Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
I. THE PARAMOUNT DUTY OF PUBLIC PRAYER. "I exhort therefore, first of all, that petitions, prayers, supplications, thanksgivings, be made for all men."
1. The leading place given to prayer in this series of instructions respecting the administration of the Church, proves its pre-eminent importance. It is the breath of vital godliness.
(1) God promises to hear public prayer (2 Chronicles 7:14-16);
(2) Christ sanctifies it by his presence (Matthew 18:20);
(3) the saints delight in it (Psalm 42:4);
(4) they are to be exhorted to the exercise of it (Hebrews 10:25);
(5) it is not to be conducted in an unknown tongue (1 Corinthians 14:14-16).
2. The variety of terms in which it is here described implies the diversity of circumstances in which God's people are placed.
(1) "Petitions." This term expresses the sense of insufficiency and need, and may be a special form of a particular prayer.
(2) "Prayers." This is prayer in general, as representing the spirit of devotion.
(3) "Supplications." This signifies a closer dealing with God, a more childlike confidence in prayer.
(4) "Thanksgivings." This suggests that element which ought never to be absent from our supplications - gratitude for past mercies.
II. FOR WHOM ARE WE TO PRAY? "For all men."
1. It would not be acceptable prayer if we were to pray only for ourselves. It is not Christ-like to look down with a sense of superiority upon the mass of men as sunk in perdition.
2. We are bound to love all men, and therefore to pray for their welfare. Much of our happiness depends upon our identifying ourselves lovingly with others.
III. PRAYERS ARE SPECIALLY TO BE MADE FOR KINGS AND ALL IN HIGH PLACE. "For kings and for all in high place."
1. Such persons pre-eminently need our prayers.
(1) They wield great power for good or evil;
(2) they are exposed to many dangers;
(3) they are liable to greater temptations than other men.
2. God has power to influence their public action.
(1) The hearts of kings are in his hands;
(2) he sets them up and he removes them (Daniel 2:21);
(3) he can establish their throne in righteousness and justice (Proverbs 16:12).
3. Kings can do much to promote the well-being of the Church of God. "That we may pass a quiet and tranquil life in all godliness and gravity." We should pray for kings, because they can promote our outward peace and our inward tranquility, by restraining the bad and encouraging the good. Kings can thus protect us in the exercise of our religion and in the practice of godliness. Wicked kings can expose the godly to cruel risks, and expose their gravity to unseemly perils.
4. The duty of praying for kings is not affected by the consideration that they are pagans, or oppressors, or persecutors.
(1) Christians will pray the more earnestly for them that God will change their hearts. All the kings were pagans in the days of the apostle, and many of them persecutors.
(2) It was specially necessary to enjoin prayer for kings upon Christian communities, consisting largely of Jews who had an intense longing to throw off the Roman yoke. It is a curious fact that it was the cessation of prayer by the Jews on behalf of the Roman emperor that led to the final war four years after this injunction was given by the apostle. It may have been owing to his injunction that the Christians were not involved in the disasters of that fatal rebellion. - T.C.
I. UNIVERSALITY IN OUR APPEARING BEFORE GOD ON BEHALF OF OTHERS.
1. Broad teaching. "I exhort therefore, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, thanksgivings, be made for all men." This is the first duty which pressed upon the apostle's mind, as claiming attention. If a priest is one who acts for others, then there is here required of us priestly service, which is only in accordance with our being called, in 1 Peter 2:5, a holy priesthood. Our priestly service is here regarded as twofold.
(1) Prayer for all. For the sake of emphasis and fullness three words are used to denote prayer, which a Greek would be better able to distinguish than we can do now. The first word seems to mark the state of need out of which petitions take their rise. The second word seems to mark our approaching God with our petitions. The third word seems to mark the urgent way in which we are to approach God with our petitions. An intercessory character is given to all three by the accompanying words. It is right that we should turn our wants into petitions for ourselves, that we should approach God with these petitions, and that we should press them with all urgency. But there is a range of want beyond ourselves which we are here directed to cover by intercession. We are to turn the wants of others into intercessions for them; with our intercessory petitions we are to go to the throne of grace, and we are to press them there with all the urgency of which we are capable. We are not to be so selfish as to think only of ourselves in our prayers. The Spirit, even in the way of blessing us, would direct us away from ourselves to what others need. But for whom are we to intercede? This is the point to which the teaching of the apostle specially refers. It is certainly our duty to intercede for our family and friends. "He that provideth not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel." And, if we do not take the wants of our own before God, we are not acting the natural part, which is to be expected of us as Christians. But there is also a family selfishness, from which, if we would have the larger blessing, we must be freed in our prayers. "O God, the Creator and Preserver of all mankind, we humbly beseech thee for all sorts and conditions of men; that thou wouldest be pleased to make thy ways known unto them, thy saving health unto all nations." We are not to be prevented from interceding for others by reason of their ill desert. God has shown us Abraham, that prince of the elder covenant, using his privilege on behalf of undeserving Lot, and also on behalf of ungodly Sodom. He has also shown us his afflicted patriarch under direction to pray for the uncharitable Eliphaz, Zophar, and Bildad. They were to offer sacrifice; but God said, "My servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept." "We are to pursue the sinner with love; we are to weave around the impenitent a network of prayer from which he may find it hard to extricate himself." We are not to allow obscurity or distance to separate us from souls. St. Vincent de Paul conveys some of his prayers (as by a definite grant) "to the most forgotten soul in purgatory." Surely we are entitled to convey our prayers to the most forgotten soul in this world. Roman Catholic writers are to be commended for the stress they lay on the ties which unite us to the great human society in which God has placed us. It is net their truth, for it is simply the spirit of our being here enjoined to offer up prayer for all men. We are to think of ourselves as belonging to a great world of need, belonging to it more than we do to ourselves; and we belong to it in this way, that we are bound to pray for it with all earnestness that the ends of Christ may be advanced in it; thus, we believe, making our influence felt in circle after circle to its utmost bound.
