kings 5; 1 Timothy 2; Daniel 9; Psalms 117—118

CURRENT AGENDAS MEAN THAT WHEN 1 Timothy 2 is referred to in contemporary discussions, usually the focus is on 2:11-15. So we shall reflect on 1 Timothy 2:1-7.

(1) Transparently, Paul urges that Christians pray for all who are in authority (2:1-2). The primary end of such praying is “that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (2:2). God’s sovereignty extends beyond the church to all the affairs of humankind. Paul knows well that an ordered and secure society is conducive to regular, disciplined living, and therefore to “godliness and holiness.”

(2) When Paul says “This is good,” it is not immediately clear whether this refers to the godly living he wants displayed among believers, or to the prayers that they are supposed to raise to Almighty God on behalf of those who are in authority. If the former, then the connection with what follows must be along these lines: if we live godly lives, our very living will bear evangelistic witness to the people all around us whom God wants “to come to a knowledge of the truth” (2:4). If the reference is to our praying, then the connection with what follows is a little different: Paul is saying that we should pray for those in authority, not only to the end that society may be stable, but to the end that they may be saved—since God wants all people to come to a knowledge of the truth.

(3) Either way, the assumption is that God is vitally interested in the conversion of people everywhere. This is not at all at odds with what the Bible elsewhere says about election. Doubtless God exercises a special love toward his elect. Nevertheless, the Bible constantly portrays God as crying out, in effect, “Turn! Turn! For the Lord has no pleasure in the death of the wicked.” His stance toward his fallen image-bearers, however much characterized by righteousness and judgment, includes this element of yearning for their salvation.

(4) In this context 1 Timothy 2:5 says, in effect, that the doctrine of monotheism has an entailment: if there is but one God, then he must be the God of all, whether recognized as such or not. If there is but one mediator between God and fallen human beings, then the only hope for any human being is that one mediator.

(5) Potentially, then, he is the ransom for all men and women everywhere (2:6). There is no other mediator. He is not the mediator of the Jews only. In “its proper time” (2:6) this truth has been made clear—and it lies at the heart of the apostolic gospel that Paul has been appointed to preach, not least among the Gentiles.

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