Prayer for All People
2:1 First of all, then, I urge that requests, prayers, intercessions, and thanks be offered on behalf of all people, 2:2 even for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.
‘Some years ago I attended public worship in a certain church. The pastor was absent on holiday, and a lay elder led the pastoral prayer. He prayed that the pastor might enjoy a good vacation (which was fine), and that two lady members of the congregation might be healed (which was also fine; we should pray for the sick). But that was all. The intercession can hardly have lasted thirty seconds. I came away saddened, sensing that this church worshipped a little village god of their own devising. There was no recognition of the needs of the world, and no attempt to embrace the world in prayer.’ (Stott)
First of all, then – This links with what he has just said about the gospel and its defence.
All people – This is emphatic, and in contrast to the exclusivist tendencies of the false teachers.
‘”Philip James Spener had a son of eminent talents, but he was perverse and extremely vicious. All means of love and persuasion were without success. The father could only pray, which he continued to do, that the Lord might yet be pleased to save his son at any time and in any way. The son fell sick, and while lying on his bed in great distress of mind, nearly past the power of speech or motion, he suddenly started up, clasped his hands, and exclaimed, ‘My father’s prayers, like mountains, surround me!’ Soon after his anxiety ceased, a sweet peace spread over his face, his malady came to a crisis, and the son was saved in body and soul. He became another man. Spener lived to see his son a respectable man, in public office, and happily married. Such was the change of his life after his conversion.”‘ (Spurgeon)
For kings and all those in authority – ‘This was a remarkable instruction, since at that time no Christian ruler existed anywhere in the world…The reigning emperor was Nero, whose vanity, cruelty and hostility to the Christian faith were widely known.’ (Stott)
Holiness – better, ‘good conduct’. Paul’s concern is that Christians might be allowed by the (pagan) authorities to witness faithfully and openly to the gospel, for the benefit of all (mentioned in v1.
Paul is saying then, that prayer should be offered to enable the ‘full observance of religion and high standards of morality.’ (NEB)
It is to be noted that the pax romana was a major factor in the early spread of Christianity.
‘The ultimate object of our prayers for national leaders, then, is that in the context of the peace they preserve, religion and morality can flourish, and evangelism go forward without interruption.’ (Stott)
That we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness – ‘Godliness’ translates ‘eusebeia‘; which which roughly corresponds to our popular usage of ‘religion’ (Hendriksen: ‘piety’). Fee thinks that this a word use by the false teachers, which Paul is now using against them.
‘For many scholars, this sounds terribly bourgeois, even selfish. But, again, it probably reflects the activities of the false teachers, who are not only disrupting (“disquieting”) the church(es) but apparently are also bringing the gospel and the church into disrepute on the outside (see esp. 1 Tim 3:7; 5:14; 6:1; cf. Titus 2:5, 8; 3:1–3). The concern here, therefore, is not that Christians should have a life free from trouble or distress (which hardly fits the point of view of 2 Tim. 1:8 and 2 Tim 3:12) but that they should live in such a way that “no one will speak evil of the name of God and of our teaching” (1 Tim 6:1).’ (Fee)
Similarly, Hendriksen says that for Paul ‘freedom from disturbances, such as wars and persecutions, will facilitate the spread of the gospel of salvation in Christ to the glory of God.’
Paul had himself experienced such blessing, as when the Roman officials intervened on his behalf in Ephesus, Acts 19:23ff.
2:3 Such prayer for all is good and welcomed before God our Savior, 2:4 since he wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
vv1-6 On the surface, this passage seems to teach a general atonement, vv4,6. However, it is clear that the word ‘all’ quite often does not mean ‘all people without exception’. See Mt 10:22; Mk 1:5; Jn 3:26; Acts 22:15: in such passages, ‘all’ obviously means ‘all kinds of people; all without distinction’.
In the present passage, note that in v1 Paul urges that prayers be made for ‘everyone’. It is clearly impossible to pray for each and every person. V2 defines the scope as ‘all kinds of people’, with those in authority being mentioned as a special class. This context indicates that the same scope is in mind in vv4,6, ie, that no class or group of person is excluded from the offer of the gospel.
