1 timothy 2

Day  1

2 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people – 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 

“I urge, then, first of all…..”  Paul is now starting to unpack  “this command” [1:18] to his protégé. He says firstly, that in the public meeting there should be prayer for all people and especially for those in authority. His reason is because when we live in peace the gospel can spread [v 4]. I wonder how widespread the practice is of praying for our political leaders. I remember some years ago now that it was proposed we could work out the effectiveness of Christian prayer by observing the longevity of royal families of the world, because the Church of England in its liturgy prays for the British royal family each week in its services. Is the proof in the pudding? Be that as it may, our political leaders are set there by God so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives. It is good that when we meet together, we pray for or leaders. 

God wants all people to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. That doesn’t mean that will actually occur – Jesus says that all people will not be saved, but only those who enter through the narrow gate [Matt 7:13-14]. How can it be that God’s expressed will is not met?  The explanation is that there is a difference between what theologians call the “perfect will” and the “permissive will” of God.  The “perfect will of God” is what he wills and brings to pass. The “permissive will of God” is that which he decrees but does not enforce.  The terms are not biblical, but the ideas are. Just because God wishes all people to be saved it does not mean that all people will repent and come to faith. We read both these views in Scripture. God wishes all people to obey his law, but they don’t. Yet God does will things to come to pass and they do. The answer is helpfully explained by John Piper,  “God wills not to save all, even though he is willing to save all, because there is something else that he wills more, which would be lost if he exerted his sovereign will to save all, and that is the manifestation of the full range of God’s glory in wrath and mercy [Rom 9:22-23] and the humbling of man so that he enjoys giving all the credit to God for his salvation [1 Cor 1:29].” [John Piper “Are There Two Wills of God” 1995, Desiring God website. Piper’s article is detailed but worth the effort as he looks at the issues of free will and predestination] 

We cannot and should not take any of the credit for our salvation, and what a mighty thing that salvation is when, without the Holy Spirit doing his work, we could not even exercise free will to repent and believe. That is humbling, and in our humility, God is seen as all the more glorious. That truth is worth mulling over today. 

PRAYER

Thank you, Father, for all that you have done for me in Christ. Your grace is wonderous. Amen

 



Day  2

5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. 7 And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle – I am telling the truth, I am not lying – and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles.

 

One mediator – that is pretty clear.  Why do we need a mediator?  Because all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God [Romans 3:23]. We are in the situation of Christ on the cross; there is a chasm between us and our God (“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”). He stood where we have stood before God, completely alienated so that we’d be no longer alienated. 

Jesus is the mediator because he himself makes amends with the Father on our behalf. His death satisfies God’s justice and holiness. No one else can mediate because no one else can pay for the sins of another. 

Some denominations have mediators for the mediator – the Saints and Mary the mother of Jesus. The motivation seems godly – Christ is so holy that we can’t approach him directly just as we can’t approach God directly. They would say that Christ is still the only mediator with God, but that the Saints are mediators with Jesus. However, it could be seen as slight on Jesus’ work on the cross to say that we need to have holy men and women to intercede for us with him. Jesus did all that necessary. His death ripped the curtain in two. He intercedes for us directly [Hebrews 7:25] He is the great High Priest. He said he is our friend [John 15:15], that he is with us to the ends of the age [Mat 28:20]. He has sent his Spirit to live within us; he really can’t be any closer to us than that! We need no mediator between us and Jesus. 

Jesus’ death was the ransom price. When you ransom something, you buy back what belongs to you. We belong to God, he created us, but we have become slaves to sin [Rom 6:6, John 8:34]. Jesus ransoms us. Only a perfect person could do that because were he not perfect he would have to pay for his own sin. Only an innocent person can take the punishment of another. That is why Paul here emphasises Jesus’ humanity – “the man Christ Jesus.” There is no other way to God. “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me.” [John 14:6]

Paul says that he was appointed a herald of this gospel. Notice he is a “true and faithful teacher”. Paul is convinced that what he teaches is true and faithful. That is important to keep in mind as we look at the rest of this chapter.

It’s passages like this that give evangelical Christians the reputation for being intolerant, so we must be careful to have a reputation for love and mercy as well as intolerance of anything that draws people away from the one and only saviour. Do you love those who oppose you?

 

PRAYER

Father your Son prayed for his enemies as they put him to death. Help me to be intolerant of all false religion but to love those I who disagree with me. Amen

 


Day  3

8Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing. 9 I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, 10 but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.

The old adage goes “Whenever we see a “therefore” we should ask what it is there for.” What is the causal connection between v 8 and the passage before? Paul has encouraged prayer so that we “may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” [v2] and now he gives some practical words about what that looks like in the assembly of the church. He makes that very clear in 3:14-15. How do we meet in way that promotes peace, godliness and holiness? 

Firstly, he has a word to men, and “men everywhere”, not just in the church Timothy leads. Paul is writing to a specific church but with universal application. The word used here for men is gender specific – he’s talking to men rather than women. He wants men to pray and pray in a certain way. It’s not that women aren’t to pray but rather men are to be prayer warriors, a role that does not sit lightly with a lot of men. Look at the prayer gatherings in churches and you will often see that the pray-ers are the women. Furthermore, they are to do it without anger of disputing. As Claire Smith puts it “Male aggression and self-promotion are not to hinder holy prayer.” [Claire Smith “God’s Good Design” pg. 28]

The Paul addresses the women. The issue for them is not so much anger and aggression but it is “their presentation – their conduct and demeanour.” [Clair Smith pg. 28] What right has Paul to tell women how to dress? The same right that he has to tell men not to dispute or give way to anger. It might be helpful to note that Paul is not necessarily forbidding the wearing of adornments or nice clothes, but he is saying that instead of focussing on those things women should rather focus on their goldy character. Their clothing should reflect their godliness, just as men’s prayers should reflect their godliness. “Female vanity and self-promotion are not to hinder holiness.” [Claire Smith pg. 29]

Both words, to men and women, encourage inner godliness which is displayed in outer behaviour. They may have been relevant to the situation at Ephesus, but they are just as relevant today. However, as those who have tried to set so standards of dress for both men and women in taking part in church services can testify, it would seem that we are often more concerned about our freedoms and rights than we are with being obedient to the word of God. 

