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Bible Commentaries

Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

1 Timothy 2

Verses 1-2

BISHOPS AND PEOPLE

‘I exhort … that … prayers … be made … for all that are in authority.’

1 Timothy 2:1-Exodus :

It is a hard thing to be in authority. The man in authority must live his whole life in the fierce glare of public criticism. It also appears hard to realise that we have a duty to those in authority. The man in authority seems so far removed from us, so independent of anything that we can do. Yet we have such a duty—a practical duty expressed by St. Paul in his exhortation to prayer for those in high places.

I. The authority of bishops.—May I beg you to apply what I have said to bishops, not because I desire to unduly magnify the office of the episcopate, but because bishops need the prayers of the faithful for the right performance of their public duties. They are men in authority. Whatever may be thought of episcopacy as being of the esse of the Church, facts are stubborn things, and it is a fact that great authority is entrusted to a bishop.

( a) The greatest authority of the bishops is based upon the bishop’s relationship to the great Head of the Church. A bishop may be nominated to his high office by the Crown—as in England. He may be elected by the people—as in Australia. He exercises his episcopal authority primarily neither for the Crown nor for the people, but for the great Bishop of our souls. So necessarily a bishop’s authority in its highest sense is pastoral.

( b) A bishop has authority also as a custodian of the faith. Upon him more than upon others is laid the duty of banishing and driving away ‘erroneous and strange doctrine.’

II. The responsibility of the people.—I have not scrupled to indicate how weighty is the responsibility of a bishop. Have you no responsibility? Consider the duty of praying for bishops in the light of present needs.

( a) Pray that the bishops may have alert and unprejudiced minds. Age gives wisdom, but it does not always give the open child-like mind to catch the whisper of God’s voice.

( b) Pray that the bishops may have courage to speak and to act without fear or prejudice. This is not easy to do. It demands courage from a bishop to do his duty in England to-day without fear or prejudice, and he is strangely constituted who has never felt the dread of adverse public opinion, so often blind and cruel in its force. Yet if they fear men they are not the servants of Christ Jesus. Pray, therefore, that those in authority in the Church may be without fear.

( c) Above all, pray that they may have a complete and compelling adherence to the Blessed Lord. Wisdom is good. Courage is good. The heritage of the past, the opportunities of the present, the hopes of the future, stimulate and uplift our lives, but these are vain without Him in whom we live, and move, and have our being.

—Bishop G. H. Frodsham.

Illustration

‘More things are wrought by prayer

Than this world dreams of. Wherefore let thy voice

Rise like a fountain for me, night and day.

For what are men better than sheep or goats

If, knowing God, they lift not hands of prayer.’

Verses 1-2

BISHOPS AND PEOPLE

‘I exhort … that … prayers … be made … for all that are in authority.’

1 Timothy 2:1-Exodus :

It is a hard thing to be in authority. The man in authority must live his whole life in the fierce glare of public criticism. It also appears hard to realise that we have a duty to those in authority. The man in authority seems so far removed from us, so independent of anything that we can do. Yet we have such a duty—a practical duty expressed by St. Paul in his exhortation to prayer for those in high places.

I. The authority of bishops.—May I beg you to apply what I have said to bishops, not because I desire to unduly magnify the office of the episcopate, but because bishops need the prayers of the faithful for the right performance of their public duties. They are men in authority. Whatever may be thought of episcopacy as being of the esse of the Church, facts are stubborn things, and it is a fact that great authority is entrusted to a bishop.

( a) The greatest authority of the bishops is based upon the bishop’s relationship to the great Head of the Church. A bishop may be nominated to his high office by the Crown—as in England. He may be elected by the people—as in Australia. He exercises his episcopal authority primarily neither for the Crown nor for the people, but for the great Bishop of our souls. So necessarily a bishop’s authority in its highest sense is pastoral.

( b) A bishop has authority also as a custodian of the faith. Upon him more than upon others is laid the duty of banishing and driving away ‘erroneous and strange doctrine.’

