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The Hope of the Gospel (1 Timothy 2:1-8 ) – Mark Ottaway

The Hope of the Gospel

1 Timothy 2:1-8


Turn in your Bibles to 1 Timothy 2. If we were asked, what is the hope of Christianity? How would we answer that question? In fact, this question might come up regarding several things. What is your hope as a family? What is your hope for your children? What is your hope for your career? Often, we might pray that someday our children would know the Lord and serve Christ as Lord, that they might marry a Christian spouse and raise children and teach them about the Lord. But even then, sometimes those hopes or dreams can be a little vague. And likely if we asked non-Christian parents, what is your hope for your children? They might respond something like, I hope that they will be truly happy. And that is even more vague, as being truly happy may not mean that they are great people, for I am sure some might be happy, but not necessarily good. So, we as Christians might then hope that they are humble, respectful, or giving. But how do we try to encourage things in their lives?  Well, I suppose, that we would have to display an example before them, but we can give mixed messages to our children, can’t we?


I once heard the story of a young Christian girl that went to university, and she was getting settled in and her M/D encouraged her to get involved at a church. And a month later they called her and asked her about church. And she said that she had not gone to church anywhere yet as she had been too busy. And so, they encouraged her again saying that church is important. And then they said, how is school going? And she said, well, I am not doing great and I have missed several classes. And they said, what! Do you know how much this is costing us? See, what message did they communicate to that young girl? Well, church is somewhat important, while money is really important. And money is important, I am not trying to downplay that. But we need to ask the question, what is truly our hope for our kids, or jobs, or Christian lives? And not just what we might say, but what is truly our heart of what we would consider important things in life. In our three sermons thus far in 1 Timothy, we have looked at Guarding the Gospel, Knowing the Gospel, and last week the Power of the Gospel. This morning, Paul will address the Hope of the Gospel. 1 Timothy 2:1-8 is likely one of the most positive passages in all the Bible, as Paul expresses such a hope for the world!

“First of all, then, I exhort that petitions and prayers, requests and thanksgivings, be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the full knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the witness for this proper time. For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying) as a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension.”

1 Tim 2:1-8 (LSB)


Paul is addressing here this question of hope. What is the hope of the gospel? And the first thing he addresses is:


  1. The Hope for All Men (vs 1-2)


“First of all, then, I exhort that petitions and prayers, requests and thanksgivings, be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.”

1 Tim 2:1-2 (LSB)


This is a command here that we do not always think about. For we often think about praying for a loved one, a child, a friend at work. And we would pray that they might come to know the Lord. For we have in our minds that not all will come, and so, we hope that the Lord might save this one. Sort of along the lines that Paul wrote:

“To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some.”

  • Cor 9:22 (LSB)


So, with this in mind we plead for God’s mercy towards a sinner and pray for the one, thinking that God in His mercy might save the one. Yet Paul here prays for all men and women. But what would be the point of that if not all men and women will be saved? In fact, of all the men and women, Paul then focuses on kings and those in authority, while we might tend to pray for Christians within government to have a godly influence, or we might pray that laws would be changed so that they are more in line with God’s Word. But what would be the point to pray for all men and women, and those in leadership? Would God save all of them? For why not pray for better laws or for those in government to have influence? What is Paul’s point here? Paul reminded the Corinthians:

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the tearing down of strongholds.”

2 Cor 10:3-4 (LSB)


He is reminding the Corinthians here that the laws or we could even say the strongholds come from the minds, the spirit of men and women. And so, we are not dealing with laws written on paper. We are dealing with the spirit of the hearts and minds of people. In other words, the way to change the laws is to change the hearts of those who write the laws. And Paul speaks here about not only praying for leaders, but to be thankful for all men. In other words, having a spirit of grace and compassion. If we were comparing this to a marriage situation or a work struggle, we might tend to pray that things will go better, while Paul might encourage us to pray that the people would change. That is probably good marriage counsel, isn’t it? Instead of praying that something would change, it might be better to pray that my spouse would change, And better yet, that I might change, that God would work in me. Paul also wrote to Titus:

“Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to slander no one, to be peaceable, considerate, demonstrating all gentleness to all men. For we ourselves also once were foolish, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, despicable, hating one another.”