(2) Thanksgiving for all. It is the frequent teaching of the apostle that thanksgiving is to accompany the presentation of petitions. We are not to be so much taken up with our wants as to forget our mercies. While, then, we are to be quick to see the wants of others, we are also to be quick to see their mercies. And while we turn their wants into intercessions, we are to turn their mercies into thanksgivings. But for whom are we to thank God? We are especially to give thanks for those who are bound up with us in the family unity, if they are free from calamity, and more so if they are the subjects of saving grace. There may be those in our homes who cannot thank God for themselves, and we are to do this for them. But we are to give our thanksgivings a wider sweep, We are to give thanks for our neighbor, even when he may bear us a grudge, even when his interests may seem to conflict with ours. We are to get beyond all that would narrow our souls, and lay hold upon this, that God sees fit to bless him; and why should we begrudge the Giver his due of praise? We are to thank God for those who are sensible of their mercies, and are not remiss themselves in thanking God. We do not need to be afraid of God receiving too much gratitude for mercies bestowed. If there are those who are ungrateful for mercies and do not give God the glory, it is meet that we, who have a right understanding of things and are jealous of God's glory, should see that he is not robbed of his sacrifice of praise. Our thanksgiving is to extend far beyond our knowledge. We are to seize the spirit of universality which the apostle here inculcates. "Almighty God, Father of all mercies, we thine unworthy servants do give thee most humble and hearty thanks for all thy goodness and loving-kindness to us and to all men." A requirement for both parts of this priestly work is, that we take pains to acquaint ourselves with the men that dwell on the earth, and with what is taking place among them. A second requirement is that we open our hearts to their needs and mercies. By intelligence and large-heartedness, our work shall answer its end, viz. the calling down of blessing on men.
2. Special teaching. "For kings and all that are in high place; that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and gravity." We are to understand the highest and the subordinate representatives of authority in the state. Our duty branches out in the same way as before.
(1) Prayer for kings and magistrates. We are to pray for them especially in their official capacity, that they may be enabled faithfully to discharge the duties of their office, and to glorify God therein.
(2) Thanksgiving for kings and magistrates. In this land we can give unfeigned thanks to God that we enjoy so largely the blessings of good government. The public recognition of kings and magistrates would be conducive to their leading a tranquil and quiet life. The first word points to the state not using its power against them. The second word points to their not provoking a collision with the state. By the course enjoined, a right impression would go abroad regarding them, that they were not decriers of dignities, secret plotters against the existing form of government. It was good advice which was given to the Jews of the Captivity: "Seek the peace of the city, whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and Tray unto the Lord for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace." So the good advice of the apostle here saved the Christians (in the midst of the Roman empire) from many a false step. They could follow the quiet course in all godliness and gravity. The first word points to the habit of the Christian's mind, which is that he has a regard to the will of God in all things. The second word points to his having a regard to the propriety of things, which is "the appropriate setting of higher graces and virtues." Not mere policy, but the God-regarding habit, and the sense of propriety, kept the Christians in the quiet course.
3. Motive. "This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior." The intermediate reference is brought in to illustrate the universality of our service for others. This service in its universality is recommended, as having a high excellence in itself. Moreover, it is peculiarly pleasing to God in his character as Savior, which is to be further brought out. Even Rousseau is our teacher of universality. "The good man," he says, "plans his life with a reference to the whole, while the wicked man would gladly order all things with reference to himself. The latter makes himself the center of all things, the other orders all with reference to a common Center, even to God."
II. UNIVERSALITY OF THE PURPOSE OF SALVATION. "Who willeth that all men should be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth." It would be making feebleness of the words to suppose the apostle's idea to be that God is willing that all men should be saved, as it is plainly dogmatic prejudice that accounts for Calvin's assertion that the apostle is thinking, not of individuals, but of classes of men. It is a great truth, of which we are not to be robbed, that of every man it can be said that God willeth that he should be saved. We are to think of his will as in a state of active volition. It was in this state when, in the depths of eternity, he formed the purpose of our salvation. It is in this state now when, in the pleadings of the exalted Christ, in the workings of the Spirit, in all the dealings of Providence, he is seeking to secure the condition of our salvation, viz. our coming to the knowledge of the truth. We are to understand not mere intellectual knowledge, But experimental knowledge-our laying hold by faith upon our Representative, and coming to know in our experience that there is salvation in him. This his active volition is directed toward all; it cannot Be said that he desires the salvation of one more than of another. He uses means, not towards one here and another there, but towards all alike coming to the knowledge of the truth, and finding ample and everlasting shelter in his love. And if it is so with God, it is made plain as it could not otherwise be, that we are not to narrow down our petitions and thanksgivings (which are expressive of active volition) to a little circle of our own, but are to widen them out even toward all men.
III. UNIVERSALITY OF THE DISPENSATION OF SALVATION.
1. Presided over by the one God. "For there is one God." The pagan idea was that there were many gods. There was a god for every nation, a god for every small community, a god for every household. The god so attached was supposed to be devoted to the interests of his devotees, in preference or even in opposition to the interests of all others. What was that but breaking up the race into factions, and under the most powerful example? We have a much nobler conception - all men under one God, and not different men under different gods. As we are all under the canopy of heaven, so we are all under the same canopy of the Divine love. "Is he the God of the Jews only? Is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also."
