Sunday 27 June, 2021

1 Timothy 2:1-7

2 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. 7 And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles.

Australians love to complain about their leaders. Timothy and his church had a lot more reason to complain. There’s a lot of discussion about when this letter was written, but the earliest guesses are towards the end of Nero’s reign. Even pagan historians (like Tacitus) were surprised by the unusual cruelty of his persecution of Christians in Rome beginning in 64. Even when the authorities weren’t actively looking for Christians, they would execute any who were denounced by their neighbours and refused to renounce Jesus and make an offering for the emperor.

Paul doesn’t urge Timothy and his church to pray against those hostile authorities. He asks them to pray for them. Not only that, to give thanks for them. Peaceful and quiet lives are a hoped-for consequence of their prayers, but the reason to pray is because God wants all people to be saved – even people who use authority to hurt us. Those prayers for our leaders (part of our prayers for all people) should start with praying for them to hear the truth about Jesus and be saved.

Lord, thanks that we have leaders who mostly work very hard to serve us. Thank you that we can “live peaceful and quiet lives” and that we are allowed to live “in all godliness and holiness”. Thanks that we have a Prime Minister and many parliamentarians who love you. Bring your truth to all in authority so that they might all be saved – especially the leaders of countries that are most hostile towards you and your people. Transform their whole lives to do justice and love mercy as they walk humbly with you (Micah 6:8). And please give us the courage and grace to speak that truth to them, like Paul.

Written by David Cornell

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