Titus 3:1-3 (LSB)


Paul is reminding us here that we need to understand that we were once lost as others are now lost. And to think that God would only save me and not care for the soul of someone else would be a very self-centred Christianity. That somehow God saved me because of some prior goodness or merit, and that He cannot save others who may be sinful, is not an understanding of Christianity. And not only are we to pray for them, but we are to respect them, and have compassion for them. For we are not the ones who are to be pitied, it is them. We are not the ones who are lost, it is they who are lost. Yes, it may be the Christian who at some point gets persecuted, but our end is much better than their end. We would not want to trade places with them. We need to feel sorry for them, they do not need to feel sorry for us.


And also, Paul says here to Titus, do not slander anyone. This does not mean that we do not call sin, sin or look at situations realistically, but we had better be sure that we are right when we say something about authorities, for it can often be the Christian who will slander leaders, and talk about things that they may not know for sure, or to be sarcastic about those the Lord has called us to obey and pray for. And here Paul is asking Timothy and the congregation to pray for the emperor who at one time was Nero, a very evil leader who persecuted believers. And the prayer includes not only wisdom and justice, but also repentance for forgiveness.

“And the Lord’s slave must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may give them repentance leading to the full knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.”

2 Tim 2:24-26 (LSB)


So, we are to pray for our leaders, government leaders, and school teachers. In fact, we can pray for all men and women, and be thankful that the Lord has given us this wonderful opportunity of this intercessory role, that they might come to Christ, that their minds and their hearts might be changed. And we can have compassion on them, for Paul says that they are ensnared by Satan, they are captives of the enemy. And he gives another reason why we are to do this. Because we are peacemakers, we are not rebels, as it should be our desire to live quiet lives and godly lives. And lives of (vs 2) dignity. That yes, we live for Christ, we do what is right, and we desire that others will come to Christ. And when it says all men, it really means that we are not differentiating between people. In other words, we hope this for all. The belligerent guy at work, the crabby neighbour, and the politician that we disagree. And we might think it strange that God has commanded us to pray for all men, but imagine if God said, well, don’t pray for that guy. We would then question the heart of God. So, when we consider this command, it really is the truth that we have been given so much by God, that we would desire this for others, all men. Because look at the next verse:

“This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the full knowledge of the truth.”

1 Tim 2:3-4 (LSB)


In other words, this is our Lord’s heart.


  1. The Hope of the Father’s Heart (vs 3-4)


Is it God’s desire that everyone would be saved? “God our Saviour who desires all men to be saved.” How must we answer that question? Yes. We could turn to 2 Peter 3:9 as well:

“The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some consider slowness, but is patient toward you, not willing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”

  • Pet 3:9 (LSB)

And we could say that Paul had the same desire as well:

“For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh … Brothers, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation.”

Rom 9:3; 10:1 (LSB)


So, God wishes all to be saved, Paul wishes all to be saved. What about God in the Old Testament where some mistakenly suggest that God is less loving? Isaiah 45:22, God pleads, “Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; For I am God, and there is no other.” And God proclaims the invitation in Isaiah 55:1, all who thirst, God says, come!


But what about the teaching of the Bible that speaks about those who are not of the elect? In other words, if God has elected those who will be saved, how can we legitimately say that the gospel is a call to all men and women? Now I know in a room this size there are various views, and some of those views have come from a long study, maybe years of study. Some may be that this is what you were taught at an earlier time in your life, and some of you were simply told that this is the way it is, and have not done a whole lot with it since. I believe that one of the hard parts of this discussion is that there is not an answer that will completely satisfy our human thinking. As the answer to the question, is man responsible for his response to the call of salvation? Answer, yes. And the answer to the other question, did God determine His elect before the foundation of the world? In other words, who would come? Answer, yes. Charles Spurgeon said:

“That God predestines, and that man is responsible, are two things that few can see. They are believed to be inconsistent and contradictory; but they are not. It is just the fault of our weak judgment. Two truths cannot be contradictory to each other … These two truths, I do not believe, can ever be welded into one upon any human anvil, but one they shall be in eternity.”

