1 Timothy 2:5-6 For there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself a ransom for all this was attested at the right time.
In this letter Paul is writing to Timothy. Timothy has been left in Ephesus (on the Western side of Asia Minor): Paul has continued in his travels, although we cannot be sure where he was at the time of writing this letter. Paul is giving guidance to Timothy as he endeavours to lead the young church.
In the first chapter Paul writes of the dangers of false doctrine. There are many topics that can lead to fruitless debate and argument. The purpose of true Christian teaching is to promote love which comes from a pure heart, a good conscience and a sincere faith (1:5). Discussion that does not lead towards that goal is counter-productive.
Paul is amazed at the transforming power of the gospel. Paul rates himself as formerly the chief of sinners. This is not to be competitive (Oh, no, I’m worse than Paul): the essence of Paul’s sin is that he opposed Christ as he persecuted the church, engaging in violence against the Christians. At the heart of his sin was outright rejection of Christ. Even so, God was merciful to Paul, enabling him to see the goodness of Christ and calling him to be an apostle, responsible for proclaiming the gospel. God made an enemy into an ally: that is how good God’s grace is.
As we come to chapter 2 we see that the essence of Paul’s argument is that there is one God. Paul was writing in the context of a pagan society with official religion that had a large number of gods, and in which the emperor was to be acclaimed as a god. So long as people fitted in with the official religion they could believe what they liked. Paul presents a different outlook: there is one God. It is this one true God who is concerned about everybody in the world. If people are to live in peace, that is the gift of the one God. If anyone is to be saved, that is the work of the one true God. This is the God who gave his Son, Jesus, so that all sorts of people might be saved, that is come into a living relationship with him. It is Jesus who gave his life to be a ransom. The picture here is that of releasing someone from imprisonment or slavery. The natural human state is that of slavery to sin: Jesus, by giving his life, has paid the price to set us free. Jesus has given his life for all kinds of people so that they might know the only God.
Questions for discussion:
1. What picture of God do we get from these verses?
2. Jesus gave his life: what does this say about how serious our human need is? What does this say about how much God cares about us?
3. If there is one mediator between humanity and God, what does this say about the task of mission?
4. “Love so amazing, so divine demands my soul, my life, my all.” How should we respond to Jesus giving himself for us?
5. How do these verses give us a motive for Christian giving and a priority for how the money is used?