Reading the letters written by the apostle Paul, you notice several characteristics that tend to give English teachers heartburn. One aspect is that Paul writes long, run-on sentences. A second is that Paul mixes his metaphors and illustrations. A third characteristic that bothers English teachers is that Paul sometimes changes subjects midstream. He starts down one path, changes the subject, and then changes again back to his original subject.
1 Timothy 2:1-8 illustrates this latter characteristic. Paul begins by talking about prayer in verses 1-3.
1 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior,
He ends by talking about prayer in verse 8.
8 I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling;
But in between in verses 3-6, the apostle Paul talks about the nature of God, salvation, and what Paul saw as his job description.
3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. 7 For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.
These verses give us a glimpse into the nature of God. They help answer the question, “What does Good Friday tell us about God?”
The first thing we notice is that God desires that all people come to know his grace and love. Please don’t misunderstand and think that Paul is teaching universalism, that all people will be saved. He already made it clear in 1:18-20 that Christ died to save sinners. Not everyone will accept Christ’s sacrifice. But that doesn’t change the fact that God provided the way of salvation and desires all people to receive the gift.
The second thing that stands out is that not only does God desire all people to be saved, he is completely focused on salvation (5-6). As Paul explains, there is only one God, one mediator who brings God and people together, and one plan of salvation. Jesus is the only one who can restore our relationship with God.
We are familiar with the concept of mediation. You have two parties who are in a dispute or a conflict. They enlist a neutral third party and a mediator to help them reach a settlement.
On the one hand, we have a righteous, holy God. On the other hand, we have people who rebelled against God and chose to sin. Since God’s standards are perfect and absolute, there is no possible compromise. There is no middle ground.
Instead of working on a compromise or getting both sides to meet in the middle, Jesus took it upon himself to pay the penalty for our sin. He gave himself as a ransom for all. Through his death on the cross, Jesus willingly sacrificed himself to pay the price for our salvation. Christ died for our sins. Salvation is only available through Jesus.
The third thing we notice is that Paul understood that preaching the gospel was his sole purpose in life (7). His task was to tell others how they could be reconciled to God.
This is the synopsis of a devotional shared at the Good Friday service at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on April 14, 2017.