Read 1 Timothy 2:1-7
1I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— 2for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6who gave himself as a ransom for all men — the testimony given in its proper time. 7And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle — I am telling the truth, I am not lying — and a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles. (NIV)
What is wonderful about this short passage is that it speaks to the universality of the Gospel. The Gospel is for everyone. No one is excluded. It is for both King and slave, and for rich and poor alike. Christ died for all and wants all to be saved. We need to remember that it is Christ’s desire for all people to come to a saving knowledge (verse 4).
We see in this passage that Paul uses four different words for prayer. The word translated “request” is a word used to request of someone a need one has. The sense of this prayer is our needs and so speaks to our inadequacy of meeting all our needs on our own. We need others and we need God. The second word translated “prayer” is different from the word translated “requests.” This word was never used to make a request of person. It was always reserved for speaking to God. It reminds us that there are things in our life that can be addressed to God. This can be our fears, our dreams, our hopes, our future, but anything that God alone can grant.
The third word translated “intercession” or “petition” in some bibles is an interesting word. It original meaning was simply to meet or fall in with a person. Later it developed to mean “to hold an intimate conversation” with someone. Finally it came to mean “enter into a king’s presence to offer a petition to him.” What we need to remember here is that God is open and available to us to hear our petitions. And the final word Paul uses translated “thanksgiving” reminds us that thanksgiving is an integral part of our prayer.
But this passage on prayer is also very hard for a lot of people. And in our present political divide, it is even harder for many Christians. Paul begins by saying that our requests, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving should be made for everyone. This sounds really wonderful. We want to be a praying people and we want to lift others up in prayer, both for their needs and for ours. But when you start including people who hate you and people who even persecute you, it starts to get real and it starts to get difficult.
But we need to pray for all people. Paul brings us the why in verses 5 and 6. There is only one mediator between God and humanity and that is Jesus, not us. And Jesus died for all people, not just those like us or who only like us. Christ died for all people so we need to pray for all people.
Paul brings up the kings and all those in authority as an example of praying for everyone. Tertullian, who was born around 160AD, wrote this about why we pray for rulers. He wrote that for the Emperor, the Christian prayed for “long life, secure dominion, a safe home, a faithful senate, a righteous people and a world at peace.” He wrote, “We pray for our ruler, for the state of the world, for the peace of all things and for the postponement of the end.” He added, “ the Christian is the enemy of no person, least of all the Emperor, for we know that , since he has been appointed by God, it is necessary hat we should love him, and reverence him and honor him and desire his safety, together with that of the whole Roman Empire.” The reason is that we desire, as Paul writes in verse 2, to live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.
So, the question one might ask oneself is who have I prayed for and who have I not prayed for? What do these two lists say about who I am as a follower of Jesus Christ? Who do I need to pray for today that I have not been praying for? Am I thankful in my prayers, regardless of the answer I might receive?
Blessings and Peace
the Emperor, for we know that , since he has been appointed by God,
In these times, it would be good to know more about the idea that our leaders have been “appointed by God.”
We need to remember that just because God gives rulers authority to rule, it does not mean they are good or bad rulers. It simply means that God is allowing them to rule. Here are some thoughts and passages that point to this in Scripture.
In Romans 13:1, we find that Paul says that God establishes all governments. The key statement to examine in Romans 13:1 is “no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.” There are two words of interest. The first is the word “authority” which in the Greek is exousia. It refers to anyone who has power or can exercise authority. In the context of Romans 13:1-7, it refers to governmental authority. The Greek word that is translated as “established” is tasso. This word appears eight times in the New Testament (Matthew 28:16; Luke 7:8; Acts 13:48; 15:2; 22:10; 28:23; Romans 13:1; 1 Corinthians 16:15). The word means “to appoint, to order, or to arrange”. That is, every governmental leader has been appointed, arranged or established by God.
Earlier in Romans 9:17, Paul reminded us that God put the Pharaoh of Egypt in his position of authority. We learn from Exodus 7-11 that this Pharaoh was an evil ruler. Romans 9:17 is a quote from Exodus 9:16-17, and it illustrates the principle of Romans 13:1.
“FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE I RAISED YOU UP, TO DEMONSTRATE MY POWER IN YOU, AND THAT MY NAME MIGHT BE PROCLAIMED THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE EARTH.” Romans 9:17 (NASB)
In John 19:11 Jesus told Pontius Pilate, who was an bad governor, that his authority came from God the Father.
In Daniel 4:17 the evil ruler of the Babylonian empire, King Nebuchadnezzar, reports part of a dream that God gave him.
This sentence is by the decree of the angelic watchers
And the decision is a command of the holy ones,
In order that the living may know
That the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind,
And bestows it on whom He wishes
And sets over it the lowliest of men.” Daniel 4:17 (NASB)
The same principle is communicated throughout Scripture (Psalms 75:6-7; Proverbs 8:15).
And we also see that God allows nations to select rulers and then He establishes them. In 1 Samuel 8, an amazing event is described that illustrates how God establishes or appoints rulers over nations. In 1 Samuel 8:1-7 we are told that the nation of Israel had rejected God as their king. Verse 7 summarizes Israel’s request.
The LORD said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them.” 1 Samuel 8:7 (NASB)
Consequently, God allowed Israel to have their own king. Verses 10-18 record what God told Samuel to communicate to Israel that they would experience with their new king. The entire description is negative and in verse 18 we read this,
“Then you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the LORD will not answer you in that day.” 1 Samuel 8:18 (NASB)
The message to Israel was simple. They would be allowed to select their ruler, but it was not the ruler God wanted for them. The ruler would one who would oppress them. Yet, God would establish his throne, but he would not be God’s choice.