Bible Studies for Life Sunday School Lesson for August 7

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By Roy Ciampa, Ph. D.
Armstrong Chair of Religion, Samford University


1 Timothy 2:1–8

Paul reminds Timothy (and us) of the importance of intercessory prayer, or praying for others, for the sake of advancing the gospel.

We are to pray for our neighbors. (1–4)

Paul teaches us to pray for everyone and for kings and all who are in authority, emphasizing the wide range of different types of prayer we might pray for all of these people. He mentions “petitions, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings.” The different terms he uses serve to encourage a wide range of prayer to promote the best possible conditions for advancing the gospel.

One of Paul’s key goals for our prayers is that believers might live tranquil and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. Sometimes our ability to live tranquil and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity is challenged by leaders or neighbors who would persecute or harass us. Other times our ability to live such lives can be challenged by our need to stand up in righteousness against injustice or unrighteousness around us.

When government and society are functioning as they should (which is the focus of the prayers Paul urges us to pray in this passage), we are all left in peace to live lives that please God.

The focus on living tranquil and quiet lives reminds us God cares about how we and our neighbors experience earthly life, not just about getting us and them to heaven. God wants all of us to live out this present life with the hope, peace, purpose and joy that come from walking with Christ amid life’s challenges.

God is our Savior, and He wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. Knowing this motivates our prayers to promote the conditions that will best serve to advance His purposes, both for ourselves and our neighbors.

We are to pray that our neighbors recognize Jesus is the only way to salvation. (5–6)

We pray our neighbors will come to know salvation in Christ since He is the only mediator who can secure our salvation, having sacrificed Himself on the cross as the ransom and sacrificial price that needed to be paid for our redemption. There are not many different gods, mediators or saviors for others of different peoples and nations. There is only one God and one mediator for all people. There is only one Savior, who has come to offer salvation to all and give Himself as a ransom for all. Christ’s death for us is the testimony and proof of God’s love, justice and righteousness, which are all expressed in Christ at what Paul elsewhere calls “the fullness of time” (Gal. 4:4).

We are to pray with the right attitude. (7–8)

Paul points out his emphasis on prayer in this passage is consistent with the fact that he was appointed a herald and apostle to bring faith and truth to the Gentiles. The testimony about Christ as our mediator mentioned in verses 5 and 6 would be spread through Paul to Gentiles everywhere. For that to happen, prayer is essential. Urgent prayer for the advance of the gospel and for conditions conducive to the advance of the gospel must be constantly offered “in every place,” that is, from around the globe.

But prayer with a wrong attitude, such as prayer grounded in anger or arguments, would undermine the spread and credibility of the gospel. Lifting up one’s hands was a standard posture for prayer in Paul’s context. When Paul says we need to lift up “holy” hands, he means we must not be people who act like holy people when we pray but who live impure lives in private. Rather, our prayers must reflect a love for Christ and others that marks our private lives just as much as it does our public presentations.