Commentators are agreed that this chapter speaks about Christian public services.
Kretzmann: The apostle now speaks of the order of services as it then obtained in the congregation, referring particularly to the custom of public prayer.
Bengel: In this chapter he describes public worship.
Lenski: This is a summary: About prayer in the public services.
Guthrie: The importance and scope of public prayer.
Lock: The key word of this section, as of the Epistle to the Romans, is universality.
That is correct. Verse 4-6 clearly spell out the universal atonement. Verses 1-2 speak of the necessity of Christians interceding and praying for all sorts of men. Verse 3 stands between these two sections which have universality in common. Why are we to pray for all sorts and kinds of men? Because God loves all and Jesus died for all. Verse 7 tells us that Paul was appointed to preach this message of universality to the Gentiles. And verse 8 returns to the thought of verse 1, universal prayer. It adds the thought of the proper attitude for prayer.
The General Prayer, in The Lutheran Hymnal p. 13, and in Lutheran Worship pages 144, 167 and 187, and the Bidding Prayer, The Lutheran Hymnal pages 116-117, and Lutheran Worship pages 276-278, were composed because of what Paul says here in 1 Timothy 2:1-8. These pages and also The Litany, The Lutheran Hymnal #661, Lutheran Worship pages 270-283, should be used more often in our churches. These prayers are lengthy and therefore perhaps people´s minds and thoughts may have a tendency to wander away from what is being said. When these prayers are used perhaps the pastor ought remind the hearers to make a special effort to think about what is being asked and said.
In Verse 1 and in verse 8 Paul is speaking with apostolic authority.
"I urge as most important of all." The first three nouns denote prayers and the fourth denotes thanksgiving. The first denotes particular prayer, the second a general type of prayer, the third means "intercession," and the last "thanksgiving."
We should thank God for the redemption of all men. And we should thank God for what people do for people. We should pray in behalf of all people as if we were praying for ourselves. We do so in the General Prayer and The Litany. Why we should do this becomes clearer in verses 3-6.
Christians are to intercede in behalf of the highest governmental officials as well as those who are in positions of authority and responsibility.
"Kings" are those on whom other men depend, or prominent officials.
Lenski: The welfare of each nation is bound up with its government . . . He is not endorsing monarchy as the only rightful form of government . . . Especially evil men need prayers.
Guthrie: A general principle is being stated, applicable at all times . . . Whether the civil authorities are perverted or not they must be made subjects for prayer, for Christian citizens may in this way influence the course of nations.
When did I last pray for the President of the United States, the Governor of my State, my Congressmen, the members of my Legislature, the Judges of every rank? I stand in need of forgiveness of my sins.
Our prayers are aimed at the tranquil and quiet life. The text speaks of temporal, physical life. What is a tranquil and quiet life? One that is not hindered or impeded by corruption, violence or civil disturbance.
The final phrase tells us how we are to live. it denotes the proper attitude toward God and the proper attitude toward people. RSV translates: "Godly and respectful in every way." AAT: Be godly and noble in every way."
The Christian´s prayers will make it possible for him to serve God and fellowman as he ought. Zacharias said: "To serve Him without fear in holiness and righteousness for the rest of our live." Luke 1:74-75.
"For" is implicit here. Paul refers to the idea of universal prayer for all men. In what sense is it good?: It is acceptable, pleasing to God. Though the Greek literally reads "in the presence of our Savior, God" English requires us to say, as do all the versions, "in the presence of God, our Savior."
Paul is stressing the fact that God is the Savior of all men.
Bengel: Why are not more converted? . . . We do not pray enough.
Lenski: In many respects believers and the Una Sancta are to be separate from the world, from all other men, for they have been called out of the world and the world hates them, John 15:18-19; but in the matter of prayer this holding aloof from the world does not apply for the reasons here stated.
Guthrie: The title ‘God our Savior,’ already in 1:1, has special significance here, as it relates prayer for all men to the saving character of God.
God is the Savior of all because He wills that all be saved. Universality is stressed.
