Should we pray for “kings and all who are in authority” (2:1-2) even if they are unbelieving, corrupt politicians? In light of the ungodly character of those in governmental authority in Paul’s day—of whom we read about in the book of Acts—the answer must be “yes.” The result of our prayers can be “that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity” (2:2). We can not only pray for leaders, we can elect them! Cast your vote for the most righteous candidates, because “When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, but when a wicked man rules, people groan” (Prov. 29:2).
The result of our being able to lead “a tranquil and quiet life” is that the gospel can be spread more freely, which is a good thing, since God “desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth” (2:4), and people must hear the gospel to be saved. Hostile governmental authorities are perhaps the greatest hindrance to the gospel around the world. Imagine what would happen, for example, if there was true freedom of religion in the Muslim nations.
Once again we see that Scripture stands in complete contrast to the cardinal Calvinist doctrine that God desires only a few, pre-selected people be saved. Paul believed that God desires “all men to be saved” (2:4). This verse also stands in complete contrast to the Calvinist theory that, “because God is sovereign, everything He desires, He gets.” That is utterly false, and anyone who reads any part of the Bible should realize that when it comes to the free-will decisions of the majority of human beings, God rarely gets what He desires.
Moreover, the cardinal Calvinist doctrine that Jesus died only for a very limited number of people—those allegedly predestined to be saved—is also debunked today. Paul declares that Jesus “gave Himself as ransom for all” (2:6). The “all” of which Paul writes in 2:6 is the same “all” of whom he wrote in 2:4, the “all” whom God desires to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. All of this is unmistakably clear.
Is Jesus the only way to heaven, or are there “many ways to God”? Do other religions simply offer a different path to the same God? The answer is that God has provided only “one mediator between God and men” (2:5), the solitary God-man, the only sacrifice for our sins, Jesus Christ. True Christians are very close-minded on this matter, and they can afford to be close-minded, because they are correct!
Paul wrote specific instructions to men and women in this chapter, and his words, “I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man” (2:12), have been the subject of controversy. To make his point, Paul appeals to the order of creation (2:13) and the record of fall, during which time Eve, not Adam, was deceived (2:14). Because there is no specific Greek word that is equivalent to the English word wife, context must be used to determine if the best translation of the Greek word gune should be “woman” or “wife.”
In this passage, I think “wife” would be a better translation, because Paul appeals to the relationship between Adam and Eve, a husband and wife, for his reasoning. Additionally, in other passages, both Paul and Peter instruct wives to be subject to their husbands (Eph. 5:22; Col. 3:18; 1 Pet. 3:1). So is Paul teaching in this passage that all women must be submissive to all men, and is he forbidding any and all women from teaching any and all men? I don’t think so, especially in light of the fact that God has, at times, appointed women to teach or exercise authority over men, as in the cases of Deborah, judge of Israel (Judg. 4:4-24), and Huldah, a prophetess (2 Kings 22:13-20), not to mention Jesus’ instructions to the women at His tomb to go and give instructions to the apostles (Mark 16:7). When looking for truth, we must take the whole Bible into consideration, not just one or two verses.