Author: Ron Graham
Verse by verse study of Paul's first letter to Timothy. In this lesson we examine chapter 2 verses 1-4 looking at God’s agenda for humanity.
Paul has in mind the whole world. God desires, and provides for, "all humankind", to be saved (1Timothy 2:1,4,6). There are things on God’s agenda which God wills for all people, things which are "good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour" (1Timothy 2:3). We ought to know and follow these things.
Paul calls upon the power of prayer that "entreaties, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings" be made to God on behalf of all humanity. These prayers should be for kings or other governing authorities. Paul elsewhere commands that every person be subject to these authorities (Romans 13:1-7).
The point of this teaching is not so much for the benefit of the kings and governments, as for the benefit of the populace, "that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in godliness and dignity" (1Timothy 2:2).
People do, of course, suffer tribulations, and "through much tribulation we must enter the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22). This is because of Satan’s work in stirring up hatred and greed. God’s will and agenda, however, is that we live in tranquility, and one of his instruments is good government of society. So we should support this law and order by prayer and by personal conduct.
The first principle of the universe is the joy of God. The first item on God’s agenda is that he should find good pleasure in us and we in Him. God rejoices in nothing but what is good. There's no higher goal than to please God. It's Satan’s agenda that men should incur God’s wrath. God doesn't want to be angry with us; he wants to smile upon us. Only by bringing joy to God can we find joy and good for ourselves.
God’s agenda for us is clear. He "desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth". The salvation and enlightenment of humanity is God’s will, and toward this end he has been working since the beginning of creation. And Paul later says, "It is for this that we labour and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, especially of believers" (1Timothy 4:10).
God has made a way for all to be saved. In this sense he is the Saviour of all humanity. Those who believe and obey the message of Christ are certainly saved. In this sense he is the Saviour especially of believers. All humanity can believe, and all who believe can be saved. That's God’s agenda as he spreads true knowledge abroad in the world.