Last week we saw that Paul left Timothy in Ephesus to reboot the church – to kind of hit the reset button on it.  Timothy’s job there was to train the teachers to teach toward love.  Now Paul is writing him to give him further instructions regarding how to stabilize the household: he writes as much in chapter 3:14-15: I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of truth. When He says “ought to behave in the household” he is not talking about for example when I once got yelled at by a nun for walking on a pew.  The word suggests a broader understanding of how the church goes about its business, how we order and conduct ourselves.  And this is important: how we conduct ourselves as a church is ultimately important because it is the church that is the pillar and support of the truth of the gospel within a community.  The church stays after the missionaries leave, raising the banner of truth.  Which is why, Paul take Timothy off of the mission field and sends him back to an already established church, so that they won’t lose that territory.  Today, in North America, we are losing territory.  Churches are not well-established – they are focused on fighting over theological trivialties, that our ministries are managed, or on making sure our programs are all running smoothly – I guarantee that more people are interested in these things, than that we are a house of prayer, or that our spiritual leaders be good husbands and fathers, or that we are caring for our elders – all things that Paul focuses on in this letter.  We have, in fact rejected or ignored the Word of God in the pastorals, and I think we suffer as a church accordingly.


Prayer: It’s relation to establishing the church (2:1-2): First of all then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.  Prayer is vital in establishing the household of God. First things first, Timothy – pray.  Some say missions is the fire that keeps the church burning, well then, prayer is the fuel that feeds the fire.  Paul knew that they would not become a healthy church again, until they were once again a praying church, praying in everyway – entreaties, intercessions, praises, thanksgivings, pouring everything out to God.   Specifically, he focuses on two areas. 

1)    That we should pray for all people: presumably, as we’re going to see in the context, that they might be saved.

2)    That we should pray on behalf of our secular leaders, that we might live quiet unassuming lives – that we’re left alone to follow Jesus and do His work. 


Theological Interlude: The Relationship Between Prayer and Evangelism (2:3-7)

This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For 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, which is 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), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

  • ·      We pray for all people
  • ·      For God desire all people to be saved (God’s Will)
  • ·      For Jesus gave himself as a ransom for all men (God’s work)

We pray for all – because it is the heart of the Father who desires all to be saved, and honours the work of Jesus, who gave himself for all.


The theological debate centers around the second and third issues:

  • ·      The will of God: who does God desire to be saved
  • ·      The work of God: for whom did Christ die


Desire: Here is the root of the theological issue and why this passage is so tricky:

  • ·      God desires all men to be saved and has provided means for them to be saved
  • ·      God is all powerful and is able to accomplish what He sets out to do
  • ·      Not all men will be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth
  • ·      Therefore: God fails to see his desire realized
  • ·      Key Issue: How do we explain God’s failure to see his desire realized?


The Will of God: God our Savior who desires all people to be saved

“all” means all sorts of men

“desires” limited by greater desire: God’s glory

“desires” limited by greater desire: Human Freewill

Some Calvinists

Most Calvinists

Most Arminians

Support: Paul identifies at least two unique groups: rulers (v2), gentiles (v7)

Ephesians 1:1-10

Logical: Non-coerced love


Each answer seeks to demonstrate that God is not a failure.  The first (though I think is the weakest position) at the very least argues that God’s desire to see all men save will indeed be fulfilled.  The second and third interpretations both demonstrate that even if God’s desire to see all people saved lies unfulfilled, it does not demonstrate a weakness in God’s character, but a strength.  As human beings, we have conflicting desires all the time, and it does not mean that we are schizophrenic, or have some sort of personality disorder, but that sometimes, because of the way we are wired, we desire two mutually exclusive things.  If I’m on a diet, I desire to lose weight, but I also desire to eat a tub of ice-cream.  To say I ultimately desire to lose weight is not to say that I no longer desire rocky-road – its that I restrain my lower desire for the sake of the higher.  This is seen as a strength not a weakness.  I might be heartbroken over the ice-cream, and mourn over it and cry over it, but I desire something greater.  And you would say, wow – How he loves his ice-cream – look at how he’s blathering over it – but you’d also admire my strength of character and my passion for something greater.  God desires all men to be saved – we dare not downplay his desire, even if it may be true that He desires something more.  God desires all passionate to be saved, so if we are praying with a reflection of his heart in our own, we will passionately and confidently pray for the salvation of all people, knowing that our desires are in line with his desires.