"The great God that loveth all, 2. In the hands of the one Mediator. "One Mediator also between God and men, himself man, Christ Jesus." A mediator is one who acts between two. Christ Jesus is here said to be Mediator between God and man. God, as it were, allows the administration to go out of his hands, but it does not suffer in doing so; for it passes into the hand, not of many mediators with many administrations, but into the hands of one Mediator, by which there is preserved the grand equality and universality of the administration. Christ could mediate on the Divine side, being God himself, thus carrying into the administration the whole mind of him whom he represented. The remarkable thing which alone is noted was that, to mediate on the human side, he became man, being linked not to some men, but to all men; so that his mediation could be in the interest, not of some, but of all. It is matter for solemn thought to every man that Christ is linked to him, and linked to him with a view - according to the whole spirit of the administration - to his being saved. IV. UNIVERSALITY OF THE RANSOM. "Who gave himself a Ransom for all." If the language had been that Christ gave himself for all, there would not have been excluded the idea of substitution. But emphasis is given to this idea by the word which is translated "ransom." It is literally "loosing-price instead of." It is implied that we were captives, hopelessly bound in the consequences of our sins. Not able to do anything for ourselves, we needed to be indebted to a substitute. The price our Substitute paid as ransom was himself, i.e. his life, which, being the life of him who was God as well as man, was more than equal to the lives of all men together. Such is the way - not to be too much literalized - in which the truth is conveyed here. The stress of the thought is to be laid on all. Time was when it was considered dangerous to say that Christ died for all. The apostle does not shrink from it, neither here nor where his language is that "Christ tasted death for every man." It adds a deep solemnity to the existence of a man that this price has been paid for him. How shall he get rid of the obligation incurred, unless by doing as the captive does for whose ransom the stipulated money has been paid? As the captive goes forth into the possession of freedom, grateful to his redeemer, so let each of us go forth into the possession of our freedom in Christ, grateful to him as having redeemed us with his blood. V. UNIVERSALITY OF THE TESTIMONY. "The testimony to be borne in its own times." It is generally assumed that the reference is to the universal proclamation of the gospel. But there is this to be considered, that what is to be witnessed to is, that Christ Jesus gave himself a Ransom for all, i.e. all that ever lived, that live now, or shall ever live. And this does not seem to be properly witnessed to or borne out merely by the men of a distant time, or of distant times or ages, all having the knowledge of the gospel. It is better not to fix down the manner of the testimony, but to allow the verse to remain in its own universality, to have its due weight as one of many verses that bear upon the same point. There is suggested - not more than suggested - some great testimony to the universality of the ransom. We cannot tell what the testimony will be, as it is here, for good reason, not condescended on. It is not borne now, but it is to be borne - it may be after long ages - yet in its own times. VI. PAUL'S CONTRIBUTION TO THE UNIVERSALITY OF THE TESTIMONY. "Whereunto I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I speak the truth, I lie not), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth." Paul was privileged in his day - before the arrival of the times - to help forward the demonstration of the universal ransom. For this he was appointed a preacher, literally a herald, i.e. one that cried aloud in the Name of Christ and spared not. He was also appointed to the high office of apostle, with which is connected the double asseveration, "I speak the truth, I lie not." We cannot think of it being made thus strong for the sake of Timothy, but for the sake of some who were to be reached through Timothy. He was further appointed a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. In this he overstepped Jewish limits, and was entering as far as he could into the universality of the gospel. And what he called upon men everywhere to do was to believe, the object of their faith being the truth that Christ died for them and for all. - R.F.
2. In the hands of the one Mediator. "One Mediator also between God and men, himself man, Christ Jesus." A mediator is one who acts between two. Christ Jesus is here said to be Mediator between God and man. God, as it were, allows the administration to go out of his hands, but it does not suffer in doing so; for it passes into the hand, not of many mediators with many administrations, but into the hands of one Mediator, by which there is preserved the grand equality and universality of the administration. Christ could mediate on the Divine side, being God himself, thus carrying into the administration the whole mind of him whom he represented. The remarkable thing which alone is noted was that, to mediate on the human side, he became man, being linked not to some men, but to all men; so that his mediation could be in the interest, not of some, but of all. It is matter for solemn thought to every man that Christ is linked to him, and linked to him with a view - according to the whole spirit of the administration - to his being saved.
IV. UNIVERSALITY OF THE RANSOM. "Who gave himself a Ransom for all." If the language had been that Christ gave himself for all, there would not have been excluded the idea of substitution. But emphasis is given to this idea by the word which is translated "ransom." It is literally "loosing-price instead of." It is implied that we were captives, hopelessly bound in the consequences of our sins. Not able to do anything for ourselves, we needed to be indebted to a substitute. The price our Substitute paid as ransom was himself, i.e. his life, which, being the life of him who was God as well as man, was more than equal to the lives of all men together. Such is the way - not to be too much literalized - in which the truth is conveyed here. The stress of the thought is to be laid on all. Time was when it was considered dangerous to say that Christ died for all. The apostle does not shrink from it, neither here nor where his language is that "Christ tasted death for every man." It adds a deep solemnity to the existence of a man that this price has been paid for him. How shall he get rid of the obligation incurred, unless by doing as the captive does for whose ransom the stipulated money has been paid? As the captive goes forth into the possession of freedom, grateful to his redeemer, so let each of us go forth into the possession of our freedom in Christ, grateful to him as having redeemed us with his blood.
V. UNIVERSALITY OF THE TESTIMONY. "The testimony to be borne in its own times." It is generally assumed that the reference is to the universal proclamation of the gospel. But there is this to be considered, that what is to be witnessed to is, that Christ Jesus gave himself a Ransom for all, i.e. all that ever lived, that live now, or shall ever live. And this does not seem to be properly witnessed to or borne out merely by the men of a distant time, or of distant times or ages, all having the knowledge of the gospel. It is better not to fix down the manner of the testimony, but to allow the verse to remain in its own universality, to have its due weight as one of many verses that bear upon the same point. There is suggested - not more than suggested - some great testimony to the universality of the ransom. We cannot tell what the testimony will be, as it is here, for good reason, not condescended on. It is not borne now, but it is to be borne - it may be after long ages - yet in its own times.
VI. PAUL'S CONTRIBUTION TO THE UNIVERSALITY OF THE TESTIMONY. "Whereunto I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I speak the truth, I lie not), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth." Paul was privileged in his day - before the arrival of the times - to help forward the demonstration of the universal ransom. For this he was appointed a preacher, literally a herald, i.e. one that cried aloud in the Name of Christ and spared not. He was also appointed to the high office of apostle, with which is connected the double asseveration, "I speak the truth, I lie not." We cannot think of it being made thus strong for the sake of Timothy, but for the sake of some who were to be reached through Timothy. He was further appointed a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. In this he overstepped Jewish limits, and was entering as far as he could into the universality of the gospel. And what he called upon men everywhere to do was to believe, the object of their faith being the truth that Christ died for them and for all. - R.F.
