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Archive for September 10th, 2011

Father Callan’s Commentary on 1 Timothy 2:1-8

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 10, 2011

This post includes Father Callan’s brief overview of 1 Tim 2:1-15, followed by his notes on today’s text.


A Summary of 1 Timothy 2:1-15~St. Paul enjoins that prayers of various kinds be offered for all men, because it is the will of God that all men should be saved, as is evident from the fact that God is one, that there is only one supreme mediator between God and man, and that Christ grave Himself as a ransom for all. This is the Gospel which St. Paul is commissioned to preach (1 Tim 2:1-7). He next prescribes the manner in which these prayers should be offered, and lays down rules for the conduct of women in the public assembly (1 Tim 2:8-15).

1.  I desire therefore, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men:

First of all. This expression in Greek occurs only here in the New Testament, and it shows the primary importance of prayer as a means of avoiding evil and progressing in good (St. Thomas). There is question here of public, liturgical prayers, and it is not easy to distinguish between the first three mentioned. Perhaps if there is need of a distinction at all, we may regard “supplications” as made for oneself, “prayers” as acts of adoration, and “intercessions” as prayers offered for others.

2. For kings and for all that are in high stations, that we may lead a quiet and a peaceable life in all piety and chastity.

For kings, etc., i.e., for all those who exercise lawful public authority. This attitude toward civil authority was especially necessary for the early Christians, lest they should be suspected of disloyalty and be subjected to persecution. Cf. Rom 13:1 ff.

Piety. The Greek for this word occurs here for the first time in Paul’s letters, and it is used frequently hereafter in the Pastorals.

Chastity would better be “gravity” or “reverence,” to correspond with the Greek term here employed, which is also peculiar to the Pastorals.

3. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour,

The enim of the Vulgate here is not well supported in the Greek.

God our Saviour. See on 1 Tim 1:1 above. Here is what Fr. Callan wrote concerning that passage: The title “Saviour,” as attributed to God the father, is peculiar to the Pastoral Epistles, where it occurs six times, reminding us that the Eternal Father is the ultimate source and fountain of salvation, and that Jesus Christ, to whom St. Paul usually attributes this title, is the divine medium through which the Father’s salvation is conveyed to us.

4. Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to knowledge of the truth.

The Apostle now explains why prayer for all men is pleasing and “acceptable in the sight of God” (ver. 3), namely, because God desires all to be saved. According to His primary intention and antecedent will, God wishes the salvation of all men without exception; but man, by the misuse of his free will, has the mysterious power of changing God’s original plan for him, so to speak; and hence it happens that, when man freely chooses not to be saved, God has recourse, in our way of thinking and speaking, to a secondary intention and consequent will in man’s regard, according to which He also wishes that man shall not be saved. This is our poor way of explaining, as best we can, a profound mystery. But when all is said and done, it is certain that no one is saved except by the grace of God, and no one is lost except through his own fault (see on Rom 9:12 ff.). This text of St. Paul is a clear refutation of the heretical opinions of Calvin and Jansenius, the first of whom taught that, previously to all thought of demerit on man’s part, God predestined some men to hell; and the second of whom said that Christ did not merit salvation for all men, having died only for the predestined (see Conc. Trid., sess. VI, De justificatione, can. 173.

And come to knowledge of the truth, which is the necessary means of salvation, the way to life eternal. The phrase “knowledge of truth” is peculiar to these Pastoral Epistles (cf. Heb 11:26).

5. For there is one God, and one mediator of God and men, the man
Christ Jesus,

In verses 5-6 the Apostle proves that God wishes the salvation of all men, (a) because God is one, the first cause and final end of all, and as such stands in the same ultimate relation to all; (b) because there is only one supreme mediator between God and man, namely, Christ Jesus, who in the same divine Person has united the natures of God and man; (c) because Christ offered Himself as the one supreme ransom for all men (Eph 1:12, Eph 2:14; Col 1:20; Heb 8:6, Heb 9:14, Heb 12:14).

The man Christ Jesus. St. Paul stresses the fact that our Lord was man, for it was only as man that He was able to pay the price of our deliverance; and had He not been God at the same time, He could not have given to His death and sacrifice an infinite value, which showed at once the perfection and completeness of His sacrifice for us and the extent of God’s love for man.

It is unreasonable for Protestants, in view of this verse, to deny all value to the invocation and intercession of the Saints, for it has always been the teaching of the Church that the mediation of the Saints is founded upon and derives all its value from the mediatorship of Christ. Properly understood, this is a very reasonable doctrine. Cf. Conc. Trid., sess. XXV, De invocatione sanctorum.

6. Who gave himself a redemption for all, a testimony in due times.

The Apostle now explains how Christ is our mediator, and how He reconciled man to God.

Who gave himself. It was not His death, but Himself that the Saviour gave as “a redemption” (or better, “a ransom”) for all, i.e., a price that would be required to redeem a slave was paid for all without exception (Rom. 3:24). The Greek for “redemption” here (αντιλυτρον = antilutron) occurs nowhere else, though its meaning is contained in Matt. xx. 28, and Mark x. 45. The prefix αντι (anti) before λυτρον (lutron) means “in place of,” thus signifying the vicarious character of our Lord’s sacrifice, who took our common human nature in order to suffer for us all, that is, in place of us all.

A testimony in due times. The meaning is that the incarnation of the Son and the redemption wrought by Him in the fullness of time completes the revelation begun in the Old Testament of God’s eternal purpose regarding man’s salvation, and is a witness of the friendly will of God that all should be saved.

7. Whereunto I am appointed a preacher and an apostle (I say the truth, I lie not), a doctor of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

With unexpected emphasis the Apostle here asserts his divine appointment to teach and preach the Gospel of universal salvation.

In faith and truth, i.e., in the Christian faith and the true teaching of the Gospel.

8. I will therefore that men pray in every place, lifting up pure hands,
without anger and contention.

After having explained in verses 5-7 the reasons why we should pray for all men, the Apostle now in verses 8-12 gives instructions regarding the manner of making and of assisting at public prayers.

That men pray, instead of women (ver. 9), in the public assemblies.

Lifting up hands, referring to the posture of prayer among the Jews, and also among the early Christians, as we learn from the writings of Clement of Rome, Clement of Alexandria, and the representations in the Catacombs.

Without anger, etc., i.e., free from those internal dispositions that are alien to the spirit of prayer. The word “contention” refers to controversial disputations.

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