Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, March 5th, 2024
the Third Week of Lent
There are 26 days til Easter!
Partner with StudyLight.org as God uses us to make a difference for those displaced by Russia's war on Ukraine.
Click to donate today!

Bible Commentaries
1 Timothy 2

Preacher's Complete Homiletical CommentaryPreacher's Homiletical

Search for…
Enter query below:
Additional Authors

Verses 1-3


1 Timothy 2:1. Supplications, prayers, intercessions.—The first is a special form of the second. Intercession is prayer in its most individual and urgent form—prayer in which God is sought in audience and personally approached (Ellicott). Thanksgivings are always to accompany prayers.

1 Timothy 2:2. For kings, and all that are in authority.—It is very noticeable that the neglect of this duty on the part of the Jews led to the commencement of their war with the Romans. That we may lead a quiet and peaceable life.—A life that is free from the rude shocks consequent on political strife, and equally free from participation in intrigue or sedition. In all godliness and honesty.—R.V. “in all godliness and gravity.” The former word describes the direction of our reverence to whatever is truly worthy of it. “Honesty denotes the decency and propriety of deportment which befits the chaste, the young, and the earnest, and is as it were the appropriate setting of higher graces and virtues” (Ellicott).


Prayer a Universal Duty.

I. Should be offered for all classes.—“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and all that are in authority” (1 Timothy 2:1-2). There is very little difference of meaning in the terms here used for prayer. “And yet this heaping up of words,” says Calvin, “is not superfluous; but Paul appears purposely to join together three terms for the same purpose in order to recommend more warmly and urge more strongly earnest and constant prayer. We know how sluggish we are in this religious duty, and therefore we need not wonder if for the purpose of rousing us to it the Holy Spirit employs various excitements.” While we are to pray for all men, “kings and all that are in authority” are mentioned as especially needing our prayers: their exalted position and great responsibilities needing help from heaven that their duties may be discharged with impartiality and justice. Though public authorities may be opposed to the gospel, as was the case in the apostle’s days, they are not to be neglected in our prayers. “The scope of a Christian’s desires and gratitude, when he appears before the Lord, must have no narrower limit than that which embraces the whole human race. The solidarity of the whole body of Christians, however distant from one another in space and time, however different from one another in nationality, in discipline, and even in creed, is a magnificent fact of which we all of us need from time to time to be reminded, and which, when we are reminded of it, it is difficult to grasp. Members of sects that we never heard of, dwelling in remote regions of which we do not even know the names, are nevertheless united to us by the eternal ties of a common baptism and a common belief in God and in Jesus Christ. The Eastern sectarian in the wilds of Asia, and the Western sectarian in the backwoods of North America, are members of Christ and our brethren, and as such have spiritual interests identical with our own, for which it is not only our duty but our advantage to pray. What shall we say, then, about the difficulty of realising the solidarity of the whole human race? The population of the globe, those who are not even in name Christian, outnumber us by at least three to one” (Plummer). For these we should not fail to pray, and give all the assistance we can to missionary enterprise and humanising efforts.

II. Should be accompanied with thanksgiving.—“And giving of thanks” (1 Timothy 2:1). Prayer is cold and meaningless unless it is interfused with a thankful spirit. Gratitude prompts prayer, and in the answers God is continually giving, finds new themes for supplication. A Maryland planter was riding to one of his plantations under a state of religious awakening. He heard the voice of prayer and praise in a cabin, and, listening, discovered that a negro from a neighbouring estate was leading the devotion of his own slaves, and offering fervent thanksgiving for the blessing of their depressed lot. His heart was touched, and with emotion he exclaimed, “Alas! O Lord, I have my thousands and tens of thousands, and yet, ungrateful wretch that I am, I never thank Thee as this poor slave does, who has scarcely clothes to put on, or food to satisfy his hunger!

