The Scriptorium

Working? Agonizing?

Is this your experience of believing in Jesus? 1 Timothy 4.10, 11

The Pastoral Epistles: 1 Timothy 4 (4)

Pray Psalm 12.5.

“For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy,
Now I will arise,” says the LORD;
“I will set him in the safety for which he yearns.”

Read and meditate on 1 Timothy 4.10, 11.


1. Whom is Paul including in his “we”?

2. In what sense is Christ the “Savior of all men”? 

Paul’s “we” is inclusive of Timothy, those he serves (v. 11), and all of us who believe and read these words. Two things especially stand out for us in these two verses.

First, Jesus is our Savior (v. 10). We believe in Him – that His life, death, and resurrection have accomplished everything we need to be acceptable to God. We are saved because we “trust in the living God” (v. 10) Who gave His only-begotten Son to forgive our sins, transform our hearts, and give us His Spirit. Jesus isour Savior.

But He is also the Savior “of all men”. But in what sense? Is everyone going to be saved because of what Jesus has done? No, only those who, like us, trust in God and believe. But still, Jesus is the Savior of all men because He is the only Savior they can ever hope to save them. There is no other name given among men under heaven whereby we must be saved (Acts 4.12). Put in theological terms, the salvation of Jesus is sufficient to save every person who ever lived or will live. But it is efficient to save only those who believe.

But – second – what does it mean to trust in the living God and believe in Jesus? Paul says it involves working and agonizing (v. 10: κοπιῶμεν καὶἀγωνιζόμεθα, we work and we agonize). Believing in Jesus is work, and working out our salvation in a hostile age such as we know in these last days (v. 1) can require agonizing struggle and perseverance. Again, when Paul says “we”, he doesn’t mean just him and Timothy and other current “servants of the Lord”. He means we – you and I and all who believe in Jesus. We have been assigned a Personal Mission Field to which the Lord sends us every day (Jn. 20.21; 2 Cor. 10.13-18). There we are to work out and work at our salvation, doing good, bearing witness, and standing firm for Christ and His truth in all we do.

And if that doesn’t describe you, then in what sense do you “believe”?

1. How do you work and agonize in your own walk with and work for the Lord?

2. What’s the difference between working out our salvation and working atit? Why is each necessary?

3. How would you explain to an unsaved friend what it means to believe in Jesus?

You see, if Christ is the Savior of all, especially of the faithful—it is the apostle’s judgment, and a true one, that Christ is the Savior of all—then nobody may say, “I have no need of a savior.” If you say this, you are not bowing humbly to the doctor’s orders but perishing in your disease. Augustine (354-430), Sermons 292.4

Give me grace, Lord, that I might work and agonize for You today as I…

Pray Psalm 12.1-5.

In your prayers, remember the poor and needy, and especially those believers in Christ who are suffering oppression or persecution.

Sing Psalm 12.1-5.
Psalm 12.1-5(Hamburg: When I Survey the Wondrous Cross)
Help, Lord! The godly cease to be!
They who believe in Christ are few.
Falsely the wicked confidently
flatter, deceive, and mock Your truth.

Stop, Lord, the lips that utter lies,
all those who speak with boasting tongue!
See how Your holy Word they despise,
while their own praises they have sung.

Rise up, O Lord, and rescue all
Your precious children sore distressed.
Save those who faithfully on You call;
grant them deliv’rance, peace, and rest.

T. M. Moore

Men, God commands you to pray. Watch this brief video about our Men’s Prayer Movement (click here). Then order two copies of our booklet, If Men Will Pray (click here) – one for yourself, and one for a friend. Use these resources to jump start your prayer life to a level more in line with what Paul desires of us in 1 Timothy 2.8.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006).All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.