Moo states that the problem with a universalistic interpretation ‘is that Paul teaches quite explicitly in this very letter—indeed, in the next verse—that faith, which Paul confines to this life and limits only to some people, is necessary for salvation (see also 1 Tim 1:16; 3:16; 4:10).’
Moo thinks that two interpretations are possible:- ‘(1) Since Paul seems to be combating in the Pastoral letters a heresy that confined salvation to a select few, the point of verse 4 might be that God extends a gracious offer of salvation to all human beings. Only some, however, will accept. (2) Or Paul might be emphasizing that God’s will for salvation extends to “all kinds of people.” We have seen that Paul uses universal language in this sense elsewhere (Rom. 11:32), and 1 Timothy 2:1, with its call for prayers to be offered for “everyone” (same Greek words as in 2:4), supports this nuance.’ (in Morgan, Christopher W.. Hell Under Fire: Modern Scholarship Reinvents Eternal Punishment. Zondervan. Kindle Edition.)
Calvin notes that those in authority, such as Paul has just mentioned, were sworn enemies of the gospel. Nevertheless, they should be prayed for, and are not excluded, either by reason of the lofty position or their present state of unbelief, from the call of the gospel.
According to Calvin, ‘the apostle’s meaning here is simply that no nation of the earth and no rank of society is excluded from salvation, since God wills to offer the Gospel to all without exception. Since the preaching of the Gospel brings life, he rightly concludes that God regards all men as being equally worthy to share in salvation. But he is speaking of classes and not of individuals and his only concern is to include princes and foreign nations in this number.’ Helm takes this as evidence that Calvin believed in particular atonement, and so it might, if there were not many other instances of the Reformer’s belief that Christ died for the sins of the whole world. (See Allen, David L.. The Extent of the Atonement: A Historical and Critical Review (Kindle Locations 2067-2069). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.)
2:5 For there is one God and one intermediary between God and humanity, Christ Jesus, himself human, 2:6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, revealing God’s purpose at his appointed time.
There is one God and one mediator between God and men – It is evident that the false teaching in Ephesus included some form of incipient gnosticism. The Gnostics believed (or came to believe) that there were many different ranks of angels and that these acted as mediators between a holy God and sinful men. Jesus Christ was relegated to the position of one of the angels. This verse refutes that position.
Spencer remarks on how Paul’s teaching that there is ‘one God and one mediator’ challenged pagan thinking:- ‘First, many would believe in a variety of gods for a variety of purposes and people. As Artemidorus explained, “What the gods signify for men, goddesses signify for women. Gods are more auspicious for men than goddesses; goddesses are more auspicious for women than gods” (Onir. 4.75). At Ephesus, many would place gods in a hierarchy with Artemis at the top. The temple of Artemis at Ephesus (Artemision) was also renowned as an asylum for the innocent yet simultaneously Artemis could be a slaughterer. Some would think she should be the mediator (1 Tim 2:5). Others would conclude she would not save all (v. 4). In addition, Ephesus had shrines sacred to Zeus, Cybele and Demeter (mother of the gods), Apollo (Artemis’ brother), Asclepius (god of healing), Aphrodite, Dionysus, Hygeia, Pan, Isis, Hecate, Marnas (river god), Leto (Artemis’ mother), Athena, Serapis, Eros, and deified emperors, such as Augustus. Paul, in contrast, asserts that there is only one God who can serve all needs, including salvation, for all people.’
‘There is not one god for Jews and another for Gentiles, or one saviour for the lowly and another for kings. There is one Saviour, one mediator, and one ransom—sufficient for all types of people and available to all.’ (Smith, Claire. God’s Good Design. Matthias Media. Kindle Edition.)