Work: How much did God desire the above – enough to die for it?  If God desired it, but didn’t provide the means for it – can it be that he really didn’t desire it at all?


The Work of God: Jesus Christ, who gave himself as a ransom for all

“all” means all

“all” means the elect

“all” means all, but not all in the same way

Unlimited atonement

Limited atonement

Limited/Unlimited Atonement

2 Corinthians 5:14-15

1 Timothy 2:1-6; 4:10

Titus 2:11

John 1:29; 3:16-17

1 John 2:2, 4:14

Rev. 5:9

Isa 53:6

Hebrews 2:9

2 Peter 3:9

Matt 1:21;20:28; 26:28

Romans 5:12-19

John 10:11,15,26-27

Acts 20:28

Eph 5:25

Romans 8:32-35

John 15:3

2 Cor 5:15

Titus 2:14


This is not the likely meaning of 1 Timothy 2:6 (for we are told to pray for “all people” – outside the church)

“Simply, by dying for everyone, Jesus purchased everyone as his possession, and then he applies forgiveness to the elect – those in Christ – by grace, and applies his wrath to the non-elect – those who reject Christ.  Objectively, Jesus’ death as sufficient to save anyone, and, subjectively, only efficient to save those who repent of their sins and put their faith in him.”  

1 Timothy 4:10


Notice: Paul’s intent here is not for us to have a theological argument – but to pray, and we must not miss that for our theological arguing – if we do we are no better than the teachers of chapter one, who engrossed themselves in theological speculation, but didn’t teach the people to love, and we would be in violation of his ongoing application in this chapter that he desires men to lift up holy hands in prayer without anger or quarrelling.  Simply put  - not matter where you fall on the theological spectrum of Calvinism, Arminianism whatever – the simple idea that God desires all men should be saved should drive us to have that same heart and pray accordingly. 

  • ·      Calvinists can get all worked up about this and say, God doesn’t really desire all
  • ·     

The point is that whatever your theological interpretation of this passage comes out to in the end, you can be guilty of violating the intent of the passage, which is to motivate us, the church, to pray.  Keep that in the foremost of your mind and you will do well.  My job prayer.  Why? Because God desires all men to be saved.  Do I understand it completely? No – and I don’t need to in order to pray.  Do I appreciate the Father’s love and desire for all men? Hopefully, and hopefully that motivates me to pray with the Father’s heart. So pray.  Pray vigorously.  Pray passionately. Pray wildly.  Pray dangerously.  Pray that people come to repentance and are saved – for that is what the Father longs to see.  This also happens to be the application – I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling. 


How Are We At OCBC: I think that this is one area, especially in our English congregation, that we are still lacking if we are really honest with ourselves.  I don’t yet see us as a house of prayer – I don’t see prayer as yet central to everything we are doing.  Where are our intercessors?  We have many who want a say, but few who want to pray.  We had our end of the month prayer meeting last week and only five of us came out.  It is because we are too busy? Because of our theology?  Because as Josh Wang said last night, we are Christian atheists?


I take the heat for this one.  About a year and a half ago, our prayer meetings were rocking – we were meeting every week, with between 30-50 people attending, many from our English Congregation.  But something happened and I drew back from leading the congregation into prayer.  I have asked forgiveness for my thin-skin and apathy.  We can’t afford not to pray. 

1)    Put Prayer meeting on Your Schedule Now! Last Wednesday of the Month We want to say and have our way, but not come out to pray.

2)    Prayer not as after thought but as part of the ministry.  Whatever ministry.  Prayer walks.  Pray for God’s guiding.  Pray regularly for those within and without.

3)    Use the weekly prayer list sent out

4)    Visit the website – pray through the schedule, and leave prayer requests – Mentor Centre.