Monday, December 21, 2009

1 Timothy 2:5-7

V5-7 – 5For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6who gave Himself as a ransom for all men – the testimony given in its proper time. 7And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle – I am telling the truth, I am not lying – and a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles.

Paul announces that there is one God; this is the fundamental affirmation of Judaism and Christianity and was absolutely contrary to the cultural polytheism of the day. He also declares Christ as the sole mediator between God and men (remember it is in this sense that Jesus is our hope from 1 Timothy 1:1). This is another reason to pray for “everyone;” salvation is not found in every faith, but only in Jesus Christ. And God uses prayer to bring people to faith, and therefore salvation, in Jesus Christ.

Paul emphasizes the humanity of Jesus here, as 1st (all the way through 4th) century false teachers commonly denied it, due to the resurrection. (Only beginning in the 4th century was His divinity questioned.) Essentially, God is One Being, One essence, with three distinct, co-eternal, and co-equal Persons. And Paul acknowledges that God Himself – in the Person of Jesus, as “the man” (pointing to Jesus’ full humanity) – fulfills the role of Savior (v3).

V6 recalls the way in which Jesus served as mediator (v5) – by becoming a ransom (Isaiah 53). He “gave Himself;” the Father sent His Son, and Jesus “gave Himself.” You can see clearly the roles that each Person of the Godhead has to fulfill. The ransom here is a vicarious, substitutionary atonement and propitiation. And when Paul mentions all men here, he is undoubtedly referring to the same “all kinds of men” as in v1 and v4. Paul certainly knew that Jesus’ death was a sufficient ransom for all, but that it was efficient only for the elect, which included all kinds of men. Calvin says, “The universal term all must always be referred to classes: of men, and not to persons; as if he had said, that not only Jews, but Gentiles also, not only persons of humble rank, but princes also, were redeemed by the death of Christ. Since, therefore, He wishes the benefit of His death to be common to all, an insult is offered to Him by those who, by their opinion, shut out any person from the hope of salvation.”

Furthermore, a ransom paid without the return of the kidnapped is unjust, and there is no injustice with God. If a ransom was paid, then the person is redeemed, for God would be unjust to keep the ransom without redeeming the ransomed party. This is obviously not true of all men, but it is certainly true of all kinds of men, again, according to God’s sovereignty. And wrapping up v6 with an aside, Paul says that the work of Jesus Christ is “the testimony given in its proper time.” Genesis 3:15 offered the protoevangelion, and the rest of Old Testament foreshadowed Christ. The Gospels reveal that proper time, in which Christ came humbly and won victory at Calvary; and now Paul acknowledges that the whole of history is His story, ordained from before the creation of the world, according to His will.

Paul was appointed to preach the gospel, as “a herald and an apostle…and a teacher (2 Timothy 1:11) of the true faith to the Gentiles,” to the world. The statement thrown in the middle of this claim, in v7, is odd if this letter is intended solely for Timothy, but this clue, along with others throughout the letter, reveals that the letter was intended for the entire Ephesian congregation. God’s saving love is truly for the world, as He includes Jew and Gentile, slave and free, male and female, all who, by grace, have the “true faith.”

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