Grace and Peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul is writing these letters to his student and close friend Timothy, who is a Greek raised understanding the Jewish faith. Timothy is, at the present time, preaching in Ephesus, and Paul is sort of firing off many beneficial teachings for the young man to remember as he continues his ministry.
I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;
4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
7 Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.
8 I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.
9 In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;
10 But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.
11 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.
12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.
13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve.
14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.
15 Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.
Exhortation to Prayer
Paul continues by reminding Timothy to pray for all men. These prayers Paul describes contain four components: supplication, prayer, intercession, and giving thanks. Supplication has a connotation like “begging” – it’s a humble plea to a higher authority, kneeling before a power and asking that something be done. Prayer is, of course, the act of speaking to God in all forms – confession, adoration, asking direction, and all such things. Intercession is a request that God do for another, and not only for yourself – we pray intercession for unbelievers, our brethren, kings and rulers, those around and those far away. And, finally, giving thanks is a prayer to thank God for all he has done in the world.
For whom does Paul tell Timothy to pray? First, he tells Timothy to pray for all men, for all men are in need of God’s aid at all times for our mere existence, whether we perceive it or not. Next, he calls Timothy to specifically pray for kings and all in authority, that God guide them in goodness and justice so that the brethren may lead quiet and peaceful lives in all godliness and honesty. As all men need God for even our mere existence, so do we need God to aid our leaders at all times to make decisions that will be good and acceptable in His sight.
God is good and acceptable, and as Christ has commanded us to pray (knowing that our Lord hears our prayers and dispenses all good gifts), so do we pray.
Regarding God’s Will on Salvation
God would have all men be saved and come unto the knowledge of the truth. However, Christ himself has said that there are wolves and sheep, and His sheep know the sound of his voice and heed Him. Further, he has said that no man comes to the Father except through Christ, and no man comes to Christ unless the Father draws him. What does this mean? Is God a liar, or impotent, or merely unable to keep his own will consistent? God forbid – he would prefer if all come to Him willingly, but no man will do this; therefore, he must draw those he has claimed unto himself, kicking and screaming.
One God, One Mediator
The Triune God is one God. As the shema prayer affirms (as taken from Deuteronomy), “The LORD is our God! The LORD is one God!” Christ is entirely God and entirely man, both 100% a personage of the One God and 100% a mortal man born of a woman. In this way, he is our mediator, our bridge between the sinful and mortal man and the perfect and immortal God. We need no other mediation – not from priests, nor saints now asleep, nor any other thing. Our God lives and reigns, and has made a way for us to be with Him in paradise, and has made also a way for us to serve and petition Him in spirit and in truth.
Christ gave himself as ransom for all – not merely for the Jew nor for the Gentile, for man nor for woman, for white nor black nor any other race, but for all mankind. In due time, all men will know and testify that Christ is Lord of all, and every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess what He has done.
In Christ Alone are we Ordained
In Christ, Paul was ordained a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. This was not disputed by the 11 Apostles, nor by the faithful who walked with Paul, nor by Luke who recorded the journeys of Paul. What does this mean? As a preacher, Paul is ordained to speak the gospel to all men, Jew and Gentile. As an apostle, Paul is given authority to witness as one who has seen the Lord Jesus Christ, to speak on His behalf those things which he is commanded. As a teacher of the Gentiles, Paul is given the ability and command to make plain the truths of God to those who are not of the Jewish traditions but of the Greek, those who were not raised on teachings of the Law but on teachings of the philosophers and scholars.
By this authority – which is given by God to his faithful whom he has appointed, and preserved by the veracity and godliness of these same saints – Paul wills that men pray wherever they may be. He wishes that all believers would lift up holy hands (which is not a magical ritual, but rather the earnest petition of the faithful who are made holy in Christ), petitioning without doubt or sense of wrath and vengeance.