Where does the word of God rub up against your unspoken cultural beliefs? It might be helpful to mull over that question. 

PRAYER

Lord God, I know that I do not come to your word as a neutral reader. Please help me to hear you clearly and obey you with all my heart. Amen

 

 

Day  4

11 A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. 15 But women will be saved through childbearing – if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.

This is one of those passages that causes a great deal of angst. There is no real dispute about what Paul is saying; on a surface reading it’s pretty clear. The dispute is over whether or not it applies universally today. In very broad terms there are two camps – the egalitarian view that says that men and women are completely equal and the same as far as God is concerned, and the complementation view that says men and women are completely equal but are not the same and have different roles in family life and in the church. 

It’s important for us all to realise that no one comes to the Bible with a completely valueless (neutral) standpoint. Our worldviews are influenced by our culture, upbringing, learning and a whole lot more and all of us bring those worldviews to our reading of the Bible. We bring a load of baggage with us as well and we load all sorts of unwarranted assumptions onto those who hold views different from us. For instance, as a complementarian, I find it hurtful that egalitarians have claimed that I treat women as less than equal, and I know that many egalitarians are hurt by complementarians who claim that they don’t hold the Bible in high regard. Neither of those assumptions is necessarily true. We do well to remember the injunction to love each other and to remind ourselves that Christian brothers and sisters can be on opposite sides of the divide in this issue, which is not, at least in my view, a first order issue (that is an, issue that goes to the heart of the gospel). It is not an issue that should divide us, and I don’t think it falls into an issue of false teaching in either side. 

We need to look at submission. No one likes the idea of submission. It can mean being unwillingly forced to give in, like a wrestler tapping out, or having to do what the boss says even if we strongly disagree. That is where we bring our own baggage to the table. That is not the biblical view of submission. Jesus willingly and lovingly submitted to the Father [“Yet not my will but yours be done” Mark 14:36; see also John 6:38, 1 Cor 15:28]. We are all called to submit to the Godhead [“If you love me, you will obey what I command.” John 14:15] This is not seen as a duty but a delight. Furthermore, we are called to put others’ interests above our own [Matthew 23:11; Eph 5:21]. Submission is a way of life for the believer. If we object to the idea of submission in any area, we might need to consider whether that is because of our worldview rather than our commitment to God and his word. 

PRAYER

Father, please give me a humble heart that is willing to submit to you and to put others above myself. Amen

 

 

Day  5

11 A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. 15 But women will be saved through childbearing – if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.

We cannot completely examine the varying viewpoints taken on this passage in a daily devotion. It would not do any of the views justice. There are lots of books and articles written on what the Bible says about the roles of men and women. One view that we cannot however entertain is that which says what Paul says is only his opinion and he was a misogynist and therefore we can ignore him at this point. To do that is to open the way to ignore much of the Bible for the same reasons. We cannot dismiss what the Bible says just because we don’t like it. 

As Mark pointed out on the weekend, “quietness” does not mean “silence”, but rather something like “humility”. Note Paul’s reason is not cultural but theological – he goes back the created order. His intention is that his guidelines for order in the church and family should be universal, not merely dealing with a local issue [2:3&4, 2:6, 2:8, 3:15] 

 

Writing about Eph 5 Claire Smith points out “So when God created man and woman, he made us the way we are — with the differences of manhood and womanhood — so that we would be suited for these complementary roles (and for the other expressions of complementarity outside marriage). In this drama, man was meant to play the role of Christ, and the woman was meant to play the role of his bride the church.”  She makes a further very important point – “Paul is not saying that all women are to submit themselves to all men, all the time. Rather, women are to be submissive in church, when the teaching is happening, to what is taught and those men who are teaching it.” [Claire Smith “God’s Good Design: What the Bible really Says About Men and Women.” Pg. 35]

 

 

What about that bit about childbearing? Again, there are lots of takes on this verse. I think Claire Smith’s view does justice to the original language when she says that childbearing is a sort of shorthand to describe women’s particular role. “Viewed this way, 2:15 assures Christian women that their faith will be kept safe if they embrace their particular God-given female responsibilities.” [pg. 40]

Where does all this leave us? 

Whichever way we take what Paul says about the role of men and women, there is a bigger issue. This passage, in its assertions that are so different from our cultural norms [Western cultural norms, I should add] confront all of us with our attitude towards submission, especially to other believers [Eph 5:21]. Does the very idea of submission rankle me (I’ve taken care to show that we all need to have a spirit of submission)? If so, why? Am I really prepared to be humbled so that God may exalt me [1 Peter 5:6]? Am I really willing to submerge selfish ambition for the sake of the kingdom [Phil 2:3-4]? Am I really willing to put the interests of others above my own [Eph 5:21]?

 

PRAYER

High King of Heaven, give me a heart that is willing to submit to you, to value others as I value myself and to submit to my brothers and sisters out of reverence for Christ. Amen

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