III. Should be offered in order to secure real progress in the Christian life.—“That we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (1 Timothy 2:2). Here is a reason for praying for kings and magistrates—that they may use their power in the maintenance of peace and good order and in defending the interests of true religion, that while restraining the violence of wicked man they may not recklessly plunge the nation into war. The Christian has a reverence for law, and the maintenance of law and order is helpful to growth and progress in religion. “I have been benefited by riding alone a long journey in giving that time to prayer. Making an errand to God for others, I have gotten something for myself. I have been really confirmed in many particulars that God heareth prayers, and therefore I pray for anything, of how little importance soever. He enables me to make no question that this way, which is mocked and nicknamed, is the only way to heaven” (S. Rutherford).

IV. Prayer for all classes has the Divine approval.—“For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour” (1 Timothy 2:3). God is willing that all should be saved; therefore we should meet the will of God in behalf of others by praying for the salvation of all men. More would be saved if we prayed more. “Since God wishes that all should be saved, do you also wish it, and if you wish it pray for it. For prayer is the instrument of effecting such things” (Chrysostom).


1. True prayer is ever unselfish.

2. Prayer is the vital element of religious progress.

3. Acceptable prayer is answered prayer.


1 Timothy 2:1-3. Forms of Prayer in Public Worship.

I. Are useful and necessary to obviate and prevent all extravagant levities or worse impieties in public worship.

II. That ministers less learned may have provision of devotions made for them.

III. That all the members of the Church may know the condition of public communion and understand beforehand what prayers they are to join in.

IV. To secure the established doctrine and faith of the Church.Bishop Bull.

1 Timothy 2:1-2. Prayer for Kings and Governors.

I. Common charity should dispose us to pray for kings.

II. We are bound to pray for kings out of charity for the public.

III. Subjects are bound in gratitude, equity, and justice to pray for their princes.

IV. Princes need our prayers.

V. Prayer is the only allowable method for redressing our case if we suffer by princes.Barrow.

Verses 4-8


1 Timothy 2:4. Who will have all men to be saved.—The emphatic word here is “all men.” The good purpose of God is as universal as it is good. It is not the will of the Father that any should perish; and if some will be punished with eternal destruction, they reach a doom that was never meant to be theirs. To come to the knowledge.—As we have seen elsewhere, it is the full or complete knowledge of which St. Paul thinks.

1 Timothy 2:5. For there is one God.—In his wide travels the apostle had met the beliefs in “gods many and lords many.” In contrast to these, of whatever name, he opposes the one God. And one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.—R.V. “Between God and men, Himself man, Christ Jesus.” “The human nature of Christ is specially mentioned as being the state in which His mediatorial office was visibly performed” (Ellicott).

1 Timothy 2:6. Who gave Himself a ransom for all.—There is no possibility of evading the vicariousness of the work of Christ as here stated. As the idea of Christ’s substitution comes out in the compound word for “ransom,’ so the benefit accruing therefrom is clear in “for all.” To be testified in due time.—R.V. “the testimony to be borne in its own times.” “The import of the testimony to be set forth in its proper seasons” (Ellicott).

1 Timothy 2:8. I will therefore.—R.V. “I desire therefore.” An active wish is implied. That men pray.—R.V. the men in contrast to women to whom St. Paul gives all honour in that which is purely womanly. Lifting up holy hands.—Compare Psalms 134:2 (R.V. margin), “Lift up your hands in holiness”; and Isaiah 1:15, “When ye spread forth your hands.” The folding of the hands in prayer may be illustrated from the monuments, where captives approach the conqueror, or vassals draw near with tribute.


The Universality of Redemption

I. Is in harmony with the Divine will.—“Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). The provisions for the salvation of the race are the outcome of the Divine will; but while He wills the salvation of all, He also wills that that salvation should be obtained by coming to the knowledge of the truth. Hence our prayers for others, in order to their salvation, should be that their eyes may be opened to see the truth, and that they may be induced to embrace it. Because God wills salvation we should pray for it: had He willed the contrary, prayer for salvation would be useless. Our prayers should include all, as God’s grace includes all. Men cannot be forced into the truth; but they may be prayed into it. When Augustine was on the eve of his departure for Rome, where she knew he would have to encounter so many temptations, his mother Monica prayed for the prevention of his going. But he went, and was there converted.

