Editor's Note: The following commentary is taken from Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible. For more from this resource and others please visit Christianity.com's Bible Study Tools "References" section.
1. therefore--taking up again the general subject of the Epistle in continuation ( 2 Timothy 2:1 ). "What I have therefore to say to thee by way of a charge ( 1 Timothy 1:3 1 Timothy 1:18 ), is," &c.
that, first of all . . . be made--ALFORD takes it, "I exhort first of all to make." "First of all," doubtless, is to be connected with "I exhort"; what I begin with (for special reasons), is . . . As the destruction of Jerusalem drew near, the Jews (including those at Ephesus) were seized with the dream of freedom from every yoke; and so virtually "'blasphemed" (compare 1 Timothy 1:20 ) God's name by "speaking evil of dignities" ( 1 Timothy 6:1 , 2 Peter 2:10 , Jude 1:8 ). Hence Paul, in opposition, gives prominence to the injunction that prayer be made for all men, especially for magistrates and kings ( Titus 3:1-3 ) [OLSHAUSEN]. Some professing Christians looked down on all not Christians, as doomed to perdition; but Paul says all men are to be prayed for, as Christ died for all ( 1 Timothy 2:4-6 ).
supplications--a term implying the suppliant's sense of need, and of his own insufficiency.
intercessions--properly the coming near to God with childlike confidence, generally in behalf of another. The accumulation of terms implies prayer in its every form and aspect. according to all the relations implied in it.
2. For kings--an effectual confutation of the adversaries who accused the Christians of disaffection to the ruling powers ( Acts 17:7 , Romans 13:1-7 ).
all . . . in authority--literally, "in eminence"; in stations of eminence. The "quiet" of Christians was often more dependent on subordinate rulers, than on the supreme king; hence, "all . . . in authority" are to be prayed for.
that we may lead--that we may be blessed with such good government as to lead . . . ; or rather, as Greek, "to pass" or "spend." The prayers of Christians for the government bring down from heaven peace and order in a state.
quiet--not troubled from without.
peaceable--"tranquil"; not troubled from within [OLSHAUSEN]. "He is peaceable (Greek) who makes no disturbance; he is quiet (Greek) who is himself free from disturbance" [TITTMANN].
in all godliness--"in all (possible . . . requisite) piety" [ALFORD]. A distinct Greek word, 1 Timothy 2:10 , expresses "godliness."
honesty--Greek, "gravity" ( Titus 2:2 Titus 2:7 ), "decorum," or propriety of conduct. As "piety" is in relation to God, "gravity" is propriety of behavior among men. In the Old Testament the Jews were commanded to pray for their heathen rulers ( Ezra 6:10 , Jeremiah 29:7 ). The Jews, by Augustus' order, offered a lamb daily for the Roman emperor, till near the destruction of Jerusalem. The Jewish Zealots, instigated by Eleazar, caused this custom to cease [JOSEPHUS, Wars of the Jews, 2.17], whence the war originated, according to JOSEPHUS.
3. this--praying for all men.
in the sight of God--not merely before men, as if it were their favor that we sought ( 2 Corinthians 8:21 ).
our Saviour--a title appropriate to the matter in hand. He who is "our Saviour" is willing that all should be saved ( 1 Timothy 2:4 , Romans 5:18 ); therefore we should meet the will of God in behalf of others, by praying for the salvation of all men. More would be converted if we would pray more. He has actually saved us who believe, being "our Saviour." He is willing that all should be saved, even those who do not as yet believe, if they will believe (compare 1 Timothy 4:10 , Titus 2:11 ).
4. "Imitate God." Since He wishes that all should be saved, do you also wish it; and if you wish it, pray for it. For prayer is the instrument of effecting such things [CHRYSOSTOM]. Paul does not say, "He wishes to save all"; for then he would have saved all in matter of fact; but "will have all men to be saved," implies the possibility of man's accepting it (through God's prevenient grace) or rejecting it (through man's own perversity). Our prayers ought to include all, as God's grace included all.
to come--They are not forced.
unto the knowledge--Greek, "the full knowledge" or "recognition" Philippians 1:9 ).
the truth--the saving truth as it is in, and by, Jesus ( John 17:3 John 17:17 ).
