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Bible Commentaries

Hamilton Smith's Writings

1 Timothy 2

 

 

Verses 1-15

3The Order of God"s House

( 1 Timothy 2 and 1 Timothy 3)

In this division of the Epistle, the apostle sets forth the character of God"s house ( 1 Timothy 2:1-4); the testimony to the grace of God that is to flow from the house ( 1 Timothy 2:5-7); the conduct proper to men and women who form the house ( 1 Timothy 2:8-15); the qualifications necessary to those who exercise office in the house ( 1 Timothy 3:1-13); and, finally, the mystery of piety ( 1 Timothy 3:14-16).

(a) The house of God, a house of prayer for all nations ( 1 Timothy 1:1-4) ( Isaiah 56:7; Mark 11:17)

(V:1). The house of God is characterised as the place of prayer. The petitions that ascend to God from His house are to be marked by "supplications", or earnest pleadings, for special needs arising in particular circumstances; by "prayers", which express general desires appropriate for all times; by "intercessions", implying that believers are in that nearness to God that can plead on behalf of others; and, lastly, by "thanksgiving", which speaks of a heart conscious of the goodness of God that delights to answer the prayers of His people.

In the Epistle to the Ephesians , which presents the truth of the church in its heavenly calling, we are exhorted to pray with supplication "for all saints" ( Ephesians 6:18). Here, where the church is viewed as the vessel for the testimony of the grace of God, we are to pray with supplication "for all men".

(V:2). Especially we are called upon to pray for kings and all that are in authority- those who are in a position to influence the world for good or evil. It is not simply for "the king" or "our king" for whom we are to pray, but "for kings". This presumes that we realise our link with the Lord"s people all the world over as forming part of the house of God, and the true position of the church as standing in holy separation from the world, taking no part in its politics or government. In the world, but not of it, the church has the high privilege of praying, interceding and giving thanks on behalf of those who do not pray for themselves.

The apostle gives two reasons for the prayers for all men. Firstly, prayer for kings and all in authority is called for in view of the Lord"s people throughout the world. We are to seek that the sovereign goodness of God may so control the rulers of this world that His people may lead "a quiet and tranquil life in all piety and gravity". It is evidently God"s mind that His people should, in passing through this hostile world, lead a quiet life, not asserting themselves as if they were citizens of this world, in tranquillity that refrains from taking part in the world"s disputes, in piety that recognises God in every circumstance of life, and in practical gravity before men. Of old the prophet Jeremiah sent a letter to God"s captive people in Babylon, exhorting them to seek the peace of the city in which they were held in bondage, by praying unto the Lord for it: for, says the prophet, "in the peace thereof shall ye have peace " ( Jeremiah 29:7). In the same spirit we are to seek the peace of the world, in order that God"s people may have peace.

(Vv3 , 4). Then a second reason is given for the prayers of God"s people on behalf of all men. To pray for all men is "good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved." We are to pray, not only in view of the good of all saints, but also in view of the blessing of all men.

The world may at times persecute God"s people and seek to vent upon them all the hatred of their hearts towards God. Unless we walk in self-judgment, such treatment would arouse the flesh in resentment and retaliation. Here we learn that it is "good and acceptable in the sight of God" to act and feel towards all men, as God Himself does, in love and grace. Thus we are to pray for "all men", not simply for those who govern well, but also for those who use God"s people despitefully ( Luke 6:28). We are to pray, not for retributive judgment to overtake the persecutors of God"s people, but that in sovereign grace they may be saved.

