1 Timothy
by Francis Foulkes ©


'For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, the testimony to which was borne at the proper time. For this I was appointed a preacher and apostle (I am, telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth' (2:5-7)

The early verses of this chapter have called us to put prayer first, and to realize no one is beyond the reach of our prayers. In these verses the apostle speaks of God's one way of salvation for all who wish to accept, and his own witness to that salvation in the world.

a. The way

God is our Lord and our Creator, high over us and holy. We are only His creatures, and sinful creatures too. How can we come to Almighty God? He has provided a way, described so clearly in words that sum up the gospel: 'God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.' (John 3:16). God's Son became Man, Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and Son of man. So He is the 'Mediator' between us and God. He is like the ladder which Jacob saw joining heaven and earth (Genesis 28:10-12 and see John 1:51). By Jesus Christ we come to God John 14:6). This is the only way, the perfect way, for people of every nation. We need no other way. There is no other way. People have tried to find and to follow other ways to God. Other teachers have been able to teach some of the truth of God to men, and have encouraged men to seek after God. Jesus Christ does two things for us, and He does them perfectly, as no other can do. 1. He reveals God to us, showing us what God is like, teaching us His truth and His purpose (John 1:18). 2. He has opened the way for us to come to God, through the forgiveness of our sins. He is our Mediator. If we know Him, trust Him, depend on Him, we have the way to God, the way to eternal life through Him: 'having therefore... boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus' (Hebrews 10:19, Authorized Version).

b. How God made the way

Between us and God there is a great gulf. Worse still, there is a barrier, the barrier of our sin. As the Old Testament puts it, God is 'of purer eyes than to behold evil' (Habakkuk 1:13), and our sins prevent our coming to God and realizing His blessing on our lives (see Isaiah 59:1, 2). We with our sins cannot come to God. How can our burden of sin be taken away? Only by the Lord Himself taking it away. Let us put it another way. We were slaves of sin - because when we commit sin we are not truly free. Jesus Christ came to be the Mediator between us and God, setting us free from our sins, But as the ransom price for a slave may be a costly one, so the cost of our redemption was a great one. For us to be set free from our sins, a sinless One had to suffer for our sins. He did this for us; he was judged and condemned in our place (as the original word for 'ransom' here shows us). This is what Jesus Himself meant when He said, 'The Son of man... came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many' (Mark 10:45).

c. The witness to the way

After Paul has spoken of the 'ransom' he goes on to speak of the 'testimony' (verse 6). To give a testimony is the same as to witness or tell the truth that we know about something. When in verse 6 Paul speaks of 'the testimony to which was borne at the proper time', it may mean that at the perfect time God made known His redeeming love, and showed the One who was to be Mediator between Himself and men (compare Galatians 4:4). Or it may mean that after Christ had suffered and died and risen again to redeem us, then His followers gave their witness to Him, as He had commanded in Acts 1:8. For how could men hear without a preacher (Romans 10:14)? At least Paul knew clearly his duty. The truth of Jesus Christ had come to him and he felt a compulsion to be a preacher, a herald of the good news. 'Woe to me', he says, 'if I do not preach the gospel!' (1 Corinthians 9:16). He was an apostle, sent out by the King of kings, to go where the King wanted him to go, and to do what He wanted him to do, which meant living completely for Him (see 1:1 and notes). He was to be a teacher, teaching the glorious truth of God to the Jews first, then to the Gentiles, those who had not heard it before, but had worshipped many gods and been without hope in the world (Ephesians 2:12). His great ambition was always to reach out to those who had never heard (see Romans 15:18-21), and to labour to bring them to the knowledge of Jesus Christ.


Lord Jesus, we thank Thee for the gift more wonderful than words can tell, Thy life given on the cross that we might be free and come to the Father. Give us words to tell Thy love to others, that they may know and believe the truth, and in Thy service be free, now and for ever. AMEN.

Further Study. 1. Consider the teaching of other passages that speak of the death of Christ as our 'ransom' or 'redemption'. (For example, see Mark 10:45; Acts 20:28; 1 Corinthians 6:20; 7:23; Galatians 3:13; Ephesians 1:7; Titus 2:14; 1 Peter 1:18, 19; Revelation 5:9.)

2. The fact of one God leads on to the truth that there is one way of salvation for people of all nations. Study this truth in Romans 3:29, 30; 10:11-13; 1 Corinthians 12:13.