Biblical Foundation for Pastoral Ministry: Part 4 :: By Dr. Donald Whitchard

1 Timothy 2:1-7: “Prayers for All Men”

“Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For 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 between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle – I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying – a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth” (1 Timothy 2:1-7, NKJV).

I don’t think that I’m relying upon speculation when I present the notion that before Paul encountered the risen and glorified Lord Jesus on the road to Damascus as presented in the book of Acts, that there were probably two groups of early Christians that came before the Lord in prayer concerning this religious zealot and his savage acts of persecution towards them.

One group probably prayed that Jesus would smite this enemy of the church and rid the land of his deeds and maliciousness so that the church could be allowed to carry out its mission and be left to themselves for a while. Another group probably got together in Damascus or another place and prayed that Paul would be saved from his evil ways and that Jesus would change him, again, if nothing else than to leave them alone and let them get on with their respective tasks. Either way, these early followers of Jesus were putting His words into practice when He taught His listeners to pray for their enemies (Matthew 5:43-48). He lived these words while suffering on the cross and asked the Father to forgive those who had condemned Him to death because they didn’t know what they were doing (Luke 23:34). What Jesus taught, He did by example.

The prayer for salvation on Paul’s part came to pass (Acts 9:1-6, 15-16; 22:6-18; 26:12-18) and the reaction was surprising, to say the least (Acts 9:20-22). From that moment on, he was a man on fire for the LORD, always on the move preaching, teaching, pastoring, evangelizing, and when put in prison, writing letters of instruction, admonition, and encouragement that would eventually become part of the “God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16-17) New Testament canon.

The Apostle was not alone in his mission. He had several associates through the years such as:

Barnabas (Acts 4:36-37; 9:27; 11:22-24, 30; 12:25; 13:1-2, 50; 14:12, 20; 15:22, 25, 36),

Silas (Acts 15:22, 34, 40; 16:19; 17:4, 14; 18:5),

Luke (Acts 1:1; Colossians 4:14; 2 Timothy 4:11; Philemon 1:24) and

Timothy (Acts 16:1, 3; 17:14; 18:5; 19:22; 20:4; Romans 16:21; 1 Corinthians 4:17; 16:10; 2 Corinthians 1:1, 19),

to whom these letters are addressed, again, for the purpose of instruction and encouragement to this young pastor in Ephesus.

Paul stresses to Timothy the importance of prayer, especially as it pertains to the welfare of the society in which they lived, and for the salvation of those in power and the population as a whole. These verses tend to render null and void the idea that Christians should not be involved in politics or the government due to what is a corrupt and reprehensible system of leadership and influence in the fallen world.

I believe that because Christians have avoided this area over the years, we are now subject to laws and regulations that could have been stopped or never been brought up in the first place and accepted as a part of the social fabric today had believers been in positions of authority and leadership. It grieves me now that many of us who claim to follow the Lord Jesus Christ are divided in opinion and attitude towards the current occupant of the White House, with some professed believers having a hatred for the President because of his mannerisms and approach to important issues that affect our status and well-being as a nation.

These verses concerning prayer for the leaders of our government are in line with what Paul had written to the church at Rome a few years before in reference to the approach we should take towards those who are in authority (Romans 13:1-8) and to remember that it is God Himself who puts leaders in power and can take them away as He sees fit in order for His purposes to be done (Proverbs 21:1). We also have to face the fact that God puts bad leaders into power so as to open the eyes of the nation and come to Him for forgiveness and renewal, lest anarchy be the result (Judges 21:25). We all too often get what we deserve.

For those who feel that they have to criticize and blame God for troubles and tragedies done by governing bodies, they need to ask if they had come to Him for advice and direction as to the nation’s well-being, or had heeded the warnings by God to return to Him lest the nation find itself possibly at a point of no return – as was the case with apostate Judah in the days of the prophet Jeremiah, who warned them of impending judgment and destruction if they didn’t repent and submit to God’s direction.

