1 Timothy 2:4-7
Why Live a Quiet Life?
Paul continues his thought from 2:1-3, namely, that “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people,” and then listing especially “kings and all who are in high positions.” The context concerns Christian living in a pagan world—a world very much like our own. And Paul’s concerns are chiefly: 1) that Christians live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness, working with their own hands, being good neighbors, respectable, dignified—in short, being the kind of people others admire; and too, 2) that by living such lives, others may come to the knowledge of the truth—that Jesus Christ is Lord.
This is the context for the passage of 2:1-7; unfortunately, it often gets dragged into a theological debate concerning the doctrine of election in which Calvinists and Arminians take sides. The issue is over verse four in which Paul writes that God “desires all people to be saved.” A couple of lines down, Paul will say that Christ Jesus “gave himself a ransom for all.” The question is whether “all” in these two verses means people from all nations and tongues or every man, woman, and child. I am inclined to the former for two reasons: 1) Paul writes in Romans 5:18 our Lord’s “righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.” But we know from too many other places of Scripture that “all men” shall not be justified; and, 2) the former interpretation agrees with other passages of Scripture, for example, Ephesians 1:3-14 to name only one. Such an interpretation seems to fit the context better in that Paul hastens to speak of Jesus Christ—the one mediator between God and man and thus the only way of salvation.
So this passage is not really about the doctrine of election at all, though some mangle it for that purpose. 1 Timothy 2:1-7 tells us this: There is a world out there that desperately needs Jesus who is the only way to salvation. It is God’s earnest desire that people from every nation come to this saving knowledge about His Son. For this reason, you, Christian, need to live such a life before men that is honorable and respectable such that people may see your good works and honor the God you serve. Perhaps some will ask you about your God, some certainly will not, and some will persecute you for your faith. This is not your concern. Your concern is to live such that others cannot help but notice your manner of life. And so we close with 1 Peter 1:9: “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation…that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”