The Word's Christian Fellowship, Inc.
#102    FOR                                                                                                  June 2, 2013

The understanding of the following instruction hinges on the meaning of the word “for”:
“I want you to cook dinner for John.”
John could be someone who, for one reason or another, should have dinner prepared for him.  John could also be someone who should have prepared dinner himself but wouldn’t or couldn’t and you are being asked to undertake the preparation of the meal on his behalf. 

I Timothy 2:1-2,
1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.

The understanding of God’s Instructions here hinges on the meaning of the word “for”:
“for all men”, “for kings”, “for all that are in authority”.

If the word “for” is understood to mean that we, the believers, are to literally pray for each and every person in the world, plus kings, plus all that are in authority, then if we started now to compile our lists and pray and did nothing else for the rest of our lives, we would have no time for anything else, and would never finish the task anyway.

Something else to consider is that among the “all men” and the “all that are in authority” might be at least one or two individuals who had already chosen a spiritual father other than the One True God.  It would be insulting, to say the least, to offer our prayers to the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ for those that are a part of the spiritual family of the god of this world, wouldn’t it?

The Greek preposition huper translated “for” in these two verses can also be translated “on behalf of” and several translations use the words “on behalf of” in verse one.  Translating huper as “on behalf of” in these two verses adds much needed clarity to the instruction God is giving.
I Timothy 2:1-8,
1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made on behalf of all men;
2 On behalf of kings, and on behalf of all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;
(4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
7 Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.)
8 I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.
[Parenthesis marks around verses 4-7 and bold type emphasis are added.]

The specific purpose of what we, the believers, are to pray for here is that we, the believers, “may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.”  All men and all that are in authority don’t do that, can’t do that and won’t do that.  We, the believers, however, have access to God.  We’re in His Family.  He’s our Father.  Verses 1 and 2 are not God’s Instruction to pointlessly pray for the salvation of this king or that politician.  We don’t trust men to provide us with a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.  We trust our Heavenly Father and pray as He instructs us.

Christians through the centuries have understood these verses to mean praying for the salvation of all men and all that are in authority.  But that’s not the purpose of the instruction God has given here.  Verses 4 through 7 must be recognized as a parenthesis which further explains the last phrase in verse 3, “God our Saviour”. 

God has given very clear instruction in the 7 Church Epistles that we are to pray for the Mystery of the Gospel, the Mystery of Christ, to be uttered and spoken in the world.  If the Truth of the Mystery is made known throughout the world then all men can have the privilege of choosing to hear It and choosing to believe It, including kings and all that are in authority.

God’s Instruction here is not regarding the salvation of the world but rather His desire that we, His children, “lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.”

Recognizing “on behalf of” and the parenthesis in these verses makes God’s Instruction abundantly clear.
I Timothy 2:1-2,
1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made on behalf of all men;
2 On behalf of kings, and on behalf of all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;
8 I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.

©  Stephen A. Harrison,  The Word’s Christian Fellowship, Inc.  4415 Yank Road  Wilson, NC 27893