Instruction 2: Pray for All People

By Adam Brown – 

We find the first instruction to the church in 1 Timothy 1:3-20. This first instruction is that we teach the truth and refute bad doctrine. The second instruction to the church, is given in 1 Timothy 2:1-7:

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

At the outset, this passage is linked with the material that precedes it. We see that in the first four English words, “First of all, then. . .” These words indicate that the instructions to follow, flow out from the first instruction (1 Timothy 1:3-20). The words, “First of all,” do not indicate that this is the first instruction, but that this is the first instruction that proceeds from the foundational instruction that the church is to teach the truth. More directly, the following instructions develop what it means to “wage the good warfare” that is mentioned above (1 Timothy 1:18). 

This second instruction is given in 1 Timothy 2:1:

I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people.

Within the context of this passage, “all people” is further subdivided into three groups: kings (2:1), all who are in high positions (2:1), and Gentiles (2:7). These three subgroups are exemplary groups withing the category of “all people” but are not exhaustive of all constituent parts.

Why Pray for All People?

Paul gives two reasons that the church ought to pray for all people:

  1. That we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way (1 Timothy 2:2)
  2. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:3-4).

The first reason is directly related to the exhortation that we ought to pray for kings and all who are in high positions. Such individuals can make it easy or difficult to live the Christian life. Therefore, we ought to pray that they enable the church to exist and to flourish in accordance with the Scriptures.

The second reason is evangelistic. The church ought to be praying for the salvation of all people. First Timothy 2:6 expands upon this idea by reminding us that there is only One God and only one way of salvation, which is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, the church is uniquely positioned to offer the world the only hope available for fallen humanity. In addition to bearing witness to the Gospel in word and deed, it is essential that the church pray for the salvation of all.

Paul concludes this instruction by reminding the readers that it was for this evangelistic purpose that God sent him to the Gentiles. If we pagan Gentiles are not beyond the reach of the saving purposes of God, then no group on the face of the planet is outside God’s salvific purposes.

Let us, therefore, implement instruction 2 by busying ourselves with prayer for the sake of a lost and dying world.

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