This verse became a battle ground between the Calvinists and Lutherans. The former argued that since not all are saved, not all have been redeemed because God‘s will cannot be thwarted. The latter argued that though all have been redeemed, God‘s redemption in Christ can be rejected and His saving will thwarted.
Pieper: God‘s gracious disposition in Christ is not limited to a part of mankind, but extends over all men without exception. Saving grace is universal grace. Scripture rejects particularism when it expressly declares that the object of God‘s grace in Christ are all human beings with exception. Titus 2:11; 1 Timothy 2:4; John 3:16; 1 John 2:2.
Lenski: It is a severe indictment when Calvin in his Commentary says regarding this passage, that all who use it for opposing his doctrine of absolute predestination ‘are subject to puerile hallucination, that Paul only means that no people or class of people is excluded from salvation, that Paul is here speaking only of the different races of people, not of individuals as such, and that he also wishes the class of kings and rulers to be included‘ But this is a universal statement of the Scriptures. Our dogmaticians call this the antecedent will of God, which is so often stated in Scripture, as in Ezekiel 33:11; John 3:16; 2 Peter 3:9. The truth that God wants all men to be saved is corroborated by the fact that Christ ‘gave himself a ransom for all.‘
As Lenski states, Calvin tries to get around the universal nature of the atonement by saying that the text is speaking only about the individuals of every class, race and nation whom God has elected, not about all people. But if the universal atonement is denied, everything is denied.
Guthrie: Intercession for all men could be justified only on the ground of God‘s willingness to save all.
Lock: His will to save is as wide as His will to create and to protect.
Bengel: It is strange if a soul, having really found God‘s salvation, can deny the universality of grace.
The newest edition of the Greek text by Nestle prints certain passages as poetry. The way in which verses 5-6 are printed here indicates that the editors consider it poetry. "The strophic printing of verse has been expanded, perhaps even too must at times, but further revision is always possible," say the Nestle editors. We have no objection to this except when it is used in the interest of form or source criticism.
Verses 5-6 are one sentence that explains verse 4.
The absence of the article indicates that stress is being laid on the human nature of Christ. The truths stated in verse 5 stand or fall together. Monotheism and the true understanding of Christ Jesus, the God-man, Who reconciles all people, stand or fall together. Those who deny the universal atonement have a pagan god, not the true God.
Note how often the term " "Christ Jesus" has appeared in this Epistle, twice verses 1, once verse 2, and once each in verses 12, 14, 15, and 16. He is the promised Messiah of Whom the angel said that He would save His people from their sins. Matthew 1:21.
Lenski: We must always remember, God and not men, not even men in conjunction with God, accomplished this mediation . . . . All men, human beings as human beings are involved.
Guthrie: It is because a mediator must be representative that the humanity of Christ, THE MAN CHRIST JESUS, is also brought into prominence.
Augsburg Confession, Tappert p 47.2: However, it cannot be proved from the Scriptures that we are to invoke saints or seek help from them ‘For there is one mediator between God and men, Christ Jesus’ (1 Timothy 2:5), who is the only Savior, the only high priest, advocated, and intercessor before God, Romans 8:34. He alone has promised to hear our prayers.
Kretzmann: There is only one true, revealed God, therefore there is only one gracious will unto salvation. The matter must not be represented as if God had one will for those that are saved,and another will for those that are damned.
By the way, what we call the "consequent will of God" (to damn unbelievers) is not a second will in God but rather his consistent will to save those who believe and damn those who reject. The difference lies not in God but in man who rejects God‘s will.
Bengel: We could not rejoice that there is a God, if we did not rejoice ALSO in the Man Mediator.
Verse 6 amplifies verse 5. Note how the universal atonement is maintained in verses 4, 5, and 6. In verse 4 with reference to God‘s will. In verse 5 with reference to the Mediator. And in verse 6 with reference to the vicarious sacrifice.
On the voluntary nature of this giving look at John 10:18.
"Ransom" is found in Matthew 20:28 and Mark 10:45.
Here we have the vicarious atonement made so plain that it is absolutely undeniable. And it is plainly universal. If anyone denies the universal atonement he does so against better knowledge and at his own peril.