Women in the Church
Now, Paul delivers a teaching that is not favored by many today. Paul demands that Christian women adorn themselves modestly – not tart themselves up nor conceal themselves as the Muslims in their burqas and hijabs, but dress in plain and modest attire. Most specifically, he demands they dress without costly adornment and vain flattery so as to draw attention to their wealth or beauty. Instead, Paul asks, let them be known by their good works and godly demeanor, being holy and aware of the magnitude of the good things God has done for them (and for all men). In this way, attention is not directed toward them so as to flatter them, but rather toward the God they serve.
More damnably to the modern world, Paul asks them to learn silence with all subjection, and not teach or usurp authority. This is a hard teaching, so let me attempt to be as gentle as possible in its delivery. As many have seen in their own churches and in the popular writings of self-appointed Christian teachers, women are prone to discount the plain words of Scripture in favor of teachings that flatter their egos and justify their bad behaviors. They are not alone in this, but anecdotal evidence suggests that they are more prone to this than Godly men (not men who make claims to godliness, but rather those men who seek to be strong and upright in all things). Further, Adam was formed before Eve and placed in authority over her; God has continued to affirm this through the Old Testament and the New. Unpopular as this truth may be, women find happiness in willing subjugation to good men, and many will even seek out evil men if they are sufficiently dominant over them.
Thus, the command for women to be silent and subject to godly men is also a compulsion on men, who receive responsibility in their authority. As a woman is to be subject to a man, so too must a man remain upright in leading her.
Eve was deceived, but Adam was not. Eve took the fruit and gave it to Adam to eat, and he did so, but her sin was the first in the course of human history. Eve was not led by Adam to sin, but she did it of her own accord, and Adam sinned in following after her into sin. We inherit Adam’s sin and not Eve’s, for his was the authority and duty to guide in righteousness and his was the greater failing, but this does not negate Eve’s sin. Women sin as much as men – sometimes in greater amounts, sometimes lesser – and it is both a godly man’s duty to lead her down the paths of righteousness and a godly woman’s duty to remain submissive to God and her husband.
When this occurred in Genesis, what did God say? He said that she would be saved in childbearing, that her children would be her salvation (this alludes to Christ, but also is plain from the simple text). If a woman continues in faith and charity and holiness and sobriety, her children will be driven to do the same, and so her maternal authority will lead to ever-growing goodness. Her sons will crush the head of the serpent – both in the case of our Lord Jesus Christ who overcame death and the devil and in the case of men who resist sin and lead their wives to do the same.
This is a hard teaching to hear. May God give you peace as he reveals to you the truths He has delivered.
Let us Pray
Oh, God our help in ages past, our hope for years to come, our shelter from the stormy blast and our eternal home, be with us now and forevermore.
Lord, your teachings are simple and good, yet we fallen men struggle to obey them. We seek mediators outside our Lord Jesus Christ in the vain pursuit of manipulating you to do our bidding, rejecting the truth of our sins and your sovereignty. We fail to pray as You have directed, and we do so unwillingly or with evil intent. We ignore your teachings and substitute them for inferior and misguided teachings that bring us no good. Save us, O Lord, from our own sinful natures, and make us holy as You are holy.
For all men, we pray that they might come to know You and the truths you have shown, both natural truths and revealed truths. We pray that all men be blessed with wisdom and reason, and that all would come to accept that Jesus is Lord and there is but One loving, just, merciful, powerful, sovereign God over all of creation. We pray that all be blessed with strength to endure the evils of the world and be rewarded with good gifts that come only from You, our Lord. And we patiently await the day that every knee bow and every tongue confess that You are our God.
For our rulers, we pray that they have the wisdom to avoid causing strife and damage in our world, and that they be just in line with Your will and teachings. Give them the strength to fight evils both corporate and individual, both external and internal. Empower them to uphold the law and keep the law holy and just. Endow them with wisdom to rightly dispense the power of the sword, and preserve us under their rule that we live quiet and peaceable lives in all godliness and honesty.
We pray these things to You, our Father, knowing that our Lord Jesus Christ mediates for us and empowers us to speak to you as your children, through his death and resurrection. May the name of Jesus be above all names, and may our lives bring only glory to You, the One Lord of all creation.