Turning to a different gospel. A distorted gospel. Let anyone, even an angel with such a gospel be accursed! The cult of Mormonism was founded by Joseph Smith who claimed an angel gave him another gospel when he was walking in the woods by his upstate NY home in the 1800s. Angel or man -- let him be accursed. Because of these false teachers the way of the actual Gospel will be blasphemed. Going back to the Peter verses we see the truth behind these people in that their condemnation is from long ago and not idle. Their destruction is not asleep. No references whatsoever to pray for those whose destruction is already set.
I understand that all of the sloppy agape church training people receive leads them to this point. That aside, let's delve into the key verses for today. Whenever you hear someone exclaim that we are supposed to pray for everyone they are referring to the key verses and sure enough the words "for everyone" do appear in the context of prayers. That is a pretty shallow dive though. What is the overall context of this verse? Timothy was a pastoral Epistle, as Paul was giving Timothy needed wisdom as he was set to be the pastor at Ephesus. Chapter One actually warns him about false teaching! Chapter Three gets into the nitty gritty about church management, such as qualifications for overseers. Chapter Two, is far more attached to the third chapter. So what is Paul saying in the key verses then to his prote'ge'? When he says all people, does he actually mean everyone on the planet? Let us start with the simple fact that he is not only calling for prayer, but for supplications, intercessions, and thanksgivings. Is it realistic to think that God wants us to intercede for wolves who are devouring His sheep? Since He wants all to come to salvation, is it realistic to think He was us to beg through supplication for wolves who lead people astray? How in the world are we to be thankful for someone whose entire existence has been to prevent people from being saved? I think the context itself reveals that we are not. Let us turn to Gill's Commentary for further support:
"be made for all men; not only for all the saints, for all the churches of Christ, and, ministers of the Gospel; nor only for near relations and friends, according to the flesh; but for all the inhabitants of the country and city in which men dwell, the peace and prosperity of which are to be prayed for; yea, for enemies, and such as reproach, persecute, and despitefully use the saints, even for all sorts of men, Jews and Gentiles, rich and poor, high and low, bond and free, good men and bad men: for it cannot be understood of every individual that has been, is, or shall be in the world; millions of men are dead and gone, for whom prayer is not to be made; many in hell, to whom it would be of no service; and many in heaven, who stand in no need of it; nor is prayer to be made for such who have sinned the sin unto death, 1 John 5:16 besides, giving of thanks, as well as prayers, are to be made for all men; but certainly the meaning is not, that thanks should be given for wicked men, for persecutors, and particularly for a persecuting Nero, or for heretics, and false teachers, such as Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom the apostle had delivered to Satan. But the words must be understood of men of all sorts, of every rank and quality, as the following verse shows." -- Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Gill points out first the obvious. Prayer is not needed for those who have already passed from this life because despite Catholic myths, their destination is set already. Likewise, prayer is not need for the sin unto death recorded in 1John, because it specifically says to not pray for them. While there is no consensus for what this verse refers to, one possibility offered are those who refuse to repent of repeated lifestyle sins or who have had their consciences seared. One might even consider false teachers who may have started with the best of intentions as those who have seared consciences. Continuing on, thanksgiving should not be given for wicked men. We are speaking here about real persecution, not the soft political pablum that passes for it in this country. Nero was not be held up for thanks. Hitler was not to be held up for thanks. Everyone, did not actually mean every single one. In fact, Paul references a local trouble he had with two false teachers named Hymenaeus and Alexander whom the apostle just handed over to Satan! Not a lot of prayer going on there I suppose. When dealing with Alexander separately, a few chapters later, this is how Paul speaks of him:
Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message. -- 2Timothy 4:14-15 (ESV)
Beware of him yourself for he opposed the Gospel! The Lord will repay him! That sure does not sound as if Paul is calling for prayer on behalf of Alexander. That is because we are not called to. The fundamental underpinnings of such a noble sounding call is that we wrongly conflate wolves with sheep. Once we have passed the test that says the person is clearly engaged in extended and extensive false preaching that leads people astray and they refuse to accept correction for, it seems quite biblical to relegate such folks to the category of wolves. That leaves us with two groups of people -- wolves and their victims. Their victims deserve our prayers that they may come to the glorious light of Jesus Christ before the end to be saved. This is why the shepherd carried a crook, or staff. It is used to guide the sheep who simply may not know well enough which way to go. Correct doctrine is first of all the shepherd's staff guiding people along the paths of righteousness for His namesake. This is a source of comfort for believers according to Psalm 23. The other source of comfort however is the shepherd's rod. This is used by the shepherd to literally beat away predators of the sheep, such as wolves. In these last days we have seen plenty of preachers willing to wield the staff but seemingly have no desire to use the rod. Consider what scripture is to be used for:
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. -- 2Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV)