Friday, March 4, 2011

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday March 6, 2011

(Worshiping GOD is living the Gospel and praying for others)
(1 Timothy 2:1-8)

In the first century, the city of Ephesus was a well-known center for idol worship. It was even the home of the imposing temple of the idol god “Artemis” which was considered to be one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. People often went to this magnificent structure in a misguided superstitious attempt to find life’s truths, through rituals and sacrificial offerings to this popular false god.
Paul had left his young protégé, Timothy, in this idolatrous city, to head up and minister to the newly founded Christian church that was naturally struggling with Christian teaching, church manners, and various other aspects of lifestyles that had long been influenced by the city’s idolatrous atmosphere and climate. He wrote this first pastoral epistle to Timothy to provide him with various instructions and encouragement on how to deal with these issues. He wanted his young pastor to not become overwhelmed by his enormous task, and to live wholeheartedly with GOD’s bigger picture in mind.
The importance of right living is at the core of the message in this important letter, and it also stresses the importance of knowing the truth of the Gospel, and defending it against the false teachings that had infiltrated even the minds of some in the Christian church. Paul wanted those who were of the Body of CHRIST, to become good examples and ambassadors, careful to live what they believe, so that satan wouldn’t be able to use their own failings against them to hinder the growth and spread of Christianity.
In 1 Timothy 2, verse 1, the apostle Paul uses, no less than four, of the New Testament’s seven words that are used for “prayer”. First we see the word “intercession”, translated from the original Greek word, “enteuxis” (ent-yook-sis), and it means “to enter into the presence of a king, in order to present a petition on behalf of someone else”. This word lets us know that the way to GOD is always open, even when, and I dare say, especially when, we are petitioning for someone else.
We oftentimes find it easy to pray for those whom we know and love, and especially those people whose life situations have a direct impact on our own lives. But what about those individuals whom we may know, but actually have very little contact with on a personal level? Sometimes, even though we may know that these individuals may be going through a crisis, we may not necessarily feel compelled to pray for, or with them, to our GOD, WHO is our KING.
The second word Paul uses is the word “prayer” itself, which is translated from the Greek word “proseuche” (pros-yoo-khay), and it means “to bow down and petition in worship of GOD”. This petition is never used for any other purpose than to approach and request something of the Almighty GOD.
Next we see the word “supplication”, which is translated from the Greek rendering “deesis” (deh-ay-sis), which means “to request”. It, in itself, is not exclusively a religious word, because it can be addressed to either GOD, or man. And finally, we see the term “giving of thanks”. It is a term that comes from the Greek rendering “eucharistia” (yoo-khar-is-tee-ah) and it means, quite literally, “thanks to GOD for all things”. This word is meant to teach us that, not only should we bring our requests, and the requests of others to GOD, but we should also pray “prayers of thanksgiving” to GOD for HIS benevolence in all things.
In Paul’s instructions to Timothy, he urges him to carry out his mission of keeping the Ephesian Church focused on sound doctrine, by interceding in prayer for GOD’s mercy on all men. He urges him to pray for kings, and others who are in authority, so that they, as a people, might live in peace, GODliness, and dignity (1 Tim. 2:2). It is a fact, that, even today, a hostile governmental leadership can severely curtail the rights of the Christian Church to meet, worship, study, and evangelize.
We must always remember to pray for, and not take for granted, our right of expression in the Christian faith. This, Paul stresses, is good and pleasing to CHRIST JESUS, because HE wants everyone to be saved, and to understand the truth (1 Tim. 2:3-4). In verse 5 Paul uses the word “mediator” to describe the function of CHRIST JESUS. In his original Greek writing, he uses the word “mesites” (mes-ee-tace), which describes one who intercedes between two or more parties in an attempt to restore, or make peace.
JESUS, was and is, the only ONE qualified to take the role of “mediator” between GOD and man. HE is the only ONE WHOM GOD could call on to usher in HIS “life giving Covenant” to man. And HE is also the only ONE WHO can usher us into GOD the FATHER’s OWN glorious presence without fear, without guilt, and, without shame.
The warm embrace of the grace of GOD is infinitely limitless, and it wraps itself around the rich and the poor, the king and the commoner, the scholar and the ignorant, the young and the old, male and female, and even the so-called good and bad. No one is outside of the love of CHRIST, and no one is outside the purpose of GOD. GOD wishes for all men to be saved. JESUS’ three-year earthly ministry and vicarious sacrifice on the cross, stands alone, as the greatest example to us, as to how we should live and sacrifice our own lives, for the salvation of others.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

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