1. "A quiet life;" for if there be disorder, all life is at a standstill. Even great artists like Gerome, during the last French Revolution, had to bury their pictures, for the time, beneath the earth.
2. "Quiet;" for, think of the forces around us. We need good government to preserve us from the violent, the lewd, and the criminal. The sea of human passion is always ready to break its barriers; the volcano would soon burst through the crust.
3. "Quiet;" for, this is the great enjoyment of life. Our happiest hours have been quiet ones - at home; by the river or the sea; in the valleys and in the forests; and in the Church of God. "That we may lead," which implies continuance.; life without trepidation; absence of the disorders which check industry, prudence, and. enterprise. - W.M.S.
fierce and frequent.
1. "Peaceable; "for the gospel is to overcome evil with good. To triumph, not by carnal weapons, but those that are mighty through God, and which have the secret majesty of their power in the cross.
2. "Peaceable;" for passion retest be governed by conscience and Christ. Unquestionably the microscope shows us insects at war in the globule of water; and the beasts of the forest meet in deadliest conflict. But man is to triumph over himself; reason is to be lord over passion, and Christ is to be Lord over all.
3. "Peaceable; "for a home without this is misery. Where jarring and disputation are, there the atmosphere is destructive of all holy, happy life.
4. "Peaceable; "for this is the end of law. Forms of government are not all in all. Greece and Rome alike fell under the same form of government under which they rose.
5. "Peaceable; "for the Prince of Peace is to reign. He came to fulfill the angels' song, "Peace on earth, and good will to man;" and one day, by his cross, he will draw all hearts unto himself - W.M.S.
I. GODLINESS IS ESSENTIAL TO THE ORDER OF THE STATE. Rousseau remarks, "A country cannot well subsist without liberty, nor liberty without virtue." Peaceable lives must be godly lives. The safety of a nation is not "lions chained," but "lions turned to lambs." Modern sociology thinks it can do without godliness. It has invented some philosophy of morals of its own; some ideal of utility called "the greatest good of the greatest number." Philosophers may understand it, but common people cannot. So much depends on what is meant by "the greatest good." For if you exclude the soul, the greatest good is only a secular paradise, and that is death to all the heroism which can deny itself earthly pleasure for the sake of high spiritual ends. By "godliness "we understand God-likeness in men. Some talk of seraphic holiness; we prefer the old word "godliness." Let a seraph be a seraph; we want to be men. It is not wise for children to sing, "I want to be an angel;" they should want to be good children. We want godliness; purity like God's; pity like God's; fidelity like God's; holiness like God's. "Be ye holy, for I am holy."
II. HONESTY IS ESSENTIAL TO THE TRUE CHRISTIAN LIFE. No fine ideas of spirituality that set at naught common morality must find honor amongst us. While our hearts are in heaven, our feet are upon the earth.
1. We must be honest to our convictions; act out what we think; dare to be true to ourselves.
2. We must be honest in word; dealing in good coin; not pretending to be what we are not. Better honest silver than counterfeit gold.
3. We are to be honest in deed. Whether we build, or buy, or sell, whether we paint with the artist, or mingle in the marts of commerce, we are to see to it that the stamp of honesty is on all we do. For all this we are to pray; for there is a great sky over us all, and a great Father in heaven, and a great Savior in whose Name we may pray. So life will be peaceful and holy; based upon the granite rock, but bathed in the delicate haze of the firmament of heaven; solidity clothed with beauty; and he to whom we pray heareth us always. - W.M.S.
I. SUCH PRAYER FOR ALL SORTS OF MEN IS GOOD. It is good:
1. Because it springs from a good motive, a loving interest in our fellow-mere.
2. Because it is directed to a good end, the promotion of their highest welfare.
3. Because it is a divinely commanded duty.
II. SUCH PRAYER IS ACCEPTABLE BEFORE GOD OUR SAVIOR. It meets God's highest approval because it is in accordance with his own gracious designs toward the sons of men.
III. REASON OR GROUND FOR THIS UNIVERSALITY OF OUR PUBLIC PRAYERS. It is good and acceptable "before God our Savior, who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth." He wills that all men should be saved, therefore we should pray for all men. Our prayers will thus be in conformity with his wilt.
1. Consider the nature of the salvation here described.
(1) It is not mere salvation from intellectual error, for it is that which is involved in "the full knowledge of the truth."
(2) It is not mere salvability, as if he made the salvation of all men possible.
(3) It is not salvation merely offered for man's acceptance, but salvation actually obtained and enjoyed. The immediate end is "the knowledge of the truth," the ultimate end salvation in its completeness.
2. Consider the relation of the Divine will to this salvation. "Who will have all men to be saved."
(1) There is nothing in the language to justify the theory of Universalists that all men will ultimately be saved.
(a) The apostle uses the term θέλει, not the stronger term βουλέται, which implies will with a purpose or intent.
(b) If he had used the term σῶζαι, he must have saved all; but the word is σωθῆναι, implying his will that they should be brought, through the knowledge of the truth, to salvation.
(c) If we are to interpret the will of God by his providence, we must understand it in consistency with the fact that the large majority of mankind have never heard of salvation and have no knowledge of it.
(d) It must be remembered that many must have failed to reach this salvation before Christ died at all.
(2) The language of universality is consistent with other language of Scripture.
(a) Christ says, "And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me" (John 12:32); "All men shall see the salvation of the Lord" (Luke 3:6). The Messiah "shall pour out his Spirit upon all flesh" (Joel 2:28). Christ "died for all," and he may therefore be truly called Salvator hominum. He died for all to arrest the immediate execution of the sentence of the Law upon man for sin; to obtain for him unnumbered blessings in this life, that he might secure a proper foundation for the offer of salvation through his blood.
(b) But the design of God in the death of Christ had not the same relation to all. He is "the Savior of all, but especially of them that believe." He is the Savior of his people, of his Church, of the elect.