5. For there is one God--God's unity in essence and purpose is a proof of His comprehending all His human children alike (created in His image) in His offer of grace (compare the same argument from His unity, Romans 3:30 , Galatians 3:20 ); therefore all are to be prayed for. 1 Timothy 2:4 is proved from 1 Timothy 2:5 ; 1 Timothy 2:1 , from 1 Timothy 2:4 . The one God is common to all ( Isaiah 45:22 , Acts 17:26 ). The one Mediator is mediator between God and all men potentially ( Romans 3:29 , Ephesians 4:5 Ephesians 4:6 , Hebrews 8:6 , 9:15 , 12:24 ). They who have not this one God by one Mediator, have none: literally, a "go-between." The Greek order is not "and one mediator," but "one mediator also between . . . While God will have all men to be saved by knowing God and the Mediator, there is a legitimate, holy order in the exercise of that will wherewith men ought to receive it. All mankind constitute, as it were, ONE MAN before God [BENGEL].
the man--rather "man," absolutely and genetically: not a mere individual man: the Second Head of humanity, representing and embodying in Himself the whole human race and nature. There is no "the" in the Greek. This epithet is thus the strongest corroboration of his argument, namely, that Christ's mediation affects the whole race, since there is but the one Mediator, designed as the Representative Man for all men alike (compare Romans 5:15 , 1 Corinthians 8:6 , 2 Corinthians 5:19 , Colossians 2:14 ). His being "man" was necessary to His being a Mediator, sympathizing with us through experimental knowledge of our nature ( Isaiah 50:4 , Hebrews 2:14 , 4:15 ). Even in nature, almost all blessings are conveyed to us from God, not immediately, but through the mediation of various agents. The effectual intercession of Moses for Israel ( Numbers 14:13-19 , and Deuteronomy 9:1-29 ); of Abraham for Abimelech ( Genesis 20:7 ); of Job for his friends ( Job 42:10 ), the mediation being PRESCRIBED by God while declaring His purposes of forgiveness: all prefigure the grand mediation for all by the one Mediator. On the other hand, 1 Timothy 3:16 asserts that He was also God.
6. gave himself--( Titus 2:14 ). Not only the Father gave Him for us ( John 3:16 ); but the Son gave Himself ( Philippians 2:5-8 ).
ransom--properly of a captive slave. Man was the captive slave of Satan, sold under sin. He was unable to ransom himself, because absolute obedience is due to God, and therefore no act of ours can satisfy for the least offense. Leviticus 25:48 allowed one sold captive to be redeemed by one of his brethren. The Son of God, therefore, became man in order that, being made like unto us in all things, sin only excepted, as our elder brother He should redeem us ( Matthew 20:28 , Ephesians 1:7 , 1 Peter 1:18 1 Peter 1:19 ). The Greek implies not merely ransom, but a substituted or equivalent ransom: the Greek preposition, "anti," implying reciprocity and vicarious substitution.
for all--Greek, "in behalf of all": not merely for a privileged few; compare 1 Timothy 2:1 :the argument for praying in behalf of all is given here.
to be testified--Greek, "the testimony (that which was to be testified of, 1 John 5:8-11 ) in its own due times," or seasons, that is, in the times appointed by God for its being testified of ( 1 Timothy 6:15 , Titus 1:3 ). The oneness of the Mediator, involving the universality of redemption (which faith, however, alone appropriates), was the great subject of Christian testimony [ALFORD] ( 1 Corinthians 1:6 , 2:1 , 2 Thessalonians 1:10 ).
7. Whereunto--For the giving of which testimony.
I am ordained--literally, "I was set": the same Greek, as "putting me," &c. ( 1 Timothy 1:12 ).
preacher--literally, "herald" ( 1 Corinthians 1:21 , 9:27 , 15:11 , 2 Timothy 1:11 , Titus 1:3 ). He recurs to himself, as in 1 Timothy 1:16 , in himself a living pattern or announcement of the Gospel, so here "a herald and teacher of (it to) the Gentiles" ( Galatians 2:9 Ephesians 3:1-12 Colossians 1:23 ). The universality of his commission is an appropriate assertion here, where he is arguing to prove that prayers are to be made "for all men" ( 1 Timothy 2:1 ).