Charles Spurgeon


One of the things that I will not do with this issue is to sort of soften each understanding as some have suggested. For the idea of softening each side, I sort of believe in the sovereignty of God and sort of believe in the responsibility of man. Yet that is not representative of the Bible. For when the Bible speaks about the sovereignty of God it states such truths that all things have been determined by God. And at the same time, the Bible never takes away from man’s responsibility to believe. We do not want to “sort of” believe something that the Bible teaches strongly. So, I believe firmly as the Scriptures present it, that God chose His elect before the foundation of the world, and that His sovereign choice was not based upon a decision that you or I would make, but it was based upon His own purpose. Yet at the same time, I also believe in the absolute responsibility of man, that man is responsible before God for the choices which he makes. Therefore, the Bible teaches two truths. One, that God is completely sovereign, and has elected before the world those who would believe in Him. Two, we as humans receive Christ, we make a real decision, and those who refuse the Saviour are completely responsible for that decision.


I also want you to consider the angels. When we think about the angels we know that some were loyal to God and never sinned. While some of the angels rebelled along with Satan and will be eternally condemned. And the question we need to ask is, is this fair? Well, I believe we would all answer the question, yes. Those who were obedient to God will live for eternity, and those who sinned against God will be eternally punished. Well, when we relate that to human beings, who were those among humans who were loyal and obedient to God? None, no not one, because there is no such thing as a perfect human as there are perfect angels. Therefore, since God would provide a way for people to be saved is only due to the grace and mercy of God. Wayne Gruden said this:

“It would be perfectly fair for God not to save anyone, just as He did the angels. What would be perfectly fair for God would be to do with human beings as He did with the angels, that is, to save none of those who sinned and rebelled against Him.”

Wayne Grudem


And how this plays out for you and me is that we need to pray for the world as we do not know the elect or the called. For God alone knows who are the elect. Second Timothy 2:19, says that the Lord alone knows those who are His. John Murray wrote:

“We have found that God himself expresses an ardent [passionate] desire for the fulfillment of certain things which he has not decreed in his inscrutable [certain] counsel to come to pass.”

John Murray


I believe we must remember in all our Bible study that the goal is not to satisfy my human mind. The goal is to accept all the Scripture, though I may not completely understand it all. And therefore, important that we present the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour to the world. For look at verses 5-6:

“For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the witness for this proper time.”

1 Tim 2:5-6 (LSB)


  1. The Hope Given for All through Christ (vs 5-6)


Many theologians have asked the question, what is the extent of the atonement or the death of Christ? Some have called it limited atonement or particular atonement, meaning that Christ died only for the elect. Whereas some have called it unlimited atonement, meaning that Christ died for everyone. In other words, the question becomes, for whom did Christ die? Did Christ die for all mankind or did Christ only die for the elect? Again, we need to understand that the message of the gospel is available to all, that is the human realm. In other words, that is the realm where you and I exist. And therefore, we know that Christ died for sin and that man is sinful and therefore he needs a Saviour. Personally, I would understand that when Christ died on the cross He knew exactly what He was doing, and He was being punished for all the sins of those who would come. Some have called this actual atonement. Grudem writes:

“[I]f Christ’s death actually paid for the sins of all people then all people must ultimately be saved; otherwise, in condemning anyone God would have to demand double payment for their sins, which would be unjust.”