1. The unity of God implies the comprehension of all His human offspring in the provision of redemption. “For there is one God” (1 Timothy 2:5).

2. Redemption was effected by the one Mediator who represented in His humanity the whole human race. “And one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus; who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Timothy 2:5-6). The word “for” links the unity of God and Christ with the universality of the redemption of the race: prayer should therefore be offered to the one God on behalf of all men. The unity of God is here placed distinctly in the foreground to show how arbitrary is any limit of Christian intercession; the unity of the Mediator to prove that the Jew has not the least advantage over the heathen, since both must be saved in one and the same way. God’s unity in essence and purpose is a proof of His comprehending all His human children, created in His image, in His offer of grace. All mankind constitute, as it were, one man before God. They who have not this one God by one Mediator have no mediator at all. Christ’s mediation affects the whole race, since there is but the one Mediator, designed as the representative Man for all men alike. His being man was necessary to His being a mediator, sympathising with us through experimental knowledge of our nature. Even in nature almost all blessings are conveyed to us from God, not immediately, but through the mediation of various agents. The effectual intercession of Moses for Israel (Numbers 14:0; Deuteronomy 9:0), of Abraham for Abimelech (Genesis 20:7), of Job for his friends (Job 42:10)—the mediation being prescribed by God whilst declaring His purpose of forgiveness—all prefigure the grand mediation for all by the one Mediator. Man was the captive of sin. He was unable to ransom himself, because absolute obedience is due to God, and therefore no act of ours can satisfy for the least offence. The Son of God therefore became man in order that, being made like unto us in all things, sin only excepted, as our elder brother He should redeem us by offering Himself as a ransom, a substituted or equivalent ransom. The oneness of the Mediator, involving the universality of redemption, which faith alone appropriates, was therefore the great subject of Christian testimony (1 Corinthians 1:6; 1 Corinthians 2:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:10) (Fausset, Bengel, Alford).

II. Is authoritatively declared by a specially commissioned messenger.—“Whereof I am ordained a preacher and an apostle … a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity” (1 Timothy 2:7). None of the apostles obtained so clear an insight into the wide, far-reaching sweep of the doctrine of redemption as Paul, and no one has argued its universal application more ably than he. The breadth of the gospel as it expanded before his studious gaze effectually cured him of his Jewish prejudices and narrowness, and fitted him as the fearless champion of Gentile rights and privileges. The mixed and restricted gospel of the Judaisers was shrivelled up before the fire of his intensified zeal and the irresistible power of his logic. He refers to the universality of his calling as an evidence of the universality of Divine grace, and as a motive to pray for all men. The solemn protestation, “I speak the truth in Christ, I lie not,” indicates the importance he attached to his mission as a teacher of the Gentiles, notwithstanding the misrepresentations of others.

III. Is a reason for prayer everywhere.

1. Prayer should be reverential. “I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands” (1 Timothy 2:8). The early Christians turned up their palms towards heaven as those craving help do. “Holy hands” are hands which have committed no impiety and observed every sacred duty. This, or at least the contrite desire to be so, is a needful qualification for effectual prayer. It is a feeling which nature has implanted within us, when we ask God, to look upwards. Even idolaters retain the custom of lifting up their hands to heaven. The attitude is in accordance with true godliness, provided it be attended by the corresponding truth represented by it (Fausset, Calvin).

2. Prayer should be offered in a suitable spirit. “Without wrath and doubting” (1 Timothy 2:8). In peace and trust—putting away the spirit of anger and disputing, which is unfriendly to and destructive of the true spirit of prayer. Prayer does not consist in gifted expressions and volubility of speech, but in brokenness of heart. A hard heart cannot pray: a broken heart is made up of prayers. Prayer does not consist in elegance of phrase, but in the strength of the affection. Pray that you may pray.


1. Redemption is provided for all.

2. It is a great honour to proclaim a gospel of universal blessing.

3. Prayer would be suppressed if all might not be saved.


1 Timothy 2:4. Salvation for All.

I. God shows His desire for the salvation of men in providence.

II. In conscience.

III. By the Holy Spirit.

IV. In the gift of Christ.Preacher’s Magazine.

God would have All Men to be saved.