(c) The language of universality used in the passage was suggested by way of contrast to the restrictiveness of Gnostic teaching, which led the apostle to say to the Colossians that his aim was "to present every man perfect in Christ" (Colossians 1:28); perhaps, likewise, the restrictiveness of a narrow Judaism, for he emphasizes in the context his mission as "a teacher of the Gentiles." There is deep mystery in God's counsels. But he here sets forth his good will to man, and charges it on the conscience of believers to pray that all without exception should be brought to the knowledge of the truth. - T.C.
himself man, Christ Jesus. The salvation of men cannot, therefore, be to us a matter of selfish indifference.
I. THE RELATION OF ALL MEN TO GOD. The unity of God is consistent with all differences of dispensation. "There is one providence belonging to the one God." The apostle tells the Romans that, "as God is one," he is the God of the Gentiles as well as the Jews (Romans 3:30). There is, indeed, "one God and Father of all" (Ephesians 4:4, 5). The apostle also says, "The mediator" (Moses) "is not of one" - one seed, i.e. including Jew and Gentile, for Moses had nothing, to do with the Gentile - but God is one, in relation to Jew and Gentile (Galatians 3:20). In these passages the apostle sets forth the universality of the gospel offer. But in the text he infers the universality of the Divine good will from the provisions made for man's salvation.
II. THE RELATION OF ALL MEN TO THE MEDIATOR. "One Mediator also between God and men, himself man, Christ Jesus."
1. There is but one Mediator. The Gnostic mediation of angels is, therefore, excluded (Colossians 2:15, 18). Likewise the mediation of saints and angels, as held by the Church of Rome. This idea is dishonoring to the only Mediator. There is no Scripture for the distinction made between a mediator of redemption (Christ) and mediators of intercession (saints and angels).
2. The Mediator was man as well as God.
(1) He was truly man, in opposition to the Docetic notion that he did not possess a real human nature.
(2) He was God as well as man in his Mediatorship, in opposition to the Roman Catholic theory that he only mediated in his human nature. The design of this error is to make way for human mediators. It is said to be absurd to conceive of Christ as God mediating between sinners and himself.
(a) We answer that the Divine nature operated in Christ's priestly work as well as the human, for "he through the eternal Spirit" (his own Spirit) "offered himself to God" (Hebrews 9:14).
(b) If he did not mediate in his Divine nature as well as his human nature, he could not have been in any sense Mediator of the Old Testament saints, because their redemption was completed before he came in the flesh. The human nature is naturally emphasized because of the work of suffering and death which is here ascribed to him.
3. The passage does not imply that Christ was not God. He is elsewhere frequently called God and true God, but here there is a necessary reference to the catholic doctrine of a subordination of office.
4. The reference to the mediatorship brings up the idea of a covenant between God and man. Christ is the Head of humanity, the new Man, the Lord from heaven, able to restore the lost relationship between God and man.
5. The mediatory agency is wrought through Christ's sufferings and death. "Who gave himself a Ransom for all."
(1) This proves that all the blessings of redemption come from the death of Christ, not merely from his incarnation.
(2) He voluntarily gave himself as the Victim, yet he is "God's unspeakable Gift."
(3) His death was strictly substitutionary. The words of the apostle resemble those of our Lord himself - "he gave himself a Ransom for many" (Matthew 20:28). He was thus the Substitute contemplated by the apostle as the Messiah who had obtained from the Father the heritage of all families and nations of the earth, not Jews alone, but Gentiles.
III. THE TRUE PURPOSE OF THE GOSPEL MESSAGE. "The testimony to be borne in its own times."
1. Thus the death of Christ is the great message to be carried to all the world. It is not his birth, or his example, or his truth, but, above all, what is the completion of them all - his death on Calvary.
2. It is to be preached in all times till the second coming of the Lord.
3. The apostle's own relation to this testimony. "Whereunto I was appointed a herald and an apostle (I speak the truth, I lie not); a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth." Thus the universality of the remedial scheme is represented by the very mission of the apostle himself. He was "a herald" to proclaim the glad tidings here; "an apostle" - let men say what they will, he is an apostle, therefore the surpassing importance of his message - and "a teacher of the Gentiles" - to mark the world-embracing character of his gospel - "in filth and truth," to signalize respectively the subjective and the objective elements in which his apostleship was to find its appropriate sphere. - T.C.
commercial theory, and the legal" theory; but no theory is complete that does not contain all the ideas. The idea of "ransom" has had its false theory; for in the seventh century some theologians said, "It was a price paid to the devil." That we are the slaves of sin, and that Christ ransoms us, is the great doctrine of the gospel.
I. CHRIST GAVE HIMSELF. The humanity of that age gave others. What is the great study of the dying Roman age? Selfishness. The patricians, wrapped up in togas, saw, in the Colosseum, the gladiators fall to amuse them. The great generals brought home as slaves - physicians, musicians, and workmen, and used them as good investments. Rome bore away the native art of Greece to decorate its own homes. Not only the humanity of that age, but the humanity of every age without Christ tends to self-ism. The philosophy of the cross is the only social philosophy. It does not take. It leaves men to the personal use of their gifts and possessions; but it says, "Give yourself - your purest ideals, your best impulses, your noblest powers, for the good of others."
II. THE CAESARS OF THAT AGE HAD NO TRUE POWER. They held men by the throat, and not by the heart; and they were lifted to Caesarship by the Praetorian guards. They rose and fell by the sword; and the dagger or the Tiber saw the last of them. The words were a satire on the Savior, "saying that he also himself is Christ, a King" - an unconscious prophecy, and yet how true! His kingdom came without observation; it was an empire within the heart; it was not in word, but in power; it was not with observation, but it silently grew like the mustard seed. Its foundation was in this, "He gave himself" - his exquisite sensibilities, his sacred energies, his unwearied endurance, his contact with shame and scorn; and then, on the cross, he died, "the Just for the unjust, to bring us to God." - W.M.S.
I. PRAYER IN THE CHRISTIAN ASSEMBLIES IS TO BE CONDUCTED BY MEN. "I wish then that prayer be made in every place by men."