Wayne Grudem

In other words, He did not die for those who will not come to Him, for their sins have not been forgiven by the Father. But if you know Christ as Saviour and Lord this morning, your sin was placed upon Christ, and therefore it is forgiven. That word ransom (vs 6) means that Christ did not simply free us, but He became the victim in our place, He died our death and He bore our sin. And that is the godly realm. This is what God was doing in His sovereign decree and His perfect plan. But in our arena, the human realm, we pray for all men, as it should be our heart that all would be saved. For God Himself has declared, “I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live!” In Acts 4:17:30, God commands every man from everywhere to repent. Titus 2:11, the grace of God has appeared to all men.

We often pray for our circle of friends, which is good. We often pray for our personal needs, which is good. But we must also pray for the salvation of the world, as everyone who comes to God must come through Jesus Christ. Finally:


  1. The Hope of United Prayer (vs 7-8)


“For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying) as a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension.”

1 Tim 2:7-8 (LSB)


There is something within us that fights against world unity, and I believe we know this as world unity is sort of depicted as a meltdown of truth. In other words, where all the belief systems of the world sort of break down and we fall somewhere in the middle, as each religion gives a little. Well, we know this is not the heart of God. So, what does Paul mean here by saying, I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension? I suppose we could understand this verse to mean that Paul desired that all the world would come before the Lord and pray, and not by weakening their faith, but that he desired that all men and women would actually be saved and therefore worship and fall before the true God. But if we stay with the context of this book it would seem that Paul had something else in mind here, as I would suggest that he is reaching out to all believers. In other words, all believers everywhere, let’s pray. Look back at 1 Timothy 1:3, he speaks of those who were teaching a different doctrine. Then verse 4, he talks of those who were paying attention to myths and endless genealogies. Turn now to 1 Timothy 6:3-4:

“If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words—those of our Lord Jesus Christ—and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited, understanding nothing but having a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, slander, evil suspicions.”

1 Tim 6:3-4 (LSB)


Those who want to speculate about needless things. That everything they read pulls them from one controversial question to another. Now turn to 2 Timothy 2:16-18:

“But avoid godless and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, and their word will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some.”

2 Tim 2:16-18 (LSB)


Those who denied a future resurrection. And finally 2 Timothy 3:6-7:

“For among them are those who enter into households and take captive weak women weighed down with sins, being led on by various desires, always learning and never able to come to the full knowledge of the truth.”

2 Tim 3:6-7 (LSB)


Their endless listening to unsound doctrine has caused them to be all over the map in their thinking. Now back to Paul’s plea in 1 Timothy 2:8:

“Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension.”

1 Tim 2:8 (LSB)


What is Paul desiring here? I believe it is his desire to not get trapped in the wrong teaching. Don’t get hooked into a wrong biblical direction. Don’t get pulled into some new movement. Don’t be duped into believing something that takes you into endless searches that never come to the knowledge of the truth. And look at the attitude of the person of prayer (vs 8), without wrath and dissension. For prayer ought to be a coming together. It is a joining together as a body before God, and our unity in this is important. During our breaking of bread there are times when pray out loud. But it is also a time when the body is silently praying, as we are praying together and united as a body. And anytime that we pray for the world, we are not praying as those who are angry, but we are praying as a people who have a heart for the world, a compassion that the world would be saved.


So, there seems to be as much here about the attitude of prayer as there is about the prayer itself. For it would seem that a prayer given from a group of people where there was dissension, the prayer would have little effect. Whereas the same prayer coming from a body of believers that were united, would have a great effect. This last section I had originally entitled, The Hope of Unity. And after further study I changed it to, The Hope of United Prayer. Because when a body of believers are united in truth and pray together, there is hope. And Paul has presented in this passage a hope for all men, that they may be saved. We also saw that this is the hope of the Father, that it is His heart that all would be saved. And that this hope would come only through Christ, as He gave His life as a ransom for all. Let’s pray. Lord, would You keep us united in truth, that as we come together, that our prayers would be powerful. And so we pray for all mankind this morning, that all would come to repentance. And all God’s people said, amen.