We only need to read the account written by Jeremiah as to the conclusion and consequences of their disobedience (2 Chronicles 36:15-21; Jeremiah 52:4-30). In the time of the New Testament, the nation of Israel was judged by the Lord Jesus for their disobedience and rejection of His rule, with the nation being destroyed by the armies of Rome in 70 A.D. (Matthew 24:15-28; Mark 13:14-23; Luke 21:20-24).

We who belong to Christ are in the world, but not of it (John 15:19), and we are not to love the world or the things in it (1 John 2:15-17). We are strangers and pilgrims, citizens of a better country (Luke 10:20; 22:30; John 14:1-3; Philippians 3:20; 1 Peter 1:4; Revelation 21:1-7, 27). However, we are not to become hermits and recluses as did the monks of the medieval era, who isolated themselves from the common people and neglected the duty of evangelism and the teaching of the Scriptures. As Christians, we are bound to lift up our leaders in prayer in order for them to make wise and beneficial decisions for the good of the country, and for their salvation as well.

It does us really no good to get mad at some of the obviously wicked proposals and laws proposed by political leaders and their associates if we don’t pray for their eyes to be opened and come to the point of repentance and faith in Christ.

Wicked people do wicked things, and if we don’t want the wickedness to further entrench itself into the fabric of society, we need to put on our spiritual armor and fight the powers behind these people (Ephesians 6:10-18). The wicked are tools and pawns of the enemy and his demons, and they are the real source of evil within nations and the souls of men. None of this has caught God off guard, for He knows the nature of the unregenerate heart and the direction in which it will go if not stopped by the Sovereign will of Almighty God (Romans 1:18-32; 3:10-18; Matthew 24:22).

Our Lord Jesus was born into a world of barbarity, paganism, cruelty, and despotic government under the hand of Rome, yet He never called for a revolt against Caesar. He paid his taxes, befriended Roman soldiers, taught the people to behave in a godly manner towards the authorities, and modeled good citizenship in front of His peers and disciples. He modeled what He taught when the question of paying taxes to Caesar was brought before Him (Luke 20:20-26).

Remember that Pilate, Caesar’s representative in Judea, found no fault in Him. The Sanhedrin had to procure false witnesses because they had no real grounds on which to try Him, and did so illegally. As God in the flesh, He placed Rome in control for a set time, and then allowed it to fall. He knows that no worldly government lasts, no matter how it’s structured, but government is God’s way of controlling evil and demonstrating that there needs to be law and order in the world. Anarchy is a tool of the devil, and the LORD will not allow him to have the final say in any affair of world history, including governments and the authorities who run it.

This is our responsibility as pilgrims in this world. We want to see evil rule ended, but if we care about the souls of men (and I know that can be hard to do at times), we need to intercede for these people and ask the LORD to save and redeem them from their sins. However, I also believe that if any authority figure willfully and deliberately refuses to turn to the LORD and repent, then we should ask that the LORD remove them from power so as to not bring any more wrath upon ourselves than what is already prepared for us as a people and a nation.

Do not think that your one prayer doesn’t have an effect on the path of this country or an individual. James, the half-brother of our LORD, taught that fervent prayer saves the sick and changes destinies (James 5:13-18).

The lost need to be shaken out of their self-centered worldview and made to see that there is an eternity to consider after all the laws and policies have been established and revoked. The church is to be the representative of the eternal Kingdom of God, far better and more magnificent than anything we can ever conceive here, and to tell the people that all the wrongs will be made right, all the injustices will be handled, all the crimes will be judged, all the evil will be punished, and the devil and his demons, and all who followed them will be consigned eternally to hell, never to be heard from again.

Jesus Christ will be and is the rightful King of kings, who will make all things new. When we render to Caesar, it is with the goal of opening Caesar’s eyes to the true Emperor, and bow before Him, as we all will. That day is coming soon. Amen.