Passage: 1 Timothy 2:8-15

Speaker: Steve Hands

Series: Truth Over Spin

Prayer-Formed Relationships

            A good coach helps an athlete overcomes challenges to accomplish their goals. God’s purpose is that, “ˆFor from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name” (Mal 1:11). Similarly the goal for the church in Ephesus is that “in every place the men should pray” (1 Tim 2:8). However like a good coach, Paul sees that this goal of prayer among all nations is stymied at Ephesus by quarreling, self-indulgence, and stubborn rebellion. To overcome those challenges, he writes 1 Timothy 2:8–15; in order that prayer might rise among all nations, the church must pray not quarrel, serve not indulge, and plod in obedience not grasp in rebellion.

            First we must pray not quarrel (1 Tim 2:8). While called to pray for all nations, the reality was that the men were wasting their energies in “anger or quarreling.” As a result he calls them to pray instead “lifting holy hands.” Such holy hands are purified by Christ through confession and forgiveness; only with such purified hearts can we overcome our anger and quarreling and devote ourselves to prayer so that prayer might spread to the nations. We must be vigilant that our prayers are not hindered.

            Also we must serve not indulge (1 Time 2:9–10). Another distraction from prayer was that the women would adorn themselves “with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire” (2:9); the rise of the new Roman wives in that period prided themselves in their ostentation and loose sexual ethic. While braided hair or gold were not evil in themselves, they would signal at that time an endorsement of the movement of these new Roman wives, a misleading connection for the watching world of the values of the church. Instead the women “should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self control…[and] with what is proper for women who prefers godliness—with good works” (2:9–10). Instead of indulging themselves, they should focus on serving in a manner that would result in good works.

            Finally we ought to plod in obedience not grasp in rebellion (1 Tim 2:11–15). These “new Roman wives” were dominating the early church with their teaching, exchanging traditional views of family to grasp a self-fulfilling narrative, unencumbered by the burdens of children and traditional marriage commitments. Their domineering teaching is to be countered with the call to “learn quietly with all submissiveness” without teaching and dominating the men around them (2:11–12). This prohibition is then grounded in an appeal to the created order in 1 Tim 2:13–14; as the false teachers distorted the Genesis account for their own uses (e.g., 1 Tim 1:4), Paul returns to the Genesis account to remind them of that order. Instead of being saved through the grasping of some esoteric ideal apart from traditional norms, Paul says, “she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self control” (2:15). Childbearing and all the mundane work that it entails is not a sub-spiritual discipline to be avoided when possible; instead it is elevated as an arena for salvation as we pursue faith and love and holiness. Indeed, we should always beware of the temptation to grasp at some esoteric ideal that promises to overthrow our mundane obedience; instead we are called to plod in obedience in the places where God has called us.

            So what? What are the barriers to our prayer life? Our quarrels, self-indulgence, and rebellion hindering the work of God in and through us? May we pray and not quarrel, serve and not indulge ourselves, and plod in obedience by walking in faith, love, and holiness instead of grasping in rebellion. As we do so, may prayer rise among all the nations through us.

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