To grasp the meaning of the opening verses of this chapter, we must be careful not to separate it from the preceding thoughts. Paul has made a case in Ch 1 that there were people among the believers getting “side-tracked” on various issues that led only to endless and fruitless discussions (at best) and ultimately hurt the cause of Christ. This is not a general concern or consideration…but characteristically was in response to a real and present challenge within the assembly.
Paul spoke of the grace of God toward him in saving him and calling him to the ministry of proclaiming the gospel to all me (a unique calling to an Apostle…but also a common calling to every believer in a very real sense.
He then spoke of how some had become side-tracked to the point that they were shipwrecked and were committing blasphemy…arguably as a result of this fruitless conversation that led to horrible and erroneous theology.
So…Paul exhorts Timothy to fight the good fight of faith and fulfill his mission among these people (1:18-19).
Now…Paul (with the Grace of God for Salvation of men as the foundation) addresses an action step that confronts one of the false practices of the Ephesian church. Paul urges PRAYER for ALL men everywhere by the church because God wants ALL men to be SAVED (2:1-4). Scholars have effectively argued that there may have been a certain focus of reaching/connecting with an elite segment of people while disconnecting from a concern for others. The criteria used appears to be sinful. The church should not work toward the Salvation of some and not others based on their influence or resources or ethnicity; rather, the church’s focus should be that all men would be saved. Does this mean that a church could not have a strategic focus? Of course not. It can and should. You can tailor an event toward an audience. This is not the issue here. What you have is the assignment of and action upon prejudice in the hearts of people who limited their concern to the souls of SOME rather than accepting that ALL are significant to God.
As I read this…I am captured by the admonition that “of first importance…we are to pray for all men everywhere (regardless of who they are or where they work or where they live) and this should not prevent us from praying for the leaders (which arguably were as brutal as any had ever been toward the Christians) because the Christian faith operated better (that is, the missionary enterprise) when believers lived peaceful and tranquil lives. What I mean by this is simple: Governments are ordained by God for a purpose…and if God’s primary purpose is to glorify Himself and that through the salvation of the lost…then governments can serve that end goal. So…we as the people fo God are called to pray for those in authority toward that end. We want tranquil lives…not so that we won’t worry about persecution but because the tranquil life accelerates our ability to carry out the gospel mandate.
So…holy men are to pray everywhere and at all times…lifting up holy hands without wrath or dissension (2:8).
Now certainly there is more in this chapter but this is where God has captured my focus today. I wonder if we are people of prayer…for the governments…on behalf of the lost of every stripe around us? I wonder if we are grieved over knowledge of the incredible persecution in distant lands? I wonder if we pray for heart changes of tyrants in foreign countries so that it would go well with believers there and with us as we travel there to carry the gospel? I wonder if we’d rather pray for people in authority or post critical Facebook posts venting about what is on our mind? I wonder if we are more concerned with what concerns God’s heart or with what captures our attention?
Proverbs 4:25-27 is the takeaway today. “Let your eye look directly ahead and let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you. Watch the path of your feet and all your ways will be established. Do not turn to the right nor to the left; turn your foot from evil.”