who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.1 Timothy 2:4(NASB)
After his customary introduction to Timothy and his charge to identify and deal with distorted doctrine and silence false teachers, Paul continued his letter to this trusted, young pastor, with important instructions concerning Christian conduct and Church life.
The first few verses in chapter 2 deals with the power and effectiveness of prayer, in the life of a godly man or woman. He urged Timothy to make prayers and petitions on behalf of all persons, to encourage others to become praying people of God – and to ensure that when we petition our Father in heaven, we do so with a grateful heart of thanksgiving and praise.
Paul knew the importance of prayer in the life of all born-again Christians, and urged this godly man to go boldly and ceaselessly to the throne of grace, for help and mercy in time of need – for His grace is sufficient and His goodness endures from one generation to another. He understood the value of prayers and intercession for those in political and spiritual leadership, and encouraged Timothy to regularly pray for all in authority so that we may lead a quiet, peaceable life in the sight of God.
Paul knew perfectly well that the prayers, supplications, and intercessions of a righteous man are very effective and can accomplish much – for the Lord Himself is the power behind the prayers of every righteous man, and prayer is both good and acceptable in the sight of the Lord.
Elsewhere in Scripture, we discover Paul urging believers to be devoted to prayer, to pray without ceasing, to keep alert in prayer – both communal praying and when hidden away in ones private, prayer closet. He also urges us to pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, to be on the alert, and to pray with all perseverance as we intercede for other believers and petition the Lord on behalf of the lost. Our God is a God Who hears and answers the prayers of the godly and so Paul also urged Timothy and us, to keep on praying with an attitude of thanksgiving.
But perhaps the most beautiful verse in this passage on prayer is verse 4: "God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." It is not God's will that any should perish but that all should come to a knowledge of the gospel of God and of Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son.
The apostle Peter endorsed the importance Paul placed on prayer, by reminding us: "The Lord is not slow to fulfil His promise, as some count slowness; for He is forbearing with all people, and it is not his will that any should perish." Both Peter and Paul recognised the importance of praying for unsaved people as well carnal Christians who are out of fellowship with the Lord, for He is long-suffering and desires that "all should be brought to repentance."
Paul began this passage encouraging spiritual believers to pray for ALL men, and in this verse we come to a deeper understanding of the compassionate heart of our gracious God Who does not want any of His creation to perish. He longs for both the unsaved to repent and turn away from their sin by looking to Jesus and trusting in Him, and desires those who are already justified, to grow in grace, live godly lives, and turn away from anything that might stunt their spiritual growth.
Sadly, there are those who reject the truth of the gospel of Christ and will not acknowledge that there is only one God and one Mediator between God and man – the Man Christ Jesus. Tragically, there are those who do not believe in the only begotten Son of God, Who died and rose again to save mankind from their sin, and they remain under His eternal condemnation.
God is indeed a God of love and compassion for all men, for He gave His only begotten Son to redeem the world through the shedding of His innocent blood – but God is also a God of justice and truth, and those who choose to reject His offer of salvation by faith in Christ are condemned already – because they have not believed in the only begotten Son of God.
May we follow in Paul and Timothy's footsteps and pray for all men, the unsaved sinner, the godly saint, the carnal Christian, and for all in authority, for this is the will of God Who desires that all men are saved and come to that point of repentance, where they turn from sin and turn TO Christ.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the wise instruction Paul gave to Timothy, on the importance and effectiveness of prayer. Help me to pray at all times and to intercede for all men, in spirit, in truth, and without ceasing. Help me to be alert to the rising prayer needs in my own life and the needs of people around the world and give me a heart to intercede for all men everywhere, for kings, princes, presidents, and leaders, in both the political and spiritual realm. Thank You, Lord, that You are a God Who hears and answers the prayers of the righteous. In Jesus' name, AMEN.