‘Monotheism remains the essential basis for mission. The supreme reaon why God “desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the [same] truth is that “there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all…” The logic of this passage rests on the relation between “all men” and “one God”. Our warrant for seeking the allegiance of “all men” is that there is only “one God”, and only “one mediator” between him and them. Without the unity of God and the uniqueness of Christ there could be no Christian mission.’ (Stott, Our Guilty Silence, 23)
‘To claim that Jesus Christ is unique is not to say that there is no truth in other religions and ideologies. Of course there is. For we believe in God’s general revelation and common grace. The Logos of God is still “the true light” coming into the world and enlightening every man, Jn 1:9. All men know something of God’s glory from creation and something of God’s law from their own nature, as Paul argues in Romans 1 and 2. But how does this argument continue? Not that their knowledge of God saves them, but the very opposite! It condemns them because they suppress it. Indeed, “they are without excuse, for although they knew God they did not honour him as God…”
‘It is against this dark background of universal rebellion, guilt and judgment of mankind that the good news of Jesus Christ shines with such dazzling beauty. There is salvation in no other, for there is no other mediator between God and man but only Jesus Christ who died as a ransom for sinners, Acts 4:12; 1 Tim 2:5.
‘Firmly to reject all syncretism in this way and to assert the uniqueness and finality of Jesus Christ is not “doctrinal superiority” or imperialism, as it has been called. Conviction about revealed religion is not arrogance. Its properr name is “stewardship”, the humble and obedient stewardship of a church which knows it has been “put in trust with the Gospel”.’ (Stott, Authentic Christianity, 348)
Verses 5 & 6 link together three phases of Christ’s work of redemption:-
- Incarnate as a human being – ‘the man’
- Died as a ransom – ‘who gave himself as a ransom for all men’
- Exalted as our heavenly mediator – ‘one mediator between God and men’
A ransom for all men – ‘We are to understand this to mean a ransom available for all people, without exception.’ (Grudem, Systematic Theology)
Josephus describes the Roman general Crassus’ visit to the Temple in Jerusalem in 54-53 BC. He was intent on plundering the sanctuary, but a priest named Eliazar gave him a large gold bar as lytron anti panton, ‘a ransom for all’, that is as a substitute for the Temple treasures. (Stott, The Cross of Christ, 178)
2:7 For this I was appointed a preacher and apostle—I am telling the truth; I am not lying—and a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. 2:8 So I want the men to pray in every place, lifting up holy hands without anger or dispute.
I want the men to pray in every place – Note the emphasis (for the moment) on what the men are to do. Paul will address the women shortly.
Lifting up holy hands – This would have been the usual posture for prayer.
Conduct of Women
2:9 Likewise the women are to dress in suitable apparel, with modesty and self-control. Their adornment must not be with braided hair and gold or pearls or expensive clothing, 2:10 but with good deeds, as is proper for women who profess reverence for God.
On the submission of women, see also Eph 5:22-33; Col 3:18; 1 Tim 5:14; Tit 2:4-5).
Blomberg suggests that this teaching is addressed especially to the wealthy women at Ephesus, since it is only they who would have been able to afford the luxuries mentioned. The original is lit. ‘not with braided hair and gold or pearls’, suggesting that there might not be anything wrong with braided hair as such, but ‘the ornate coiffure in which jewels were interwoven into the braids, as one way of holding the hair together, involved hours of attention to one’s external appearance and was often accompanied by lavish, costly attire.’ (Neither Poverty Not Riches, p207)
‘Women of the lower economic ranks in the East frequently covered their heads; but the urban congregations of Ephesus would have included women of higher social status, who would flaunt their status by the ornate ways they decorated their hair. To poorer women in the congregation, the wealthier women’s wardrobe represented both ostentation and potential seduction, so Paul rules against it, borrowing language common among moralists of his day.’ (DPL)
2:11 A woman must learn quietly with all submissiveness. 2:12 But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man. She must remain quiet.
A woman must learn – This seems to link back to v4, with its reference to coming to ‘a knowledge of the truth’.