II. The responsibility of the people.—I have not scrupled to indicate how weighty is the responsibility of a bishop. Have you no responsibility? Consider the duty of praying for bishops in the light of present needs.

( a) Pray that the bishops may have alert and unprejudiced minds. Age gives wisdom, but it does not always give the open child-like mind to catch the whisper of God’s voice.

( b) Pray that the bishops may have courage to speak and to act without fear or prejudice. This is not easy to do. It demands courage from a bishop to do his duty in England to-day without fear or prejudice, and he is strangely constituted who has never felt the dread of adverse public opinion, so often blind and cruel in its force. Yet if they fear men they are not the servants of Christ Jesus. Pray, therefore, that those in authority in the Church may be without fear.

( c) Above all, pray that they may have a complete and compelling adherence to the Blessed Lord. Wisdom is good. Courage is good. The heritage of the past, the opportunities of the present, the hopes of the future, stimulate and uplift our lives, but these are vain without Him in whom we live, and move, and have our being.

—Bishop G. H. Frodsham.

Illustration

‘More things are wrought by prayer

Than this world dreams of. Wherefore let thy voice

Rise like a fountain for me, night and day.

For what are men better than sheep or goats

If, knowing God, they lift not hands of prayer.’

Verse 5

THE ONE MEDIATOR

‘One Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.’

1 Timothy 2:5

St. Paul here describes not a creed but an experience. These words are not the utterance of an apostolic dogma, but the utterance of the Apostle’s feeling. He is not insisting on something to be held as belief, but he is telling us something he has found the Man Christ Jesus to be, his consciousness of Him.

No one ever mediated between God and man as Christ did.

I. He is remarkable, for the heavenly and the earthly meet in Him with no difficulty—they mingle in Him. How wonderfully entire He is! There is no defect in His character, no neglect of the minor things of life—no imperfection in the human side because of His Divine side. There is no onesidedness in Christ Jesus, like as we find in most reformers. He was a Man intensely spiritual, yet full of everything human. This meeting and blending is unique.

II. Christ is unique in what He mediates.

( a) In what He brings down and presents to us. His vision of God the Father, which He gave to us, is unique. Who ever made men think about God as He did?

( b) A mediator to God of our humanity. In Him we are brought near to the Father.

III. Christ is the One and only Mediator.—‘If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and He is the Propitiation for our sins.’ When thus we think of ‘the Man Christ Jesus,’ and hear the exhortation, ‘Lift up your hearts,’ the voice of humble love and faith replies, ‘We lift them up unto the Lord.’

Verse 8

‘PRAY, ALWAYS PRAY’

‘I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.’

1 Timothy 2:8

If there be one feeling more strongly fixed in man than another it is that of dependence. Pride may exist, but one still feels dependent. One objection heard against prayer is that God has fixed all things. So He has, but not absolutely; e.g. farmer must sow wheat or no harvest. The object of prayer is not to make God acquainted with our needs, but to deepen our feeling of dependence. In prayer we are obeying God’s command. He knows our need, but says, ‘For this I will be inquired of,’ etc.

I. The nature of prayer.

( a) It is directed to the Father, through the Son, by the Spirit.

( b) It is the expression of a need which is felt.

II. Characteristics of prayer (see text),

( a) Purity of motive.

( b) It must be the expression of the heart.

( c) It must be offered in a spirit of charity.

( d) There must be confidence. ‘He that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.’

III. Universality of prayer.

( a) Always. In need, danger, world, family, home, abroad.

( b) In all places. In consecrated places and unconsecrated places. ‘Where two or three,’ etc.

Illustration

‘A man of learning, but an unbeliever, was once travelling in Manilla on a scientific expedition. He was escorted by a native of rank. When about to start, the native requested the white stranger to pray to his God. He declined, because he was not a man of prayer. The native then said, “Well, some God must be prayed to, so you will excuse me if I pray to mine.” The unbeliever was thus rebuked by the heathen. Its effect was that the man who went in search of curiosities returned a child of God, and having found the pearl of great price. His next visit is to be as a missionary to preach Christ.’

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Bibliographical Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 2". Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cpc/1-timothy-2.html. 1876.