Please turn to 1 Timothy 2:1-7. In this letter, Paul is giving Timothy a whole host of priorities for a healthy church. Specifically, he is telling Timothy and us what the church ought to be like. As such, Paul is providing instruction regarding how we are supposed to live as the family of God, the body of Christ in the local congregation. In chapter two of this epistle, Paul transitions to the subject of prayer. Specifically, this passage is a passage about three things. First, in verses 1-2, Paul gives an invitation to prayer. Then, in verses 3-6, he addresses God’s disposition toward the world and explains why Christians ought to pray for all kinds of people. Finally, in verse 7, Paul addresses important implications for ministry. In other words, this passage is a passage about how God's own heart and disposition towards all humanity informs the way we pray and the way we minister to other people.     

I. An Invitation to Prayer. 

In verses 1-2, Paul says, “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 a congregation of Jewish and Gentile Christians huddled together in a house-church living in a culture dominated by hostile, pluralistic religions. Nero is the emperor and Rome is not friendly to Christians. Under these circumstances, this group of believers would have been a persecuted minority. Therefore, the temptation of their hearts would have likely been to pray that God might punish those who are persecuting them. Yet Paul is saying, “I want you to offer up prayers and entreaties and supplications, and even thanksgivings for all people. Pray for kings and those who are in authority. The Roman emperor, who is so antagonistic toward you – I want you to pray for him, thank God for him, and offer up supplications for him.” It is important to notice that Paul gives them lots of words for prayer, so that they know that they cannot be perfunctory about this exhortation to prayer. They cannot just grit their teeth and pray, “Lord, bless Nero...” and then move on to what they really want to pray about. Instead, the apostle Paul exhorts them to make prayers and entreaties and supplications and even thanksgivings for all people, even those in authority who oppose them, because their temptation would have been to hate the majority that was persecuting them. Thus, Paul says, “You are to pray for those kings and those who are in authority that are giving you such a hard time. And you are to desire that they would come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.” 

II. God’s Disposition Towards the World. 

In verses 3-6, Paul does not just tell us to pray for all kinds and classes of people, even those who are our enemies; Paul goes on to say that we ought to do this because this is God's disposition towards the world. In these verses, he tells us that God’s disposition towards the world is the basis for exhorting us to pray for all kinds and classes of people. Therefore, we must understand and embrace God's posture towards the world because that truth will inform the way we pray for the world. Specifically, Paul gives us two reasons that we are to pray for all kinds and ranks and classes and conditions of people even people who are antagonistic towards us. In verses 3-4, Paul explains to us that God's disposition towards humanity is one of a desire to see people come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Specifically, Paul says, “This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” He is expressing an Old Testament hope in this passage which was that one day the earth would be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea, and that all the nations would come to Mount Zion and worship the Messiah, the Living God. So Paul is saying that it is God's desire that the nations would come to a saving knowledge of Him.

In verses 5-6, Paul says, “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.” Paul is saying that there is only one way of salvation, one hope, and that hope is in Jesus Christ. Therefore, if we have been saved, if we have been ransomed by Jesus Christ, if we have partaken of that one hope, then we must pray for this world. Paul is telling us that God's heart and disposition, wherein He delights to see sinners saved, ought to be our heart, and it ought to move us to prayer. Paul is saying that God's heart, God’s person, and God’s plan all unite together to move us as Christians to pray for all kinds and classes and conditions of people. 

III. Implications for Ministry. 

In verse 7, Paul tells us that God's disposition towards the world was determinative for his own ministry. Specifically, he says, “For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle, as a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.” Paul was the most unlikely candidate in the history of the world to be the leading world evangelist of Gentiles. Yet God met him, converted him, and made him the chief apostle and missionary for the Gentiles. Why? Because God desires the world to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. When you realize the wideness and the depth of God’s grace towards you, then you want every person to know God savingly, as He by His grace has caused you to know Him. Paul is saying we are to pray for all kinds and ranks and classes and conditions of people because of who God is, and because of His disposition towards the world, and because there is only one way of salvation. He is also saying that this truth should impact our ministry. We, in our ministry, are to reach out to this world, even when it hates us. And we are to long for the nations to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. May God work in our hearts that we would pray, and minister, and give, and go to the very limits of our capacities, and perhaps even, by His grace, beyond them so that all kinds of people would come to know Jesus Christ and would gather around God’s throne singing His praises and thanking Him for His grace forever and ever.