(b) The house of God, a witness to the grace of God (verses5-7)

The house of God is not only to be the place from which prayer ascends to God, but also the place from which a testimony flows out to man. In due time God will deal in judgment with the wicked, and even now at times may deal governmentally with those who set themselves to oppose the grace of God and the ministers of His grace, as in the smiting of Herod, and the blinding of Elymas ( Acts 12:23; Acts 13:6-11). Moreover, God may, on solemn occasions, deal in governmental judgment with those who form the house of God for the maintenance of the holiness of His house, as set forth in the terrible judgment that overtook Ananias and Sapphira; and later the governmental dealing by which some in the Corinthian assembly were taken away in judgment ( Acts 5:1-10); 1 Corinthians 11:30-32). Such cases, however, are the result of the direct dealing of God. The house of God, as such, is to be a testimony to God as a Saviour God, who desires all men to be saved and come unto the knowledge of the truth.

The "will" of God, in this passage, has no reference to the counsels of God which will most certainly be fulfilled. It expresses the disposition of God towards all. God presents Himself as a Saviour God who is willing that all may be saved. But, if men are to be saved, it can only be through faith that acknowledges "the truth". Of this truth the house of God is "the pillar and base" ( 1 Timothy 3:15). As long as the assembly is on earth, it is the witness to, and support of, the truth. When the church is caught away, men will at once fall into apostasy and be given up to a strong delusion.

(V:5). Two great truths are brought before us as the ground on which God deals with men in sovereign grace. Firstly, there is one God; secondly, there is one Mediator.

That there is only one God had been fully declared before Christ came. The unity of God is the great foundation truth of the Old Testament. It was the great testimony to Israel, as we read, "Hear O Israel: the LORD our God is One LORD" ( Deuteronomy 6:4). It was the great testimony that was to flow out to the nations from Israel, as we read, "Let all the nations be gathered together … let them hear, and say, It is truth. Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after Me. I, even I, am the LORD and beside Me there is no Saviour" ( Isaiah 43:9-11).

Christianity, while fully maintaining the great truth that there is one God, further presents the equally important truth that there is one Mediator between God and men. This latter truth is the distinctive truth of Christianity.

Three great truths are presented as characterising the Mediator. First He is one. If God is one, it is equally important to remember the unity of the Mediator. There is one Mediator and no other. The papacy, and other corrupt religious systems of Christendom, have denied this great truth, and detracted from the glory of the one Mediator, by setting up Mary, the mother of the Lord, and other canonised men and women as mediators.

Secondly, the One Mediator is a Man in order that God may be known to men. Man cannot rise to God; but God, in His love, can come down to man. One has said, "He came down into the lowest depths in order that there should be none, even of the most wretched, who could not feel that God in His goodness was near him- come down to him- His love finding its occasion in misery; and that there was no need to which He was not present, which He could not meet" (J.N.D.).

(Vv6 , 7). Thirdly, this Mediator gave Himself a ransom for all. If God is to be proclaimed as a Saviour God, who will have all men to be saved, His holiness must be vindicated and His glory maintained. This has been perfectly accomplished by the propitiatory work of Christ. God"s majesty, righteousness, love, truth, and all that He Isaiah , have been glorified in the work wrought by Christ. He is a propitiation for the whole world. All has been done that is needed. His blood is available for the vilest whoever he may be. Hence the gospel to the world says, "Whosoever will, let him come." In this aspect we may say Christ died for all, gave Himself a ransom for all, an available sacrifice for sin, for whosoever would come. These are the great truths to be testified in due time- the grace of God proclaiming forgiveness and salvation to all on the ground of the work of Christ, who has given Himself a ransom for all. When Christ had ascended to glory, and the Holy Ghost had come down to earth to dwell in the midst of believers, thus forming them into the house of God, the due time had come. From that house the testimony was to flow forth, the apostle being the one used of God to preach grace, and thus open the door of faith to the Gentiles ( Acts 14:27). He can thus speak of himself as a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles in the faith and in the truth.

(c) The conduct proper to men and women who form the house (verses8-15)

We have seen in the early part of the chapter that the house of God is the place of prayer "for all men" (verse1), the witness of God"s disposition in grace toward "all men" (verse4), and the witness who gave Himself a ransom "for all" (verse6).