The second line of verse 6 is somewhat obscure.
Guthrie: The precise meaning of the last phrase, ‘to be testified in due time‘ is obscure owing to its compressed character.
The AAT translates: "And this was announced at the right time." Some have referred it to the witness of the prophets, others to what Jesus Himself did, and a third interpretation applies it to what follows in verse 7, the witness of the apostles.
Lock: It may include the whole chain of witnesses. Law and prophets, Romans 3:21, the Lord Himself, John 18:37, all teachers, 1 Corinthians 1:6.
Lenski: This testimony of their own seasons is that of the Gospel. The witnesses bearing it are the apostles.
Kretzmann: This thought gives the apostle an opportunity to point to his apostolic authority.
Guthrie: It is best to assume that ‘the testimony‘ intended is God‘s act in sending His Son at the appoint time, Galatians 4:4.
Bengel: The testimony of universal redemption is meant.
"For the purpose of this testimony, I was appointed."
"Herald" is one who is sent to make an announcement, precisely as he has heard it, without any embellishment.
"Apostle" is one sent with a specific commission. Note how the words "truth I speak, I do not lie," are stated parenthetically. On this through look at Romans 9:1; 2 Corinthians 11:31; Galatians 1:20. One of Paul‘s constant griefs was that he was accused of lying. It must have made his work more difficult.
Guthrie: In faith and verity shows the sphere of the teaching, embracing both spirit of the teacher and the content of the message, though the latter seems more in prominence.
AAT translates: For this purpose I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I‘m telling the truth and not lying) to tech the non-Jews to believe the truth.
Kretzmann: Paul could not and would not yield his position for one minute, for he was responsible to God for its (his apostleship) proper upholding . . . . Faithfulness and truth were the two attributes which characterized his work; to these he could point without undue self-glorification.
By the way, the fact that Paul was appointed as the apostle to the Gentiles is important here. The Gentiles are by far the largest part of humanity. This says something to the universal atonement. Anywhere and everywhere Paul went he could say to the people that Christ Jesus was their vicarious Savior.
Lock: This verse is parallel to verse 1, but perhaps suggesting a slight connection with the last paragraph. The thought of God‘s universal salvation is still in his mind.
As in verse 1, Paul speaks with apostolic authority. Note the word‘ for ‘men’ used here means "men" as opposed to "women." The NKJV translates: "Therefore I desire that THE men pray everywhere." Paul is saying that in the public services the men are to do the praying, not the women. "The men" here does not mean "the pastors."
Lenski: ‘In every place’ means in every city or town where there is a congregation, where public worship is held.
During early New Testament times it was custom among Christians, Jews and pagans, to pray with hands lifted up. It simply denotes an attitude of prayer.
"Holy hands" simple means the hands of a penitent and believing Christian, one who is not guilty of open offense.
The last four words are rendered "without anger or quarreling" or "without anger of disputing." KJV: "Without wrath and doubting." "Doubting" means a thinking back and forth, a deliberation. The word then took on the meaning of doubting or disputing. In relation to prayer in this section the meaning "doubting" is possible or in relation to the idea of "holy hands" it could have the meaning "disputing," "quarrelsomeness." The whole expression means that only men who were in the right relationship to God and man could offer public prayers.
Kretzmann: No matter where a Christian congregation meets for worship the prayers are acceptable to God . . . . Holy, pure hands are mentioned as representing the proper condition of the whole body, for a heart that is filled with thoughts and projects at variance with the holy will of God cannot pray acceptably, and the finest gesture of prayer is hypocrisy in such a case . . . . So far as these men are concerned, the heart of those that pray in public worships must be free from bitterness, vengeance, hatred, wrath . . . . Doubt not only interferes very seriously with the earnestness of prayer, but actually neutralizes its effects, for doubt is unbelief.
Lenski: If there is anger in the heart, no matter against whom, such a heart is rendered unfit for all worship, Ephesians 4:31; Colossians 3:8; Matthew 5:22; 6:14-15.
Bengel: The height of our desires, therefore, should be, that we may both pray, live and die without doubting and wrath.