When I first looked at 1 Timothy 2, all I saw were the rabbits waiting to be chased. I got lost in the praying for all kings, men lifting hands to pray, how people dress, and women learning quietly that I almost missed the bigger picture found in verses 3 through 7. In the middle of these rabbits we find Paul reminding Timothy that God wants everyone to be saved. God wants this so much that His Son was willing to give Himself on a cross to secure that salvation (v. 6). Paul even brought attention on Jesus being the only way to the Father, with Jesus being the one mediator (v. 5). In short, without Jesus, all humans are without hope. This truth impacted the life trajectory of Paul; the once zealous Pharisee was now the herald of Jesus to all people including Gentiles (v. 7). We cannot ignore how God wanting everyone to be saved impacts the rabbits in this passage.
God wanting everyone to be saved through faith in Jesus changes how we should pray for our governing leaders. The leaders of Paul and Timothy’s day were mostly pagan, so Paul was not calling for prayer for new God-fearing leaders. Here Paul called on Timothy to lead the way by praying for God to work in and through the current leaders for the benefit of God’s people and His purposes…and His purpose is that all would come to Him through faith in His Son. This prayer for the leaders is not about believers being free to worship as much as it is about Jesus being shared.
God wanting everyone to be saved through faith in Jesus changes with whom we worship. The men were to put aside their disputes and come before God in prayer (see last phrase in verse 8). Doing so would open the door for believers to share about this common faith that made it possible for men with very different backgrounds to stand together in worship. Jesus declared that the love believers had for each other would be a marking characteristic of His followers (John 13:35).
God wanting everyone to be saved through faith in Jesus changes how we present ourselves. Paul reminded Timothy of the importance of modesty in our dress. Timothy was pastoring a city filled with pagan religions that celebrated sexaul expression of all kinds. Modesty was far from the cultural norm. Just as the Israelties were to live differently from their neighbors in the promised land, disciples of Jesus were to live differently in Ephesus. Doing so would bring attention to the Creator and not the creation, once again opening the door to share about Jesus.
God wanting everyone to be saved through faith in Jesus changes how we view our role in the church. We are to place ourselves under the leadership of a pastor who is also placing himself under the leadership of Jesus. Chaos is no longer the norm, but order and consistency become a defining mark. We are not free to believe whatever we want to believe nor are we free to declare whatever we want to declare. We place ourselves under the authority of the church with Jesus as the head. We do so in recognition of Jesus as the only Mediator between us and the Father. We are not so worried about who submits to who as we are if the gospel is being declared and demonstrated.
God wants everyone to be saved through faith in Jesus. We should pray to that end. We should put aside arguments to that end. We should be aware of how we present ourselves to that end. We should submit to each other to that end. God wanting everyone to be saved through faith in Jesus changes everything.