1 Timothy 2:1-8

1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;

[I exhort - that, first of all] Prayer for the pardon of sin, and for obtaining necessary supplies of grace, and continual protection from God, with gratitude and thanksgiving for mercies already received, are duties which our sinful and dependent state renders absolutely necessary; and which should be chief in our view, and first of all performed. It is difficult to know the precise difference between the four words used here by the apostle. They are sometimes distinguished thus:

[Supplications] Prayers for averting evils of every kind.

[Prayers] Prayers for obtaining the good things, spiritual and temporal, which ourselves need.

[Intercessions] Prayers in behalf of others.

[Giving of thanks] Praises to God, as the parent of all good, for all the blessings which we and others have received. It is probable that the apostle gives directions here for public worship; and that the words here may be thus paraphrased: "Now, I exhort first of all that, in the public assemblies, deprecations of evils, and supplications for such good things as are necessary, and intercessions for their conversion, and thanksgiving for mercies, be offered in behalf of all men - for heathens as well as Christians, and for enemies as well as for friends."

2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.

[For kings] As it is a positive maxim of Christianity to pray for all secular governors, so it has ever been the practice of Christians. When St. Cyprian defended himself before the roman proconsul he said: "We pray to God, not only for ourselves, but for all mankind; and particularly for the emporers."

Tertullian, in his apology, is more particular; "We pray for all the emperors, that God may grant them a long life, secure government, a prosperous family, vigorous troops, a faithful senate, an obedient people: that the whole world may be in peace; and that God may grant, both to Caesar and to every man, the accomplishment of their just desire."

So Origen: "We pray for kings and rulers, that with their royal authority they may be found posessing a wise and prudent mind." Indeed they prayed even for for them by whom they were persecuted.

[That we may lead a quiet and peaceable life] We thus pray for the government that the public peace may be preserved. Good rulers have the power to do much good; we pray that their authority may be ever preserved and well directed. Bad rulers have the power to do much evil; we pray that they may be prevented from thus using their power. So that, whether the rulers be good or bad,prayer for them is the positive duty of all Christians; and the answer to their prayers, in either case, will be the means of their being enabled to lead a quiet and peaceable in all godliness and honesty.

3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;

[This is good and acceptable] Prayer for all legally constituted authorities is good in itself, because useful to ourselves and the public, and it is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; and this is it's highest sanction and it's highest character: it is good; it is well pleasing to God.

4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

[Who will have all men to be saved] Because he wills the salvation of all men; therefore he wills that all men should be prayed for. In the face of such a declaration, how can any Christian soul suppose that God ever unconditionally and eternally reprobated any man? Those who can believe so, one would suppose, can have little acquaintance with the nature of God.

[And to come to the knowledge of the truth] The truth - the Gospel of Christ, should be proclaimed to them; and it is the duty of all who know it, to diffuse it far and wide; and when it is made known, then it is the duty of those who hear it to acknowledge and receive it. This is the proper import of the original word, that they may come to the acknowledgement of the truth - that they may receive it as the truth, and make it the rule of their faith, the model and director of their life and actions.

5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

[There is one God] Who is the maker, governor, and preserver of all men, of every condition and every nation; and equally wills the salvation of all.

[And one mediator] The word mediator signifies literally , a middle person, one whose office it is to reconcile to parties at enmity. God was offended with the crimes of men; to restore them to his peace, Jesus Christ was incarnated; and being God and man, both God and man met in, and were reconciled by, him. But this reconcilliation required a sacrifice on the part of the peace-maker or mediator; hence what follows.

6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

[Who gave himself a ransom for all] The Greek word used here signifies a ransom paid for the redemption of a captive; and, as used here, applies to the death of Christ, describing a ransom which consists in the exchange of one person for another, or the redemption of life by life; or as Schleusner has expressed it in his translation of these words: "He who by his death has redeemed all from the power and punishment of vice, from the slavery and misery of sinners." As God is the God and father of all, (for there is but one God, ver. 5) and Jesus Christ the mediator of all, so he gave himself a ransom for all; i.e., for all that God made, consequently for every human soul; unless we could suppose that there are human souls of which God is not the creator; for the argument of the apostle plainly is this: 1. There is one God; 2. This God is the creator of all; 3. He has made a revelation of his kindness to all; 4. He will have all men to be saved and come unto the knowledge of the truth; 5. He has provided a mediator for all, who has given himself a ransom for all. As surely as God has created all men, so surely has Jesus Christ died for all men.

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.

[that men pray] That is, for the blessings promised in this testimony of God. For, although God has provided them, yet he will not give them to such as will not pray. See the note on verse 1, the subject of which is here resumed.

[Everywhere] This may refer to a Jewish concern that no prayer was acceptable which was not offered at the temple an Jerusalem; afterward this was extended to the holy land; but, when they became dispersed among the nations, they built oratories or places of prayer, principally by rivers and by the seaside; and in these they were obliged to allow that public prayer might be legally offered. The apostle, by the authority of Christ, commands men to pray everywhere; that all places belong to God's dominions; and, as he fills every place, in every place he may be worshipped and glorified.

[Lifting up holy hands] It was a common custom, not only among the jews, but also among the heathens, to lift up or spread out their arms and hands in prayer. It is properly the action of entreaty and request; and seems to be an effort to embrace the assistance requested. But the apostle probably aludes to the Jewish custom of laying their hands on the head of the animal which they brought for a sin offering, confessing their sins, and then giving up the life of the animal as an expiation for the sins confessed. This very notion is conveyed in the original term to lift up and upon, or over.

[Without wrath] Having no vindictive feeling against any person, harboring no unforgiving spirit, while they are imploring pardon for their own offenses. The holy hands refer to the Jewish custom of washing their hands before prayer; this was done to signify that they had put away all sin, and purposed to live a holy life.

[ And doubting] Such as are often felt by distressed penitents and timid believers; faith, hope and unbelief appearing to hold a disputation and controversy in their own bosoms... The apostle therefore wills then to come, implicitely relying on the promises of God and the sacrifice and mediation of Jesus Christ.

Historical information drawn from Adam Clarke's Commentary, 2nd edition published in New York by Lane and Scott, 1850. More recent editions may be purchased from


This page updated 09/12/2008

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