I. The appellation given to the gospel—“the truth.”

II. The knowledge of this truth is connected with salvation, as a means to an end, by no less an authority than the will of God.

III. The connection of the Divine will with the salvation of men.

1. The object of this will is the salvation of man.

2. In the same sense God willeth all men to be saved.

3. He wills to save men according to the nature He has given them.—R. Watson.

1 Timothy 2:5. The Man Christ Jesus.

I. He is the true man—really and thoroughly man—the common man.

II. He is very man—simply man—as to His human nature and experience neither more nor less nor other than man.

III. He is the one man—the only man in whom the manhood is unbroken and entire—the man unfallen, and therefore unfragmentary.

IV. He is the man to mediate between God and man.

V. He is the man to give Himself a ransom for all.

VI. He is the man to be testified in due time.R. S. Candlish.

1 Timothy 2:8. Conditions of Success in Prayer.

I. A holy life.—“Lifting up holy hands.”

II. A charitable, forgiving spirit.—“Without wrath.”

III. Faith.—Without “doubting.”—Olin.

Verses 9-15


1 Timothy 2:9. That women adorn themselves in modest apparel.—“In seemly guise.” The word for “apparel” includes more than dress—taking in the whole deportment, whether manifest in manners or dress. “Do not people speak of ‘loud dress’? I suppose that by this is meant a discord in shape, a shock in colours, a flashy advertisement, to say the wearer is very foolish, but with a kind of folly that is not very innocent” (Bishop Alexander). With shamefastness.—The innate shrinking from anything unbecoming. And sobriety.—The well-balanced state of mind resulting from habitual self-restraint. Not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array.—“The saints in all ages have allowed themselves to be sarcastic about dress. Isaiah was so (1 Timothy 3:16), and Paul and Peter. Jerome is angrier and fiercer. To Lœta he writes, ‘Load not your child’s hair with gems, nor sprinkle on her young head some of the red fire of hell’ ” (Alexander). Let those who do not fear the red fire smile at the narrowness.

1 Timothy 2:11. Let the woman learn.—The apostle speaks with the assurance of one who has the fitness of things on his side. It would be interesting to have St. Paul’s judgment on certain developments of our own times.

1 Timothy 2:12. Nor to usurp authority over the man.—It is very certain the translators of 1611 held the supremacy of the man, as this phrase shows. The R.V. says, “to have dominion over.”

1 Timothy 2:13. For Adam was first formed, then Eve.—An important reason St. Paul thinks why man should take the headship. Its force would be more evident to Jews than to our own day. The same reasoning, it might be said, would show Adam inferior to the brutes.

1 Timothy 2:14. And Adam was not deceived.—But the woman was not only later than man in point of creation—she was earlier in sin than he.

1 Timothy 2:15. But she shall be saved in child-bearing.—There are two most reasonable explanations of this difficult expression. (a) “She shall be saved by fulfilling her proper destiny and acquiescing in all the conditions of woman’s life”; and (b) “by the child-bearing, i.e. by the relation in which woman stood to the Messiah.” Bishop Ellicott argues strenuously for the latter.


The Place of Woman in Church Life.

I. To be modest in dress and moral deportment.—“In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety … with good works” (1 Timothy 2:9-10). The allusion is primarily to the behaviour of women in public worship, though generally applicable to the dress and conduct of “women professing godliness.” A lady once asked the Rev. John Newton what was the best rule for female dress and behaviour. “Madam,” said he, “so dress and so conduct yourself that persons who have been in your company shall not recollect what you had on.” Modesty and simplicity are the adornment of Christian women. The caution against display in dress and ornaments was no doubt necessary in writing to Ephesus, where wealthy ladies dressed extravagantly. St. Paul might say: “You are Christian women, and the profession you have adopted is reverence towards God. This profession you have made known to the world. It is necessary therefore that those externals of which the world takes cognisance should not give the lie to your profession. And how is unseemly attire, paraded at the very time of public worship, compatible with the reverence which you have professed? Reverence God by reverencing yourselves, by guarding with jealous care the dignities of those bodies with which He has endowed you. Reverence God by coming before Him clothed both in body and soul in fitting attire. Let your bodies be free from meretricious decoration. Let your souls be adorned with abundance of good works” (Plummer).

