The Church’s Character (1 Timothy 2)



Last Sunday morning, President Donald Trump visited McClean Bible Church to request their Pastor, David Platt, to pray for him.[1] As expected, several news outlets wrote stories about the prayer experience. Depending on the social/political leanings of the group/individual is how the media stories covered the story. Those who were Pro-Trump supported the prayer and those who were Never-Trump viewed the experience as 1) a mere a photo-op for Trump with Christians, and 2) an un-healthy blending of politics and religion. And of course, the truth is likely somewhere in the middle with lengthy caveats and discussion.

However, the point I wish to make is the rightful command of Christians to pray, and to pray for its national leaders.

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EXAMINE           1 Timothy 2                            The Church’s Character

Great-commission praying (1Tim 2:1-10)

Previously in 1Timothy was Paul’s command for churches to protect truth, promote grace, and prevent division. What is the best way to carry out these actions? Prayer. The foundation for the character heart and deeds of the church begins and sustains through relying on God’s power in prayer.

  • Staying connected to God in prayer will keep you on the path of truth.
  • Bowing in humble thanks to God in prayer will promote a culture of grace.
  • Praying for and with others prevents discord and division; you cannot hate and pray simultaneously.

“First of all” – means above everything else.[2] Paul shows the importance and fundamental activity in church.

Paul commands all kinds of prayer for all kinds of people. It is possible this command is an indication of weakness on behalf of the Ephesian church. They were a church with strong faith and works and not tolerating evil practices (Rev 2:1-3). Yet, their struggle was growing apathy towards its first love of Christ – allowing their faith to grow stale (Rev 2:4-5). So, the plea toward prayer reminds all Christians of the gauge for our relationship with God. Further, our engagement with various types of prayer indicates a vitality in our faith as well.

Types of prayer in 1Tim 2:

  • supplication δέησις: prayer requests
  • prayers προσευχή prayer earnestly
  • intercession ἔντευξις prayer for others
  • thanksgiving εὐχαριστία prayer of gratefulness for grace.
  • Prayers not mentioned are of confession and repentance, and others.
  • How many kinds of prayer do you engage?
  • We lean toward prayer requests for self… supplication, while often excluding others.
  • Prayer is easiest yet hardest actions for us. Easy because we don’t have to leave our bed or home, we don’t have to be dressed, or around other people – although, if you’re around other people I highly recommend you to be dressed!
  • Helpful tools:
    • C.T.S. Adoration. Confession. Thanksgiving. Supplication.
    • R.A.Y Praise. Repent. Ask. Yield.
    • Praying Hands
      – Thumb: Praise to God     – Pointer: Guidance from God     – Middle: Influence from/for God        – Ring: Commitments to God
      – Pinky: Struggles/Weakness confess

Paul commands prayer for kings and those in high positions. Praying for national leaders and civil authorities was NT principle (Rom 13:1; 1Tim 2:2; Titus 3:1; 1Pet 2:14,17). Christians were to give to Caesar the things that belonged to him and give to God what belonged to Him. In other words, when Christians had to disobey the government, they did so with respect and from moral principle. Their convictions and witness earned credibility before others and drew them toward following God too.

However, when Christians/churches pray partisan prayers, they alienate the public. They are showing their allegiance is not to the highest court in heaven but to earthly powers and pursuing material privileges. So, let us pray indiscriminately for leaders in all parties to have the wisdom and heart of God for the world.

