Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to 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, for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle—I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying—a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. – 1 Timothy 2:1-7.
There were a lot of Jewish converts to Christianity that didn’t see the necessity of praying for the “pagan” Gentiles and so, starting out in the beginning of this chapter, the Apostle Paul addresses this problem to his young disciple, Timothy.
Paul was pointing out possible areas that were being excluded in prayer. Paul’s instruction to pray for kings was especially significant in light of the fact that Nero (54–68 A.D.) was in office at this time. Love that comes out of a pure heart, good conscience, and a sincere faith reaches out beyond the common community. Paul used four terms to describe what he considered the ministry of prayer:
- Supplications, specific petition or requests;
- Prayers, a general word for prayer emphasizing worship and reverence;
- Intercessions, a technical term for approaching a king, suggesting a plea on behalf of others;
- Giving Thanks, an attitude of thankfulness and gratitude that should always accompany prayer.
Paul’s desire for universal prayer was based on what he knew to be the desire within the heart of God, the salvation of all of mankind and His desire that none should perish (2 Peter 3:9). God’s desire defines and shapes the nature of not just Paul’s era, but also our age and it should shape the behavior of believers. Paul desired that the Ephesian believers would pray sincerely for the salvation of all people. This would provide the link between praying and having a quiet life. Prayer for the world’s salvation would also bring peace and righteousness. Salvation is characterized as “good and acceptable” to God. Sadly, in their disputes the believers were excluding some from their prayers who needed salvation. God is not partial in relation to men. This fact is the reason why it is good to pray for the salvation of all people.
With verse 5, Paul demonstrates to the reader why it is good to pray for the salvation of others and why God desires all to be saved. There is only one God and only one mediator. A “mediator” is one who stands between two parties to remove a disagreement or one who leads the parties to reach a common goal. The mediator must perfectly represent both parties. Christ Jesus, all God and all Man at the same time, is the perfect mediator. Because He is God-man, He is representing both God’s interests and man’s without prejudice or compromise. This verse supports the doctrine of hypostatic union, which simply means that the deity and humanity of Jesus Christ were united in one person forever without the mingling of attributes.
Paul indicated that the prayer life of those he was writing about, did not reflect the character of God who desires all to be saved. Paul was exhorting all believers to adopt God’s attitude toward the world resulting in the revelation of truth, redemption, and prayer. The willful blocking of God’s desire by refusing to pray for unbelievers would issue in God’s wrath and also bring about dissension within the church.
In encouraging the believers to pray for all mankind, Paul had already given three reasons to do just that: all people have one God, one mediator, and one ransom. But he shared with the readers his own experience to provide the fourth reason of why prayers should be made for all: God had assigned Paul to work with the Gentiles, the very group disregarded by most Jewish Christians.
Prayers of believers should reflect what has been said about God, Christ, through the teaching of every Apostle’s ministry. That way, truth, the truth that sets people free (John 8:31-32), is now applied to the community of believers as a whole. God wants all people to know the truth, not just some, not just an elitest group. Prayer is related to the pure heart and should reflect God’s desire for universal salvation. That is why it is so very important that the true Christian, all believers, should be praying always for all mankind and especially the lost.