1. It is for men to manage and direct the public services of the Church; it is for women to take a more quiet though not less real place in worship. As woman had been emancipated by the gospel - for there were no longer "male and female" in Christ - and as she had taken such a prominent place in ministering to Christ, the apostles, and the saints, there may have been a disposition on the part of female converts to assert themselves actively in the public life of the Church at Ephesus and elsewhere. The apostle expresses not a mere wish or desire, but, what is equivalent to a solemn command, that the men alone should be responsible for the conduct of the public services. The injunction does not affect the right or duty of women to conduct prayer in private life or in meetings of their own sex.
2. Prayer is to be made in every place. This rule is to obtain in all public assemblies of the saints, wherever held. There is, perhaps, a recollection of our Lord's words that there is to be no restriction of prayer to one holy place (John 4:21).
II. THE SPIRIT AND MANNER IN WHICH PUBLIC PRAYER IS TO BE CONDUCTED. "Lifting up holy hands without wrath or disputing."
1. The posture must be reverent. It was customary for the Jews to pray with uplifted hands. It was likewise the general attitude adopted by the early Christians. It was the attitude significant
(1) of the elevation of the heart to God;
(2) of the expectation of an answer from heaven.
2. The uplifted hands must be holy. They must be hands unstained by vice. "Cleanse your hands, purify your hearts" (James 4:8). The hands must be free from any sin that would render prayer unacceptable to God. "Wash you, make you clean" (Isaiah 1:16).
3. Prayer should be free from all passionate feeling. "Without wrath and disputing." Perhaps arising from religious altercation or debate. Prayer belongs to the peaceful heart. Faith and love are its two sustaining principles, and exclude the idea of passion against our fellow-men. - T.C.
I. THE PART OF THE MEN - TO LEAD IN PRAYER. "I desire therefore that the men pray in every place, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and disputing." The mind of the apostle, as here expressed, is that in every place where men and women assemble for Divine worship, the duty of conducting the public devotions shall devolve upon the men. They, and not the women, as appears from the following contrast, are to be the mouth of the congregation in prayer offered to God. This assignment of leading in prayer to them is mentioned along with the appropriate bodily posture, viz. the lifting up of the hands (as toward heaven) in the way of invoking the Divine blessing upon the congregation. With this is connected the inward qualification - lifting up holy hands, i.e. that do things that accord with their being engaged in so sacred a service. It is not the place that is to hallow the hands, but it is the hands that are to be holy, to be in keeping with the place. The orderliness implied in the men having their proper place would tend to prevent the use of unholy perturbation of feeling, and the breaking forth of unseemly disputing, such as would unfit the congregation for engaging in prayer. "He that prays to God," says Jeremy Taylor, in 'The Return of Prayers,' "with an angry, that is, with a troubled and discomposed spirit, is like him that retires into a battle to meditate, and sets up his closet in the out-quarters of an army, and chooses a frontier garrison to be wise in. Anger is a perfect alienation of the mind from prayer, and therefore is contrary to that attention which presents our prayers in a right line to God. For so have I seen a lark rising from its bed of grass, and soaring upwards, and singing as he rises, and hopes to get to heaven, and rise above the clouds; but the poor bird was beaten back with the loud sighings of an eastern wind, and his motion made irregular and inconsistent, descending more at every breath of the tempest than it could recover by the libration and frequent weighing of his wings, till the little creature was forced to sit down and pant, and stay till the storm was over; and then it made a prosperous flight, and did rise and sing, as if it had learned music and motion from an angel."
II. THE PART OF THE WOMEN.
1. To be becomingly dressed. "In like manner, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefastness, and sobriety; not with braided hair, and gold or pearls or costly raiment; but (which becometh women professing godliness) through good works." It is with regard to dress that the apostle charges the women. They are not forbidden to adorn themselves. In nature God has a regard to adornment; the flowers are painted chiefly in the way of appealing to the sense of the beautiful. So the apostle regards it as particularly appropriate to the women that they are to adorn themselves; but they are to adorn themselves in modest apparel. There seems to be a wider reference than modest, and a twofold reference. It is apparel that is suitable to women as such. This certainly excludes dress that shocks the womanly feeling of modesty. But it also includes dress that is tasteful. Apart from what is expensive, good taste may be displayed in dress, as in the proper blending of colors. There is no religion in negligence as to dress. A woman should never be above attending to what is clean and whole and neat in dress; and especially should she attend to this in appearing in the house of God. It is apparel that is suitable to women in respect of their circumstances. Age, rank, means, demands of religion, come in as modifying conditions. A brightness of color that is in place in youth, is out of place in age. The servant is not to dress as her mistress. She who dresses upon a small income is not to be as she who dresses upon a large income. There is not to be dressing as though this world were a paradise, and not, as it really is, full of human want. With outward deportment as to dress, are connected the inward feelings. There is shamefastness, as the word originally was in the Authorized Version. This feeling given to the woman should make her shrink from all impropriety in dress. There is also sobriety, or the feeling that keeps the love for dress within the bounds of reason and religion. The apostle descends to particulars. Women are not to adorn themselves with braided hair and gold, or pearls, or costly raiment. It cannot be meant that these things are absolutely forbidden. Long hair is an ornament to a woman, and it is natural that it should be braided. Gold is an excellent substance, and can be wrought into most beautiful forms. It is God who has given the luster to pearls. Ideas of what is beautiful can be carried to a great extent in garments, as in the garments prescribed for the Jewish high priest. It can only be meant that they are to be duly subordinated by women. They are not to make ends of them, as women of the world do. They are not to vie with one another in the use of them. They are not to be used in the way of gratifying personal vanity, or in the way of ostentation and drawing attention upon them. They are not to be used as though they were essential, being only on the outside, and an uncertain possession which cannot be carried beyond the world. They are only to be sought in connection with, and in due subordination to, inward virtues. This is the thought to which the apostle carries us forward. There is that which becomes a woman professing godliness, i.e. professing to be regulated by the will of God in dress as in all matters. And the will of God will be considered in connection with the state of the world. It is such a world that Christ needed to come into it to save it. Moreover, it is such a world that Christ's servants need to do much saving work in it. And a true Christian woman will not set her heart on what is showy or genuinely beautiful in dress or ornament, but will set her heart on what is more valuable. She will seek to be adorned with the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which in the sight of God is of great price. She will seek to be adorned, as the idea is here, with a kindly, benevolent disposition, such as finds its medium in good works. She will consider that the time and money unnecessarily spent upon the braiding of the hair, and gold, or pearls, or costly raiment, is so much taken from her power of performing good works. It must be said that the position of a true Christian woman has its difficulties. Fashion which exercises such a sway is not the expression of pure Christian sentiments. It is to a large extent the expression of worldliness, or the striving after externals. The true Christian woman, then, has it as her task, on the one hand, not to go altogether against fashion so as to be singular and to call attention to her, which would offend her feeling of modesty; on the other hand, to attain to simplicity and inexpensiveness in dress, so as to leave her free for discharging her Christian function as a doer of good works.