The purpose of all kinds of prayer is two-fold

  • To lead a peaceful and quiet life; untroubled and free from threats.[3] Consider Paul’s frequent leaving cities and churches due to persecution (Acts 13:50-51; 14:5-6, 19; 16:19-21, 39-40; 17:8-10, 13-14), yet when gospel flourished in peace (Acts 21:27-40; 28:16, 23-31; cf. Jer 29:7).
  • Religious liberty is an important principle for nations. When freedom of ideas and all religions are able to worship, people can assess truth for themselves without pressure or forced views. Christianity has thrived in a pluralistic society (1st – 2nd C), but after it became dominant religion with monarchical coercion, thus the dark ages. As 21st C approaches intolerance for Christians, we should still fight with light and love but not out of fear – we know who wins. Christians are not being dragged to Sodom & Gomorrah, instead we are marching forward with the arc of history and future on our side.
  • To live godly (reverently) and dignified (sober). Prayer exercises our faith in God’s care and control of our circumstances. If we lack praying, we lack sincerity of faith and seeing God work.
  • What hinders your Bible group from meeting additional in a month’s time for the sole purpose of prayer?
    • Do we not have enough needs?
    • Do we have enough of God and His miracles?

Global gospel (1Tim 2:1-7)

Paul uses the word “all” four times

  • prayers be made for ALL people (1Tim 2:1)
  • for kings and ALL who are in high positions (1Tim 2:2)
  • who desires ALL people to be saved (1Tim 2:4)
  • who gave himself as a ransom for ALL (1Tim 2:6)

The logic is that since God desires all to be saved, it must be good and pleasing to God that we pray for all people. God provides us the pattern for praying and pursuing others for the purpose of seeing people saved. The Ephesian church would have been diverse with Jews & Gentiles, elite wealthy individuals and ordinary commoners, Christ-followers and curious.

  • What if God only saved the people that you prayed for fervently & frequently?


While our prayers are inclusive for all, we pray for an exclusive passion: to know the one God and one mediator Christ Jesus. All our prayers and purposes comes down to one consuming passion of bringing glory to God. It was God’s glory to give himself as a ransom for all, therefore it should become our glory to give ourselves for others to know God.

  • Make a commitment to see 1 person know the 1 God. #WhosYour1? #20in19_2019


God-called leadership (1Tim 2:8-15  – – – – 3:13)

This is where Paul, and Christians become controversial. Admittedly, there is debate of interpretations around the following verses. When reading & understanding Scripture we need to interpret rightly…

  • What is cultural and what is timeless?
  • How do other Scriptures relate to the passage? Interpret Scripture with Scripture.

First, we note Paul’s exhortations for men and women in the household of God. Paul starts with the men.

2:8 Men should focus on holiness rather than divisiveness. The aim here is praying rather than quarreling. Men are often not afraid to express their opinions to debate, but seldom express their emotions in worship. The same dudes who will argue and speak eloquently & passionately over athletic competitions, beer selections, car models, and grilling preferences are the same brothers who are non-expressive in songs & prayers to God. Too often men are exchanging glitz for glory.

Further, our prayer life enhances our attitudes and associations. It’s difficult to dispute with those we’re praying for and with. More, it is evidence of immaturity to only pray for those you agree and maturity to pray for those who need the forgiving and changing grace of God. Which are you?

Paul’s is emphasizing men’s besetting sin. Likewise, women should avoid being argumentative and be prayerful.

2:9-10 Women should focus on good works rather than good looks (cf. 1Tim 5:10). The aim here is an over-emphasis on appearance rather than simplicity and modesty. Many of the Ephesian ladies had material wealth and showed it in their clothing. The point is not about attire as much as it is heart attitude. Other Scriptures portray jewelry and special clothing as appropriate (cf. Ps 45:13-14; Isa 61:10; Ez 16:10-14; James 2:2). Also, Ephesus was influenced by the pagan temples with prostitution, with women dressing enticingly in public (retain enticement for husband in private) to cause their brothers to stumble. The Prov 31:25 woman remind us “strength and dignity are her clothing.”

2:11-14 Women and men roles in the family, in the church, and socially have often been confused and challenged in society. In 1st C, it was debated if an ascetic lifestyle was more spiritual than marriage. Paul affirms singleness but also marriage (1Tim 4:3-4; 1Cor 7, etc.). Paul also described marriage roles for husbands as lead in sacrificial love and responsibility, while the wife graciously submits and respects her husband. Women are not submissive to all men, only their husbands. Additionally, we all submit to one another and to elders before the Lord (Heb 13:17).