With all submissiveness –
Claire Smith summarises the NT teaching on submissiveness:- ‘The word that Paul uses here and a related verb meaning ‘submit’ are used often in the New Testament, and in the context of many different types of relationships. Children are to submit to their parents (Luke 2:51; 1 Tim 3:4; cf. Titus 1:6). Slaves are to submit to their masters (Titus 2:9; 1 Pet 2:18-25). Wives are to submit themselves to their husbands (1 Cor 14:34-35; Eph 5:24; Col 3:18; Titus 2:5; 1 Pet 3:1, 5). Christians are to submit to those over them in Christian leadership (1 Cor 16:15-16; 1 Pet 5:5). We are to submit ourselves to God (Jas 4:7), and as part of that God-ward submission, we are to submit to governing authorities (Rom 13:1; Titus 3:1; 1 Pet 2:13).’ Smith adds: ‘However, this language of submission is not limited to human relationships. All things have been subjected and will ultimately submit to Christ (Eph 1:22; Phil 3:21; Heb 2:5, 8; 1 Pet 3:22). Demons submit to the rule of Christ (Luke 10:17). The church is to submit to Christ as her head (Eph 5:24). And when all things have been made subject to him, Christ himself will submit to God the Father (1 Cor 15:27-28).’ (Smith, Claire. God’s Good Design. Matthias Media. Kindle Edition.)
But to whom (or what) are women to be submissive? To the men? To God? To the teaching? The context determines that the first of these is the case. ‘Learning quietly with all submissiveness’ is one side of the coin; ‘not allowing a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man’ is the other side of the coin. The implication is that women are not to teach or exercise authority over the men in the gathered household of God.
I do not allow a woman to teach – ‘Significantly, Paul is not saying that women are not competent to teach, or that they may never teach. Elsewhere he encourages women to teach other women and children (Titus 2:3-5; Eph 6:1; cf. 1 Tim 5:9-10), and commends the instruction a church leader received from his mother and grandmother (2 Tim 1:5, 3:14-15). He urges all believers to teach and encourage one another as they sing together (Col 3:16). Women also contribute to the Christian assembly in activities with the potential to teach, such as prophecy and prayer (1 Cor 11:4-5; 14:3-5, 12-19, 24-26, 31).’ Smith, Claire. God’s Good Design. Matthias Media. Kindle Edition.)
On the proposal that ‘teach’ in verse 12 should be restricted to “carefully preserving and laying down for the congregation the traditions handed on by the apostles,” see here.
She must remain quiet – Not ‘in silence’ (AV, RSV), but with a quiet and teachable disposition.
Spencer notes that such a disposition is encouraged in the OT (see, for example, Prov 17:27f). ‘Hēsychios (adjective), hēsychia (noun), and hēsychazō (verb) in the New Testament always have positive connotations. Hēsychios has positive connotations in 1 Timothy 2:2 when all Christians are encouraged to lead a “quiet” life, a life free from persecution by rulers. In an educational setting, it refers to the state of calm, restraint at the proper time, respect, and affirmation of a speaker. It does not necessarily refer to not speaking. When the circumcision party heard from Peter how the Lord had saved Cornelius and his household, “they were silenced and praised God saying: ‘Then also to the Gentiles God gave repentance that leads to life’ ” (Acts 11:17–18). Thus, the first act they did after they “were silent” was speak!’ Spencer adds that this word group also refers, in both OT (see Isa 66:2, for example) and NT, to calm and rest (as opposed to working and fighting).
Exercise authority – Translates a rare Gk word authentein. This may mean:-
- that he is forbidding a woman to exercise any kind of authority over a man;
- that that he is forbidding a woman to exercise authority over a man in the a church setting. This receives some support from the context, which does emphasise public worship.
- that he is forbidding a woman to usurp authority (i.e. to seize from a man the authority that is rightfully his). He is concerned that women should not be overbearing (and he would have said the same to men).
- that this prohibition was local and temporary, rather that global and permanent.