I speak the truth . . . and lie not--a strong asseveration of his universal commission, characteristic of the ardor of the apostle, exposed to frequent conflict ( Romans 11:1 , 2 Corinthians 11:13 ).
in faith and verity--rather, "in the faith and the truth." The sphere in which his ministry was appointed to be exercised was the faith and the truth ( 1 Timothy 2:4 ): the Gospel truth, the subject matter of the faith [WIESINGER].
8. I will--The active wish, or desire, is meant.
that men--rather as Greek, "that the men," as distinguished from "the women," to whom he has something different to say from what he said to the men ( 1 Timothy 2:9-12 , 1 Corinthians 11:14 1 Corinthians 11:15 , 1 Corinthians 14:34 1 Corinthians 14:35 ). The emphasis, however, is not on this, but on the precept of praying, resumed from 1 Timothy 2:1 .
everywhere--Greek, "in every place," namely, of public prayer. Fulfilling Malachi 1:11 , "In every place . . . from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same . . . incense shall be offered unto My name"; and Jesus' words, Matthew 18:20 , John 4:21 John 4:23 .
lifting up holy hands--The early Christians turned up their palms towards heaven, as those craving help do. So also Solomon ( 1 Kings 8:22 , Psalms 141:2 ). The Jews washed their hands before prayer ( Psalms 26:6 ). Paul figuratively (compare Job 17:9 , 4:8 ) uses language alluding to this custom here: so Isaiah 1:15 Isaiah 1:16 . The Greek for "holy" means hands which have committed no impiety, and observed every sacred duty. This (or at least the contrite desire to be so) is a needful qualification for effectual prayer ( Psalms 24:3 Psalms 24:4 ).
without wrath--putting it away ( Matthew 5:23 Matthew 5:24 , 6:15 ).
doubting--rather, "disputing," as the Greek is translated in Philippians 2:14 . Such things hinder prayer ( Luke 9:46 , Romans 14:1 , 1 Peter 3:7 ). BENGEL supports English Version (compare an instance, 2 Kings 7:2 , Matthew 14:31 , 11:22-24 , 1:6 ).
9, 10. The context requires that we understand these directions as to women, in relation to their deportment in public worship, though the rules will hold good on other occasions also.
in modest apparel--"in seemly guise" [ELLICOTT]. The adjective means properly. orderly, decorous, becoming; the noun in secular writings means conduct, bearing. But here "apparel." Women are apt to love fine dress; and at Ephesus the riches of some ( 1 Timothy 6:17 ) would lead them to dress luxuriously. The Greek in Titus 2:3 is a more general term meaning "deportment."
shamefacedness--TRENCH spells this word according to its true derivation, "shamefastness" (that which is made fast by an honorable shame); as "steadfastness" (compare 1 Timothy 2:11 1 Timothy 2:12 ).
sobriety--"self-restraint" [ALFORD]. Habitual inner self-government [TRENCH]. I prefer ELLICOTT'S translation, "sober-mindedness": the well-balanced state of mind arising from habitual self-restraint.
braided hair--literally, "plaits," that is, plaited hair: probably with the "gold and pearls" intertwined ( 1 Peter 3:3 ). Such gaud is characteristic of the spiritual harlot ( Revelation 17:4 ).
10. professing--Greek, "promising": engaging to follow.
with good works--The Greek preposition is not the same as in 1 Timothy 2:9 ; "by means of," or "through good works." Their adorning is to be effected by means of good works: not that they are to be clothed in, or with, them ( Ephesians 2:10 ). Works, not words in public, is their province ( 1 Timothy 2:8 1 Timothy 2:11 1 Timothy 2:12 , 1 Peter 3:1 ). Works are often mentioned in the Pastoral Epistles in order to oppose the loose living, combined with the loose doctrine, of the false teachers. The discharge of everyday duties is honored with the designation, "good works."
11. learn--not "teach" ( 1 Timothy 2:12 , 1 Corinthians 14:34 ). She should not even put questions in the public assembly ( 1 Corinthians 14:35 ).
with all subjection--not "usurping authority" ( 1 Timothy 2:12 ). She might teach, but not in public ( Acts 18:26 ). Paul probably wrote this Epistle from Corinth, where the precept ( 1 Corinthians 14:34 ) was in force.