II. Not to be a public teacher, but a submissive learner.—“Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man” (1 Timothy 2:11-12). The prohibition refers to taking the lead in the public teaching of the sanctuary. There was a tendency among the women at Ephesus to put themselves forward more than was seemly. “Woman’s sphere in the law of God, without doubt, is home; her noblest attraction, devotedness to those with whom she is thrown in daily intercourse. Some women there are who find not only duty, but pleasure there—not only love, but safety. Others again, restless and discontented, fancy that they should be happier and better and more useful anywhere but where they are, and gladly seize the first pretence to turn aside. Woman’s guide in general is feeling; she is a creature of impulse, ever likely, unless strongly yet tenderly restrained, to turn aside from the safer and less excitable path of daily duty, wherever the affections or the enthusiasm of the moment may lead. More especially is she likely to fall into this temptation when first awakened to the claims and beauty and comfort of religion. The simple duties of home then seem little worth compared to the service of heaven. She cannot realise that the unfatiguing, unexciting duties of domestic usefulness, infused with thoughts of God and of His word, is the path most acceptable to Him” (Grace Aguilar, on “Women of Israel”).

III. Not to assume imperious authority over man.—“Nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence” (1 Timothy 2:12).

1. Because man was first in the order of creation. “For Adam was first formed, then Eve” (1 Timothy 2:13). It was God’s law from the beginning that woman should be subject to the man, and it may be supposed that this authority suffered by the Fall, yet in the ruin that followed there remained so much of the Divine blessing as would make it seem improper that woman, by her own fault, should make her condition better than before.

2. Because woman was first in the transgression. “And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression” (1 Timothy 2:14). Being more easily deceived, she more easily deceives. Last in being, she was first in sin—indeed, she alone was deceived. The subtle serpent knew she was the weaker vessel. He therefore tempted her, not him. She yielded to the temptations of sense and the deceits of Satan; he to conjugal love. Hence in the order of God’s judicial sentence the serpent, the prime offender, stands first; the woman who was deceived next; and the man, persuaded by his wife, last. Hence the woman’s subjection is represented as the consequence of her being deceived (Fausset).

3. Though the first in the transgression and suffering her part in its punishment, she shall be saved on the same terms as others. “Notwithstanding she shall be saved in child-bearing, if they [the women] continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety” (1 Timothy 2:15). The curse will be turned into a condition favourable to her salvation by her faithfully performing her part in doing and suffering what God has assigned her—child-bearing, rearing of children, and home duties—her sphere, as distinguished from public teaching, which is not hers, but man’s. In this home sphere, not ordinarily in one of active duty for advancing the kingdom of God, which contradicts the position assigned to her by God, she will be saved on the same terms as all others—by faith, and bringing forth the fruits of faith in a holy and consistent life, in which godly women should excel, that they may differ from irreligious women. Many who have children are lost: many who are childless are saved. The woman is blessed as a mother when she cares for the good Christian nurture of her children.


1. Woman should be a pattern of neatness and modesty.

2. The subjection of woman is not that of a servant, but of an equal.

3. The place of woman in the Church is one of great power and usefulness.


1 Timothy 2:9-10. A Woman’s True Adornment

I. Is not in dress or costly trinkets.

II. But in modesty and self-restrained behaviour.

III. In works of charity.

1 Timothy 2:11-15. Womanly Modesty

I. Shrinks from the display of imperious authority (1 Timothy 2:12).

II. Does not aspire to be a public Church teacher (1 Timothy 2:12).

III. Is often most eloquent in silent submission (1 Timothy 2:11-12).

IV. Remembers her part in the first transgression (1 Timothy 2:13-14).

V. Is becoming in one who suffers (1 Timothy 2:15).

Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 2". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/phc/1-timothy-2.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.
adsFree icon
Ads FreeProfile