- We know that there were false teachers at Ephesus, 1 Tim 1:3-4; 1 Tim 1:6-7. The false teaching led to a disregard for proper decorum in the church, and to a rejection of the institution of marriage, 1 Tim 4:3. Note how Paul addresses young widows, 1 Tim 5:9-15), urging them to marry, raise children, and manage their homes. Neglect of such roles and relationships was leading to these women becoming bossy busybodies, 1 Tim 5:13. It is quite plausible, then, that the women in the Ephesian congregation were either particularly affected by, or even the primary advocates of, the false teaching (see also 2 Tim 3:6-9). So, where Paul has in 1 Tim 1:3 already placed a general prohibition on those who teach false doctrines, he here focuses specifically on the women who have become particularly involved with it. They are to stop advocating ideas that are alien to the Christian faith, and instead ‘learn in quietness and full submission’ (submission, that is, to the elders of the church; although it is to be noted that all learners were expected to adopt an attitude of quietness and submission, cf. 1 Tim 2:2).
- This is the view of Spencer, who explains: ‘In light of the heterodox teaching and learning at Ephesus, Paul highlights the women in particular as needing to learn but not yet teach, most likely because of their unpreparedness in withstanding heterodoxy, a heterodoxy that may have been especially appealing to the women at Ephesus. Paul focuses on teaching because the teacher especially is one who must be qualified to teach the truth and Paul wanted to make sure they understood God’s teachings. However, all women everywhere were not dissuaded from teaching. Prisca, along with her husband Aquila (admired coworkers of Paul), certainly taught Apollos with great accuracy (Acts 18:25–26) and the female elders at Crete were to teach (Titus 2:3). In addition, women had a long history as religious leaders: prophets, wise women, apostles, church overseers, and ministers.’
- Before we jump to the conclusion that this prohibition against women teaching or having authority over a man can be transferred directly into our own time and culture, we should reflect that Paul also appear to require male elders to be married, and to have children who are believers, respectful and obedient (Tit 1:6). He seems to exclude not only women, but also single men, childless married men, and married men with unbelieving, disrespectful, or disobedient children, and so on.
See here for a discussion of this passage by David Atkinson.
2:13 For Adam was formed first and then Eve. 2:14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman, because she was fully deceived, fell into transgression.
Adam was formed first and then Eve – See Gen 2:21f.
Adam was not deceived, but the woman – Yes, that also is true, according to Gen 3:13. Adam sinned, but he was not deceived.
Again, Paul’s argument from the created order (see also 1 Cor 11:7-9) has been understood in various ways:-
- It is possible that the argument is ad hoc: if Eve’s deception is appealed to as a reason for all women from teaching, then Paul is arguing that women generally are more easily deceived than men.
- It may be that Paul’s intention is to use Eve to illustrate the local situation in Ephesus, where the women are easily deceived because they are untaught.
‘As Adam has served elsewhere as the representative man, through whose sin all mankind came into sinfulness (Rom. 5:12, 19), so here Eve serves as the “representative” woman, who through her deception by Satan became a sinner (lit., “came to be in transgression”).’ (Fee)
What Paul does appear to be saying is that there is a God-given distinction between the two sexes. This is not to do with intelligence, giftedness, usefulness, and so on, but creational intent. And there are serious practical implications for both men and women. If the latter are to follow Paul’s instructions here, then the men will have to step up to their responsibilities.
2:15 But she will be delivered through childbearing, if she continues in faith and love and holiness with self-control.
Saved through childbearing – This may mean:-
- Brought safely through childbearing. But if this is the meaning, why does Paul add, ‘if they continue in faith’? And, in any case, it is obvious that many godly women do not experience safe childbearing in this way.
- Saved through the birth of a child (namely, Jesus). But if this is the meaning, why does Paul imply that this applies particularly to women?
- That she is not to imagine that her well-being depends on usurping male responsibilities; rather, she will be kept safe if she fulfils her own God-given role (of which childbearing is a representative part), kept safe in her God-given female responsibilities (of which childbearing is a notable example). This, in essence, is Smith’s interpretation.