Ultimately, Paul is not explaining a value difference but a role difference.

  • Elevates women by exhorting them to learn and not be uneducated. Paul is comparable to Jesus when asking women to follow in discipleship and serve in ministry roles.
  • Exhorts women to refrain from teaching over a man. We know that Paul is not excluding women from all teaching because other Scriptures differ.
  • 1Corinthians 14:34-35 Women allowed to pray & prophecy (11:5) but not judge prophecy (14:26-40).
  • Titus 2:3-5; Col 3:16 Women teaching and mentoring other women and other believers in general.
  • 2Timothy 1:5; 3:15 Women teaching & training the next generation
  • Acts 1:14; Romans 16:6; 16:12; Philippians 4:2-3; 1Tim 3:11 Women share in ministry service; even Deacons.
  • Acts 18:26 Women partnering/sharing in husband’s ministry.
  • Some may refer to OT Deborah (Judges 4) as example of leadership among God’s people, but circumstances differ. First, the time period was Israel’s lowest spiritual history and godly men lacked. All other judges are raised up by Lord, but no explicit statement is mentioned of Deborah. Second, Deborah clearly wanted men to lead (Judges 4:6-16).
  • Essentially, Paul is limiting the role of women from authoritative teaching over a man; i.e. the role of elder, which follows in the next chapter.
    Paul limiting authoritative teaching because…

    • Not bc women were uneducated bc women were instructed to learn (Timothy 2:11; Titus 2:3-4). Christianity (Jesus & Paul) actually elevates the cultural standards for women with this prescription. Paul is not demanding physical silence but a teachable spirit for women.
    • Not bc women taught falsely or he would have stated such as elsewhere (1Tim 1:3, 18; 4:1, 11; 6:2-3; 2Tim 2:15; 4:2; etc.) and he gives a direct statement of teaching “over a man”. Would Paul only care that women were teaching men false doctrine and not other women? Of course not.
    • Instead, Paul grounds this principle in creation of Adam’s role as head (Gen 2:15; before the Fall) and the fact of Eve’s deception and drift from God’s role for her. The idea is not that Adam did not sin – he was equally defiant – but that God’s design for the man and woman was to follow His assigned roles.
    • 1 Tim 3:1-7 follows passage context as qualifications for elders and assumes male for eldership.
      • Men and women are needed and necessary for the church to flourish according to God’s design. While I/SPBC view of women in ministry is known as “Complementarianism,” other Christians view of “Egalatarianism” would deny differences of roles between men and women.
        Complementarianism roles limited to men…

        • Elder/Pastor
        • Sunday worship gathering preaching without Elder facilitation (interview, panel, etc.)
        • Officiating the ordinances, but not necessarily all facilitation. Women could baptize or distribute communion elements while a male elder officiates.

Some roles open to women…

  • Ministry Directors, Coordinators, etc.
  • Co-ed discipleship groups in concert with male teaching/leadership.
  • Prophesying and Praying in worship gathering.
  • Singing and instrumental leads.
  • Women have an equal and significant role outside church without limit or distinction. They could choose to have careers outside the home, flourish as CEO’s, supervisors, principals, etc., leaders of state, even POTUS.


2:15 Paul summarizes the role of women as being saved/sanctified in her fulfilling her calling as a mother – whether biologically or spiritually speaking.

  • Not through having lots of children, thus denying justification by faith (cf. Romans 3 – 5)
  • Perhaps through the child bearing of Mary with the Messiah.


  • Like a organ or appendage in our body, we all have responsibilities and roles.
    Are you on the roll? What is your role?


[2] William Mounce, Word Biblical Commentary, 1Timothy 2:1.

[3] George Knight, New International Greek Testament Commentary, 1 Timothy 2:2.

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