If such is the great purpose of the house of God, it follows that nothing is to be allowed in the house of God that would mar this testimony either on the part of men or women who form the house. Thus the apostle proceeds to give detailed instructions as to the deportment of each class. This testimony to the grace of God does not contemplate a number of believers, interested in a particular testimony, binding themselves together for service. It is not a band of evangelists giving themselves to gospel work or missionary service. It presents all the saint sharing a common interest in the testimony that flows from the house of God.

(V:8). Firstly, the apostle speaks of men in contrast with women. The men in the house of God are to be marked by prayer. The apostle is speaking of public prayer, and on such occasions the title to pray is restricted to men. Moreover, the instruction contains no thought of an official class leading in prayer. Praying in public is not confined to elders, or to gifted men, for prayer is never treated in Scripture as a question of gift. It is men that are to pray and the only restriction is that a right moral condition is to be maintained. Those who lead in public prayer are to be marked by holiness, and their prayers are to be without wrath or reasoning. The man that is conscious of unjudged evil in his life is in no condition to pray. Moreover, the prayer is to be without wrath. This is an exhortation that utterly condemns the use of prayer to make veiled attacks upon others. Behind such prayers there is always wrath or malice. Moreover, the prayer is to be in the simplicity of faith and not with vain human reasoning.

(V:9). The women are to be marked by "decent deportment and dress" (N.T.). This better translation clearly indicates that not only in dress but in their general bearing women should be marked by modesty that shrinks from all impropriety, and "discretion" that leads to care in their words and ways. They are to beware of using the hair that God has given as the woman"s glory for an expression of the natural vanity of the human heart. Women are not to seek to call attention to themselves by arraying themselves in "gold, or pearls, or costly clothing". Again, women do well to remember that they may obey this Scripture in the letter and yet miss the spirit of it by affecting some peculiar garb, thus calling attention to themselves.

The woman professing the fear of God will be marked, not by the affection of superior spirituality, but by "good works". Their place in Christianity is seemly and beautiful: it is found in those "good works", many of which can alone be carried out by a woman.

We see, in the Gospels, how women ministered unto Christ of their substance ( Luke 8:3). Mary wrought a good work upon the Lord when she anointed His head with the precious ointment ( Matthew 26:7-10). Dorcas did a good work in making garments for the poor ( Acts 9:39). Mary, the mother of John Mark , opened her house for many to gather together in prayer ( Acts 12:12). Lydia, whose heart the Lord opened, did a good work when she opened her house to the servants of the Lord ( Acts 16:14; Acts 16:15). Priscilla did a good work when, with her husband, she helped Apollos to know "the way of God more perfectly" ( Acts 18:26). Phoebe, of Cenchrea, was "a succourer of many" ( Romans 16:2). Other Scriptures tell us that godly women can wash the saints" feet, relieve the afflicted, bring up children and guide the home. Here we read that in public the woman is to learn in silence. She is not to usurp authority over the man.

The apostle gives two reasons for the subjection of woman to man. Firstly, Adam has the pre-eminent place, inasmuch as he was first formed, then Eve. A second reason is that Adam was not deceived; the woman was. In a certain sense Adam was worse than the woman, for he sinned knowingly. Nevertheless, the truth pressed by the apostle is that woman showed her weakness in that she was beguiled. Adam, indeed, should have maintained his authority and have led the woman in obedience. She, in weakness, was beguiled, usurped the place of authority, and led the man in disobedience. The Christian woman recognises this and is careful to keep in the place of subjection and quietness.

(V:15). Eve suffered for her transgression, but the Christian woman will find the mercy of God abounding over governmental judgment, if the married man and woman continue in faith and love and holiness with discretion. As before we saw the continuance in sound teaching is so largely dependent upon a right moral condition ( 1 Timothy 1:5; 1 Timothy 1:6); so now we see temporal mercy is connected with a right spiritual state.

 


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Bibliography Information
Smith, Hamilton. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 2:4". "Hamilton Smith's Writings". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hsw/1-timothy-2.html. 1832.

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