2. To be a learner, and not a teacher. "Let a woman learn in quietness with all subjection. But I permit not a woman to teach, nor to have dominion over a man, but to be in quietness." The woman is to be receptive with regard to public teachings. She is to be a learner, not breaking the silence even to the extent of asking a question. For the language here is partly to be explained by what is said in 1 Corinthians 14:35, "And if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home." The position of the apostle, that a woman is not to be a teacher in the house of God, is very implicit: "I permit not woman to teach." Whatever her qualifications - and some women are better qualified to teach than some men - the apostolic enactment is against her teaching. This enactment is grounded in what is natural. It would be reversing the natural order of superiority for men to sit under a woman as their teacher. It would also be giving woman a publicity from which every one who is unsophisticated and retains her native modesty must shrink. Her natural unfitness set forth in two facts.
(1) Eve was created after Adam. "For Adam was first formed, then Eve." The apostle regards this fact as emblematic of a headship originally given to the man, which carries with it his exclusive right to be a teacher in the house of God.
(2) The woman was first in the transgression. "And Adam was not beguiled, but the woman being beguiled hath fallen into transgression." We are not to understand that, for introducing sin into the world, she was thrown into a subordination which did not originally belong to her. But rather the way in which, acting for herself without regard to her husband, she was worked upon by the tempter was emblematic of a natural disposition which unfits her for taking a public position. Promise annexed. "But she shall be saved through the child-bearing, if they continue in faith and love and sanctification with sobriety." So eminent an interpreter as Ellicott interprets this of the child-bearing by pre-eminence - woman giving birth to the Messiah - but without good reason. The apostle has been excluding woman from activity in Church life in connection with which there is publicity; here he points to her proper destiny as activity in family life. There is reference to the form in which the curse fell upon the woman; in connection with this is there promise of blessing. There is not excluded from the promise the lower salvation. A mother, laying hold upon this promise, can hope in her danger to be preserved alive, with due submission, as is right in the sphere of temporal blessing, to the disposing of God. There is special reference to the higher salvation. "She shall be saved," shall find the path of her highest well being, "if they" (there is a change to the class of Christian mothers, or more generally of Christian women, one depending to a certain extent on all) - "if they continue in faith," i.e. toward Christ, "and love," i.e. especially toward the needy, "and sanctification," i.e. attention to the rules of personal purity, with such sobriety as shall keep them to their proper sphere. - R.F.
I. THEIR APPAREL AND DEPORTMENT. "Likewise also that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefastness and sobriety; not with braided hair, and gold, and pearls, and costly raiment."
1. The injunction refers specially to the dress of women in the Christian assemblies, which ought not to be showy or conspicuous, calculated either to swell the heart of the wearer with pride, or to attract the eyes of others in forgetfulness of the solemnity of public worship.
2. While adornment is expressly allowed, according to age and station, to the exclusion of anything slovenly, there must be nothing in the attire or deportment inconsistent with modesty, self-restraint, or Christian simplicity. There must be no excessive care bestowed upon the adjustment of the hair, and no adornment with gold, or pearls, or costly array inconsistent with the attire previously recommended. Plaiting the hair may be the most convenient way of arranging it, and wearing ornaments is no more sinful in itself than wearing apparel. The injunction is that women should not seek such adornments as would either endanger piety or draw away their affections from higher things.
II. THE TRUE ADORNMENT OF WOMEN. "But (which becometh women professing godliness) through good works."
1. Religion is external as well as internal. There is the form which must be clothed with the power of godliness; religion must not be secret, but manifest to the world. Therefore women must profess the Christian name, and take part in the worship of the Church.
2. There must be a harmony between the profession of godliness and those deeds of mercy and piety which, Dorcas-like, show the true disciple of Jesus.
3. The highest distinction of women does not spring from dress or decoration, but from the luster that is thrown round their character by works of goodness. They will thus "adorn the doctrine of God our Savior" (Titus 2:10). - T.C.
I. MODESTY IS TO BE THE SPIRIT OF ALL ADORNMENT, because the nature of the being adorned is a sacred nature. Woman is the true guardian of virtue. Her manner, her temper, her spirit, - all these constitute the best defense of virtue.
II. DRESS IS THE SYMBOL OF CHARACTER. If there is absence of shame-heartedness, there will be absence of shame-facedness. The womanhood of that age had sunk very low. By turns woman had been the toy or slave of man. The gospel uplifted her; for we are all equal in the sight of God. There was neither male nor female there; and she must help the great ideal, and by modest apparel show the innate modesty of her thought and feeling. For, say what we like, dress acts upon the mind and character. Dress like a clown, and you will feel like a clown. Modest apparel need not be shorn of taste and refinement and true beauty. It is no dishonor to a woman that she likes dress. It is not Christian to destroy that taste; but that which becometh women professing godliness is modest though beautiful apparel. - W.M.S.
