Life-Study of 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus and Philemon, by Witness Lee


Verse 6 says, “Who gave Himself a ransom on behalf of all, the testimony to be borne in its own times.” Christ gave Himself a ransom for the accomplishment of redemption for all men. This was necessary in order for Christ to be our Mediator. The Greek word for ransom means payment in recompense. He is qualified to be the Mediator between God and man, not only in His divine and human Person, but also in His redemptive work. Both His Person and work are unique.

In this verse Paul speaks of “the testimony to be borne in its own times.” This is in apposition to the preceding clause; that is, the fact that Christ gave Himself a ransom for all men becomes the testimony to be rendered in its own times. Whenever this fact is proclaimed, it is a testimony to be rendered to men in its own times. For example, when this fact was preached in Africa, that automatically became a testimony rendered to men in Africa in its own times. The preaching of the fact is always spontaneously a testimony of the fact. When Paul preached in Asia Minor, that was the testimony borne in its own times. The same was true when he received the Macedonian call and began to preach in eastern Europe. That was the proper time for the testimony to be declared there. Whenever the facts of Christ’s incarnation and death on behalf of all are proclaimed, that is the preaching, the testimony, borne in its own times.


In verse 7 Paul concludes, “For which I was appointed a herald and an apostle (I speak the truth, I do not lie), a teacher of the nations in faith and truth.” A herald is a proclaimer of the gospel of Christ, an official reporter of God’s New Testament economy; an apostle is one sent by God with a divine commission to set up churches for God, an ambassador from God to the world for the carrying out of His purpose; and a teacher is a tutor who defines, explains, and teaches the contents of God’s eternal purpose and His New Testament economy. Paul had such a triple status and commission for the nations, the Gentiles.


Paul had such a status in faith and truth. Faith here refers to the faith in Christ (Gal. 3:23-26), and truth refers to the reality of all the things revealed in the New Testament. This corresponds to 4:3, those who believe and “have fully known the truth.” It is in the sphere and element of this faith and truth, not of the law, types, and prophecies of the Old Testament, that Paul was appointed a herald, an apostle, and a teacher of the New Testament.


The title of this message is “Prayer to Carry Out God’s Desire for Man’s Salvation.” Although God has such a desire, a heart, to save people, He can fulfill His desire only through the principle of incarnation. This means that He cannot save people directly; He must do it through us. Not even the angels have been appointed by God with such a commission for the carrying out of God’s desire. This commission has been entrusted only to man. For the carrying out of this commission, we need to pray. According to Acts 10, both Peter and Cornelius were praying. Peter was praying on the housetop, and Cornelius was praying in his house. From both sides, prayer ascended to the throne of God for the carrying out of God’s desire. By means of this prayer, God could accomplish His desire to save the Gentiles. The first Gentile household to be saved was that of Cornelius. This one example shows that our prayer is crucial for the carrying out of God’s desire for man’s salvation.

(Life-Study of 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus and Philemon, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)