First of All

Paul is writing to Timothy who is currently in Ephesus carrying on the work that Paul had started in the years prior. Timothy is working to help set the church in order, and so Paul is giving him instruction on the things that he must do to accomplish that end.

And so to that end, Paul says that the first thing that they must do is pray. He calls for petitions, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving to be made for all people:

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time.

1 Timothy 2:1-6

Paul interrupts his thought when he says that those prayers should be made for all people, clarifying what he means when he says all people. They had in their time, just as we have today in our time, kings and those in authority. In other words, the government. So Paul gives the commandment to Timothy that the first thing that they should be doing is praying for those in authority.

As opposed to what? What is the opposite of praying for those that are in authority? What is it that Paul is attempting to correct? I would, yes, speculate, but suggest that the answer is playing politics. Paul wants Timothy to, instead of spending time talking about the politics of the day, spend time praying for those in authority.

In Paul and Timothy’s time, the kings – the Romans in particular since they are the ones in charge at this time, but not just them – considered themselves, and were considered to be divine. In other words, they were “gods”, not just kings. So of course this would be a problem when you have a group of Christians who, instead, say that Jesus is king. They are proclaiming a new kingdom, the kingdom of God, where Jesus is king.

So for this reason, and for the fact that we frequently also align ourselves with one political ruler or another in our day, Paul tells Timothy that the first thing that they must do is to pray for (obviously, not pray to) the kings and the authorities. They are to pray and ask God for blessing to come upon these authorities so that – first – they may live peaceful and quiet lives. They should ask that they would have lives that would allow them to do the work of the kingdom of God, making the true and eternal king known to all.

But not only this…instead, they should pray also that these “all people”, meaning also the kings and the authorities, would also come to know Christ. They should pray that these authorities would also submit to the authority of Christ, the greatest and true king over all.

All of this to say that our engagement from a political perspective is to pray. Not to spend time a ton of time in the context of the church body worrying and debating about the policies and politics of the world, but instead praying for the kings and all in authority to know Christ so that they will govern appropriately and that we can live the lives that Christ has called us to live and focus on the work of his kingdom, not focusing on the kingdoms of the world that are passing away.

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