by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 1 Study # 8 Lincolnton, NC September 5, 2004
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.
1901 ASV Translation:
6 who gave himself a ransom for all; the testimony to be borne in its own times;
7 whereunto I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I speak the truth, I lie not), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.
8 I desire therefore that the men pray in every place, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and disputing.
There is one variation between the Textus Receptus and the Nestle/Aland 26 in verse 7: the Textus Receptus has the phrase "in Christ", which the Nestle/Aland 26 does not have. This introduces only a very slight change in emphasis in regard to the nature of the "truth" Paul wrote and has almost no influence on his meaning in that he has already established the fact that the "truth" is "in Jesus".
I. The big issue of these verses has to do with the "fact" of the accomplished "ransom" and the "fact" of a decreed "time" of proclamation in the face of the claim in 2:4 that God "wants" all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.
A. The problem, as it presents itself to the human mind, is some kind of variation of the theme that "if God wants it, why doesn't He make it happen"?
1. This 'problem' is magnified by the historical reality that the "ransom" wasn't paid until after over 4,000 years of human history had passed.
a. An enormous number of "humans" perished in that time frame without any exposure to the "ransom" proclamation.
b. Even now, 2,000 years after the fact, every day that goes by, there are thousands of people, world-wide, who die and fall into eternity without ever hearing a cogent presentation of the truth of the "ransom".
c. The 'problem' is not that rebellious men, who typically snub the Truth in a violent arrogance even when they do hear it, are not "hearing" of the ransom paid on their behalf [it is actually Justice at work that permits this reality]; the 'problem' is the statement, "God desires all men to be saved" in the face of the historical reality that the vast majority of men do not even hear about God's interest in them [men, typically, want God to dump Justice altogether and fully engage Mercy without boundaries, but they only want this because they will benefit, not because it is "wise" or "good"].
1) We have a hard time believing in any profession of "care" that is not accompanied by "careful action" (i.e. if God wants all to be saved, why does He not at least 'plan' the "ransom" to take place in the Garden and make the "ransom" the central core of "proclamation" from Genesis 3 on?) and we tend to dismiss any claim of "care" that is accompanied by a "silent heaven".
2) This 'problem' is resolved only by the reality of a carefully 'tiered' system of values that is the fundamental point of reference for all that God does in His dealings with creation.
a) A 'tiered' system of values is simply a value system in which choices have been made as to the relative worth of every thing and every act and every impact in respect to each other. [When I deliberately turn my cell phone off at night so I do not have to answer phone calls from a neurotic woman who has begun to call, I am only proving that my ablitity to rest is greater in value to me than listening to the on-going ramblings of a person who is only "venting" on a willing ear and is not helped by that willingness -- I am simply operating by a system of values that has been put in place regarding how "willing" I am to be a useless listening ear at night: God has made choices just like this because 'tiered' values are fundamental to reality. When the apostles, in Acts "refused" to "wait on tables" because it would take away from the time and energy they had to "teach doctrine", they were doing the same thing.]
b) In this 'tiered' system, the salvation of "all" is a very real truth.
c) But, in this 'tiered' system, the salvation of "some" is of greater value than the salvation of "all". [An illustration of this is the conversion of the author of this letter. He was one of several hundred, or, perhaps, several thousand, men who were in charge of the religion of the people in his generation and location in the world. God, in Christ, visibly appeared to him in a way that was not duplicated in the experience of any of the rest of the hundreds, or thousands. Thus, the "one" was revealed to be of greater value than the "all"...a reality of 'tiered values'.]
B. The revelation of this verse is that God has always had a "plan" that was going to run under His system of tiered values in such a way that even the "timing" of His redemptive actions were included in the "plan".
1. It is useless to calumniate the "wisdom" of this "love"...it is wisdom that is undergirded by omniscience and incomparable love...men waste their time fuming against the "plan-following-God", and they reveal their actual distaste of Him, which is one of the reasons He doesn't "make sure" they hear from Him in any case (why speak to someone who will only respond with vindictive hatred?).
2. It is a wonder of all wonders that God has made any effort to save any man, given the antagonism that rests in the hearts of every man against Him. It is even a greater wonder that He desires that all men come to the knowledge of the truth, given the rather determined preference men have for ignorance and stupidity.
C. That there was to be a "witness" at any time (let alone in prescribed times) indicates that "proclamation" is a significant element in the process of salvation.
1. Both the words "times" and "own" are plural in all of the Greek manuscripts.
a. This cannot, then, be "in due time" as the KJV translates it.
b. It is "in its own times" as the ASV translates it.
c. The plural of "time" means multiple "times" for the proclamation and the plural of "own" is typically (in the New Testament) used when the noun (times) is plural.
1) There is, then, this observation: the proclamation of the ransom was given uniquely in each of several "times".
2) Historically, the proclamation of the ransom was made with a distinct focus in each of several times...
a) Before Moses there was the "head/heel" proclamation.
b) By Moses there was the "sacrificial" proclamation (the entire system of sacrifice).
c) After Moses there was the "substitutionary atonement" proclamation of Calvary.
2. In the on-going debate(s) about God's program and processes, the fact that proclamation is involved needs to be clearly understood.
a. There must be significance to the fact that the "witness" was given in its assigned times.
1) That "witness" is given means that "witness" has a procedural impact.
2) That men assign to "witness" more than it can accomplish does not mean that it does not have a significant place in the process of salvation.
a) There is a great deal of talk about man's ability, by witness, to shake individuals, groups, and cultures loose from their sin...all of which is more than the Bible assigns to the proclamation of the Gospel.
b) But, that God refuses to turn the processes over to men so that they can, by proclamation, bring things to pass that are outside the 'Plan' does not mean that there is no "use" in proclaiming.
3) The truth of the matter is that men have been "assigned" to proclamation and if they do not "proclaim" for any cause (using the excuse that "it doesn't do any good"), they are being disobedient and unbelieving.
b. The significance of "timed" proclamation is revealed in the Bible to be God's method of sharing His life with those who are to be His intermediate agents in the accomplishment of the "Plan".
1) This means that "proclamation" is a part of the divine process for the accomplishment of the 'Plan'.
a) That much proclamation falls on deaf ears is immaterial to the issue of whether it ought to be done [the 'Plan' includes the results of both 'deaf ears' as well as 'salvation to those who hear'].
b) That proclamation is an integral part of the redemptive process is, therefore, indisputable.
2) This also means that "proclamation" is also a part of the divine process of communicating life to men...both to those who "speak" (as they participate with Him in the word) as well as those who "hear" (as they discover by hearing that God is interested in saving them).
a) There is no dispute that those who obey the divine injunctions to be involved in the spread of the Word are 'more blessed' than those who refuse to get involved.
b) Nor can there be any serious dispute that those who are lost need to 'hear' the proclamation in order to be saved.