Prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men
1 Timothy 2:1-8 from the daily reading in the One Year bible
First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. 3 This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time. 7 For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying) as a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.
8 Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension.
In Romans 13:1-4 it says: Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Keep in mind that Paul wrote this while he himself was a prisoner of and facing possible execution by the oppressive Roman government. So it is not from a place of believing that all authority is good and righteous that Paul wrote this, but perhaps more from an acknowledgement of what Daniel 2:20-21 says: Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, For wisdom and power belong to Him. It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men And knowledge to men of understanding. If we believe that God is sovereign, that He is in control of all things, then to be in rebellion against an established authority is rebellion against Him.
Surely there are times when as believers we must choose between obedience to God and obedience to government. Those times though are not defined by our personal rights, privileges or desires, but rather when obedience to government would be defiance of God. Daniel did not submit to an edict that prohibited him from praying to God and he was thrown into the lion’s den. God protected Daniel because the edict was against Him and God was glorified through Daniel’s action. (Daniel 6) Likewise in Daniel 3, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, Daniel’s companions, resisted an edict of Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, which required them to worship a golden image. They were thrown into a fiery furnace, but again they were protected by God and He was glorified. If we then would resist authority we should be certain that it is for God’s sake, to bring Him honor and glory, not for our own comfort or desires or purposes.
Jesus, like Paul, was also subject to the Roman government. In Matthew 22:21, when He was asked about paying taxes to the government, He responded: “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.” In John 19:8-11, on the eve of His crucifixion, as Jesus stood before Pilate it says: Therefore when Pilate heard this statement, he was even more afraid; and he entered into the Praetorium again and said to Jesus, “Where are You from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. So Pilate said to Him, “You do not speak to me? Do You not know that I have authority to release You, and I have authority to crucify You?” Jesus answered, “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above.” Earlier that night, when Jesus was arrested, rather than resist, He said: “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? How then will the Scriptures be fulfilled, which say that it must happen this way?” (Matthew 26:52-54) Although Jesus was God in flesh, He submitted to the authority of man for the glory and purposes of the Father.
In Matthew 5:44-48 Jesus commands that we go beyond mere submission to authority. He says: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Even if those in authority are our enemies and the ones who persecute us, as believers we should pray for them. In today’s text Paul says: I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time. Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension. There is a selfish motive for our prayers on behalf of those in authority. Paul says: so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. Rather than resisting authority and the will of God, we should, like Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, seek to glorify God in the sight of men. Paul says: This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. God’s desire, His will, His plan is that all men, all people would be saved. That is after all why Jesus submitted to the cross. If we then, through our prayers and submission, can join God in His plan and His purpose, for His glory, should we not as Paul says: pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension?
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit I submit to You. Give me wisdom to know how and when I should submit to authority and when, for Your glory and purposes, I should resist. My desire is that I would join You in Your work and Your purposes, to Your glory, that: all men would be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. Amen.