I. THE WOMAN IS FORBIDDEN TO TEACH OR PREACH IN THE CHURCH. "Let a woman learn in silence in all subjection. But I permit not a woman to teach, nor to lord it over the man, but to be in silence." This injunction has a threefold relation - first to herself, then to her husband, then to the Church.
1. She is to learn in silence. This duty concerns herself. She is to be a learner, not a teacher. She is to give all devout attention to the public instruction, so as to learn more and more of Christ and his gospel. And if what she heard was either difficult or doubtful, she was to ask her husband at home (1 Corinthians 14:34); and, in case of his inability to meet her difficulties, she could resort privately to the authorized teachers of the Church. This learning attitude was to be "in all subjection" both to her husband and to the rulers of the Church. Yet it did not imply that she was to accept false teaching, or forego her just right to prove all things and reject what was unsound.
2. She is not to lord it over the man. As teaching or preaching is the act of those in authority, her assumption of this function would imply a lordship over her husband. Husband and wife are "heirs together of the grace of life," but the gospel has not exalted woman to a position of authority over her husband.
3. She is not to teach in the Church.
(1) This injunction of the apostle does not forbid her teaching privately, either her children, as Timothy was taught by his mother, or her servants, or the younger women (Titus 2:4), or even her husband privately on fit occasions, or even strangers, as Priscilla taught Apollos (Acts 18:26).
(2) It forbids her teaching in public.
(a) It is suggestive that the words usually translated in the New Testament "to preach" (κηρύσσω εὐαγγελίζω, καταγγέλλω) are not used in connection with this prohibition, as if women were merely forbidden to preach, but still allowed to teach. The word used here is "to teach" (διδάσκω), and the word used in 1 Corinthians 14. (λαλέω) - "to talk, chatter, babble" - is even more comprehensive. These words all include preaching as the greater includes the less; therefore preaching is also forbidden to women.
(b) Prophesying was forbidden to women as well as teaching. This was a supernatural gift enjoyed both by men and women in the primitive Church, but is not enjoyed now by either men or women. It is never in the New Testament used for preaching, or for mere speaking in meeting. But were there not women who prophesied in the Corinthian Church? (1 Corinthians 11:4, 5.) (α) The gift of prophecy being connected with the gift of tongues, and both being now obsolete, the title of women to the exercise of such a gift in this age utterly fails. (β) The apostle, in his discussion concerning prophecy and the gift of tongues, forbids women to speak at all in the Churches (1 Corinthians 14.). It was in the very midst of his injunctions respecting the use of supernatural gifts that he says, "As in all Churches of the saints, let your women keep silence in the Churches, for it is not; permitted to them to speak... for it is a shame for women to speak in the Churches." Prophesying as well as preaching is forbidden to women. (γ) Much unnecessary difficulty has been caused by the passage respecting "a woman praying or prophesying with her head uncovered" (1 Corinthians 11:5). The apostle seems for the time to allow the practice, while he condemns the manner of its performance; but afterwards he forbids the practice itself. In the earlier passage he rebukes merely the indecency of an existing custom, and then in the later he forbids the custom itself. Calvin says, "By condemning the one he does not commend the other." You cannot regard as of equal authority a practice and a command, both explicit and repeated, which destroys the practice. (δ) "But these directions were given to Greek Churches, and cannot apply to the women of our day." We answer that they apply to all Churches; for the apostle says, "As in all Churches of the saints, let your women keep silence in the Churches." The reasons given for the prohibition prove that it has nothing to do with usages, or customs, or times, or races.
II. THE REASON OR GROUND OF THE APOSTLE'S PROHIBITION. It is to be found in the original law of the relation of woman to man.
1. Man's headship in creation. "For Adam was first formed, then Eve." Man's priority of creation is the first reason, but it is to be taken together with the statement in 1 Corinthians 11:8, 9, "For the man is not of the woman, but the woman of the man; for also the man was not made for the sake of the woman, but the woman for the sake of the man." Besides, as "the Head of every man is Christ, the head of the woman is the man" (1 Corinthians 11:3). "The husband is the head of the wife" (Ephesians 5:23). The woman, therefore, stands under law to her husband, and therefore any attempt on her part to assume the part of head or guide is to overturn the primal order of creation.
2. Woman's priority in transgression. "And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being altogether deceived fell into transgression." They both sinned; but Adam was not deceived, for he fully understood the sin he was committing when he yielded to the persuasiveness of his wife.
(1) This reference implies the truly historical character of the narrative in Genesis. It is no myth or legend. The fall of man is an historic fact of the greatest importance, for it grounds the doctrine of original sin, without which human nature, says Pascal, is an inexplicable riddle.
(2) The deception was practiced upon Eve, not upon Adam, for she confessed that the serpent beguiled her.
(3) This facility of deception on her part seems to suggest to the apostle her inferiority to man in strength of intellect, and the consequent wrongness of allowing to woman an intellectual supremacy over man.
III. THE BLESSING UPON WOMAN STANDING WITHIN HER TRUE SPHERE. "But she shall be saved through the child-bearing, if they abide in faith and love and holiness with sobriety."
1. It is here implied if, at woman is to find her right sphere in the relations of motherhood. The change of number implies that Eve is here to be regarded as the representative of her sex. Her sphere is in the home life; her destiny lies in the faithful discharge of its duties. Eve was to be the mother of all living; it was to be through the seed thus given her that the curse was to be lifted off the world, and the head of the serpent bruised. There is an evident allusion in "the child-bearing" to the Incarnation, but it points likewise to the collective seed associated with Christ.
2. It implies that women are not saved, as Roman Catholics contend, by mere childbearing, so that a woman dying in her travail is necessarily saved, for the apostle links with it certain spiritual qualifications as necessary to salvation.
(1) Faith - implicitly resting in the Divine promise and upon the Divine Redeemer, "as the seed of the woman;"
(2) love, as the inspiration of all her wifely and motherly duties;
(3) holiness, as implying purity of life, circumspectness of walk, and devotedness to God;
(4) with sobriety, as marking the self-effacing, self-restraining, self-governing spirit which she is to carry into all the conditions of her life as a Christian mother. T.C.