12. usurp authority--"to lord it over the man" [ALFORD], literally, "to be an autocrat."
14. Adam was not deceived--as Eve was deceived by the serpent; but was persuaded by his wife. Genesis 3:17 , "hearkened unto . . . voice of . . . wife." But in Genesis 3:13 , Eve says, "The serpent beguiled me." Being more easily deceived, she more easily deceives [BENGEL], ( 2 Corinthians 11:3 ). Last in being, she was first in sin--indeed, she alone was deceived. The subtle serpent knew that she was "the weaker vessel" ( 1 Peter 3:7 ). He therefore tempted her, not Adam. She yielded to the temptations of sense and the deceits of Satan; he, to conjugal love. Hence, in the order of God's judicial sentence, the serpent, the prime offender, stands first; the woman, who was deceived, next; and the man, persuaded by his wife, last ( Genesis 3:14-19 ). In Romans 5:12 , Adam is represented as the first transgressor; but there no reference is made to Eve, and Adam is regarded as the head of the sinning race. Hence, as here, 1 Timothy 2:11 , in Genesis 3:16 , woman's "subjection" is represented as the consequence of her being deceived.
being deceived--The oldest manuscripts read the compound Greek verb for the simple, "Having been seduced by deceit": implying how completely Satan succeeded in deceiving her.
was in the transgression--Greek, "came to be in the transgression": became involved in the existing state of transgression, literally, "the going beyond a command"; breach of a positive precept ( Romans 4:15 ).
15. be saved in childbearing--Greek, "in (literally, 'through') (her, literally, 'the') child-bearing." Through, or by, is often so used to express not the means of her salvation, but the circumstances AMIDST which it has place. Thus 1 Corinthians 3:15 , "He . . . shall be saved: yet so as by (literally, 'through,' that is, amidst) fire": in spite of the fiery ordeal which he has necessarily to pass through, he shall be saved. So here, "In spite of the trial of childbearing which she passes through (as her portion of the curse, Genesis 3:16 , 'in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children'), she shall be saved." Moreover, I think it is implied indirectly that the very curse will be turned into a condition favorable to her salvation, by her faithfully performing her part in doing and suffering what God has assigned to her, namely, child-bearing and home duties, her sphere, as distinguished from public teaching, which is not hers, but man's ( 1 Timothy 2:11 1 Timothy 2:12 ). In this home sphere, not ordinarily in one of active duty for advancing the kingdom of God, which contradicts the position assigned to her by God, she will be saved on the same terms as all others, namely, by living faith. Some think that there is a reference to the Incarnation "through THE child-bearing" (Greek), the bearing of the child Jesus. Doubtless this is the ground of women's child-bearing in general becoming to them a blessing, instead of a curse; just as in the original prophecy ( Genesis 3:15 Genesis 3:16 ) the promise of "the Seed of the woman" (the Saviour) stands in closest connection with the woman's being doomed to "sorrow" in "bringing forth children," her very child-bearing, though in sorrow, being the function assigned to her by God whereby the Saviour was born. This may be an ulterior reference of the Holy Spirit in this verse; but the primary reference required by the context is the one above given. "She shall be saved ([though] with childbearing)," that is, though suffering her part of the primeval curse in childbearing; just as a man shall be saved, though having to bear his part, namely, the sweat of the brow.
if they, &c.--"if the women (plural, taken out of 'the woman,' 1 Timothy 2:14 , which is put for the whole sex) continue," or more literally, "shall (be found at the judgment to) have continued."
faith and charity--the essential way to salvation ( 1 Timothy 1:5 ). Faith is in relation to God. Charity, to our fellow man. Sobriety, to one's self.
sobriety--"sober-mindedness" with the unseemly forwardness reproved in 1 Timothy 2:11 ). Mental receptivity and activity in family life were recognized in Christianity as the destiny of woman. One reason alleged here by Paul, is the greater danger of self-deception in the weaker sex, and the spread of errors arising from it, especially in a class of addresses in which sober reflectiveness is least in exercise [NEANDER]. The case ( Acts 21:9 ) was doubtless in private, not in public.